Tour and Talk at USAToday

A reminder that we'll be meeting at USAToday Nov. 28 at 1:45 p.m., for a newsroom tour and talk.  

We'll chat with multimedia Web producer Joshua Hatch, Deputy Sports Editor Howard Kamen, senior designer Ron Coddington and Network Editor Patrick Cooper about how storytelling, story presentation and reader interaction at Web sites differ from storytelling in traditional media.

You will be given assigned questions to answer about the visit; your typed responses will count as an in-class grade. Responses to questions are due at the start of the Dec. 5 class.

We're meeting in the lobby of the USAToday newsroom, at 7950 Jones Branch Drive, in McLean, Va.--a stone's throw from the Tyson's Corner malls. See mapquest or google maps for directions from your homes; I'll put mapquest directions from the Beltway at the bottom of this post. Please leave roughly an hour for travel time by car to get there--although at this time of day, it should take less. You may want to carpool with friends from class. (If you're looking for a carpool, the blog is a good place to post!)

We should be finishing up by about 3 p.m. to allow you time to get back for afternoon classes.

Please park in the visitor parking lot before you get to the main building. It's marked by flag poles and a guard shack. Parking is free. The guards have been given all your names; they'll have badges waiting for you in the lobby. I'll meet you there. I've got two grad students traveling with me.

Please familiarize yourself with the Web site before our trip--including some of the multimedia, blogs and bigger projects! You'll want to be able to ask informed questions of our hosts.

Here are directions from the Capital Beltway, courtesy of mapquest and google maps:


Merge onto CHAIN BRIDGE ROAD/ VA-123 S. via exit number 46A toward TYSONS CORNER/ VIENNA; merge onto Chain Bridge Road.





Parking is on the right, before you reach the building. (See notes above.)

See you in the lobby!


Blogs and Your Thanksgiving Week Assignment

How do you define a blog?

I’ve heard numerous definitions, including these given a few years back by blogger-journalists participating in a national Online News Association conference in Berkeley, Calif.:

• “It’s a template with dynamic content, updated frequently, with links. It doesn’t have to be commentary.”—Denise Polverine, editor in chief of www.Cleveland.com, which started several Weblogs in spring 2003
• “It’s a new form of journalism. It’s irreverent, it’s not in the authoritarian male voice … and transparency is important.” --Sheila Lennon, who writes a blog on www.projo.com
• “Blogging is a conversation…” –Jeff Jarvis, president and creative director of Advance.net

Others have tried to define it in writing:

“Call it participatory journalism or journalism from the edges. Simply put, it refers to individuals playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, sorting, analyzing and disseminating news and information—a task once reserved almost exclusively to the news media”; and “an emerging new media ecosystem—a network of ideas.”-- J.D. Lasica, senior editor of OJR, writing in the fall 2003 Nieman Reports

“It should be obvious that Weblogs aren’t competing with the work of the professional journalism establishment, but rather complementing it.”—Managing Editor Scott Rosenberg writing in Salon in 2002.

Many would agree: blogs are updated often, from the top down; they include reader comments and questions; they include links to documents or stories; they can build a nongeographic community based on interests, or a geographic community based on shared locale; they are sometimes reported, but often simply commentary or roundups based on others' reporting; they are sometimes but not always written with attitude and edge.

Who’s doing it?

Leslie Walker, who until late-summer 2006 wrote a dot.com column for The Washington Post, reported that free blogging tools have been available since 1999, but they didn’t catch on in a big way until the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. She quoted Evan Williams, chief executive of one of the earliest tools — blogger.com — saying that site had more than a million registered users in early 2003.

Technorati, which allows users to search for blogs (www.technoratic.com), was tracking about 113 million sites as of November 2007.

Teens are turning to blogging in a big way: A November 2005 Pew Internet & American Life Project study reported that 4 million youths between the ages of 12 and 17 had made a Web log--or 19 percent of teen Internet users.

But Web logs have also played an important role in emerging democracies.

Jeff Jarvis estimated, for instance, that in 2003 there were about 100,000 Weblogs in Iran. He said: “Countries without free speech are finding free speech in Weblogs.”

Are there negatives to blogging?

Tom Regan, associate editor of csmonitor.com, wrote in the fall 2003 Nieman Reports: “In the eyes of many journalists, blogs are poorly written, self-absorbed, hyper-opinionated, and done by amateurs.”

Some have called the nonjournalists who sometimes write them a threat to the gatekeeper role that news organizations have held.

On the flip side, supporters have argued: “They introduce fresh voices into the national discourse on various topics and help build communities of interest through their collection of links.”—Walter Mossberg writing in the Wall Street Journal in March 2003.

On a personal note: Friends and students have found they are a good way to stay in touch with friends and family, while traveling or studying abroad.

Bloggers’ Influence

And, of course, lots of political stories have been influenced by bloggers. Among them:

• Then-Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott’s comments in 2002 about how the country would have been better off had it elected segregationist presidential candidate Sen. Strom Thurmond in 1948 eventually cost him his leadership post. Initially, the mainstream media ignored the comments, which Lott made at a birthday party for Thurmond. But bloggers kept the story alive, and Lott stepped down as minority leader.
• During the last presidential election, bloggers questioned the credibility of CBS News Anchor Dan Rather’s September 2004 piece, which alleged President Bush had used influence to evade the draft and join the Texas National Guard. Bloggers raised the possibility that the documents Rather and his producers built the story around had been forged; Rather later resigned the anchor job.

In addition, blogs come in handy in times of crisis. Citizen reporters and bloggers helped the Times Picayune in New Orleans to report on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in fall of 2005.

Getting Started

A few commonly used blogging publishing tools:

 www.blogger.com (you're on it!)
 www.wordpress.org
 www.xanga.com
 www.livejournal.com (for blogging and social networking)
 www.MySpace.com (for blogging and social networking)

For your assignment this week:

Read the published readings attached to your syllabus for this week (week 13):

Check out four well-established blogs, for content and interactivity:


Buzz Machine

E-Media Tidbits


Plus one blog of your choosing. (If you don't have one you view regularly, check out technorati.com.)

For each of the five blogs, answer these questions in a Word doc. Give just a couple of paragraphs per blog:

1. Is this a reported blog, an opinion/commentary blog, an author’s journal, a news roundup, or something else entirely?
2. How good is the content?
3. How easy is it to navigate and find archival entries?
4. How well does it encourage reader interaction?
5. How could the blog be improved?

E-mail me your responses by Monday, Nov. 26, 1 p.m.

That's it!

Please read my note (below) on your final paper site selections.

And watch the class blog this week for details on our trip to a Web newsroom Nov. 28.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Final papers due in one month (Dec. 14)

Class, you got one major project out of the way today (congrats!). This is a reminder about another due in a month. On Dec. 14 at 3:30 p.m., your final papers are due. (See syllabus, under assignments, for details: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/jour352fall07a.htm.)

The final paper requires you to analyze a news Web site. Please select a site from the following list; some are traditional sites (with print or TV or radio sister publications), some are Web-only, and some are citizen-media sites. Please e-mail me your choice within a week. Thanks much!

The list:

Washingtonpost.com, Nytimes.com, Salon.com, ABCNews.com, Slate.com, CNET News.com, BBC News Online (http://news.bbc.co.uk/), Jerusalem Post Online, Digitaljournalist.org, LATimes.com, Yahoo! News, Time.com, USAToday.com, npr.org, TheStreet.com, MSNBC.com, GothamGazette.com, ESPN.com, BET.com, Camden.VillageSoup.com, iBrattleboro.com, Baristanet.com, Politico.com and CNN.com.



Bad headline:

Judge Who Lost Pant Suit Loses Job


Good Headline:

Halloween's Traffic Nightmare


This headline was on the main page of Washington Post.com, not on the actual story page. It was the link.

Good & Bad Headlines

"American held in Italy sex-murder case"

This was the headline for an MSNBC story about an American woman who is being held as a suspect in Italy after her roommate was found dead. Police believe that the girl was killed fighting off a sexual assault.

I'm not sure about you, but I've never heard of "sex-murder" before. This headline would have been better using just murder or suspected rape/sexual assault.

"It's aliiiiive! Campaign beast awakens in Iowa"

This headline is great for the story. So far, most of the presidential race has been calm, but after the Iowa caucus, the real campaign seems to have finally begun. The headline is punchy without being obnoxious, and gets the point across with two simple words: it's alive! Brilliant.

Good and Bad Headlines

My headlines come from washingtonpost.com.
The good comes from a story with the headline, "Gist and Milbourne suspended for opener" (Nov. 7, 2007). This is a good healine because it invokes intrigue in any sports fan to find out why these players were suspended. Suspended is a good eye-catching word because it implies that something was don wrong that caused these players to be suspended.
The bad is from the story with the headline, "Wizards rest Arenas". To anyone who is not familiar with the NBA and specifically the Washington Wizards, this could be misinterpreted as the organization is resting its basketball court. It could be made clearer by putting the word guard in front of Arenas, since that is his position on the team.

Good/Bad Headlines

Hollywood Strike Turns Punch Lines to Picket Lines
Washingtonpost.com, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/05/AR2007110500138.html

I really like this headline because it is witty and catches your attention. I was wondering why there hasn’t been much hullabaloo surrounding the Writers Guild Strike, and this headline perfectly sums up what has been happening in a few, simple words. If I saw this headline on a website, I would definitely click on it to read more about it.

On main page: Child porn cops arrest Children’s Museum exec
When you click on the story: Children’s Museum employee distributed child porn, officials say
CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/06/childrensmuseum.arrest/index.html

I was so confused when I first read, “Child porn cops arrest Children’s Museum exec,” on CNN’s homepage. It was the first story listed on the homepage and it really caught my eye, because it puzzled me that they decided to call the police, “child porn cops.” Huh? The other headline makes much more sense and gives a much clearer picture as to exactly what the situation is regarding the museum executive who is suspected of distributing porn.

Good Headline/Bad Headline

I managed to find a headline that is good and bad all at once:

Police: Man tortured with freshly baked cookies

The good is pretty obvious here: How could you not want to find out more about a man being tortured with freshly baked cookies? I'm not endorsing torture (not even torture with freshly baked cookies), but you have to admit, when you see that headline, you're clicking on it to find out how, exactly, one tortures someone with freshly baked cookies and the circumstances behind the story.

This is where we get into the bad: the story isn't quite as fun as the involvement of freshly baked cookies would lead you to believe. It turns out the cookie torture was the result of a drug deal gone bad, and wasn't the only torture inflicted, although the victim's injuries weren't bad enough to require hospital visit. I guess my issue here is really more with the story failing to live up to the headline than with the headline itself. Now that I think about it, this is actually an example of how a great headline can take one aspect of an otherwise mundane story and make it attractive to readers.


headline exercise

Good Headline:
This article on Salon.com immediately grabbed my attention:
"A vote for Romney is a vote for Satan"
My first reaction is WHAT???!!! My next reaction is, well, there are quotes there, so somebody SAID that. Then I want to know WHO would be quoted saying something like that?
The quote is simple, to the point, and makes me want to continue reading. It does a perfect job of drawing me into the story without ruining the article. Using quotes as the entire headline seems to be pretty rare, but in this case it’s incredibly effective.
The article is here:

Bad Headline:
Some of the sports headlines are incredibly cheesy.
Haywood Shines Bright Despite Wizards' Woes
“Wizards’ Woes” just strikes me as ridiculous-sounding; it’s such a contrived alliteration it makes me shudder.
Another alliteration I was not a fan of: Rookie Runs to Record: Minnesota 35, San Diego 17. Yes, you’re clever, congratulations, don’t smack us over the head with it.




Bad headline:
"GW student charged in swastika on dorm door"

This is a bad headline from The Washington Times for a couple different reasons. First of all, it doesn't make any sense. "Charged in swastika on dorm door?" Huh? It should say something like charged for not in or something to that nature. It is confusing and even when I read it over more than one time, it still does not make much sense to me.

Secondly, the student was also charged with several other racial incidents. So maybe the paper was just trying to get more clicks/readers with a controversial word in there.

Good headline:
College coaches left to cope with stars' fast break to NBA

I liked this headline from the Baltimore Sun because it is a nice little play on a basketball term 'fast break.' The story is about how superstar college basektball players come to a university and only stay for a year and jolt to the NBA for money and more stardom.

The headline gets the point across, is informative and has a nice play on words.


Online News Headlines

Looking on AOL News, I found this headline, "Drunk Driver Sues Police for Car Crash." The story is about an Arizona woman who crashed her car into a wall and though the police took her keys, she used a hidden key to drive off. She is suing police for not taking her hidden key from her. I think the word "for" makes the headline confusing. The "for" implies that she wants a car crash from the police. The headline would have been clearer if it said, "Drunk Driver Sues Police Over Car Crash."

Another unclear headline I found was on today's Washington Post home page. It was found under the More Local Headlines heading and read, "Protest Styles Present a Clash of Cultures" Upon reading this headline, I really wasn't sure what the article would be about. My first instinct was that the story was a Style section-esque feature on the different ways people protest. I clicked on it and learned the story was actually about the immigration debate in Virginia's Prince William County. This really surprised me because I've actually been following this issue for another class, and I would never have known this is what the article was about just from reading the headline. In order to tip off readers and be easier to find in a search engine, the headline should have included key words like "immigration" or "Pr. William County"

One of the better headlines I found was in AOL's Entertainment News section on this weekend's box office hits. The headline, "'American Gangster' Swats 'Bee Movie,'" creatively conveys which of this weekend's highly anticipated movie releases came out on top. The colorful writing continued into the lead, which read, "LOS ANGELES (Nov. 4) - A heroin pusher and a honey bee put some sting back into the movie business." I will concede that the headline may not have worked if a reader didn't know what the two movies were, but in that case they probably wouldn't have been interested in the article anyways.

I also really liked this headline for the lead story on the Washington Post's homepage. It's a video link titled, "VIDEO: In W. Va., Celebrating the Fall of Man" The package is on BASE jumping and accompanies a double page spread on the topic in today's print edition. I like the play on words with the literal falling of people that BASE jumping entails. However, because the headline is accompanied with a photo and a three-line summary, it still works.

~Priya Kumar


good and bad headlines

Looking through cnn.com, two headlines immediately stuck out to me.
The first, located at: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/01/southern.drought/index.html, reads "Plea for Plan B in Southern drought saga." This may not confuse other people, but for someone who is very involved with women's health, Plan B is the morning after pill. I know that this just means plan b instead of the first intended plan to deal with the drought, but the wording is just off for me.
I also did not like this one on cnn.com: "Composite sketches released of girl stuffed in box" located at http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/02/body.found/index.html. The story following is a very emotional one that the headline seems to belittle. "Stuffed in box" is very insensitive to me.

As for good headlines, I found FOXnews.com's version of the article about the girl who was found in the box and their headline was "Texas Police Release Sketch of Girl Whose Remains Were Found in Washed Up Storage Box." For me, this is much more sensitive to the death of the little girl. I also found one on FOXNews.com entitled "Oregon Police Looking for Owners of Gnomes Without Homes." This was the headline used as a link to the article and the actual article did not have this headline, but I thought it was clever wordplay. I thought those were both good examples of a good headline.

Adrienne Kasper


bad headlines... and some for comic relief!

I really enjoyed the headlines listed below, from actual news sources (found on website: http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/badheds.html). One thing I noticed is that legal jargon tends to trip up headline writers--appeal, case in just a few of these--because words that have a very specific connotation in legal terms have every day meanings that are quite different.
Another problem with a lot of these headlines that makes them so hilarious is the confusion over subject. With headlines, leaving out an "it" or unclear terms means that the reader is confused about who did what to whom. My favorite is "Enraged cow injures farmer with ax." Obviously, the farmer had the ax, but because there are so few words in the headline, it seems like the cow has the ax. I worked at a dairy once, and let me tell you, the last thing you want is an angry cow armed with an ax!

In terms of my headline, I found a headline from my hometown newspaper, the Lexington Minuteman, from September 13:

Word-renowed pianist at Hancock Church

Come on, Minuteman, that's an embarassing typo. (The reason I kept this paper was the police log: A woman reported that her vehicle was damaged while parked near the skate park. Her car, a hatchback, had a dent in the rear door that may have been caused by a watermelon. That police entry deserves a story!!!)

So here's a list of bad headlines, courtesy of http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/badheds.html:

Something went wrongin jet crash, expert says

Police begin campaignto run down jaywalkers

Safety experts say school buspassengers should be belted

Drunk gets nine months in violin case

Survivor of siamese twins joins parents

Farmer Bill dies in house

Iraqi head seeks arms

Is there a ring of debris around Uranus?

Stud tires out

Prostitutes appeal to Pope

Panda mating fails;Veterinarian takes over

Soviet virgin landsshort of goal again

British left waffleson Falkland Islands

Eye drops off shelf

Teacher strikes idle kids

Reagan wins on budget,but more lies ahead

Squad helps dog bite victim

Enraged cow injures farmer with ax

Plane too close to ground, crash probe told

Miners refuse to work after death

Juvenile court to try shooting defendant

Stolen painting found by tree

Two soviet ships collide, one dies

2 sisters reunited after18 years in checkout counter

Killer sentenced to die forsecond time in 10 years

Never withhold herpes infection from loved one

Drunken drivers paid $1000 in '84

War dims hope for peace

If strike isn't settled quickly,it may last a while

Cold wave linked to temperatures

Enfiels couple slain; Police suspect homicide


One thing that I learned about headlines in print publications is that you have to be careful about what individual deck of a headline reads, especially if the decks are a few words each. This rule apparently also applies to online journalism.

Brother of Irish running back
shot to death

That was the way the headline read on the index page of http://www.chicagotribune.com/ on Oct.31. The headline was listed among many others near the editorial pods, and at first glance, just blends in with the others. When I first read the headline, I only read the first deck and had two questions: 1) Who's Irish and why does that matter since the brother is probably Irish as well and 2) where is this brother running back to? It wasn't until I re-read the whole headline (a few times) that I understood that the brother of an University of Notre Dame football player was shot and killed. What also contributed to my difficulty of understanding the headline was Notre Dame's mascot/team names; while I know that they are the Fighting Irish, but the use of Irish in this headline first gave me the impression that it was a noun, which is why I interpreted running back as a verb.
(story: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/cs-071030irishside,0,3206444.story?coll=chi_tab01_layout)

While the splitting of the headline into decks can create ambiguity, puns, if used correctly, can make a headline memorable while still getting the message across.

Iowa tax on pumpkins is no treat

That headline is from http://www.miamiherald.com, and, from a list of about 10 stories, it was the headline I noticed almost immediately. The headline is clear and concise while still attention-getting because of the play on traditional Halloween concepts such as pumpkins and trick-or-treating. This play on words also makes the story more timely in that readers know immediately that the story will in some way relate to Halloween.
(story: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/AP/story/290551.html)
(headline list: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/)

Questionable Headline -- Washington Post Oct. 30 Issue

After reviewing some of the stories in the online edition of the Washington Post, I found a couple of headlines that left me questioning what the stories would be about.

One headline read "Fortunes of Executive, Saftey Official Entwined in Pr. George's County". This story did not leave me questioning the nature of the story as much as it appeared to be misleading. From the title I expected that the story may have somehting to do with financial gain or money. I could be overestimating the words but I would not have thought the story would have been based largely on the professional gains of two Prince George's County public officails. The problem with this headline is the ambiguity in the word "fortunes." The writer meant for the word fortunes to be synonymous with the word "future." This headline could have been reconstructed in a way that limits ambiguity in the word choice. I believe there should be a focus on the relationship and the official positions. My suggestion for a headline for that story is Pr. George's Co. Officails' Relationship Is Under Specualation . Even that headline could be tighter but the is no question about the nature or expectation of the information in the story.

The next headline I saw that could have been revised reads "Noise Sensors Back Police In Teen Shooting." I think the word "back" could have been exchanged for "Support" or something else that limits the need for the reader to use contect clues in the headline. I had to read the headline a second time in order to underestand that the term "Back" was being used synonymously with the term "support" or "reinforces" this headline is not bad, it could (in my opinion) be written in a way that minimizes ambiguity and possible confusion.


Good and Bad Headlines

I looked through today's Post to see if I found any headlines that I didn't like. While I didn't find anything that posed a major factual problem, as many of the examples we typically see for "bad headlines" do, I saw one that I didn't find to be effective and easily readable.

The headline reads: Weary, Wary Lawmakers See Compromise as Way Forward.

First off, I had a problem with the forced alliteration in this headline. I think they're trying to be cute with it, but being that this is not a feature story, I don't think it's appropriate. Furthermore, I think their attempt at alliteration and their excessive use of adjectives takes away space that could be used to describe which lawmakers the story is about or what they are going forward from/to. Someone who reads this headline would not get an accurate grasp of what the article is going to be about, and in that respect, I think this headline is a failure.

A headline from the Post that I think was successful in using alliteration is "Preteens Trading Fairy Wands for Fishnets."

I think this article pulls off the alliteration because of the fact that it is a featurey article. It also accurately describes what the article is about--a movement of preteens costumes from innocent to racy.

Good Headline/ Bad Headline

I was searching for bad headlines, and I found this one from the Cornell Daily Sun: "Colbert Brings Satire, T-Shirt Gun to Barton Hall" http://cornellsun.com/node/25260

I think it's kind of a confusing headline because it's meaningless at first glance and doesn't provide much insight into the story. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't understand the "T-shirt gun" part until reading the article and realizing the headline referred to a T-shirt launcher. During a visit to Cornell University, Stephen Colbert used a t-shirt launcher as part of the show. I've never heard of a t-shirt launcher referred to as a t-shirt gun, so I think the more common name would avoid confusion and be more appropriate for the headline.

An example I found of a good headline is "Mukasey Unsure About Legality of Waterboarding" from the Washington Post. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/30/washington/31CND-mukasey.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

This headline is straight to the point, and you don't even have to read the story to know what it's about. In the article Michael Mukasey denounced waterboarding but said he had to "review the legality" of all interrogation techniques. The headline is in present tense and has an appropriate tone for the story. Also, very important terms like "Mukasey" and "waterboarding," could easily be searched to produce this article.


The Future of Journalism Workshop

“The Future of Journalism” session helped illustrate a point of view about the importance of knowing about technology as well as the dangers of using this median. One of the major themes that I heard reiterated over and over again was to take chances. Jim Brady repeatedly said that online journalism is a risk, but the very successful companies are all taking risks. A significant amount of trepidation comes from current controllers of journalism and even academic instructors being unfamiliar with new technology, according to Brady. The point has been made on many occasions that some forms of citizen journalism is not a respectable form of journalism. For example the point has been made that “bloggers are not journalists,” Brady’s response was that the statement was true but many journalists are bloggers so it was important to understand the difference between the two crafts.
Brady also made an important point about the use of technology, he said that it is not necessarily important to understand exactly how to do everything using new technology but it is important to know how these forms of technology work and how they may impact the future. One important point Brady made was concerning the dearth between online advertising in comparison to print. When analyzing this issue it is important to recognize that online advertising is growing, however it still does not compare to the revenue brought in by print advertising. Brady made the comparison of online journalism to the concept of the“ Field of Dreams” saying that unlike this notion if you build I they do not just come.
Online journalism as a new and evolving media is a risk however while it has not taken over newsrooms and newspaper offices it is involved in almost every legitimate/ competitive news outlet today.

My only personal concern with online journalism is the expectation of computer access. And while yes, 2007 is absolutely in the middle of an extremely technological age, there is a population of people in this country – namely the economic underclass and senior citizens – who do not generally use or have access to the internet. I believe the evolution of this online age further causes social stratification between the privileged and deprived.


Jim Brady workshop

Yes, print publications are dying. And yes, the concept of journalism is changing at a rapid pace. But despite the above, for once during my time in the journalism school, I was told that I had a chance of finding a job in the journalism field.

During the workshop, Jim Brady emphasized the need for journalists, not writers. The difference? A writer can only put words on a paper, and a journalist can put together a newspaper.

Brady advised the audience to step outside of the traditional cookie-cutter type "journalist" from before the Internet era. Before the Internet became integrated into daily life, journalists focused on writing. Now, editors are looking for journalists who not only know how to write, but also know how to take photos and videos, crop images, write basic HTML, and take any other necessary actions to complete the package.

Eight years ago, I became interested in web design. For the past several years, I became increasingly worried that I was cornering myself into a design career with my previous experience. Yes, web design was an entertaining hobby, but it was also not exactly impressive to newspapers. It was not until recently that my web design experience proved to be more than an after-school activity. Magazines and newspapers (on the verge of a massive technological change) began to contact me, and I was able to use my hobby to catch and keep the attention of editors.

The workshop was interesting and gave me a sense of calm. I now know that while traditional jobs in the journalism field may be disappearing, new positions are forming.

The Internet is creating a new era of journalism, and students need to be prepared for the changes.


MMIAA Workshop with Jim Brady

Ever since I entered the journalism school my freshman year, my professors have been telling me how the journalism world is changing and converging, blurring the lines between reporter responsibilities. The MMIAA’s “Future of Journalism” workshop Sunday not only reiterated this fact, but gave students a valuable opportunity to hear directly from professionals in the field about how their organizations are dealing with these changes.

The most important thing I took away from the workshop was the need for reporters to have multi-platform skills. One of the speakers stressed that if we go into the field with the mindset of only being a newspaper reporter, we would be left behind very quickly. In addition to the staple of writing skills, today’s reporter should be able to shoot basic video and audio and upload it into a Web package. The panelists also talked about the value of blogging, and how a reporter needs to be able to write conversationally for a blog while still maintaining their objectivity.

Hearing from Jim Brady was especially informative, as he discussed some of the behind-the-scenes thinking that goes into maintaining a major news website. Since washingtonpost.com is my primary news Web site, it was interesting to hear about how the editors and reporters use the site to enhance their stories through slide shows, video, reader comments and reporters’ blogs. Increasingly, the washingtonpost.com is looking to include searchable database information on its site. Brady also talked about how data like the number of page views a story gets and the demographics of the readers help the editors tailor the site to the readers in a way that the print paper cannot. However, Brady warned against putting too much emphasis on the numbers, saying that journalistic values always come first.

I asked Brady a question about the Washington Post's foray into radio and how that is representative of journalism's changes. Brady emphasized that while the venture ultimately failed, he has no regrets that the Post attempted it. Despite many media organizations' desire to do the safe thing, Brady said it is important to take risks, for that is the only way media is going to survive this changing time. I believe this was one of the most valuable pieces of advice from the workshop. As budding reporters, we have to be thinking outside the box and not be afraid to follow through on those ideas.

While walking out of the workshop with a free pen and notepad certainly made the event worthwhile, I more importantly walked out with thoughts and advice that will help me make the most of my remaining time at Maryland. I am now thoroughly convinced that the skills I learn in journalism classes such as this online class will do wonders for me when I enter this dynamic wold of journalism in only a few short years.

~Priya Kumar


Post.com Executive Editor on Campus Oct. 21

Jim Brady, executive editor of washingtonpost.com, will be speaking on the UMD College Park campus Oct. 21 about the future of journalism.

He'll be talking from 2-3:15 p.m. in Room 0200 Skinner, as part of a slate of speakers brought here by the Maryland Media Alumni Association.

You're all strongly encouraged to attend.

Sign-up sheet is outside Penny Fuchs' office on the 3rd floor of journalism.

You'll get extra class credit for attending and posting an item about the chat to this blog.

Details to come in class.


Questionable Photo...


This photo, part of Fox New's package of coverage of the Princess Diana inquest, shows the people in the car moments before the crash that killed her. The potentially disturbing aspect of this photo, to me, is the expression on the driver's face. Maybe he's just in the middle of talking about how much he hates the paparazzi or maybe he's yawning, but his wide-eyed, open-mouthed expression suggests to me that maybe he's realizing, at that moment, that he's losing control of the car and is about to crash. I can't remember if he survived the crash or not, but if those were his last moments and I were a member of his family, I probably wouldn't want his facial expression at the moment he realized he was about to die out there for anyone with an Internet connection to see.

I can't fault Fox News for putting the pictures on their Web site, though. After all, they are now part of a public record thanks to the inquest, and I suppose some people are still interested in this ten years later. I do, however, think their coverage is a bit sensationalist. I think putting the photo I just described alone on the front page and running a breaking news banner about the accompanying video of Princess Di in a hotel elevator (how exciting) on her last night is a bit much for something that happened ten years ago, especially when it pushes North Korea's agreeement to disable its main nuclear facility out of the lead news spot.

Questionable Content

I think the footage of the tasering of the UF student at the Kerry forum could be considered questionable content. While I don't think the footage was gruesome (you don't see him actually being tasered, you just hear it), I think this footage brings up the controversy over citizen journalism. The networks accepted footage that was not professionally obtained, which a lot of journalists consider to be extremely controversial and are skeptical to do so.

In my opinion, I think that this footage should have been run because it was the only way for them to get the content. I do think, however, that the footage was edited to favor the student because it did not show what happened before his last question.

There is a video of MSNBC's coverage on YouTube at http://youtube.com/watch?v=tCBcOQkUNjI.

Picture of Child Sexual Assault Victim

This picture shows the image of a child who was the victim of a sexual assault. This has been a major story in recent news. The showing of this image is more deviant than it is questionable. Given the information the police were provided, showing the image of the child was necessary. Usually, however the identity of sexual assault victims (especially children) are kept private. But again given the circumstances of this instance such as the unknown location of the girl and the perpatraitor, the child's safety was at risk. I think the showing of this image was very necessary in order to help close the investigation.
One concern that I have about the photo is that it is still up on some online news sites. I think now that the girl has been found "safe" her image should be removed, however sites such as the one included in this URL continue to make this image available to the public even after the girl was found.


questionable photo


This is an incredibly dramatic photo; and quite graphic. However, I think it tells an important story and is important to include in the article. The United States was sending a very specific message about their work in Iraq, and the picture captures this message effectively. It was on the first page of the story, and there was no prior warning to readers.

I don’t know if it is graphic “enough” to warrant an advisory to the public; perhaps it could be on the second page of the article after one click. Violent pictures are not always bad; this one illustrates a few important points. It shows the news that al-Zarqawi is dead and also conveys how the U.S. is publicizing this information. Although seeing a dead body is certainly shocking, some of the shock value has been reduced because it is a photo of a photo. It could be a "questionable" photo, but I think it's acceptable.


2004 Tsunami Photographs

Hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs showing the devastation of the 2004 tsunami in South Asia inundated the media following the disaster. On Dec. 28, 2004, both the New York Times and the Washington Post emphasized the loss of children with their front page photographs.

The New York Times took up almost the entire front page above the fold with this photograph, to which many people took offense. The Washington Post led with this photograph, also placed above the fold on the front page. I think the Washington Post made the better decision in this case because its picture conveyed more emotion while still maintaining poignancy and taste. Instead of relying on the shock value that comes with the dead bodies of children in the Times' photo, the Posts's photo appropriately conveys the deep sense of loss and devastation without possibly offending individuals the minute they see the front page.

When I found these pictures online, they didn't come with any warnings, especially not the New York Times' photograph. The Washington Post has a slide show under the Photos from the Disaster tab of images from the disaster. The slide show does come with a warning to viewers of violent or graphic content. When scrolling through the photos, I didn't find anything offensive; although dead bodies were shown, they were covered or wrapped in tarp. I personally don't think the warning is necessary, but it is always better to be cautious than to misjudge a readers' reaction. As an editor I would always want to err on the side of caution, so I would keep the warning label on this slide show.

I think it is important to convey to readers the true gravity of any situation, which is why I would keep the pictures in this slide show online, even though they contain dead bodies. However, I believe in maintaining taste and decency, which is why I would not publish the the New York Times' photo in print or online.



Questionable Photo


Carolyn Cole of the LA Times won BOP Photojournalist of the year for this photo. However, I do not think the picture was appropriate for news. When I look at this picture my stomach literally hurts. Portraying the dead bodies of two children online or in a newspaper seems unnecessary and too graphic. One must remember that online news is easily accessible and all kinds of people could come across that photo. As a news consumer I did not enjoy coming across this photo. I believe the conflict between Israel and Lebanon and its consequences could have been displayed more tactfully. For instance, the tenth photo in the Picture Gallery at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article2550369.ece is a good example of how to display violence in less gruesome way. This photo allows the consumer to understand the gravity of the conflict without seeing any dead bodies. I feel as if Cole's photo was put up to shock people and I don't think people need those types of images to understand what's happening.


CBS and Anorexia

Today I read an article on CBSnews.com called "Anorexia Stripped Bare."


The article was accompanied by a photo of an emaciated woman and professed anorexic. The photo first emerged on billboards in Italy, and as disturbing as the picture is, the photographer had an understandable reason to broadcast it: to show anorexia without the guise of beauty and fashion and shine light on the fashion industry's obsession with extreme thinness. The billboard is part of a campaign against anorexic models and supports London, Milan and Madrid's ban on too-thin models. The photo is controversial not only because of the issue at hand but because the woman is nude, and the extent of her anorexia- which she's dealt with for 14 years- is very apparent. Her bones are poking from her body, and she looks much older than her 27 years. I was not offended by this article or photo at all because the billboard is meant to be a deterrant against anorexia and employing anorexic models. There is a video link to CBS News' The Early Show, where this topic was also reported, and in the course of the video, the anorexia billboard is shown more clearly. There's nothing about this page that I would have handled differently. The photo is informative and newsworthy because this is a topic that continues to pop up in the media and remains relevant.

Controversial Video on CNN

The front page of CNN on Wednesday Sept. 26, had its lead story about a woman who is going to court saying she was unfairly tasered during a confrontation with a policeman. Immediately under the link to the story and a photo of the officer standing over the woman is a link to a video. In the video there is a clip (about 20 seconds in) of the officer repeatedly tasered the woman and even shoving her with his foot at one point and of the woman being so shocked that she falls into the car she is writhing next to.
I would not have this video on my website. Personally I do not see the need to show a picture of the officer and woman on the front page of the website and then also give a link showing the merciless treatment she receives from the officer. I'm sure if the website is looking for hits, a lot a people would look into this video but it's awful that they show this woman getting tortured by an offic er of the law. I would have shown a photo or two but not a long segment of video.


The link I found was on foxnews.com. It was the feature story of the day, and it is a link to a YouTube video of a landmine exploding in Iraq with American soldiers driving on a highway.


Fox directly linked to the YouTube video with the only disclaimer saying "WARNING: Graphic language."

This brings up an interesting debate of how to handle YouTube videos, which are hardly censored and often times have explicit language.

In this case, I would have linked it as well, with the same disclaimer - I think FOX made the right move because it is an unbelievable, eye-popping video that really does show what American soldiers have to deal with every day during the war.

It is a YouTube video that is informative, even in spite of its graphic nature.

Questionable Link

The link that I found was on CNN.com. It is http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2007/04/18/sot.nbc.cho.speaks.nbc. This is the video of the Virginia Tech Murderer's speech that was shown by most all TV stations and put on the sites of almost all news sites ran as well.

I don't think that I would run this. The news value is that he made a speech and what he said in it. His reason for putting it on video was to get some recognition and to try to get people to sympathize with him. To me, it isn't a good idea to give a person like him the time of day. To run this video is to fall into his trap. It is granting a murderer his last wish while the people he killed didn't have time to make one.

If a news organization really sees it necessary to give his reasons for murdering, which I wouldn't argue, it is sufficient to put it in text. This doesn't give him the fame or possible sympathy that comes with seeing his face, but it still gets the news across.

Questionable Content

As a Web editor or Web producer, you will be making some tough decisions on story and photo play and Web-linking policies.

See if you can find at least one example on a news site of questionable links, photos or stories, due to violent content (in coverage of murders, fires, crashes or war), sexual references or hate-based material. Please give the URL for the questionable page(s), and explain diplomatically why you have concerns. Tell me how you would have handled the content differently.


Really Simple Syndication, or RSS

Journalist Mark Briggs writes in his "Journalism 2.0" book that Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, allows Internet users to use a search tool to find lots of the latest information on a given topic. RSS allows users to bypass a site's home page to find what they're looking for (just as they do when they use search engines or directories).

You can find your information by using stand-alone RSS readers, which launch software to access the info. Blogspace.com links to some readers here: http://blogspace.com/rss/readers.

You'll find an RSS tutorial here:

Briggs says some popular stand-alone readers are NetNewsWire, NewsGator, Pluck, FeedDemon and SharpReader.

You can also use readers already built into a Web browser or Web site, such as those on Google and yahoo! If you use yahoo! or Google, the browser will build a page that features the info you're searching for; it personalizes the page for you.

Go to google.com, and click on the downward arrow in the top navigation bar to get to "Reader," as in Google Reader. Sign in, using your google sign-in info.

To the right of the Subscription link on the left of the page, click on "Browse," to add or subtract news sites that you'd like the reader to search for you from pre-formed bundles.

Or go to a site that regularly publishes news you read, click on its RSS link to find specialty topics you'd like added to your reader, and then cut and paste the RSS URL into the reader. (For instance, the RSS URL for Dan Froomkin's column on washingtonpost.com is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/rss/linkset/2005/04/24/LI2005042401085.xml. If I cut and paste that into the "Add Subscription" area of my google reader, I'll begin getting Froomkin's column as a "feed."

Click on the "Home" link on the Google Reader page, to display the info you asked the reader to search for.

Please be prepared to show me your Google Reader home page at the start of next week's class! This will count toward your class participation/blogging grade.

Welcome to the Blog!

Class, we'll be using this blog throughout the semester to chat about headlines, photos, blogs and other new-media topics.

Please feel free to start a discussion on subjects pertinent to class, as well as respond to questions I post.


Washington Post Visit

I was shocked at the style and design of the Washingtonpost.com newsroom. Everything looked so neat and in its proper place; it looked nothing like a television newsroom. The employees all seemed young and the place was so quiet. It felt like a luxury library. I was also surprised by the number of people being trained to do some sort of multimedia in addition to print stories. Everyone says journalists need to be multifaceted, and the Post.com seems to be on the right path. I just wonder how much on-camera these print reporters will eventually do. John Kelley is a funny guy but he has an annoying voice and doesn't look that great on television. Does he deserve all of that air time in addition to writing for the paper? It will be interesting to see how far the Post.com takes its video component.

Washington Post visit

Today's visit was a huge eye opener for me in the sense that I need to learn more skills and hone all my abilities to compete in this field. It is a broadcast vs. print battle and I am not sure there is a winner in the end. This visit made me more intersted in learning about broadcast practices and skills because it appears that that is the future but at the same time, he insisted that the key to any job, journalism or not, is strong writing skills.

I thought it was funny when he was talking about social networking and its advancements in changing the face of jounalism. I was thinking about our ethics discussion and whether it is appropriate, as a journalist, to go into chatrooms to find and meet people for possible stories. It got me thinking about finding people by social networking because even if you are not friends with someone on facebook or myspace, you are bound to know someone who knows them or a way to find them. These "friends" we have are our connection to everyone else on the internet and it is scary to think about how easy it is to find someone, it is just as easy for a reporter to find you or to create a story idea based on your conversations with friends, pictures and details. Reporters are always looking for hot new ideas!


washingtonpost.com visit

I regularly visit washingtonpost.com. In fact, I read it more than the paper, which often heads straight to the recycle bin. Yet, even as a broadcast student, I had never clicked on the video links before. I was fascinated by the video links he showed us, especially the Tier 2 and Tier 3 types of video. I had never really considered working for the online side of a newspaper outlet before because I figured all their video would be just interviews and adding some B-roll with a cheap video camera. I was impressed by the editing suite and the documentaries on the site, and today's visit has opened up a new avenue for my job search.

Another thing I had never thought about before is that sports reporters don't work in the mornings. I guess I figured that with tennis, golf, the Tour du France, etc. that sports would be a daytime job as well. I knew today would be slow for the sports department, as there are no major professional sports games to cover (the third of three straight days a year that this exists because of the All-Star Game).

I would be interested to see how the Post continues to develop its site to get viewers to visit more pages on the site. I think the toolbar at the top has a lot of potential to be better developed and more efficient for viewers. I think the City Guide could be more prominently displayed, as well. I know in the past, the archives of the Going Out Gurus blog has been difficult to navigate, and I hope that can be improved.

washingtonpost.com trip

What I took away from today's trip to the washingtonpost.com office was a greater realization that today's reporters need to be competent in several media. When I chose to major in journalism three years ago, it never occurred to me that I'd be doing anything beyond writing and editing.

But in my classes here I have heard several times that a print reporter has to be more than just a print reporter. Today's trip reinforced that.

One specific point Chet Rhodes mentioned was that print reporters need to feel comfortable talking about their stories intelligently in front of a camera. I had thought about this recently, but in a slightly different light. I regularly listen to Washington Post Radio, and I often hear reporters being interviewed about the stories they write. So I figured that reporters working for the paper were also expected to be able to give a good radio interview.

But there's more to it than that. A "real" reporter needs to be able to write, edit, photograph, talk about his story on the radio, take audio and video clips, and talk about the story in front of a camera. And don't forget those Web skills.

washingtonpost.com trip

Brian Katkin

Washingtonpost.com is the first online journalism newsroom that I have ever visited. I thought it looked fairly similar to other newsrooms. Before I arrived, I was expecting it to be a little different in that I was expecting it to be significantly smaller with fewer employees.

When Chet was talking to us in the conference room, one thing in particular stuck with me. I thought it was particularly interesting when he said that the way to succeed in the journalism industry is not to continue staying one-dimensional with the journalism tract you’re on now, but to learn something else. For instance, if you’re doing print journalism, start trying to learn aspects of broadcast journalism and vice versa.

With regards to the Web site, I thought it was interesting that Chet pointed out where on the page users are more likely to click. I would imagine it’s a little bothersome to video journalists, like Travis Fox, when well-done video packages (i.e. the Darfur video package) are in places on the page where users are unlikely to click. I also thought it was interesting that washingtonpost.com has so many different types of video players; I would have thought that it would be easier to simply decide upon one and make that the uniform video player throughout the Web site.

Post Visit

I could not believe how many people worked at washingtonpost.com. It truly was amazing they had upwards of 200 people employed there. This added to the fact that they had very little original content seemed very odd.
Also to be a bit trivial, the starting salaries were also extremely high. Danny and I were talking about this and think it is most likely due to the fact that it is a tech job, which are still increasing in demand and salary.
Visiting the offices and seeing that they really do a lot more than just writing made online a very attractive option if broadcasting is not the correct path for me.

Washingtonpost.com Field Trip Reflections

I enjoyed today's tour of washingtonpost.com's newsroom; it was surely not what I expected or imagined it would be. I thought it would be an archaic and monotonous office-setting with traditional cubicles with the chaos and commotion that's stereotypically associated with newsrooms, such as phones ringing off the hook, reporters shouting to one another across the newsroom, editors running around frantically to publish the next story, etc. Instead, the office was quite tranquil, modernized and well-designed to meet the needs for the 21st century.

I was quite surprised to see the broadcast (radio and television) elements and aspects of Washingtonpost.com. I was even more surprised and even a little anxious when Chet informed us of how not only the print, but also the broadcast industry is declining, more rapidly than what I initially thought, and that everything is truly converging unto the Web.

I would have to firmly agree with Chet and say that Washingtonpost.com has too much going on in their main page, which can be very inundating and distracting to visitors who may be easily turned off by just the overwhelming amount of information. For me personally, it's way too cluttered for me to denote what's important, especially on the bottom portion of the home page. One specific ad that annoys me each time I go to Washingtonpost.com is the main page advertisement that automatically enlarges to the size of your computer screen and doesn't go away fast enough. I believe that the broadcast features and elements (photos, videos and audio) are working quite well on the site with the traditional text; it just needs more publicity and awareness in order to attract visitors to the site.

Though, all in all, I had an enjoyable experience at the Washingtonpost.com office.


While I regularly go to check my news at www.washingtonpost.com, I am sometimes distracted by the large advertisements on the page. For example, today's home page has a huge rectangular ad for Covidien, which takes up at least one third of the page. I know that advertisements are crucial for an online site to keep functioning, but I think they should be placed elsewhere on the page. You don't see large ads taking up large portions of the front page of the hard copy, so why have it on the online copy? I also dislike how the site puts the "Most Viewed" articles section at the top. I don't think that this is very important information and would fit better at the bottom of the page.
One of my favorite part's of Washingtonpost.com is the city guide. I think this attracts more than just the average person interested in reading the daily news. I also love how easy this site is to navigate. It is very easy to find what you are looking for-whether it be sports, cooking, fashion, archives, etc.

washingtonpost.com field trip

I learned a lot from today's field trip to washingtonpost.com. I use the site almost daily, but I was surprised when Chet showed us the new video application at the bottom of the home page. I don't recall seeing it and I know for sure that I haven't used it yet. I thought it was interesting that it does matter where these sorts of things are placed; some site users may never get to it if they don't scroll down!

I thought it was interesting when Chet talked about how the site uses three different ways to present video clips and how that was not a good thing because it confuses users. I know for me, I'm really impatient so when I try to watch clips and they take forever to load or I can't work the program, then I don't even bother to try. I think it's important that washingtonpost.com works together to find the best and most efficient way to stream their video clips.

I was also surprised at the laid-back and quiet environment of the whole office. When I think of newsrooms, I think of phones ringing non-stop, reporters running around, sounds of television news and messy papers everywhere. I guess since Chet said the main tasks they do at this specific office are produce blogs and media clips, the environment is less chaotic then the main office for The Washington Post would be.


Comment on "Citizens' media gets richer"

Something in one of this week's readings, "Citizens' media gets richer" by OJR's J.D. Lasica, struck me as particularly interesting.

Lasica quotes Michael Tippett, founder of NowPublic.com: "The big news organizations always say, we have journalism school grads and Pulitzer Prize winners and people trained in the craft. Fair enough, but you have two people on the story, and we already may have 20 or 50. What happens when we have 2,000 people covering that story? There will come a point where they can't compete," he says.

(To read Lasica's complete story:

Is it true that two professional, experienced reporters can't compete with 2,000 citizen journalists? If so, why is there a need for staff reporters at all? News organizations could rely entirely on the public for content.

I would argue that even 2,000 citizen journalists are not necessarily better than two veteran reporters. While I believe in the importance of citizen journalism as part of the news--I agree with Lasica that it adds "emotional depth and first-hand experience"--it cannot be the only source of news.

Yes, there are many "regular people" who write and photograph beautifully, and I hope the public continues to benefit from their talent. But I think it would be going too far to say that a small number of Pulitzer Prize winners cannot compete with dozens, even hundreds, of "regulars."

I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this.

Blogs you like...

Class, here are some of the blogs that I didn't list that you told me you liked -- along with your comments and suggestions for improvement:

From Annie:

1) This blog consists of news updates on celebrity behavior.
2) The content of the blog is entertaining yet trashy. It feeds on the celebrity-driven pop culture. The site is easy to navigate. With links to pages and celebrity knowledge quizzes, there is tons of visitor interaction. The site doesn’t have any archives and only keeps records for the past couple of days.
3) I would visit the site merely because I, too, am celebrity obsessed. I don’t really care what the blogger says, but I am interested in the pictures.
4) I would eliminate the amount of commentary on the blog. The pictures and headlines are the interesting factors -- not what a nobody person has to say.

From Danny:

1. My blog of choice, at the moment, is maintained by MSNBC’s Willie Geist, a producer/on-air co-host/jack of all trades for the cable network. He describes his blog as such:

“Willie Geist has maintained since 1996 that the Internet, like the automobile and the television before it, is a fad. He gets his information from microfiche at the public library and communicates with friends through the good old-fashioned United States Postal Service, thank you very much.”

The site is decidedly tongue-in-cheek, but it is a great place to read about network news and other goings-on the media business. It is an opinion blog.

2. The content is good. Geist is funny and usually keeps his posts fresh. It is easy to move around and find archived posts. Also, the site is big on user comments. Basically the entire main page scrolls with comments (after Geist’s post, of course). Fans of Geist have an easy way to access or comment on his page. Interaction on this blog seems high.

3. I would look at this site again. I watch Geist with Tucker Carlson all the time. He is witty and bitingly sarcastic. I like going to his blog for more of the same.

4. The site could have comments on a separate page. I would rather see more of his posts on the front page. I really do not care to see 100 people comment on one post. For instance, his latest entry refers to MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski refusing the read the Paris Hilton story as the lead for a morning newscast. There are dozens of people who wrote to the blog saying roughly the same things (congratulating Brzezinski on taking a stand). I don’t need to see that. Show me other, even slightly older, blog posts instead.

From Aliza:
Frozen Tropics (http://frozentropics.blogspot.com)

“Frozen Tropics” is a blog about the Trinidad and H Street NE areas of Washington, D.C.

It is a news roundup, and occasionally an opinion/commentary blog.

The author, Inked, links to articles written about the area; posts press releases from politicians, developers and upcoming events; takes photographs of things she sees in the area and muses on changes in the area. The content is sometimes nothing more than links, but sometimes it is long.

The blog is the source of information on my neighborhood. It is easy to navigate, with archives on the right-hand navigation bar, as well as links to news organizations, local businesses, politicians who serve the area and more.

Readers interact with the blog through comments, and inked responds to many of the comments. Readers often also interact with each other through the comments. Inked also provides many links for readers to click on.

I read this blog often because of the news it provides. Inked also linked to one or two articles I wrote last summer on the area, and we have a mutual friend.

One way for the blog to be improved is to disallow anonymous commenters because there are often multiple commenters, and keeping track of who said what can get confusing. Another way to improve the blog would be for Inked to take on more writers so that the blog could be updated more frequently.

From Aditya:
The Huffington Post

This blog aggregates the posts from several contributors and categorizes them under ‘Politics,’ ‘Business,’ ‘Entertainment,’ etc.

Most of the posts are commentaries. Small excerpts or summaries accompany the links to the opinion pieces. Many of the articles are on Huffington’s Web site, others are external links. The contributors come from very different backgrounds, and some may be more credible than others. The blog provides links to short biographies of each contributor.

Huffington’s blog seems to encourage interactivity since it allows users to instantaneously post comments to articles. The blog does not seem to have an archive of its own, but allows users to search it quite easily.

Huffington Post is a good place to look for left-of-center commentary and analysis, but seems to have little use otherwise.

More to come...


Blogging Assignment

Class, this assignment is to be done independently. Please turn it in by e-mail to me by 11:10 a.m. on Thursday, July 5. Happy holiday!

Directions: Quickly check out the following eight Web logs.

Go back and take more time with two of them, plus any other blog of your choosing. (Check out http://www.technorati.com/ for listings of blogs if you don’t already have a favorite.)

For each of those three that you analyze, BRIEFLY answer the following:

1. Is this a reported blog, an opinion/commentary blog, an author’s journal, a news roundup, or something else entirely?
2. How good is the content? How easy is it to navigate and find archival entries? How well does it encourage reader interaction?
3. Would you look at this site again if you didn’t have to?
4. How could it be improved?

Please type up your answers and e-mail them to me.

Here are eight sites to start your review with:









The Power of Blogging

Here's an article in the Post yesterday demonstrating the increasing influence of blogs on the mainstream:

Calling in Pros to Refine Your Google Image

One thing to consider is that Webmasters can manipulate search engine algorithms to have their sites come up as one of the first listings. So, no matter what companies like ReputationDefender.com could do, there will always be malicious coders who will ruin any attempts that you fork over thousands of dollars for to improve your online prestige. What's even more funny is that people found a market in making people look good on the Web. My take on the situation: you can't make people like you.

Here's a good read on how search engines work

And here's a Wired.com article about search engine manipulation


In Case You Missed It,...

MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski had just about enough of the Paris Hilton story when she refused to lead her news report with Paris Hilton post-prison updates. On "Morning Joe" with co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist, Brzezinski tried to torch the script with a lighter, crumpled it into a ball and finally sent it through a paper shredder. I appreciate what she did, as I, too, am completely sick of Paris Hilton and the coverage her prison sentence garnered. Brzezinski stood up to her network on the air and refused to grant the Hilton story numero uno coverage. It really became a big deal because Joe and Willie made fun of Mika for refusing to read the script. Still, few journalists of her level would have the guts to do that.

Also, I was clicking around my television Saturday morning and turned to NBC's HD channel. I thought I would just see an HD version of the "Today" show, but instead some groggy-eyed producer put the studio feed on the air, so I watched an anchorwoman practicing her script and talking to producers about pronunciations and camera angles. I have never seen the network news make a blunder like that. After watching the anchor stumble through the copy three times, it kind of took away from actually hearing it live. Some things viewers are just not supposed to see...


Bad Headline:

"China officials live without air-cons for a day"


I didn't like this headline because of the "air-cons". This article talks about how the Chinese government cut off air conditioning for some government employees to save a little bit of energy. When I first saw the headline, for some reason, I thought of that Nicolas Cage movie, "Con Air". I honestly thought the article was about some Chinese military exercise. To me, the headling is a little misleading. Instead of using air-cons, I think that just using "AC" would have been acceptable or maybe even "cool air".

Good Headline:

"Will iPhone rock music industry?"


This headline is simple, catchy and a pretty good example of using the SVO structure for a headline but this one is in the form of a question. I like how they used "rock" to ambiguously imply that people who buy the iPhone will bolster the iTunes industry but that the music industry as a whole will suffer because Apple doesn't allow customers to download music directly to the phones.


Headlines, good and bad

A good headline:

“iPhone May Not Rock Music Industry”

This June 26 story is from the WBAL site. You can find it here:


This headline uses the subject-verb-object format and makes clever use of the verb “rock.” Like any good headline it makes you want to know more about the story. It uses the qualifier “may not” to reflect the views of some experts without buying the opinion itself.

A bad headline:

Southeast Europe Sizzles; 38 Die”


This is again a June 26 story and is from the WJLA site.

“Sizzles” is an expressive word and is usually used in more informal or light-hearted contexts. Using it in a headline that tells us 38 people have died is a bit tasteless. The headline can be rephrased using the subject-verb-object format. For example, the headline could instead read: “South-east Europe heat wave kills 38.” Also, if there isn’t enough space, “heat wave” could be replaced with just “heat.”


good/bad headlines

Good headline: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-taxes0626,0,2838871.story?coll=bal-home-headlines

Leaders differ on budget fix

I think this iheadline from today's Baltimore Sun is a good, strong headline because it is short and concise and the reader knows exactly what they are going to get. It also follows the structure of a good headline which we discussed in class: subject verb object. Here the subject, leaders, preceeds the noun, differ which preceeds the object, the budget fix. The headline reads easily and appears to fit into the appropriate size for professsional headlines.

Bad headline: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/25/AR2007062501763.html

Pension For Police Appointee Debated

This headline from today's Washington Post is not good because the verb is not only at the end of the sentence, but it is in past tense. As we learned today, headlines should be in present tense. This headline does not follow the subject, verb, object structure because the object is the first word which is followed by the subject, which is followed by the past tense verb. It does not mislead the readers but I think it could be written much stronger for a paper such as the Post.

Good and Bad Headlines

Sharon Choi

Bad headline: Hospital Board Refuses To Resign
Article link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/25/AR2007062501889.html

This headline is from an article in the Metro section of today's Post. My initial reaction to this headline was, 'Board refuses to resign?' Obviously, the article is not going to be about a physical board, perhaps wooden, that refuses to resign. In order to prevent this kind of confusion, the headline should have used something like 'board of directors.' A more specific subject would have cleared up any confusions in the headline.

Good headline: Attacker Kills 4 Sunni Sheiks Who Aided U.S.
Article link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/26/world/middleeast/26iraq.html

This headline is from an article in the World section of the New York Times. I like this one because it is summarizes the article with a simple subject-verb-object format. There are no words or phrases that may confuse readers. It is very straightforward with what it wants to say.

Good & Bad Headlines

A. Bad headline: "Shaq attacks fat"

I found this on the home page of www.washingtonpost.com in the television section. Although the full story (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/19/AR2007061901498.html?hpid=features1&hpv=national) has a different (better) headline, this headline is more impotant because it helps determine whether readers click through to the story.

I assume that editors at the Washington Post were looking for something short and catchy. "Shaq attacks fat" is both, but it doesn't really make sense. What does it even mean for someone to attack fat? Is he perhaps verbally attacking fat? (But what else? Supporting fat? This reminds me of the "dry wood best for burning" headline.) The headline is also too vague. Whose fat is Shaq attacking? His own? Someone else's?

Another bad headline: "Court Rules for Cleaners In $54 Million Pants Suit"

This is in the metro section on www.washingtonpost.com. This headline caught my eye becuse it has the same "suit problem" as one of the headlines we talked about in class. This has become a big enough story that many (if not most) people would immediately understand the headline, but there is still the risk that readers would confuse "suit" for clothing instead of a legal case-- or at least a risk of slowing the reader down, which you always want to avoid, especially online.

See the full story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/25/AR2007062500443.html?nav=hcmodule.

B. Good headline: "Deputy Mayor Robbed at Gunpoint"

This headline is also from www.washingtonpost.com's metro section. This is an effective headline because it is immediately understandable and attention-grabbing. The headline is appropriate for the tone and content of the story; it doesn't use any cute phrases. Instead, it is to-the-point and informative.

It is important that the headline refers to the deputy mayor by his title rather than his name since it is reasonable to assume that the majority of readers have not heard of Victor Reinoso. The use of the word "gunpoint" is also effectice because of the image it conjures up. It gives the headline a dramatic edge without going overboard.

See the full story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600732.html?nav=hcmoduletmv.

Good/Bad Headline

The Good.
Hilton Out of Jail, Back in the Big House
This headline is classic. It is a great play on words and addresses a not so serious subject with a not so serious headline. If a major news source like The Post is going to cover a story like Paris Hilton on their home page, then they have to make it catchy.

The Bad.

Man Accused of Murdering Jessie Davis Called Another Woman the Night She Was Last Heard From.

This headline is confusing. Without prior knowledge of the story, a reader would be seriously confused. The pronoun "she" could apply to Jessie Davis or another woman. Also, the headline ends in a preposition, which is grammatically tacky. The headline is also too long, which adds to the confusion.

Good/Bad Headlines

Brian Katkin

Good Headline

Three Hours at a Big Fat Kashmiri Wedding
Chaos, Calm and Copious Cuisine

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 24, 2007; Page A14

This headline was found in the Washington Post on Sunday, June 24, 2007 in the newspaper's main news section. In my opinion, I thought this headline was catchy. It plays off the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The article details a wedding in India, during Kashmir's wedding season. Due to some of the similarities between the movie and the description of the wedding in this article, I think the headline is appropriate and uses popular culture to bring in readers. The mood of the article is light, therefore, I think it is OK to use a playful headline.


Bad Headline

Some Details Are Presented By Prosecution

By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 26, 2007; Page B02

This headline was found in the Washington Post on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 in the newspaper's Metro section. In my opinion, this headline is very vague and ambiguous. What does it mean that "some" details have been presented by the prosecution? I think because the editor downplayed the importance of the details that the prosecution presented, readers may glance over the story because they may think, "If the type of details were not even important enough to go in the headline, then why should I read the entire story?" A better headline might read "Misfilings About Donations, Dates Among Details Presented By Prosecution." This headline would better inform the reader what the article is really about.


Good vs. Bad News Headlines

Good News Headline
A 'Hole' Lot of Traffic Tie-Ups
By Adam Leech

I like this headline a lot since the word 'hole' is a play-on-word that takes on double-meaning. It can refer to the 'hole' which it is literally discussing the big hole that is in the middle of the street causing traffic mayhem. Though, if you read the title out loud, one may interpret the situation as a 'whole' lot of problem, referring to the vastness and enormity of the problem. Regardless of which meaning you take on, it makes sense; the overall use of the word is quite witty. It is grammar error free. It is also brief and concise, and it can stand alone without confusing the readers.

Bad News Headline
Excerpt: 'Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women'
Dr. Christine B. Whelan Proves That Intelligent Women Can Find a Husband and Happiness

I find this headline to be quite obvious to the average reader. Nothing really captures the attention of the audience or motivates them to read further; it's just too simple and quite frankly, very boring and perhaps stupid. I'm also surprised that this news story comes from ABC News, which is a prominent news organization. I've read better headlines and expected more from ABC News.

Critiquing News Site Headlines

Please find a good and not-so-adept headline on one or more news Web sites (English-language only, please), and diplomatically explain the pros and cons of each, based on points discussed in class. Please list both the URL and the headline for each, along with some explanation.


Since the e-mails on our resumes will be viewable to anybody in the world, it's a good idea to protect them from spammers that prowl the Web. In the code to hyperlink your e-mail, replace the @ symbol with & # 6 4 ; instead, but without the spaces. If I post the code without spaces then it will still show up as a @.
You can find this information here: http://www.web-source.net/html_protect_email.htm


This post on LiveJournal is a great example of the power of the citizen journalist.


Warning: There are graphic descriptions of violence.

This is an article on the subject in an alternative newspaper that covered the story: http://bloomingtonalternative.com/articles/2007/06/06/8379. The blogger links to this article. It is not as graphic.


Welcome Summer Class!

Over the next six weeks, we'll use this blog as a virtual meeting place for discussions about interesting facets of news Web sites, photos, headlines and more.

I'm looking forward to your thoughtful posts.



From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Love Shack challenges Johns Creek

If you didn't know that Love Shack is an adult novelty store and John's Creek is an Atlanta suburb, you'd think this was some kind of softball rematch.

From the LA Times:
Parents stand up and cheer as a $15 sneaker enters the game

This is a story about an NBA player who, like many others has his own line of shoes, but unlike others', his shoes are priced at about $15. The shoe's popularity seems to be defying the "snob appeal" that expensive shoes seems to have.

The headline is intriguing if you're not familiar with the story. It employs a clever metaphor for a familiar image of fans cheering as the players enter the arena at the beginning of each game.

Heds - one good, one not so adept.

Good - "Cline takes on thug cops" It uses active voice, identifies someone who's recognizable locally (the police superintendent, I think) and the phrase "thug cops," while normally unacceptable in a hed, is justified when you're talking about a burly police officer repeatedly punching a 115-pound woman.

Not so adept - "Google makes a 'hiss' terical search", a story about a large snake loose in Google's headquarters.

The hed tells me it's snake-related, but the concept of a snake loose in Google's office is so promising, I would've liked to see something more creative. Plus, the search wasn't hysterical, unless they were freaking out as it happened - plausible considering the snake is three feet long.

"Latest Google search: A python in the office" was CNNMoney's hed, and that makes me much happier.

It's a light story with no huge import, and the underlying premise is amusing - the perfect time to have some fun with the hed.

Raechal's headlines

Good headline example: Coup that is Oprah has Howard gushing

Yes, whoever who wrote this April 3 WashingtonPost.com headline broke the rule that writers should use active voice in headlines. That said, they also managed to pack news (Oprah is doing something for Howard), its effect (everyone at Howard is excited) and context (getting Oprah involved is a coup) into a seven-word slug. The story folows the headline’s fun, conversational tone, and the two elements mesh well. My only criticism is that the headline fails to let readers know just how Oprah is involved at Howard. The story and the subhead that is displayed under the headline explains that she’s their scheduled graduation speaker.

Bad headline example: Edwards has more treatable type of cancer

This April 4 USAToday.com headline confused me so much that I had to click on the story. Maybe it worked in that way. However, I didn’t think it did a great job of saying anything. The Associated Press story that went with it is a little muddled as well. Apparently, Elizabeth Edwards found out in a doctor’s appointment Friday that her cancer—which her husband, John Edwards, and the media have said is “untreatable”-- is “more likely to be controlled by anti-estrogen drugs.” Huh? I wondered if the reporter and the headline writer were trying to write around saying that their earlier reporting may not have been accurate. Also, most of the story is about what kind of life expcetancy Edwards has and how she is vowing to fight regardless of how long doctors project she will live. Was the headline writer confused by the story too?