Ashton Kutcher thinks Twitter is the best thing since trucker hats

I was watching CNN the other day and came across a story I want to share with the class. To sum it up, Ashton Kutcher of Punk'd and Demi Moore-marrying fame, challenged CNN to a race. His goal? To beat the network to 1 million Twitter followers.

It's quite an interesting story and I think it can spur a lot of thought and discussion about the future of "real" journalism, which can be found on networks like CNN, versus sites like Twitter, which may be the go-to news sources of future generations.

What does it say about what's happening in the journalism industry that Larry King, who represents CNN and, in a way, classic methods of journalism, is posting a YouTube response to Ashton Kutcher's Twitter challenge? What do you think about user-generated sites like Twitter becoming ever more popular for the gathering of information? Just a thought...

By the way, Kutcher won the race. What does THAT say about the state of journalism? I think it speaks to the theory that the U.S. is growing into more of a TMZ society than one that is concerned with politics, international events and stories with real news value.

Original story about Kutcher's challenge (with YouTube video embedded at bottom)- http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/13/ashton-kutcher-promises-to-punk-ted-turner-if-he-beats-cnn-to-a-million-twitter-followers/

Follow-up story about King's response (with YouTube video embedded at bottom):

King and Kutcher's conversation on Larry King Live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNzag6456fI

Good Web Headline/ Bad Web Headline

Levy Suspect Returns to D.C.- Good

This headline was found on washingtonpost.com. It's short, includes important search words, and follows the subject-verb guidelines. It's also in active voice and lets readers know the most important part of the story they are about to read.

More being foreclosed into homelessness- Not so good

This headline was found on The Boston Globe Online. The main reason I don't like it is because it's written in passive voice, which in turn makes it longer than it probably needs to be. It also doesn't include good search words. 'Foreclosed' and 'homelessness' are very broad terms and if entered into a search engine would bring up a huge amount of unrelated stories to the area it's supposed to be about. It's also not specific enough to convey the main point of the story.

Reminder About Your Blog Posts

Class, a reminder that you must participate in discussions --verbally and on this blog -- to do well on your class participation grade. Besides commenting on others' posts and doing assignments I specifically give you, you must also start at least one discussion thread on the blog, on a new-media topic.

See the good example from Andrew Smith on Jan. 30, below.

Good and bad headlines

Good: Craigslist CEO feels 'terribly' about Craigslist killer


I like this headlines because a lot of people use Craigslist to find all sorts of things, it makes me want to know whether I should be afraid to use Craigslist if it's about an actual safety threat or if it's just using a stronger word to emphasize a story. Also, since Craigslist is so popular, it's a good search term.

Bad: One billion expected to celebrate Earth Day

It's vague. Lots of people celebrate lots of federal holidays. I care about Earth Day, I don't know what numbers normally are or how they're getting them. I'd rather see the title say something about how people are celebrating the holiday in a way that's unique or interesting. Lots of kindergartners plant trees in the playground, is that what I'm going to read about here? It's also about something that will happen; the article would be more interesting after the fact when there are pictures. However, the article does have some great photos despite this. Therefore, they should take advantage of them and use one of them to draw the headline from.

Good and Bad Headlines

In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use

This headline in the New York Times is in my opinion not a very good one. The headline is rather vague and from just reading that there is indication of the real subject of the story. Harsh tactics are some of the story, but there is not enough information to explain what it is in reference to. The actual article is about how several years ago legislation was passed allowing military training techniques to be used as interrogation methods. I feel like the headline gives you no real idea of what you're about to get into in the article.

Pentagon Commander Visits Afghanistan

I thought this headline was a good headline because you had a good subject-verb agreement and you know exactly what happened. Just from reading the headline you can assume that the article is going to explain what happened during the Pentagon commander's visit to Afghanistan. It sets you up, if briefly, for the story.

Class at USAToday Next Week

Professional Web newsroom tour and talk at usatoday.com in Fairfax, Va., Wednesday, April 29: We'll talk with journalists there 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 at the start of our last class. If you'd like, we could pre-arrange for carpools.

We'll meet promptly at 1:45 in the lobby of the building; please be on time.

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

Newswoom contact: Joshua Hatch, a producer at the site. Address: 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Va., 22108. (It's really close to Tyson Galleria.)

Driving directions from google maps: Take I-495 W for about 18 miles; take exit 46A for Chain Bridge Road, 123/Tysons Corner/Vienna; take a quick right onto Tysons Blvd.; turn right at Westbranch Dr.; turn right onto Jones Branch Dr. Guard shack is on the right before the main building; check in with the guard, who will direct you to free parking.

I'll be leaving the Journalism Building at 12:45. Anyone who'd like a ride should meet me in Room 3117 at 12:40.

Best, Chris

Good and Bad Web headlines- Nada alwadi

Obama skates while Right fumes

I like this headline for several reasons… Its short, different, and attractive. I can guarantee many people will read this story, or at least the first few paragraphs just because of the headline. It makes you want to know what the story is about.

The Untold Susan Boyle Story

This headline is also very short and to the point. However, it’s very basic and kind of “uncreative”. The only attraction of this headline is of course the name “ Susan Boyle” as she became a media attraction lately. I think the writer could have done a better job of using some interesting elements of her “untold story” in his headline, this way the headline wont be very basic.

Good and Bad Headlines-Dayna Ryan

Bad headline: Cambridge to consider ban on firing pellet, BB, and dart guns
I would not have chosen the following headline from The Star Democrat newspaper on the Eastern Shore. It is too long and confusing with the commas, and I had to read it at least twice to understand the point of the story. Also, I don’t think it’s necessary to include the names of all the guns in the headline because it appears cluttered. A better headline would allude to what the story is going to be about and include that extra detail within the body of the story instead.

Good headline: Canucks cap sweep of blues with late OT winner
I liked this headline from ESPN.com about the NHL playoffs because it was creative, but still written in a way that makes it easy for readers to understand the point of the story. The use of shorter words in the headline is more likely to catch attention and prompt readers to continue reading in this case. Especially with a sports website, short and simple headlines are important because people are reading to find out who won games, the scores, etc.


Good and Bad Headlines - Ellie Falaris

Blagojevich Is a Flop in Audition in Court http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/us/22illinois.html?ref=us
This headline is a little clunky for a couple reasons. Structurally, the use of "in" twice makes headline somewhat awkward. Also, the idea of the audition makes it seem like Blagojevich was doing an audition in court. In fact, he tried to convince a federal judge to let him be a contestant on a reality television show being filmed in Costa Rica.

This is not Spinal Tap
This feature is about the reunion of the characters from the rock mockumentary "This is Spinal Tap." I think the headline is both clever and to the point. Plus, it contains both "Spinal Tap" and "This is Spinal Tap," which are relevant search terms.