For any college newsroom having the luxury of custom graphics can be nearly impossible to make happen unless you can find some talented graphic artists willing to work for pennies. If you don't happen to work for one of those lucky few papers that managed to dig up those resources, here is a list of some simple and powerful online utilities that can spice up your paper. The best part. They're all FREE!
Let's get started:
- Many Eyes (http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/) - Many Eyes is a visualization utility from IBM that allows you to create custom graphics off of simple excel files. Just compile the info from your FOIA request or other files and simply upload it into Many Eyes. Another great thing about Many Eyes is that you can search past datasets and visualizations to save even more time if you can run across what you need.
- Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/) - If you ever want to use a world cloud as a graphic to accompany a story Wordle is your best friend. Check it out. It's a great accent to go with other graphics as well.
- Tagxedo (http://www.tagxedo.com/) - One alternative to Wordle that offers a little more customization is Tagxedo. If you need your tag cloud to have a little more personal style give Tagxedo a try.
- Umapper (http://www.umapper.com/) - Umapper offers you the ability to create custom maps to accompany stories online. Follow the easy instructions and in no time you will have a map embeded in your CP4 or CP5 website. A quick screenshot can help accent your print edition too. This can also come in handy for custom crime maps.
- Dipity (http://www.dipity.com/) - Dipity is an interactive timeline utility that allows you to embed video, photos and text directly into the timeline and place that in your site. A great example of how to use dipity can be found at http://www.uabasketballstreak.com. It's a great way to supplement custom projects and enterprise stories.
- Ustream Http://www.ustream.com/) - Surely you have heard of Ustream by now. It is a utility that allows for live streaming of video directly over the internet. If you want to cover a state of the university address or any other high profile event live, give Ustream a try. Guaranteed you will surprise and impress people with live video coverage from your website.
All of the utilities listed above are absolutely free (as of publication date) and easy to learn. A simple registration may be required, but that's a small price to pay for great interactivity and happy readers.
If you know of any great utilities to add to this list let us know by commenting on this article!
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