Locative journalism: recommendations for journalism schools

Friday, June 27th, 2008

By Hilary Powell
Our team of journalism master’s students has had an exciting and thought-provoking experience exploring “locative storytelling” in the New Media Publishing Project class at the Medill School of Journalism.  In previous posts (and our downloadable report) we have provided findings and recommendations for journalists and media companies.  Here are some recommendations for journalism schools:
1)    Encourage students to experience audio tours. They should participate in audio tours outside the classroom to better understand how locative storytelling works.
2)    Start geotagging stories in student newsrooms. If your school publishes content online, include geotags so they can be indexed and displayed through map-based (or, in the future, GPS-based) interfaces.
3)    Emphasize audio skills early. Provide techniques classes and professional equipment.  Encourage students to create audio-based stories as an alternative story requirement or complement to print stories.
4)    Build up mobile offerings in student newsrooms.  On sites displaying student-published work, offer mobile alerts that people can subscribe to.  This can eventually progress to GPS-triggered storytelling.
5)    Encourage students to create geography-based stories with an interface other than Google Maps. One example is the MapsAlive authoring platform that lets users make any map interactive.
6)    Use Twitter or other mobile social networking/microblogging sites to keep student reporters communicating with each other.  If students use Twitter or similar services in their daily lives, they may be more inclined to think of new ways to tell stories using mobile or location-based technologies.
7)    Increase emphasis on photojournalism. On portable devices, photographs can complement audio effectively when video will not.
8)    Offer classes in which students innovate and create new forms of journalism, media products and storytelling.  In other words, classes like the one we have just completed.
9)    Explore partnerships with new location-based services such as Loopt and JotYou.
10)    Explore partnerships with other schools, such as digital media arts school FlashPoint Academy, to teach media production tools. Students need more hands-on instruction in these tools but this kind of instruction is not necessarily best provided by journalism faculty.
11)    Seek opportunities for students to interact with people in the industry, such as skills workshops led by media professionals.
12)    Create continuing education classes for faculty to learn the technological tools and ideas behind innovative, multimedia storytelling.
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Switching to a Blackberry

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

By Hope Needles


Since trading in my regular mobile phone for a Blackberry eight months ago, I have become increasingly aware of changes in my Internet search patterns, email exchanges and overall media consumption. Before switching to a Blackberry, my cell phone was extremely limiting in helping me to connect with others. I mainly used it to call my family and friends, and to make last-minute arrangements. My cell phone also served as my go-to device for emergency situations — if I ever needed a phone number for a cab, a nearby hospital or pharmacy, I had these numbers programmed into my phone. As a cell phone user, I never became accustomed to text messaging because I found the keypad too small to navigate. My reluctance to use SMS, therefore, always made it hard to send directions or short messages to people, particularly in situations like movie theaters, classrooms, and libraries, where it would have been inappropriate to make a personal phone call.


Now that I have a Blackberry, I find that my communication habits have improved considerably. Because my Blackberry is synched with my email inbox via IMAP, I am constantly notified of incoming messages without having to check for them myself. I am now able to directly reply to these emails anywhere using my phone and can better integrate all of the contact information (work/cell phone numbers and email addresses) for personal contacts. There used to be many occasions when I would not leave my computer for an extended period of time, in cases when I was expecting email. Now I realize that I spend much more time away from home and no longer feel burdened by my computer’s email inbox.


I am certainly not alone in embracing the benefits of using a Blackberry or smartphone for email exchanges and Internet searches. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, almost two-thirds of Americans have now had some experience with using the Internet on their mobile devices. About 60% of adults ages 18 to 29 use text messaging on a daily basis, compared with only 14% of their parents. Furthermore, about one-third of young adults are now using mobile Internet.


These shifting media habits have led online advertising agencies and major internet portals like Google to experiment with how best to deliver content via mobile Internet connections. Google is now taking significant steps to revamp its mobile advertising so that it has as much of an impact, if not greater, than that of ads delivered on computer screens.


A major redesign of Google’s new operating system, Android, is also underway to allow for more openness and functionality for mobile Internet users. Many tech experts predict that this new interface will integrate nicely with mobile ads and appeal directly to consumers on the go. The world’s largest chip maker Intel is also interested in creating microprocessors with Internet capabilities for mobile devices and other gadgets.


The highly personalized features of a cell phone are becoming extremely valuable for Internet advertisers, who can draw upon a wealth of data to study content consumption patterns. Behavioral targeting data collection, for example, is one of these methods being used by companies to develop a profile of the mobile Internet consumer, which can then be analyzed to determine what content delivers the biggest punch via a small, portable screen.

A foray into the interactive, mobile print-based ad

Monday, April 28th, 2008

By Amy Lee


Pick up Rolling Stone’s current issue, and you may come across an advertising venture that aims to position “old media” print magazine ads as a portal into a cell phone camera-based mobile advertising platform.


The gist is readers can snap a photo of an ad in the magazine with their cell phone camera, send it to a specific number and in turn receive more information or special offers about a particular product or service. SnapTell, a Palo Alto-based image recognition company, has created software that scans the submission, recognizes key icons and texts back information based on that particular submission.


Rolling Stone is running five of these interactive print-based ads including a motorcycle ring tone for Allstate’s motorcycle-insurance program, according to the New York Times. Men’s Health is also testing SnapTell’s technology and has announced that all of the full-page ads in its July-August issue will have the interactive feature. Both magazines are offering it free once advertisers have signed on for a print ad.


While I’m definitely curious to try it out, it seems at first blush to be a rather primitive foray into interactive camera phone-based ads. I mean, it’s hard to image people taking pictures of ads while they’re trying to read a magazine, you know? Nonetheless, it’s an interesting step on the emerging path of mobile advertising. I’ll be curious about the results of these trial runs, and whether they determine just how interactive readers want their magazine ads to be.

Honda’s GPS technology gives driving safely new meaning

Monday, April 28th, 2008

By Hilary Powell


A new gadget in cars manufactured by Honda Motor Co. is set to steer drivers in a safer direction.


Honda’s new GPS warns drivers when they’re in high-crime areas, where cars are frequently broken into or vandalized.


The new technology was launched last week in Japan. The feature has yet to make its way to the United States, but concern over the technology has already made its way here from overseas.


Some bloggers have begun to chatter about the social implications of such a device. Would such a tool give certain neighborhoods bad reputations? Would Honda be held liable if the GPS falters and a car is stolen?


As part of the protection plan, the GPS links to local police stations and provides crime ratings by location. If an area is particularly dangerous, the system issues an alert.


According to Yahoo! blogger Gina Hughes (The Techie Diva), there are no firm plans to bring the technology stateside.


Regardless, the the Honda innovation is an example of how GPS technology, in addition to providing navigational information, can be used to share information specifically relevant to a user’s location.

AP Goes Mobile

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

By Satta Sarmah


On Friday, the Associated Press announced a deal with Verve Wireless to create the Mobile News Network, a service that’ll provide users with news anywhere and anytime.


Like other news outlets that have gone mobile, the AP’s service is available only to smartphone users. Customers will get multimedia content that covers not just local, but also domestic and international, news.


The Associated Press is the oldest and largest news organization in the world and it is just the latest big-name media outlet to join the mobile revolution.


In February, the Wall Street Journal launched a mobile network for Windows phones that will allow those users to get up-to-the-minute business and stock market information. It’s an expansion of the Journal’s mobile service to more users after its original launch in December 2007.


It appears that the traditional media are making attempts to innovate, albeit a little late.


A report by the Newspaper Association of America released in mid-April showed that regular visitors to newspaper Web sites are more tech-savvy than average Internet users. According to the report, visitors to newspaper Web sites are 76 percent more likely to have downloaded audio and video content on a regular basis, twice as likely to have searched the Internet using their cell phones and wireless devices, and twice as likely to have visited iTunes the month before the report was released.

The locative revolution – is your newsroom on board?

Friday, April 25th, 2008

By Ki Mae Heussner


Location, location, location. It’s the most oft-repeated mantra in real estate. But now that location-based services are sprouting up all over the Web, it’s starting to take on a new meaning to more and more professionals in the news media.


Charged with devouring as much as we can about mobile technology and its applications for journalists, team LoJo has been scouting the Web for updates on how newsrooms are adapting to and capitalizing on locative media.


During the past few weeks, we’ve encountered some excellent examples of location-based storytelling that seem likely to push more newsrooms into the emerging geo-journalism space:


– Earlier this month, the New York Times and Google announced a new partnership that allows readers to track articles geographically using Google Earth. (If you want to see what’s going on in Paris, for example, a few clicks on a Google Earth map will show you the latest headlines coming out of the French capital.)


– When protesters attempted to disrupt the Olympic torch procession in San Francisco, the Sacramento Bee used Qik (technology that streams live footage from videophones to a Web-based flash player) to broadcast live videos of the scuffle.


– And, just the other night, as we waited for the results of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary to come in, we were treated to a high-tech presentation on CNN, featuring correspondent John King and a gigantic, touch-sensitive interactive map.


These examples give us the sense that locative media is gaining a foothold in newsrooms across the country, but… we know that there’s a lot going on out there that we still don’t know.


So, to scrape together a clearer picture of locative media usage, we’ve posted a survey online.

LoJo Survey 3


If you’re a working journalist or work in the news media in some other capacity, please help us out and complete our (very short) survey. If you don’t work in a newsroom, but know those who do, please forward on the link below.




As always, we’ll share the results online, along with our own analysis.

“Tellme” more about voice-activated mobile phone search

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

By Joyce Chang


You may already be familiar with voice commands for mobile phones, such as telling your phone to speed dial someone, but how about “voice search”? Microsoft and Yahoo’s recent unveiling of voice-activated Internet search capabilities on mobile phones has me wondering whether this will be the next standard feature on phones.


Microsoft’s Tellme subsidiary launched an application for BlackBerry this week that allows users to simply push the “talk button” on their phones and speak commands into their phones to search for businesses, check traffic and movie times, etc., according to an Associated Press article.


GPS technology delivers search results that are tailored to the user’s current location. Right now, the application only works on newer BlackBerry models, but versions are planned for Apple’s iPhone, among other devices.


Yahoo launched a similar mobile search system, oneSearch 2.0, earlier this month that also works with certain BlackBerry models.


Similar voice command technology such as Microsoft Sync already lets drivers control phones, music players and other devices through voice commands, but users need to be in Ford, Lincoln or Mercury car models. Also, Tellme has been offering voice-recognition service for nearly a year, but it’s been a bit more complicated, as users had to first call or text a 1-800 number in order to access the services.


Voice command technology acknowledges the difficulty of driving or multitasking on-the-go while also trying to navigate through complicated cell phone menus or features. Although Team LoJo’s driving tour would not require users to scroll through menus or conduct Internet searches while driving, since audio tour segments would be triggered by the user’s GPS location, our team indirectly considered this issue.


We discussed what type of content to provide while tour participants are driving or otherwise occupied. I guess the objective is to ensure tour participants are continuously engaged, while also not overwhelming them or otherwise distracting them when they have to concentrate on driving.


Tellme is hoping to add other voice-activated functions, including voice dialing and text message dictation, according to the article.


Watch a voice-recognition mobile search demonstration from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show:


Brand image ads go mobile with Google

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

By Hilary Powell



You’re surfing your on-the-go gadget for information on tickets to the next Miley Cyrus concert. Suddenly, an image-based Google ad pops up with the release date of the Disney diva’s next album.


It’s possible starting today.


Google officially launched mobile image ads Wednesday. While these are not the first ads to hit cell phones, Google’s mobile image ads are unique in several ways. The company said the ads resemble standard graphical display ads for desktop computer Web pages, but are smaller to fit on mobile phone screens. The mobile image ads will pop up in pint-sized displays fit for a mobile screen when certain keywords a viewer searches for are recognized.


Google’s official mobile blog site reports that mobile image ads have strong click-through rates and are vital for branding. Google also says that because ads are targeted by keywords, users will only receive ads for things relevant to them.


Navigating around our mobile options

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

By Hope Needles


A special report in the April 10th edition of The Economist examines the multitude of ways that wireless devices have transformed basic human interactions and social norms. According to the report, mobile technology has created a new urban, nomadic lifestyle in which it is possible to travel to virtually anywhere in the world and still stay connected to work, friends and the news, via technology such as Wi-Fi, smart phones and PDAs. Gone are the days when mobile phones were only useful for making phone calls and sending text messages. Today, these devices have become our go-to gadgets for retrieving email, news, music and video content.


The article defines a modern urban nomad as someone who is able to travel the world without the cumbersome technology that was once needed to connect with others in an office setting. In many cases, this traveler is still able to access documents, participate in video conference meetings and engage in other interactions simultaneously, without the time, energy or grunt work of physical obligations.


While it may be true that mobile phones and wireless access have improved our lives dramatically, on a variety of levels, The Economist brings up a critical issue that I often worry about myself, as society becomes increasingly dependent on technology. As we continue to trade regular phone calls and face-to-face interactions for microblogging and SMS, what is happening to our social norms? Media experts, researchers and anthropologists alike have arrived at the conclusion that a new social landscape is emerging, in which social etiquette and our personal relationships are redefined across mobile and wireless platforms.

Read the rest of this entry…

French telecom company launches e-newspaper trial

Monday, April 21st, 2008

By Amy Lee


Industry chatter for years has suggested that the “newspaper” of tomorrow will be produced and distributed on paper-free portable electronic devices. To a certain extent, this is true today, as users can navigate the Internet, search newspapers’ sites and read stories displayed on most current cell phones. But this process (in my case, at least) is often slow and clumsy, and it’s one more feature of a phone – not a device dedicated solely to e-news reading.


So I was intrigued to learn that Orange, the telecommunications brand of France Telecom, on April 17 launched a test run of Read & Go, a portable “electronic newspaper kiosk” that allows users to access five French newspapers. It’s kinda like Amazon’s Kindle e-reader in that users access the newspapers via touch screen and it’s Wi-Fi and 3G-enabled. It’s also kind of large compared to a cell phone. The five newspapers involved in the trial are Le Monde, Le Parisien, Les Echos, L’Equipe and Télérama; Orange claims information from each newspaper will be refreshed on the Read & Go every hour. The device also offers 1 GB of storage (enough for 200 newspapers, according to Orange) and 30 eBooks, including novels and city guides.


The company is currently seeking about 150 users to try the device for about two months, and also hopes to geolocate ads on the device. This tied right into the LoJo Connect team’s focus of supplying information to users based on their location. Personally, I think the Read & Go looks a tad large and that most people prefer a multi-use mobile device (like cell phones with Web access, etc.) to carrying around yet another portable tech device. But it’s cool that users can access several newspapers at once and that it’s free to navigate, for now anyway. This is perhaps the best example yet of the heavily foreshadowed portable e-newspaper of the future and could help carve the direction of e-news and location-based advertising, so it’s worth checking out.

Locative Storytelling in Chicago: The 2016 Olympics

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

By Satta Sarmah


For the past week or so, Team LoJo has been talking about locative storytelling—innovative journalism that relies on the web and mobile technology.


We’ve been doing research and shoe leather reporting and, on Thursday, we spent the entire day getting audio and video and interviewing sources for a project that we hope will embody locative storytelling at its best: Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Olympics Logo


Our project will focus on the economic, environmental and social impacts of hosting the Olympics in Chicago. In April 2007, Chicago was selected as the U.S. applicant for the 2016 summer Olympics.


While it is a great honor for any city to host the Olympics, the games also leave a lasting legacy for the neighborhoods in which the Olympic venues are hosted. In Chicago, Washington Park, Douglas Park, Northerly Island and Monroe Harbor are just some of the locations selected as Olympic venues.


While many people are in support of Chicago’s bid, responses in neighborhoods like Washington Park are decidedly mixed.


The goals of our project include giving the audience well-balanced storytelling across different platforms and allowing people to experience this story in the actual physical locations that will be affected. We’re in the preliminary stages, but keep checking back with us to see the progress we’ve made.

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