Posted tagged ‘iPhone’

Partnering with the community to share oral histories

February 27, 2011

As part of my ideaLab work this past month, I have been exploring relationships with potential community partners to launch an oral histories project. On Wednesday, I met with Dianna Huckstein and Michelle Horazdovsky at Brecon Village, part of the Evangelical Homes of Michigan. We talked about using ipadio.com‘s technology and local volunteers to collect audio recordings of residents at Brecon Village, a retirement community located in Saline, sharing their life experiences, insights, and thoughts and feelings about major moments in history that they lived through.

I came to the meeting only hoping to be able to interview some of the residents there and taking their photos. I thought it would be a lot of work on my part and I didn’t know how I would find the time, but it was something I was determined to do. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at their enthusiasm for the project and willingness to totally take it over by not only finding people interested in sharing their stories, but volunteers who would interview residents and members of a photo club who could take their photographs. All I, or a member of my staff, would have to do is go to the ipadio.com account, grab the embed code and get the photo from Brecon Village, and then upload both on our website under our Podcast category. Brecon Village will be able to feature the content on its website, as well, sharing the stories from residents in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have lived through important moments in history and who have led interesting lives, from traveling the world to running major companies.

We talked about organizing chats around themes, such as changes in industry and innovation witnessed over the years, major moments in history, hobbies/collections, world travels, faith/spirituality, leadership, lifestyle and work/career.

We also talked about featuring “celebrity” interviewers at times, such as the mayor, school superintendent, local radio personalities, community leaders, educators and local business owners.

The plan is for Dianna and Michelle to round up three people by early this week for me to interview on Friday. They will flesh out the best theme to base the interview on and I will do a little research before prepping my questions. I’ll first meet the residents, so they feel comfortable with the whole process, and then call them, using my ideaLab iPhone, which will enable me to use ipadio.com. The entire interview will be recorded and available as soon as we hang up. Once everyone sees how it’s done, we can start recruiting and training volunteers and celebrity interviewers.

My goal is to expand this project to include other retirement communities in Washtenaw County. To this end, I met with Sara Wedell of Chelsea District Library, who is working on a similar project using video, rather than audio, for the library’s website. She shared contacts at Chelsea Retirement Community, Silver Maples retirement community and Chelsea Senior Center. Chelsea Standard Editor Erica McClain will take the lead on making it happen in Chelsea.

I am also in touch with Alan Caldwell of Senior Helpers to build a partnership in Ann Arbor.

Here’s an example of an interview one of our former editors conducted with actor Jeff Daniels of Chelsea using ipadio.com.

Check out the ipadio.com app for the iPhone. I used it this morning and it worked just like a recorder. Loved it. Easier than recording the phone conversation. Check out my first interview using the app.

ideaLab Report and Update

September 27, 2010

It has been 30 days since my first ideaLab report and a second one is due to update our progress. Some breakthroughs include our sports editor using the iPhone Friday by himself to tweet the halftime score to HeritageNews followers on Twitter, which total 1,114, and three Facebook posts from the iPhone announcing he would be posting, giving the halftime score and reporting the final score. He had three people post “likes,” one of which was me. I guess this will be baby steps because what I had asked him to do was tweet at each quarter, as well as post to Facebook. Another reporter had the Netbook, so I didn’t expect the video by halftime like I did last week when I accompanied him to the Huron-Monroe football game.

The podcasting local history project has generated interest from the Saline Area Historical Society. A member saw my blog post before I even contacted the organization and that helped facilitate the project. I met with David Rhoads, the historical society’s president, Saturday during the Harvest of Arts Festival in Saline. We came up with a list of 10 historic places we could feature first, and he recommended historical society members Bob Lane and Wayne Clements for researching and sharing the history. The next step is for me to meet with my ideaLab community partner, professor Michael McVey, who has experience in podcasting and has volunteered to help. We will review the list Thursday and consider the order, and come up with a time frame for recording.

I am still waiting to hear about copy editor Daniel Lai’s experience with the Netbook while working on vacation in Texas, as he will be back Tuesday, and Heritage Newspapers online editor Jason Alley’s experience with the iPad.

Here’s my official report:
Goal: To incorporate technology into our jobs as reporters, editors and advertising representatives to achieve better efficiency, reader/customer engagement and interaction, and produce products rich in hyperlocal content relevant to people’s lives in a variety of formats. Our first project is a regional story on medical marijuana use in Michigan and the impact the new law has on local communities. Our first step was to shoot a video of our editorial meeting pitching the idea and that was followed by a live chat with readers Sept. 9. Ypsilanti copy editor and reporter Austen Smith is working on the story using our new technology, including video and audio, and is incorporating as much crowdsourcing as possible. During our live chat, we had 30 people participate in a two-hour period.

Allies: My fellow ideaLabbers, staff and the community. I won’t hesitate to call on anyone who may have experience or knowledge about what we’re trying to achieve. To be successful, I will engage everyone I can who has an interest in this project and moving journalism forward.

Obstacles: I reported last month that I still needed to work on getting the sports department on board. This is still a goal and I plan to meet with the department on Monday to reiterate this goal and seek a volunteer to follow on Friday to show him how to cover a football game live, like I did last week with the sports editor.

Training needed: We need training in podcasting, but it looks like Eastern Michigan University professor Michael McVey will help with this. We haven’t established the logistics yet, but it needs to happen in the next few weeks. I’ll also have copy editor and reporter Daniel Lai train employees on phonecasts using iPadio.com. We had talked about this, but none of our reporters showed any enthusiasm for it. We’re about to hire two new reporters to replace two who have left and I can guarantee you they will be enthusiastic.

Resources needed: I purchased a camera connection kit for the iPad and I still need to get Internet outside of WiFi for the iPad. I also need to continue searching for apps for the iPhone and iPad that will help us achieve our goals. The Netbook is still relatively unknown to me because I’ve been lending it out.

Accomplishments: Last month, I reported that we shot our first video pitching our regional story on medical marijuana in the state of Michigan and hesitation local governments are experiencing as dispensaries seek to set up shop and local leaders don’t have zoning and other issues worked out. We followed up with a live chat Sept. 9 to engage readers and ask them what kind of questions they want answered and what their thoughts are on the issues, and saw 30 people chime in. Copy editor and reporter Austen Smith hopes to have the piece done by next week, and it will incorporate video, audio, sidebars and crowdsourcing. I also showed the sports department how to cover football live, and started a podcasting project.

What you’ve taught: I reported last month that I taught sports reporter Dave Merchant how to upload pages to Scribd and then posting them on our websites as an online teaser to print. I also taught reporter Lisa Allmendinger how to send breaking news alerts and enter her sources’ e-mail in our Mail List at TownNews to build our online audience through our e-newsletter. She, however, is leaving us, so the training continues with existing staff and new as two positions are filled. This past 30 days, I taught sports editor Terry Jacoby about reporting live from high school football games, with tweets, Facebook posts and using the Netbook to upload video by halftime. He, in turn, used the training to venture out on his own this past Friday using the iPhone. Both Austen and I also looked into Cover It Live to execute our live chat on medical marijuana.

What you’ve learned: I previously reported that I had learned how to upload pdfs using Scribd to provide more content for our online readers, as well as phonecasts, or phlogs, using ipadio.com. This past month, I learned how to use Cover It Live to do live chats and iMovie on the iPhone to shoot and produce a video, and then I learned about transferbigfiles.com to send it to my laptop so it could be converted and uploaded to our website (see my Sept. 13 blog post).

Metrics: As reported Sept. 21 on my blog, which has more than 1,300 hits, we can measure engagement from reporting live at the Huron-Monroe football game in terms of the feedback that I received on Twitter, as well 14 views on the video I produced and the comments on Facebook. The number of video views is disappointing, but it seems to be the average. On Cover It Live, there were 30 people logged on following the conversation and participating. These blog posts are attracting readers and facilitating engagement, as demonstrated with my contact from the historical society president regarding the podcasting project.

Narrative: Like I reported last month, I feel progress is being made in terms of learning the technology and getting it in the hands of staff who can use it in the field. I was excited to see the level of engagement in our live chat and the live coverage we provided from the Huron-Monroe football game using the Flip, Netbook and iPhone. I was also pleased to see our sports editor take the iPhone out on Friday, and will get feedback from him tomorrow. I saw he had tweeted and posted scores on Facebook. The podcasting project has a lot of potential, and I should be able to report back next month on the progress in training and execution. As I stated last month, I think the key to being successful overall will be staff and audience engagement. I need to continue to engage my staff and encourage them as we incorporate these tools into what we do, and make sure our readers/users know what we’re doing and join the conversation.

Shooting video on the iPhone

September 13, 2010

I’ve had my iPhone, one of my ideaLab tools, for a week or so and I’ve shot my first video on it and uploaded it to our website. It was a little more complicated than I thought and it took some counsel from my friend and Mac user Debbie Michaels, as well as Heritage Newspapers’ online editor, Jason Alley.

Shooting the video was easy. I then purchased iMovie from the iTunes store and downloaded it. Next, I edited the video on the iPhone and then exported it. The problem was I didn’t know where it exported to. Debbie helped me find it under “Photos” on my phone. I then tried to e-mail it to myself so I could convert it to the size needed for our website, but the file was too big. That’s where Jason came in to save the day. He recommended I use transferbigfiles.com. I tried doing it from the iPhone by going to the website, but that didn’t work because when I tried to select file, nothing would happen. It took me a few minutes to figure out I needed to download the app. Thank goodness it was a freebie. So, I did that, set up an account and then retrieved the file from my laptop so I could convert it and put it online.

I hope this helps anyone else who may be experimenting with video.

ideaLab Report

September 3, 2010

I am on deadline and it’s not my typical print deadline, which is early, by the way, because of the holiday. It’s a deadline to produce my first report for the ideaLab as it marks its first month.

I have all of the tools now — an iPad, Netbook and iPhone (the phone just arrived yesterday) — and now the powers that be want to know what I’ve learned and what I’ve taught people, so far.

At our meeting in Philadelphia last week, I set the following goal as reported on the Ben Franklin Project Blog:
Michelle Rogers: (@ideaLabHeritage) — Incentive co-workers to learn new technologies and understand the value of digital. Train co-workers to utilize new tools by showcasing the strength and potential of each offering.

Today I am proud to say I am making progress. The iPad is now in the hands of Donna Genaw, an advertising consultant at The News-Herald, a sister publication based in Southgate, Mich.; the Netbook is in the hands of Steven Howard, one of my reporters at The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader; and the iPhone, having only received it yesterday, is with me.

Donna will experiment, play, learn and teach using the iPad, and will report back on this blog about her discoveries incorporating the iPad into her position selling advertising. One thing she mentioned to me was a desire to upload customers’ photos on the iPad into a program that will allow them to create an ad on the spot. She is searching for free apps as I write.

Steven will experiment, play, learn and teach using the HP Mini Netbook. He has already begun checking out Skype and the webcam feature. The plan is for him to bring it to his next council or school board meeting, write while he is there and upload his story directly to the website that evening. I will come in behind him and clean up his copy after the fact. I am sure he will find other uses, as well, as he continues to explore the possibilities.

One tool that wasn’t given to me as part of the ideaLab but was handed to me from our publisher, Jim Williams, is a Echo SmartPen. I’ve put this in the hands of Chelsea Standard and Dexter Leader reporter Sean Dalton, who will take notes and record conversations on it, which will be automatically uploaded translated to text files on his computer. This should be a huge time saver for him as he manages his time covering two cities, six townships, two school districts, local events and writing features.

The iPhone is still in its box, but I have plans to see a friend tonight who has an iPhone to help me through the set up and become familiar with some of its features. The possibilities involving video, and editing and uploading from the scene excite me, and I can’t wait to share it with other reporters on staff.

So, back to the formal report. Here are my answers to the questions posed by Jon Cooper, vice president of editorial content for the Journal Register Co. and our ideaLab leader:

Goal: To incorporate technology into our jobs as reporters, editors and advertising representatives to achieve better efficiency, reader/customer engagement and interaction, and produce products rich in hyperlocal content relevant to people’s lives in a variety of formats. Our first project is a regional story on medical marijuana use in Michigan and the impact the new law that allows it has on local communities. Our first step was to shoot a video of our editorial meeting pitching the idea and this will be followed by a live chat with readers to find out what questions are weighing on their mind related to the issue and how they would like us to approach the story or how they can get involved. Next up, we will produce the story using our new technology, including video and audio, and incorporate as much crowdsourcing as possible, depending on the level of engagement.

Allies: My fellow ideaLabbers, staff and the community. I won’t hesitate to call on anyone who may have experience or knowledge about what we’re trying to achieve. To be successful, I will engage everyone I can who has an interest in this project and moving journalism forward.

Obstacles: I still need to work on getting the sports department on board. I was knocked down by the sports editor when I joined his meeting Aug. 26, offering up the Netbook. He saw no value in tweeting or posting notes on Facebook of quarterly scores or big plays from high school games or providing any kind of live coverage, saying that’s only worthwhile at the professional sports level. I’d like to have one of our ideaLab sports reporters talk to him in hopes of getting him to see the value.

Training needed: Since all of this is relatively new, I haven’t identified training needs. The first two steps are playing and experimenting, and that’s what we’re currently doing. I am sure training will be needed further into this project as I’d like to know more about the capabilities of Windows 7, as well as everything the iPhone and iPad have to offer, rather than just stumbling across random things. For now, the plan is for my own ideaLabHeritage group to play, experiment, learn and teach. The group is currently comprised of about a dozen people representing the newsroom, advertising, online and the community at large.

Resources needed: I can see the need already for Internet access, other than free WiFi on the iPad, as well as the camera connection kit.

Accomplishments: We shot our first video pitching our regional story on medical marijuana in the state of Michigan and the uncertainty and hesitation local governments are experiencing as dispensaries seek to set up shop and local leaders don’t have zoning and other issues worked out. The next step is a live chat set Sept. 9 to engage readers and ask them what kind of questions they want answered and what their thoughts are on the issues, and whether they want to help us cover the issue by gathering video, audio or man-on-the-street interviews. I feel I have the support of the newsroom and that’s a huge accomplishment. The plan is to put the tools in their hands and they seem interested. I’d like to see more enthusiasm, however, with each engaging me one-on-one in conversation about goals and their own ideas. Right now, it seems to be me pushing this. I’d like to see their curiosity piqued and a light in their eyes when they ponder the possibilities of this new technology and how it can help us do our jobs.

What you’ve taught: I’ve taught sports reporter Dave Merchant how to upload our eight front pages from sports to Scribd, grab the embed code and then upload the documents on our website a day before print as a teaser and incentive for our online readers to pick up a print copy. I do this for three of our publications’ front pages, and I plan to train the three other copy editors to do the same for their publications. I’ve also uploaded press releases and government documents. In addition, I’ve taught reporter Lisa Allmendinger how to send breaking news alerts and enter her sources’ e-mail in our Mail List at TownNews to build our online audience through our e-newsletter. She paid it forward by teaching copy editor Jana Miller. The plan is to have Jana teach someone and so forth until everyone has this knowledge and capability.

What you’ve learned: I’ve learned how to upload pdfs, including our pages for print and government documents, using Scribd to provide more content for our online readers; I’ve discovered a few applications using the iPad, including Documents To Go, which I’ve used while on the run, as well as FlipBoard and Pandora for fun. I need to explore the photo editing capabilities. I’ve also learned how to do phonecasts, or phlogs, using ipadio.com as one of our copy editors, Daniel Lai, has been incorporating this technology regularly in his coverage area. My goal is for everyone on staff to begin using this.

Metrics: In terms of metrics, I still need to figure this out, but since establishing this blog in mid-July, I’ve had 1,000 hits.

Narrative: Although it has only been a month and the tools have been trickling in, I feel I am making progress. Now that the tools are in the hands of the people who can test them in the field, I am excited to hear about the results, which will be posted on this blog. Our first project is under way as we’ve shot the video. I just need to edit it and get it online. Copy editor Austen Smith, who is leading the project, is checking into the technology to do the live chat. This will be our first and I am excited about the possibilities that will bring once we learn more about it. I think the key to being successful will be engagement. I need to continue to engage my staff and encourage them as we incorporate these tools into what we do.

Two out three ain’t bad

August 6, 2010

They’re here! Well, two out of the three special products we’ve been waiting on have just arrived via FedEx. The iPad is currently charging and the HP Mini Netbook is out of its box and staring at me. If I didn’t have a bunch of editing to do and early pages for pagination to set up, I’d jump on it now. But, for now, it will continue to stare at me until I can break free later tonight. All that’s left is the iPhone and we are totally in business. A coworker asked me my about my weekend plans yesterday. Well, now I know.

Another bite of the Apple

August 5, 2010

The ideaLab Heritage team took a second bite of the Apple today, checking out the iPhone and asking follow-up questions about the iPad a week after our first meeting with Matt Tunstall, a business specialist with Apple at the company’s store in Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.

The iPhone appears to be an essential tool for any mobile journalist. You can shoot video on it and edit it right on the phone using iMovie, and then upload it directly to your website as it automatically compresses the video’s size for the web. While you can add B roll and fold it into your main interview, you can’t add voiceover to tell the story, but you could e-mail the video to yourself and do that on your Mac at home or the office using a more sophisticated version of iMovie.

In addition, you can record an interview using audio to complement your written piece online, and take photos to go with it. The iPhone has everything you need to report a story nowadays, with audio recorder, video and photo capabilities, as well as Internet access to upload the content directly to the website. This will be particularly beneficial for breaking news.

Furthermore, you can synch up your iPhone and iPad, and use the iPad for writing your story or converting your audio to text using a voice-to-text app. Tunstall recommended “Drag and Dictation,” a free app. Other recommendations included “Write Pad” to convert handwritten notes on the iPad, as well as a dictionary app, “Pen Ultimate” and “Documents to Go.”

Members of our group asked for specific recommendations for journalists. He suggested we Google search “best journalism apps for iPad.”

After last week’s scolding for taking notes with pen and paper, this time I captured video of our tutorial. Check out these two clips.