Five ways to produce online news without asking the web guy for help

You don’t know what it’s like for the web guy at a newspaper.

All day long, requests and ideas funnel in his direction, with no end in sight, and little help.

Web guys, this is for you.

Reporters, listen up. Here are five ways you can put together something wonderful for the web without asking the web guy a single question. All you’ll need to do at the end of each of these exercises is to send him a link or a hunk of code, if that. He’ll know what to do with it.

  1. Make a movie: Record your video. Edit it in iMovie (free on your Mac) or Windows Movie Maker (free on your PC). Upload it to YouTube. Send the web guy the URL. Bask in the glory.
  2. Produce an audio slideshow: Record your audio. Gather your photos. Forget about SoundSlides for the moment and edit it as a video file in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. Upload it to YouTube. Send the web guy the URL. Bask in the glory of your award-winning tearjerker.
  3. Create a podcast: Record your audio. Pick a photo or two to go with it, even if it’s just mugs of the people talking. Edit it as a video file in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. Upload it to YouTube. Send the web guy the URL. Bask in the glory of your ingenuity.
  4. Create an interactive map: Go to maps.google.com. Click on ‘My Maps.’ Follow the instructions. Add as much or little information as you have for each point you add to the map. Photos and videos go a long way. (Use the embed code from your YouTube videos here.) When you’re done, send the web guy the ‘link to this page’ URL or hit the ‘Customize and preview embedded map’ link, turn it down to ‘small,’ and send the web guy the embed code. He’ll know what to do with it.
  5. Create a social network: Go to ning.com. Follow the directions. I recommend choosing a topic that helps you serve the needs of the people you take the most phone calls and e-mail from. (Obscure high school sports coaches? Real estate agents? Kindergarten teachers? City council members?)

None of this requires any technical know-how. You don’t need any training to point-and-click your way through this process. Don’t sweat the details about things like ‘settings’ or ‘encoding.’ If questions come up, type them into Google. You’ll find the answers.

Most important: Don’t wait around for someone else to hold your hand through this stuff. You’re an adult. You can handle this on your own. Get started today.

(Yes, I know, I know. Next time I’ll use the phrase ‘web gal.’)

9 Replies to “Five ways to produce online news without asking the web guy for help”

  1. “You don’t know what it’s like for the web guy at a newspaper.” All I can say to that is: Amen, brother! Our priority list always seems to be a mile long, most readers who take the time to contact us are complaining about something, and we’re basically invisible until somebody in the newsroom wants something… and they usually want it NOW!

    It can be a stressful and thankless job sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Despite all the challenges, it’s still a fascinating time to be working in the newspaper business. And if we ever get through that priority list, the real innovation will start happening.

  2. You should write “Producing Newspaper Online Content For Dummies.”

    As the owner of a growing collection of “dummies” books, it’d be read.

    Quoting one of my favorite quotes from an East Tennessee politician: “It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon” to do this.

  3. This is great, Ryan.

    Of course, Step 1 must be:

    Get your IT guy/gal 🙂 to install Windows Movie Maker on that PC on your desk at work … oops, not enough RAM? Okay then. INSTALL IT YOURSELF AT HOME. Come on, show some initiative!

  4. I’m going try to make this a required read for the newsroom that I work in, including Mindy’s comment — _show some initiative_.

    Really, a journalist’s job is to take the initiative, be outgoing, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. But for some reason that drive rarely applies to technology / the Web. They just need to apply what they already know, and do so well, to producing online news.

  5. Imagine if we all came back from an assignment and handed someone our notebook and say “here, do something with this.” This is what people seem to want to do with web content.

    Ryan, I know you’ve received some heat for this post – some of which is misplaced, because I don’t think for an instant that you’re saying we don’t need web people (sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, but you learned your lesson with “guy”). As one reporter who is trying to show the initiative, I know it can be a lonely world out there right now. But we need to get over it. This is good advice.

    I would add one more bit: Ask the web team one question – what do I need to know to post directly on my web site? Katie (our web guru) took 10 minutes to show me how to post my own video directly to Kansas.com. Then you don’t have to go the “You Tube” route and you look even more skillful and capable of keeping your job for another six months.

  6. Unfortunately, the ones who need to read this and do this are not online reading.

    At least, us web ‘guys’ are never lonely.

    Mary Ann
    (How many printouts of Journalism 2.0 and copies of 10 Minute Guide to HTML to can we leave around the newsroom?)

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