What tools should we use?

As Journal Register moves forward with the Ben Franklin Project we’re looking for suggestions of what tools we can use for this project.

Here is a partial breakdown of the tasks. What tools do you think would work best?

Story/photos/video assignments: What should we cover?

Story budgets: Tracking staffers as they produce content

Photo editing: Toning, sizing, etc.

Video editing: Prepping video content

Video players: Showing video content

Publishing (digital): What platform do you prefer?

Publishing (print): What should we use to paginate the print product?

Ad design (digital & print): Static and Flash banners


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10 responses to “What tools should we use?

  1. I’m very familiar with interactive design for flash advertisements. A while back I researched possible methods to create flash-animated banners solely with an online solution. There aren’t too many of them that offer professional-looking results, except this one:


    I purchased a 1-month trial and found it rather easy to use – with the ability to include standards-based clickTag coding. Once the graphical elements are prepared, creating transitions is simple. It could take just 1 hour or less to produce a professional ad creative. File sizes was the sole deal-breaker, unfortunately. Back when I used BannerSnack, the files weighed from 50-100K, due to its transition library code. It’s possible that the application has improved to optimize its code. If file size is not an issue, then I’d recommend it as a cloud-based solution.

    Here is a video review:


  2. I think WordPress should be your digital home base. It has great hooks into it and as easily you can get the metadata out.

    I really think that RSS should be used in that sense. A service like Ping.fm could take the RSS from WordPress and syndicate it in various forms out to social networks.

    Of course, that’s when you have somethng to syndicate. No doubt, long before that you will be communicating with the community on platforms like Twitter.

    You may need a service that will take all the tweets that you “like” or “favorite” and aggregates them to a holding place. So maybe you need more than one WordPress blog. or maybe a Tumblr account. One for editing and/or aggregating and one where more “finished” and fact checked stuff might land.

    So you need a superfast place (Twitter). A fast place (Tumblr) and a slow place (WordPress) The slow place will only change if new facts come into play or old “facts” are found to be untrue.

    Publishing to print will happen from a snapshot of the WordPress blog around deadline.

    Just rattled this off. Curious to hear how others envision it working.

    • Matt,

      Publishing to print will happen from a snapshot of the WordPress blog around deadline.

      That was part of the initial conversation — actual blog platform tbd.

      Jon Cooper

  3. On the coverage aspect …. I’d cover the water-cooler talk of the day. In our community it is currently downtown economic development, town-gown issues with several colleges (but one in particular), the state of the arts locally, a contentious local school budget, and the efforts of a local neighborhood (that has seen better days) to re-imagine itself. I’d create community sites on each of these topics, pull in stories and articles from the past, and invite viewers to participate as many different ways as possible (user-submitted op-eds, blogs, videos, photos, etc.) and more to expound on the topics. And I would organize some sort of event on each topic where people come together – virtually and in physical location – for more dialogue and exchanges. I would reverse publish some of this and as well as analytical pieces and USA Today-style infographics on each topic – create a temporary designated day in the paper perhaps (Monday is downtown economic development, Tuesday is town-gown, etc.) until the topics are exhausted (so people know when to find it), and then as one issue dies down move on to the next one. I would also reimagine our crime coverage – which is very popular – … more info on how what happened today reflects long-term trends in public safety and what public and safety officals are doing to make us safer. Some crimes could be a case study in prevention, police techniques, and more.

  4. Video Players: YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo

    Online Publishing: WordPress all the way. Easy to use and you can build plug-ins for anything. Grab a free copy; install on the server and your off.

    Photo Editing: Aviary.com; Picasa; Photoshop.com/express or this handy Adobe Air application — Splash Up (http://www.splashup.com/light/)

    Photo Resizing – Adobe Air app: Shrink O’matic (bulk resizing)

    Online Ads – BannerSnack

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention What tools should we use? « The Ben Franklin Project -- Topsy.com

  6. 1.Story assignments:Use the tried and true. Go on Facebook, Twitter and email to ask for ideas. Also post to community sites/message boards asking what ate you most interested in.
    2. Story budgets: use an online group via email, facebook or cover it live to hold the daily budget meeting. Could also be streamed using ustream or the like. Ask for input from those watching/listening/chatting
    3. Photo editing: there is nothing better than Photoshop. That’s all they do. It is nearly idiot proof (I speak from experience).
    4. Video editing: ther are so many and they are all similar. I use Videopad in a pinch.
    5 and 6. Nothing really beats Google docs for printing or online

  7. Story Budgets: You could use skype to. It’s got chat, video conferencing, free skype to skype calls and conference calls. If you have to call non-skype phones it’s crazy cheap. I’ve had $10 in my account for over a year and I use it all the time.

  8. I would go with Google docs for story budgets, it would be easy to keep a story list as well as list of reporters and what they’re working on.

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