Friday, 29 August 2014

5 tools which every digital journalist should use

Somewhere in 2011, it was revealed that Digital Media had overtaken Print Media and in the coming years, a lot of newspapers and magazines will vanish from the scene. Around 152 newspaper shutdown in 2011 around the world. Many more will shut if the management, the owners don't decide to move digital.

There has been a significant rise of the internet users over the years and, as a result, a lot of websites were launched. From serious news portals to fun and entertainment websites. An increase in the office and commuting internet users, saw traditional media change their strategies.

It has been three years that I have been a part of this digital world and it is a mad mad world. Even though, all you need is a computer to work. However, there are certain DIGITAL tools that journalists should know and must use, if they want to succeed.

Here are the five tools that each and every Digital Journalist should use —

1) Google Analytics

Each and every website survives on the traffic they make each and every month and Google Analytics is one of the two primary tools which reads the performance of the website. You can read how much traffic, the traffic sources, conversation rates, etc. It is a must! I mean it! You also get to see, how many concurrent users are there on your website.

2) Tweetdeck/Hootsuite/Social Media clients

Do you know how important social media is? Currently, Twitter is probably a journalist's favourite news source. But that's not all, a lot of news break on different social media platforms. There is Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIN, etc. But how will you manage so many social accounts altogether? The pain of shifting between too many tabs is just unbearable. It is best if you have a social media client, like the Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Seesmic. Best part, you have the client available for not only desktop but mobile too!

3) Google Trends 

The first thing a digital journalist should be taught is — We create content which the user want to read rather than create content what we want the user to read. For that, one has personal blogs. But how to find out what the user wants? What the user is discussing? Well, we have Google Trends for it! Google Trends helps us to understand what are the topics which are trending in the world, in your country, city, region.

4) Photoshop/Photoscape/Fotor/Pixlr/Image-editing softwares

I bet none of the websites can do without a photo-editing software. Just like it is essential to know how to use MS Office, it is a must that digital journalists know the basic Adobe Photoshop. Designed images, infographics, attract a lot of eyeballs. Facebook data analysis shows posts with images/pictures get more likes/comments/Click-throughs than simple text updates.

5) Caffeine 

Before I started writing this post, I asked one of my colleagues and my deputy-editor about the five essential tools they use each and every day. However, as I inched closer to the No 5, I realised I am missing most vital tool, which journalists need from morning to night to next morning. Caffeine - In the form of Coffee, Tea, soft drinks. When I told this to my Deputy Editor, he got up from his seat and shook his hand with me. Now you realise how important caffeine.

Honestly, there are many tools, and the preference of tools here in India is a lot different to that in US or Europe. But there are some basic tools, which is universal in all the newsrooms. For digital journos, Google is the lifeline and it's products.

P.S. I live on Google Analytics, Trends and Twitter. You guys should try to.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Hypnophobia: Fear of sleeping

I am not a troubled person but one of my fears is the fear of sleeping alone or sleeping at night alone in the house.

This started almost a year back now. Once, I had called up few friends of mine and we were conversing about old house and my roommates said how seldom I am never at home at proper time. I only return home to sleep. Then all the stories how she saw supernatural stuff at my previous house came out.

Initially, I ignored but then I started having attacks that when am falling sleep someone is looking over me or someone will come and scare me when I am sleeping alone.

I shifted houses and yet the problem remains. So much I had taken up night shifts. I avoided being at home, when there were no one.

I stayed back at office, working and started sleeping in the morning.

My sleep pattern has gone for a toss now and I have no idea how to get over it.

People have their own lives and I cannot force them to stay at home. I took medical help and it hardly helped me. My doctor prescribed sleeping pills.

I took them initially and then all I did the whole day is sleep

So what is the solution, I ask?

If anyone knows, please feel free to help.

My physiotherapist says either face them or retreat and all I have been doing is the latter.

Now, I ask, what should I do?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Life - A never-ending series of wars

Life is not so easy. As a kid, you want to grow as fast as you can, be someone. Moreover, when you do grow up, you want time to stop, halt and go back to a time when everything was simple. As adults, you are forced to make few decisions, which in the end are choices that you have made, and finally that defines you as a person.

Life is supposed to be a journey but for most, it is not. It is a series of numerous wars that you fight, some with known enemies and some with unknown. But, this is the life that you were born to face. Life itself is a war, one big war, that you want to close your eyes and give up to.

As a kid, you grow up to some dreams, ambitions. By the time, when you achieve them, you have many more lined up. But most of the time, it is not about the dreams, that you dream of. It is about living up to other's expectations, other's dreams. And at the end of the day, you are all but alone, and unfulfilled.

As a person, staying thousand miles away from her family, it has been somewhat easy for me. For my family, they never had any expectations from me apart from being happy and prosperous. It was the dreams that I had seen for myself. A never-ending series of wants and desires.

Imagine yourself, you are in a room. You have everything around you that a person needs (material). But are you really happy? You want to be alone as crowded rooms suffocate you. You want to be independent as you cannot see yourself living and adjusting to someone else's needs and wants. You are but what You want for YOURSELF.

Being alone and independent is nice but with it comes space, too much of space. Imagine, you alone in the space. You and only yourself. Will you survive?

Probably, you will. It is a choice you had made. The choice of working till late night, staying alone, not being dependent on someone financially and not expecting emotional support because you believe that makes you strong.

But does it really work?

Are you happy being alone?
When you need to scream, can you do it alone?

Life is but a war that nobody wants to be part of it, but one is born for it. One has to fight it, face it, kill the monster and embrace the truth that nothing in this world or life can satisfy us. We always need something. So being alone, doesn't help because no one can win a battle alone. Even Hercules needed his fellow mercenaries when he had to fight the Thracian wars, then who are we?

One cannot escape from a given situation. Wake up, embrace the life you have been given. Make two cups of coffee, share it with someone. Visualise your day ahead, with your friends, colleagues, family. Make someone happy, lead a team, overcome challenges, stop running away from reality, share your burden with someone, because when you do, you are lessening a bit of it, and slowly, most of it is gone. Try before it is too late.

Friday, 1 August 2014

We blog as we love to write

So last night (July 31, 2014, which was a Thursday), I lay back on my cousin's bed, staring at the bookshelf in front of us and wondering what is that I really wanted, like badly. The discussion between me and my sister was - which movie to watch. I wanted to watch a horror/thriller/sci-fi movie. She refused. Then we ended up watching Eric Clapton's live concert.

After the Clapton concert got over, we tried to find more music, just to kill time. Suddenly we found out all those music, which defined our childhood — The Eagles, Wham, Blue, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, UB40, Brett Lee with Asha Bhonsle, etc.

It was during this few hours that I realised that all I ever wanted was to become a journalist. Also, over time, all I wanted to do is write, be the first one to write, write opinion pieces, be the first to inform people about an event, in short, literally be in the thick of things. I was transported to an era, when standing with the table lamp upright, on chilly February morning, in front of the mirror, and all I did was, act as if I am an actress who just won an Oscar, or sit on the table and read my history book loud, as if am some anchor.

Out of all these things, the one thing that made me really happy, always, was writing. It was because of writing, I got featured in India Today's article, it was because of writing a blog, that I got my first job (not really a job, but yeah!), it was because of writing that people started knowing me (or used to at that point of time.)

However, somehow that writing died, or more precisely, writing without the rationalities of mind, like @abhijitdg used to, disappeared. The blog became an unattended room, full of cobwebs. I had to revive it, but how? I did not know.

It was at this point, when I came across the idea of turning my blog into a website and hoping that it will inspire me. There were times, when I wanted to write, but I did not, as the template of my blog irked me. So I wanted a website, design it well, and write and write. Although, the idea of spending money, troubled me.

Will it be worthwhile?

On Thursday, I realised that it is not about turning the blog it into a website or, etc. It is about decorating the house that you live in, likewise, decorating the blog that you love, where you just want to write and let people come and read.

The rest will follow.

So this is my another attempt, of reviving my blog. I hope you guys will like the design. If there are any suggestions, please feel free to share.

And, yes, thank you in advance for visiting the blog, again.

With that, here you go, Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting For You :)