Some tips from home and abroad

Image from Flickr user Paul Downey
By Ryan Levi

The end of this semester is a time of transition for ONA Mizzou. Three of our executive members (Maria Davison, A.J. Feather, and myself) are getting ready to study abroad in the spring while three more (Emerald O'Brien, Madison Feller, and Sarah Darby) are preparing to return from overseas and take their spots. We have all learned a lot this semester and we want to impart some of what we learned to you all.

Required reading for aspiring journalists

By Maria Davison

From Flickr user Georg Mayer
This semester I’ve been assigned to read a lot of incredible pieces of journalism. We didn’t just read things that were published yesterday, but pieces that spanned history and genres. When the semester ends, I’m going to miss having required reading because on my own, I never know what’s actually worth taking the time to read.

With every bit of advice for young journalists comes the tip that we should be reading and reading. And reading. So what should we read?

Paid for by the people: Crowdfunding journalism

From Flickr user Simon Cunningham
By Kara Tabor

Have you ever given money to a pledge drive or donated to public media? What about throwing a few bucks at a Kickstarter fund or an Indiegogo campaign for an investigative project or a podcast?

Funding journalism has become a challenge as traditional advertising and business models have been disturbed by the transition to online. But with new platforms that are making it easier for audiences to give to the media they want, in some respects crowdfunding appears to be filling that gap.

A new kind of newsroom?

By Katy Mersmann

Creative Commons photo by Brian Indrelunas
A few weeks ago, I came upon an article by Nieman Lab breaking down a Pew Research Center study that suggests that Americans get their news from specific outlets based, at least in part, on their political preferences. In many ways, it seemed like a no-brainer. People like to have their own opinions confirmed and it's only natural that audiences would focus on news they perceive as being reported in a way that supports their beliefs.


By Ryan Levi

Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski
Being a journalist is a stressful job. Being a journalist in the digital era where we are constantly connected and able to report and produce content anywhere we can get a cell signal is even more stressful. So how can journalists avoid over stressing and maintain a work-life balance?

Delivery changes. Journalism doesn’t.

By A.J. Feather

I gave a new method of podcast listening a try this weekend. I think I have used Stitcher Radio in the past, but I don’t remember when that was or why I did not stick with it. The experience was remarkable.

When I turned it on, it gave me access to a larger library of podcasts and allowed me to play through stories from the Wall Street Journal, NPR and the CBC in a curated order that flowed well. But that wasn’t what got my attention.

Networking tips from ONA14

By Maria Davison

From Flickr user Lars Plougmann
We constantly hear about how important networking is as young journalists. Networking is key for students as we’re looking for internships and jobs. But how do we best go about meeting professionals, striking up conversations, and keeping in touch? Here are some networking tips from a few friends of ONA Mizzou who were able to make it to the ONA conference in Chicago this September.

Live Blog: ONA Chicago Wrap-Up

By A.J. Feather

Welcome to the live-blog of our ONA Chicago Wrap-Up session.

The panelists are Brian Steffens, Director of Communications for the Reynolds Journalism Institute, Stephanie Ebbs, a masters student at MU, Annie Hammock, Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri and Dan Archer, a RJI residential fellow who has done a lot of experimentation in interactive storytelling.

Tools and tricks to get your graphics on

By Kara Tabor

Courtesy of Flickr user Intel Free Press
As technology continues to progress at an exponential rate, more and more data is generated in
society. This means that it is increasingly vital for us as journalists learn how to process it and make productive use of it for the public good.

At ONA Mizzou, we have proclaimed this week to be Graphics Week, I present you with a brief rundown of some tools and sources of inspiration for journalists looking to transform data into readable, appealing and informative graphics:

Journalism on your wrist

Courtesy of Flickr User Mark Johnson
By Katy Mersmann

A few weeks ago, Apple announced its newest products: two new iPhones and the Apple Watch. The iPhones really caught the most attention and now that they've been released to the public, coverage of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus has been significant, especially with the advent of "Bendgate."

But recently, a classmate shared a blog post with me addressing the question of how the Apple Watch, and other wearable technology, will impact journalism. Mario García runs a tech blog called García Media, that looks at the intersection of journalism and technology, and he raises some interesting questions about whether wearable technology will push journalism even further into the world of "at a glance."

Can Vine and Snapchat be reporting tools?

By Ryan Levi

By Snapchat, Inc. [Public domain]
via Wikimedia Commons
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it to the #ONA14 Conference in Chicago this past weekend, so I spent some time on the conference website looking at what I missed. In addition to the great work done by the folks in the ONA Student Newsroom, I found two short videos which kind of blew me away: two journalists talking about using Snapchat and Vine in their newsrooms.

When does “Mobile Journalism” become “Journalism?”

Photo via
By A.J. Feather

We hear about mobile journalism a lot at the Missouri School of Journalism.  It seems almost every month someone has figured out how to capture a moment better with their smartphone than a DSLR or dedicated audio recorder.  It is also moving into the media. An article in Wired last month ventured to explain “How the Smartphone Ushered In a Golden Age of Journalism.” Judd Slivka, a professor of Convergence Journalism here at MU, argues ‘”Mobile journalism” is a ridiculous title, like “camera journalism.”’ He says the equipment does not determine what good journalism is. Good journalism is good journalism regardless of the means we use to produce it.

Live Event Blog: Transmedia and Visual Storytelling

By Maria Davison

We're excited to get started with Dan Archer's talk on transmedia and visual storytelling, but you still have a few minutes to join us in RJI 100A.

After a few technical difficulties, we're finally getting started! He's telling us a little bit about himself. He's a graphic journalist focusing on transmedia, and he'll be speaking at the ONA conference next week. He's going to tell us about his journey to his current work and dispel some mistaken ideas about using cartoons as journalism.

Cartoons as News: A Different Approach to Journalism

From Flickr User Daniel Carvalho
By Maria Davison

We’re looking forward to hearing what RJI Fellow Dan Archer has to say about telling stories in new and interesting ways at our event on Thursday, Sept. 18. In the past, Archer’s has covered issues like human trafficking in Nepal, but in a comic strip format. While cartoons often aren’t automatically thought of as journalism, several journalists are using this platform to explore complex topics around the world.

Here’s a look at some other uses of cartooning to tell stories gathered through investigative reporting:

Transforming the Comics Section: Dan Archer Illustrates the News

By Kara Tabor

Wikimedia Commons image from user Emuzesto
When thinking about visual media, the formats that probably readily come to mind are photography, video and infographics. Tried and true, multitudes of journalists have used these media as the default go-tos when trying to add dimension or boost the power of a story as a whole.

But rather than the text of A1 or the video packages at the top of the hour
having the most compelling story of the day, what if it was the images in the Sunday cartoons instead?

We're trying something new and we want you to join us

Creative Commons photo by Flickr user Etownian
By Katy Mersmann

If you're reading this, that means you've survived the first week of classes. By this point, many of us already have early assignments from our editors and for our journalism classes, and it can all be a little overwhelming, especially right at the beginning. Some students (myself included) are facing the daunting task of learning new software, others are facing their first real deadlines and stories. Some other students might be working on developing stories on their own, which will eventually be pitched to media outlets around the state and country.

Welcome back, Journalism Tigers!

By Katy Mersmann

Creative Commons photo from Wikipedia user AdamProcter
Hi and welcome back to Mizzou! We’re so excited for a new year of Online News Association and we are looking forward to getting started. We’re planning a variety of events to help students grow and develop their skills as news writers and editors, as well as provide a place to network with each other and media professionals.

Four pieces of soccer journalism not by Ann Coulter (and two by Ann Coulter)

By Emerald O'Brien

Creative Commons photo from Flickr user daniandgeorge
Whether the completion of the World Cup on Sunday will bring you infinite joy or put you in a four-year depression (or maybe you stopped thinking about soccer altogether after last Tuesday), it is the last time many Americans will really think (or write) about soccer until 2018. 

That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching both the World Cup and Americans yelling at each other about whether or not soccer is stupid while the rest of the world ignores us.

This year’s buzz began with Ann Coulter’s article condemning the sport and all who enjoy it. And while it is an...interesting (ahem, hilarious) read, here are some other things that happened in soccer journalism in the last month.

Where to find your next long read

By Maria Davison

Creative Commons photo from Flickr user Sean Winters
It's the middle of summer, and while on a break from the normal chaos of the semester, I promised myself I would invest some time in reading great long-form journalism. I have a habit of finding stories I want to read, keeping them open in a tab on my laptop, then forgetting about them, and never actually reading them. 

It's a terrible habit, especially because this kind of journalism provides insight to the hundreds of tweets we read every day. The Internet makes it so easy to know what's happening in the world and long form shows us what news means for the people involved.

Email Alerts: An Easy Way to Stay Up To Date

By Madison Feller

Wikimedia Commons image from user RRZEicons
Now that it's officially summer, we're sure that you're all knee-high in summer internships, online courses and Netflix shows. With everything going on during these few months, it can be hard to keep up with our friends and family, let alone what's going on in the world.

As students and journalists, it's vital to stay up-to-date on local and national current events, but it can be hard to do everything during your half-hour lunch break. Especially if you also have a list of five different long-form pieces that you've been meaning to finish...

3 Tips to Help You Survive Journalism’s Tech Revolution

By A.J. Feather

There are several skill sets all writers, broadcasters and editors need to have for their day-to-day work - AP Style, the ability to use a specific workflow environment like iNews, an understanding of certain applications like Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite, etc.

But no matter how many applications you try and no matter how good your understanding of the English language is, new environments, software and technical issues will come your way.  To help you conquer the learning curve, I have made a list of three things I recommend every journalist do.

Storify: Your reactions to the end of the Columbia Missourian paywall

By Sarah Darby

Creative Commons photo from Flickr user nonorganical

This month the Columbia Missourian announced an end to its time paywall.

The announcement is big news for the newspaper, which primarily serves as a teaching lab for students.

The decision to end the much-debated paywall is evidence of the increasing importance of finding digital revenue models that work.

Here's how the public responded to the change:

5 tips for young journalists from J-School grads

By Ryan Levi
Wikimedia Commons image from user Mojourcomm

As part of my extensive summer reading list (highlights so far include Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams), I took a look through our Letters Home series, a collection of letters from J-School graduates to students currently studying at the finest journalism school in the world. Below are five big-picture takeaways from their letters.

Your Unofficial Summer Syllabus

By Kara Tabor

Creative Commons photo from Flickr user samantha celera
Ah, summer--it's the time when journalism students across the country exchange classes for internships, jobs, personal projects and (hopefully) some relaxation. It's also a great opportunity to get caught up on some of the extracurricular learning that tends to take the back burner during the academic year.

Depending on your commitments, summertime may be busy-time. However, even the most tightly scheduled students can squeeze in a few minutes here and there to dig into some new resources.

Understanding technology for journalism competence

Creative Commons photo from Flickr user BRAYDAWG
By Katy Mersmann

When I was in Washington this semester, I was fortunate enough to attend the National Press Foundation awards dinner with my fellow Mizzou journalism students. Wolf Blitzer was honored at the ceremony for a lifetime of dedication to journalism. During his remarks, he told an anecdote about learning to type with both hands at the same time while he was working for Reuters. My entire table of students was aghast. Blitzer was hired by a big, successful news agency without even basic typing skills. Today, that's pretty hard to imagine. 

I share this anecdote as an example of the rapid changes in journalism technology. I was reading Poynter's newly released, updated Pyramid of Journalism Competence. The pyramid was originally created in 1998 for a forum Poynter hosted for the Committee for Concerned Journalists and offered guidance to journalists about what they needed to know.

Meet the 2014-2015 ONA Mizzou student leaders

President: Katy Mersmann

I'm Katy Mersmann and I'm a current junior and international convergence journalism major. My first love is the written word (I came to Mizzou to be a print reporter) but quickly discovered the flexibility and excitement of working with different platforms to get the story out. I'm passionate about the potential for social media crowdsourcing to provide richer narratives and different perspectives on the news we see everyday.

I'm originally from Olathe, Kan. (although I've never liked the Jayhawks!), and I just spent a semester in Washington, D.C., interning in the medical unit at CNN. After graduation, I dream of taking my skills on the road as a "backpack reporter" and covering stories that don't get much traction.

Outside of the j-school, I like to eat, run, watch Mizzou football and talk about Harry Potter with anyone who will listen.

Newsrooms and deep dish: A recap of ONA Mizzou's trip to Chicago

By Andrew Gibson
This has been a year of firsts for the Online News Association at Mizzou.

In November, we brought our first out-of-state speaker to campus: then-New York Times reporter Brian Stelter (he's now CNN's senior media correspondent). Later that month, we teamed up with the MU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists for the on-campus UNITY conference, which focuses on diversity in the media. And this past weekend, we went on our first school-sponsored trip.

Where to, you ask (unless you read the headline)?

What you need to know about running for an ONA Mizzou office

By Elise Schmelzer

It's that time of year again: Final exams lurk in the near future, summer can't come soon enough and ONA Mizzou is looking for its next batch of student leaders.

Student leaders are in charge of the club's events from the first brainstorming session to putting the chairs back after everyone has left.

This year, our events included topics like web analytics and our guests included former New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, who now is the senior media correspondent for CNN. We also hosted a hands-on tutorial on building custom Google maps and offered portfolio site reviews.

Anyone who has attended at least one of our events is welcome to come hear the candidates' speeches and then cast a vote.

When: 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 1
Where: Palmer Room (100A Reynolds Journalism Institute)

Live event blog: Crash course in web analytics

By Cole Kennedy

Ready to follow along with Brad Best's talk on web analytics? There's still time to swing by RJI 100A (the Palmer Room) and sit in!

We're off! Brad is telling us a little bit about himself. He started his career in advertising and made his way over to strategic communication. He credits his interest in analytics to his use of statistics in fantasy football and baseball. He realized that the same sort of statistical principles applied to websites.

First question to ask yourself, no matter what the website is: "why does your website exist?"
  • Step 1: Get "qualified" people to your website. Do you have a target audience?
  • Step 2: Get them to take the desired action. What do you want visitors to do?
  • Step 3: Get them to come back. Did you meet or exceed expectations?
The first news analyst: the paper boy on the corner of the street. Where did he go to sell the news, and why? He went to busy street corners, because that's where the foot traffic was. He was analyzing information to determine how to maximize his sales.

Event alert: Crash course in web analytics

Brad Best
(Photo courtesy Missouri School of Journalism) 
By Bridgit Bowden

You can’t properly manage a website if you don’t understand web metrics -- and news people are no exception.

In its "Journalists' Guide to Analytics," digital journalism blog 10,000 Words writes that these numbers are "important for every journalist to understand."

But with so many analytics tools out there and plenty of related terminology to learn, this topic can be difficult to grasp.

That's why we're here.

Join the Online News Association at Mizzou for a one-hour workshop led by Brad Best, assistant professor of strategic communication. You’ll learn what role analytics play in both e-commerce and news websites, as well as how to interpret certain metrics.
Bring a laptop to follow along with the workshop. See you there!

Web analytics tools preview

By Cole Kennedy

ONA Mizzou is excited to announce that our next workshop will focus on web analytics. It will help you make sense of unique page views, clicks, bounce rates, social media referrals and more.

In anticipation of that event, scheduled for Thursday, April 10, we've collected a handful of popular web analytics tools.

Is there anything missing from the list? Make sure to tell us in the comments, so we can add it in.

Four Mizzou courses outside the journalism school to hone your digital skills

By Andrew Gibson
Creative Commons photo from Flickr user nigelpepper
No matter what emphasis area you choose in the Missouri School of Journalism, you're going to walk away with some coveted digital skills.

Reporting classes teach you how to produce text, photos and videos for an online audience. In Multimedia Planning and Design (Journalism 4502), taught by Rob Weir, you learn how to build snazzy news websites using HTML5 and CSS3. And if you enroll in David Herzog's Computer-Assisted Reporting (Journalism 4430), you'll have no trouble using MySQL to find stories in data.

That said, as you register for summer and fall courses, consider looking away from the northeast corner of Francis Quadrangle if you want to bolster your digital skill set. The computer science and information technology departments, among others, offer a slew of courses worth working into your four-year plan.

Live event blog: Web design crash course with Rob Weir

By Cole Kennedy

The Palmer Room (RJI100) is filling up and we're getting ready to start our web design crash course with Rob Weir. Still time to come on down and learn the fundamentals, like typography, layout, and color scheme.

Rob's presentation is titled "Web design in 60 minutes," and we're excited to see what we can learn in an hour.

Rob is the director of digital development for the Columbia Missourian, so he takes care of all of the Missourian's technology.

The basics: web design is 95 percent typography. The other five percent is made up of:
  • color, contrast, and balance
  • presenting relevant information
  • letting your content tell its own story

Apps for mobile journalists

By: Hannah Schmidt

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Thompson Foundation
The smartphone has advanced since it first debuted. Now it has greater streaming ability, storage capacity, and photo and video quality.

Journalists now have easier ways to shoot, edit and share content faster than ever and in any situation. As assistant professor Karen Mitchell says, "The best camera you have is the one in your hand."

Here are some of the apps available for mobile journalists to capture and edit audio, photos, and video.

Are we missing one you prefer? Let us know.

Event alert: Crash course in Web design

By Bridgit Bowden
Photo courtesy of Flickr user mararie
In online news, Web design is an important factor in keeping readers engaged with content. Poynter says it only takes 50 milliseconds for users to "form strong, long-lasting impressions about your news or information website."

So no matter whether you write a blog or are putting together an online portfolio, what layout, colors and fonts you choose are crucial.

Not sure where to start? Join ONA Mizzou as Rob Weir, director of digital development for the Columbia Missourian, leads a crash course on the fundamentals of Web design. You'll walk away understanding the proper design workflow and what makes a site user-friendly.
  • When: 6 p.m., Thursday, March 6
Bring a laptop to follow along with the workshop. See you there!

NBC goes all in for online coverage at Sochi

By Cole Kennedy
Screen shot of the NBC Olympics website Feb. 7
This past Friday, at 10 a.m. CST, the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics kicked off in Sochi, Russia. NBC won't broadcast the show until primetime in the U.S., as the network has done for every Olympics in far flung timezones.

But with the advent of social media, the audience is no longer unaware of the events as they happen. NBC had been hesitant to live stream many events in the past. The network had concerns the stream would cut into primetime ratings. However, the online audience made very vocal complaints about the tape-delay strategy, according to an article on Mashable.

A breakdown of online mapping tools for journalists

By Andrew Gibson and Elise Schmelzer
Creative Commons photo courtesy of zabdiel
Journalism professor David Herzog led a workshop Thursday explaining how to build interactive maps with Google Fusion Tables. During his presentation, he mentioned several online cartography tools journalists might find useful.

We've outlined many of those tools below. They're broken into three categories: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

For each, we've listed pros, cons, examples and whether it's free.

Are we missing anything? Tell us in the comments.

Workshop alert: How to build an interactive map in 60 minutes

By Elise Schmelzer and Andrew Gibson
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Tomi Knuutila
Maybe you want to track all the cool places you've been. Perhaps you want to create an in-depth map that shows today's domestic migration routes, like Forbes did. Or maybe you want to collect and share the best sledding hills in town, like ABC 7 in Detroit.

Whatever your goals may be, having the ability to tap into all the geographic information online is invaluable both inside and outside the newsroom.

Join the Online News Association at Mizzou as journalism professor David Herzog leads a one hour workshop on how to build clickable, customizable maps with Google Fusion Tables. Herzog, also the academic adviser to the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, will highlight his favorite examples of mapping in journalism and briefly introduce other online cartography tools.