Tech tools to try today

July 18, 2018 11:00

Newsrooms are getting more comfortable with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and tools like drones, IP Video and station apps, RTDNA’s latest research shows.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no more room to grow. As stations get more strategic, news teams have an opportunity to boost their skills from advanced to expert.

Better use tools you already have

Your phone: Chances are your phone is in your pocket when you head out to a story. Why not use it – and for more than a shaky Facebook Live? Investing in a few extras can drastically improve the quality of video and audio you can get with your phone. Start with a tripod and clamp or stabilizer (think high-tech selfie stick) to ditch the shaky effect common with phone videos. To really up you game, think about an external microphone or wide-angle lens clip. These tools cost less than broadcast camera equipment but can still pay off with quality footage. Learn more at EIJ from “Phoning it in” creator Mike Castellucci.

Social media: Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram are almost ubiquitous in today’s newsrooms and for today’s news professionals. Try tools like Hootsuite to manage your social media feeds, keep an eye on key words or hashtags, schedule posts ahead of time and organize accounts you’re following.
 
To really tap into the social listening potential of social media and get more data and insights, try using a Facebook tool like CrowdTangle, a dashboard which can make it easier to spot trends in what people are talking about, how your posts are performing and even how your competition’s are doing. If you don’t want to venture off the Facebook app itself, consider diving into the increasingly popular Groups function to source and share news. Look for community groups in your coverage area, professional groups, groups for interests like fitness or pets and more. Learn more at EIJ18 in sessions on Multiplying your reach in social media and Facebook for news.

Improve your workflow with free or low-cost tools

If there’s a part of your day or a particular process you’ve always wished were a little bit easier, chances are you’re not alone. There may be an app for that! Keep an eye out for new apps because you never know what processes you can simplify or when your current favorite tool might disappear (RIP Storify). Here are three you may not have tried:
  • Make stories more interactive with PathChartr, a free tool that lets you turn your stories into a choose-your-own-adventure. With simple formatting options and the ability to upload images, videos and links, you can create a multimedia presentation easily.
  • Use MapAList to create custom maps on Google Earth. Include additional information including links to map points, create maps with crowdsourced information from Google forms, and more.  
  • Need to plan your story while driving to the location? Use an app like subscription-based Dragon Dictation to dictate notes on your phone and sync to your laptop or to Evernote to access anywhere.
Find more tech tools to try at EIJ18 in Al’s Cool Tools with Al Tompkins, sponsored by the Knight Foundation; No Coding Needed: How to Build Decision-Making Interactives with PathChartr; and newly updated hit Digital Dirty Dozen with Kevin Z. Smith, Kiplinger Program.
 
Excellence in Journalism 2018, RTDNA’s annual conference presented in partnership with the Society of Professional Journalists, is an affordable, accessible, actionable training opportunity like no other for broadcast & digital journalists, just $230 for members who register by July 25 August 7.