Ignore the “if only” voice

“If only his eyes were open…” “If only that clock were not behind his head…” Jack Zibluck, who teaches photojournalism at Arkansas State University, says the only way to deal with these musings is to say “No.” Just because you can make a photo better by asking a subject to move or “fixing” the background after the fact does not mean you should. But in the June issue of the NPPA magazine NewsPhotographer, Zibluck admits he’s said “yes” more than once.
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Hyperlocal maps

KHOU crime mapHow can you share data quickly and easily online? KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas, used simple PDF maps. Reporter Mark Greenblatt says in The IRE Journal that his station didn’t have time to buy mapping software or train the Web staff to use it, so they created PDF files of neighborhood maps showing where aggravated assaults occurred in 2006. Users could link to these “hot spots” from a city map with embedded links, created in Macromedia Dreamweaver.

Almost immediately, we found out just how hungry our viewers were for local information like this. Our Web traffic for these searchable maps outpaced the number of hits a standard news story receives by more than 1,000 percent.”

The station also posted Excel files so users could see incidents by zip code, and zip codes ranked by number of crimes. Useful stuff, easily done.

Think like a detective

Good advice from Bob Woodward of Watergate fame: Reporters should remember that investigative journalism is a lot like “what TV’s Columbo does.” Two stories from a new biography of Woodward and Carl Bernstein make the point. When the five burglars were arrested at the Watergate, Woodward asks,

What do you do? Do you go over and have lunch at the San Souci restaurant with some FBI official to find out what’s going on? No. You study the five burglars and find out where they’re from, where they live, where they work, who they talk to, who they socialize with, what they background is, how old they are, what their children do, where they go to church, where they bank, who their neighbors are.

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