Thursday, January 24, 2008

Following up Wednesday's class

Here is the link to the White House News Photographers Association's contest winners, including Travis Fox's multimedia package for WashingtonPost .com on the crisis in Darfur. You should also take a look at Adrian Holovaty's

Over in the "External Links" sidebar I've added Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine blog and Snipshot, the online photo-editing program that I demonstrated yesterday. You should definitely sample Buzz Machine. Jarvis is one of the most widely quoted observers of the new-media scene. His writing style tends to be somewhat unhinged, but he's a fun read and he knows what he's talking about.

I want to take another shot at explaining the purpose of editing images before uploading them, especially images that you find on the Web. As I said, Blogger will resize these images for you. But by editing them, you can accomplish two things: (1) you can crop them so that they look exactly the way you'd like; and (2) you can reduce the file size, so that they'll load quickly for readers.

Whether you use Snipshot or an image-editing program of your own, I find that 400 pixels is a good width for a photo that is going to take up the full column on your blog; 300 pixels works pretty well for a horizontal image if you're going to wrap text around it (the image above is exactly 300 pixels); and 200 pixels is generally OK for a vertical with text wrapped around it. But you should experiment. Make sure you save it as a JPEG file so it will be as compressed as possible.

What makes for a good blog post? It really can be anything. Most of your posts ought to point to some content that you find interesting, offering a link, an excerpt of the content and your own commentary. The best posts pull together several different pieces of content, allowing you to draw connections that wouldn't have occurred to the reader on her own.

But please notice that I said "most," not "all." An occasional personal essay is fine. And on-the-ground journalism is something I always encourage. If you go see a speaker, write it up, making sure to find worthwhile links to enhance your report. Take a photo with your cell phone and add it. If you can shoot a short video of something, you can upload it to YouTube and embed it in your blog.

Although blogs are generally written with more attitude and opinion than news stories, stick to your journalistic standards. Get the spelling right, especially of people's names. Follow AP style. When you are applying for a job, you want your blog to make a positive statement about your qualifications.

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