Multimedia Story Projects - Take Time to Peruse!

Class, I've linked a few of the best projects from all the Online Journalism class sections to our class syllabus page. (See the section that discusses the final project.) Please take time to peruse! It's been a pleasure working with you!

All the Best, Chris


Mobile News App Usage On The Rise, Will News Organizations Still Stay Afloat?

According to an article written in CNN, it seem as though the use of mobile news applications are becoming more and more popular among audience members. Many people seem to prefer keeping up with the news using this particular medium because of it's easy access and up-to-date content. And I for one agree that the use of mobile news applications is more practical, and allows individuals to consume news much more quickly and efficiently.

CNN says that in just a couple of years, mobile devices are likely to be the most common way people in the United States access the Internet. Meanwhile more and more newspapers and other traditional news outlets, especially those that provide local and regional news, are likely to keep getting smaller or possibly even lose business completely.

It is expected that major news organizations will be gravitating toward the use of mobile applications in order to save many ad-supported news businesses and perhaps even keep broadcast news and traditional print newspaper operations afloat.

Applications such as Flipboard, Pulse and Google Currents, are all very popular mobile news aggregator applications that people enjoy using. And publishers who distribute their content through such third-party mobile news tools earn a cut of the resulting ad revenue.

However, according to the CNN article, while most major news organizations do offer their own smartphone or tablet apps, some of these applications often become costly to develop and maintain, which can make them a rather dicey operation to deal with in such an industry.

So, what do you all think? Should news outlets develop more mobile applications? Do you think these apps will help the industry in the long-run or not?


Can Vine be used for News Reporting?

Vine is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of social media. It's ability to let its users make short, 6-second videos set on repeat allows for creativity and fun without seeming too overextended and long.

As journalists, we are expected to keep up with all types of social media or risk appearing out of date. However, the way the app is set up and the run time of the videos makes Vine seem more geared toward humor and "softer" news. In fact, the Washington Post just tweeted a link to a Vine of John Boehner yelling, "Are you kidding me!" I know that some, like Turkey Pulse journalist Tulin Daloglu in her coverage of the terrorist attack on the US embassy in Turkey, have used it in a more hard hitting style, but it seems as if Vine doesn't lend itself to this type of journalism very well.

Do you think Vine will take over as the next platform for news reporting, or is it more of a complimentary feature to the actual news? 

Also, I know many news outlets have accounts on Vine already, but they don't seem to get much use. Do you think that the news industry is still figuring out the right place for Vine videos in news reporting, and more use will come once media outlets become more accustomed to it? 


9 trends journalists must know about to keep their careers going

I found an article by this title on Forbes.com and found it to be a very interesting one. It started by saying that Facebook is changing the ad business and other sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are changing the news business. Journalists today are becoming younger and younger and people around the world who are not even trained journalists are changing the business. The article laid out 9 things that journalists need to learn about:

  1. Networks- Journalists today need to learn how to manipulate networks of people on social media sites. Sites like Facebook provide a huge portion of online traffic and journalists need to know how to produce relevant information that will appeal to this type of audience. 
  2. Platforms-Journalists need to build platform experience by sending out easy-to-use publishing tools to a large array of creators. 
  3. Rivers and Streams- Links are incredibly important to include on every website, whether they link internally or to other websites. 
  4. Mobile Summaries- It is important to include a summary of stories for mobile users that are looking for a fast way to consume news. 
  5. Shareable Content- It is also important to have "fluff" stories on news sites because it creates traffic from shared content between users. Hard news doesn't have good clickability but fun stories do. 
  6. Ad View-ability- When readers can't avoid ads, it is actually better and they are more likely to view or click on them. 
  7. Programatic Buying- The advertising buisiness is changing with companies like Google AdX. 
  8. Native Advertising- Another new trend is branding your website, making sure to build content that promotes your own brand. 
  9. Video- Video on sites like YouTube is becoming huge. Publishers look for video because it is easy for users to view and is very profitable. 

How much are we influenced by a post's popularity?

When you scroll through your Facebook news feed, the Twitter timeline or the Reddit front page, what do you see? Probably a lot of pictures, statuses, posts and articles. You probably know that if something gets 'liked' on Facebook, it will show up on your feed. If it gets liked a lot, it stays there. But did you ever consider how much you might be influenced by the number of likes or shares on something?

Consider this: On Facebook, you're scrolling through and you happen to see that three of your friends liked an article about why it's important to drink water. You agree that water is important, it seems obvious and you don't really give it a second thought. Later in the day, you're still on Facebook, but this time you see an article titled "Is soda really bad? What the bottled water industry doesn't want you to know..." It has 40,00 likes.

Now, you know that water is better for you. It's something you've heard over and over as you grew up. But 40,000 likes on a post? What did that author find out? Is there really a problem with the water industry? Is soda that bad? With that many people seemingly showing support for that article, some of these questions might occur to you. That article, with a viewpoint you hadn't previously considered, just might be worth a look.

This is strictly an issue with newer forms of media. Though news outlets have historically set the agenda by determining what would and would not be published, there has never been a way for readers to interact with those stories and decide which they felt were the most important until now. This can be good and bad.

It's hard to argue against increased audiences determining what they feel is the most important. News aggregators like Reddit are entirely based on system of  "Upvotes" and "Downvotes," essentially a system of likes and dislikes, selected by the users. The more popular posts get pushed to the top, and what people don't like is quickly thrust to the bottom and out of anyone's mind.

Ideally, great content should be put out and people should decide which of those pieces of content really matter. Unfortunately, as soon as there was a way to change the agenda, businesses found a way to twist it to their advantage. There is a lot of spam on Facebook and one study found that one in 10 twitter accounts were fake. These are essentially programs created that can give extra followers to a promotional account, making it seem more credible, or accounts that ad likes to a posting, making it stick around longer.

It can be tough to tell when someone is taking advantage of that system, but the more important question is does it matter? Are you going to be more influenced by something that's liked or retweeted a lot compared to something that people aren't paying attention to, even if that small post is more in line with your current thinking?

(Discussion question based on a conversation with Klive Oh, a Merrill College lecturer doing research on this subject)

Is mobile journalism helping or hindering the journalism industry?

When cell phones first hit the scene, journalists were given a new way to communicate that accelerated the speed of breaking news infinitely. Now, rather than racing back to the newsroom to get a story in, journalists could send information through texts and calls right from the scene. But the mobile trend is starting to get out of control. According to Berkeley's journalism blog, while the computer trend is pretty much plateauing, the number of adults with not only cell phones, but smart phones, is up to 56 percent this year.
Are smartphones taking mobile journalism too far? Now, anyone can be a journalist- shoot a photo, tweet out breaking news, and spread information. While this was initially seen as a huge leap for journalism with the ability to get the news out as soon as it happens, journalists are making more factual mistakes than ever, with the concentration put on getting the story out as fast as possible, rather than getting the best story out as fast as possible.
In my experience, newsrooms have moved from an emphasis on crafted, deep, well-researched writing to short blasts of tidbits that come in from the notes, tweets, and clips of journalists on scene. So far, the news giants like the Washington Post and the New York Times have done a pretty good job of merging  smartphone journalism with quality journalism. But is the trend going to go too far? Is moving to a completely mobile model, with newspapers possibly disappearing completely, going to hinder or help the journalism industry? What needs to change to disconnect the mistakes and poor quality writing that sometimes come with mobile journalism?
Maybe nothing. According to Contently.com's post, journalists are now "creating killer content with smartphones." Contently argues that rather than toting around bulking recording equipment or scrambling with a notebook, journalists are able to much more efficiently capture the news and relay it back to the public. Now, with the "click of an app" content can be uploaded to news servers on the scene.
Does the media need to reign in smartphone use or accelerate it?

"Get It First — and Worry About Correcting It Later"

A few weeks back, as coverage of the anniversary of the assassination of JFK was on-going, I came across this story in the opinion section of USA Today. The story outlined the coverage of breaking news a half century ago, as it compares to the "social media hearsay" creation of news today. The piece opens up with the story of how anchorman and managing editor, Walter Cronkite, at CBS Evening News dealt with learning "THREE SHOTS WERE FIRED AT PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S MOTORCADE TODAY IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS." While Cronkite demanded to go live he would not do so if it compromised four things: getting it fast but getting it right, asking tough questions; taking nothing for granted; staying ahead of the competition. 

So often today none of these remain an ethical priority for journalists. News has become all about who can get it first and if it so happens to be incorrect and can be corrected later. Social media like Twitter kills off people often before they see the light and confirm rumors as facts. While it is apparent that Twitter, and social media in general, continue to make the public more aware in a prompt fashion, these new technologies often trade being first for being right. Cronkite was sure to confirm his sources THREE TIMES before proceeding with a story to the public. Today's generation is more concerned with instantaneous news. We live in a generation where occurrences during the afternoon are old news by the evening. 

Just this year, the Navy Yard shooting was covered by multiple networks that erroneously identified the name of the assailant and the Boston bombing repeatedly was reported to a have a "third explosion," which actually was later determined to be an unrelated fire. For reasons like this the opinion piece asked, and I too agree, today's journalist and bloggers need to renew our vow to get it right above and before getting it first. But the question remains, in this instantaneous generation will getting it right ever be as profitable as getting it first appears to be? What's your thoughts? Do you see instances where even getting it first and being wrong is more profitable and or newsworthy than getting it right?

The Full Story from USA Today


How will you use Storify?

As we learned in class, Storify can be used to tell a story based on various social media devices and users. From Twitter to Instagram to Vine to other Storify stories, user-generated content has been compiled in the past to tell some of the most polarizing stories since Storify's inception in 2010. After doing some research, I've provided a few of those from the past year that really shed a new light on the story from the public's angle - because nothing tells the truth more than user-generated content. Enjoy these with me:

  1. The Boston Marathon bombing in April was an event that few could have imagined, much less prepared for what would transpire in the waning days after the tragic attacks. The suburbs surrounding Boston were placed on lockdown as police and military forces searched for the suspected terrorist. CNN created a Storify afterwards compiling all of the tweets, pictures and reports coming out of Watertown, Mass. during the search. 
  2. Super Bowl XLVII, like every year, was the most watched and most consumed sporting event of 2013. With that comes people of all kinds going to social media sites to enjoy and contribute to the atmosphere that is the Super Bowl. February's installment of the NFL championship game provided more than enough newsworthy events. ABC Houston compiled all of the juiciest and noteworthy social media posts in their Storify. 
  3. This Storify post set a record with 1.5 million views - and it was created by a college student. It outlines the story of the middle school bus monitor that was bullied, spurning action from social media users to raise $700,000 for her. 
  4. As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 came and went just a few months ago, MSNBC created a Storify to compile how social media reacted with the hashtag, #WhereWereYou. From celebrities to regular Twitter users, the public remembered one of the worst days in American history together over social media. 
  5. Just a few months ago, news broke of Twitter going public and filing for an IPO. Naturally, citizens and journalists alike took to Twitter to voice their opinions. This Storify captures those sentiments perfectly. 


As they demand highly-accurate yet lightning-fast news, are news outlets unfairly treating workers?

The Associated Press may be the world's most recognizable wire service--known for exceedingly fast, pinpoint reporting. As up-to-the-minute news on Twitter becomes the norm, correspondents at the Associated Press and elsewhere are required to produce the same high-quality reporting as ever, while burdened by exceedingly quick deadlines. This shift has put reporters and news outlets in a bind.

At the height of the Virginia governor's race this fall, a veteran reporter for AP made a mistake. On Oct. 9, Virginia politics reporter Bob Lewis mistakenly reported that Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe lied to a federal official who was investigating a death benefits scam. One hour and 38 minutes later, the post was retracted and the 20-year veteran reporter issued a personal apology. Weeks later, Lewis and two of his editors were fired for the mistake.

Documents seemed to implicate an individual with the initials T.M. in the scam, although Lewis did not confirm that it was, in fact, the controversial Democratic candidate. It's clear that Lewis, under immense deadline pressure, had simply made an unfortunate mistake--he's human after all. He had not committed the cardinal sins of plagiarism or fabrication. Journalists and politicians--Democrats and Republicans--agreed that Lewis was one of Virginia's preeminent political reporters. Yet Lewis and his editors lost their jobs after the lapse in judgement.

If any straight-out-of-college reporter made a mistake of this magnitude, it's clear it would be a fire-able offense. But what sort of deference should employers give to their veteran reporters, especially ones with Lewis' stellar track record? Plenty of journalists make mistakes, but if the error was made in good faith, most will live to tell the tale. Is the AP justified in firing a two-decade pro if only to preserve the organization's reputation? And how could the decision effect the ability of their reporters around the globe to confidently break news on short deadlines?


What is the future of coding in schools?

While I was home for Thanksgiving, I was talking to a family friend who is a freshman in high school about what classes they are taking. She said she's learning basic HTML and will soon move into Javascript -- things I didn't even know existed until I arrived on the Maryland campus.

I recently read an article by The Independent, in which a study conducted by the social enterprise company MyKindaCrowd showed that 54 percent of teachers believe that students know more about coding than they do. This begs the question of whether teachers who have only recently been exposed to the technology, have the ability and confidence to influence the next generation of coders.

Our generation (if you can call us a separate one) was schooled in Word programs, Powerpoint, Excel, etc. My question for the class is how big a part of the standard curriculum in schools moving forward will involve learning to code from a young age? Certainly this skill set has taken on greater value in our society and will continue to grow with further technological advancements. Could the subject of coding eventually be on par with math, english, history, etc.?


Discussion Assignment Following Our Visit to USA Today Dec. 3

Class, before the start of the next class Dec. 10, please post a comment below this post, describing what most surprised you about our visit to USA Today, and what impressed you. Please remember that this blog is live for all to see, so be tactful with your comments.


What mobile journalists should have on their holiday shopping lists

With our discussion of cool and useful apps for journalists last week, I found this Poynter article on holiday shopping for mobile journalists a good and helpful read.

The article looks at various new devices to make the life of any mobile journalist easier just in time for the holiday season. Many people may not look at the holidays as the time to buy professional gifts, but there are several items listed that will thrill for a number of reasons.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 prevents users from having to take "iPhone photos." The writer, Sam Kirkland, also offers an alternative in the Olloclip 4-in-1 for iPhone users, but that looks slightly bulky and unnecessary. He additionally gives options for tripod needs.

The item on the list that got me interested was iRig's Mic Cast, an external microphone for iOS and Android devices. The mic allows users to switch on a low setting to eliminate background noise for personal, one-on-one interviews, and it also has a high setting to pick up on distant audio, which could be good for speeches or events.

Overall, this is a solid list of technologies at good prices for the holiday season. Any of these items would be helpful for a journalist to do their work, and I am glad I stumbled upon it. (And make sure to check out the section on Smartwatches-- they could definitely become the cool, new technology in the journalism industry by next year.)


How important is it for journalists to learn code?

I recently read an article in The Atlantic written by one of its associate editors that seemed to argue against the need for journalism students to learn coding.

After reading this article, I am not quite sure how important coding is for future journalists. Being in this class made me think it is essential, but this article made the impression that you should learn it all or don't learn it at all. Knowing a little bit of code isn't worth much to this editor. One of the points she made was that there are already skilled coders out there who have a computer science background. These people, she said, are going to be the ones acquiring the web design and data visualization jobs required in newsrooms.

Although, she mostly negates the idea that journalists must know code, I think this article made me more inclined to continue educating myself in coding. She makes some valid points when she said traditional writing and reporting jobs may not require much code. However, there are a variety of job opportunities open to us after we graduate, so knowing code can't possibly hurt.

The author also wrote a follow-up piece about the most important skills future journalists should learn in j-school. I think the Merrill College definitely incorporates the topics this author listed into our four-year academic plan, but this article has inspired me to educate myself in these areas even more. The skills the author lists are: statistics, data, studies, pitching, civic issues, online writing and the Internet. A lot of these are covered in JOUR352 and other journalism courses, but what do you think we need to learn more about as Merrill students? And, how do you think coding will help your future careers? Prof. Harvey - what are your thoughts on the coding article? Do you think we should consider taking the next course in coding and web design in order to really develop these skills to make them beneficial? Is knowing the basics not enough in this competitive field?


Journalism and Pinterest - What Sites Do You Like?

We're talking in class today about how Pinterest is being used by news sites to engage readers and drive users back to news sites.

Your assignment today: Create an account on Pinterest and create at least three virtual boards of interest to you, with at least two pins on each.

Then browse on Pinterest for boards and pins of news sites you enjoy (go to pinterest.com/source/nytimes.com to see all pinned content from the New York Times, for instance). Select one that you find especially useful/fun/worthy of your time, and describe it in a comment to this post, below. Be sure to provide a link to the board or pin you like.


Is sports journalism leading the way?

I stumbled across this blog post from Bleacher Report and it definitely got me thinking about how sports writers (or writers in general) will operate in the future, and if it will be any different from the way they operate now.

In the blog, the author makes the point that the multimedia work done in the sports journalism world right now is great because there isn't as much breaking news and they can take the time to plan their projects. While I agree that the multimedia work being produced in the sports field is very good, I disagree about the "breaking news" part. There is a ton of breaking news in sports, it just doesn't overlap with the features that these sites like Deadspin produce. In regular news, however, the features and the news often overlap. For instance, in the case of the Navy Yard shooting, the interactive pieces we saw in class were made simultaneously with the hard news pieces about the event.

This article also makes some other interesting points that relate to our class. A multimedia journalism expert from Ball State talks about the significance of journalists being able to code and how the market for that skill is "huge." The author makes the point that when it comes to someone saying, "there's a huge market for journalists..." you should probably stop and listen.

The blog goes in a few different directions, but the emphasis on multimedia and digital journalism is there.


The New Wave of Mobile Journalism

In the early 1990s, the Internet threatened the newspaper when it took over journalism and reporting.  This Poytner article explores how the sensation of smart phones and tablets will effect the news industry as all organizations scramble to have a big presence in the mobile world.

This article brings up the debate of whether news organizations need to take the approach where they simply extend what they are already doing to their mobile site or if they need to completely focus on having a mobile presence in order to take advantage of the changes in technology.  Regardless of what choice the organization makes, mobile journalism is bringing about radical changes.

Many valid points are raised in this article on why newsrooms need to become "mobile first."  Personally, I am always checking my phone for news updates.  I always have my iPhone and don't always have my computer or a TV near me.  Tablets and iPads are so popular that it is not uncommon for a person to carry one around with them.  Apps on all of these devices make it so easy to receive news updates and in my opinion, news organizations should be focusing on how they can make the biggest imprint in the mobile world.

I agree in this article that in the coming future, mobile journalism is going to surpass the web.  It is accessed much easier and in crazy day to day life, not all people have time to sit down and read a newspaper or watch the news.  They want to be able to find out what is going on in the world right at their fingertips.

I am not sure what effect this will have on the news industry.  I think by focusing on the mobile world there will be a lot of success for many organizations.  But, what do you think?  What effect will this have on the world of journalism?


Cool Apps

Each of you will demonstrate a phone app or Web tool that you use for reporting/research/design work as a journalist -- and post a supporting summary about its usefulness in the comments area below. The best among these will be republished on American Journalism Review. Hint: AJR is very interested in hearing about new slide show tools.  

This will count as an in-class grade. 

Storify That

Please put the headlines and working links to your Storify projects about David Seymour's photo exhibit at Merrill College's Gaylord Library. Use the Comments below. Thanks!

The Power of Photos

Not sure of the power of photography in nonfiction storytelling?

The French newspaper Libération removed all images from its Nov. 14 issue to demonstrate the importance of visuals -- in a year that has been beset by layoffs of professional photographers from news organizations.

Empty boxes were left in the layout to emphasize where photos should have gone.

Brigitte Ollier, a journalist on Libération's Culture desk, was quoted as saying in the British Journal of Photography that it was "as if we had become a mute newspaper. [A newspaper] without sound..."

Editors of the newspaper explained: "It's not a wake, we're not burying the photographic art [...] Instead we give photography the homage it deserves."

An annual newsroom census from the American Society of Newspaper Editors revealed that photographers and other visual journalists have been hardest hit in the last dozen years of newspaper layoffs.

From 2000 to 2012, the newsroom staffs of photographers, artists and videographers were trimmed by 43 percent—from 6,171 to 3,493, ASNE and the Pew Research Center reported. In the same period, the number of full-time newspaper reporters and writers dropped by 32 percent—from 25,593 to 17,422, ASNE reported.

The Chicago Sun-Times in May laid off its entire photojournalism staff, the Chicago Tribune reported. Thomson Reuters let go its sports contract photographers in North America in August, the National Press Photographers Association noted. Cuts to photojournalists at Cox newspapers were announced in October.

Shrinking newsroom budgets and the explosion of citizen-generated visuals on social media have been blamed for many of the photojournalists' layoffs. (See memo from CNN's Senior Vice President Jack Womack about 2011 cuts.)

What do you think this trend portends for the business?

--Chris Harvey


This is a link touching on our lesson covering poor headlines. I looked for it for our assignment but decided to take the assignment a little more seriously since most of these are pretty outdated. They are pretty hilarious and a good lesson in what not to do when writing headlines nonetheless.

Everyone is stressed with the second, more abusive, half of the semester -- read over some of these if you get a chance and need a laugh. They are both educational and amusing.  --Rachel Walther

Horrifically Bad Headlines


Banning Journalists From Using Social Media?

According to a Huffington Post article, print journalists are banned from using social media at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Any journalist at the Olympics who is caught using technology (such as a smartphone or camera) for social media purposes (like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) will lose his or her accreditation as a journalist and be kicked out of the Olympics.

This raises the question of what the Olympics will be without live Tweets (including Twitter photos and Twitter videos) about the events? How will people who cannot watch the games live get their information in real-time?

When the 2012 Summer Olympic Games were happening in London, I personally had other obligations that prevented me from watching the events in real-time. However, I was able to see updates on the winners and losers with a quick check of my Twitter. This way, I could still see the results of the events as they happened without tuning in to a television. Russia's ban on social media prevents journalists from live Tweeting the results. Does this mean that we'll have to wait a long time to find out the results of the events? Probably not. I'm sure news organizations will be able to get results up quickly without using social media, but Tweeting out results is probably a lot simpler and easier.

How will journalists handle this, though? Will they obey the rule? Or will news organizations boycott covering the Olympic Games because they cannot use social media?

Also, isn't Russia's surveillance technology an invasion of privacy? I personally don't think Russia's Federal Security Service should be allowed to get away with monitoring email, phone and social media communication. If individual spectators are going to be allowed to use social media to Tweet, Facebook and Instagram the Olympics, why is it such a big deal for Russia to monitor and ban journalists? Individual spectators will most likely live-Tweet the events and results. So if the information is going to get out there in one way or another (either by spectators or by credited journalists), wouldn't Russia prefer the information to come from credible, reliable journalistic organizations?

Trip to USA Today Has Been Moved to Dec. 3

Mark your calendars: Our newsroom tour of USA Today in McLean, Va., has been moved to Dec. 3. We'll meet in the lobby of USA Today, 7950 Jones Branch Drive McLean, Va., 22108, at 1:30 p.m. and stay till 3 p.m. Please arrange for a carpool in the comment area below.

We'll meet with social media editors Mary Hartney Nahorniak and Merrill alum Desair Brown Shaw, plus others from the newsroom. This will likely include Web news editors, videographers and others, who will talk about their jobs, the skills needed to do their jobs, and their career paths to these jobs. You will be given assigned questions to answer about the visit; your typed responses will count as an in-class grade, and will be due at the start of our last class.

Please note in the comment area below if you have a car and would be willing to drive some classmates. We will NOT be meeting in Knight Hall, unless your carpool has pre-arranged for this!

DIRECTIONS FROM THE CAPITAL BELTWAY FROM GOOGLE MAPS (Feel free to use your own GPS in lieu of this!):
  • Merge onto I-495 W/Capital Beltway/I-495 OUTERLOOP via the ramp on the left toward Northern Virginia/Silver Spring.
  • Keep left to take I-495 W/Capital Beltway/I-495 OUTERLOOP toward Northern Virginia (Crossing into Virginia).
  • Take exit 46A to merge onto VA-123 S/Chain Bridge Road toward Chain Bridge Road/Tysons Corner Vienna. Stay in the right lane. Immediately turn right onto Tysons Blvd. Go .3 miles.
  • Turn right onto Westbranch Drive. Go .5 miles
  • 9. Turn right onto Jones Branch Drive. USA Today Building is on the right. BUT turn into the big parking lot with the guard shack BEFORE your get to the building. You will be asked to identify yourself, (tell them you're with Chris Harvey's class and meeting Mary Nahorniak and Desair Brown Shaw for a tour); you will likely be directed to park in the garage. We'll meet in the lobby for the tour PROMPTLY at 1:30. Give yourself an hour to get there and park.


Is Twitter Really the Future of Breaking News?

Twitter seems to be made for breaking news. Its 140-character capacity models how reporters release information updates in short, punctuated bursts. The hash-tagging system is ideal to track and update breaking news for the mobile consumer. Historically, the platform has facilitated breaking news updates. 

However, a recent study by the Associated Press and CNBC suggests Twitter users are not flocking to the site to consume breaking news. Only 16 percent of users say they turn to Twitter frequently for breaking news, the study, released today, says.  About 44 percent of users do at least some of the time, a bleak forecast for current events aficionados praising the platform's potential to revolutionize the news consumption process.

The study is a reminder that news consumption on Twitter is constantly evolving. Media analysts must reconsider the question, "Is Twitter the future of breaking of news?" Recent data show the gap between the platform's potential and the reality is still wide. With over 500 million tweets published daily, almost 40 percent of users use the site as "a curated news feed of updates that reflect their passions." Users can customize what they want to see and breaking news may be lost in the mix.

This raises an inevitable question: How can journalists use Twitter to break news more effectively? Part of the answer lies in helping users see the platform as a breaking news source. Journalists can also utilize the latest trends and Twitter analytics to understand how users consume and engage with information on the site. It seems foolish to allow this platform to go untapped.

Graphic by: AP, CNBC


Links to Your Contact Pages and Resumes

Class, please add links to your new resume pages and Contact pages (on your Wordpress sites) in a comment to this post.

Per your syllabus, the published pages (and links) are due at the start of class tomorrow (Oct. 21). Please use the EDITED text from your resume, and use inline css style (if necessary) for font sizes and styles on headlines and text.


Gentle Reminder About Your Role on the Class Blog

Class, a gentle reminder that, along with commenting on blog threads that I start for class, each of you is required to start at least one discussion thread on a timely new-media topic. This post -- and your comments on your classmates' posts -- count toward your class participation grade. Feel free to read through past semesters' blog archives for examples....

Strong and not so strong headlines

Blog assignment due at the start of class Oct. 22: Please search through news websites you frequent for a strong and not-so-adept headline, based on our recent headline writing discussion. Explain why you think each is good or poor in a Comment under this post. Please be sure to give the full URL and headline for each. Include a sentence or two of constructive comments. Please be sure your criticism is tactful: Our class blog is online for the world to see (although only the class can comment to it.) Please don't write anything you'd be embarrassed by if strangers see -- or if the headline writers see!


Your bio, or "About Me" page for your website

Struggling with how to craft your bio for the personal website you'll be building on Wordpress later this semester?

Check out these journalists' bios -- some that lace the narrative with bits of humor -- for inspiration:

Matt Wuerker , an editorial cartoonist for Politico

Gene Weingarten, a humor columnist for The Washington Post (see bio at right of page)

Gwen Ifill of PBS 

David Simon, a UMD alum and former Diamondback editor and Baltimore Sun reporter; now an author and television writer

Connie Chung, a UMD alum and broadcast journalist

Peter Baker, a White House correspondent for The New York Times

And, just for the heck of it, here's a thumbnail bio on comedian, writer and musician Steve Martin. I like the "fast facts" below the paragraph summary...

Is Google Knowledge?


Watch, and respond in a comment below...


Welcome Fall 2013 Class!

Looking forward to a terrific semester with you, as we code, write and edit to become stronger multimedia journalists!