12.11.2012

Apps/Tips Recommended by Your Peers

A few of you recommended today that your classmates try some apps and tools you've been using for journalism and fun. Here are links to your recommendations; please feel free to add comments about how you use these:
  • RecorderPlus - an app for editing audio clips from your smart phone ($3)
  • Magisto - possibly just for fun - the app automatically edits your video and mixes music with it
  • UStream Broadcaster - for the iphone - stream and share live moments from your device
  • Google Drive- replacing Google Docs; you can work on and share documents from your phone or computer
  • Evernote - Save and share things you like, things you see and hear.

12.10.2012

What Twitter-Instagram Relationship Means for News

The "Twitter-Instagram photo war," as Poynter has called it, is painting a new picture of how social networks are treating users--and how journalists should be using them. Instagram is no longer allowing Twitter to make its images viewable within tweets. Users can still post their pictures from Instagram in Twitter, but only a link to the image will show up.

In today's Poynter article on the topic, Jeff Sonderman writes, "No matter which company wins, users will lose."

What he means by that is the user experience is no longer the first priority for companies like Facebook (which owns Instagram) and Twitter. They are now moving to "capturing value," meaning they want to lock users into their own platforms and reduce integration.

As journalists, we use social media to accomplish our goals: to interact with readers and bring more people to our sites. But we also have to remember that Facebook and Twitter have their own goals as well--and they might not always coincide with ours.

Mathew Ingram, in another article on the topic, said media companies should think hard about their relationship with Twitter. "It is not just a conduit for your content to reach your users whenever and wherever you wish...it is a proprietary network built by a company with monetization and expansion on its mind, and your content is part of that equation."

But it might not always be. And it is also hard to tell which social media site is going to be at the forefront of readers' minds. It is important for us to follow these changes.

12.09.2012

The Washington Post Plans to Implement a Paywall in 2013

One of the biggest difficulties that media organizations have faced as they transition into the new media world, has been in finding a way to make money off of websites and online content. In today’s ubiquitous internet environment, consumers no longer have to rely on a local daily newspaper to get their news and information. Anyone with an internet connection can visit the website of just about any news organization around the globe to learn about what’s happening around the world. This creates a new element of media competition, and news sites have struggled to figure out the best way to encourage visitors to their sites, while sustaining a profitable operation.

The Washington Post announced recently that it would begin rolling out a metered paywall in 2013. This paywall will likely be similar to those of many other news sites, where users are allowed to read a certain number of articles for free before being prompted to purchase a subscription.

The paywall was announced amid an environment of steep decline for the Post’s core business of print advertising. The Washington Post newspaper division reported an operating loss of $56.3 million for the first nine months of 2012. This represents a 14 percent decline in revenue from 2011.

As with many news organizations, the Post has struggled to restructure its business model to adapt to major changes in the news media industry. In recent years, most other major newspapers have elected to implement a paywall to offset losses in print advertising. Despite this, Post executives have been hesitant to implement a paywall, believing that to do so may threaten their national audience, and likewise their digital advertising revenue that comes from that national audience.

Don Graham, the Chairman of The Washington Post Co. is one of those executives that has been skeptical about the merits of news website paywalls. “We are obviously looking at paywalls of every type,” Graham said. “But the reason we haven’t adopted them yet is that we haven’t found one that actually adds profits immediately.”

As an internationally recognized and visited news website, WashingtonPost.com has developed a worldwide audience. While its online readership has increased exponentially, the Post’s print readership has declined dramatically, as has the print advertising revenues.

Post executives are facing a turning point for their organization where they need to make the difficult decision as to whether to follow suit with other news organizations in implementing a paywall or attempt to hold strong as one of the few major news sites that still provides readers all its content free of charge. The New York Times introduced a paywall 18 months ago and now has over 500,000 online subscribers.

The conundrum The Washington Post faces is in how to produce revenue in an environment where news sites are desperately trying to attract and maintain a wider audience, while their competition is giving it away for free.

12.08.2012

Social media's importance in newsgathering


This story about Netflix CEO Reed Hastings being investigated by the SEC for posting information about his company on Facebook is a reminder of how widespread the use of social media is for many corporations to communicate with the public.
 
Hastings posted on his Facebook account on July 5 that Netflix customers were viewing more than 1 billion hours of video content a month. The company's stock rose by 13 percent on the day of the post. SEC issued a warning to Netflix that it was investigating the matter and may be taking legal action because the posting may violate a Fair Disclosure regulation by posting the update to Facebook
 
Hastings has said he considers the post to be public since many of his more than 200,000 followers are reporters and bloggers and the news was widely reported. Also, the same information was posted on the company's blog in June. The information was not, however, released in a press advisory or SEC filing. 

Additionally, Hastings says the company's stock had begin to rise even before he made the post and that the information he posted was not relevant to the stock price. He referred to the situation as a “fascinating social media story.”
 
I believe the issue at hand is whether information broadcast on social media networks should be considered as public as a press release or article on a company website. For journalists, it is a reminder that when looking for information on whatever beat you are covering, social media perhaps should be one of the first avenues you consider. Executive make big announcements via Facebook, Twitter and blogs now and it would be wise to friend or follow any stakeholder involved in your story.

Years ago it would have been impossible to hear from a CEO of a large corporation or elected official except through canned quotes in a press release issued by the company, but now, these people who use social media to engage the public and are taking advantage of the Internet as a place to interact and share information have become great sources for journalists. 

12.04.2012

Archiving John Walsh's comments on Storify

A reminder that after tweeting general thoughts and quotes from ESPN's John Walsh on Tuesday, you're now being asked to create an archive page of them on Storify. You were each asked to tweet at least 10 times under the hashtag JohnWalsh. When you create your Storify page, you may use two of your tweets or all of them. Or you may use a mixture of your tweets and others' -- if you trust their veracity. I am requiring each of you to write at least a strong, big paragraph of text to open the page, and to walk up/explain some additional social media with your own text. Also remember that Jason will be posting some pics, with captions, to Flickr for you to pull into your Storify template. (Jason, please put a comment below this post to let us know how to access your pics.) and Jessica will be publishing audio -- some clips, and perhaps a longer feed -- to SoundCloud, for possible embedding on your page. (Jessica, please note in a comment below how students can find these on SoundCloud.) All of you should be using good judgment, as you would when writing a story, so that you don't slander anyone with your posts. And all of you should be archiving only what you believe to be absolutely accurate. Once you've completed and published your Storify page, please link to it below, so I can easily find it to grade it. This counts as an in-class story assignment. Thanks!

A "Twitter Helper"

On November 28, the New York Times' newly-minted public editor, Margaret Sullivan, announced that NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief Judi Rudoren would be assigned "an editor on the foreign desk in New York to work closely with" on social media posts. Sullivan's decision came in response to criticism Rudoren received stemming from her Facebook statuses and Tweets over the last few weeks, compiled in a piece by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg called “Twitterverse to New NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief: Stop Tweeting!”

In addition to Goldberg's complaints, Sullivan writes: "More recently, during the Gaza conflict, she wrote one Facebook post in which she described Palestinians as “ho-hum” about the death of loved ones, wrote of their “limited lives” and, in another, said she shed her first tears in Gaza over a letter from an Israeli family. The comments came off as insensitive and the reaction was sharp, not only from media pundits, but also from dismayed readers."

Speaking of readers being dismayed, I was extremely dismayed to read Sullivan's piece. Since the re-start of fighting between Gaza and Israel earlier this month, I have turned to Rudoren on an almost daily basis for her deeply-reported, thoughtfully-written pieces, specifically about the impact that Israel's bombing campaign has had on life in Gaza. After reading a particularly captivating tale of a Palestinian family torn-apart by a bomb, I remember being so impressed that I took to Twitter to congratulate Rudoren and to tell her how much she has inspired me as a budding journalist (she replied "Thank you!") Her's is an extremely dangerous assignment -- several journalists reporting from Gaza have already been injured -- and I was amazed by how she was able to find stories from under the rubble and to shine some light on the human costs of warfare.

Understandably, Sullivan's decision was big news on social media platforms. It's rare for such a prominent journalist to be called-out in such a public way, and I'm sure in many ways it was quite embarrassing for Rudoren. My hope, however, is that this dust-up will not impact her reporting. The work she has done is simply too important to be hurt by hypersensitive readers and a green public editor intent on sending a message to other reporters.

Another question is: What does it mean to work closely with an editor on your social media posts? Will Rudoren still write her own Tweets and Facebook statuses? Considering that they are coming from her name, I sincerely hope so. This all sounds a bit too much like censorship -- of an extremely intelligent and thoughtful person -- for my taste. But maybe I'm just a Rudoren apologist.


12.02.2012

NYPD Officer Helps Homeless Man

By now I'm sure we've all seen the incredible tourist cell phone photo of the NYPD officer giving a homeless man a pair of shoes.  This Storify story put together by journalist Bill Mitchell on Poynter does a terrific job of highlighting the power of social media and the speed news can travel at today.

The photo was posted on the New York Police Department's Facebook page just last Tuesday and on Thursday night, it had nearly 445,000 likes.  According to Mitchell's Storify post, by the next morning the photo had surpassed half a million likes, over 38,000 comments and 181,000 shares.  New York Times ran a story on it Thursday morning and the author of the story, J. David Goodman had posted the story on his Twitter account and was tweeting updates as the act of kindness was getting more and more news coverage and even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had tweeted the original story.

In addition, the story made the Yahoo home page, the front pages of several newspapers as shown by Mitchell in his Storify story, and both the tourist, Jennifer Foster, and the officer, Lawrence DePrimo were on the Today Show chatting with host Savannah Guthrie Friday morning.  The story was re-tweeted many times on Twitter.  The Storify story does a great job of visualizing the events, shows the breadth of the coverage and also gives viewers a chance to get more information on the story by clicking the various elements.

12.01.2012

More and more readers using mobile apps to read news

According to an article from Poynter, Pew Research Center has found that 37% of cell phone users are using their phones to get news.  The study surveyed over 2200 men and women.  The rates were individually far higher for certain groups, including those with household salaries of over $75,000, college students and also the 18-29 age group.

After our recent class visit to USA Today in which we learned about the redesign of their website, the results of this study go to show how important app design and mobile website layout are for news organizations.  USA Today changed their website to match the interactive experience and lateral navigation, given the high usage they discovered on the tablet and phone apps.

With the popularity of smartphones and tablets still growing, it will be interesting to see if other news organizations also revamp their websites to match their apps.  USA Today seems to be quite unique when it comes to the lateral navigation element.  Popular news sites like The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post each have similar layouts with more traditional navigation, while their apps are less cluttered and allow for quicker navigation.  It would be interesting to see what their motivation is for a different web versus mobile experience and perhaps it is intentional.  Still, I would be surprised if other news organizations do not follow suit in coming years.


11.29.2012

Newsroom Social Media Policies

After reviewing the Associated Press' social media guidelines and the guidelines of at least several other major news organizations (see links on class schedule to those of The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Reuters and NPR), please comment below on 1.) at least one policy point that you strongly disagree with and believe should be removed from the guidelines; 2.) a policy point that you think should be added to one of the newsroom guidelines. A few strong paragraphs defending your comment should suffice.

11.27.2012

Twitter's Future as a Defender of Free Speech

Now that Twitter has become a massive global company, it is facing increasing pressure from governments that are not happy with its lack of restrictions on what users are allowed to post. A recent article from The Financial Times highlights the difficulties that Twitter is running into when dealing with issues of free speech.

In October, the social media company succumbed to pressure from the German government, after they demanded that Twitter remove all postings by a neo-nazi group. Despite being legal in the United States where Twitter is based, the postings were in violation of German law and Germany was able to pressure Twitter executives into removing them. This situation raises the question of how far Twitter is willing to go to protect the free speech of its users.

In January, Twitter announced that it would begin to censor tweets in countries that have, “different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression.” Despite the change in policy, the company hopes to maintain transparency in its censorship process, posting all legal requests to remove content to ChillingEffects.org.

Twitter maintains that it continues to stand by its founding philosophy that, “the tweets must flow.” The company continues to fight for free speech and has been resistant to remove content despite increased pressure from other nations. In May Pakistan attempted to force Twitter to remove postings that it deemed blasphemous, but Twitter held strong and refused to do so.

As Twitter’s global popularity and influence grows, it is forced to deal with an increasingly complex balance between preventing groups of users from being offended and protecting the free speech of all its users. Most users can continue to post anything they want on Twitter without concern for censorship, but as difficult new situations present themselves and force Twitter to choose between its customers and its principles, it becomes clear that Twitter’s future as a medium for free speech may have its limitations.

11.26.2012

Reminder: Tomorrow We Travel to USA Today in Virginia

A brief reminder that our class will meet tomorrow (Nov. 27) from 10:40 a.m. to noon at USA Today's headquarters in Northern Virginia. The address is: 7950 Jones Branch Road McLean, Va. 221021 (really close to Tysons Mall II). We will be carpooling; I can take three students in my car; I'll be leaving Knight Hall at 9 a.m. (to make sure I'm not trapped in a traffic jam); anyone needing a ride with me should sign up on the comments thread below this post, and meet me in the lobby at 9 sharp. Others willing to drive friends in class should post that offer below, so students can ask to join you. I'd recommend leaving College Park no later than 9:15, to arrive there by 10:30 in traffic. We'll be meeting in the USA Today lobby at 10:30; alum Desair Brown Shaw, a reader advocate for the site, will be down to meet us at 10:40. Here are google map directions from the Capital Beltway: *Merge onto I-495 W toward Northern Virginia Entering Virginia (16.4 mi) * Take exit 46A to merge onto VA-123 S/Chain Bridge Rd toward Chain Bridge Road/Tysons Corner Vlenna (.4 mi) * Turn right (almost immediately) onto Tysons Blvd (.1 mi) * Turn right onto Galleria Dr (.2 mi) * Continue onto Westpark Drive (.2 mi) * Turn right onto Jones Branch Drive; ask guard at guard shack where to park in lot/garage. Parking is free. We'll be meeting in the lobby of the building at 10:30; the guard at the front desk will have a name tag for you. Please review USA Today's website today/tonight, so you can ask informed questions about the redesign this year; election coverage; and more. Best, Chris

11.16.2012

Creating Banners: Less Is More

As a quick follow to our Photoshop/banner session this week, I want to reiterate that simple and clean and tight is the way to go. Shoot for no more than four words in your banner--a catchy phrase will do. You'll have an additional line in your headline with which to get more specific (with a subject/verb/object). Remember to unify the elements in your banner -- text and images. Don't put a huge gap of space between the two. And remember that less is more with drop shadows; too much in the way of shadowing looks unprofessional. Here are some banner examples from previous students in my news bureaus: Making In in America: (text, image, background color in gradient) http://www.newsline.umd.edu/politics/specialreports/immigration/default.htm Elections 2010: (the banner is essentially the site logo; the special report name; and a capital silhouette) http://www.newsline.umd.edu/politics/specialreports/election2010/default.htm The Pentagon Memorial: (The text was dropped directly onto the image, as a second layer) http://www.newsline.umd.edu/justice/specialreports/9_11Memorial/default.htm Snowmaggedden 2010: (Text/image/background color in gradient) http://www.newsline.umd.edu/etcetera/specialreports/2010blizzards/default.htm

11.04.2012

Confusing ads and content

Speaking of page layout, check out this article on the Washington Times. There is a Google ad right above the text of the article that is in the same font type and size as the article itself. (See below.) It is very difficult to differentiate between the article and the ad. The ad changes, but when I clicked on the article, there was a partisan political ad right above the text, which made it look like the news source was advocating for that candidate. It is important for the page layout on websites to make very clear what is content and what is an ad.

"I really don't care what some random dude in Florida thinks."



The practice of an inverted pyramid began during the civil war when reporters, worried that their message would get cut mid-telegraph, started with the most important information first. Outside of the war itself, there was no need for the inverted pyramid, and yet it stuck. 150 years later we still continue it, wartime or not.

Man-on-the-street interviews have a similar upbringing. A recent article by NPR states that these interviews grew out of a “historical populist streak…the country and with it, in the profession. American newspapers were the first to appeal to the masses, with the introduction of the penny press in the 1830's” to become less elite and more local. 

This news approach has lost its flair with the audience, according to a study done by NPR on its listeners. 5,500 respondents say something to that effect, in addition to this being the “running theme in our polls for the last couple of years,” said audience analyst, Ben Robins.

Yet like the inverted pyramid, man-on-the-street interviews grew out of a specific media condition and still continued by the merit of tradition even after those conditions disappeared—but the idea that it mirrored the ideals of democracy is what kept it alive, connecting the masses to themselves.

The article takes two approaches to explain this shift in audience preferences.

The first is that random citizens aren’t informed as experts, taking away “valuable analysis and fact-checking.”
The second is that, on a more subconscious level, listeners and readers desire to have their opinions reinforced in light of the growing polarization in America. “Any social psychologist will tell you that all of us also operate on an intuitive level that is more powerful and often irrational,” writes Edward Schumacher-Matos, the author of the article. Furthermore, the increasing rate of news consumption prompted by the internet has “reduced our patience" for the burdensome comments of an amateur.

"I really don't care what some random dude in Florida thinks," one respondent said. They have a point.

For many, “Nothing is more frustrating for me than hearing/reading/seeing know-nothing voters such as the ones in this report expose their utter ignorance." Readers just want to “interview the candidates and party leaders, (and) fact-check to determine the accuracy of their statements.”

Neal Carruth, an NPR editor, and Schumacher-Matos have obvious qualms about the elimination of this time-honored journalistic approach. Schumacher-Matos says that in a post-Watergate era where cynicism and establishment skepticism was rampant from the failures of Vietnam, getting quotes from an everyday Joe was relieving. Carruth says that for Americans, no one knows the problem better than themselves—man-on-the-street interviews are a journalistic tool that promotes democracy.

Since this poll discovery they do not advocate the end of these interviews, but a better more pertinent use of including the “man on the street” in stories.

The interview method was created during the penny-press; getting the masses reconnected with the masses, but that's been done over and again since, especially with the internet. The desire for expertise is reflected in the many publications and blogs that are for niches and specializations.
A story standard created by a condition that hasn't existed for 80 years shouldn't be too shocking when it no longer is popular. 


11.01.2012

Beware of False Tweets and Pics - Especially During Natural Disasters

The Washington Post's Paul Farhi writes of all the false photos and "news reports" that circulated this week during Hurricane Sandy -- including a tweet that said the New York Stock Exchange was under 3 feet of water.

Turns out the false NYSE tweet was sent by someone with a screen name of "Comfortablysmug," Farhi writes. Further sleuthing uncovered Comfortablysmug's identity. Farhi writes: "BuzzFeed.com first identified Comfortablysmug as Shashank Tripathi, a campaign manager for Republican congressional candidate Christopher Wight (N.Y.). Tuesday night, Wight’s campaign said Tripathi had resigned from the campaign as a result of his tweets."

The Atlantic's Alexis C. Madrigal also writes about sorting the real Sandy photos from the fakes.

What were some of your favorite (real) photos published on news sites of the storm's devastation?

10.31.2012

A humorous bad headlines page

This tumbler page is dedicated to humorous bad headlines found on news sites. I guess the mistake of a confusing headline is really easy to make. This worries me. I hope I never make a mistake that makes me sound as dumb as "Ex- HPD officer sentenced to life in rape".

However, many of the posts on this tumblr end with ellipses, suggesting that the headline actually goes on. This is less disheartening. Maybe I won't make a silly headline mistake that makes me look stupid, and this tumblr user is making up a problem that doesn't exist.

I think this site is fun to go through and read. It's also a great reminder to be careful because these kinds of mistakes can make you look really bad. They can also be good for a cheap laugh though.
The above is an example of what can be found on badheadlines.tumblr.com from a Sept. 24 posting. This is probably one of the more funny ones. A disappointing number of them are only bad headlines because they have ellipses. I think that the tumblr site could have still been entertaining and be much more accurate if the creator of the page had used actual confusing and terrible headlines rather than relying on long headlines and ellipses.

It's still a fun page to look at.

10.30.2012

Twitter Trends to Obama's Favor--Surprised?

Journalism.org, in a recent article, made claim via stats that social media users marked a much different tone than news in general; basically, the polls are more critical than the Twitter base of President Barack Obama.

"...More of the conversation leaned Obama's way (35%) than Romney's (22%). But those who favored Obama tweeted not so much to praise him as to criticize his opponent. Of the entire conversation, 9% praised the president and 26% was critical of Romney. Of those favoring Romney, 7% praised him and 15% criticized Obama."


This can't be too surprising to many people. Twitter is new social media--new social media is used by young people--young people are democratic--I twitter; therefor I Obama.

Yesterday I saw #ThingsThatOffendObama trending shortly, but on the whole, #Romnesia and other Mitt Romney trends, like #bigbird or #binders dominate the presidential duel on Twitter. The candidates therefore use social media differently--on my Twitter feed, Obama updates are far more common than Romney's. 

Not by much, Romney uses Facebook more than Obama (Is Facebook already "old?" I am friends with my Mema, Aunts, and Uncles on Facebook for over a year now...). At the pace this society moves, as we are so fond of saying, who's to say that can't be true, at least relatively?

Much of this outline the expectations in common-knowledge demographics, but what is often forgotten is that, although Romney trails in the internet, television is the main source of news for most people, where they have both candidates running a close race.

The social media demographics are another resurgence of the parallels of our political situation. Young people--new(twitter)--blue. Old people--tradition(television, even Facebook)--red. Politicians act accordingly, spending their time with said venue(s).

The media rave about how social media, YouTube, and cell-phones have changed the world, but in this case, it's just a new way to express the same cultural and political contours.

#KnowingChangeWhenYouSeeIt



10.25.2012

Headlines: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Class, please search professional news sites for a good and not-so-adept headline (based on our discussion this week), and explain why you think so in the Comment area below. Please be sure to give the full URL and headline for each. Include a sentence or two of constructive comments. Please be sure your criticism is tactful: Our class blog is online for the world to see. Please complete this before the start of class next Tuesday (Oct. 30). Thanks!

10.24.2012

Sharing News Via Email, Facebook, Twitter and Word-of-Mouth

In a recent article, Poynter questioned the future of email as a method of sharing news and looked at the declining number of users clicking the email option when wanting to share a viral video or interesting article with friends. BuzzFeed in particular noticed a 60 percent drop off this year alone, as it has noticed less traffic to its sites College Humor and TMZ coming from email services.

A New York Times study found that Millenials are turning to the "share on Facebook or Twitter" buttons just as often as they are going through the various steps to chose specific email addresses to which they want to send the stories or videos. On the other hand, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers still prefer word of mouth and email sharing over social media sites. Check out this infographic, "Where Did All The Email Sharing Go?" and this one titled "Boomers are more likely to share by word-of-mouth; email key for Gen X."

The Poynter article describes it as a move from email to social sharing, which could be attributed to the fact that people's internet lives are increasingly becoming about broadcasting themselves, their interests, and their ideas to as many people as possible. The most effective way to do so is undoubtedly via social media.

Certain things online are more conducive to email sharing, such as financial statements, bills, hotel and flight reservations and purchases. Others, like topical news stories, videos and memes are suitable for public sharing, and are often posted on people's Facebook walls and Twitter feeds.

Think about all of the things you find online and want to share with people. How do you share them? Do you post them on their Facebook pages for all of your and their friends to see? Do you tweet them out using the handles of the celebrity/athlete/politician/etc who is the subject of the story? Do you email them to only a select few?

Why do you chose certain media to share different types of stories?

10.18.2012

Washington Post multimedia story example

I really enjoyed this article by Rick Maese and supplementary video by AJ Chavar of the Washington Post about University of Maryland "super fan" Joel Ryerson.

Ryerson, 51, has been attending Maryland football practices and games for 30 years. He is one of the few non-team members to have been allowed into practices and his loyalty extends beyond football. I have spotted him at numerous (now that I think about it, probably all) home volleyball matches. I always thought he was a relative of one of the players.

The article itself is well-written and has a lot of quotes from those who know Ryerson, including his mother. Some of the quotes are from interviews in the video, but not all of them (just let we talked about in class.)

The video is well done too. I thought Chavar used interesting angles in his interviews and filmed a lot of great sequences for his b-roll. I take it that Ryerson is a very low-key person and perhaps he did not want to be on film, but would have liked it if there was a brief interview with him in the video. After all, he is quoted in the article (albeit sparingly.)

What makes this a well-done multimedia example is that the video, while having some overlap with the article, stands on its own and gives the story extra depth.

10.15.2012

Misplaced Priorities?




As we all know, we grew up in the "ADD Generation." The world, and in particular the world of the online media, is so chock-full of sensory stimulants that it's hard to blame us for struggling to pay attention to one thing for more than a couple of seconds.

That said, there are a certain instances that demand our undivided attention. Case in point: the Vice Presidential debate (or if your'e a sports fan, the MLB Playoffs). If you're anything like me, anytime a major event airs on television, you like to boot up your computer and keep tabs on the pulse of the Twittersphere. That's the beauty of social media. How else are you going to fire off a pithy, 140 character remark about Romney firing Big Bird or Biden using old man-speech like "malarkey" mere seconds after it comes across the air?

Well, something interesting happened during Thursday's Vice Presidential debate. Twitter was abuzz alright, but not only with zingers about Paul Ryan's Eddie Munster hairdo. Oh no, Twitterites were burning up their keyboards to chime in on a topic much more important than tax loopholes or 47 percenters.

Politics, schmolitics. Who cares about any of that stuff when a video of a bus driver uppercutting a female passenger Mortal Kombat-style hits the web? A soon as WorldStarHipHop -- the video-hosting site that released the grainy, cellphone clip -- posted the video, Twitter virtually exploded. #VPdebate, #PaulRyan, and #Biden plummeted down the list of trending topics. All manner of mainstream media -- talk radio, news websites, cable news shows -- have since picked the video up and aired it ad nauseum.

Please don't get me wrong, this is by no means an indictment on our society. Who doesn't like a good viral video? (I love them, although I typically prefer when they don't end with a woman taking a vicious uppercut to the chin). I just find the timing of the overwhelming interest in this video fascinating.

Pundits and the media love to say things like, "We live in the most politically polarized time in history, blah, blah, blah." I'm not in a position to say whether or not that's true. But I can say the fact that this brutally violent video overshadowed a debate whose outcome could help determine the second most powerful man in the country proves that we live in one of the most attention deficient societies in history.

Certainly social networks like Twitter are valuable tools for communication and for keeping up with current information. However, the downside of ever-updating "feeds" is just that, they're constantly updating. This makes it even more difficult for an ADD society like ours to focus on the important things (debates) and weed out the superfluous (viral videos).

(In the interest if full disclosure, I didn't watch a second of the debate live. Game Four of the Yankees/Orioles series was on, and there was no chance I was missing that. More disclosure: I was following the debate on Twitter during the game, and I definitely checked out the bus driver video during a commercial between innings. Not my proudest moment.)

10.11.2012

Try feedly

Another option for a great reader, should you choose to veer from Google Reader, is feedly.com. The interface is more modern, and once you set it up you can organize different visual preferences.

10.05.2012

Funny, silly and a little depressing for the ladies...

Charlie Bit Me - Autotune Version

It's pretty hilarious. It might get stuck in your head.

10.04.2012

5 Better Ways to Network Online (and Build Your Audience)

This article from Mashable.com offers some great tips for networking and building your online audience, and I've added some of my own twists for journalists.

1. Find the authors of the content you read. Follow the people you want to be like. Engage with them through their social media by thoughtfully commenting on their posts and adding to the conversation. Help them to notice you, and their followers will start to pay attention to you. Your favorite writer's audience can become yours too.

2. Write. Build up content. No one will want to stay on your website if you look like you're brand new. If someone goes to your page, make sure they will feel engaged and have a lot to read. Before you promote your work too much online, make sure you have enough of it to show so you look credible.

3. Leverage twitter keyword searches. Search for topics related to your area of journalism. Engage in conversations and allow people to get to know you.

4. Join relevant LinkedIn groups. Type in a topic you're interested in, and you can find dozens of related groups. You can start or add to conversations on the group pages. This is a great professional networking environment.

5. Meet the people who are looking at you. On LinkedIn, you can set it so you can see who has recently looked at your profile. Build professional relationships with these people because they are clearly interested in you.

We can go far by networking with successful people online.

How Many Clicks Is Too Many?

This Slate article addresses the practice of some news organizations of making users click to several separate pages to continue reading articles.
Some websites mandate that articles be split into separate pages once pass a certain number of words; at Slate, for instance, the limit is 1,000.
Because of the opportunity to maximise clicks, these organizations are hanging on to this model, much to the chagrin of users, myself included.
The piece highlights a problem that is experienced by readers, not just of sites that feature long form articles; sometimes even shorter pieces are split up, which can be bring real annoyance.
Getting readers to continue reading to the end a story has always been an issue, even for traditional newspapers with jump pages.
On the Internet, with people's attention spans diminishing almost daily, this model should not have survived this long.
News organizations would do well to think past their advertising revenue, and really consider the strength of their content, and if it's good enough to hold readers attention through multiple clicks.
As journalists, if the organizations we work for do employ this practice, then as we write we should be thinking, is this work powerful enough to get readers to click through six pages to the end?
As news consumers, what is the maximum number of clicks are you willing to make to get to the end of an article?

10.02.2012

Going (even more) mobile


As reported on Mediabistro.com blog Fishbowl NY, a new study from the Pew Research Center and The Economist Group shows that "64 percent of tablet owners and 62 percent of mobile phone owners use them at least once per week to catch up on the news."

But perhaps the most important piece of news from the study when it comes to the future of journalism is this one, listed in the Pew report: "People notice ads on mobile devices and may be even more likely to click on them than they are to click on other digital ads."

If this is true, it can mean that advertisers will be willing to pay more than they have been for strictly online advertisements. If advertisers re-invest in the news media as primary placement for their ads, then we may see a revival of the old media advertising model that made newspapers so profitable for so long. How much can hard data supporting user-ad interaction encourage advertisers to give the big bucks to back to news advertising--albeit on a different platform?


Pinterest and Journalism

Class assignment today: After we have discussed Pinterest, I want you to search Pinterest and media watchdog sites for journalistic uses of the tool. Find one board that is being used effectively, in your opinion, and write about it and link to it on our class blog (in the comments, below). What site is using it? How active it is? Does it tie back to stories/projects on the site? Are the pins all of site content (photos from a story, for instance), or are they pins from the community? Other comments are welcome.

9.30.2012

The Trouble With Aggregating...


What happens when an Iranian news agency presents a story as its own... when it's actually from The Onion? Check it out here. They even changed the dateline to Tehran. Here is the Onion parody titled "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad To Obama." The Onion managed to keep a screen grab from FARS.png before the article was pulled.

9.28.2012

Journalists creating news on Twitter

Not only is Twitter used as a reporting or news gathering tool for journalists, it can have a role in creating news as well.

Due to the public nature of Twitter, journalist's tweets and interactions with other users are open for everyone to see. Sometimes controversial tweets or debates can flare up and therefore become the story themselves.

When I signed onto Twitter this morning, I saw that Sara Ganim had posted a link to a Philly.com story about a subject whom she did not trust. Within 15 minutes, she retweeted the subject in the article criticizing her and calling her names.



Before Twitter, it would have been unlikely the subject, Greg Bucceroni, would have gone through the process to contact her. And if he did, the public would not have known about it. But now, with a click of a button, any of the 26,000 plus followers Ganim has saw the tweet, making it a story in itself.

ESPN's sports business analyst Darren Rovell has no problem engaging in debates with his twitter followers. Often times, Rovell would engage in hour long back-and-forth on Twitter with other journalists he disagrees with.

Back in January, Rovell sent out a tweet lamenting how there was a "complete lack of interest" in tennis in the United States. Sports Illustrated Richard Deitsch took issue with the tweet and replied to Rovell, who did not shy from the confrontation.

The website, Awful Announcing, has a nice recap of the debate and notes Rovell is no stranger to the Twitter feud scene.

We've been told as journalists we should not inject ourselves into the story, but what about creating the story? With Twitter, anyone has immediate contact to you and there are times I believe the retweets or tweets warrant the public knowing.

I don't think Sara Ganim woke up thinking she would be called a "lying b****" but she was, and not only did her tweets create a story, she now is the story.

-Kelyn Soong


9.27.2012

Storify Me!

Class, all of you worked today on an aggregation/curation assignment using Storify. The point is to create a brief "story" out of the social media that you aggregate on your page. Your text additions should help to put what you find into context. Bonus points for using some of your own multimedia (photos/video/audio) on the page. Please make sure you listen to/watch all the audio and video you've dragged into your template, so that it makes sense within the broader point you're trying to make. Please also be sure to add at least one box of summary text, especially to introduce long video stories. After you've saved and published your aggregation piece, please grab the link at the top, and in the comments box below this post, write your linked title for the class to see before the start of class on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Thanks! Have a great weekend! (And don't forget your third blog analysis post is also due at the start of class Tuesday.)

9.25.2012

News And The Evolution Of the Social Web

It is Tech Tuesday on The Kojo Nnamdi show on NPR. The show is from noon to 2 pm, but I am not sure if this particular segment is on in the first hour or the second. Check it out later today on the radio or on the web.

Topless Photos of The Duchess of Cambridge! Is this ethical?

The National Press Photographers Association's code of ethics echoes many of the sentiments of the SPJ code and the Associated Press Statement of News Values and Principles. I read the NPPA code to learn if it specifically addresses invasion of privacy. There is nothing that specific, but number four in the code states: "Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see."

Prince William's mother died years ago in a car accident during pursuit by paparazzi. While he is not generally considered a "victim," it is important to note that past events are being repeated. Paparazzi followed Prince William and his wife, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on vacation. A photographer used a long lens to capture topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing outside of her private villa. These photos were then published in tabloid magazines in Europe.

The NPPA Code includes another list of what visual journalist SHOULD do, including the following:
  • Strive to be unobtrusive and humble in dealing with subjects.
  • Respect the integrity of the photographic moment.
  • Strive by example and influence to maintain the spirit and high standards expressed in this code. When confronted with situations in which the proper action is not clear, seek the counsel of those who exhibit the highest standards of the profession. Visual journalists should continuously study their craft and the ethics that guide it
Take a look at the following reenactment of how powerful this sort of lens really is from the Today Show on September 18, 2012. Do you think this it is ethical to take a photo with this sort of technology?



Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

9.18.2012

Aggregation Ethics

We talked in class about ways to aggregate content from other sites without prompting criticisms of impropriety. Linking to original stories, and properly quoting and attributing material are all key. (See Jack Shafer's take on the Jim Romenesko/Poynter flap.) In the comments area below, please link to a blog that aggregates content, and say in a quick summary if you think it does it well or poorly. Please be diplomatic; the world can see your comments.

9.13.2012

Caption in need of help?

AP photographer Carolyn Kaster shot a campaign photo of Vice President Joe Biden Sept. 9, apparently showing him getting very friendly with a female biker at a diner in Seaman, Ohio. But was he? Here’s an account of the encounter from a Washington Post blogger. Should the AP caption have said more about what preceded this photo — and where the woman was actually sitting?

Please link to your blog resume pages here

Class, today I'll be doing a final look/edit at your published resumes on your Wordpress sites, which are due at the start of class. (See syllabus for details.) Please write your name, in the comments area below this post, and link it to your Wordpress resume page, so I can easily find it. Thanks much!

9.11.2012

Online media gives athletes a chance to shrug off "dumb jock" image

Professional athletes, due to the nature of their business, are generally known for their bodies and not necessarily their minds.

Over the years, the media and popular culture have developed the stereotype of the "dumb jock." Granted, many athletes really are dumb and even some of those who aren't feed into this stereotype by giving monotone responses and one-word answers during interviews.

However, there are some athletes who aren't dumb, in fact some are actually pretty darn smart. And luckily for us (the fans) and them (the jocks), we live in an era where online media can give these athletes an outlet to disprove the stereotype.

In a recent example (with a local Maryland connection!) of an athlete using internet communication and journalism outlets to his advantage, Chris Kluwe, a punter for the Minnesota, took to the web in defense of gay marriage.

The story begins with Raven's linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has publicly spoken out in support of Maryland's upcoming ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage. Ayanbadejo's comments raised the ire of Maryland state delegate Emmett Burns, Jr. Burns wrote Raven's owner Steve Bisciotti a letter asking him to put a muzzle on his player and keep him from commenting on the divisive issue.

Kluwe took umbrage with Burns' attempts to restrict Ayanbadejo's constitutional right to free speech (as well as Burns' conservative political ideology) and penned a response to Burns' letter.

Kluwe published the response on Deadspin.com, a sports news/gossip site which Kluwe has written pieces for in the past. The web post went viral and has garnered close to 2 million page views in less than a week.

9.10.2012

Where everybody knows your username

Last week's piece from GigaOm discusses how Reddit captures a community in ways that most traditional newspaper websites have so far failed to do, despite attempts.

The article's author, Matthew Ingram argues that in order to grow and maintain an audience, digital first media outlets must establish a community similar to that of Reddit. Ingram says,"As they try to move online, or become reader-supported the way the New York Times is, more newspapers and other media outlets are going to have to get serious about building community — and that means more than just trying to get a bunch of Twitter followers who will retweet a headline. Reddit is a great example of a real community, and Advance has clearly seen the power of what that kind of community can do given the right circumstances. But can it take those lessons and apply them elsewhere? It and other newspapers are going to have to figure out how if they want to survive online."

 It's likely that he's right. Community fosters loyalty, and with an increase in competition in the age of online journalism, loyalty may be the only way to survive long-term.

9.06.2012

All eyes, (and tweets) on Michelle Obama

I'll admit that I was one of the millions who flocked to twitter during Michelle Obama's speech on Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention. I may have tweeted one thing the entire time but constantly updated my feed every 10 seconds and looked through the #DNC2012, #michelleobama and #firstlady.

The fact that the number of tweets during Michelle Obama's speech peaked at 28,003 tweets per minute meant that a lot of people were watching the speech on TV and on a second screen, (smart phone, tablet, laptop) like I was.

It's an understatement to say that Michelle Obama inspired people to get involved in these months leading up to the election in November, and twitter provided the forum for people connected to the web or using the app on their phones to express their excitement and praise for the first lady that night.

The FLOTUS's speech about her husband and her family was extremely effective in attracting tech-savvy users and journalists to twitter to share thoughts and post key quotes. Although Ann Romney spoke last week during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, her speech peaked at only about 6,000 tweets per minute.

Clearly the speeches targeted different groups, with one reporter on CNN stating it well when he said Ann Romney's speech was directed towards older mothers while Michelle Obama's speech was more in tune with the daughters of those mothers. Those daughters (and sons) were the ones who bombarded twitter Tuesday night, as well as last night during Bill Clinton's nomination speech.

Here is a Huffington Post article with photos and examples of tweets from Michelle Obama's "grand slam" of a speech (to borrow a phrase from Wolf Blitzer...)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/michelle-obama-dnc-speech-reactions-2012-twitter-women_n_1856298.html

The tweets on this article are definitely worth reading.

9.03.2012

Welcome fall class!

Welcome to our class blog, which we'll use to share ideas about topics related to publishing in a digital environment. Hopefully our classroom discussions will spawn virtual ones.

This blog is separate and distinct from the ones you'll each be creating for your personal portfolios and resumes on WordPress--and where you'll analyze just one news site throughout the semester.

On this blog, I'll expect each of you to start at least two discussion threads on new-media topics -- and to comment freely on your colleagues' posts.

Feel free to link to other sites, to help buttress your ideas, and to illustrate your posts with screen grabs of news sites you're discussing.

Don't, however, embed copyrighted photos on this site.

1.02.2012

Bloomberg Analytics

Excellent analysis from Varun on the readership stats for Bloomberg.com. Varun checked out information collected on quantcast.com and alexa.com.