10 questions to ask before shooting your next Vine

By Andrew Gibson
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
How difficult can it be to shoot six seconds of smartphone video?

Turns out, pretty difficult. Twitter's video-based social network Vine presents many challenges typical of social platforms -- gaining and maintaining followers, for instance -- but also some unique to its format. Shooting a good Vine requires much forethought about how you can possibly grab viewers' interest, convey your message and provide context in so short a time. I'd argue six seconds is far more challenging than 140 characters.

Hence this post. These questions serve as a checklist to go through before making a Vine. Now, you might be thinking this: I watched your Vines, and they weren't too impressive. I agree. My 15 or so Vines will not earn me a Pulitzer or Webby or whatever category they might fit under. However, what I have done is watch hundreds of Vines created by people who are talented -- enough to where I felt comfortable making this list. To be honest, this post is rather selfish because I'm writing these down as much for my benefit as for yours.

Three places journalism students can learn code this summer

By Elise Schmelzer
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Basic understanding of HTML and CSS coding are irreplaceable tools in any journalist's toolbox and a fantastic reason for employers to choose you above other qualified job candidates. Though the languages may seem a tangle of confusing letters and symbols, they can become a gateway to beautiful web pages and applications with a little work.

Though many universities offer classes in web coding, students don't always have the cash or time in their schedule to devote to an official class. Luckily, the Internet provides a wealth of options accessible without a university class. I've outlined some of the best below in no particular order. Each option has its own pros and cons, but all offer a path to coding literacy.

Journalists and activists use social media to share stories

By Hannah Schmidt
Image from twitter.com
I have always been surprised by the power of social media. One person can post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter and (unless your profiles are private) many people can see it. These social media sites have led to a very connected world.

According to Statistic Brain, there are 1.2 billion Facebook users and an average of 58 million tweets per day. This hyper-connectivity allows us to reach a wider audience faster.

Turkish protestors are using social media to share what is happening in their country. News organizations are incorporating these tweets in their coverage of the protests.

Student news goes digital

By Cole Kennedy

Major initiatives by legacy media organizations to reinvent themselves for the digital era are a dime a dozen lately. From the lauded “Snow Fall” feature by the New York Times to the very recent reincarnation of Newsweek, it seems that publishers are finally catching on to the necessity of a strong online presence, one that doesn’t play second fiddle to the printed edition.

Corporate news organizations aren’t the only ones scrambling to figure out how to survive in a post-print era, though. What about the training grounds of journalism, the venerated student newspapers at high schools and colleges nationwide? They’ve been subjected to growing financial pressure just like any mainstream media organization, perhaps even more so. Fortunately, it seems that their editorial boards are keeping a keen eye on what works and what doesn’t in the industry and applying those lessons to their own, typically independent, publications.

Reporters face unreasonable expectations after Sun-Times photo layoffs

By Andrew Gibson
There's a long list of reasons why the Chicago Sun-Times will likely suffer from laying off its entire photo staff. It won't have the varying perspectives that come from visual-first journalists. Morale in the newsroom will surely drop. And it won't have the crew that's come to learn the nuances of the city after years of experience. Look no further than John H. White, the 35-year Sun-Times veteran and Pulitzer Prize winner selected by the Environmental Protection Agency to photograph Chicago's African-American community in the 1970s.

But there's another problem: Quality inevitably suffers when journalists are forced to multitask on daily deadlines. And that's exactly what the Sun-Times is asking its reporters to do: be responsible, along with freelance photojournalists, for shooting professional-caliber photos when they're on assignment.