Free online tools to extend your story

Tools can help extend stories’ audio and visual elements, or they can help better explain the 5 W’s needed to tell the story. Here are a list of possibilities that promote interactivity on your webpage, communication among the staff and ways to incorporate visuals and audio into your story.

The list is great for a multimedia team filled with dedicated members who don’t yet have the skills for flash animation. This session provided me with a list of great resources that can easily enhance a story. These tools enable more stories to have a multimedia component without doing a video (and let’s face it, most stories just don’t lend themselves for video).

I realized that multimedia stories do not solely refer to print articles with a video accompaniment. There are more effective and faster ways to tell a story. This means that not only the multimedia team is responsible or multimedia content. Reporters should be able to produce content that easily enhances their own story. Print and online should blur together, and the burden should not fall on only a handful of staff.

Successful real-time reporting is only a few clicks away.


  • Twitter Lists help curate content. It places all tweets about a topic of interest in one location
  • Story generator–think of the ideas you could develop from one tweet…or two…or three…or
  • Create your own Twitter Lists that are related to your school or niche media

Cover It Live

  • Live blog
  • Embed website and typing automatically updates your website
  • Readers can respond and send questions
  • Multiple people can blog from the same place on the same blog
  • Requires Internet connection
  • Can feed tweets into cover it live (way around Internet requirement)


  • Live streaming video
  • Works with computer camera or an external camera
  • Works best when there are not a lot of different angles– just set the camera up and let it run
  • Works well with debates or press conferences
  • Similar to Cover It Live, except this is video format

Google Docs

  • Functions as Microsoft office on the web
  • Can share with anyone from any computer (just need Internet and web browser)
  • Effective for communication between editor and reporter– avoids multiple copies of a story traveling back and forth
  • Two people can edit at the same time (may not be as beneficial as one would think though…)
  • Can look through history and track changes
  • When you want to do web publishing first (that should be NOW), it is good to already have the content accessible online)
  • Can be used to budget content
  • Can be used for communication between reporter and photographer– provide list of events that need a photographer


  • Generates surveys
  • By the same people who created wordpress (and look how well that worked out!)
  • There is a code–merely copy and paste it onto your website and WALA– user interactivity

  • More people can edit than Google Docs
  • More people can type at the same time
  • No delay between typing and appearance in the document

Zoho Creator

  • Tier pricing– free to a certain extent
  • Free forever gets you 2 users, 3 apps, 1,000 records and 2 reports
  • More advanced than Google Docs
  • Online database software


  • Can create a private document that contains your publication’s style guide
  • Create pages
  • WYSIWIG (What you see is what you get)


  • Embed audio into article


  • Free editing audio software
  • Works with a Mac or PC


  • Preserves layout
  • Maintains consistency between print and online publications
  • Copies your print publication into an online format


  • Helps convey the “When” part of a story
  • Generates timelines
  • Can show changes over the course of a day
  • Can show changes over years
  • Best for story that occurs over a period of time (ie breaking news when there are multiple steps involved in the entire story)
  • Can enhance a piece about the history of a club or the school
  • Can generate a map– adds to the “Where” component


  • Functions similarly to Dipity (see above)
  • Better to have a timeline online than in print because the timeline can be updated in multimedia format–> keeps the content living and breathing

Many Eyes

  • Can create visuals for data
  • Maps are available
  • Upload data–> create–> copy into website–> WALA!



One thought on “Free online tools to extend your story

  1. Awesome summary, Melissa! The Times-News is using Cover It Live for their election coverage… It’s interesting. We’ll see how it gets later in the day when there are actually things to report.

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