DRC Kinshasa 28th of November 2011. Elections Day, Voting Day and Ballots counting. MONUSCO / Myriam Asmani

How do we verify Journalists? (exactly)

To answer a question that has come up a few times.

A required part of what Newslinn is about is creating a network/apps/tools specifically for journalists – this is at the heart of Newslinn ie. improve communication coming and going from citizens and organisations to journalists.

This means that journalists are our core user. They get to post, promote and initiate chat messaging etc.

This means that when a “journalist” signs up – we need to verify who they are, if they are a journalist and to also build the features the enable them to be ‘crowd-verified’.

Newslinn implements a ‘4 star’ verification system.

Level 1 / Star 1

When a journalist initially signs up, we collect the typical meta data that is available during normal web browsing activity (IP Address, User Agent, Time, Day, duration of visit).

We also ask each journalist to fill out our sign up form – this (currently) works off their Twitter account and also asks for their mobile phone number and email address.

Both mobile phone and email address are ‘verified’ as part of the sign up process for journalists. A pin code is sms’d to the phone number and an email is sent to the email address.

Both need to be confirmed by the journalist for the journalist to receive a 1 star.

We have futures features planned for this sign up process, including sync’ing with linkedin, uploading of photographic certs of journalism degrees et. al. most of which will be 100% optional for the journalist.

When someone uses Twitter to sign up to a website (Newslinn or any other) – Twitter as standard shares a lot of data with the third part (how many followers, when the account was created et. al) – this is used as part of the validation for journalists. When a journalists Twitter account is created only recently, Newslinn gets an email alert.

The end point here – is that everything that Newslinn can do technically and automatically can and will contribute to the 1 star verification. This is by no means 100% fool proof or scam proof but it requires direct interest in the person to go through the onboardng process – including sharing the mobile phone number, email address and IP address (albeit automatically).

Part of Star 1 is a whitelisting the domain name for verification. ie. if someone signs up using a work email address from their newsroom (which we have on our whitelist) – this stands to credit as opposed to using a yahoo or gmail email address.

Level 2 / Star 2

The second star gets attributed to journalists that have been manually approved by someone internally in Newslinn. This means that someone in here has looked at their application, searched on social networks for that person (for LinkedIn or alternative profiles) and checked to see if that user has an internet footprint. We also use FullContact API to see more information. Ultimately this is a review of what was sent in by the journalist. In most cases its an easy process as journalists tend to have a strong social network footprint.

Level 3 / Star 3

This star is currently theoretical as we have not yet built the systems. This star is going to be a rating system based on external users/journalists upvoting or verifying a journalist. ie. people external outside of Newslinn that recognise a journalist as ‘a journalist’. This will be approching the concept of “quality” over “verification” which is something we want to be sensitive about. When we develop this system we will be working with journalists on our Slack chat to work through potential factors to use.

Level 4 / Star 4 – PTSD

Outside of how ‘verified’ or ‘true’ a person is as being a journalist – there is a huge responsbility for Newslinn to protect journalists from PTSD – Posttraumatic stress disorder. Regardless of whether or not a journalist is ‘verified’ as being a journalist – they may or may not have the support systems or processes involved in managing PTSD when managing photos being shared of war or stress. The Newslinn level 4 star is restricted mostly to Newsrooms that support and have support for their journalists for PTSD. Although we label this as a ‘star’ – it’s more of a restriction than a verification level.

Why do this?

Initially when Newslinn was being developed – we needed to verify people – forgetting about if that person is a journalist or not. Newslinn is not a social network – we are a veritical network – designed to serve a purpose – hence, we don’t want random free email accounts and people to join and create free accounts without purpose. So to that effect we needed to verify people signing up. Verifying a mobile phone, email and IP address works very well for this.

Beyond that (ie. beyond the level 1 star) – citizens and organisations want the control to be able to share with journalists they feel they can trust. Sometimes this means ‘newsroom’ journalists – ie. those employed in a newsroom – sometimes it means journalists with X years of experience – other times it means those they can trust with sensitive material. Our purpose is to faciliate citizens and organisations communicating with groups of jouranlists that can be classified under a level of trust – by doing this – incredible features can be built on top of this trust system. That being of someone wanting to share something deep and sensitive with only a select few ‘types’ of journalists – and purposefully journalists they don’t know – this is something social networks can’t achieve. In this situation a person would need to build contact list of journalists, connect with them (or harvest their email) and only then be in a position to share with them. This is ineffective at best. There needs to be better ways for citizens and organisations to share with journalists – nin particular with citizens whereby there exists a use case of community whistle blowing and the need to share with only ‘newsroom’ journalists – but the catch 22 is that the citizen doesn’t know and isn’t aware of which journalist they can and should share with.

This is the deeper reason why Newslinn exists – to solve the unkown unkown. People can spend time searching on Twitter or Linkedin for journalists – to then connect and follow them – or they can have confidence in sharing with groups of journalists – that they decide. Newslinn does enable 1-to-1 communication – but our key benefit is that a citizen/organisation can share without directly knowing who the journalist is – and instead group journalists and discover new journalists before sharing – and ultimately enable news to be shared with much more journalists and much more easily than before.

blue-car-no-compression_diff

Practical JPEG Error Level Analysis

At the heart of the Newslinn platform is image validation. One aspect we are researching is ELA, Error Level Analysis. This is specific to the JPEG image file format and a niche area for fraud image detection.

I’m going to attempt to describe ELA and how Newslinn is hoping to use it within our platform. We will need to cover some ground first….

What’s a JPEG?

So a JPEG is a type of file format for saving photographs. There’s a lot of history to it, but in short, it was designed for the internet, designed purposefully for storing photographs and is the main file format that digital camera and smart phones use to store photos.

A JPEG file is a really cool file format – because it’s cool, it does things that other file formats don’t.

As a side note, other image file formats are GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF.

JPEG Compression

The JPEG file format was really made for the internet back when the internet was “low bandwidth”. So everything on the internet needed small in file size and so the JPEG file format had a feature of ‘compression’ so that when a photograph was stored as a JPEG file, the file size of that was much smaller than if it was stored as another image file format, eg. a Bitmap (BMP) file.

So for this photograph

original

JPEG File Size = 377 KB

BMP File Size = 5,343 KB

The JPEG file format is able to do that file size reduction because it uses compression.

How does JPEG Compression work?

So for the JPEG file format to compress a photo, it splits up the photo into tiny squares of 8×8 pixels. When a JPEG is saved with a low compression you can see the tiny squares.

Capture

What it does is quite genius.

To lower the file size, the JPEG file format reduces the amount of colours in the photograph. So say the original example photograph contains about 45,265 individual unique colours, the JPEG file format, reduces those to only 20,000 colours.

How it goes about that is connected with these tiny 8×8 square. Ultimately, the JPEG file format takes one of the 8×8 squares, figures out how many colours are in it, decides what colour is the average and uses that average colour to replace other colours in the 8×8 square. Thus reducing the amount of colors.

So that’s all well and good. It’s easy enough to understand how a JPEG file format makes a photographic image file size small.

It is this compression method that enables ‘Error Level Analysis’ on the JPEG file format.

What is Error Level Analysis (ELA)?

Error Level Analysis is a way to see what areas of a photograph have been changed.

So if someone took a photo with their smartphone, opened it up in Photoshop and changed something about that photo – Error Level Analysis is a way to try and detect what was changed.

It’s not an exact science yet but it’s useful to bring about suspicion if nothing else.

How does ELA work?

ELA works because of how JPEG compresses photographs into 8×8 tiny squares – and it works because each time a JPEG image is saved, it gets compressed again.

So that is where the magic is.

So when a JPEG photograph is first saved, it compresses the photo for the first time.

If the image is then opened into Photoshop, edited and saved again as a JPEG, it gets compressed again.

What this means is that the “original” parts of the photographic image have been compressed twice – once by the camera that took the photo and again by Photoshop.

Whereas, the “edited” part of the photographic image, was only compressed once, by Photoshop.

To the human eye, you can not notice the difference by looking at the image. However, you can comparing the two images together and looking at the differences.

This is the basis of JPEG Error Level Analysis.

Practical Example

original

Original JPEG Photograph, saved as a JPEG, “compressed once”

 

blue-car-no-compression

Edited JPEG photograph, “compressed twice”

(The editing of the car is crude, but just go with it, imagine it was perfect)

original_diff_smaller

ELA on original image

 

blue-car-no-compression_diff_smaller

ELA on edited image

 

Exact Art

While ELA isn’t an exact science, it’s a useful tool to add into the mix for fraud verification. It still requires a trained eye as the resulting ELA images can produce a wide range of variations that might trigger a level of suspicion.

But combing that with other factors for verification it can be quite interesting – this is what the Newslinn platform does.

Tips

If the edited photograph moves around parts of the image instead of overlaying a new image. Then is is very hard to detect, as the compression levels are all the same.

car-direction

Edited image, car direction changed

2car-direction_diff

ELA of edited photo

The same can be said if the image is air brush and part of it removed.

airbrushed

Edited image, car removed

2airbrushed_diff

ELA of image with car removed

 

  1. ELA can compliment existing verification techniques
  2. ELA has problems when it comes to images that have high contrast colours beside each other.
  3. Understanding the output of ELA takes time and experience
  4. ELA is an interactive verification technique, it’s not enough to just look at a single static image, you need to be able to adjust settings and see output in real-time.
  5. You can get around ELA once you know how to.
  6. JPEG files that have not been ‘compressed’ when being saved will not work.
  7. If something gets removed from an image and replaced with another part of the same image, this will be very hard to detect.

Other things similar to ELA

I’ll write up later on on Edge Detection and Histogram Analysis, Air Brush Detection three other ways to investigate an image to see what might have changed.

Some Python Code

Let’s finish this off with some code.

code

If you want access to our actual code base / shared github just get in touch contact at newslinn dot com.

 

Capture

Dropbox + Twitter = Newslinn Profile

We have made available a new feature for journalists that are part of our LinkedIn Early Access Group

Dropbox + Twitter = Newslinn Profile

It enables a journalist to receive photos from anyone directly into their own organised photo library – without having to expose their direct email address, manage FTP details, create shared google doc/dropbox etc.

Users still go through two factor mobile authentication (if they haven’t already) – and photos are validated in real-time – however we don’t restrict photos as much when they are shared directly with a journalist (our rule engine becomes much more like a spam filter).

The Newslinn Profile allows for better photo classification, photo captioning and tagging people that are in the photos – because of which there are more steps involved to make this happen – contrast that to the Newslinn ‘city’ email address where sharing photos is immediate and easily accessible.

Example Newslinn Profile

You can see an example profile here – Newslinn Profiles are Sync’d with your Twitter profile so that there is consistency

Example:
www.newslinn.com/shanedevane

Short URL Example:
nws.li/shanedevane

Next Steps

There is still some fine-tuning, testing and more features to add onto our Newslinn Profile.

Screenshots

Capture

Newslinn Profile

photo search

Newslinn Photo Dashboard “Journalist Inbox”

meta

Photo Meta Data as part of ‘Photo Page’

gps

GPS and mapping data as part of ‘Photo Page’

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Supporting Protests, Activists and Local Citizens

First off – what is Newslinn?

Newslinn is a really easy way for someone to take a photo with their phone and share it with multiple journalists in Dublin by using a simple email. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the bones of it (what newslinn doesour short history, validation technology).

So how do you ‘support’ protesters exactly?

We’ve made this completely free for anyone that’s part of a protest or that wants to share news photos of events happening in their community. The tools we’re building allow you to see which newsrooms are viewing your photos and why they are using them. There are no smartphone apps to download and no social network profile requirements – so you can share photos without first having to make them public on a social network – this means you can share protest photos directly with journalists to support the protesters even if you’re not directly involved in the cause.

How can I use it?

Using your smartphone, take a photo and email it to dublin@newslinn.com

Include any information you want in the subject line and body of the email (the more information the better).

Behind the scenes your photo and email address will get validated automatically and then be presented in our Photo Stream for journalists to see and use immediately. By sharing photos using Newslinn you are agreeing to let journalists download, use and write about your photo.

Send a Test Photo

You can see how things work by sending a test photo. This photo will appear in the Newslinn Photo Stream ‘test’ area that journalists can access (yes, journalists will see your test photo).

1. Using your smartphone, take a photo
(most people just take a photo from out the window or a pet etc.)

2. Email it to dublin@newslinn.com using the normal email app on your phone

3. Subject line can be ‘test’

4. Body of the email can be ‘test’

After a few minutes you will get an automatic email reply that will guide you through the Newslinn validation system and you’ll be able to see how things are working. Later on, you’ll be able to login and see who viewed your photos and what’s happening with them.

Which journalists are using you?

We have about 45+ Dublin based journalists as part of our early-access program see our LinkedIn Early Access Group, they are from a range of newspapers including The Irish Times, Irish Independent and many freelance journalists; and the list is steadily growing.

Do you sell my photos? Do you make money from my photos?

We don’t sell photos. Our mission is to build a free and open platform that facilitates trusted communication with journalists using photos – enabling local communities to report and share what’s happening with journalists in their city.

If you do want to sell photos you should read our blog post on how to sell photos.

SMALLER mockDrop_reading the news

What We Do – ‘The Condensed Version’

What

We make it easy for protesters, activists, advocates and anyone in the local community to share news photos in real-time with multiple journalists in their city using nothing more than a simple email.

To compare ourselves to industry players – we are trying to be an open version of the likes of CNN iReportGuardian Witness or Chicago Tribune Community – but as a platform that’s open, built from the ground up on our validation technology and free for trusted journalists.

How

By building a trust-based platform that’s free for journalists and local communities to share newsworthy photos – built on the idea of ‘trust and validation first’ – and making this platform really easy and simple for anyone to use.

Why

Our mission is to enable anyone around the World to communicate in real-time with journalists and to make it easier for a single journalist to manage more crowd-powered news from any topic or industry.

Future

We will be advancing our technology to work in low-band internet areas while still being easily-accessible by email, mms or web. Our research is focusing on ways to use technology to enable communication across all levels of devices while still providing trust and validation for journalists. 

We’re also researching user anonymity and validation technology for sensitive news photos.

IMAG0049

Quick History of Newslinn

Newslinn initially started in October 2014 when we began researching the idea – it started with the technology for photo validation – and grew into the vision of making a trusted open crowd-reporting platform for local communities and journalists.

Our research lead us to applying machine learning concepts into UGC (User Generated Content) photo-validation and this lead us to our first patent.

After surveying and talking to over 130+ journalists in Ireland we set about creating our initial prototype based on their thoughts, feedback and patience.

We tested a live prototype in early January 2015 – under the name of ‘On The Spot Photos’.

Since then we have grown from a research project into a ‘social’ research project and we’re beginning the next part of the research in partnership with one of Enterprise Ireland’s registered knowledge providers (news about this later).

Over the coming months we’ll be working to further develop our technology with an aim to launch a startup in early 2016.

Timeline

  • Started customer development in October 2014
  • Started initial technical research in December 2014
  • Attended DublinBeta in December 2014
  • Launched first prototype in January 2015
  • Got early stage users in February 2015
  • Began work on version 0.1 in March 2015
  • Filed first patent in June 2015
  • Incorporated in June 2015
  • Launched early version 0.1 in August 2015
  • Started early beta trials in September 2015
1-ONhvj_aDExftZr4uThYvFw

33 Thought leaders on the ‘Future of News’

The quotes below are part of my research into a bigger piece I’m working on. Some of these are interesting as stand alone points – but possibly misleading without full context. I’ve linked to the full articles where possible.

This article is Available on Medium and the Google Doc of quotes is available here bit.ly/FutureNewsQuotes

 

My Top 3

“Increasing Audience Engagement is Future for News Media”
Jack LoechnerIncreasing Audience Engagement is Future for News Media

“Follow the money and you’ll find the future of news”
~ Peter Preston, Follow the Money

“Humor is moving from satire to mainstream.
Jon Oliver is one example. We believe that satire is the future.”
Daily PnutIs Satire the Future of News?

Thoughts on Revenue


TL;DR: advertising isn’t paying the bills anymore

“…media outlets to think very carefully about their revenue models. As news organizations move from having a primarily offline audience to one that’s primarily online, it’s critical to look for ways of making money that aren’t purely about advertising or purely about subscription.” ~ Ethan ZuckermanFuture of News

“Paywalls are not the future of news,” … “Paywalls work in some cases, help bring in some money — and some money is better than no money — but if you’re looking to have an impact in a community, you need to be read, listened to, and watched.” ~ Eric PapeRyan OzawaFuture Of News

“It’s time to tear down your content walls, question all the rules of your past and work together as an industry to create a social network for aggregated news before the new bullies on the block build it first and steal your audience“ ~ Nikolay MalyarovConnecting People through News

Thoughts on the Role of Journalists


TL;DR: lack of resources means journalists fall into ‘curation roles’ either that,
or they leave the field for higher paying positions

“This would also mean that while citizen journalists may break out news, the credibility of that news will only go up when it is vetted by say, a top journalist or a top news agency.” ~ Shraddha ShirodkarThe future of news? More hyper, more local, more glocal

“Nonetheless one can still argue that newspapers can transform to play a curation role where they connect consumers to as many direct news sources as possible directly playing minimum middleman.” ~ Shraddha ShirodkarThe future of news? More hyper, more local, more glocal

“This is not about downsizing; it is about refocusing our considerable resources,” ~ John Micklethwait, Read full article

“At first, it seemed like an okay way for a journalist to make an extra buck, too. [Writing content articles] paid well and steadily, after all. Journalism, not so much. And it was pretty easy work, done for companies that aren’t so terrible” ~ Amy WesterveltContent used to be King, Now it’s the Joker

Thoughts on Current Trends


TL;DR: using distribution platforms will mean
newspapers compete for brand awareness and click 
throughs

“… and we’re working on it with Instant Articles. When news is as fast as everything else on Facebook, people will naturally read a lot more news. ” ~ Mark Zuckerberg, Q&A

“One big difference between [Facebook Instant Articles] and this one: Google and Twitter are creating their publishing tools as an open source project, and hope to convince multiple tech companies to adopt it.” ~ Peter KafkaMark BergenGoogle and Twitter Team up

“Nearly 100 newspapers will participate in The Washington Post partner program first announced earlier this year. Several papers have already begun rolling out the program to their subscribers” ~ Washington Post

“…but there are concerns that Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles — which are not paying for the content — will chip away at the notion of a newspaper or magazine website as a standalone brand to be digested whole…” ~ Matthew Garrahan and Hannah Kuchler, Read full article

“…Facebook wants to increase the time its users spend on the platform: news lures people back to its mobile app more frequently and encourages them to linger there for longer…. “ ~ Matthew Garrahan and Hannah Kuchler, Read full article

Thoughts on Distribution


TL;DR: satire will play a role for newsrooms to engage on social networks in an
attempt to attract users to the brand

“If I were running a news organization today, accepting that we let the tech industry own our distribution system, I would first incorporate it into my plans by flowing all my headlines through Twitter and Facebook, and then start to create our own distribution system” ~ Dave WinerHow to rebuild journalism

“The publishers of tomorrow will become like the wire services of today, pushing their content across a large number of platforms they don’t control and didn’t design.” ~ Ezra KleinIs the Media becoming a Wire Service?

“Now the fate of publishers increasingly depends on social platforms such as Facebook, where billions of people discover news to read and videos to watch. And the social platforms are equally interested in the media business.” ~ Alyson ShontellSnapchat, Twitter, Facebook and the Future of News

“digital media companies should be prepared for a ‘post-traffic era’.” ~ Jon Steinberg

“..this is a very unequal competition: a local news outlet cannot compete with a global social corporation such as Facebook or Twitter. Journalism is losing out fast.” ~ Eugenia Siapera, Read full article

Thoughts on Engagement


TL;DR: there should be cause for concern,
if newsrooms only engage on social networks ie. the same
platforms that will now be controlling how news gets distributed

“We’re trying to define our own metrics of success: Increasing the audience’s connection with our content, creating more loyal subscribers, growing a sense of loyalty, creating dependence on our content.” … “growing our audiences, thinking about who might be interested in the stories we’re telling in different formats and on different platforms.” ~ Renée KaplanFT’s first head of audience engagement, approaches her new role

“Within a few weeks of each other, Recode, Mic, The Week, and Reuters all announced that they were closing down their comment sections.” ~ Justin EllisWhat happened after 7 news sites got rid of reader comments

“The benefits to social are that people are already on those networks, already holding conversations and sharing stories, Swisher told me.” ~ Justin EllisWhat happened after 7 news sites got rid of reader comments

“…the audience engagement editor is of particular interest to me. The reason is not just because of its novelty job description, it is also because how this job is appearing in other newsrooms, sometimes with slightly different job titles.” ~ Mu Lin, An interview with two audience engagement editors in Gannett’s “newsroom of the future”

Thoughts on Community


TL;DR: there’s a war cry to ‘go back to local’, journalists need to find
engagement methods that don’t use social networks, and hence a very big catch 22 situation arises.

“Community means different things to different organizations. But regardless of how community is defined, if media companies are not emotionally connected to their constituencies in meaningful ways, those customers will drift to publishers they perceive as more interesting” ~ Randy Bennett, Why the Future of Media and Journalism Really Is Bright

“Simply put: civic journalism worked. Readers and viewers got it. We learned that if you deliberately build in simple ways for people to participate. …Particularly if they feel they have something to contribute to the problem.” ~ Jan SchafferIf audience engagement is the goal, it’s time to look back

“…stop thinking of the product they create as being 100 sheets of paper with news on it. Rather, the industry needs to see itself as creating relationships that keep people informed.” ~ Gary SteinThe Next Newspaper Revolution

“The most common topic covered by hyperlocal media is community activities, e.g. festivals, clubs and societies, local councils and the services they provide.” These topics are also most popular with audiences, along with “local weather and traffic.” ~ Laura Hazard OwenThe hyperlocal news landscape may be bad in the U.S., but the U.K. faces even bigger challenges

“…tapping into the power of a digital community requires shedding some of the work habits of a traditional reporter. Today’s journalists can’t just gather facts and quotes and dispense them to the public; they must actively seek out their audience and create opportunities for interaction. “If you don’t hear from your readers, the tendency is to have a very insular notion of your beat,” ~ Dan GilgoffJake Batsell’s new book on engaged journalism

“This role [engagement editor / community weaver], among others defined by NewsTools participants, helped redraw the news enterprise of the future — with a focus that goes beyond news to engagement and building relationships with the communities we serve.” ~ Maurreen Skowran, Building the Future of News

Thoughts on News Consumption


TL;DR: people get ‘news’ from Twitter and ‘journalism’ from elsewhere.

“On the decline of print readership, Badar Alam said that it is not only about reading newspapers but is about a habit of reading a newspaper.” ~ Media talk: Journalists discuss future of news

“[Reuters Institute] suggests that only a few of these [BBC, CNN, The Guardian, New York Times, HuffPo, BuzzFeed] players will achieve the volume of consumption necessary for success. However, national brands enjoy protection in their markets and should be able to continue.” ~ MediaweekTracking the Future of News

Thoughts on Technology


TL;DR: newsrooms don’t have the resources to build the tech they need.

“Again and again, we heard that the problem with too many of these good [news] organizations is that they put no resource into development?” ~ Jeff Jarvis, Philanthropy and News

full journ image show

Sell your Videos to Newspapers

…without giving away any commission!

At the heart of Newslinn’s mission is to build the technology to facilitate trusted news communication using photos. Because of that, we don’t stand in the way of people wanting to sell video.

This is a bit counter-intuitive – especially if you compare Newslinn to existing video footage ‘marketplaces’ – whereby you submit your video and they try to sell it to the media. Giving you a percentage from the cut of what they take in (some of them say it’s 50:50 split, but most cover their ‘costs of business’ before splitting comission, so it’s more like 70:30).

Our business model is very different.

What this means – is that as long as you are willing to share screenshots of your video – ie. share photos – for use by journalists and bloggers then what you decide to do with the original video is up to you.

What does this really mean?

Providing that you are happy to upload screenshots of your video for use by journalists – you can stipulate that you are also selling the original video within the description of the material you are uploading. This means that you deal with the media agencies on your own terms.

Alternatively you can upload your video to YouTube, and you share video screenshots with us – but you stipulate that you want ‘link attribution’ – which means if a journalist or blogger wishes to use your photos, they are required to link to the original video.

This works best of course when you use a short URL service that links to your YouTube hosted video.

Newslinn Social Project

To answer a common question, Newslinn as of September 2015, is a social project. What this means is that we’ve gone past our ‘research phase’ and we’ve actually built something! A lot of people played a role to make Newslinn what is now – this was based on talking to many journalists, surveying writers and photographers and face-to-face meetings with a handful of editor.

So it means we’re onto the next phase of our research – which is to do with applying and learning what our technology can do and what value it brings to those using it – the next 3 months will be very important for us. It will define where we go and how we are going to get there – and hopefully identify the community of people that will join us and benefit from Newslinn.

Our ultimate aim is to become a start-up – we’re not there yet as there is more experimenting to be done and more learning to do.

SMALLER mockDrop_reading the news

Guide for Citizen Journalists Taking a Photos on their Smartphone

Some quick tips on using your smartphone to take photos or videos to later share or sell to newspapers.

Most important!

  • Don’t apply any filters or post editing to the image.
  • Take photos horizontally (see the top photo? that’s the WRONG way! see below). Photos taken horizontally conform to a better standard for both print and web usage.
mobilephoto

Photo being taken horizontally

Basic tips

  • Take many photos.
  • Capture the subject matter within the centre of the frame, and imagine most photos will be cropped.
  • Don’t zoom-in, typically this reduces quality as it uses ‘digital zoom’.
  • If possible, be mindful of the position of the sun. Shadows over people’s faces are a no-no.
  • Avoid Flash. It takes away from the natural setting and introduces a false element into the photo.
  • Try to capture the subject without any telephone cables, pilons, lights, trees or other objects obstructing the view.
  • Use a good smartphone. Anything in the last 3 years should be fine. The minimum print resolution for newspaper print is about 4MP camera – and even then that will be very touch and go, so it will depend on how important the story is (iPhone 4, circa 2013 is 5MP, Samsung S5, circa 2015 is 16MP).

‘Depends on the moment’ Tips

  • Smaller groups of people are better than huge crowds – typically this means emotion, is more expressive and easier to relate with. It gives the person viewing the photo a better feeling of being in the action.
  • Be subtle when taking photos, ie. take photos when your smartphone is at your hip instead of eye level. Increases the chance of a more sincere photo when the subject is people.

Interesting links

Samsung S5 vs iPhone 6 camera

iPhone 6 appears to have superior night time shots.

http://blogs.wsj.com/personal-technology/2014/09/16/apple-iphone-6-vs-samsung-galaxy-s5-photo-shootout-why-megapixels-mean-nothing/