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A coder practices multimedia journalism - with open-source tools

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OSS

I use free and open source software, almost exclusively, when I practice journalism.
Free and open source software is counter-intuitive to many, but the mantra of the free software movement uses terms that journalists should understand very well.

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer.

It’s a philosophy. It’s about transparency, openness and honesty. You are encouraged to know the inner workings of your tools, and make them better when you find them lacking. There are no secrets, no magic, and no mysterious blue screens of death.

The great thing is, it’s also free like “free beer.” Considering the financial mess this business is in, it should be clear that if journalism is to survive as a profession, it needs to cut costs. It needs to adopt free software.

Desktop - Ubuntu Linux
Ubuntu is the first really good free operating system. The best way to go free is to start with a solid foundation. It’s secure, virus-free, and best of all, easy to use. Apple’s OS X is prettier, and to be honest, easier to use, but it’s not free, and you’ve got to own a Mac to use it. Ubuntu runs great on any computer, even one that’s getting a little elderly - unlike Windows Vista, an operating system so bloated that computers for sale today don’t run it well.

Image editing - The Gimp
Unless you’re a professional graphic artist, all the of the image manipulation you might do in Adobe Photoshop can be done in The Gimp. It’s a brilliant tool.

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