Going Mobile

It's weird when I read articles about news organizations reaching out to an audience that gets its daily news from Blackberries and other mobile devices, mainly because my cell phone doesn't even let me take photos, let alone access the Internet.

I've been covering NPR.org for my individual blog, and the other day I ran across this post on Inside NPR.org Blog. To summarize, NPR has launched a new Web site with content specifically designed for mobile phone users, and now NPR fans will have an easier time accessing stories and audio.

I found a similar story on Poynter Online that addresses the issue from an industry-wide perspective. In a blog post titled "How News Organizations Can Create a Mobile-First Strategy," Steve Puttry urges media groups to focus on metadata, "data about data," among other things. His emphasis on metadata intrigued me because I think this is the meat of a lot of online journalism. With traditional media, it was all about whittling down the story to fit into the newspaper. Now, with multimedia packages, data that doesn't make it into the text story can still be incorporated into slideshows, quizzes, interactive maps and more.

Classmates, do you get news updates on your phone? I'm curious if this is more of a trend for the older, professional population...

Screen shots and your final blog analysis

Class, a few of you said you had never done a screen shot, (also called a screen grab). It can be done in less than a minute, using the Print Scrn button on the top right side of your key board and Photoshop. Simply pull up the page you want to work with, hit Print Scrn, open up Photoshop, hit File/New/OK, then Edit/paste, to pull in your image. Edit the image in Photoshop as you would other images, saving it as a .gif, which would then be uploadable to a blog or Web site. About.com has a video tutorial on this, if you'd prefer to watch it done before trying it. Here's the link:


A few reminders about your final blog analyses:

* Your edited first entries are still waiting for most of you in the big envelope stuck to my office door, room 4119.
* Many of you are still having trouble with AP style points. It's Internet, not internet; e-mail, not email; home page, not homepage; Web site, not website.
* Do remember to give examples to support broad statements that you make, and remember to provide links to stories you discuss.
* Please upload a screen shot of the pages you discuss in the design portion of your analysis.

Full details on your assignment are posted below. This is pulled from your class syllabus:

# Tuesday, Dec. 15, 3:30 p.m.: (20 percent of your grade): Finals due, (based on the university's finals' schedule): This is a 2,000- to 2,400-word research / analysis of a news Web site, selected from a list I will circulate in class. It will be written as multiple posts on a blog you'll create on godaddy.com for this purpose. Throughout the semester, you should be posting coherent, well-written thoughts on your blog page. Each posting should be roughly 200 to 500 words. You should have a minimum of six posts on six different days during the semester. Postings should address the following points, but need not be limited to these: How well the Web site uses navigation; how clean its design is; how well it uses photos and graphics, broadcast features (including audio and video and podcasts) and interactive elements (such as chats, blogs, polls, map mashups and info graphics, quizzes and searchable databases); and how well stories are written and presented and make use of the medium. You should tell me about any other features you loved or hated and why. In your final posting, you should tell me what changes editors and publishers might consider to better position themselves for the future. The analysis should be based on your observations of the site throughout the semester and on background research you've conducted on the site. Comments should be supported with facts, links and visual screen grabs to illustrate your points. Factual mistakes that have not been corrected by the deadline --including misspelled proper names and faulty URLs--will result in full letter-grade deductions. Information quoted from other sources should be fully attributed in your text. To turn in, please e-mail me your blog URL before the deadline, and turn in a printout of your blog under my 4th floor office door (Room 4119). Finals turned in after deadline will receive an automatic F.


Using graphics to illustrate stories

So I saved a screen grab from Salon.com on my computer, and I was thinking about it today and I just wanted to share it. The graphic goes with a story Salon published about how some pastors are praying for Obama's death.

The graphic's caption says "Albrecht Durer's Praying Hands and AP photo." I know that it's clear to readers that the picture isn't real. But when I looked at it, it just reminded of flag burning, which is a pretty hot-button free speech issue, which many people find disrespectful or offensive. Personally, I thought the graphic was a little disrespectful toward our president. I mean, he's the president. It's bad enough that other countries might be defaming him or burning pictures of him or something - it doesn't exactly set a good example for people to see that we're ok with depicting that as well. Is it ok for journalists to make controversial graphics of important figures like the president, because it's a form of free speech? Or are there certain things that should be off-limits to graphic manipulation?


Broadcast Journalism Online

I think that slide shows and multimedia aspects to news websites are probably the most important feature. Although many people are quite interested in comments and quick Twitter posts, nothing tells a story more than actual pictures and videos. After taking this class and analyzing various news websites, I think the most successful ones are the ones that have these features. It is sad to say, but a sufficient news text story just does not cut it anymore. People of my generation have developed short attention spans and it is easier for them to look at pictures or watch a quick video. This is why Twitter has become so successful; those 140 characters are just enough for people to read and absorb (sad right). However, what news sites have going for them that Twitter doesn’t it that they can incorporate multimedia aspects to them.

I am very fortunate that I am a broadcast student here because I have gained great skills in reporting and videography that can be carried with me through online use. Here is the question I pose though: Do you think that broadcast reporting is the same for online as it is on television? What are the major similarities and differences?



hehe ;)

Backpack Journalists v. Twitter

With Twitter and the Apple I-Phone, it is clear that you can literally have the news at the tip of your fingers. Additionally, you can know the news almost as soon as it is happening. Take the Tiger Woods story for example; Twitter had reported it within minutes. See the article here.

For tech-savvy, computer users, how important is watching the news or reading the newspaper the next day if you already know what happened? Not only does this concern me as a journalism major, but it also makes me wonder about backpack journalists. Backpack journalists combine editing, producing, filming, and reporting in one and are also referred to as a “One Man Band.” They are known as the journalists of the future and many professionals will agree that they are much more likely to hire someone who knows how to perform all these skills. Now that many news stations are hurting financially, backpack journalists are a way for them to save money and cut employees.

While I understand that backpack journalists save money and may even make it easier for newsrooms, doesn’t it take them much longer to get their stories out? With a world of new technology and Twitter, which release news stories almost immediately, how is ONE person going to keep up? Lets say the economy does pick up, are they honestly going to have one person compete with Twitter? How is one person going to be able to quickly report, film, edit, and produce?

I just think it may be smarter to keep hiring experts in one given field rather than hire a young backpack journalists to compete with the Internet. Although experts may still not get the news released as quickly as Twitter, they definitely can do the work in half of the amount of time. Clearly, if a news station has one great editor, one great photographer, and one great reporter work together, they can have the information released in half the time as one backpack journalist would. What do you think? How can backpack journalists strive to keep up with Twitter and I-Phone news application?


Rebranding The Washington Times

The latest blow to aspiring area journalists dropped earlier this week with news that The Washington Times will cut its staff by 40 percent and pursue a different business model.

The development that I found most interesting has little to do with the online side of things-the fact that it's likely the entire sports department will be cut after a 60-day evaluation period. But as with any paper failing, there is definitely a new media side to the story.

In this New York Times' report on the situation, it's clear that the paper has battled issues for a while, but the lede makes an important point. John Solomon, the paper's former executive editor, joined the staff last year, one of his charges was to push the paper "into the digital age."

He left earlier this month, seemingly without accomplishing many of his intended goals for the paper, which seems likely to pursue a free model similar to the Washington Examiner that focuses heavily on politics and other local news reporting.

It's all summed up pretty well in this quote from an anonymous staffer:

"It’s pretty clear they can’t support it on this scale, and they’re trying to figure out what kind of product they can put out that’s economically viable and competitive with what’s available to them."
To me, that means it will have to really focus on new media, specifically its website. I think it will be especially important with the elimination of the sports section because studies have shown that many men pick up the paper primarily for sports news. The Washington Times will be alienating those potential readers, so they will have to be able to target market effectively to get the readership and sponsorships to allow them to continue.

Further more, here's The Washington Times' own write-up on the news, which includes excerpts from the official statement from acting publisher and president Jonathan Slevin.

Slevin offered this bit of comfort: "A new Washington Times will continue to reach readers and more effectively earn new audiences via digital, broadcast, print and wireless media."

That all amounts to a lot of changes from this local paper that has competed in the district since 1982. It's probably more bad news for people about to hit the job market like us, but maybe these kind of complete rebranding projects can offer new niches for people with fresh ideas to compete in tough markets.

With that in mind, what steps must this newspaper take to stay viable? Which facets of its media empire should be deemed most important? Based on some of the ideas we've discussed in class, how can new media help a struggling entity like The Washington Times to stay relevant as it becomes less traditional?



Today you'll be using Twitter.com to "tweet" our discussion.

First, sign in.

When you get to the "What are you doing" screen, simply type in this slug for this discussion: #classtweets

Leave a space after the slug, and begin typing your reasoned comment or summary of the events. Remember, you've got to be exceptionally succinct: You've got only 140 characters with each take. And please remember that the world can read your remarks. So be accurate and fair.

To follow other "tweets" from classmates and others during this discussion, open up another browser window and go to:
Type in #classtweets, and all the comments for this thread will display.

Hit "refresh" periodically to see new comments.

We're experimenting with this technology because it is increasingly being used journalistically--to find story ideas and sources, to tout published stories and to send in quick updates from the field on breaking news stories.


Advertising on mobile phones to help newspaper?

I read an article from The Hindu (http://www.thehindu.com/2009/12/01/stories/2009120155921100.htm) which said many newspapers are beginning to advertise their content more on mobile phones in order to draw in more readers. By featuring more content for mobile phones, newspaper companies are hoping to gain a leg up on competitors in this newer medium. Because the use of mobile phones to search the internet and finds news is steadily increasing, I was wondering if any of you thought this was a good way for media outlets to gain popularity or readers?


Good and Bad Headlines

We spent a lot of time in class a couple weeks ago and I found a good and bad headline to show:

GOOD: "Knox's Parents Probed for Alleged Defamation"

This headline appeared on ABCNews.com today and this is a solid for the online platform. It is straightforward and clear, it does not contain jargon, and you can read it one time and understand the meaning of the story. The other thing that is good about this headline is that it contains many search terms such as "Knox," "probed," and "defamation" which would probably do a good job to find the article.

BAD: "White House to 'Name-and-Shame' Lenders

This headline also came from ABCNews.com today on the front page of the website. This headline is not terrible but it has a possible double meaning. At first when I read it I thought it was an incomplete statement such as the White House talking to lenders and the lenders were the ones that were naming and shaming. After I read it a couple of times I read it correctly; the White House will be identifying bad lenders. I'm not sure if the quote is the best thing to put here; perhaps it should be more direct such as "White House to Name Bad Lenders." Additionally there are not as many good search terms because 'Name-and-Shame' could turn up unrelated results. 'White House" is also extremely common and could turn up unrelated results. While this headline is not terrible, it could use a little work.

Interesting Headline

I know that we had been talking about good and bad headlines. I found this headline on the homepage of aol.com

"Man Cleared in Wife's Death, Moose Suspected"

The headline is actually pretty good in that it describes the story and on top of that it certainly caught my attention. But it definitely is not something you see every day.


The Role of Twitter in Reporting and Making News

Twitter has emerged as another extremely popular form of new media . As we were reminded yet again during our recent trip to USA Today, Twitter is becoming an increasingly accepted companion to traditional journalism and is used by many traditional reporters as another effective method of getting information out to their audience.

As recently as the spring, Twitter was a mostly unknown entity among reporters and the general public, but now it seems like nearly every newsperson has a Twitter account to file quick updates and provide follower with tidbits of information as they come up. In the press box at Terp football games, it has become something of a competition to see which reporter can tweet information the fastest.

Another interesting Twitter-related development is when newsmakers tweet something and the tweets themselves become the news. Cincinnati Bengals running back Larry Johnson was recently waived by the Kansas City Chiefs for using a homophobic slur on his Twitter account. Johnson had also used Twitter to criticize his former team and specifically its head coach.

Closer to home, our classmate Eric Detweiler referenced tweets made by Terp basketball player Dino Gregory in a recent story in The Diamondback about Gregory's eventual return from a suspension. Gregory had not been made available to speak with the media, but Detweiler used Gregory's Twitter account to convey Gregory's comment on the situation.

What does everybody think about Twitter in the media? Should reporters use Twitter to report information, or is that unprofessional? Should things that prominent people tweet become fair game for news? Should reporters use relevant tweets as comments on important issues when the source is not available for more traditional comment?


Good and Bad Headlines


Ravens, Browns scoreless at the half

Yahoo Sports does a pretty god job with headlines of wire stories- I initially tried finding a bad headline from them but I couldn't find one. This headline has all the key terms someone wanting to know what had happened in this Monday Night Football game would search: Ravens (name of team), Browns (name of team), scoreless (the score of game, or term "score" could be searched) and half (a relevant time period to search for).


Govt to unveil 20,000 MW solar power plan

The article is a Reuters story Yahoo News picked up about India's plan to improve their solar power generation. However, the headline doesn't include anything about India. Additionally, the word "new" probably would have been better for searches than "20,000 MW."


Field Trip Nov. 18 to usatoday.com

On Nov. 18 we'll be carpooling to usatoday.com, at 7950 Jones Branch Drive in McLean, Va. Class will begin at 1:45 p.m., to allow time for driving. If possible, give yourself an hour driving and parking time. You'll pull in to the parking lot by the security booth (on the right) before you get to the building. Park in the lot to the side of the building, and come to the lobby, where you'll sign in with the security desk. We'll meet there in the lobby.

We'll talk with staffers Denny Gainor, Anne Willette and Marisol Bello about storytelling, story presentation and reader interaction. 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 by e-mail before the start of the next class Nov. 25.

If you'd like, we could pre-arrange for carpools. If you need a ride or can share a ride in your car, please post a comment to this post. Be sure to leave your contact info.

We'll end the session at 3:15 p.m., to allow driving time before your next class.

See you there!
Best, chris

Good and Not-so-Good Headlines

Before our next class Nov. 18, please find a good and not-so-adept headline on one or more news Web sites, and explain why you think so on this blog.

Please attach them as comments to this post.

Please be sure to give the full URL and headline for each.

And please don't write anything you don't want the world to see.


Ethics of Reporting and Photography

On Friday, Girl Talk performed a show at Cole Field House for about 2,000 students. There were numerous campus media outlets covering the show, including two from the music blog Terrapin Sound. Terrapin Sound, which is affiliated with the Maryland Music Business Society, sent a reporter and a photographer to the event. They both had backstage passes and where told that they would at least have the chance to talk to Girl Talk's entourage, if not interview him. When they knocked on his dressing room door they were told that they would not be able to do an interview and were asked to leave, which they did.

They later found out that after this incident Girl Talk requested that Terrapin Sound is never allowed backstage again. This is a somewhat irrational request because the two were never actually told they would not be allowed to interview Girl Talk. Maybe he felt they were intruding on his space, which would be a legitimate reason. So in retrospect, did the reporter and photographer do anything wrong?


Local media: the next big step?

Allbritton Communications Co., the parent company of Politico.com, ABC 7 and NewsChannel 8, recently announced plans to launch a new website that will focus on local news in the Washington, D.C. area. This interesting advancement will be led by Jim Brady, the former executive editor of WashingtonPost.com.

I discovered this piece of news while perusing Politico.com a few days ago, the site that I am analyzing for my final paper. This move comes at a time when many forms of traditional media are struggling to hold onto a fickle and impatient audience. As online journalism is becoming increasingly popular, it comes as no surprise that along with websites for national news, there should be a niche for websites covering local news. This innovative move is one that will likely be watched closely by many other news sources, potentially starting a new trend of local news websites.

The entity taking on this move is also noteworthy; Politico.com achieved success seemingly immediately, fulfilling the online niche for political addicts, so it follows that the creators of this new site are hopeful that Politico's success will be repeated.

The other main focuses that this site will encompass are a push toward mobile compatibility and a combination of professional journalism and citizen journalism, a subcategory of the field that is becoming more and more popular. This will definitely be a site to keep an eye on, as its success or failure could determine whether or not local media becomes the newest form of new media.

Big news: Internet domains are moving multilingual!

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization that oversees Internet domain addresses, endorsed a move on October 30 that will allow for domains to be published and accessed using non-Latin alphabets. Starting next year, Web sites will be produced using non-Latin scripts, an act that will allow for an Internet that better reflects international diversity and multilingualism.

ICANN President and Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom called this a “historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet,” according to the New York Times. An estimated 1.5 billion people use non-Latin based languages, according an Associated Press article. Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese are among the major languages to be added to domain names.

I think this is a brilliant move toward accepting international diversity and it is unbelievable that this change has not already been incorporated into Web usage, especially since so many non-Western countries have been at the forefront of developing Web technologies and the majority of people in the world do not speak Latin-based languages. I’m curious to see what this will do for the Internet and online news media, especially as online networks are to expand through this action.

And now that the Internet will move to multilingualism and be accessible to more people from all corners of the world, I’m wondering what complications, if any, this will create. How will this affect search engines and online databases? Even though this move will expand access to people who are less familiar or proficient with Latin-based characters, will this also hinder access to others?


Tweeting Literature- the Next Big Thing?

Tweeting Literature- The Next Big Thing?
During my summer internship at NBC Bay Area News, I wrote an article about Matt Stewart, a local author who published his first novel via 3,700 tweets on Twitter. Stewart claims to be the first author to publish a novel on Twitter, but after digging deeper I found that he is one of a few people who are using Twitter to publish literature.
In all honesty, when hearing Stewart brag about being a published author on Twitter I was not impressed. “Ok,” I thought, “so no one credible wanted to publish your book so you did it yourself. Is anyone actually going to read it?”
Well, Stewart’s novel The French Revolution may only have 1,023 followers on Twitter, but it turns out credible literary organizations are starting to use new media Web sites such as Twitter to publish literature as well.
According to a New York Times article, Electric Literature, a quarterly literary magazine is using new media to its advantage to “revitalize the short story in the age of the short attention span.” In addition to using Facebook for publicity, the magazine also publishes videos on Youtube and will begin having authors tweet out short stories on Twitter.
I suppose it is good that people are trying to maintain art and literature in a world of decreasing attention spans and the-world-at-your-fingertips-technology, but at what point is this too much? Is our society ever going to look back at the simple days when magazines and books were published on paper and miss it?


How web-sharing tools can help or hurt you

Everyone nowadays is talking about how social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook, are godsends to the journalism world. Reporters and news organizations can Tweet their hearts out and attract readers by appearing to be up to speed on new media, and readers can link to articles they liked on their Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. But this article from Poynter Online seems to say that some organizations utilize those web-sharing applications better than others.

The author said he looked at both the New York Times and Washington Post to see how easy it was to link stories to Twitter accounts. He found that the New York Times made it really easy by compressing the length of the link in a bit.ly address. Using this shorter form, users could pull the link and still have enough characters to comment on the content of the article. However, the Washington Post didn't foresee this issue with long URLs, making it a whole lot harder to post links from the Post to a Twitter account and have room left to "retweet" the article. Readers would either have no characters left or would have to go through a convoluted process to compress the length of the link themselves.

The author also noticed (and it's easy to double check, just click to both sites) it's also a lot easier to find the "Share" button on the Times website (right next to the headline). The Post only puts its sharing buttons at the end of the article, after the "Sponsored Links" ads. Most readers probably won't bother linking if they can't find the button easily, and the Post makes it quite a scavenger hunt.

The Post gets points for including the option to link to their story, but it loses a whole lot more points by making it impractical for readers to actually do the sharing. If it's difficult to use, it's almost not worth it to attempt having web-sharing tools because it makes readers think you're not actually as tech savvy as you think you are... And that doesn't reflect well on the future of an organization in a new media world, does it?


Ethics in Audio Reporting and Slideshow Publishing

A student in my online news bureau posed an interesting ethical question last week: He's doing a Halloween-pegged story and slideshow about purported "hauntings" at the Surratt House in Clinton, and he wondered if when he plays the audio interview of the museum director talking about alleged ghosts if he could insert sounds of his own footsteps and opening and closings of doors.

It sounded a bit too much like manufactured sound, rather than the capturing of real sound, to me, so I consulted friend and former colleague Keith Jenkins, who now leads a multimedia team at npr.org.

Jenkins' take: If the narration on the slide show made it clear it was the reporters' footsteps we were hearing, it would be OK; but if there was any ambiguity, it would not be ethical. That sounded like a good solution to me. Perhaps the same clarity could be achieved through captioning under the photos, rather than narration.

I'll post a link to the finished stories as soon as they're ready this week.

BTW: Sound issues on slide shows have come up in the past. I agree with purists, including Jenkins, who argue that no background music should be heard in a news slide show, unless the music was playing at the time of the interview. But I've heard others in the business argue differently.

--Chris Harvey


Tim Berners-Lee and the Dreaded Forward Slashes

News Alert: Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, is sorry for putting forward slashes in web addresses. In a BBC article, he admits the symbols // before web addresses is "unnecessary."He's annoyed himself. I never notice it. Most of the time they will appear after you type the main part of the address. I don't find it a big deal, but apparently he' s gotten an earful about it from his users.

Computers, the internet, the World Wide Web, it's such an engrained part of our everyday lives. It's hard to imagine that one man is (partially) responsible for creating a society built online. It's funny to imagine him annoyed about coding he invented himself.

I found this article amusing because it reminds you that there's a person behind all of "this." Just as you should remember there are people behind every post, blog, website. Users feel they can get away with anything online because they can stay "anonymous." But there are measures to enforce punishments on those who publish defamatory or false information. It's something I think about as the media begins more and more to provide online content. We're still just as accountable for what we publish even though we can't be seen. So thanks for making life harder with the forward slashes, Tim Berners-Lee. We really needed the aggravation. I posted the address here, but it doesn't appear to link up. If you copy and paste it, that should work.



Multi-Media for The New York Times Dining Section

One of my favorite examples of multi-media can be found on The New York Times Dining and Wine section. Every Wednesday, there is a review of a different restaurant. An audio slide show usually accompanies the review. The writer of the review is actually interviewed for the slide show about his main opinions regarding the restaurant. Throughout the interview, attractive photographs of the eatery's interior and of noteworthy dishes are streamed.

One of the best multi-media packages in the dining section was about the influx of artisinal pizzerias in New York City. Frank Bruni wrote an informative and entertaining column discussing the trend. However, my favorite parts of the feature were the accompanying interactives.

The audio slide show, titled The New Generation of Pizzerias, features Bruni discussing eight new and important pizzerias. Each pizzeria has a separate slide show that consists of about three photographs. This interactive makes me crave pizza every time I watch and listen to it.

There is also a Google map of the five boroughs that shows where the pizzerias are. This is very useful for readers. It shows how online journalism can also be great service journalism.


Linking to PDFs in WordPress

A few of you asked about linking to .pdfs on the clips page of your personal WordPress sites.

It's easy; it requires two steps:

  • Click on the "Media" button on the left side of your dashboard; click on "Add New"; click on the desired .pdf saved on your computer to upload it; grab the coding for that URL
  • On the page you wish to add the .pdf to as a link, simply drop the URL into a link tag: Headline Goes Here

That's it.


Earn Money Next Summer Doing Multimedia Journalism

UMD's Philip Merrill College of Journalism this fall will be awarding 10 multimedia reporting fellowships to outstanding journalism majors under the national News21 program. The program, which encourages innovations in journalism, is funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corp. and Knight Foundation.

Selected graduate students and seniors graduating in 2010 will spend 10 weeks next summer immersed in multimedia storytelling and site building. Fellows are paid for their full-time summer work: $7,500 for the 10 weeks. The newsroom will be based in a lab in our new journalism building on the College Park campus.

Fellows must also take a multimedia class on covering environmental issues in spring 2010.

The journalism college's 2009 News21 project, The New Voters, can be found online at http://umd.news21.com/.

To learn more about the program contact professor Leslie Walker at lwalker@umd.edu.

The application form, due Nov. 2 at 5 p.m., is linked here.


Welcome, Fall Class

Welcome fall 2009 crew.

Throughout the course of this semester, you'll be asked to use this class blog to respond to queries from me and to comment on threads from your classmates about the state of the industry and interesting multimedia projects that you've found online.

Each of you should be starting at least one discussion thread, as well as commenting on others.


Links to Your Multimedia Stories

Class, I thought you'd like to be able to look at each other's final multimedia stories. Links follow below. Could you also add a link to your published resume packages, in the comment area of this post? Thanks! I hope to have these graded and back to you Friday, when you turn in your final Web site analysis papers. Best, Chris

  • Fives Gets the (Alternative) Party Started, by Nancy Chow: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/fives/fives.html

  • Buzzworthy, by Kelly Brooks, http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/umdquiz/quizteam.html

  • Benefit Concert, by Courtney Pomeroy: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/benefitconcert/elsalvadorbenefit.html

  • Edmonston's Pumping Station, by Ellie Falaris: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/edmonston/falaris_page.html

  • Masterpeace Community Farm, by Allison Frick: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/growiteatit/growiteatit.html

  • Gamer Symphony Orchestra, by Nadine Simpson: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/gso/gso.html

  • Street Sense, by Andrew Smith, http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/street_sense/street.html

  • The Birds and the Bees, by Lauren Cohen, http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/umdprofessors/umdprofessors.html

  • Not Your Average Sorority House Resident, by Brittany Fertig, http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/housedirector/story.html

  • Life Coaching, by Lacey Cohen: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/coaching/default.html

  • Earth, Life, Time's Up, by Michael Jaffe: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/elt/eltfeature.html

  • Semester at Sea, by Dayna Ryan, http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/2009spring/SeaSemester2/WebPackage.html


Memo: Social Networking Sites Are Not Appropriate

A Gannett editor issued a memo to the paper's staff that stated that Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites are "not appropriate" and "not a part of the job." The editor admits, "Occasionally it will be necessary for staff members to visit these sites for work purposes." This editor's view on social networking tools seems to conflict with a generally positive reaction to Twitter and Facebook.

Gawker's ValleyWag blog points out that USA Today is one of numerous Gannett-owned papers that encourages their staff to spend more time to use these tools. The blog entry quotes a report that said, "Facebook is a modern day Rolodex." Social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter really has potential to expand a potential pool of sources. I have seen peers request for sources for articles on Facebook, and they have gotten fairly quick responses. I have also heard success stories with Twitter. Should an editor really restrict the amount of time spent on tools that may help generate sources and reveal major news scoops?

Obama and new media

President Obama recognizes that there are now faster ways to reach the public today. For updates on the H1N1 flu outbreak, Obama is utilizing new media Web and social networking tools like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter via the username WhiteHouse.

White House officials are also looking into expanding to Flickr.com, Vimeo.com, YouTube.com and will also offer videos and podcasts through iTunes.

Obama and his staff hope that by using new media outlets, they will be able to reach the public more immediately and effectively. I think it is fantastic that our government is recognizing new ways that our society is consuming news.

Personally, I own the iPhone and am more likely to check the Associated Press wire service application, Facebook and Twitter right from my phone than I am to watch a newscast from my living room sofa. I can get my daily dose of news and updates on the go which has been a great convenience. I've found that with this capability and no limitation on when I am able to view the news, I've been more knowledgeable when it comes to news in general.


Reporters use student's Wikipedia hoax quote

When French Oscar-winning composer Maurice Jarre died at the end of March, Shane Fitzgerald, a sociology and economics student at University College Dublin, conducted a social experiment, according to a May 6 article on irishtimes.com

The student fabricated a poignant quote, attributed it to Jarre and posted it on Wikipedia. Administrators removed the quote, but Fitzgerald "put it back a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours," the article reads.

The Guardian, the London Independent, the BBC Music Magazine Web site and Indian and Australian newspapers published the quote, according to the Irish Times.

Here is the Guardian article. The correction is at the bottom.

This ties into what we learned in the beginning of the semester. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, and it's simply a bad idea to pull a quote directly from that site without tracking down the original source.

Pope praises social networking sites

It's got 15,724 regular subscribers. That particular YouTube channel has been viewed 1,046,646 times. But this YouTube channel isn't dedicated to some pop culture sensation, it's the Vatican channel, which Pope Benedict XVI launched in January.

It's an interesting usage of the media. We always complain about how terrible the media is for us; especially when criticizing its portrayal of women and their bodies. Or, we complain about how useless it is. I love Twitter like anyone else, but I have to admit, it's really not necessary to describe the egg salad sandwich I'm eating for lunch in 140 characters or less. It's also stalker-like and completely invading our privacy - although for social networking sites like facebook, myspace and the like, we're the ones who choose what content we post as well as any security settings (or lack thereof), so it makes me a little frustrated when people refuse to regulate their content and then proceed to feel violated.

Aside from the fact that any messages Pope Benedict XVI sends out are going to be morally sound, it's amazing to think of how far that Vatican has come in the past 2,000 years. It's an institution that's known for being very set in its ways but even the Pope has realized that perhaps the only way to truly connect to Catholics worldwide is to adjust to the modern age. He's on facebook, too - you can log on right now and become a fan of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, along with 42,807 other users.

I'm not Catholic myself, but when I first heard about the YouTube channel back in January, I happened to mention it to a Catholic friend of mine who hadn't heard about it, but was excited to check it out, much more than I expected.

It amazes me how creative people are in discovering new uses for the internet. Pope Benedict XVI can consider the "I like" thumbs up button on his facebook page pushed.

A New Type of Blogging?

www.textsfromlastnight.com has been around since around February of this year. Recently though it has been growing in popularity. The site seems to be inspired by other sites like fmylife.com which is incredibly popular, especially on college campuses. This new website allows users to submit texts message either they received or sent during recent nights. A lot of them can actually be pretty funny.
I just think it's interesting that these new types of blogs are popping up. There is no real way to tell who it is that posted the text messages but they do post the area code of their phone and anyone else involved in the conversation. Also, if you were the one involved in the conversation surely you would be able to tell it's you. There is a new option on the site that allows readers to vote on whether or not the night was a good night or bad night based on a single text or a few correspondences that are posted.
This isn't news blogging, but textsfromlastnight.com is hosted by a blogging site and treated as a blog with users posting their "blogs" or texts and others commenting on them. I was just wondering what everyone thought about all these new types of sites that are coming up?


Instant fame

Everyone's been raving about the Scottish sensation Susan Boyle. The unassuming forty-something made her way to the stage on the television show Britain's Got Talent amidst snickering judges and audience members. But the minute she opened her mouth and belted out "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, simply put, she brought the house down.

But if it weren't for the Internet, Boyle probably wouldn't have become so instantly famous worldwide. Yes, getting the blessing of three judges gives you the chance to move up in the television show's competition. But it was YouTube and Twitter that brought Boyle worldwide fame in a matter of days. After Ashton Kutcher, linked an episode of her performance on Britain's Got Talent through his Twitter account, the video went viral. Today, Kutcher has nearly 1.7 million followers on Twitter. This just goes to show the influence a few people can have through the Internet when there's a large enough following.


Swine Flu Coverage

I think an interesting topic to discuss here relates to all of the swine flu coverage from last week. Coverage has died down recently, but online, newspaper and broadcast stories about the swine flu bombarded Americans every day last week. One could not turn on the TV or log onto a news site without seeing new information about the spreading of the illness. You could get tons of information from the Web alone, with constant updates at your fingertips. But all of this makes me wonder, is the excessive coverage helping to keep Americans informed, or serving to create unneccessary fear in them? I am leaning more toward the latter, especially since it turns out the swine flu is not all that different from the regular flu. What do you guys think?

Internet News Layout Issues

I apologize for my AIM being up there on the right, but here is one of the dangers of the immediacy of online news.

This is a screen shot of The Washington Post from March 23 of this year. If you visited the site, there was a feature they had been running for some time that tracked all of President Obama's appointments called "Head Count." It was very interesting and made it easy to follow what was going on, but at times, it can be an insensitive and inappropriate header for the day's news.

I do not know how this picture will turn out on the blog, so if you cannot see what is below the picture of a fire, here is what it says:

Headline: Plane Crash in Montana Kills at Least 14
Caption: FAA says several children are among the dead after single-engine plane goes down near Butte's airport (AP/The Montana Standard, Martha Guidoni)

A related link is "Two Killed when Cargo Plane Crashes in Japan

The way the layout looks, it is as if President Obama is killing people considering there were 14 who died in one crash and two in another. The fatal accidents right below "Head Count" sure makes Obama look culpable. What is worse, while the "Head Count" banner extends past the picture, the text does not, and lines up perfectly with the photo box, headline and captions.

In doing my examining for the final paper we are doing, I see quite different layouts between my paper and the Post. However, while it is easy to keep a successful banner and feature up, someone who is doing the Web editing, or producing, needs to take a look at the layout and the news that goes up for every update.

One other note on this is that on a column to the left where they have "MOST VIEWED ARTICLES," the same story is updated with a different count on those who died in the plane crash featured on the left. While there is software that allows different pods to contain different material (one subject being "hits"), it just does not look good to have conflicting stories, especially when a featured store is already outdated.

I apologize for not getting this up when it happened, but I am glad I took the screen shot of it. Sometimes Internet layout problems are funny, other times they are insensitive.

Please share your comments if you have any!


Remaining Projects for Class

Class, here's what you have left to turn in to me in coming weeks:

* Your answers to questions posed from the USAToday tour. (counts as an in-class grade). Due by the start of class May 6. May be handed to me or e-mailed.

* Your multimedia story project; your folder is due in the x drive by the start of class May 6. See specific instructions on the front page of your Web syllabus: Undergrads: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/jour352spring09a.htm
Grad Students: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/jour652spring09a.htm

* Your final, an analysis paper, is due by Friday, May 15, 3:30 p.m. It must be turned in by e-mail (to get the time stamp) AND under my fourth floor office door. Again, see specific instructions on the front of your Web syllabus:
Undergrads: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/jour352spring09a.htm
Grad students: http://www.jclass.umd.edu/652352/jour652spring09a.htm.

Because my daughter's school is closed down this week for swine flu, I will likely not be on campus on Monday or Tuesday. I will make every effort to get to campus a few hours before class on Wednesday, to answer final questions.

I will also be available by e-mail this week. The preferred e-mail for reaching me Monday and Tuesday is my gmail account: harvey.familyUP@gmail.com.
See your Wednesday, Chris

USA Today and Your Futures

Class, I hope you enjoyed the tour and talk at USA Today, and were energized by the possibilities facing you in this brave new-media world.

The economy will turn around, and I am convinced that if you are a hard worker and have superior reporting and writing (and some multimedia) skills, you will get a job.

It just may not be the more traditional news job you had envisioned.

Remember as you begin your search that not just traditional news organizations are doing news.

Many nonprofits are paying reporters and researchers to report on specific hotspots or topics. (Stateline.org, for instance.)

Some nonjournalistic businesses are paying reporters to write about their specific niches.

And many enterprising young journalists are connecting with or launching Web startups--helping to shape the way news will be covered and displayed in the future. (One of our recent graduates recently became editor of a Web startup in Los Angeles, for instance.)

So if you're smart and have good skills, you will get a job. But you may have to be dogged to land it.

We'll talk more in class on Wednesday.

In the meantime, check out some of the job listings on JournalismJobs.com, MediaBistro and Poynter.

Best, Chris

iPhone Apps for News

I had a great time at USA Today, and what really resonated with me was the message that adaptability and a willingness to learn new technologies, and share that knowledge with others is key to making it in today's media world.  One way we learned that USA Today is trying to adjust to new technology and ways of sharing information is through its iPhone App.

In his presentation Bill showed us the application.  I do not have an iPhone, but a lot of my friends do, and out of everyone from our class who went USA Today, three people raised their hands to say they had an iPhone, so I figured I'd try to learn more about Apps.

I quickly discovered through browsing iTunes' App store, that there are applications for everything, including all types of news.  There is an application for Breaking News (Called Breaking News), there is an application for news about the lottery (called Jackpot! News), and there is even an app called "Easy News" that links users to "nine of the most popular news cites," including ABC News, Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, USA Today, Yahoo!, and MSNBC.  There is also an application called "Easy Gossip" which links users to 7 gossip cites like E! and Perez Hilton.com Mobile! 

I found USA Today's app in the iTunes store, and discovered that it was free!  It gives you access to the publication's sections, pictures, and weather.  

What do you think of iTunes applications?  Are they a way for news organizations to adapt to the changes in the industry?  Do you think that this is a reasonable way to reach out to users?

In their Poynter Online article, "iPhone 3.0 Software Offers New Applications for News" Amy Gahran and Barb Iverson explain that "... the number of people getting news via cellphone doubled from 10.8 million in January, 2008 to 22.4 million in January, 2009."  They also explain further development of technology in the iPhone 3.0 Software that will be released this summer.  

I think that iPhones will continue to be more and more popular, and that news organizations really should take advantage of the opportunities that they offer.  As Iverson and Gahran write, "... even free iPhone apps can help build online businesses (including for news publishers, advertisers, or news-related services) by growing audience, increasing user engagement, or enabling additional features or services."

It took a while for iPods to become popular, and now they are mainstream.  Everyone I know has one, from the 11-year-old I babysit to my mom.  I really think that news organizations have a great resource in the iPhone, even if the benefit hasn't become completely apparent yet. 

What do you think? Is an iPhone App a useful and effective technology for news organizations?