During the news:rewired conference last week, Ezra Eeman of Journalism Tools gave delegates a list of essential tools journalists should be aware of when creating enganging content for their audiences. Some of these tools can be applied directly to text-based articles to add a multimedia element and, overall, a more colourful story.
There are 50,000 news apps every month, not counting new web online tools found around the internet which journalists can use, said Eeman, and it can be quite difficult to sift through them.
"There is an 'appageddon' of apps being released every month," he said, "and it can be difficult to keep up with everything. It's like having a new supermarket in your neighbourhood every month with new products."Pick some tools that really suit your workflow, be consistent and stick to them and then dig into themEzra Eeman, Journalism Tools
In order to be able to use these apps effectively Eeman urged delegates to be selective, rather than try to pick up everything at once and without being able to master them.
"Pick some tools that really suit your workflow," he continued, "be consistent and stick to them and then dig into them, really master the technology you have in front of you.
"Use an 80/20 rule, focus on these tools and do 80 per cent of your work with them but stay open and experiment with the other 20 per cent of your workflow."
Here are five of the tools Eeman highlighted that journalists can use to make their articles more engaging.
By allowing you to embed audio into your text, the Knight Lab's Soundcite software works well for adding extra emotion into an article. Embedding Soundcite into a quote can allow the reader to read the text but if they want to actually hear the person, they can just click the text to hear a clip.
Soundcite also works well for adding an extra layer of atmosphere, so if your article is talking about a busy event or a protest, you can embed ambient sound into the text to put the reader in that environment.
“Soundcite is a really good way of making text and audio work together," Eeman said, "you can use it to tease what is coming up next in your article.”
Odyssey, a free tool from the makers of Carto.db, can be used to take your readers on a journey, allowing you to use text and maps together in a variety of different formats.
From slideshows to scrolling pages, readers can get more context to the stories and by repackaging standard text articles into an Odyssey template, you can create a more multimedia package.
Although still in beta, Sprites is a very useful tool for creating vivid, animated infographics to supplement text. Sprites can be viewed as a movie or played as a slideshow so users can scroll through the different slides manually, but the software also allows you to embed your own widgets like Youtube videos.
Readrboard is a powerful commenting tool which allows users to comment anywhere on your article, both for plain text and for multimedia content.
Readrboard also allows users to rate parts of an article by using pre-built comments such as "love it!" or "seriously?", before adding a more specific comment.
"Readrboard makes comments more interesting," said Eeman. "People may want to refer to a specific place in your article and Readrboard lets people comment on basically anything in your article."
One of the challenges of data journalism is in helping readers to understand interpreted data, and then package it in a manner in which readers will want to read it.
VIS (Visual Investigative Scenarios) allows you to map data, such as money flows or organised crime networks, in a more friendly and interactive way.
"Vis is handy because sometimes with data journalism or detailing big corporate structures things get complicated," Eeman said. "Vis helps people understand by actually presenting you with a map which is much more easier to explain with than a block of text."
You can see Eeman's presentation from news:rewired, detailing many more tools that journalists can use in their work, and the full day of talks, sessions and workshops with a digital ticket, giving you full access to videos from the day.