Home' Local Media Today : June 2010 Contents 6 | SUBURBAN PUBLISHER | June 2010
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The internet has taken its lumps for giving
people news content for free, but it also helps
newsrooms every day by giving us some free
tools for gathering news, passing it along or
publicizing what we do.
The money investment can be zero and
the time investment can be small -- but as
with all things, the more you put into these
tools the more you get out of them. Some
tools offer a free basic service to entice you
and a premium or paid service for all the bells
and whistles. These are some to try.
Twitter: If you still think this is the place
where people tell you what they had for
lunch, you need to go back. Twitter became
much more valuable when users changed
it into a place where they pass along links
to cool stuff they have seen or done. Look
around, find some good people to follow
and you will be rewarded with news tips,
insights into communities, buzz on subjects
you choose and notices of the latest trends.
These people will become your scouts.
Tweetdeck.com: Like many tools, this
was developed by Twitter fans and made
available for free. It lets you follow the tweets
on topics you choose and manage your own
tweets. It uses columns -- very familiar for we
newspaper types. You can find lots of YouTube
videos that describe how to use it.
Breakingtweets.com: Follow breaking
news with this. It screens out the silly.
Monitter.com: This Twitter tool lets you
follow as many as three topics in real time.
See what people are saying now.
Twuffer.com: If you want to tweet and
do it at strategic times, this service lets
you schedule your tweets -- and say good-
Picnik.com: Think of it as a poor edi-
tor's Photoshop. It lets you do lots without
spending lots of cash.
Vuvox.com: Create multimedia shows
that scroll horizontally. Easy to use, striking
to look at on your Web site.
Slide.com: Quick-to-assemble, online
slide shows with an array of patterns. You
can add sound, too.
Google and Bing have built-in instruc-
tions and there are YouTube tutorials to turn
anyone into an amateur mapmaker. I have
been seeing these on Web sites, on TV and
in print. Go a step beyond: Create a map
that readers can access to add data about
a community-wide event such as a power
outage. You might also try Umapper.com
xtimeline.com: This one lets you build a
timeline with photos and video. If you need
something more sophisticated, just Google
Swivel.com: This site helps newspapers
chart and share numbers and statistical data
in cool visual ways. Check out the gallery for
ideas. You will find other chart-making tools
in Microsoft Excel, if you haven't already.
VIdeo & audIo
YouTube, Vimeo and VodPod are places
where you can have a video hosted for free
and then embed the code – a simple cut-and-
paste operation – into your Web site.
podbean.com: Like all the tools on this
list, PodBean is just one of many and new
ones come along all the time. Play around
to find the tool you like best. This place
will let you make podcasts for free and it
will host them.
Coveritlive.com: This is a free text-chat
service that the big boys use. You can, too.
In fact, you can do it better than them if
you use some of the free features that they
We have nicked the surface.
Or maybe we grazed it. Go deeper on
Joe Grimm was a presenter at a recent SNA
Foundation sponsored webinar about news-
room leadership. He is a regular columnist for
Poynter Institute on topics of Leadership &
Management, Online & Multimedia,
Reporting,Writing and Editing.
Tools of the trade go digital
In the recent SNA Foundation sponsored
webinar Leading Multimedia Teams:
Taking Newsroom Staff Deeper Into The
Digital World, Joe Grimm delved into
ways suburban and community news-
paper editors and newsroom leaders,
through a more contemporary approach,
can help staff advance in today’s media
One of the early valuable lessons Grimm
imparted was that his MSU students are
creating multi-media work well beyond
his expectations because he tries to make
it safe for them to make a mistake and
dangerous if they don’t try.
That pearl of wisdom speaks volumes
about culture, an element that is as
important as any single thing you can
do to motivate and lead your newsroom
into trying and testing new ideas.
The 60 minute archived recording of Joe’s
webinar is available for you to access at
http://bit.ly/bsfq6o. The webinar is part
of a series presented by the SNA
Foundation and relates to our e-learning
course Leading an Online Newsroom:
What You Need to Know (www.newsu.
Gratitude to the folks at the John S. and
James L. Knight Foundation for a gener-
ous grant than enables the SNA
Foundation to make the e-learning
courses and related webinars available
to users at no charge.
Free web-based tools for newsrooms
Michigan State University
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