Tuesday, December 10, 2013
This week, we’re lucky to have a guest post by Mimi Szeto, who’s both a journalist and a librarian (so, basically, she’s a research ninja). Check out Mimi’s tips for smarter online searching and free resources.
Online research is easy or daunting depending on how well you can weave through all the information out there on the web. Here are a few librarian-approved sources and easy-to-do tricks—most of which you can try at home in your pajamas—to save time while digging deep into the virtual stacks.
1. Find out what you have access to
Though not often publicized, and sometimes veiled as “e-resources” or “digital collections,” libraries have growing selections of online goodies that you can access with your library card. Download magazines you want to pitch to, research new story angles and find niche publications for your work by signing up for a Zinio account through your public library (for example, the Toronto Public Library). You get free, unlimited access to the current digital editions of hundreds of magazines, and in some cases, back issues. Need to reference works by Alice Munro or Malcolm Gladwell? Download their ebooks through OverDrive.
2. Tap into databases, high-quality web resources and guides
Maybe your first instinct was to Google your topic. Now you have to back up your research with factual information from authoritative sources. Try searching paid databases and web portals via your library for newspaper articles, journals, consumer reports, statistics, encyclopedias and more. If you’re new to a subject, guides are one of the best starting points—search for “guides to [topic].”
3. Access hard-to-get (for free) research
Science, health and medical journals usually aren’t freely available to the public. Nonetheless, it’s worth a shot to search Google Scholar for full-text articles. If you study or teach at a university, there’s a good chance you have an all-access pass via the library website to subject-specific databases containing journal articles, abstracts and other types of documents. Start with the topic and then dive into the suggested resources to gather what you need.
4. Use social media as a research tool
Even if Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn aren’t your thing, they’re a gold mine when it comes to discovering new businesses and interview sources, and listening in on both expert and non-expert commentary. One neat trick you can do on Facebook is pull up posts, discussions and any other mentions of a particular topic by adding a hashtag to your search term. For instance, typing “#snow” into the search box will bring up public posts and comments from people on your friends list that mention snow. This is particularly useful for newsworthy events.
5. Back up documents you may need later
Web links break all the time. Content is taken down or revised. In some cases, entire websites disappear. Documenting webpages for research purposes is as easy as clicking File>Print>Save as PDF, if you’re using a Mac, or taking a screenshot. Skitch is a free app for Macs, Windows and mobile devices that allows you to annotate screenshots, maps and pictures. Do a web search for screenshot apps and plug-ins that create full-page records, and try a few out to find one that suits your needs. (Worried about copyright infringement? Read about fair dealing in the Copyright Act. In Canada, research, private study, criticism and news reporting are exceptions to copyright infringement.)
Mimi Szeto (@mimiszeto) is a freelance researcher and editor from Toronto who holds a Master of Information Studies degree in Library and Information Science. Formerly an online listings editor at St. Joseph Media for torontolife.com and where.ca, she has coordinated fact-checking projects for torontolife.com and worked in various public, academic and non-traditional libraries in the city.
Thanks to Editfish readers who entered the Canadian Press Stylebook giveaway. Congratulations to the winners, Suzanne Boles and Amanda Oye.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
There is still time to get that Christmas gadget this year, and the sales season has begun with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One thing is for sure: mobile computer toys are much more affordable gifts nowadays: e-readers for less than $100; tablets from $150 in any size you want, 6”, 8”, and 10” that run Android, Apple and Microsoft software; and laptops from $250 that feature the Google Chromebook. You can even get a 32” TV for $168.
But while the choice this year is fantastic, the devices we purchase come with a lot of user restrictions. We don’t have a lot of the freedoms with digital tech that we have with other products—freedoms that we take for granted.
My Christmas Wish List is all about digital freedom: the freedom to choose the device I want and consume the content I want, in the same way I would with a toaster. I can plug a new toaster in anywhere and can use any type of bread I want from any baker. I can even bake the bread myself. Is that too much to ask?
It is ironic that a purchaser has more rights when they buy toasters than they do buying smartphones, tablets, computers, software and digital content. So this year, to promote digital freedom, I have created a Toaster Bill of Rights for Digital Freedom for my Xmas wish list.
Toaster Purchaser Rights
The purchaser has the right to buy a toaster that fits the purchaser’s needs and tastes. The toaster can be used with any electrical service provider offering a competitive price in any location of the purchaser’s choosing.
The purchaser can remain anonymous to the manufacturer and does need to register with the manufacturer to use the toaster during the ownership period of the toaster purchased.
The toaster manufacturer does not have the right to monitor, without consent, via any technical device, the purchaser’s use of the toaster, including what type of bread is being used, what times the toaster is used, and if the purchaser shares the toaster with a friend or family member.
The manufacturer cannot charge the purchaser for each additional person using the toaster.
If the toaster is sold with an electrical services contract, the purchaser has the right to substitute a toaster of his or her own choosing, from any vendor, if the toaster is lost, stolen or damaged.
If the toaster breaks, parts and service will be readily available at a reasonable price and the manufacturer cannot stop supplying parts for the said product. Charges for a repair cannot cost more than a new device.
The toaster manufacturer will provide a warranty to the toaster purchaser that in event of a new product being launched, bread can still be purchased for the toaster purchased.
The manufacturer gives up all rights at the time of purchase for further charges to the purchaser in the form an annual usage charge during the ownership period of the toaster.
The toaster purchaser can pay for electrical power service for the toaster based on actual consumption, as a purchase option, at a reasonable rate. In case of bulk fixed rate contracts, where there is a rotating monthly time of expiration, a credit to the account will be applied to the purchaser for any unused amounts.
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I know this is a pretty big Xmas wish list. I just found it very surprising how much personal freedom we give up sometimes when buying digital content and devices. For recommendations on specific gadgets for this holiday season, check out some my blog postings
from the past couple years.
Dear Santa, meet the Tesla
But secretly, what I want for Christmas this year is a 17” in-car tablet computer for my car, like you see in the Tesla Electric Car. (And a new toaster of course.) This tablet computer connects to the internet, your smartphone, and the car’s computer systems for navigation, music and dashboard diagnostic monitors. Now that would be the ultimate gadget for me this year.
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes to you this Christmas Season.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
An interesting article was forwarded by Bo Sacks this morning regarding Time Magazine
Worth a read.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
This amazing Sportsnet
cover is worth celebrating.
Here’s what art director Jamie Hodgson had to say about the cover process:
“Coming off of last years awards issue, which we described as a ‘keg party’ of athletes, I was challenged with following it up in the same vein. I came up with a holiday wreath of athletes. The great thing about these types of covers is they are engaging once you get them in your hands. People will always show their knowledge by pointing out athletes they recognize. I wanted to take it a step further and create an interactive info-graphic style cover. Having to physically spin the magazine to see all the athletes and having all the sell lines point to specific athletes (and a few non-athletes) will engage the reader longer which is always the goal. Looking for 'their guy' is the goal here. I always have fun putting in a few things that don’t belong (non-athletes like Paulina Gretzky and even one movie star). Like last year, one athlete is duplicated and a contest is run to see who can figure it out. Everyone asks me, how many are on the cover? Guesses range from 100-300 athletes. The answer? 149. Yes, that includes fan-favourite Blue Jay Munenori Kawasaki. It took a long time to put together but it’s good fun, and thankfully only once per year.”
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The COPAs, now in its 5th year, is a snapshot of what is happening in Canada in digital content. The COPAs attract media players from the worlds of television, newspaper, magazine and digital, to see who is the Best in Canada. Some of the winners this year were schools and students. The UBC Graduate School of Journalism, for example, won two golds for its use of video and multimedia. The consumption of video/multimedia/interactive content on the web is growing and I thought it would be good to show where the bar is set in Canada with these COPA winners.
The PAIN project and CUT entries from the UBC students, through their creative use of video, links and animation, create a truly engaging reader experience—similar to playing an interactive video game, but still telling a strong story. The other Gold winner in the video and multimedia category was the The UC Observer
for its documentary on homeless shelters. The CBC won Best Interactive Solution of the Year for an infographic used to illustrate its investigative report on offshore tax havens.
Let’s hear from the winners below.
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The Pain Project - Gold - Blue category for business media
The Pain Project investigates the lack of access to morphine, the gold standard for treating pain. Teams travelled to India, Ukraine and Uganda to explore how such countries manage the pain of patients suffering from cancer and other terminal diseases. The stories of patients, caregivers and other stakeholders are featured in 13 short videos. They reveal how a combination of bureaucratic hurdles and the chilling effect of the global drug war are largely to blame, leaving humanitarians scrambling to work outside the law — or change the law — to bring relief to suffering patients all over the world.
The Pain Project (Click images to view projects)
CUT - Gold - Green Category for news media
CUT is based on a year-long investigation into the roots of global illegal logging. Ten journalism students in UBC’s International Reporting Program conducted on-the-ground reporting in three logging hotspots—Indonesia, Russia and Cameroon. They analyzed the environmental and social costs and the role of consumers. To engage viewers, the image of an apartment filled with wood products links to the producing country. An introductory video leads users to explore illegal logging in three countries along with related stories. Throughout the site, the multimedia character of the project is enhanced through videos, text, images, GIFs and audio clips.
The UC Observer - Gold - Red category for consumer magazines
The UBC International Reporting Program, CUT
reported on Canada's Out of the Cold programs, which shelter untold thousands every winter. For this short multimedia feature, the magazine returned to Waterloo, Ont.'s First United Church and found an ongoing need. Together, the narratives reveal the underlying problems of poverty and livelihood instability, not to mention the solutions moving forward. Equally important, we aspired to and succeeded in humanizing all of the subjects in this short online documentary.
CBC News - Best Interactive Solution of the Year - Offshore Tax Haven infographgic
The UC Observer, Cold Comfort
Before unveiling our massive tax-haven investigation, CBCNews.ca
decided it was critical to explain how the murky offshore world works. Text alone would not convey the complexity. We opted for an interactive animation that maps the proliferation of tax havens and the ways investors use them. Users follow the same steps a tax evader would, choosing a jurisdiction, setting up a trust and opening an account.
CBC News, Stashing Their Cash
* * *
The art of digital story telling is taking a new form with these COPA winners—a convergence of sight, sound, technical wizardry and words. What was surprising was that it took a group of students to lead they way in this year’s winner’s circle. The best ideas and inventions all started out as school projects, and the hub at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism offers a look at how we may tell stories in the future.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The new issue of Dirt Trax magazine is set to hit newsstands December 18, 2013.
Art director Andrew Knor pushed the creative edges by creating a split-screen cover. In a world now dominated by a “windows” way of interacting with information, and television news and weather programs training people to look at their screen in a multi-tasking way, this cover communicates that it is packed with useful information for off-road enthusiasts.
Cover slash, check!
Good use of big numbers to quantify value, check!
Blessed words like Best, check!
Bold type, check!
Good use of key “real estate” at top and left, check!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The Winter Design issue has always been a strong seller for Garden Making. This cover should be no exception to that pattern. Here’s what publisher Michael Fox has to say about it:
“When we launched four years ago, some people were surprised that we’d publish a new issue of a gardening magazine in Canada in November, a time of year when most gardens are put to bed for winter,” says Fox. “But with its design theme, our winter issues consistently sell as well as (or better) than other issues.”
"The cover features a stunning urn planted and styled for Garden Making by Paul Zammit, the Nancy Eaton director of horticulture at Toronto Botanical Garden. Foliage is front and centre in the design package with articles about fancy-leaf begonias, plants with silver foliage and hardy ferns, as well as three urban front-yard gardens in Toronto and the best ways to light your landscape at night.”
Garden Making is quarterly, every three months, timed with the seasons.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
The July 2013 issue of Town & Country
is the best-selling issue of the year so far. It beat the issue prior to it by 35%, and it beat the following issue by over 57%. Plus, only one issue in 2012 sold as well as Lauren Hutton (Grace Kelly’s Granddaughter).
The controversial Rollingstone cover of August 1st, 2013 sold 39% better than the same issue last year (Justin Bieber). Only two other issues have sold as well in 2013…Johnny Depp and the Top 50 Hip Hop Songs.
The Bitter Pill cover from Time magazine sold 20% better than the issue prior to it, and sold 5% better than the issue following it, and sold 2% better than the same time slot in 2012. Only 1 of the first 11 issues out sold it in 2013 (Rise of the Drones).
The April 2013 issue of Vogue, featuring the First Lady Michelle Obama, sold 26,095 copies in Canada. The issue didn’t do as well as the March 2013 issue featuring Beyoncé, which sold 35,491. However it did outsell Jan, Feb, May and July issues. It did not outsell last year’s April issue featuring Jennifer Lopez.
The December 2012 issue of Vogue, featuring Anne Hathaway 32,953 copies in Canada, a full 60% better than the November 2012 issue, and whopping 88% better than the January 2013 issue, which came before and after Anne.
Sports Illustrated’s May 6th cover sold 43% more copies than the same issue last year.
The annual 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue failed to deliver as many sales as the 2012 edition, even though Kate Upton was the cover girl on both issues. Perhaps Rule #26 was a factor….Hot not Cold covers. The 2013 issue sold 48,146 copies in Canada, while the 2012 issue sold 57,734, a negative variance of 9,588 or down 17%.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina, is the cover girl for the December 2013 issue of Maxim
A Huffington Post link is here.
The cover, like most Maxim covers, is rather steamy and not at all original. Hot blonde in white bikini wearing heels. But for the lads audience….probably a winner.
Friday, November 08, 2013
The April 15th, 2013 issue of Canadian Business
outsold the previous year’s issue in this time slot by 12%.
The June 2013 issue of Zoomer outsold the previous year’s issue in this time slot by 35%.
Outdoor Canada’s Summer 2013 issue outsold the previous year’s issue in this time slot by 73%.
Fashion’s August 2013 issue outsold the prior year’s issue in this time slot by 47%.
The January 2013 issue of Flare was a winner. So far in 2013, only one other issue has sold more. The issue sold 175% more than the issue that came before, and sold 90% better than the issue that came after it. That’s impressive.
The May 2013 issue of Azure was a success. It outsold the issue prior (Mar/Apr) by 42%, and it outsold the issue after (Jun) by 93%.