Using Google Fusion Tables for investigative reporting

Andrew Chavez, associate director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, speaks at a TCCJ Watchdog Workshop on Web applications that can be useful in investigative reporting.


A day in the life at the Hood County News

TCU student Andrew Young shares what it’s like to spend a day at the Hood County News. His photo story probably has some familiar faces in it if you’ve been to many state press association events, so check it out.


TCCJ director recognized for service to community journalism

Tommy Thomason was given the Dewane Kelly Friend of the Newspaper Award Saturday by the West Texas Press Association.


Social Media for Community Journalists workshop materials


When measuring site traffic, one number isn’t enough

Media managers have long had access to simple statistics about their product’s consumption. Newspaper publishers, for example, have relatively easy access to circulation figures. But more detailed information about consumption habits traditionally has only been available via extensive research, often from outside providers.

That is far from the case online, though. Free blogging platforms track statistics as do most media-sharing sites such as YouTube or Flickr. Rare is the service that even charges to get such information. And free services such as Google Analytics allow anyone with a website insight into how content is being consumed.

But knowing how to interpret those data can be a difficult task. In fact, some argue that all of this data isn’t necessarily a good thing if nobody knows what it means. James Robinson, director of web analytics at The New York Times, is quoted as saying that all of this data is useless if it’s not being used to learn about how people are engaging with content. He said “it’s not about the data, it’s about the insights….it’s not about the page views or click-throughs – it’s about making New York Times customers happy.”

Read the rest at Explorations in New Media


Testimonials from workshop participants

Q & A is by far my favorite, being able to ask specific questions about something going on at my newspaper and how the materials being presented can be used or adapted for use. Also, being able to talk with my peers at other papers, and know we are all indeed ‘in the same boat.’ Perhaps most helpful, though, was being there made me stop thinking about my next paper, and got me to think about my paper’s survival in the future.

My favorite part was doing a features page layout for a graduation. It allowed me to try out some ideas that I have been wanting to use at my paper. With help and ideas from Broc, I am now ready to tackle a features page with a scrapbook theme! And I will always remember all the CRAP I learned here! 🙂 {Editor’s note:  CRAP is an acronym for something the workshop participants learned about design.  Join us for the next design seminar and you’ll never forget the CRAP you learned here, either!}

My favorite part of the workshop was meeting people and listening to their stories about the newspapers they are at. I also enjoyed the workshop; it was very informative and interesting!

My favorite part of the workshop was the crash course for InDesign and playing with the program.

I enjoyed meeting new people and having fun with page design. Also, going out to eat at the Stockyards was AWESOME.

I liked the hands-on InDesign and Photoshop.  I liked the examples of papers and how they could be changed.  That was very helpful to me.

I loved hearing all of the Photoshop tips, and then just being free to create and learn as we go.

Just being able to have fresh eyes on my work and get feedback helps a lot.

I enjoyed seeing what other papers are doing. I also enjoyed learning aspects of Photoshop I was not familiar with. Broc was great working with everyone.

I have to admit I have been greedy taking up space in your classes the last three years and think maybe next year I should let others take a spot instead, but there again if you will let me come back again I sure will!  I did find out quite a few things about myself from this little junket, maybe more than anything else.

I was very inspired by Jim Riddlesperger, and even though I thought I hated politics and I am now motivated to do at least 3 stories from his discussions.

Also found out that my love of writing really is in the column format, which I have done for many years, so I should start back and put pen to paper. Meanwhile I will go back to work tomorrow and make a living, doing everything else!!

Paula LaRocque has been one of my favorite authors on writing for years — her presentation was absolutely solid, convincing, and beneficial beginning to end. The session on Cop Shop was also great. The workshop overall was one of the best I’ve ever been to.

My favorite part was being able to lay out my own page and actually do it, since I have never done it or even used a Mac.

Coming from an English background, I found that the workshop offered a solid baseline for journalism writing, techniques and presentation. I now am far more confident in my skills as a working community journalist and editor. We’ve put out one issue since the workshop, and I paid extra attention to the five pieces that I contributed, making sure that they had “multiple entry points” and were “written for the reader.” No more Jane Austen novels from this writer. I gave the same treatment to other pieces in the paper that I edited.

I want to personally thank you for hosting another fantastic workshop. It caused me to second-guess every word I print in the newspaper (which proved extra stressful on deadline day), but it has also made me a more dedicated journalist, one who takes that title seriously. If they could, I believe our readers would thank you for that.

I immensely appreciated being in the presence of people who are passionate about journalism and who have the expertise to teach writing on specific topics. The editorial lesson was of particular significance to my paper. And, of course, the meals were amazing and both Dr. Thomason and Chavez were more than hospitable.

The entire workshop was excellent! I feel privileged to have been able to attend. I will be able to use pretty much everything I learned. Reporting and writing stories is somewhat new to me and I was amazed by what I learned in a day and a half. I didn’t know it was possible to soak in that much information in such a short time. I enjoyed hearing the guest speakers and have much respect for Tommy and Andrew! I am now even more interested in reporting and newswriting. I didn’t want to come back to work, I wanted to stay there and learn from those two guys! There should be a newswriting workshop part 2!

My favorite part was knowing that I am not alone in this business and meeting people with similar problems, battles and concerns. I liked being able to hear others share their experiences how they resolved them. I enjoyed seeing a few familiar faces and meeting new people in the business. It’s comforting and rejuvenating all at the same time.

I particularly enjoyed Broc’s rebuilds on several of the pages submitted to him, where he shows you what you could do with what you have — rather than what he can do with Pulitzer-prize caliber art!

Paula Laroque’s [workshop] was extremely helpful in fine-tuning my writing skills. It made me realize some of the ruts that I get in when it comes to compiling articles. Andrew and Tommy’s information showed the passion of their views on making stories become the best they can be and how our writing needs to reach the readers. Roy Eaton’s talk on community journalism was extremely helpful due to the fact that a lot of the topics he covered applied to our community. The other presenters were strong and I learned a lot from them as well.


Newswriting and Reporting for Community Journalists Workshop Materials

Ask an Expert Questions and Answers Social media

How can I integrate someone else’s Twitter posts into my site?

If you’re wanting to integrate someone else’s Tweets into your website there are a couple of options, some of which are quite easy and others that will require some technical know-how. Here are 5 easy options:

  1. Embed Twitter’s official widget. This widget is intended to embed your own tweets into a site but it works just the same for someone else’s. You’d just input the user name of the person whose tweets you’d like to integrate during the setup. You can also change the colors/size/etc. to make the widget fit the look of your site. Under “Preferences” you’ll want to be sure to check “Poll for new results” so the user’s tweets will update more or less in real-time. Then, you’ll just grab the code they give you and embed it in your site.
  2. Embed SayTweet. This method is a little more creative. With SayTweet, you upload (or link to) a photo and the latest tweet is automatically overlaid onto the photo. So you could have a photo of the person whose tweets you are integrating, and a thought bubble will hover on the photo with the user’s latest tweet. This is another widget you’ll be able to embed with copy/paste code. It’s also a creative option for integrating your own tweets.
  3. Embed TwitStamp. There are a lot of other widget providers out there, but one of the flashier ones I’ve seen is TwitStamp. You’ll want one of their “latest” widgets. There are a lot of options there in several different sizes.
  4. CoverItLive also integrates tweets. You’ll just have to put the name of the user in when you’re setting up your live chat. If you’re not already using CoverItLive (it’s a live-blogging platform), it’s worth checking out anyway. This is more of a short-term solution than the other options, though.
  5. And there’s the advanced method. You can also use a more complicated version of a Twitter widget that is a more streamlined widget but requires more work on your end. This is a more difficult solution to implement. One of the better examples out there is Tweet!. We’ve also used Monitter, which can be heavily modified to fit the look of your site. In both cases, you’ll have to download this widget, modify code, etc. The direction are on the site. This is going to provide a more heavily-customized solution and allow more flexibility in the end. It will also reduce your reliability on an outside widget provider.

Free Webinar on video editing

If you’re still trying to get the hang of video editing, then you might want to check out this upcoming free “Webinar” from YouTube. Registration is open online. The seminar is geared toward those who are just getting into video, so if that’s you check this out. The session begins Dec. 17 at 1 p.m.


SPJ Workshop Materials

Download the file here.