Friday, 29 July 2011

How to really make your journalism work on Facebook

When I’m teaching social media I find the first hurdle is that many journalists are suspicious of it as a publishing platform.

They get Twitter, but with Facebook they’re not so sure. It's just too social for them, too much about friends sharing stuff that's very personal to a small circle.

But I think it’s a great platform. Here’s why.

Facebook is beginning to move down the Web 3.0 route that underpins our interest, as journalists, in social media, and which is covered in depth in Masterclass 2 of MMJ.
I talked there about how readers were creating personalised news stands of the material they were interested in.
That's exactly what users are able to do with Facebook.

On Facebook, users can become fans of us, of our content, and welcome our Facebook publishing stream onto their own news feed page.

There, our content is delivered alongside material from their own social circle.
The result is a hybrid of personal communications from friends and material from organisations that an individual likes, enjoys, values, and wants to follow.

So Facebook is a very special place, and a very significant one for journalists to work in.

But we need to learn how to use it most effectively.
I posted an introduction to Facebook here If you are a subscriber to MMJ you can check it out, to become a susbcriber, buy the textbook, in ebook or paper form, here
I won't go over that ground again, but try to give an overview of the latest advice and thinking about optimising Facebook for journalism.
One key thing.
Keep your personal Facebook presence separate from your journalistic presence. I have separate accounts, so there is a complete separation. Others simply create a page for their journalism on their existing account. 

Next: Top tips. Guidance for journalists from Facebook

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Four journalistic things to do this summer - for when doing nothing is just too much effort

These are the latest additions to MMJ free Journalism Summer School.
Hopefully they'll give you stuff to do on the rare occasions you want to engage your brain in the coming weeks.
How's your social media clout? Comparing Klout, TweetGrader, Post Rank, Peer Index and Twitalyzer:
How to use Sina Weibo to leap the Great Firewall of China:
Want a job? You need to sell yourself online with a really impressive CV, resume or portfolio
How to create multimedia timelines and visualisations - with no coding or graphics skills:

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

How to create multimedia timelines and visualisations - with no coding or graphics skills

OK, you could learn Flash and Photoshop

But life's too short

So what multimedia journalists need are simple, free software applications that take all the technical stuff out of creating timelines and visualisations.
We need to be able to combine text,  images, video and audio, and root all that information into a timeline that is easily embedded in our websites or blogs.

We'll take a look here at two applications that give us everything we need: Dipity and Vuvox

I've trialled them both, seeing how easy they are to use, and how much they can do for us.
They're both great. But they aren't the same.
So I created a timeline on the Murdoch crisis in each for comparison.

If you want to build  timeline fast, Dipity is perfect:

If you want a higher level of design, Vuvox is the answer:

Next: how to use Dipity to create a multimedia timeline fast

Friday, 22 July 2011

New: affordable smartphone apps for small businesses

We specialise in creating professional smartphone apps for small businesses – and at a fraction of the cost you’ll be quoted by web developers.
Why would your company want an app?
Many of your customers own smartphones. Around 30 per cent of mobile phone owners now have these web-enabled devices, and will be very comfortable receiving streams of information on them, via apps.
The service we provide
Our apps are entirely tailored to your company, rendered in your corporate colour palette, and featuring your logos and other artwork.
Your app’s content can be anything you like
We can draw into it feeds of your own content, from your press releases, email bulletins, blogs and  – where appropriate – company intranet.
We can add in Twitter – either running tweets from one account or combining several from key members of your team into one Twitter stream.
The app can carry the full range of multimedia. If you have video or audio content, that can be added to the mix.
And if you would like to bolt on a stream of real-time news that is relevant to your clients, we can do that too.
If you subscribe to a targeted business news service, we can add that. Or we can create such a service for you, from the news sources you specify.
Our apps are incredibly low maintenance. Because they are populated principally from automated RSS feeds, you can pretty much leave them to run themselves.
But if you have items you want to add, you can do so at any time using QuickPost, a simple, instant, web-based posting form. Or we'll do it for you.
How do we do it?
We can do this, with all the rich content described, and at such a competitive price, for two reasons.
One is that we use a publishing platform from USA company GenWi that allows us to build your app relatively quickly and easily. We don’t need to employ programmers to slave over coding, or designers.
The other is that we are highly experience content-creators with 20 years experience in national newspaper and web journalism.
So we know how to build content fast, and help you get your message – and your information – across most effectively.
Who are we?
Your account will be run personally by me, Andy Bull. I’ll create your app and work with you until sign-off. We also have a range of freelance associates – both companies and individuals – who we can call upon if you require additional services.
You’ll find an example of one of our apps here:
or here:
Where your app will be published
It will be accessible as a native app on iPhones, smartphones using the Android platform, and as a web app created in HTML5, and hence accessible from most other mobiles. It can also be made available in the iTunes and Android stores.
What it will cost you
Costs break into two
There is our fee for building and publishing your app. That’s an all-in, one-off £995 – priced to be affordable to small businesses.
Then there are the fees required by GenWi.
These are on a sliding scale, which you’ll find itemised here:
But all you need to pay is $99 a month (about £60) for a fully-functioning app.
Your app will need very little maintenance, but we can monitor it for you if you like, for a nominal fee that we can discuss.
Some detail on the spec you get
Your app will have…
  • An icon that users click to access it, here’s an example:

  • A splash page – an opening screen carrying your company name, corporate logo or other graphical information. Here’s one:
  • A home page, displaying what you consider the most important information. That could be a news feed, other time-sensitive content, or whatever suits you and your clients. Here's one:
  • Up to six information feeds that appear as separate channels within the app:
  • A Twitter feed:
  • Content from blogging platforms such as Wordpress, Blogger and Posterous
  • Content from social media platforms such as YouTube, Audioboo, Flikr and Picassa
Need to know more?
If you'd like to discuss whether an app is right for you, and what content would be best for it, please get in touch, on email at, or DM andybull on Twitter

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

How to sell yourself, and your skills, with an online CV/resume/portfolio

Job hunting? Your best advert for you and your skills is the work that you are already doing

The content you create, and your activity on social platforms, will show potential employers just how well you can hack it as a multimedia journalist.

So you need to make everything you do online an advert for you; a selling point for your skills, experience and talents.

There are two sides to doing this:

  • One is making sure you have great content on your websites or blogs, and that you are active on the most important social media.
  • The other is creating an online hub – a CV, resume or portfolio that tells an employer everything they need to know to convince them you are worth serious consideration for a post.
That online CV should be an at-a-glance guide to everything that is great about you.
And, as much as possible, you need to ensure that any bit of work or social interaction an employer comes across links them to your online CV, so they can check you out.
You won't always have control over that side of things, but if you do, then buttons such as 'Follow me on Twitter', 'Share on LinkedIn' and others are very useful.

So what are the best ways to build your online CV or portfolio?

That’s what we’ll look at here.
What we won’t look at now, because we have already covered it extensively in a range of MMJ Masterclasses, is which social media you should use, and how to do them well.
For the low-down on that, if you are a subscriber to MMJ, you can check out these Masterclasses:
Masterclass 6: How to master Facebook and Twitter
Masterclass 8: Getting the most out of YouTube, flickr and LinkedIn
Masterclass14: Audioboo
One area we haven’t yet covered is Google+. Its potential for journalism isn’t yet clear, but as soon as it’s possible to gauge its potential – and I’m cautious because of the failure of Google Buzz and Google Wave to live up to expectations – we’ll take an in-depth look at it.

So here’s what we will cover here

We’ll look at a range of ways of presenting your skills and experience online  including:
  • How to create a simple one-page CV/resume/portfolio website on Wordpress, Blogger,  or any other platform you fancy
  • How to create a more advanced CV on Wordpress using a bespoke theme
  • How to put your CV on your Facebook page
  • Other useful services such as Journalisted, e-byline, Findstringers and Retaggr
This is just a brief introduction to the subject of promoting yourself online, and we’ll return to it with a full Masterclass later. It forms just a small part of substantial careers content on the MMJ site

Want to know more about developing your career in journalism?

On MMJ we have an extensive range of Masterclasses covering most aspects of choosing, starting and developing your career in journalism.
There are links for subscribers below.
If you want to subscribe, just buy the textbook – in e-book or paper form – and you’ll get free access to the whole of this website

MMJ careers content in full

Sector guides

Masterclass3: What the B2B sector has to offer
Masterclass 7: What consumer journalism has to offer
Masterclass 9: What TV journalism has to offer
Masterclass 10: What local paper journalism has to offer

Freelancing and entrepreneurship

Masterclass 12: How to build your own job

General advice

Masterclass 13: How to get your first job

Journalistic specialisms profiled

Masterclass 26: International Journalism
Masterclass 27: Political Journalism
Masterclass 28: Sports journalism
Masterclass 29: Celebrity, showbiz and arts reporting
Masterclass 30: Business and Financial Journalism
Masterclass 31: Travel Journalism
Masterclass 32: Science, Health and Environment reporting
Masterclass 33: Fashion Journalism

Next: How to make an online CV, resume or portfolio

Friday, 15 July 2011

The second great obscenity in British journalism: local paper pay

The shockwaves emanating from the phone hacking scandal are still rippling through the Murdoch empire.

This morning Rebekah Brooks fell, and she can’t be the last casualty as the crisis crosses the Atlantic.

But there’s a second obscenity in British journalism: it’s the pay rates for those in local media. We all know the local press is in a crisis. There are several causes, but the venality of the big local-paper owners is one of them.

Jim Oldfield, the editor of the South Yorkshire Times put it in perspective today when he revealed the pay rates on his newspaper. Oldfield, who is supporting an NUJ strike at Johnston Press’s South Yorkshire Newspapers against redundancies said he gets paid £25,000, after 37 years in journalism. Trainees get £14,000.

Jon Slattery came up with these illustrations:

Salary shocker 

Which is why it is so timely that researchers at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston are surveying journalists’ pay scales. You can contribute here:

It's time this second obscenity was documented and exposed.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

How to use Sina Weibo to leap the Great Firewall of China

Sina Weibo is being called the Chinese Twitter

That’s not quite right. It’s actually more of a hybrid between Twitter and Facebook.
You can do a lot more on it than you can on Twitter.
You can group related messages together as conversation threads, and post photos and videos directly within messages. It’s got emoticons too.
It’s a bit smaller that Twitter, at 140m users to Twitter’s 200m, and a lot smaller than Facebook, which has around 750m active accounts.
But Sina Weibo – Weibo translates as Microblogging -  has grown massively since launch in August 2009 and, according to Wikipedia, is the most popular social media site in China, with 90% of the market.
Here’s Penn Olson on what Twitter could learn from Sina Weibo:

Here's my presence on the site:

Open it in Chrome and you can get an English translation.
I'll be using my own experience of setting up, tweeking and using Weibo in the material that follows.
There’s been a flurry of publicity about Weibo recently, with English-speaker celebs including Bill Gates and Tom Cruise creating presences.
And Radiohead just joined, with an authenticated account, and just the one tweet (as I write) to say they were testing it. Which won them over 56,000 fans (which are what Weibo calls followers) last time I looked. Here's their page:

So why should you be interested?

Well, apart from the opportunity to build a community in China, which is fascinating in itself, if you want to reach this audience you can’t do it with western social media platforms.
Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are all banned, together with a lengthy list of lesser platforms. Here's Wikipedia's latest on what's not allowed.

How to do it

The main problem to overcome, if you aren’t a Chinese speaker, is how to follow the instructions to sign up to the website and iPhone app.
There were stories in the tech blogs that an English version is available.
There isn't, as far as I can see, but no worries.
An American doctor - Richard Saint Cyr -  living and working in China has blogged some really handy tips, and Bill Bishop has produced a 23-screen Google doc that takes you through all the features of the site. I've used their guides to establish my own account, and must give them all the credit for the tips you'll find here.

Next: Getting started. How to open an account and see the Weibo site in English

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Introducing MMJ's FREE Summer School

Things are a little more relaxed at the free MMJ summer school.

From July to September we'll be covering a range of new areas for the social, mobile, multimedia journalist.These won't be big projects, they won't involve a lot of effort to master, but they will be areas where there are new developments worth getting up to speed with.
They're designed to be absorbed easily - I picture you on a beach, up a mountain, or in a bar, just taking a quick half hour on your laptop, mobile or tablet.
And looking for something to prevent your brain turning to mush.
This stuff is free, it won't be paywalled until you've fogotten about it.
All I ask of you in return is this:
If you are an educator, check out the new eductors' area and see if you can't give me some ideas for what you'd like me to do to help you deliver journalism courses.
If you're a journalism student, please get involved in the MMJ project and tell me what more I could be doing to help you.
And if you're a working hack - perhaps drawn here because you'd like to pick up some new skills - then let me know what's useful, less than useful and what more you'd like to see added to the MMJ poject. And maybe take a look at this.

Here's a rough list of what I aim to tackle

When (if) an item goes live then a link will work for it below.
But don't count on it all coming good. After all, my brain's turning to mush too.
  • How’s your social media clout? Comparing Klout, Tweetgrader, Post Rank Analysis, Peer Index and Twitalyzer. Find out more...
  • Behind the Great firewall of China: Weibo for round-eyes
  • Sell yourself: the best online CV/resume tools
  • Google's mobile-site maker compared and contrasted
  • Xtranormal for animation
  • Social media management tools - what's best for you

There'll be other stuff, but if you want to suggest something, feel free to either DM me @andybull or use the comment button to get in touch

How’s your social media clout? Comparing Klout, TweetGrader, Post Rank, Peer Index and Twitalyzer

Want to know how well your social media strategy is working?

We need to know that we are engaging successfully with colleagues, influencers and our wider audience on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and elsewhere
Otherwise, we can’t know whether we are getting all we could out of those social platforms.
A number of applications are clamouring to give us the low down.
The loudest is probably Klout, but it’s by no means the only one gaining traction.
There are also TweetGrader, PostRank Analytics, Peer Index and Twitalyzer, among others.
I’ve been trialling that shortlist for a couple of weeks, to see what each could tell me about my social engagement.
They’ll all give you a grade, so you get some idea of how well you are doing, both in absolute terms – marks out of a 100 usually – and compared to others.
But, when looking at how these apps perform, it’s hard to compare like with like.
For example, in the grab below you'll see the latest handful of tweets that happened to land from those I follow just as I was writing this sentence.

Klout and Peer Index seldom agree

The number alongside the orange K  is their Klout score, the yellow-backgrounded number is their Peer Index score:

None are the same. Some are reasonably close, but others vary wildly.
So how can I - and they - know which of these two scores is the more accurate measure of their social engangement?

One, the other, neither?

Using myself as an example, I found that my scores on the five platforms I've been testing are all very different.
They differ  because the five all appear to use different algorithms, and to put weight on different aspects of your social presence.

Hence, you’re likely to score differently on each of them

Which is why, I guess, I can get a high of 95 on TweetGrader, a low of 1 on Twitalyzer and marks in between – 46 on Klout, 52 on PeerIndex and a  highly variable ranking, today of 0 on PostRank. It's often 1, and at other times varies wildly, but has never been higher than 35.

All of which is puzzling, and confusing.

Which of the five scores I get is the most objective, and hence the most valuable?
Which actually measures the aspects of my social performance that are important to me?
I’m not going to pretend I have been able to gain a completely clear answer to that question, but here’s a run-through of what each of those brands says about me, and a bit about how they work.

What’ll be the best one for you?

Who knows.
The best bet is probably to try a couple that looks like they do what you need, trial them, and take it from there.
You can click below to get started with the first I look at.

Next: Klout

Friday, 1 July 2011

Help me build an educators' resource bank at Multimedia Journalism

So, what do you need?

What could MMJ be doing to help you deliver journalism learning to your students?
I want to build MMJ’s usefulness to educators by listening to any ideas you have for things we don’t do now that would help you.
I’d like to build a resource bank that will support you in your work, and enable you easily to build lectures, seminars and workshops around the content of MMJ.

To do that, I need to listen. I’ve started, and heard some interesting ideas.

One suggestion is that white-labelled PowerPoint presentations covering key aspects of a journalism syllabus, organised for individual lectures in batches of 10 or 12, and which you can brand and adapt as you like, would work well.
Another is that resources which enable you to take a current news story and use it to demonstrate particular principles of coverage, or as the basis of a workshop, would help.
So you’d get a package of content – examples, demonstrations and multimedia resources - built around a particular current major news story or issue.

Maybe a combination of the two makes sense.

So you get full lecture slides and notes for a particular module – anything from live blogging or using an iPhone for reporting to creating news backgrounders on a big court case –  with tuition built around current topics.
The lecture/seminar/workshop packs would be updated regularly to take in a new current story.

How about material designed to follow the syllabus of the NCTJ’s Diploma in Journalism, or the NCE?

What do you think?
If these or any other ideas strike you as offering useful resources, then please let me know.
And if you’ve ideas for areas of your syllabus you’d particularly like to be covered, tell me, giving as much detail as you can of what you’d appreciate having delivered for you.

Another question is how this educator’s resource bank should operate.

How would you feel about having a Linked In group, a Huddle workspace or other forum for discussion and sharing?
Or do you prefer to just dip in to resources, grab what you need and go?
Over the summer I’ll be consulting as widely as I can, and your input is enormously valuable.
When I’ve got an idea of the things that work for people, I’ll report back, and then start building this area.
Please DM me on Twitter @andybull, use the Comment buttons on this site, or email me at with anything that you'd find helpful