This is the step by step process I use to publish the kigaliwire online newswire. You don’t need any technical knowledge to replicate or adapt any of this. You will need to sign up to at least four different free web services outlined below.
This free social bookmarking service is the backbone of the whole operation. Set up an account and install one of the browser bookmarking tools. I use the diigolet which works well using the Google Chrome browser. When you find an interesting story, you click on the diigolet in your browser toolbar, press bookmark and then you can edit the title, description and add tags as needed. See the example below.
The news item will then appear in your diigo library of bookmarks. It’s important to use accurate, specific and appropriate tags when bookmarking stories - tags will allow you to browse stories in the future much like you would look through a large, highly organised filing cabinet.
This is another free bookmarking service. Sign up for this service and then head back to Diigo. Diigo allows you to save to Delicious at the same time you save to Diigo. You shouldn’t trust one service with all this info, you need at least one back up and that’s where Delicious comes in.
Think of dlvr.it as your postman for all this information. You can do many things with this free service, I use it to send the interesting news stories I save to Diigo to Twitter. Dlvr.it automates that process, allows me to filter news stories by keywords and to automatically add a hashtag - in my case #Rwanda - to every tweet it publishes. See the little “via dlvr.it” at the bottom of this example tweet.
I use Wordpress to publish my blog. Within the “Appearance settings” there are a number of widgets which allow you to publish an RSS feed to your blog. I copy the url of my Diigo library - http://www.diigo.com/user/kigaliwire - in here so that the titles and links are published in the blog sidebar and on the landing page.
The good stuff about publishing this way…
Once all that is set up, the only thing you have to do to publish your newswire to Diigo, your blog and Twitter is to remember to use the diigolet bookmark tool for everything you want to publish. The rest is now automated.
And the bad stuff about publishing this way…
anything automated in this way can never be real time. There can be up to a five minute delay publishing links to Twitter via Dlvr.it.
It lacks a “human” touch on Twitter.
Diigo and Delicious are prone to glitches. If Diigo is down, you may need to temporarily change the settings in Wordpess to publish the Delicious account instead.
I don’t have a Facebook account. The biggest audience for a lot of this information is on Facebook. That might be the same for you. Therefore it might be worth looking at ways of using a Twitter to Facebook widget to send relevant stuff - possibly filtered through dlvr.it - to Facebook. Although, to be honest, you may need to tailor the information far more as Facebook is not Twitter and vice-versa which could make the whole process redundant.
The freelancers agreed that anybody can buy equipment, but few are passionate enough to see it to the end. The glamorous ideal of being a foreign correspondent parachuted in and out of warzones is dead – instead, journalists have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul and push past setback after setback. link
Finally, it looks as if we can say goodbye to automated “newspapers” created using paper.li and add a human, editorial layer to curate whatever you deem important.
A little over a year ago, I bemoaned what was missing from paper.li. The frustration largely came from seeing a number of articles in the Rwanda Daily which were irrelevant, way left - or right - of centre, or just plain crap.
Now, it looks as paper.li is evolving into a hyper-useful curation platform. Here’s what I got in a recent email from paper.li,
Improved CurationWe increased the number of content streams, introduced new sources such as Google+ and RSS feedsand improved filtering to aid you in publishing your topic specific papers.
"Publish it" BookmarkletA nifty tool that empowers you to easily curate content from anywhere on the web into a current edition of your newspaper, as well as store that source for future editions. Learn more
Mobile ReadersWe launched a native Paper.li iPhone app and introduced a web optimized mobile browser for iPhone andAndroid devices to support the growing demand in mobile viewing.
As I seem to be saying increasingly during my training sessions around the world - online curation is a key skill that press teams, news outlets, NGO communications and the like should be getting to grips with.
I constantly push teams to test tools such as storify and storyful. The changes paper.li have made mean it could be a super useful addition for the people I train. I will be testing pronto.
As it happens, and you are going to have to take this on trust I fear, I am a fantastic prig and Puritan on this subject, and fanatical about getting quotes straight and reporting only what I have seen, or if I am quoting what a local or a photographer or a wire agency saw, saying so. That is not because I am a saint. It is more about managing the existential angst of being a reporter a long way away from home: once you start making things up a bit, you might as well start making it all up and file without even getting on a plane. And then you quickly feel the ground vanishing beneath your feet: if you are inventing things, why be a journalist at all?
Lots to nod to in this piece from Bagehot in The Economist on the Johann Hari saga.
This is the kit I use when doing journalism in Kigali for Reuters. It wasn’t really that different a year ago. If you’re interested, pop over to Flickr and hover over the different pieces of kit to find out more about each tool.
For me, the Olympus WS-650S and the Olympus TP-7 Telephone Pickup Hands-Free Cable have been the best buys in 2011. Really, really useful duo to carry around.
NB: I felt particularly smug pleased earlier this week when the AFP correspondent in Rwanda stopped me at the Ingabire trial to ask if the wee Ricoh GRDIII was the camera I used for kigaliwire. It is the only camera I use. He thought I was lugging around $10,000 worth of camera kit :)
There are two key things to keep an eye on when using Google for search. Firstly, when you do a bog standard search, look down the left hand column, click the ‘more’ and ‘more search tools’ buttons. The options you find there will allow you to target your search far more effectively than a straight Google search.
For example, try searching using News only, then click the sort by date order button at the bottom of the left hand column. This will give you the latest articles - only from news sources - with the most recent appearing at the top of the search results. Try searching blogs and discussions too.
In addition, always use Google Advanced Search to fine tune your search using the ‘exact phrase’ option, domain search, date options and more.
If you are unfamiliar with using Google Advanced Search, play with it and learn how best to find what you’re after. Think laterally. Think about where you would expect to find what you’re looking for and in what format. Would it appear in a pdf or an excel spreadsheet? In which case use the file format search options. Are you trying to track down a phone number? Think about adding “tel:” to the end of your search. Think of phrases and words associated with what you’re looking for and add them to Google Advanced Search.
RSS - Really Simple Syndication - is a powerful way of subscribing to websites and search keywords to receive only the information you are interested in comes to you. This video will give you a simple overview into how RSS works.
You can use RSS to subscribe to the sections of news sites and blogs you are interested in. More importantly, you can subscribe to keywords, names of people, places, companies and phrases you need to monitor.
Google Reader is just one of many RSS readers available. Once you have subscribed to a number of keyword and key phrase searches within Google News and other sources, the Reader will become your hub for news. This video will help explain how it works.
Aggregators bring content from multiple sources into one place. Google News is a news aggregator. It pulls together 25,000 or so news sources. So is the recently launched Huffington Post UK and NewsNow which pools some 20,000 or more news sources. SiloBreaker is worth a look. It not only aggregates, but attempts to context and analysis. Lastly, Addictomatic is an interesting way of bringing multiple searches into one place.
Since it’s launch on July 15th 2006, Twitter has evolved into an entirely new news platform. When news breaks, it often breaks first on Twitter. However, twitter.com is not always the best close to search Twitter, to tweet from, or get the most out of the service. Here are some tools to explore:
Tweetdeck - a free downloadable application that allows you to run forward searches on keywords, hashtags and the like. Hootsuite and Seesmic are good alternatives.
Topsy - a real time search engine. Allows you to look back over 30 days, search tweets with only photos or video and find ‘experts’.
Bing Social - similar, but less configurable than Topsy. Shows you top links being shared on Twitter when you run a search.
Trendsmap - plots trending on a map, shows you who is tweeting what from where and what’s popular and where it’s popular.
Kurrently - a simple real time search engine that searches Twitter and public Facebook Status updates.
Twitter Advanced Search - highly configurable, if somewhat clunky, search engine. Allows you to specify location, time and even positive or negative attitudes.
This is for those with a bit of RSS experience already. With Yahoo Pipes you can wire up multiple RSS feeds and filter, sort, truncate and manipulate in multiple ways to deliver a single RSS feed of stuff you want. This is a very powerful tool, best used for filtering large amounts of information. I do find the resulting RSS feed is delivered quite a bit slower than a straight RSS feed, but for complex RSS jobs - Yahoo Pipes is the tool.
In addition, you can search Yahoo Pipes for public pipes. You can then clone and adapt them for your own use. Here’s one I created earlier, run a search in it and see what you find.
I use Diigo and Delicious social bookmarking tools to store news stories and send a newswire to kigaliwire, my news and photography site in Rwanda. It’s like having a filing cabinet of all your research stored online, easily navigable so long as you use tags. A huge time and space saver.
Stay up to date
Online tools and services come and go. It’s important to keep abreast of new tools that can make your job of journalism more efficient. Two places you might want to keep an eye on for new tools are the Mashable blog and take a look through the regularly updated Social Media Kitbag.
I met three folk, whom I’d never met before, at a party in Kigali this weekend. A consultant, a business owner and a diplomat. They all knew of kigaliwire and were very kind in their praise of the blog. What interested me was how each of them received information from the site.
- the diplomat only looked at Twitter and rarely visited the blog
- the business owner received daily emails and rarely visited the blog
- the consultant - and I was particularly pleased that someone actually found this wee tweak useful - told me he visited the blog every day and hovered over the links to get a quick blast of a story from the single para that magically appears (as in the image above)
I was intrigued and gratified to hear how different people accessed the news in completely different ways. By cobbling together a bunch of useful, free tools you can easily make information as accessible as possible for people who are interested in what goes on on your beat.
When your newswire host goes down, you need a back up plan. Diigo, my social bookmarking tool of choice, will be down for 3-5 hours today. That means no newswire on my blog.
All you get is a horrible looking RSS error. In addition, I can’t post to Diigo using the Diigolet. My newswire is effectively out for the best part of a day. Or is it?
One of the reasons I use Diigo is that it allows me to send links to Delicious and to Twitter and other places if needed. The idea being, if one service goes down I can replace the dead feed with an alternative and the newswire is back up and running in a couple of minutes.
This minor hiccup to my morning reminded me of a conversation I had at the BBC Social Media Summit with an Editor at a well-known UK newspaper about the importance of choosing the right combination of third party tools,
"It’s very important to consider which tools you can safely outsource to someone else and which ones you have to be in control of. It’s crucial to get the underlying architecture right - you don’t want to have to rebuild." link
It is key for the self-publisher to understand the tools being used. You have to understand how you are publishing and where. So that, when things go tits up, you know exactly what to do.
In these three posts, for news process junkies like myself, Lewis has provided a fascinating insight into the workings of a major U.S. magazine as it attempts to reinvent itself in the digital era.
For all the hugely impressive innovation, the business model appears to rely solely upon advertising - otherwise known as the great white whale that newspapers have been chasing online - and failing to find - since at least the late nineties. And here we are, well over a decade later, and the online advertising model still stubbornly remains unproven.
I can’t help but snigger a little. From a completely unscientific survey, it appears to me that it’s individuals, going it alone, away from the media dinosaurs, or sometimes in partnership with them, who are the only ones making the net work for them.
The only comparison I want to make between my ‘newsroom model’ and the one of Forbes relates to income. My model makes no mention of it. For a living, I need a more unconventional business model and it works, at least for now.
To a freelancer like myself, it’s quite simple. Journalism doesn’t pay enough. I need other income streams.
I imagine it’s the same for newspapers and magazines, like Forbes, but they suffer an “imagination deficit”. Those are not my words, but the words of Raju Narisetti, the Managing Editor of the Washington Post, in an excellent article, also in Forbes.
Listen carefully between each sentence - that’s the sound of Raju plucking hairs from his head as he struggles to figure out just what the hell he’s going to do to turn a crate like The Post around,
…The Post, like a few large U.S. newspapers, generates millions in online revenue from advertising. But we also generate tens of millions more from print advertising and circulation. The much anticipated intersection of rising digital revenues and falling print revenues has already turned into a mirage, leaving most of us with a cost structure way out of sync with today’s business reality. What is left is a relentless pressure to cut back on the single most expensive cost centre at media companies: The content creation engine, a.k.a., our newsroom…
…While our colleagues on the business side deserve credit for pushing newsrooms to become more nimble in recent years, they have also consistently failed to imagine and then incubate a Craigslist, a Groupon, a Monster. com, let alone a Google or a Facebook. Nor are they any closer today than they were last year in fixing the broken business model of quality journalism. So, while there is still room to cut costs and become more efficient, unless the revenue spigot opens up, the business model will remain broken and the decline of major news brands will only accelerate…
…I, for one, think that the golden age of targeted digital advertising is yet to come. Do we really want to trade that larger opportunity for the much smaller and unreliable pursuit of consumer dollars? I also wonder if we aren’t better off redeploying our newsroom resources to create new revenue streams and more engaging digital platforms than trying to make the traditional Web experience better and charge for it. And, I think we ought to create a drawbridge around our content—not necessarily for readers but for the aggregators. A business model that insists a Yahoo or a Huffington Post uses your content through some form of syndication, giving them trusted content and giving big media an opportunity to share the upside of their more engaging offerings…
…Free is indeed very expensive. But, what the prolonged and knee-jerk debate about free vs. paid inside our news organizations shows is that we still have what led us here in the first place: An imagination deficit. Rather than apply an ‘all or nothing’ approach focused, perhaps wrongly, on just our Web sites, we should be willing to make creative bets on our business model… link
It’s a sickness symptomatic of a tired media. Regurgitation, churnalism, all too indicative of the copy and paste school of hackery.
I do wish media outlets would get over themselves and simply link out to the original/best/most informative/well written/comprehensive/authorative and/or reliable source - regardless of what that source may be - rather than rewrite a wire report.
Yes - You need to be across every story. No - you don’t need to write/own every story.
Intelligent use of links will serve your readers better.