Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

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Spotlight Extended, Call for Projects

mediashift_spotlightI started out this month really wanting to highlight newer, better projects in my Innovation Spotlight Series at MediaShift.

I spent a week or so collecting, sorting, e-mailing, and calling. I’ve spent the past 2 weeks doing interviews. And I ended up with 4 or 5 projects I wanted to write about.

Wait a sec, my posts only come out every other week…

I had two choices: hold onto some projects for next month or do mini-posts on my off-week.

I didn’t want to hold onto things because I’m sure that I’ll be flooded with great new projects next month as well. I was concerned that the inconsistency of the mini-posts – I won’t always have the time or material to do them – would affect the series.

But I got over that. And thus I present you with a mini-Spotlight, discussing the natural evolution of journalism from data collection to online tracking tool: ProPublica Puts Spotlight on Tracking TARP Money.

Please let me know of any innovative projects you are working on or have seen lately. It doesn’t have to be from a major newspaper, it just has to be an innovative blend of journalism and technology.

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I Can Has Cheezburger will send one developer to SXSW

Cheezburger API Contest

In English: People who write software are invited to send in cool ideas to improve the software that runs I Can Has Cheezburger if we provided API (pronounced AIEE-PEE-AHHH) access to our photos and shtuffs.

In Lolspeak: Fansy pants and shiny fings for nuuuuurrrrds!!!

There are no words. I’m going to be thinking about this for the rest of the week.

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Actionscript and Javascript

A few weeks ago I started following a NY listserve for Flash. I’ve gathered a good number of snippets and learned a lot so far, although I’m still just a lurker. I’m hoping to make it to a meet-up soon.

In any case, an item came in about the relationship between Actionscript and Javascript, which really inspired me to finish up my formal education in Javascript so that I can jump head-first into heavier Actionscript.

The e-mail was about a series of lectures hosted on the Yahoo Developer Network by Douglas Crockford. Crockford is Yahoo’s Javascript Architect and author of “Javascript: The Good Parts.”

Because Actionscript 1 was based heavily on Javascript, and AS3 hasn’t changed that much, these lectures are applicable to both languages.

Mentioned specifically were “The Javascript Programming Language” and “Advanced Javascript.”

I haven’t worked my way through all the lectures yet (they are segmented into three and four parts) but what I’ve seen so far is really helping me wrap my head around some of the language theory.

I haven’t decided yet whether I like learning programming from a video. In some cases, it’s the best option for a clean, class-style experience. Otherwise I’d be reading a bunch of articles all over the place with no real connection, and missing out on important information in the process. But I’ve been watching Lynda.com videos on Javascript and it’s kind of tedious. I can read a lot faster, and I feel like I assimilate information better by reading.

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Journalism That Matters

Poynter is hosting another conference in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Journalism That Matters: Adapting Journalism to the New News Ecology

The conference will take place March 1 – 4, 2009.

The New News Ecology means new jobs, new tools, new relationships, new
businesses.

But journalism’s very survival — at least its values and functions — depends
on the ability of news organizations — and citizens — to adapt to a
dramatically evolving landscape.

Where, now, does the news industry end, and begin? As some newsrooms shrink and
morph, what — and where — are the new roles for journalists — and journalism —
in a broader civic sphere? How do we match journalism with the work of
non-profit organizations, government, civic and even advocacy groups . . .
without abandoning its core values and functions to democracy? Is it time for a
national journalism service corp?

Links:
Media Giraffe Project – Newsecology
Register
Slideshow

I really miss going to conferences. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to afford them again.

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Apps for America

appsforamerica

Sunlight Labs recently announced Apps for America, a mashup contest to create applications using Sunlight data to “make Congress more accountable, interactive and transparent.”

Sunlight is offering $15,000 as the first prize, and scaled prizes to second, third and honorable mentions.

Entries must be applications that use a host of government information APIs or datasets, including the Sunlight Labs API, OpenSecrets.org API, the FollowtheMoney.org API, the Capitol Words API and other Sunlight APIs and datasets. We also encourage you to use Sunlight’s code libraries, which the Labs recently open sourced.

Adrian Holovaty – Founder, Everyblock.com, Django Project, Aaron Swartz – Director, Watchdog.net, Peter Corbett – iStrategyLabs, Xeni Jardin – BoingBoing.net and Clay Johnson – Director, Sunlight Labs will judge the entries.

Submissions are due on March 31st. Winners will be announced on April 7th.

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Journalism Curriculum

Somehow, not being in school anymore just makes me more interested in the evolution of curriculum at journalism schools.

No, it’s not a subconscious desire to teach. I’ve not the temperament for that.

But I’ve been collecting information about what’s being taught, perhaps in the hopes that they’ll teach something I don’t know, thereby giving me an excuse to go back to school.

My, that sounds arrogant. But I only mean that I’ve been through the traditional journalism curriculum, took some online media courses and taught myself a hell of a lot in my spare time.

Bryan Murley updated his syllabus for the multimedia course he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

Most of the syllabus is the same as it was during the last semester, however, I’m spending much more time on audio and video, with lots of repetition and building upon core concepts.

Also, I should note that we’re using Final Cut Express this semester instead of iMovie. I’m done with iMovie until it is more stable and edits audio easier.

Andrew Dunn reports changes to the curriculum at the University of North Carolina, which now requires a class called “Audio-Video Information Gathering.” The UNC curriculum includes specializations choices of Multimedia and Electronic Communication (whatever that is).

Through University of Florida fact-finding professor Cory Armstrong, I found out about a new course at UNC: Public Affairs Reporting For New Media.

As near as I can tell, students in the course pick a topic for the semester and do some in-depth research, including multi-media elements, to develop a package.

The professor, Ryan Thornburg, is blogging about the class.

This is one that I’m really interested in, since I did something similar as an independent study with Professor Armstrong.

Fred Stutzman, also at UNC, has been teaching Online Social Networks for several semesters now.

This course is a primer on the study of online social networks. We will explore the theory, methods and findings of a growing literature on the topic. We will also explore applications and use cases, particularly in the context of education and library/information services. While online social networks are but a subset of social software, this course should provide you a strong set of fundamentals for exploring the multiple facets of our pervasive online sociality.

Mindy McAdams is teaching a new multimedia reporting class at UF as well as updating her Flash class (Advanced Online Media Production).

Students taking Multimedia Reporting will learn to:

  • Gather digital audio and upload it to a computer
  • Edit digital audio and produce an MP3 file
  • Edit, crop and resize photos; optimize photos for online use
  • Create an audio slideshow using Soundslides
  • Shoot simple video suitable for online distribution
  • Edit video with a simple editing program
  • Prepare video for online distribution

Lastly, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, changes are planned.

The new, proposed curriculum shift places a deeper, more thorough emphasis on awareness, understanding and application of online journalism skills and the training begins in the freshman year.

Stories CoJMC students write, photographs, advertising, marketing campaigns, video news reports and documentaries will be produced by hundreds of CoJMC students for the NewsNetNebraska Web site.

For those of us no longer in school and feeling left out, Dave Lee wrote about how journalists can continue their online education, well, online.

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YouTube Journalism Contest

YouTube recently collaborated with the Pulitzer Center to produce Project: Report, a journalism contest focusing on important stories that don’t get the attention they deserve.

youtubeprojectreport

The winners have been announced, chosen through three rounds of competition, voting by the YouTube Community, and a panel of journalists from the Pulitzer Center.

The winner is Californian Arturo Perez, Jr., who reported on Camphill California, a community where adults with developmental disabilities live, learn and work together. He will receive $10,000 to travel and do a story in conjunction with the Pulitzer Center.

Check out the finalists, stories produced by the Pulitzer Center and production tips from Sony and Intel.

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Innovative Coverage of the Inauguration

MediaShift Spotlight Innovation illustration by Omar Lee for MediaShift.Changing it up at Innovation Spotlight for the inauguration: Innovation in Inauguration Coverage.

I started collecting projects the week before the inauguration, and ended up with over 100 links (which I will share via Delicious when I get the chance).

This week, instead of focusing on one innovative journalism project, I’d like to highlight some of the many projects that came up covering Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The post got picked up by Google News:

googlenews

Be back to normal coverage next time. Still looking for awesome projects, so give me a heads up if you see something new and great!

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Obamania

I’m confused. I feel out of the loop.

I get that Obama is the first black president.

I get that he represents a new era in our history.

I get that he represents changes that a lot of people want to see.

I get that his use of social media and technology during his campaign implies some very cool things during his presidency.

But why is everyone going apes**t!?

Why do I keep seeing articles about what the Obamas ate for lunch, or the kids’ first day at school or his physical appeal?

Why did a whole bunch of people stand around in the freezing cold to listen to other people talk, and musicians with numb hands try to play?

Why are there iPhone applications devoted to this man and his inauguration?

I remember Bush’s inauguration as a bad day, because my family disagrees with his beliefs and policies. I don’t remember Clinton’s. And before that, I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than my skinned knees.

But I’ve asked around, and no other inauguration has been compared to Woodstock.

I really don’t get it. Do you?

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Davos Debates on YouTube

For me, the great thing about YouTube isn’t finding new music, disturbing advertisements, or hilarious miscellany.

The great thing about YouTube is how it creates avenues for discourse.

Davos Debates on YouTube

For the second time, YouTube is hosting the Davos Debates – but this year, whoever uploads the best video response to one of the session questions gets a free ride to Switzerland.

YouTube has partnered with the World Economic Forum to open up debates from this year’s Davos annual meeting. We’re inviting people to record a video answering one of four session questions, and whoever uploads the most original, creative and popular video will win a reporter’s pass and fully-paid trip to Davos at the end of January. Along with that, the best videos received will be played in the relevant sessions to Davos attendees.

Go to http://youtube.com/davos and check out the submissions. Submit your own response. Whether you win or your video is chosen for viewing at Davos doesn’t matter. Getting involved in the discussion does.

The questions:

  • Are you confident that global growth will be restored in 2009?
  • Should company executives have a code of ethics similar to doctors and lawyers?
  • Will the environment lose out to the economy in 2009?
  • Will the Obama administration improve the state of the world in 2009?

What do you think?