jessicamt

Canadian Geographic Magazine

Canadian Geographic magazine is published six times per year and filled with content submitted by Canadian writers. It focuses on scientific, environmental and travel stories, as well as stories about specific people or cultures in Canada. Photography plays an important part in the content of the magazine, adding a visual component to all of the stories.

Owned by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Canadian Geographic has a worldwide readership of more than 4.5 million. Through its more-than-80 years, the magazine has won several awards.

Canadian Geographic also releases four issues of Canadian Geographic Travel each year, which focuses on destinations both in Canada and elsewhere around the world.

(Photo credit: www.canadiangeographic.ca)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 5 - "Comfort News"

Eric Newton’s main focus of chapter five of Searchlights and Sunglasses is that the public consumes too much, as he calls it, “comfort news.” We read or watch or listen to too much information that really isn’t important: celebrity gossip, reality shows and even sports.

I think this was a particularly well-written section of Searchlights and Sunglasses because Newton compares the idea of “comfort news” to something we can all relate to, comfort food. Just like most carbs and other so-called comfort foods don’t do much for our bodies, “comfort news” does little for our minds, except provide some short-lived pleasure.

The problem with “comfort news,” I think, is that it is so readily available and becoming easier to come across all the time. Newton talks about how technology is constantly helping us filter out what we apparently don’t want to see. As that happens we have to make a consistently greater effort to search out actual news that matters.

Newton says that we have to “make ourselves uncomfortable once in a while by seeking out facts that do not mesh with our opinions.” To be responsible members of our society, who are really aware of issues, means that we need to seek out opinions that differ from our own and achieve a real understanding of differing points of view. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true: most things are not black and white.

It’s interesting that while we as a society apparently find it easier to consume mainly “comfort news,” we also know that it’s making us ignorant of important information. Newton references a poll of people in Chicago, half of whom did not know who to vote for. I’ve seen this happen as well. Important debates are happening in our community and people don’t know their opinion on the matter, much less what the two (or more) sides even are. 

Newton quotes dean emeritus of the University of Florida School of Journalism and Communication Ralph Lowenstein when he says that in 40 years all of the filtered news could result in us being in “a political, social or educational cocoon.” Again, I think this an accurate idea. Now is the time that we have to realize that the convenience and ease of our “customized” and filtered news is not beneficial to us. More and more information is available for us to consume and analyze and make meaning of, but, sadly, most of us choose to look at the stuff that brings us short-term satisfaction. We should strive to change that. 

(Photo credit: http://searchlightsandsunglasses.org/c5)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 4 - ProPublica

In chapter four, Searchlights and Sunglasses author Eric Newton’s central idea is that journalism can be improved and developed with the increased involvement of communities and individuals in their news. Citizens need to take an active roles, becoming engaged and interested in journalism. He says, “Communities are at their best when they are informed and engaged.”

Newton suggests one way this can be accomplished. Journalists being more transparent in their work and placing a greater emphasis on how a story is developed rather than just on the story itself, could spark the interest of audiences. Investigative journalism in particular should be of importance to the public. The majority of them could save the nation a large amount of money, says Newton.

ProPublica is mentioned several times in this chapter, and also throughout all of Searchlights and Sunglasses so I decided to look into it.

Established in late 2007, ProPublica began publication of investigative journalism pieces in June of the following year. ProPublica’s independent newsroom is located in Manhattan and home to about 45 working journalists. As the resources – both in terms of time and money– are shrinking, investigative journalism pieces are becoming harder and harder to come by. This was the founders had in mind when they started ProPublica.

By drawing attention to issues of public interest, ProPublica attempts to bring about social change in a “non-partisan and non-ideological manner.” Most of the stories are given free of charge to traditional news organizations so they can reach a wide audience through publication and broadcast.

ProPublica is a non-profit funded primarily through The Sandler Foundation and 85 per cent of every dollar donated to ProPublica goes to producing news. A number of awards have been given to ProPublica, most notably a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 and 2011, and a Peabody Award in 2013.

Eric Newton stresses the importance of investigative journalism and the non-profit ProPublica provides the public with those type of stories. I agree with Newton that investigative journalism is crucial to showing the public what journalism can uncover, but he doesn’t really draw attention to the fact that journalists don’t necessarily have the time or resources to research and investigate these stories.

Adobe InDesign Tips & Tutorials

Adobe InDesign is part of Adobe’s creative suite which includes programs such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver among others. InDesign is a powerful program used by graphic designers or layout professionals, for example, to design poster or flyers, or layout magazines or books. 

InDesign runs on PC or Mac and has had numerous updates since the first version was released in 1999. 

While what we learned in our layout class was sufficient to get our assignments complete, I realize there is so much more this program can do.

This article on Creative Bloq does the work for you by finding 44 different tutorials to help you learn more about what InDesign can do for you! Tutorials include:

  • Mastering InDesign preferences (it is highly customizable)
  • Working with type
  • How to speed up your InDesign layouts
  • How to create animated layouts in InDesign

To view the article, click below:

44 Brilliant InDesign Tutorials

Storify

With its headquarters located in San Francisco, California, Storify is a service that allows its users to create stories or timelines using others’ posts on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

How does it work? Storify’s website explains the process in four easy steps:

  1. Find - Storify lets you look through numerous platforms and look for content you want to use for your story.
  2. Create - Simply drag and drop the posts you want to use for your story.
  3. Collaborate - With Storify’s enterprise plan, numerous people working in the same newsroom, for example, can work on the same story.
  4. Share - Last, embed the story into any webpage by pasting an embedded code.

What kind of stories can users create? Storify’s website lists five different types of stories and provides some examples for each one:

  1. Breaking News - Boston Marathon Bombing
  2. Live Events - G8 Summit 2013
  3. Brand Campaigns - Samsung Galaxy S4 launch
  4. Captured Chats - Sandwiches. With @buzzfeed and @digg
  5. Memes and Offbeat - North Korea via Instagram

Using Storify for an element of a story can add an interesting element that allows you to engage with your audience or combine different ideas in one place.

British Columbia Magazine

British Columbia Magazine (BC Mag), started in 1959, is a quarterly geographic and travel magazine produced in B.C. It sets out to inspire its audience to take adventures and “deepen their respect and appreciation for B.C.’s wild beauty.”

With its offices located in Vancouver, BC Mag has a world wide readership of more than one million. The magazine covers:

  • parks,
  • wilderness,
  • wildlife,
  • travel destinations,
  • outdoor adventures,
  • recreation,
  • geography,
  • ecology,
  • conservation,
  • science,
  • natural phenomena,
  • remarkable people,
  • First Nations culture,
  • heritage places, and
  • history.

The magazine also places an emphasize on its vibrant photography. 

This photo by Jason Do Carmo is part of a piece called “Fogcouver” featuring 10 photos of foggy Vancouver. 

The photo above by Eiko Jones is part of a story called “Snorkeling with Salmon.

As we all know, British Columbia is a beautiful province with plenty of opportunities for travel and adventure. BC Mag gives readers an opportunity to see possible destinations before they decide to venture out and experience them on their own. 

(Photo credits: magazine cover, Fogcouver, Snorkeling with Salmon)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 5 - Clarity and Readability

The fifth and final chapter of Searchlights and Sunglasses focuses on three main things: the concept of comfort news, the importance of philanthropy for the funding of journalism and the importance of clarity and readability in writing.

Writing in a clear and concise way is something we all learn from the onset of j-school. Wordiness, repetition and complicated language should all be avoided in our stories – making sure that readers get the message is priority number one. 

The following quote from The Elements of Style provides a good way to think about making writing more clear:

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline but that every word tell.”

Looking at a piece of your work and deciding whether the whole thing is clear could be a difficult task. Instead look at every sentence and make sure that it adds something to what you are trying to say. If it’s too wordy, cut it down; if it’s too repetitive, cut it out. Doing so can make your work more efficient. You can pack more information into the often limited space that you have.

Newton says several times throughout Searchlights and Sunglasses that the best way to keep journalism alive is to make sure that everyone in society is involved. By writing in a way that most people can understand, more people will obviously be aware of what is happening around them. Newton says that the average American communicates at a grade 8 level. How can you test what grade level your writing is at?

  • Readability-Score.com allows you to copy your work into the field and gives your writing a number of scores including American grade level and the Flesch score than Newton mentioned in the chapter.
  • You can also check grade level and Flesch score easily in Microsoft Office. To find out how to enable this feature, click the link: Test your document’s readability.

(Photo credit: http://searchlightsandsunglasses.org/c5)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 4 - Voter Turnout

In chapter four of Searchlights and Sunglasses Eric Newton discusses the correlation between the rise of new forms of media and the voter turnout for presidential elections in the United States. It’s not a relationship that I have really thought about before, but one that is very interesting. Newton lists the chain of events that could lead to this:

  1. Because the emerging medium is new, a lot of Americans pay attention to its novelty, including some who don’t normally vote;
  2. Since the new medium carries news, the pool of people aware of that news, including political news, increases; 
  3. Some people who didn’t talk about politics before start doing just that;
  4. Savvy politicians realize they can use this new media to increase turnout by targeting potential voters; 
  5. The politicians reach a wider audience, either by  political parties dominating newspapers, presidential fireside chats via  radio,  live televised presidential debates or a president dominating social and mobile media; 
  6. It works. Voter turnout increases as new media consumers become politically active, but… 
  7. It only works for a few elections, because eventually, the rising medium is no longer novel, and the pool of potential voters settles back to normal.

To me it makes sense. Did the same trends happen in Canadian federal elections? According to Elections Canada and in particular this chart:

Rise of Radio

  • U.S. - 1952-1955 - voter turnout peaked at roughly 63 per cent and then dropped to about 54 per cent. 
  • Canada
    • 1949 - 73.8  per cent
    • 1953 - 67.5 per cent
    • 1957 - 74.1 per cent
    • 1958 - 79.4 per cent

Rise of TV

  • U.S. - 1968-1976 - voter turnout peaked at about 64 per cent and then fell to roughly 53 per cent.
  • Canada
    • 1963 - 79.2 per cent
    • 1965 - 74.8 per cent
    • 1968 - 75.5 per cent
    • 1972 - 76.7 per cent
    • 1974 - 71.0 per cent

Rise of Digital Media

  • U.S. - 2000-2008 - voter turnout rose from 50 per cent to about 63 percent.
  • Canada
    • 2000 - 61.2 per cent
    • 2004 - 60.6 per cent
    • 2006 - 64.7 per cent
    • 2008 - 58.8 per cent
    • 2011 - 61.1 per cent

Interestingly, Canada did not see the same trends in federal election voter turnout that the U.S. did in presidential elections. The rise of new forms of media did not seem to have an influence on Canadian voters, at least not as drastically as our neighbours to the south.

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 3 - The CBC

Eric Newton makes an interesting point near the end of chapter 3 of Searchlights and Sunglasses: “If you want to increase money for public media, you need to increase the media being offered to the public.” Because this online textbook is focused on American journalism and American media, Newton of course doesn’t make any mention of Canada or our public media source, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, or the CBC.

The CBC was established in November of 1936 as a Crown corporation. At first the CBC had a number of radio shows and even sent a reporting crew overseas for WWII. Eventually the CBC spread to television, and offered programming in French and English. The CBC has hosted Olympic Games and – maybe the thing it’s most famous for – Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC).

In recent years things have not been so bright for the CBC. Beginning in 2014 the federal government cut funding to the CBC by $115 million per year, more than 10 per cent of its previous $1.1 billion annual budget. This was not the first funding cut for the CBC however; previous years had seen funding decrease as well, just not as drastically.

On top of that, the CBC is no longer making money from HNIC, its lucrative revenue generator. In 2013 Rogers struck a 12-year $5.2 billion deal with the NHL for rights to games. While CBC still shows games, they no longer make the ad revenue they were previously making. Funding cuts were followed by lay-offs.

Is this the beginning of the end for the CBC? While there is some successful programming that has become popular like The Rick Mercer Report or (previously) Jian Ghomeshi’s show, Q, on CBC/Radio-Canada, nothing generated money for the CBC like HNIC. 

The question remains whether the CBC will be able to recover and remain as one of Canada’s reliable source for news and entertainment. I agree to an extent with Newton when he says that to receive money, public media has to generate more content. However, I wish that he would have discussed what public media should do when/if their funding decreases, like what is happening with the CBC. To me it seems like a doomed spiral – without funding they can’t produce content, but without worthwhile content, they won’t receive funding.

For a more detailed history of the CBC, checkout this article:

Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC)

(Photo credit: CBC en.wikipedia.org, HNIC www.brandsoftheworld.com)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 3 - World Press Freedom Day

In chapter 3 Eric Newton, author of Searchlights and Sunglasses, talks all about the importance of freedom of the press, how governments should (and shouldn’t be) involved, and what kind of changes policy reform could bring about. He briefly mentions World Press Freedom Day, but unfortunately doesn’t go into too much detail about what the day is all about.

This year World Press Freedom Day falls on Sunday May 3. The day was first proclaimed in December of 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly on the recommendation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference. It has four main focuses:

  • Celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom,
  • Access the state of press freedom throughout the world,
  • Defend the media from attacks on their independence, and 
  • Pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day consists of three inter-related parts:

  • The media’s importance in development,
  • The safety of journalists and the rule of law, and
  • The sustainability and integrity of journalism.

According to the UN page about the background of World Press Freedom Day, making sure that everyone in the world has access to information is closely related to empowering people. They say,

“Empowerment is a multi-dimensional social and political process that helps people gain control over their own lives. This can only be achieved through access to accurate, fair and unbiased information, representing a plurality of opinions, and the means to actively communicate vertically and horizontally, thereby participating in the active life of the community.”

Here are some 2013 statistics from a Reporters Without Borders report that I think are sad to think about when considering that journalists are doing their job to ensure that people have their right to information met:

  • 71 journalists killed,
  • 826 journalists arrested,
  • 2160 journalists threatened or physically attacked,
  • 87 journalists kidnapped,
  • 77 journalists who fled their country,
  • 6 media assistants killed,
  • 39 netizens and citizen-journalists killed, and
  • 127 bloggers and netizens killed.

Living in Canada, a developed country with little, if any, restrictions on the Internet, I think it’s easy for us to lose sight of the fact that no all people enjoy the same freedom to information that we do. Newton draws attention to this well in chapter 3. I would recommend the article, Web Censorship: the net is closing in, on The Guardian website to read more about countries that censor their Internet

(Photo credit: http://www.un.org/en/events/pressfreedomday/)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 2 - 21st Century Fluencies

An idea that reoccurs in chapter 2 of Searchlights and Sunglasses is 21st century literacies. Author Eric Newton lists them: news literacy, digital media fluency and civics literacy. Understanding how to navigate the digital world is, according to Newton, as important as being able to fluently communicate in English. While it will take a long time to develop this fluencies, it is essential to improving our society, he says.

I decided to research the idea of 21st century literacies more and came across The Global Digital Citizen Foundation website. The foundation works to help educators develop a learning environment that allows students to take some control of their own learning. The ideas supported by the foundation are presented in the book Literacy is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age by Lee Crocket, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches. Five fluencies are discussed rather than three, and each one is broken into a process:

  1. Solution Fluency - problem-solving - define, discover, dream, design, deliver and debrief. 
  2. Information Fluency - data navigation and research - ask, acquire, analyze, apply and access.
  3. Creativity Fluency - design, visual appeal and story-telling - identify, inspire, interpolate, imagine and inspect.
  4. Media Fluency - critical thinking - listen to and leverage the message and the medium.
  5. Collaboration Fluency - working with others - establish, envision, engineer, execute and examine.

Author Lee Crocket explains how these five fluencies are applied to education in the video below:

Maybe they’re a little bit off topic from Sunglasses and Sunglasses, but the ideas of the 21st Century Fluencies are important. They work to help not only students or journalists to navigate the digital media age, but our entire society. As the amount of available information increases and becomes more accessible, everyone needs to be able to analyze this information, solve problems, think critically and work cooperatively with others. The Global Digital Citizen Foundation says that education in these areas should start at an early age, and I agree.

(Photo credit: www.globaldigitalcitizen.org)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 2 - The Teaching Hospital Method

Chapter 2 of Searchlights and Sunglasses discusses the many factors to consider when looking at journalism education reform. Author Eric Newton says that colleges and universities could be the engine of change for higher education in journalism. In particular he talks about the “teaching hospital” method being applied to journalism, and how this is the most effective new method of journalism education. Rather than sitting in regular classes, students work in a newsroom environment that would be similar to the real working-world.

Under this model “professionals and professors work together to help students learn by producing effective community journalism.” He emphasizes that this news must not only inform communities, but also engage them. He argues that this model would help to address two important issues in journalism right now: bringing education reform to journalism by encouraging professionals and professors to collaborate, and bringing news coverage to communities that may be lacking it.

The University of Alabama applies the “teaching hospital” in its journalism program and it has been very successful. Running for 10 years now, their job placement rate is over 90% according to this article on Poynter. The same article offers ten pieces of advice that the University of Alabama mentors have gathered for other journalism educators:

  • Find the right people – find professors that want to work in a news room environment
  • You can get buy-in for a project by pitching it the right way – emphasize the idea that resources for one project can be good for the entire department.
  • Plan for the student’s whole career – Working on smaller pieces for a larger project can teach more than everything “crammed into one class.”
  • Be open to changing what you teach – Teach theory in a way that can relate it to the community project that students are working on.
  • Be open to change who teaches – Bring in professors who have experience working in the newsroom, and incorporate guest speakers or “professional voices” through Skype who are currently in the field.
  • Be open to changing how you teach – Some classes are shifting to an online format, while others’ lessons are taught through small projects rather than classes.
  • Be clear about your expectations – Students need to have a clear understanding of what they will get out of the program.
  • Don’t get caught up in the latest tech tools for storytelling – Students should go out and find technological solutions for obstacles they face rather than be given the answers by their professors.
  • Be open to collaborations with other departments – At the University of Alabama journalism students work together with computer students to produce higher-quality work.
  • Be inspirational as well as instructional – Encourage students in what they do and reiterate why it’s important.

However not everyone in the area of journalism education supports the “teaching hospital” method. While they agree that education in this field requires a change, University of Nevada’s Reynolds School of Journalism researchers David Ryfe and Donica Mensing believe there is a better model than the “teaching hospital.”

Ryfe and Mensing recommend a more entrepreneurial approach that “allows for flexibility in coursework and provides students with a framework to adapt to new methods of production or forms of communication.” Under this model students would learn about programming and data visualization, for example, in addition to curriculum traditionally taught in journalism school.

They argue that “hospital method could be reinforcing practices and ideals that are harmful to the industry” and that it “doesn’t account for the pace of change and uncertainty” in the journalism industry.

As a last note – and because we go to a relatively small university – I’m glad that Newton takes into consideration that different sized colleges or universities are able to accomplish different things: “Schools with few resources might have ‘teaching clinics,’ or even ‘teaching first-aid stations.’”

(Photo credit: careers.theguardian.com)

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 1 - The Knight News Challenge

In the second half of chapter one, Searchlights and Sunglasses author Eric Newton highlights the importance of education for the development and continuing success of journalism. Several concepts keep coming up in the various methods of education that Newton describes: collaboration, public participation and networking.

The Knight News Challenge puts all three of these concepts together. Beginning in 2007, the Knight News Challenge has awarded more than $37 million to 111 projects after receiving more than 10,000 applications. Until 2012 the contest was held once per year, but now it happens three times per year, with a unique theme for each round. The challenge “funds breakthrough ideas in news and information.”

Winners are awarded a share of $3 million (previously $5 million) to further develop their ideas in addition to support from the Knight Foundation’s network of “influential peers and advisors.” Applications are welcome from all industries and countries. Check out this video from Vimeo for a quick summary of how the challenge works:

Some past recipients of money from the Knight News Challenge include:

DocumentCloud - DocumentCloud was founded in 2009 after receiving funding from the Knight Foundation, and is a platform for primary source documents that are contributed by journalists, researchers and archivists. DocumentCloud can be used for searching, analyzing, annotation and publication of these open-source documents. Journalists from large newsrooms including The New York Times, The LA Times and The Guardian have contributed their work to DocumentCloud. In 2011 and 2014 DocumentCloud was awarded further grants by the Knight Foundation to continue development of the service. It’s a great tool for reporters to quickly search through a large number of documents.

Ushahidi - Ushahidi won a $70,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge in 2009. It was developed as a collaboration between citizen journalists to report acts of violence in Kenya after their national election in 2008. Web and mobile users in the country submitted information to Ushahidi about either areas of conflict or areas of peace efforts, and the information was displayed on a map. Today the non-profit’s mission is to “change the way information flows in the world and empower people to make an impact with open source technologies, cross-sector partnerships, and ground-breaking ventures.”

What about the most recent recipients of grants from the Knight News Challenge?

BkylnShare - BklynShare is program held at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York that works to connect citizens with experts to learn new skills. Rather than going to check out a book – as one would traditionally do at a library – people are connected with someone who has knowledge or expertise in the chosen area. The library currently has over 2,000 individual experts willing to share their skills with others. BklynShare received a $35,000 grant in January 2015.

GITenberg - GITenberg was awarded a $35,000 grant in January 2015 to further develop their project. GITenberg explores “collaborative cataloging for Project Gutenberg public-domain ebooks using the Web-based repository hosting service GitHub.” Right now there are over 43,000 books available, all of which are open source, so they can be “corrected, pulled, and forked for any purpose.”

Internet Archive - Internet Archive is a non-profit that works to build a public, online library that is available to people in all professions and the general public. The project was started in 1996 and includes text, audio and moving images, as well as software and archived web pages. What sets Internet Archive apart, though, is the fact that much of their content has been adapted and made accessible for people with disabilities such as blindness. Internet Archive was awarded $600,000 in January 2015.

The Library Freedom Project - The Library Freedom Project is a collaboration between librarians, technologists, attorneys, and privacy advocates that works to educate the public on their right to access information. The Library Freedom Project believes that people should be able to explore new ideas in libraries, “no matter how controversial or subversive, unfettered by the pernicious effects of online surveillance.” Founded in Boston, MA, the Library Freedom Project regularly holds educational workshops in cities all over the U.S. It was awarded $244,700 by the Knight Foundation in January 2015.

The Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge has worked to support more than 100 projects that foster media innovation through collaboration, public participation and networking. All of the projects discussed above have something in common: providing education to the public. Newton talked about education as the most important thing to improve journalism, and these projects support just that.

Searchlights & Sunglasses Ch. 1 - Digital Literacy in Canada

In the first chapter of Searchlights and Sunglasses, author Eric Newton writes about studies conducted at major American universities in the 1960s that critique journalism for not being good enough because it doesn’t engage its audience. Now we live in the age of digital media and the opportunities for audiences of any demographic to engage with journalism are greater than ever.

Newton discusses how digital literacy is key for the success of digital media, and writes that colleges and universities in the United States should teach their students these valuable skills. He also explains how the U.S. falls behind other developed countries in terms of bandwidth and internet speed. This got me thinking, how does Canada compare?

According to this article on the National Post website, Canada didn’t fare too well in a study of 30 countries’ Internet services. In terms of price we ranked 25th, and for Internet speed, 20th. Also, while other countries saw the price of Internet connection drop, in Canada prices either increased or stayed the same. 

The article attributes these price problems to the fact that a few large companies control most of the Internet services in Canada. Small companies have a hard time breaking into the scene, because expanding all over such a large country is expensive. The Canadian federal government prevented American telecommunications giant Verizon from expanding into Canada because of our foreign ownership restrictions for Internet service providers, but, according to the article, allowing these type of expansions could push the prices of Internet service down. The study on which the article is based can be found here

Canadian education systems do have curriculum in place to teach digital literacy, even starting this education in Kindergarten, way earlier than Newton suggests. The B.C. provincial government defines digital literacy as,

“The interest, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access, manage, integrate, analyze and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, create and communicate with others.”

The Digital Literacy Framework, a document available on the B.C. provincial government website outlines the expected learning outcomes for the different grade levels in six main areas:

  1. Research and Information Literacy 
  2. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  3. Creativity and Innovation
  4. Digital Citizenship
  5. Community and Collaboration
  6. Technology Operations and Concepts

While I agree with Newton’s idea that digital literacy is needed to make the most of the digital age we live in and the constantly developing technology we have at our disposal, I think that this education needs to start earlier than college or university like he suggests. School-aged children need to be digitally literate to make the most of their education in every subject area. Their parents may be insistent on continuing to use legacy media, but the students of today are the ones who need to use, and understand, the media and technology of the digital age – it’s the media of their generation. 

Photo credit: www.knightfoundation.org

Colour Theory

Colour theory is a practical guide to colour mixing and colour combination.

Before the colour combination techniques of the colour theory can be used, there are a few elements, represented with the colour wheel above, that need to be understood:

  • Primary colours (3) - red, blue and yellow.
  • Secondary colours (3) - violet, green and orange. Secondary colours are made by mixing two primary colours.
  • Tertiary colours (6) - red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange and red-orange. Tertiary colours are made by mixing a primary colour with an adjacent secondary colour.
  • Tint - a variation of a pure colour that is made by mixing that colour with white.
  • Tone - a variation of a pure colour that is made by mixing that colour with grey.
  • Shade - a variation of a pure colour that is made by mixing that colour with black. 

There is also a differentiation between warm and cool colours. Warm colours include yellows, oranges and reds and inspire feelings of energy and joy. Cool colours, on the other hand, include violets, blues and greens and lead to feelings of calmness and peace. 

There are five basic colour schemes that can be taken from the colour wheel.

  1. Complementary - colours are on opposite sides of the colour wheel. Complementary colours provide a high level of contrast so they are best used to make something really stand out. 
  2. Split complementary - involves one colour matched with two colours adjacent to its complementary colour. This colour combination technique is great for beginners because it is hard to mess up. 
  3. Analogous - any three colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel. For this colour combination technique to be successful, the tints of colours should be used, and the three colours should either be all warm or all cool.
  4. Triadic - involves choosing three colours that are equally spaced around the colour wheel. Like complementary colours, this technique also provides a high level of contrast, but is more balanced. For it to be successful one of the colours should be the dominant one, while the other two act as accents. 
  5. Tetradic or double complementary - involves four colours in two sets of complementary colours. This combination technique can be the hardest to balance. To make it work, choose one colour to be the main one, or subdue all of them. 

Choosing the right combination of colours is an important element of giving your website or blog a personality. The design, including the colour scheme you choose, will help to market the product you want to sell. In terms of the number of colours you choose, if you are a beginner, less is probably more. Many colours can make a webpage look busy or overwhelming. 

To read more about colour theory, check out the article Learn The Basics of Color Theory To Know What Looks Good .

Photo credits: Labeled colour wheel (www.poeticmind.co.uk), blank colour wheel (www.thestylenote.com)

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a basic composition technique used in photography. It involves dividing the frame of the shot into nine parts – equal thirds both vertically and horizontally. The rule of thirds can make your photography interesting and dynamic, and add an element of simultaneous balance and complexity. 

One reason for using the rule of thirds is that it provides a sense of direction to photographs. As can be seen in the photograph of the bicycle rider above, the subject of the photo – the biker – is placed in the right third of the photo. Because of this placement the viewer understands that he will continue on his journey towards the left side of the frame. Also important to note is the placement of the horizon, which is close to the bottom third of the photo.

The rule of thirds can bring an almost interactive quality to photographs. Look at the photo above as an example. If the lighthouse had been placed in the centre of the photo, we, as the viewer, would not have our eyes wander to the other elements: the large rocky cliffs, the waves crashing into them, or the endless blue sky. Having the subject in the centre can make the photo appear static. The rule of thirds enables photographs to have one central subject, but also draws attention to other parts of the frame.

Many digital cameras have options to make the rule of thirds grid appear in the viewfinder, making application of the rule easier. However if you’re having trouble framing photos like this right away, take shots that encompass more in the frame and then crop them later.

That being said, the rule of thirds is not something that needs to be taken into consideration with every photograph. Sometimes the fact that the rule was not taken into account is the reason why the photograph is successful. Take the photo below as an example. The fact that the subject is perfectly centred draws attention to the symmetry of the architecture – something that would have been lost with the rule of thirds. 

To learn more about the rule of thirds, check out this article:

Why Does the Rule of Thirds Work?

Photo credits: Bicycler (www.iphonephotographyschool.com), Lighthouse (www.indiandigitalartists.com), Escalators (www.modny73.com)

Instagram & Journalism

Social media platforms Facebook and Twitter are used heavily by news organizations all over the world. But what about Instagram? Owned by Facebook, Instagram is currently the fasted growing social network. How does using Instagram benefit news organizations?

Branding & Engagement

Instagram serves as a way for news organizations to engage with their audience, especially the younger demographic. Over 90 per cent of users are under the age of 35. Companies can promote their brands on Instagram several ways, including posting photos of customers using their products, hosting contests, or simply posting photos of new products.

Content Preview & Generation

Instagram’s 15 second video options enables news outlets to preview content. While individual photos can’t be links and links can’t be added to captions, news organizations can share what they’re working on with viewers. Users also upload photos that news organizations can use, or provide tips or info for stories.

Photojournalism

Instagram is the perfect platform for photojournalists to share their work and get their names out there. This article on Mashable counts down 14 Instagram photojournalists.

Some news organizations have been very successful with their presence on this rapidly growing social media:

  • National Geographic (@natgeo) - 12.4 million followers
  • Time Magazine (@time) - 957 thousand followers
  • CNN (@cnn) - 400 thousand followers
Audience consideration most important when creating videos.


Want your audience to ask themselves “It’s over already?!” rather than “When will be it finally be over?!”?

Getting the preferable reaction to your interview-based video is all about making your audience the priority. Engaging with your audience is the way to make them remember the message you want to convey. Kellye Blosser’s article on The VidYard Blog discusses five things to consider when putting together your video.

  1. Carefully choose your interviewees with your audience in mind. Choosing someone who the audience can relate to is more important than interviewing the higher-ups. The article uses the example of a recruitment video suggesting that interviewing potential coworkers would be more beneficial than interviewing the CEO, for example.
  2. Give your interviewees the chance to speak freely. Allowing them to respond to statements rather than following a strict Q&A format will get you better clips to work with. What they say will probably sound more natural and therefore more appealing to viewers.
  3. Choosing a background is super important. It will impact what the audience takes away from what your interviewees say. According to the article it’s not necessarily about the audience remembering the specific background; instead, it’s about the impression it gives about the person being interviewed. For example, if you are interviewing someone about a new park, you should interview them there, or at least outside, rather than in their office. If needed (and if possible) utilize a green screen.
  4. Capture and use b-roll. Sometimes the best quotes are too long to hold the audience’s attention if shown in one continuous shot. Use b-roll to break it up. It will also help with editing out parts where the interviewee may have stuttered when talking. The article recommends spending as much time getting b-roll as you did conducting interviews. Just make sure that the b-roll you use related to what the person is talking about in their interview.
  5. Try your best to create a story. Having a storyline in your video will engage your audience and make your video memorable. 

Creating a successful video – one from which your audience will take away and remember your message – is all about putting the audience’s needs first. Keep these five tips in mind for the next video you create. To read the article, click the link below:

5 Tips to Make Your Interview-Style Videos More Engaging

Photo credit: www.zsl.org Media Centre