Can Vine be used for News Reporting?

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

As journalists, we are expected to keep up with all types of social media or risk appearing out of date.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

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

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


9 trends journalists must know about to keep their careers going

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is mobile journalism helping or hindering the journalism industry?

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

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

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

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

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

The Full Story from USA Today


How will you use Storify?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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