All Fun and Games...

The power of the Internet and online content is undeniable in the world of journalism and the dissemination of information.

Interactive online tools were the topic of this afternoon’s second Talents and Tools workshop titled: "This is Serious! Developing Information Toys and News Games".

The method of storytelling was explored through various online sites, games and other forms of multimedia with the moderation of Nora Paul, Director of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota and Joshua Hatch, interactive Director for USA Today.

Paul showed ASNE members how web tools and online games can do such things as recreate sequence of events which is helpful in readers interested in crime stories for example.

She also showed a visual aid that displayed the degrees of separation between individuals/businesses and a Minnesota former auto mogul accused of fraud.

USA Today offers a plethora of interactive charts and graphs that delve deeper into a story such as their presidential approval rating tracker which displays all presidents rates on the same graph in comparison or stretches out their respective tenures for detailed specific research.

Using web tools, USA Today plotted the aftershocks following the Chilean earthquake with detailed zoom options using Google maps.

amMaps, another mapping application, was utilized to display swine flu cases and outbreaks around the world.

Regardless of the approaches, Hatch and Paul both assured workshop participants that multimedia was not difficult for a newsroom or individuals to produce. In fact, most journalists have the technological skills to create these online tools.

Not only do these multimedia assets supplement a story, said Paul, but it also allows reporters to stay organized by having all of their researched work accessible and available in an easy medium.

"These tools provide ways to go deeper into a story and allows readers to gain background to what’s going on in the story," said Hatch. "A newspaper is not going to be a satisfying way to gain all my information or answer my tools help you do that."

Alexis K. Barnes


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