Outremont’s Pumpkin Parade

In an eco-friendly effort to prolong Halloween celebrations, Outremont has launched “La Parade des Citrouilles” (The Pumpkin Parade). Residents “recycle” their pumpkins to save them for compost. Children and their families can get creative with Jack-o-lanterns and learn that there is more to Halloween than Trick or Treating.

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Mathematical Data for Journalists

Math.

A word that usually doesn’t appeal to most students in the Journalism department. But as much as you may dislike numbers, they are very important if you want to become a well-rounded journalist.

But fear not! There are applications today, such as Microsoft Excel, that will allow you to “interview” spreadsheets and easily get the information you need for your article. Learning how to get around spreadsheets is not tremendously difficult, but absolutely necessary.

Why are spreadsheets so important for a data journalist you might ask? Well, for the first obvious reason: They contain raw data. In order to retrieve the information they need, journalists have to be able to understand what a spreadsheet tells them. They can thus select the information they need to make their point in their article by reorganizing the spreadsheet and finding what they want, calculating an average numbers amongst the statistics and much more!

Journalists who know how to handle a spreadsheet can not only select the information they want to publish it in their article, they can also play around with complicated tables containing raw information to make it more readable and digestible for their readership, promoting simplicity without modifying the information. A journalist who can decipher data, with the help of spreadsheets that simplify information, can point out the most important piece of information in his or her lead too! This spreadsheet journalism blog does it well.

Cynthia O’Murchu from the Financial Times explains that “working with data can get you stories that you wouldn’t otherwise get and that it’s worthwhile doing.” Many data journalists talk about the different programs they use here.

Basic Photoshop

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This picture was really underexposed, so I raised overall exposure, and lassoed the bottom part of the picture to enlighten it a little to keep the balance. I also used the “Selective color” tool to brighten up the image with more exciting colors while taking some black away from the picture all the while raising Vibrance. I also reduced overall noise in all of the pictures I post here.

Stairs final

First I had to rotate the image vertically. Then I cropped most of it because of metal bars that were in the way. I wasn’t sure if I could keep the two vertical blurry bars or not, so I decided to crop them out, zoom in and try to do my best to raise the overall quality of the image by raising contrast and reducing the noise. I also raised the exposition and brightness to compensate with the high contrast. I played with individual colors a bit to liven up the picture as well, without getting too funky either.

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This picture was way too pink, so I used the “selective color” tool to add black in most of the colors, especially Magenta. Adding black naturally added a natural contrast to the picture defining the band members better, so I didn’t have to play with contrast too much, but I did have to raise exposure a little. Even though the image was already very colorful, I raised vibrance a little while decreasing saturation to make the most defining features stand out. I could go on…

Small People

It took me a while to realize that this was a fake small town. When I did realize however, I did my best to crop out every detail that could show that the picture is taken from behind a glass (reflections and borders). I tried my best to keep the important parts in the center of the picture while straightening it using the “straighten” tool while cropping. I used the vertical lines on the buildings to straighten as much as I could. I also played with colors a bit to liven up the little town.

Pigeon Squirrel copy

Now I wasn’t sure what stitching two pics together meant, but I just followed the rules of “putting the squirrel with the pigeon”. So I cropped the pigeon picture leaving enough room for the squirrel, then I dragged the pic with the squirrel onto the pigeon picture. I used the erase tool to erase as much as I could around the squirrel (I did my best). Then I straightened the image a bit to avoid having a flying squirrel scare the pigeon away. I tried using the “Spot healing brush tool” and “color selection” tool to make the squirrel look as real as possible, even though I still find it somehow strange…

Sochi, So Chic?

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Social Media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or even Youtube have the power to make futile things look very big. They are the reason why links to #SochiProblems skyrocketed and caused controversy and outrage amongst many people. Anybody could react to Sochi’s problems, and this includes many trolls.

As a journalist, it is extremely important to retrieve information from the net such as pictures and quotes, but it is also important to file through the sources before publishing them. This is where applications such as Storify intervene.

With Storify, journalists can easily recover sources that they can trust, avoiding the offensive and pointless ones, and order them as they please within a nice, neat storyline. They create a web page that is enjoyable for the viewers to read through while still giving out information.

For the Sochi Problems story, Storify provides the viewers with various pictures, quotes (Tweets most of the time) and videos that help them have an idea on what is going on in the real world, and what is trending in the virtual world of social media. It allows them to grasp information from various sources whether than focusing on one. In some way, Storify provides a larger coverage of the news story.

Furthermore, as I created this story, I realized that people I take tweets or posts from are notified of it. My story can thus reach these people that might retweet or repost it on another website, and can be projected in the social media word as I am writing these words. Storify is not only a useful tool to type in news on a page, but a way to obtain a huge viewership.

Diving in the Pond of Social Media

The Internet. A huge wave of information that washes over our era, and journalists in news organizations have to grab their surfboards if they want to use its force. There’s a reason why it’s called “surfing the net”. It can be a lot of fun and excitement, but it can also be very painful when sending you crashing in the sand.

Just like for surfing, there are keys as a journalist to using Internet’s fullest potential when gathering and divulging information. Here are a few tips that journalists should follow as they venture in the depths of social media…

  • Be personal and transparent

The point of having a blog or owning a Twitter account is to let your voice be heard…well mostly read if you’re not posting a video or audio file online. A reason for being personal online is  to get your audience’s feedback. Journalists can then use their audience’s feedback as sources and quotations for their work!

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This says it all. Be truthful.

If everyone is personal, then true information spreads. Besides, the more personal you are, the more popular and more Brand-like you become!

  • Engage with the public

Well that’s the whole meaning of being a journalist! You have to communicate. Giving information for the public to process is great, but it’s important that the public pays back. Anybody can be an online journalist nowadays because almost everyone holds newsworthy information. Your job as a student journalist is to retrieve that information by interacting with people. Being social today has never been easier with the Internet. It’s important to engage.

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Try interacting with people and you might just get information from them.

  • Ignore the Trolls

People can be mean online. In fact, they can be so mean they can destroy your self-confidence. Why? Because they can. Nothing is stopping them. After all, they’re typing down words just to see them on a screen. These people are called “Trolls”.

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This is “Troll Face”. It’s like an official logo for people who torment others online.

So what do you do when someone is aggressive? Do you engage with him? I believe that that solution is a waste of time. You have more important things to do than to deal with these people. Poynter has more information on how to handle tricky situations like those.

  • Beware of what you post online

This is possibly one of the most important rules  journalists from a news organizations must follow if they want to keep their job. With our interconnected world, almost nothing is private. There are leaks in many social networks such as Facebook. Keep what you consider personal to yourself, avoid posting it on the net. Furthermore, people look up to you as an online journalist for information and a reasonable opinion. It is important you keep it that way by avoiding offending anyone with comments like this one. If you made a mistake, you’ll erase it. But Internet will hold it forever.

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If you make mistakes online, doors will definitely be closed in your life.

  • Beware of the words you read

As mentioned before, anybody can be a journalist nowadays. However that doesn’t mean that everybody constantly gives correct information. Make sure you check the people’s background before publishing information and verify sources as this site suggests.

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Even for dating you have to be careful with what people say.

Those are some of the basic guidelines News organizations have to follow when using Social Media

For more info on online journalism and social media, here are a few links.
The Star: Engaging Readers: Hazards of Online Journalism

Teaching Online Journalism

8 common mistakes when writing for the Web