More Twitter tips for journalists

Posted on August 4, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Sholin's tweet today

Sholin's tweet today

Ryan Sholin posted more useful talk about Twitter for gathering and reporting news today over at the MediaShift Idea Lab, an online project of the U.S. Public Broadcasting System (PBS). It’s a great companion to the KCNN Twitter module.

An interesting side note: I learned about this post from Sholin himself. I follow him on Twitter.

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This Just In—from GroundReport.com

Posted on July 29, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

A blogging friend forwarded this email today from GroundReport.com:

Global citizen journalism website GroundReport.com is looking to for Middle East correspondents and we were wondering if you could spread the word to the bloggers you feature on your site. We think it would be a great way for both us and them to reach out to a wider audience, and all our contributors receive a share of our ad revenue.

GroundReport.com is a global news outlet with on-the-ground coverage.  We welcome original text news articles and photographs and are especially interested in firsthand accounts from international bloggers.  Our mission is to democratize the media. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@groundreport.com.

Well, what are you waiting for?

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Digital Audio & Video Editing

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

There are two main distinctions between editing digital audio and video and analog audio and video (you know, magnetic reel-to-reel tape and celluloid film).

The digital editing process is:

1. Nondestructive
2. Nonlinear

Editing both audio and video comprises a sequence of decisions that will produce an infinite number of unique variations that vary according to the author’s voice.

There are three discrete parts in the post-production process:


Source files/clips are imported to a storyboard or tracklist.


Then, a rough cut is assembled via cutting out unnecessary data and arranging the clips according to a storyboard or script. Next, we apply transitions and effects to the rough cut, reflecting our tone and/or style.


Once we have finalized the piece, we prepare it for sharing, i.e., distribution and/or archiving at places like archive.org and ourmedia.org.

First, we’ll loosely follow along with this audio tutorial shared by Mindy McAdams on her amazing blog Teaching Online Journalism, which has been posted to the blogroll.

Then, we’ll work with your video clips in Windows MediaMaker, according to instructions shared in Journalism 2.0, a resource made possible by the Knight Citizen News Network that no online journalist should be without—and that some enterprising Arabic speaker should translate to share the wealth.

Below I’ve transcribed the audio of the photoessay we saw on Monday, Continuous War: Cluster Bombs in South Lebanon, to give you an idea of how many words (267) fill 1 minute and 44 seconds of airtime.

Rasha Zayoun is a 17-year-old teenager from Maraka, south Lebanon, who lost her leg to a cluster bomb. One that was tangled in a bush of wild vine and unwittingly brought home by her father. As Rasha started sorting through the herbs, she was attracted by a bell-shaped object. She thought it was a toy. She picked it up. It vibrated. She dropped it. It exploded. Rasha still has nightmares about the incident but she puts on a brave face. Inside she’s very upset. She wants to be with her friends, to walk, to go to school, to see the world. But she’s ashamed of her leg, so she stays home. The young boy she’s in love with stayed by her side and that made her love him more. More than the whole world, she says. Rasha feels that everybody is more concerned with how she lost her leg than they are about her. From when she was young, Rasha always wanted to be a dressmaker. Without the limb, for her, that would be difficult. The limb is her ticket to independence. To not feeling ashamed. To not feeling different. She’s scared of the future. Of being able to get a limb. So many thoughts run through her mind. What if the limb costs money? They have no money. That would be totally crushing. I might as well die, she says. In the future, when Rasha has children, and she hopes she will, she won’t let them out of her sight. She’ll keep them close to her, to try and protect them from a fate like hers.

Finally, anyone who wants to know more about producing and writing for audio, should visit Transom.

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Editing Adham with Audacity

Posted on July 22, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Adham Najdi

Adham Najdi

Adham Najdi is a young Lebanese man who was severely injured by a cluster bomb that exploded near his grandfather’s house in Srifa, Lebanon, after the July War of 2006. I interviewed Adham on several occasions. The sample audio file we’ll use comes from one of these interview. I edited Adham’s interview down to about 1:44 and saved it at three different bit speeds so that we can evaluate the trade-off between sound quality and download speed. Here are the steps I took to edit this piece with Audacity 1.3 on a Mac. I’ve also listed steps of how to do it on 1.2.6 for Windows. The photo is of Adham and was taken by Gabriela Bulisova.

  1. Project–>Import Audio, located the adham-short.wav file
  2. File–> Save Project As…
  3. Click on: Copy All Audio Into Project (safer)
  4. Click on magnifying glass, then next to track beginning to enlarge waveform.
  5. Select all, and duplicate track in case anything goes wrong. Mute and minimize original track. Adjust gain to +15dB.
  6. Insert cursor at about 2:51, “What were you studying in school?” Edit–>Select…”start to cursor.” When the selection is highlighted, Ctrl+X.
  7. Save
  8. Edit–>Move cursor to track start.
  9. Zoom in with the magnifying glass to see the shape of the waveform. If you zoom in too far, hold the CTRL key down to zoom out.
  10. Tap the space bar to play and pause and play again.
  11. Where you hear an “uhhhhhhhh,” select that area and zoom in. (Use edit–>Select…move cursor to end of selection to try something new.)
  12. Play again, noting precise times and where to cut.
  13. Use hand selector tool to refine your selection.
  14. Cut the section between about 6 seconds and 22 seconds.
  15. Start again around, “Why were you studying that?”
  16. Cut from about 10.8 to 14.8.
  17. Edit–>Split New 44.837 to 53.46. Save.
  18. Select Tariq’s “umm” response with shift+arrow key. Cut.
  19. Zoom all the way into 1:53:827 “ghalaT” to get the last bit of the T. Insert cursor.
  20. Edit–>Select to end. And cut.
  21. Select the last region and Edit–>Split New.
  22. Delete unnecessary tracks.
  23. Select a bit of the end of the first track. Go to the Effects menu and choose Fade Out.
  24. Fit in window to get a sense of where we are.
  25. Zoom in again.
  26. Select timeshift tool. <–>
  27. Move second half of track to where the first half will overlap it a bit. Select a bit of the initial audio. Go to the effects menu and choose Fade In.
  28. Go to the Effects menu and select Fade In. Repeat if it’s not sounding quite right.
  29. We need to even the volume out a bit. But first let’s condense the two tracks into one. Select them both by shift+click. Then go to Tracks–>Mix and Render.
  30. Select the volume envelope tool. Create and drag points to adjust the volume where necessary.
  31. Listen to the whole track and make sure you like it.
  32. Save. Go to File–>Export to MP3. Set your streaming speed by clicking on Options. Save several times to compare the quality of different bit rates. That’s it!
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Journalism Is Changing (in Arabic and English)

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Here’s the slideshow I gave on the first day of the workshop. The notes I wrote to go with it are “below the fold,” but surely they differ somewhat from what I actually said. Feel free to use the slideshow/notes for education purposes. I’m kicking myself for not recording the presentation so that we could have uploaded the interpreters’ Arabic. But having a presentation with Arabic is a great start. Not sure if there’s another one out there. If there is, and you know about it, please let us know. I will add the links at the end of the workshop (July 25, 2008)—no time now.

I was especially pleased with the discussion that we had about Arab journalism today. For instance, I didn’t know that Arab journalists often don’t work with a style guide, like the ones beaten into many U.S. journalists by their copy chiefs.

I learn so much from the participants in these workshops. I hope they feel the same way.


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We’re Learning About Image Sizes for the Web

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

100 pixels wide

200 pixels wide

300 pixels wide

100 pixels square

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Welcome Home, President Bush

Posted on January 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |


Hamdillah salameh, President Bush. I bet you’re glad to be back. It seems the trip didn’t turn out quite like you’d planned. Not only is Israel riding roughshod over Palestinians in Gaza undermining your peace plan, but just a day or two after you were in Kuwait, the country’s foreign minister told the foreign minister of Iran that “Our country knows who is our friend and our enemy, and Iran is our friend.”

Tough week, but don’t worry too much. No one has to know. Just set up the projector, dim the lights, pass the popcorn, and show your friends the Washington Post slideshow Bush Visits the Middle East.

In addition to seeing all the fun you had with swords and horsies and falcons, your audience will instantly understand your good intentions for the trip when they read the editors’ (or shall I say White House communications aides’) introduction: “President George W. Bush places the promotion of democracy and freedom at the top of his agenda as he makes his way through his first extended tour of the Middle East during his presidency.” They’re still just taking your word for it?

About a quarter of the pictures are from Israel, including some from Bethlehem, so your donors will be happy. And God will certainly be impressed that you invoked His name in the guestbook at Yad Vashem, but try to do better next time on the handwriting. Jeesh.

Only two of the 43 photos show any distaste for your policies—some Palestinain on Palestinian violence in one as a Palestinian police officer hits a woman protestor with a wooden stick, and the young angry men of Hamas are supposedly tearing an American flag in the other (I mean, I don’t see any rips, but that’s what the caption says, so it must be true). They didn’t include any of the Egyptian protesters’ signs likening you to the ruthless Mongol conqueror Hulagu or awkwardly invoking the 19th-century London fiend Jack the Ripper by calling you Bush the ripper of the century. So you’re safe there. No one knows what people in Saudi Arabia were thinking (they’re not allowed to say), so rest easy.

You’ll also need to inform the group that the slides are out of order. I don’t know maybe someone dropped them on the way to the projection booth? They start at the end of the trip in Egypt and after that the progression is hard to follow. Air Force One looks great by the way. How stately she is. Do you call her a she? What’s her nickname?

Also, you may have to slow the show down a bit. The pictures went by too fast for me to read all the captions—and I’m a fast reader. Not to say that you’re not, of course.

Sometimes the captions seem to be saying different things. Like in picture 9, when you’re with the King of Saudi Arabia, the editors (I mean, aides! Sorry!) write, “The stop marked one part of the Bush’s Mideast tour aimed at encouraging peace throughout the region.” Is this how you worded it for them, because in the very next picture, they say your “trip involved the announcement of a major weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. supports the nation’s defense against threats from Iran and hopes to foster support for a Mideast peace agreement.” You might want to straighten that out. I mean, I’m no expert, but I don’t get how we foster peace when we sell weapons to one of two nations who aren’t at war but are supposedly headed in that direction.

I’m still finding my voice on this blog, and I’m not convinced this is it. Still, I was appalled by the so-called journalism of the Washington Post in this slideshow and it go me to thinking about multimedia’s place in the genre of media criticism, i.e., do editors apply lower standards to multimedia pieces, like this slideshow? What are the standards we should be thinking about? When editors are choosing 43 pictures at once to represent such a trip—rather than four or five over the course of a few days—what new questions need to be asked? Look for more multimedia criticism in future posts.

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International Journalists Network

Posted on January 16, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

International Journalists Network website

AUB’s Journalism Training Program director Magda Abu-Fadil sent a link to the International Journalists’ Network website, which offers a range of resources in Arabic, English, Farsi, Portuguese, Spanish and a weekly e-mail bulletin in one of these five languages. IJN has also recently inaugurated a column about online journalism called Webb on the Web that “will provide multimedia tips, reporting advice and strategies for incorporating technology into the newsroom.”

The network itself is part of Knight’s International Center for Journalists, which sponsors conferences, reporting projects, and training programs as well as fellowship opportunities all over the world.

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Online Journalism Atlas

Posted on December 13, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Online Journalism Atlas

Paul Bradshaw of the Online Journalism Blog has started an atlas of online journalism. Who volunteers to submit information for Lebanon?

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