A new media how-to roundup

Every now and again I try to pass along tips on how journalists at any point in their career can add to their skill set. Here’s some great tips and how-tos I’ve found lately you might find helpful if you want to break into media – or break out.

  • Taking the plunge and starting your own blog or news website? OJR has a great checklist to help you get off on the right foot. Whether you’re a college student or a mid-career journalist looking to get your name out there in a new way, this should really help you figure out your plan. And, if you use WordPress to host your blog or site (I recommend it), here’s a friendly DIY guide to WordPress troubleshooting from our friends at the OJB.
  • If you’re looking for a new online storytelling or crowd-sourcing technique, try using a lifestream or eventstream to tell a story in a narrative form using tools like Tumblr or Posterous. Using a stream, you can combine blog posts, tweets, images and other sorts of updates around a subject from several different people to flow into a single “stream” in chronological order. It’s sort of like a Friendfeed that tells a story. Try it out.
  • Or if you want to get really experimental, try the “mapped” writing model for online news. This technique isn’t so much a narrative as a “choose your own adventure”  for long-form news. It involves an overall summary (or nut graf, if you will) followed by a series of “threads” that don’t need to be read in a particular order. I learned about this model back in online journalism class back in j-school – and I never thought it would come into use. Whaddya know.
  • Data fiends, multimedia producers and Flash fanatics can get great ideas for unique and innovative maps from 10,000 Words. Data visualization is a big deal for online media, buy now the key is making those maps simpler, prettier and fun. (Note: The images on the post are blown out, but it’s a solid list of examples). If you’re just a wannabe data fiend, the blog also has tips for finding and visualizing data. Very cool.
  • User-generated content doesn’t have to mean “amateur” content. The Knight Digital Media Center offers up some great tips for training citizen journalists that could make submitted news a valuable information asset for your site (and it helps the community too). Remember, not everyone had to sit through several credit hours’ worth of copy editing class – so just be patient.
  • Reporters, in particular, should consider expanding their social media brand by setting up a YouTube account. Those cats at Old Media, New Tricks have great how-to advice for branding yourself on YouTube. Yes, it can be more than just funny cat videos.
  • Take it from me, it’s tough to manage comments on your blog or news site, let alone learning to love them and use them to your advantage. I think a lot of the opinion in this piece is a bit pie-in-the-sky (because I’ve been there), but they offer good tips, nonetheless, for understanding online communities and managing commenters.
  • If you haven’t been using Twitter lists yet, here’s Mashable’s primer on what they are and how they work.
  • This is more for organizations rather than individuals, but Social Media Today has tips for making employees into effective Social Media Ambassadors. Hint: It goes beyond just getting everyone on Twitter and calling it a day.