Tag Archives: Tools

America’s worst charities

I think we’ve all been guilty once before.

Every now and then, a well-told tale of heartache, survival or suffering tugs at our heartstrings and we reach into our wallets and find the nearest donation envelope. Or you get a call as you’re sitting down to dinner from a cancer society or state troopers fund, and you think, “Maybe if I just give them money, they’ll stop calling.”

Enter this incredibly sobering graphic is a great way to put charitable giving into perspective.


America's Worst Charities, by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting

Screenshot taken from http://www.tampabay.com/americas-worst-charities. Click on this image above to go directly to the study.

As a data journalism lover who also considers herself pretty active in community service and voluntarism, this site left me both excited and sad.

First off – this is journalism done right. The Center for Investigative Reporting is an integral resource to journalism, and the work they produce aligns hand-in-hand with the phrase “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Sometimes what we need to know most is something so ugly, we wish we didn’t know. But it all goes back to one of my favorite lines in the Principles of Journalism:

Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affect citizens. The Founders recognized this to be a rampart against despotism when they ensured an independent press; courts have affirmed it; citizens rely on it.

On the other hand, it’s pretty sickening to see how often people’s donations go to pay solicitors – and how some of these charities are commonly recognized. The American Breast Cancer Foundation only gives 5.3 percent in cash to those who need it most. Heartbreaking.

I’ve always been particularly leery of who I give donations to, and how I spend my time. My rule of thumb is to spend my time and money where I can see the biggest impact firsthand. Many people need help in Hampton Roads. Being involved in the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach allows me to work with a number of local nonprofits where I can see a direct impact in volunteer efforts. Habitat for Humanity, local shelters, food banks, Girls on the Run and many more organizations need people to help donate their time – not necessarily money.  Obviously, nonprofit organizations need money to operate. But spending time with the organization and learning its structure is the best way to know your financial contribution will make an impact.

My little two cents on getting involved with charities: Instead of spending your money, spend your time. Take your family to the food bank to help sort out food. Instead of consigning those suits and dresses that don’t fit anymore, give them to Dress for Success. Work with children who need love. Not only will you get a great sense of community (whether it’s local or broad), but you’ll see first-hand where your efforts are spent.


Time management hacks

LINK: 26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20


So glad I stumbled over this little jewel this morning.

My favorite takeaways:

  • “Doing is better than perfect.”
  • “Only ever work on the thing that will have the biggest impact.”
  • “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”
  • “Write down anything that distracts you – Google searches, random thoughts, new ideas, whatever. The point is, if you write them down, they’ll stop bubbling up when you’re in the zone.”

I’m usually not a fan of corny inspirational one-liners and whatnot, but every now and then, it’s good to look through tips that have helped others become more successful. One size doesn’t always fit all, but you never know what works (and what doesn’t) until you try.

I’ve already turned to a clean page in the ole’ Moleskine this morning and will be attempting to write down all of my distractions as they pop into my brain today.

This is either going to be really annoying, or really enlightening…


Excited About Little Outliner

Well this is exciting.

Dave Winer has been busy working with a new “smart young dude,” starting a new company and launching a new product.

Little Outliner excites me because it’s a great way to lay out your thoughts and notes in storytelling. Plus, if you are collaborating with someone, its easy to drag pieces of the story in, move them around and restructure your entire story in about two seconds. I can see the advantages of using this in a brainstorming session, too, but the word nerd in me went right to storytelling.

What’s better – it runs in a browser window so there is no software to download.

GigaOM speaks to its viability:

Whether Little Outliner becomes a must-use product for millions or not, Winer’s dedication to open standards — which has included promoting the idea of a distributed version of Twitter, rather than relying on a proprietary platform owned by a single company — means that those who prefer open and interoperable web tools will always have an alternative.

Try it out here: http://littleoutliner.com/

I’m a sucker for simple and straightforward when it comes to web tools.. And since I’m learning JS in my spare time, I’m have a little crush on how this one is put together.


10 Replacements for Google Reader

LINK: 10 Replacements for Google Reader

I was horrified when I logged into Google Reader and learned it was no longer going to deliver my favorite blogs and news to me as of July. There are far too many good digital/news/food/DIY blogs out there that I’ve hand-picked to be in one place, and I do not want to spend my Saturday mornings searching for these sites manually. (This crazy talk stresses me out just thinking about it.)

So, I just took about 20 minutes and set up my Feedly account. Because it links up with your existing Google account, it’s pretty painless.. love the look and organization of it. I’m now experimenting with posting links to WP and Tumblr, but I’m sure there are plugins out there.

Hurray! Nerd things.


Twenty Tumblr tips for news outlets

Link: Twenty Tumblr tips for news outlets

Really good read. Going to have to dig into it a little more when shaping political/election news. Good ideas here.

5 digital tools for newsrooms

Link: 5 digital tools for newsrooms and how they help journalism

I stumbled over this link yesterday and decided it was worth posting. I’m a big fan of Storify and think it’s an amazing resource to not only gather the voices of your community, but a great way to control what is posted. Twitter aggregators often are hashtag- or keyword-based, meaning spammers can easily pick up on trending words to clog up timelines. You also run the risk of publishing vulgar, offensive or completely off-topic language to your page if you are auto-pulling tweets from Twitter. Storify also has the ability to combine many social outlets to give tell the entire story over different media. I’ve had success with it before I even worked in a newsroom, and pitch to my producers how valuable it truly is in weather or breaking-news stories.

Also happy that they included Google Maps in the article, as many people forget how customizable this tool truly is. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with these for a couple of different stories. The possibilities are truly endless.

Digital journalism events of 2011

Link: Digital journalism events of 2011

“(In 2012), journalists will connect further with their individual followers, and the 2012 Breaking News Pulitzer winner will have done a great service to its community via the Internet.

While we can only guess what the future of digital journalism holds, 2011 paved a strong path, leaving us hopeful and confident that the best has yet to come.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone win the 2012 Breaking News Pulitzer from tweeting a developing story… and if that person has no journalism training at all.

How news orgs are using Facebook’s new apps

Link: How news orgs are using Facebook’s new apps

This link gives a little bit of insight into who is using the Facebook news apps, which have been around for about 2 months now. This article states that Facebook reports 83 percent of Social Reader users are under 35, and more than half the Guardian’s Facebook app users are 24 and under.

That’s huge. Tapping into that market is vital… especially when your industry is slowing morphing into a different shape.

Actually, most news orgs use Twitter as a glorified RSS feed

Link: Actually, most news orgs use the service as a glorified RSS feed

Surprise, surprise. This revelation shouldn’t come a shocker to social-savvy journos. I think the value of Twitter is as an aggregator for news orgs, with the ability to tune into whoever you want, where ever they may be, for instant information. Sure, it’s important to understand that true communication is two-way, but lets be honest. In the hustle and bustle of your daily life as a journalists, you have to pick and choose how you use your time. For me, the best strategy is to save conversations for Google+ or Facebook. Use Twitter for information gathering.



5 Google Tools Every Journalist Should Know

Link: 5 Google Tools Every Journalist Should Know

“For journalists, Google can be so much more than a simple search engine,” said Jake Parrillo, Google’s Midwest manager for global communications and public affairs in Chicago. “By using Google products like Maps, Translate, Insights and even Fusion Tables, journalists can quickly and easily get the most out of the Web and focus on what they do best: create amazing stories that inform the world.” – via MediaBistro