Session : Free Tools

By Mary Nash-Wood
The Shreveport Times 

Sometimes the best things in life are free.

From operating systems to video editing, National Public Radio’s Matt Stiles and USA Today’s senior database editor Anthony DeBarros say journalists don’t have to pay a penny to get the tools needed for quality reporting.

“There are a lot of opportunities for productivity that will cost you absolutely nothing,” DeBarros said.

Here are some of the highlights from the session:

Audio, video and photo editing

Audacity can be useful for more than making ringtones and mix tapes. DeBarros said it can act as a robust audio editor.

As for photos and videos, look no further than Gimp and Open Movie Editor.

Microsoft Office-like features can be found without the Microsoft Office price tag

Think you can’t survive without Word or Excel? LibreOffice offers a comprehensive productivity package including Writer, the Word equivalent, and Impress, a presentation powerhouse.

If you’re looking for an Access or Excel counterpart, Stiles said Google Refine can be powerful for cleaning up data.

“It’s really great for pulling down large sets of data like campaign contributions,” he said.

Apple and Microsoft don’t have a corner on the market of operating systems.

DeBarros said for those looking to tailor and tweak, Linux-based operating systems, such as Ubuntu, Mint and Fedora, offer ease and endless opportunities for customization.

Become a coding nerd—in a good way.

GitHub takes social media to another level with this site which features codes shared by other coders which users can take and adapt for their projects.

Learning SQL (Structured Query Language) may be another asset in learning how to produce high quality databases.

Want more?

Download the full list of

Video interview with Anthony DeBarros: