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Archive for February, 2011

Having been in a journalism class taught by  Professor Barbara Nixon  last semester, the Poynter Institute and NewsU are not new to me.  In that class, I participated in their online seminar for “Cleaning Your Copy,” “The Lead Lab,” and “Writing for the Ear.”  I have come to appreciate the efforts that they’ve made to invest in journalists of tomorrow.  I found each and every lesson to be most helpful.  So, I looked forward to “The Langauge of the Image,” and I wasn’t disappointed.

It is interesting how a subject will come up, and then you will start seeing it repeated over and over.  At least, that has been my experience.  As I am taking Media Aesthetics and Criticism, I am having to learn about lighting and color and the part that it plays in photography and movie making. This is the topic covered in “The Language of the Image.”

I’ve never been a photographer, and didn’t give much thought to composition, lighting or color and how they come together in good photography. In this lesson, we were shown several pairs of pictures taken at the same place.  Sometimes the background composition would be different, sometimes it would be the lighting or the time of day that would make the difference. We were then taught how to pick the best picture of the two, and why it was a better composition.

It surprised me to know that a little change in lighting or angle can make such a difference in a picture.

I would really enjoy learning more about this subject, and I’d like to take a class sometime so that I could take better pictures for myself.  Who knows?  I might even decide I’d like to try my hand at artistic photography.

I urge anyone with an artistic yen to write or to take pictures to check out this lesson.  For more information on this and other subjects of journalistic interest, go to NewsU.  You won’t regret it!

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Podcasts are great tools for PR!

While trolling for interesting topics and helpful hints for the PR student.  I came across an article on Mickie Kennedy’s blog that gave some great tips for finding the best PR tips and practices.

The first tip is to listen to podcasts.  Easy to find and utilize, you can multitask and listen while exercising, driving, or doing chores.

Next, we’re encouraged to take a class or a Webinar.  From personal experience, I can say both of these options are helpful.  In addition to NewsU (which I’ve talked about in previous PR Connections) he gives several other free PR Webinars.

Another great tip is to check out YouTube.  There are great instructional tutorials and lectures to be found there.  Kennedy lists several you might want to try out.

The fourth tip is to find a friend or co-worker.  “Study groups are not just for college kids!” Other suggestions in this same vein are to talk shop with a co-worker, or find someone that can teach you and see if you can barter skills.

The final tip is one that we all know….READ!  Included in Kennedy’s tips are suggestions for books, e-books, trade magazines, and other blogs.  For more information and his complete blog, click here.

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Journalism Students by: Adam Tinworth

Poynter came into being to make sure that exemplary journalism is available to all Americans. To best ensure this, they have set out to teach those who “manage, edit, produce, program, report, write, blog, photograph and design,” whether they belong to a news organization or are entrepreneurs. They desire to help teachers and students in middle school, high school and college so as to produce a high standard of journalist for tomorrow.  They also want to teach the public to better understand the way journalism is made and how to perceived credibility for themselves.

The Institute has seminar rooms on their main campus at 801 Third St. South, St. Petersburg,. These rooms are used not only for teaching seminars.  They also sponsor community events and have world-class writers, broadcasters, photographers and designers, as well as other innovators in the media and business world.

Throughout the year, Poynter hosts a variety of special events to help members of the community to better understand the issues that surround journalists and other news professionals.  On March 15, 2011, the Institute will host journalist and best-selling author Bob Woodward.

Poynter’s NewsU partners with thousands of teachers.  They have a program called the Syllabus Exchange in which they allow teachers to share their teaching materials with other educators. Other tools for educators include a certificate program where teachers do the teaching and coaching, and NewsU provides various accessments, activities and readings that facilitate instructors in evaluating student skills and supplement other teaching materials.  They also provide training points that allow you to earn points every time you watch a webinar or participate in other e-learning at NewsU.  Later you can redeem your points for software, training, video tutorials, etc.

NewsU also has made many resources available for all journalism related issues.  Some of these include: resources for local investigative “watchdog” journalism,  and resources for covering the BP oil spill disaster.  I myself have had the opportunity to hone my skills through various online information and quizzes provided by NewsU. I have found them to be very helpful, and will make use of other topic assessments in the future. If you haven’t checked out the many offerings of Poynter Insitute and their NewsU courses, you are missing out on a great resource and you should rectify that situation right away!

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Is It Newsworthy?

One big concern when writing a news article is the question, “Is it newsworthy?”  Whether an old pro or a newbie, this is a question that many have.  If you fall into either of these categories, Susan Young gives six tips to help you make that decision.  Here is my paraphrased version of  them.

#1. Who cares?  Young says if you can answer this question, you should respond by putting it in the headline or subject line. #2. What makes my story stand out among hundreds that a reporter will see today?  (Be creative with your pitch).  #3. What is the relevance of my story to the reporter? #4. When is this story most important?  It should be today or in the near future.  Yesterday’s news is……yesterday’s news. #5. What is the human factor?  How can you connect with readers’ emotions? Question #6 is:  How can this story help others?

Most unsolicited press releases are considered interruptions in an already busy work day for most reporters.  You need to go for impact!  Your article must grab the attention quickly and then deliver!  Creativity is the name of the game at this point!

If you find this information helpful, you may enjoy Susan’s free video series, Speaking of Communication.

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Go Steelers!! By Pixteca MX

You don’t have to be a Packer’s or Steeler’s Fan to be glued to the television set on Sunday night.  There’s many of us out here that don’t care so much about the football….but we can’t wait to see the commercials!

The most expensive commercial time on television, some of America’s top brands will pay $270 million dollars to buy advertising time. With the help of the nation’s advertising brightest, they will present their products as original and creative as possible.  This is at the cost of $100,000 per second.  Companies are spending around $3 million for a 30 second ad, plus an approximate $1 million in production costs(Fred Haberman).

DSC06288 By Shazam

Pepsico is dominating the social media conversations about the game’s advertising, with the Frito-lay brand of Doritos getting the highest  mentions. Following right behind is Pepsi, both of which are owned by Pepsico(Wasserman).

Some of the XLV Super Bowl Commercials have given us a little preview.  One of the most talked about is the new Volkswagon Commercial “The Force.” For you Star Wars Fans, this one is bound to give you a little chuckle.

Whether you’re hitting the kitchen during the game or during the commercials, you’re bound to be in for a great show. I don’t know about everyone else, but personally, I am looking forward to the half-time show.  Just love them Black-Eyed Peas!

Black Eyed Peas By Peter Cruise

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Blogging Fun! By Mike Licht/NotionsCapital.com

Since I am relatively new to blogging, I wouldn’t have known what scraping was if my professor, Barbara Nixon, hadn’t defined it.  Why we have to come up with new words in every media is beyond me.  The good old stand-by “copied” works for me.  Even the word “plagiarized” is generally known as stealing someone’s hard work. Still, I must admit that when I Googled “scraped” blog, several sites came up.

After reading many blogs and other sites of information, I found that, while you are limited, there are steps you can take.  Here are some of them.

1. Report to Google through Webmaster Tools. They can help you remove the contents from their SERPs.  It can be a difficult process.

2. Report to blogger.com, if those blogs are hosted on blogspot.  It can also be a great option if the scraped websites are hosted on blogger.com.  Many blogs have been deleted after the report was submitted.

3. Submit to DMCA.  This is another obtain that can get your contents removed from the scraped websites by submitting a request to DMCA.  The letters stand for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If you use this paid service, they guarantee to remove those contents.

4. Delay your feed updates.  Autoblog plugins usually use feed address to get contents from your blog.  You can use a plugin like GD Press Tools to delay updates for one or more days.  This will give enough time for your original content to be indexed into SERPs.

5. Use excerpts for feed.  You can set your feed to excerpt rather than full feed.  This can prevent people from stealing your content.

6. Put copyright text in feed footer.  You can use the previously mentioned GD Press Tools or other WordPress plugins to do this by adding a small text in your feed footer with your website’s URL. This can help to inform readers that the content is not original.

7. Report to hosting or domain services.  If the scraped website is using other hosting services, you can see where the websites are hosted.  Then, contact the hosting providers to inform them about the situation.

I found all of this information on Quick Online Tips, but I saw the same advice repeated on several sites.  There are many other useful tips as well on this site and I recommend it for this and other questions concerning online or other blogging problems.

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Usually referred to as the AP Stylebook, “The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law” is a style and usage guide used by newspapers and in the news industry in the United States. It is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June.

The AP Stylebook is used as a reference for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. It is considered to be the newspaper industry standard and is also used by broadcasters, magazines and public relations firms.  In it is an A-to-A listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage.

“The Associated Press Stylebook”  strives to keep its writing style easy to read, concise and free of bias(Scribd). “Grammar usage and AP style are skills.  They are habits.  You need to be able to use them confidently, correctly, and without thinking. The only way to do this is with practice.  The old adage, “Practice makes perfect” is especially true(Gerald Grow).

There are many other helps in the AP Stylebook.  There is a reference section for reporters covering business and financial news under the section entitled, “Business Guidelines.”  Some of the subjects covered are bankruptcy, international bureaus, mergers and accounting.  There is also a section on “Sports Guidelines and Style,” “Guide to Punctuation,” “Briefing on Media Law,” “Photo Captions,” Editing Marks,” and “Bibliography.”

With the ever evolving development of the Internet comes competition in the field of newspaper writing and public relations writing.  It is important for the public relations writer to get proficient in AP Style writing.  It gives the writer a little edge.  If the publication does not have to make corrections, the changes of your release getting picked up will increase. Correct copy can make all the difference.

It might interest you to know that AP Stylebook is on many of the social medias popular today.  For more information check out Twitter and Facebook.

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