Digital Notes

New Digital Audio Tool: Spoken, ‘Instagram for Audio’

Screenshot 2015-06-15 10.03.03Thanks to Courtney Hurtt for this new digital audio tool recommendation: Spoken is a new social network site that allows users to upload 4-minute (or less) audio clips and a photo.

The idea: scale down the idea of a full-length podcast to a bite-size piece of audio, enrich it with a beautiful image, and share it on social. More functionality, like embeds, are on the way.

How might we use something like this on


Tools to help you write better: Grammarly and Capitalize your Title

Source: Wikipedia/Creative Commons
Source: Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Technology to the rescue; here are two technology tools everyone should be using to improve your writing:

Grammarly A website and Chrome extension that will correct spelling, grammar and punctuation errors anywhere you write on the web — in blog posts, social media, and email. Seriously, this will fix 90 percent of your problems.

Title Capitalization Click the first option (

If you need help setting up these tools please ask!

Maximizing the impact of headlines and lead-ins

A few notes on headlines and lead-ins.

Headlines should be eye-catching and generate interest so people will click on the story, Lead-ins should include a bit more info not presented in the headline, and lend itself to a tweet.

Do not duplicate headlines and lead-ins! Continue reading Maximizing the impact of headlines and lead-ins

Open data opportunites, caveats for editorial

Photo by Nina Ignaczak
Photo by Nina Ignaczak

Thanks to D3’s Diana Flora for her presentation to WDET editorial staff last week on the open data movement and opportunities for editorial. If you missed it, here’s her presentation:

Open Data Presentation for WDET 5.7.15


We also added a new page to this website linking to open data resources .

Diana also followed up with some guidance and resources for journalists on understanding and evaluating the quality of open data: Continue reading Open data opportunites, caveats for editorial

Headlines matter

Headlines are our best weapon out there on the interwebs… a snappy, well-written headline will help catch clicks and get our content in front of the people who we want to read it.

Her’s a great tool to help you correctly capitalize your headline (thanks Courtney Hurtt): Capitalize your Title. ChoScreenshot 2015-05-04 12.27.31ose the first option for AP style.

Some style notes on headlines from our guidelines:

  • Capitalize. WDET capitalizes headlines. Do not capitalize conjunctions (and, the, etc.) and prepositions (in, of, for, etc.) Here’s some guidance on what to and what not to capitalize.


Tone. Identify the tone: serious, light-hearted, matter-of-fact, over-the-top?


Angle. What is the point of the story? Why will people be interested in it? What is the unique angle?


Strong verbs. Use short, staccato, muscular verbs. Seize, not gain. Urge, not request.


Active voice. Not passive, unless appropriate.


Present tense. Unless past is necessary.


Accurate. Make sure the headline accurately reflects the content of the piece.

Avoid “to be” and to have” Usually headlines are more concise without “is, are, were, been, has” etc


Multimedia element: Let people know if there is a compelling multimedia element at end of headline Example: Michigan’s Poverty, City by City [Map+ Infographic]>>


Death, taxes and…. copy editing

Typos and grammar mistakes just look bad. And while we may not have access to the New Yorker’s Comma Queen Mary Norris (though we can all watch her amazing videos), we can all do our part to help each other make our web copy as clean and readable as possible.

Here’s our process for copyediting at WDET (see Creating a Post for more info)

  • Web copy should be composed in a word editor like MS Word or Google Docs. Use spellcheck.
  • Get a second reader to review the post before publishing.
  • Nina will review posts ASAP once they are up and will send any needed changes to the last person who edited the post. That person is responsible for making the changes on the website.

Thank you for your efforts!

AP Style, WDET Style, Gender Neutral Terminology

Sandra Svoboda
Sandra Svoboda

Thanks to all of the participants in last week’s AP Style Jeopardy (Family Feud-style) and congratulations to Team 2, who won the grand chocolate bunny prize.

if you missed out or would like to revisit the Jeopardy boards, here they are:

Round One

Round Two

One thing to note is that while we are following AP style as a rule, we are also maintaining our own WDET Style Guide which may differ from AP style.

One example of this is in gender neutral terminology.  Here is WDET’s policy (per JV):

Standard for WDET is to use spokesperson (and other gender-neutral terms), not spokesman.  That’s been our standard for several years.  He/she is difficult and cumbersome when it comes to radio copy — so we work to avoid it.   They/their is alright…as long as subject and verb match.

Here’s the WDET Web Style Guide.

AP Style: Study up for Family Feud

photo by NIna Ignaczak
photo by NIna Ignaczak

Hope you’ll join is for AP Style Family Feud on Thursday at 11am in the  Commons Area. There will be a prize for the winning team. And perhaps one for the losing team as well.

Why AP Style?

  • It’s professional
  • It’s consistent
  • It’s the industry standard

In the meantime, brush up on your skills here:

AP Style Quick Reference

AP Style Top 10 List

Why Learn AP Style?

AP Ask the Editor FAQ