The cost of the war

Sunday, November 30, 2008

By: Sarah Harl

There are many ways to determine the cost of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dollars spent, lives lost, or lives changed.

But what about the media and what they do or do not report?

In a recent blog, Blake Lambert's opinion is discussed. Many times when a war correspondent is taking captive, the media network the reporter works with requests that no outgoing information leave the country in order to ensure that their reporter is returned safely. Lambert believes this to be the wrong solution.

According to Lambert, information should never be withheld from the public, nor should news be used in political negotiations.

The people should know exactly what is happening in the wars that their government is spending money on.

And, apparently it is only necessary to keep journalistic news secret when the kidnapped is a reporter. When a politician, aid worker, or anyone else is abducted, the media is quick to report that abduction, regardless of whether it will jeopardize their safe return.

So maybe what the media withholds from the public to protect their own is another cost of this war.


A public service announcement

By Austin Bates

I was listening to the radio a few days back when a simple, lengthy narrative began playing during the commercial break between songs. Though I cannot find its exact transcript, the narrative ran for about a minute or so, and discussed the current financial crisis affecting the nation, and how Iowa is doing quite well despite it all.

Some of the points it made was that our financial market, including insurance services, is more isolated and better handled than the other companies that failed, and thus, ours are doing just fine. It also pointed out that our unemployement rate is one of the lowest in the nation. In all, it declared Iowa as doing well and remaining strong, despite the collapsing economy.

The message concluded with statements encouraing listeners to relax, go out and buy local services and products, and not worry about the national crisis affecting many others. By this point I was wondering who was paying for this message when the disclaimer came at the end: the Des Moines Radio Group was responsible for the message.

I immediately found myself seriously wondering who was benefitting from the broadcast of the message. How did the Des Moines Radio Group stand to gain from such a message? Who was making a profit off of it? Minutes later, I was still wondering about what alterior motives must be driving the message, mostly because I was shocked that the message wasn't adverising anything specific.

I eventually came to realize that the message was just a public service announcement of sorts; no one stood to profit from it, it was just for the public's benefit. All the same, it's kind of sad that my first thoughts about a radio broadcast assumed it was advertising of some kind. I guess we tend to forget that, even as awash in promotions for private companies all forms of media are, there is still such a thing as interest in the greater good.

The Des Moines Radio Group didn't have to broadcast that message; they could have just filled the slot with another advertisement, in which they could have made money, instead of lost it. But instead they chose to put out a message of hope and encouragement, something to benefit the public. It's nice to see that private companies, even those in broadcast, can still have interests in public well-being, and not just be entirely concerned with profit.


College priorities need rearranged

By: Erin Floro

A letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register expresses my exact opinion regarding priorities of colleges.

A. Frank Thompson, a University of Northern Iowa professor, claims that more emphasis is placed on sports than academics.  

At UNI, faculty received zero percentage increase in salaries this year due to lack of funds.  Yet, the football coach was awarded a raise.  

The Des Moines Register featured an article on the arrest of two of the school's top athletes. Just a week before, 23 students and faculty had been recognized by Omicron Delta Kappa for outstanding achievements in the community, both as scholars and leaders.  Where was the media coverage?

Professor Thompson also points out that UNI gives more full time scholarships to athletes than it does to students for academics.  I believe this happens at all colleges, both public and private (even though the privates claim they don't give athletic scholarships).  I don't think this will ever change.


Blogs and the first amendment

By: Christina Woldt

Today in The Associated Press an article entertained the idea that blogging might be lobbying. As we all know, political lobbyists try to sway public opinion and are supportive of a certain policy or position. Lobbyists try to sway the public to join their "team". The topic of Blogging came into play when discussing the 1972 and 1992 laws on lobbyists. The article described that under the law,

"Lobbyists must register with the state, and submit regular reports about who pays them, how they spend money, and which issues they’re working on. Groups that don’t fit the traditional definition of “lobbyist” also have to file reports, provided they meet certain spending thresholds while leading public campaigns intended to influence public policy."

For popular bloggers such as David Goldstein and his political blog on is all about swaying the public and speaking out about political issues. Isn't this what the first amendment is all about? Goldstein is merely speaking his opinions, it's just to a larger audience. Isn't it safe to say that we all could be considered lobbyists? As much as we try not to enforce our beliefs on others, we all slip up at one time or another. We all can blog, we all are human beings with a voice, so we all are lobbyists, right?


Obama's way is the right way

By: Erin Floro

A local newspaper reporter, Steven Thomma, got an insight into how President-elect Barack Obama will try to solve the world's problems.

At a news conference held at the Hilton-Chicago, reporters were seated on opposite sides of the room.  Press sections were labeled Cubs and White Sox, named for the city's major league baseball teams.  

Thomma, a diehard White Sox fan, was seated in the Cubs section.  He jokingly complained to Obama's staff who in turn told the president-elect.

Obama, also a White Sox fan, called on Thomma for a question at the next day's meeting.  He issued a humorous apology and told Thomma that is how his administration plans to do business; by admitting a mistake, then correcting it.


Free online

By: Lexie Hagerty

I love the TV show One Tree Hill but tend to miss the show every Monday night due to sorority activities.

I was talking to my roommate about taping the show, but she said I could just watch the episode on the internet. This seemed very interesting to me, considering it is free and I can watch any episode I have ever missed.

With that, I began to search the internet and sure enough, there were several Web sites that allowed me to watch any TV episode for free. These websites include WorldTVPC and Project Free TV.

As much as I like the ability to watch the episodes I have missed, isn't this free TV cheating? Once again, I see the media changing so much that everything is available online and normally for free.

Soon, there isn't going to be anything other media sources than the internet, because why pay for a media source if you can get it for free online?


Webcams gone to the dogs.

By: Sarah Harl

The most recent Internet craze is Puppy Cam, which allows viewers to watch in on 6 growing Shiba Inu puppies.

The operation is really quite simple: The owners positioned their web cam to look on the puppy pen, allowing bored web surfers to check up on the pups anytime they have a free second.

What started as a simple way to let family and friends see the new litter of pups, quickly turned to something of a cultural phenomenon.

Why would everyone from little girls to company executives be taking a break from their day to see what the pups are up to?

They tune in because unlike other reality shows, this cast doesn't deal with the shallow drama so often seen on television.

Perhaps the lack of drama is what surprised the news outlets who reported on this as a story.

And maybe it is a lesson that the media needs to learn. It doesn't always have to be back-stabbing, glitz, glamour, high-speed chases, and gossip.

Sometimes the simplest things are the most entertaining.


WARNING: Graphic Images

Saturday, November 29, 2008

by Pat Tierney

Recently the terrorist attacks in India have been dominating the headlines of newspapers and web pages across the country and the world.

The homepage of Fox News is no different.

On the front of their page are links to related stories about the terrorist attacks. One of the most striking was a photo essay about the attacks that specifically said, WARNING: Graphic Images.

In our class we have talked a lot about censorship and whether it is a good or bad thing.

Yes, these images are graphic, but the event itself wasn't exactly a pretty sight.

Is it responsible for the media to show photos that may be graphic in nature, to the world.

Personally and professionally I believe yes.

The world can be a harsh place, and often times people don't always see the reality of everyday life around the world. Living in the mid-west it is so easy to be sheltered from the harsh realities that are sometimes taking place around the world, but I think journalists can do a good job of sharing these experiences with the world.

Fox News is just one example of a news organization that is doing this, taking a story (no matter how hard to handle) and share it with the world.


Twitter saves the day...maybe

By: Katie Anthony

While many would argue that the journalists strive to show, rather than tell, I believe there to be a fine line between showing what's necessary and showing it all.

By now, everyone knows that I'm not a huge fan of negative news-though I've become used to it because that type of news is the majority of the news.

Yet, when I was looking for a blog topic this week, I stumbled across "Citizen Journalists Provide Glimpes Into Attacks."

This article falls back on the information that was put on Twitter the day that the Taj Mahal Palace and Taj Hotel were attacked.

Many reporters tapes, cell phones, and any other means of information were confiscated after the attacks for evidence, yet some citizens-now seen as "citizen journalists"-were able to keep their cell phones that held short recordings of the burning of these buildings.

In situations like these, the line is truly fine, and I think the line was crossed in this case. While the public had a desire to be informed, I don't think that a minute-by-minute picture of burning buildings is the most effective way to get their message and information across.

In fact, I'd argue that just replaying the pictures/video the news have, would be more than sufficient as long as they're relaying new information as its given to them. That's how they informed the public about the 9/11 attacks, so I think that in the case of the Mumbai attacks, the same rules need to be applied.


Obama merchandise hawked by papers

By: Erin Floro


After the recent election of Barack Obama newspapers are trying to make money off this historic event.  Since revenues are down at most newspapers, it sounds like a good idea to me.


The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times are selling memorabilia such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, and key chains with Obama’s image.  Big items now are reproductions of the Nov. 5 front page headlining Obama’s victory.  A framed edition front page with brass plating can be yours for only $299 plus shipping and handling from the NY Times.


After searching the LA Times Web site, I came across other items available for purchase such as buttons, dolls, clocks, and even bobble heads.  This paper reports $686,000 in sales of Obama merchandise.


I think this is smart of the newspapers to make additional revenue.  As a consumer I would personally buy an item from a newspaper before I would a t-shirt or souvenir shop.  These items would be of quality material and appropriate.


College newspapers suffer from poor economy

By: Erin Floro


The increasing decline of print advertising revenue has hit newspapers hard all over the United States.  College newspapers are no exception.


The economy has nosedived so badly that papers have had to make cutbacks in such areas as frequency of issues, size of paper, and number of pages.  Other papers have had to reevaluate their budget by trimming expenses such as travel and dining. 


Many financial and consulting firms that normally recruit through advertising have cut back or stop doing so altogether. 


National companies that target college students as consumers are cutting their own costs by reducing advertising.  They probably figure a college student doesn’t have much extra money to spend on their product.  So why advertise in a college newspaper?


I’m sure our very own paper, The Simpsonian, has also felt the crunch.  Lets hope that it can continue to be the nations longest running college newspaper.  


NPR's vlog

By: Callie McBroom

NPR announced the launch of a new type of blog today. It is called a Vlog, which is a video blog. Wikipedia says that vlogging consists of regular entries embedded with video or video links that also employ text and still images. Vlogs can also be distributed by RSS feeds, allowing "automatic aggregation and playback on mobile devices and personal computers."

NPR's vlog named "Open Mike" is set up on a YouTube channel called Weekend Edition.

Scott Simon, the host for Weekend Edition Saturday held his first interview with NPR News Analyst Juan Williams. Liane Hansen will soon be holding her first interview on the vlog as the host for Weekend Edition Sunday.

NPR is also asking its readers for suggestions about future guests for the vlog.


Abusive blogs

By: Callie McBroom

Blogs have become very popular with many different people who use them for very different reasons. But now, this popularity and the tendency for blogs to be posted anonymously is causing problems.

Both John McIntire and Words at Work have recently been discussing the need to have some sort of control over what is said in blogs. This issue has surfaced because some bloggers are abusing others over the internet.

This is not only a problem for the abused bloggers, however. Annoying and abusive posts can also deter other people from posting a comment, for fear that they will receive the same treatment. This defeats the purpose of blogging.

Now the question remains, who will decide what should and shouldn't be said? And, who will make sure that First Amendment rights are upheld while protecting bloggers from unnecessary attacks?


No job? Blog!

Friday, November 28, 2008

By Liz Tjaden

In celebration of my upcoming graduation from Simpson in a few weeks without a job, I would like to shed light on a blog that can help journalists who have been laid-off.

According to Lost Remote, a blog has been launched by Six Apart called the "TypePad Journalist Bailout Program". It allows journalists to post stories and new events. They don’t promise the blog to be a full-time replacement for a lost job, but it does provide a place for journalists to post their opinions and news in a public forum.

Plus, this service is free so people don't feel the burden of shelling out money they don't have in order to get their work out.

With layoffs and bailouts consuming the media news, it is nice to hear about people, especially journalists, being “saved” by the help from others.


Newspapers endangered

By: Hannah Pickett

Scientifically speaking, in the animal kingdom when a species starts to trail off they go on the endangered species list, a precursor to extinction. If journalism careers were categorized the way the animal kingdom is, newspapers would be dubbed endangered.

Many small town newspapers throughout the state of Iowa, and around the nation are having to close shop. There are many different reasons for the newspaper's endangerment. Some say it's the economic crisis, others say it's the internet phenomenon. This doesn't just pertain to small town papers, however. In the past year, the Des Moines Register laid off much of its staff.

Newspapers can survive on a skeleton staff. For example, in Winterset, the newspaper staff is four people to put out a 22 page paper weekly. It can be done; it just requires hard working employees. The point is, however, if major newspapers are cutting staff, some who have worked their for many years, what does that mean to the college journalism student?

If the current jobs are being cut right now, imagine what it will be like in a couple of years when college graduates are looking for jobs. Regardless of the reasoning behind small town papers folding, right now it is a really scary time to be a journalism major with no job security foreseeable in the future.

Eventually, newspapers will probably be taken over by the internet. Until then, where are the jobs?


Activists use Internet to get word out

Thursday, November 27, 2008

By: Allison McNeal

Social activists are distributing their message to a new audience: the Web.

Nonprofit groups have recently started to construct demonstrations on YouTube and use social networking sites like Facebook to get the word out.

The different strategies the groups have implemented are the use of animated 3-D characters to protest the global shortage of drinking water and having Web companies that allow individuals to create their own charity.

WaterPartners International is one of the companies to incorporate a global safe drinking water campaign.

This company could have promoted their campaign by visually showing the effects of safe drinking water, but instead used the Internet as their means of communication.

According to Nicole Wickenhauser, a company spokesperson, said that it saved time and money by putting their campaign online and through animated, virtual characters built from actual people.

As a result, daily Web traffic doubled at WebPartners site during the campaign and also attracted support from around the globe.

With Web based activism, it encourages ordinary people to start up their own campaigns.

Another campaign that has started up is has allowed citizens to create their own charity and is similar to sites like MySpace.

According to, "the new site allows a person to do everything a charity traditionally does [like] raise money and awareness and recruit support."

Matthew Combs, the site's co-founder, said his site designs Web pages and vets charities for people who don't have the time or expertise to do it themselves.

Other social network sites like MySpace are starting to support activists and have an "impact" page that connects users with political and charitable causes.

YouTube has also recently launched a "Nonprofits and Activism" channel for consumers.

With these new technologies, the Web has become a crucial source for nonprofit fundraising and has shown how involved Americans are.

$550 million has been donated online in 2001, and the number grew to $10.4 billion in 2007.

Online companies have shown that social activists can help reach a larger audience and that change can be imminent in the near future.

"Real change is most often accomplished by committed individuals working together for a cause they feel passionately about," Wickenhauser said. "Whether they work together virtually or in person is less important."


Catholic priest honored by Jewish paper

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

By: Erin Floro

The Forward, a national Jewish newspaper, included a catholic priest, Rev. Paul Ouderkirk of Postville, in its annual list of 50 most influential people in Judaism.  The list usually includes only Jews.

Ouderkirk was honored for his work with former workers of Agriprocessors Inc.  In May, federal agents raided the company and 400 workers were arrested on illegal immigration charges.  The company is the largest producer of kosher meat.  

The 75-year-old retired priest, who speaks fluent Spanish, served the Guatemalan and Mexican immigrants who sought help after the raid.  He aided workers and their families in obtaining food and shelter.  

The editors of the paper considered the Agriprocessors controversy a top story in Judaism in 2008.


Health web sites

By: Lexie Hagerty

An article in the International Herald Tribune reported that the Kaiser Family Foundation is hoping to start their own Web site to cover the health issues that are being pushed aside by other media who's budgets are going down the drain.

The family thinks that even with the economic downturn, their website will succeed, because of the need to stay aware of all health related issues.

I think this is a good idea. The Kaiser Web site will be a good source for any person who wants to know the latest in any health issues. The Web site also hopes to be connected to other news organizations as well.

I think that with the frightening and sketchy health issues of today, it is important for anyone to stay connected to health news. It allows people to stay aware and what to look out for, especially in this winter season.

Plus, there are lots of things that people can do to prevent the spread of diseases. Hopefully, these new health Web sites will keep people updated and not push the issues aside.


Update your Web site!

By: Shauna Agan

Recently, an article on was posted about the 25 best cities to find a job. Four of these cities were in Iowa. They were Ames, Iowa City, Des Moines, and Sioux City.

These figures were based on this year’s unemployment rate compared to last years and job growth.

Checking out, there are many interesting articles, but none about this particular find.

It is surprising to me to find that a local newspaper that most of Iowa reads has not yet reported something this important. Four of the cities in Iowa are listed as top cities to find a job during tough economic times.

This is significant for Iowa. It shows that Iowa is doing something ‘right’ economically, but why hasn’t the Des Moines Register reported it yet?

As a local newspaper, one duty is to be aware of significant things such as these. Reporters should constantly be checking larger media outlets to make sure they have not missed anything significant.

If just one of the reporters had checked, this story would be posted on the Web site of the Des Moines Register. Regardless of the fact that this story will more than likely appear in the Des Moines Register tomorrow, I believe it should have been reported on the Web site tonight.

This is big news for Iowa, but if Iowans follow local news via the Internet, this story is nowhere to be found. An update of the Web site would be favorable.


Who cares?

Monday, November 24, 2008

By: Adrian Aitken

The Politico published a story about the extracurricular activities that Barack Obama partakes in. They focused on what Barack does during his Sunday mornings. According to the article the president elect has missed church the past few weeks to workout at the gym instead.

I don't understand this what so ever. Shouldn't the media be more focused on what our future has in store rather than Barack's religious habits. The article then compares Obama to President Bush.

Apparently George W. Bush has also missed a few services. I cant say for the publisher of the paper but I can forgive the president for being too busy to attend church. The Politico is being too shallow in reporting during such important times in America.


Hurricane Ike

By: Quinn Albrecht

In early September Hurricane Ike was approaching the Texas Coast in a hurry. News outlets were trying to figure out what they were going to do to keep people in the know about the breaking news.

They set up blog sites where people could post things and read up about new information about the up coming hurricane. Readership skyrocketed to new highs, sometimes even getting a million views per hour.

They also set up networks through cell phone blogging, so people could stay connected even if they did not have power. This picked up after the hurricane made landfall.

I think in the future more sites will be doing this 24/7 so that people can read the news where ever when ever. It wont take a natural disaster for them to gain the motivation to keep that up.


Newspaper standards

By: Taylor Browning

As I was searching through the Internet for my topic I fell off track with my short attention span onto some pretty outrageous headlines. One headline in particular was Pirates' luxury lifestyles on lawless coast.

With so much information a click away and the spectrum of news being reported, it is easy to see why newspapers are still holding on. The more I thought about it, well known newspapers have become a standard guideline for news reporting, even within their own online version.

There is no need to sort through the newspaper for 'meaningful' news because there aren't links, videos and other added things to draw the reader away from what is at the heart of the newspaper.

We talked in class how there are knock-off magazines of People Magazine, because they are a standard. Maybe newspapers don't have that much to worry about in the technological world if they keep setting the bar high and maintain their standard.


Code of Ethics

By: Kayla Miller

It's one thing to commit suicide. But it's different story when you post a video of your suicide on the internet. And of course this makes national news. Is this right?

CNNs Prime News reports that 19-year-old Abraham Briggs commits suicide live on last Wednesday. This suicide is now known to all viewers, and now I'm sure people aren't trying to look for the suicide video.

Is this ethical for journalists to make this national news? Think of Briggs's family. It is only making matters worse to have them know that their child's suicide is on television. I thought jouranlists were supposed to "show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage" according to the Harrower text.

To me, it is wrong to make it national news. I know if I had a child, I wouldn't want his suicide being known to everyone, even people they don't know. Next time maybe they should think twice before putting it on the air.


Best man for the job

By: Gabe Gilson

Kansas State University has made news again in College football for a recent decision that the University has made. Three years into the Ron Prince era of Wildcat football, they decided to let their coach go and hire back the man that brought the school the greatest amount of success, Bill Snyder.

Snyder was the coach that brought the program 136 wins over his 16 year hiatus. He is also a 69 year-old white man. Prince is a 39 year-old African-American and his firing made it so there are no African-American coaches out of the 119 Division-I football teams.

On Monday’s episode of Around the Horn on ESPN, Woody Paige who writes for the Denver Post said it was an awful idea for Kansas State to bring back Snyder without even interviewing any other candidates. He also said it would be smart for all football programs to have to interview at least one minority candidate for a position as the head coach.

The media has voiced its displeasure recently about the lack of diversity in college football coaching. While it does seem like an unfair problem, it seems as if it has been blown out of proportion lately. Most colleges try and hire the best man for the job, at least I would think. Until the African-American candidates become the best person for the job, this sad trend will continue.


Oh my God

By: Alex Jones

Where is God's place in the journalism world? For talk radio reporter it sure isn't on talk radio.

Carolyn Lewis a talk radio voice for "an especially churchy" audience was fired after a discussion about abortion. The conversation brought her to the conclusion that she was weary of anyone that claimed to know what God wanted people to do. 

For something so minor, it is surprising that she was fired. Especially in a country that promotes free speech. So where does the news draw the line? Why is religion many times, the exception? Reporters are sometimes reluctant to cover religious controversial topics.

I believe in free speech and I also believe that no topic should be taboo, religion is no exception!


"Slow blogging" is a flop

By: Kathryn Lisk

Sharon Otterman from The New York Times wrote a story on Sunday about how today's blogging world is too fast-paced for its own good. 

Slow blogging, which was inspired from the slow food movement, argues that quality writing can take time. Just like fast food, which can be consumed occasionally yet isn't healthy on a regular basis, immediate blogs shouldn't be the only form of news for readers. 

Slow bloggers said they take their time with what they write and can spend a month or more in between blogs. They said writers from Web sites like Huffington Post, who publish up to 50 entries a day, aren't thorough enough with their work.

I understand the phenomenon of slow blogging and respect writers who examine their work and add artistic style. But little is achieved from a few bloggers fighting against others who post their thoughts on the internet faster. 

Writing about breaking news a month later makes the story entirely irrelevant. 

Furthermore, how is this issue any different than the way stories are written in newspapers? Regardless of how fast a blogger posts, news will continue to unfold. Faster blogs just mean faster news for the public. Where's the problem?


Spiders and grapes.

By: Sarah Keller

Spiders, I absolutely hate them. I do not know what it is about them that scare me so much, if it is the way they look and all of those legs that come crawling toward me. Or if it is the fact that there are some poisonous spiders out there that could possibly bite me and kill me, though very unlikely. Whatever the reason is, I know that I hate them.

When I was looking on the internet the other day I came across an article about one of my favorite things; grapes, and one of my least favorite things; spiders. I decided to look further and read the article to see what it was about.

The article was an opinion piece by Geoff Williams from Wallet Pop. Williams talked about a woman who bought grapes from Costco, and was washing them and found a spider in them. The woman did research on the spider to find out what kind of spider it was. It turned out that the spider was a black widow, one of the most deadly spiders there are.

After reading the article it made me realize that I really should wash my fruit out before eating it like I was always told to do, but never chose to actually do. You never know what you will find in your fruit so you should be careful. The article talked about how it is more common than people may realize to find a spider in your fruit.

I think the article did a nice job of supporting both the woman’s anger at Costco for finding a deadly spider in her grapes, and a nice job of supporting Costco’s side by talking about how the grapes are organic and natural, not dripping with pesticides, because if they were the spider would have been dead. Also you cannot expect the store to thoroughly check every grape. Luckily for the lady and everyone else who may come across a black widow, the journalist said that no one had been killed by a black widow since the 1960’s. The article definitely made me think twice about cleaning fruit before eating it; I don’t want to be the one to eat my biggest fear in my favorite fruit.


The headlines that shouldn't be

Sunday, November 23, 2008

By Austin Bates

As I scanned the headlines concerning news behind the news, I came across one very short, very simple post that pointed out something very simple about a fairly simple headline: was anyone thinking about this before it was printed? The headline in question read "Ruler can't measure Johnson's impact."

Now, I'm sure that more than a few people will read that headline and think nothing of it, and when they see the snickers around them, might honestly shrug their shoulders in confusion. But chances are that the majority of those who read the headline will instantly think of something quite different and involuntarily burst into laughter at a very poorly worded headline.

In all reality, badly worded headlines of that kind of magnitude are fairly rare. Yet enough crop up from time to time for comedians to make a living off of them. Case in point, Jay Leno's "headlines" skit that he performs every Monday night on "The Tonight Show".

My point in all of this is this: how do headlines like these make it to final print without somebody stopping it and saying, "Wait a minute, you think this is appropriate?" All they would really need to do is show the headline to a young adult, and if the headline elicits a snicker or a laugh out of them when it wasn't supposed to, you know you wrote something the wrong way. In the end, the publisher of said headline could avoid quite a bit of embarrassment.


A change for the season

By: Lexie Hagerty

I am sitting at my computer and listening to Christmas music. I love Christmas music and find that in any setting, it helps me get in to the Christmas mood.

Next, I look at my TV, where I am learning how to make the perfect Christmas meal for that anticipated holiday morning.

During the commercials, "The Twenty-five Days of Christmas" along with Christmas sales and specials are being advertised.

I get out my daily newspaper and check out the funnies, all associated with the holidays.

What is my point? My point is that in my last few blogs, I have done nothing but critique the media for its views and its way of doing things.

This time, however, I am not in the mood to do so. After all, it is the holidays and nothing is on my mind but the Christmas spirit and delightful snow days.

At this point, I want to commend the media for instilling this delight and this Christmas spirit into my everyday life. Even though, the media is everywhere and can influence anyone at any time, it is times like these, where I don't think that is such a bad thing. Thank you!

Merry Christmas everyone!


Religion, politics, and the media

Saturday, November 22, 2008

By: Katie Anthony

Everyone knows that in the election, religious affiliation was a strong deciding factor with many voters.

However I for one, did not realize how much of the media focus was on Barack Obama.

Overall, 53 percent of the total religion covered was spent on Barack Obama's affiliation-and pathetically enough, most of that number was spent covering the affiliation that isn't true.

John McCain and Sarah Palin combined only got a total of less than thirty percent.

President-elect Barack Obama is NOT a Muslim, and it saddens me to think about how much air time was wasted on false information and petty rumors.

And yet, perhaps that's what the media will focus on now-false information and petty rumors over certain candidates religious affiliations.

I think they could find something of a stronger benefit to fill that airspace with.


Who is writing what now?

By Liz Tjaden

To celebrate our Public Relations week before break, who better to recognize for her efforts than Angelina Jolie.

As she often appears in the spot light of celebrity gossip for a new movie role, philanthropy work, or news of another pregnancy, Jolie is shown in a typically positive light. (Disregard the years she was making out with her brother.)

In PR, the most important rule is to never lie. Turning bad situations into positive ones is a goal, but lying will only make things worse.

From adoption and giving birth, Jolie and husband Brad Pitt currently have six children. As the NY Times reports, Jolie and Pitt negotiated almost $14 million with People magazine this summer with pictures of their newborn twins.

Oh and...they also wanted to oversee the journalistic aspect of what was printed about them and their family.

The ethics of this deal is something for an entire different blog. Looking at only the journalistic aspect, who is now writing our news?

Obviously, nothing incredibly dire pertaining to our everyday lives comes from celebrities or can be found in People but it still puts a damper on the whole “hard working journalist” thing.
Who needs us around if we throw people a pad and pencil and tell them to write their own damn news?

It’s just sad that this is what it is coming to: needing to sell magazines rather than report the news.


Write it right

By: Erin Floro


Editing, proofreading, spellchecking are each important tasks when journaling. 


A spokeswoman for the city of Des Moines, Amelia Hamilton-Morris, was reminded of this last week.  She sent a press release to several dozen media types using a misspelled word.  When referring to a dam on the Des Moines River, she called it a damn. 


She quickly sent an apology for the oversight.  This just reminds us again the importance of looking over your work.  Even in a professional setting, mistakes happen.


Exanding growth in hard times

By: Lexie Hagerty

BusinessWeek reported that Facebook is continuing to push growth even with the economic downturn.

This strategy seems ligitimate, but differs from other social networks like Myspace. The article said that Myspace has "dialed back on growth to focus on profits."

Facebook, on the other hand, is making small changes to fuel growth in order to gain ground on their competition.

I am not sure how I feel about this. I think it is great that they are taking risks, but it isn't probably all that smart.

However, Facebook said that they have quite a bit of income that they can risk losing in order to grow. In that case, it is their money and any risks they want to take is their choice.

Who knows, it might turn out to be a really good decision.


Journalistic ethics: Do they exist?

Friday, November 21, 2008

By: Hannah Pickett

Two weeks ago, the newspaper I write for published a leading front page story titled "It's an Obama Nation!" regarding President elect Obama's nomination. The article centered around my editor's political Republican-based views.

One week after the article was published, a former Winterset resident wrote a letter to the editor expressing her disgust with the article's content saying that such a biased piece of work combined with the lack of taste in the headline belonged on the opinion page, rather than being passed off as fact on the front page. In her letter, she also mentioned that she was in attendance at Grant Park in Chicago when Obama gave his speech election night.

My editor chose to use her eyewitness experience only when publishing the letter to the editor, leaving out her sentiments of disgust with the paper.

After seeing this, the woman decided to purchase an ad space to express her frustration with the paper and to print her letter to the editor-unedited. The publisher heard about it and edited her ad space. Since it was an ad, a proof was sent to her and needless to say she was very upset.

After much arguing between the publisher, the woman-who turned out to be a corporate attorney, and the paper's lawyers, the decision was made to just not run the ad at all. The publisher would only run it if he could cut all the bad stuff about the paper from it, and the woman didn't want that.

I realize that the publisher and editor have the final say on what is printed and what is not, but my question is about ethics. Newspapers are supposed to have integrity and some type of work ethic. Regardless of your political standing, where was the sense of ethics when my editor decided to cut this woman's letter to the editor to serve his own needs? Is there any type of law or punishment for editing a letter to the editor or editing the content of a paid ad space?


Free Expression Tunnel

By: Katie Schaefer

Graffiti is never something that I have got into, but for some it's a way of life. Some have grown up in parts of towns where all a person does is write on walls with spray paint.

At N.C. State University an incident occurred dealing with just that: spray painting. Four students painted racist messages on the Free Expression Tunnel on campus. Racism is already not a good thing, but the messages were specifically about Barack Obama.

The First Amendment states that we have the right to free speech, but how far is too far to stretch this Amendment?

The Supreme Court ruled that when yelling fire in a crowded theater a person is not at fault when there actually is a fire. If there is no fire, then that is where the problem and Oliver Wendell Holmes comes in.

Going back to the racist comments, though, why would people say and paint these things on the wall? Obviously they are probably thinking these thoughts, but what good is it going to do when they are spray painted on a wall?

It's not going to make the remarks more hurtful. I don't know what the students were thinking when they proceeded to write the comments, but maybe they thought by writing them it was going to cause more pain to Obama.


Let the bashing begin

Thursday, November 20, 2008

By; Sarah Keller

It is inevitable, comedians are going to be on the lookout for Obama to screw up, to say something or do something dumb or embarrassing. Then the comedians will start cracking jokes about him and never let him live it down. It may take a little more time to find something to make fun of with Obama than with previous presidents, but comedians are pretty sure that it will happen sooner or later, and once it does they will be relentless.

According to an article from MSNBC, it talked about how comedians are going to start looking for jokes to crack about the president. I think that it is sad that comedians are anticipating making fun of the president of the United States. Why must comedians bash our president?
According to the article they believe that it is going to be more difficult to find good material about Obama because he is well educated, and speaks very properly and wisely. It was easier to make fun of past presidents because of things such as Clinton and Monica, or just the fact that Bush said and did really dumb things.

“ When Barack Obama officially takes over on Jan. 20, he will not only assume duties involving the economy, health care, national security and many others, he will also be given the solemn task of providing this nation’s wisenheimers with stuff at which to make cracks,” the article said. I think its unfortunate that this type of thing happens, but the article is correct it will happen sooner of later, no matter how unimportant or immature I believe it to be.


Blogging was a significant aide for Obama

By: Kathryn Lisk

Even though the election has passed, the media is still examining how each party ran their campaign. Many look at the tactics of both candidates and debate what did and didn't work. 

One of the biggest topics in campaigning this year has been the use of the Internet. Claire Cain Miller from the New York Times wrote a story about how President-elect Barack Obama used the Internet to his full advantage when campaigning. 

One of Miller's sources went as far as saying that the Internet was the sole reason Obama won. From using YouTube, blogs and other Web outlets as a free form of advertising, he was able to reach his audience.

 In fact, as of Nov. 6, 6.7 million people had watched his acceptance speech on YouTube.

As we've discussed multiple times in class, the media world is changing immensely. People no longer get their information from newspapers or the nightly news. Instead, people browse the Web. 

By utilizing the Internet, Obama was able to capture the young vote he needed to win. 

The way future candidates run their campaigns has been forever changed. Thanks to Obama,we can all say hello to the World Wide Web.


General Electric conforms to blogging society

By: Allison McNeal

Blogging is a cultural phenomenon, and many companies want to get on board with this new technology.

General Electric Company recently started changing the way it communicates with the Wall Street Journal by using a company blog called

This blog allows the company to share information with investors, send out press releases, and investor briefings.

According to, GE intends for the blog to be a way of providing investors with additional information, not to replace other modes of disclosure.

"This is a tough environment, a lot of misinformation in the marketplace," GE spokesman Gary Sheffer said. "This is just a fast and simple way to punch through it and to make sure that you tell your story in a simple and engaging way."

The Securities and Exchange Commission ruled this summer that other U.S. companies may use their Web sites to distribute market-sensitive information.

Companies like Wal-Mart and Boeing Company have started to implement blogs as a way of communicating with customers, investors, and employees.

GE tested out this new communication tactic by using the blog to tell investors of its planned $2 billion in cost-cutting measures next year at GE Capital.

The company did not decide to issue a press release because it wanted to release the information directly to the Web site, where it would be faster access for consumers.

Even though blogs are an efficient way to convey information, there are some technical handicaps.

Some investors are concerned with disclosing information on market-sensitive news because some investors may be at stake.

GE's shift allows investors and journalists to seek out news rather than having it delivered to them.

Disclosing developments on the Web makes the information available to all readers at the same time, while professional channels serve their paying customers called professional traders.

Howard Anderson, professor of entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, said that blogging will help out GE's company image.

Anderson expects more companies to follow GE's lead in reaching out directly to markets.

"People follow GE whatever they do," Anderson said. "Even if they're dead wrong, they follow GE."


Looking back to look foward

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

by Peter Merchlewitz

As many of you know, the media world is in a transition age, changing from newspapers and newscasts, to the Internet and streaming video to get our news nowadays. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we should forget all that we learn as news reporters from using an older medium.
In John McIntyre's You Don't Say, McIntyre interviews 2 of his colleagues from the American Copy Editors Society, Doug Fisher and David Sullivan, and their thoughts about mixing old and new reporting to get a desired outcome.

"Professor Fisher’s frustration:

[A]s I have gone around making a presentation on how to use new digital tools to stay connected, the response in some newsrooms and at conferences has been tepid at best in many cases and downright hostile in others (along the lines of how am I supposed to do my job with all this, to which I often have wanted to respond, this is going to be your job, dammit)."

"Mr. Sullivan’s frustration:

Too many journalists think the reader's pleasure is irrelevant, that the reader picks up the newspaper either to be instructed or to sit in awe of the literary talent being presented in it. In short, too many journalists are too full of themselves to succeed in the 21st century, when a newspaper needs to focus on what its readers want, since the readers' choices of what to do with their time seem limitless. That is the challenge for young journalists of the 21st century, who I hope will save us all."

So the challenge is twofold. We have to master the new technologies, both to acquire useful information and to convey it in the form in which readers prefer to receive it, and we have to do some hard thinking about who those readers are and what they are interested in reading.


College newspapers online

By: Callie McBroom

MediaShift reports that some college campuses have come a long way in going online. Still many others have a long way yet to go.

Bob Bergland, a professor at Missouri Western State University, found that 36 percent of a random sample of college newspapers had no web presence at all.

Online journalism can be problematic for college newspapers because of lack of funding. Additionally, campus readership of the printed product remains high compared to industry standards.

Another problem for college papers is an ever-changing staff. Student journalists graduate quite frequently, and new ones take their place. These replacements might not have the same skills as a graduating journalist.

MediaShift references San Francisco State University, University of Washington, and Eastern Illinois University as examples of good online formats.

This story leads to the question, "How far away is the Simpsonian from going online?"


MVP? No, Give Them An Oscar

By: Kelsey Knutson

It's nothing new to see all-star athletes give all-star performances - acting performances. 

According to a New York Times article NBA stars put on high quality acting performances on the court. Driving to the basket and letting out yelps and screams, trying to get the attention of officials. 

The game's biggest stars are among some of the names being thrown around by officials for Oscar performances - Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James

According to Bernie Fryer, former NBA player and official that now oversees officiating in the league said, "Anytime anybody goes to the hoop they yell or scream."

Players say that trying to get the call to go their way is just a part of the game. However, many officials are getting tired of it and the players are just setting a bad example for younger kids. 

These NBA stars are just finding another reason for publicity and the media is feeding into it. The sports industry has always been in line with the entertainment industry, and the whole business feeds around the media coverage. 

The show is getting old and nobody even cares anymore - so they need to stop doing it. 

The game needs to be about the game, about the competition, and about winning. Not about the press coverage and you're image. 

Keyon Dooling, a point guard in the NBA had this to say, "It used to show that you were being aggressive. Now, its more so that you can get a foul. If you're a good player and you yell, that'll get you a whistle. But if you're an average player - you need to pick your body up and get back on defense."


Broadcaster trampled getting the story

By: Erin Floro


The frenzy and excitement at the conclusion of a recent college football game nearly cost Bob Brooks his life.  Fans trampled the Cedar Rapids radio announcer after Iowa upset third-ranked Penn State in Iowa City after a last second field goal.


The 81-year-old Brooks has been in broadcasting for 67 years and says this is the first time something like this has happened to him.


After being helped back on his feet, he made his way to the locker room.  After all, he had some interviewing to do.


Listening in

By Kellie Green

People are always interested in the news no matter how they get it. In class we have been working on radio reporting our news instead of the newspaper format. Is live recordings of news going to take over print version?

When ever you are online reading an article you usually see the symbol that looks like a little microphone next to the text. Usually that is the recording of the text so that people can hear it.
While browsing through the The New York Times online I came across more than a hand full of these just on the first page.

Live recording is very important to have for people who have troubles reading but it seems that no one wants to read anymore. People are watching TV or listening to the radio instead of reading about the news.

It may seem that internet is taking away from newspapers, which in a post I did previously I said I believed, but now I think that TV, radio and internet are going to push newspapers out of the way. People would rather hear they news now instead of read it.


Jumping the gun

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

By: Jessica Hartgers

Gun sales are going through the roof, according to WHO TV News at 10. Dealers, suppliers, and customers can't get their hands on enough machinery.

Citizens are in a panic after the recent presidential election, announcing Barack Obama to be our president-elect. Obama is known for being unpredictable on his voting in office regarding gun laws, and citizens are worried the future president will take away our rights to own fire arms. The panic has caused gun sales to go through the roof.

The coverage of this story that aired on WHO put panic into many people, and it should. It is uneasy to think that individuals are rushing to gun stores to buy whatever fire arms they please and are stalking up on bullets and ammunition. Do people really plan on using these fire arms or are they just making these purchases to despise our future president?

Individuals have the right to bear arms, but they should be educated about their piece of equipment and understand the consequences that could come out of it.


Top stories

By: Jessica Hamell

One of KCCI’s leading stories tonight was about how a flamingo escaped from the Blank Park Zoo. They reported that the flamingo had flown away and was later caught on the Blank Park Golf course.

I don’t get why this makes big news. It is not threatening to anyone around Des Moines. Although it is something that doesn’t happen very often birds do fly away.

I have barely heard any news about how Iraq is in the process of potentially signing an agreement that the U.S. troops all be out by 2011. Why would the News not take this story and run. I find it a very compelling story that Iraq thinks that they are ready to lead their own country.

The Iraq story is more effective on people around Des Moines that a flamingo escaping. Maybe I am biased because my brother will be going to Iraq but a War should make bigger headlines.


Ex-priest requests trial be moved

By: Erin Floro


An 85-year-old former priest, James Janssen of Davenport, has asked his perjury trial to be moved from Scott County.  He is accused of lying to a court in April 2006, testifying under oath that he did not transfer assets to a nephew. 


His lawyer cites publicity in recent years of Janssen’s accusations of sexually abusing minors as being an issue.  Prospective jurors would probably know of these charges and have an opinion formed of the former priest. 


With the extensive news coverage today by different forms of media, I bet it would be hard to escape public knowledge of any high profile case unless you live under a rock.


Men denied press passes sue NYPD

By: Erin Floro


Three men are suing the New York Police Department, claiming they were denied press credentials without much explanation in 2007.  Each had possessed one in the past.


Now all are working for nontraditional or online news outlets and claim they have been unfairly denied credentials for this reason.  They feel their 1st Amendment right of freedom of speech and of the press is being violated.


Two kinds of credentials are issued.  One is a working press card for full time journalists covering breaking news on a regular basis.  The other is a press identification card for those employed by “a legitimate news organization” that don’t normally cover breaking news.  The first one allows the journalist to cross police lines at emergencies and the second one doesn’t. 


We can’t really have everyone who claims to be a reporter crossing police lines; it would be too chaotic.  Who should be considered legitimate?  Criteria used for issuing badges seem a little vague.  Maybe this lawsuit is what it will take to change it.  


No, our world is not coming to an end

By: Shauna Agan

When reading through the newspapers and internet news, it seems as if every headline is depressing. Sometimes I think the world is coming to an end just reading the headlines.

On, headlines read, “What if we don’t bail out Big Three?”, “Obama struggles with lobbyist promises” and “Hunger among U.S. children skyrockets”. This is just to name a few.

Similarly, on, readers view headlines such as, “Strapped for cash, many raid nest egg” and “Experts warn of water shortages by 2080”.

Although there are obviously other headlines that are not negative or depressing, it just seems lately that most headlines are depressing. The headlines seem as if our world is continuously going downhill with no hopes to turn around and run back uphill.

Most headlines deal with the bailout plan, our economy, or families who cannot make ends meet. A headline can say a lot about how our world is doing.

It might be the case that most current events are misfortunate things that are happening, but if all stories do is depress readers, people won’t want to read the news anymore.

Reporters have a duty to go searching for positive stories as well. Even if most of the news happening is depressing, it is refreshing to hear something positive about our world every once in awhile.

No, our world is not really coming to an end, but a reassurance would be nice.


Journalists decide pop culture

Monday, November 17, 2008

By: Sara Crouse

Hype about an upcoming movie or TV show can often lead to increased viewers. In fact, in most cases the advertising and marketing hype prior do generate better ratings.

Journalists flock to the scene locations of the 'biggest' shows, and get inside tips from the cast members. Journalists hope the inside information on the ‘most-watched TV show’ is the news viewers and readers alike want to hear.

Entertainment Weekly magazine recently published a great article on why certain shows get publicity over others, and why critics/journalists chose to pay specific attention to particular TV shows. With his/her own best interest in mind, a journalist will publish the story closest to the hearts of the people.

Whether that story is about the true life of an ordinary person with some sort of gut-wrenching twist, or the extravagant ‘one could only hope for’ life of a privileged young adult, it matters what people watch.

Well what were journalists thinking with their recent trend of interviewing the stars of the TV show Gossip Girl over the stars of One Tree Hill?

Perhaps journalists thought the plot line of upscale New York prep school teenagers would be more appealing to pop culture than the lives of straight-out-of-college young adults just trying to find their way in the real world.

Whatever the reason, recent news articles and marketing campaigns have been highly geared towards generating interest in Gossip Girl. Little has been heard of One Tree Hill since its early years in 2003-2006.

Gossip Girl related items and stories can be found everywhere in department stores, while One Tree Hill is a little harder to find.

Yet 3.6 million viewers tune in on Monday nights for One Tree Hill , while only 2.2 million viewers take the time each week to watch Gossip Girl.

Journalists may have it wrong this time about which story is news even if it is soft news.


Switching careers

By:Quinn Albrecht

Many people have found it difficult to maintian their job in journalism. With so many things changing in the fields of journalism people must change to keep up.

Many newspapers have websites as well as putting out print editions. They do this so that people can get the news whenever they might need it. This is a great way for newspapers to stay busy. But they are having trouble, because they are moving to new media structures.

They are hiring outside of the news writing to get journalists. They are getting people from TV stations to help with production.

TV stations are doing a very similar things, getting journalists from newspapers to help write stories to the web.

This is just another step in the ever changing media structure of the world we live in.


Please feel free to comment

Sunday, November 16, 2008

By Austin Bates

I was interested recently by a blog post at Lost Remote dealing with comment sections on website articles, especially concerning television and newspaper related websites. For the most part, I agree with the what the author, Don Day, says about comments. Ironically, though, the bulk of the conversation and discussion about comments on websites occurs in the comment section of the blog post.

I have to say that my experience with what I've seen and done in comment related sections is very similiar to what was talked about in Day's blog. Comments for an article or topic tend to vary between being intelligently written and with well made points, to being pointless, mindlessly agressive attacks on other people. The worst situation is when such debates begin well-intentioned enough, and then just devolve into flame wars.

It seems that the content of such comments sections largely depend on the demographic likely to consume the article that goes with the comments section. Obviously, if the article concerns something to do with the younger generations, you can expect it to be filled mostly with uneducated hate speech and flame attacks. With articles that are more geared to older generations, they tend to be considerably more controlled and intelligent. Typically, as well, it seems, the larger the audience to which a particular website appeals to, the more likely they are to receive a lot of negative, pointless comments.

But what about the usefulness of such sections, as Day and the commentators below his post ask? I have to say I agree with some of the commentators on this: while comment sections can become wildly off-topic and inappropriate, they ultimately serve as important public forums. Those with the paper might pick up leads and inside information into other stories or future stories through comments posted about an online article. But if nothing else, comment sections can serve as they were intended to serve: as a means of feedback for how well the story was received, and thus, as a means of improvement for the article.

In the end, I believe that online articles would be fine with or without comment sections, though such sections add a level of interactivity and contribution that readers of hard copies might not otherwise have. Ultimately, it might be better for any online article to have comment sections, whether they are used or not, in order to ensure that that option is open to readers.


Sacrifice from change

By: Katie Anthony

Almost directly following my last blog (in which I so nicely told people to suck it up and deal with the changes), I got a call from home.

My dad, who is an electrical engineer, has been in Germany since Monday for work. This isn't unusual however because he's normally out of the country once every three or four months (if not more).

On top of his travels, he also has daily conferences with France and Germany to keep in touch with the prototypes and adaptations going on overseas.

Well, the phone call entailed my dad telling me that he won't be traveling nearly as much anymore. Why? Because the Germans decided they didn't "need or want to see him."

Rude? Kind of. But I was intrigued, so I asked him to explain it to me. All of the companies he's working with (there are too many to list) have come to the conclusion that they can get all of the "attention and motivation" they need/want through their daily video conferences.

While I realize that it's communication in general, I saw this change as a sort of representation for the changing media.

People are going to conclude (most likely), that they don't "need or what to read newspapers anymore," because they can get all of their information from the internet or from the television.

I also took time to just sit down and reflect over these changes. I think that sometimes, we get so focused on the media changes (granted, that's what we're blogging over), that we forget that everything is changing-not just the media.


The blame game

By: Katie Anthony

It seems that every day we're reminded of the constant dwindling numbers of newspaper circulation.

So, needless to say, when I read the title, "The Latest Death-of-Journalism Spat, Condensed for Easy Reading!" it caught my attention.

Craig Stoltz, summarized the futile blame game that took place between Jeff Jarvis and Ron Rosenbaum.

What were they fighting about?

The fought about who they can point the finger at as to why print journalism (newspapers specifically) is dwindling down to (eventually) nothing.

Yes, we all know that the media industry is changing. And yes, we all see newspaper numbers slimming down.

However, what is blaming someone or something going to do to make anything better? The answer? It won't do anything.

C'mon guys, there's no use crying over spilled milk. I'm sure you could find more productive things to argue about.

Not to even mention the things they could be doing with their time (writing new stories, brainstorming new ideas) instead of bickering about something that they can't do anything about.

So, suck it up and deal with the changes, or find a new job. Sadly enough, that is the reality.


Deer in the headlights

By: Kayla Miller

It's that time again. The deer are out and causing accidents.

I was reading an article today on how deer are a growing hazard on the roads. Many citizens of the state of Iowa must deal with this dangerous event every day when they travel to work. Over the past years car accidents that involve deer have risen 12 percent in Iowa.

I can most definitely believe this statistic is true. I traveled from Des Moines and back today and saw a total of three deer on the side of the road, more than I have ever seen before.

Something needs to be done about it. Hunting can reduce deer accidents. Deer crossing signs can be set up. Another precaution that can be implimented is to teach young drivers about the danger that deer cause, and how to avoid deer when driving. It seems that this delima can be cured if we take the proper steps.

This article hits home, considering what I had already seen today around the area, and it also helps drivers be cautious that it is that time of the year again. The time of deer in the headlights.


Comments anyone?

By: Sarah Harl

A recent blog by Don Day wonders if some components of new age journalism fail to serve the intended purpose.

Day's blog asserts that the comments section, where readers can post comments on the reported stories, at the least serve no purpose, and as the worst, bring out the worst in readers.

Many comments sections do fuel name calling and bitter back and forths between individuals with too much time on their hands.

But what the comment section does do is prompt people to talk about what is happening in their world. And for every person that abuses the comment section, there are those one or two people who can add meaningful insight to discussion.

It's through these discussions, ignorant and insightful that new ideas are formed and narrow-minded attitudes change.

Will everyone benefit from the comments section of stories? Absolutely not. Is it more often than not a forum for petty bickering? Certainly.

But for the people that will benefit from this interactive component of journalism, it is well worth it.


McCain's debut

By; Sarah Keller

Have you been wondering how the republican presidential candidate has been doing since we last heard from him Tuesday Nov. 4, the night that he gave his speech telling America that they should come together to support Obama? If you have been wondering, John McCain made an appearance on the “Tonight show” with Jay Leno last Tuesday night, to talk about his feelings and how he does not believe Sarah Palin hurt his bid.

For a big part of last week, the papers talked a lot about the interview McCain had with Leno, talking about everything McCain said. McCain told Leno that despite popular belief he did not believe that Sarah Palin ruined his chances of becoming the next president; “I'm so proud of her and I'm very grateful she agreed to run with me,” McCain said. “I couldn't be happier with Sarah Palin.” He also joked around and told Leno; “I've been sleeping like a baby," about the aftermath of the Election. "Sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours, wake up and cry." I found that statement pretty funny, listening to McCain say that statement showed his sense of humor, and I enjoyed it.

I think that it was important that the interview was reported. It helps America to know that McCain is ok, that he is able to move past his loss, and support Obama. He is even able to joke around about his loss, which shows a lot of character.


Interviewing skills

By: Sarah Keller

If you are anything like me, there is probably a good chance that you are scared of having an interview for a job. As a college student thinking toward my future I am sure that I will have to go through a lot a job interviews in my lifetime. I am a little worried about blowing a big interview, about not knowing what the employers are really trying to ask me, or how to answer their questions correctly.

When I came across an article on AOL news about 10 interview questions decoded, I was very happy. I read the article by Selena Dehne, and I was very pleased with what she had to say. She broke her article down to make sense. She told the readers what they needed to do on interviews, giving very helpful tips on how to answer questions the correct way that a potential employer would be looking for.

I am very glad I took the time to read the article. It was useful information that will come in handy in my future. It is something I would suggest other college students, or job seekers in general to take a look at. People really might find something of key importance from Dehne’s helpful tips to help them out.


The economy changes the game

Saturday, November 15, 2008

By: Sarah Harl

At the recent Atlantic Coast region meeting of AP sports writers, the economy was the main topic of discussion.

Many papers would like to see the AP move toward an a-la-cart pricing concerning sports stories. Their argument is that larger papers are getting charged more to run AP stories, even though smaller newspapers use more AP coverage.

The pay-for-what-you-use plan would help out larger newspapers who are just as affected by the declining economy as smaller papers.

The sports gurus talked about everything from not only the declining number of talented sports journalists, but the fact that they now must hire less talented journalists due to budget.

They are now having to create online packages, or special sections to attract readership. Instead of writing the news, they are now worried, more than ever, about selling the news.

There was no word on the outcome of the discussion, but one thing is certain: the economy, should it not rebound, has shifted the game. It's the fourth quarter. How these writers respond will determine the outcome of the game.


Journalism as a balancing act

Friday, November 14, 2008

By: Hannah Pickett

Last week while working at a small town newspaper, readers were outraged by my editor's choice of a leading headline following the results of the 2008 Presidential election. The title read: "It's an Obama Nation!"

Think about it. An "Obama Nation" sounds and looks a lot like the word, abomination. The play on words infers that Obama is abominable meaning loathing, disgusting, and hatred.

My editor is a very educated individual. He is also very conservative and very much backed the McCain/Palin campaign. Regardless of his personal belief, his job as a journalist was to report the news of the presidential election results-unbiased.

The article went on to point conservative politics' strengths in America and the repercussions the country will and is going to face with Obama in the White House. In a very negative fashion, the editor also knocked on the Democratic presidents in the past, saying that Republicans are the best thing to happen to this country.

This week there were quite a few letters to the editor in reponse to this article as you can imagine. All but one were shredded and "forgotten about." The one letter published just said something about the headline being rude, but the facts backing it up. The rest of the letters were protesting the article in general.

It would have been one thing if this article ran on the opinion page where opinions are welcome and getting on a soapbox is actually invited. But this was the front page, above the fold and therefore completely inappropriate.

In life we have to wear many different hats concerning our roles. In this case, the editor wore the hat of an angry Republican and misplaced the hat of being an impartial journalist. Ethics matter. I am a Republican and was deeply offended at this article.


Our president ...

By: Katie Schaefer

A bunch of leaflets were slipped in to hundreds of copies of The Brown and White student newspaper at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania last week.

Editors don't know how this could have happened because they checked them all before all of the copies went out for the night. They even checked with distributers and they don't know how it could have happened either.

They haven't caught who did this, but it makes me wonder how we can still have such racism in the world.

This is the 21st century and we still have problems with racism. Racism will probably always be an issue but it's something that people should get over because our president is black.

He is the person that we trust to help change the world and people are still saying things about the color of his skin.

How exactly does it make a person feel to have a president that is black? Honestly it doesn't bother me, but it must really bother whoever put this leaflet out because they did it in a paper that would reach a lot of people.

Maybe they were trying to get students to think differently about their president but it's too late now. He's already elected and there's nothing they can change about it.


YouTube bids on search terms

Thursday, November 13, 2008

By: Allison McNeal

As the media grows increasing more dominant, companies are starting to open up online bidding.

YouTube recently stated that they will be releasing a new program called Sponsored Videos, which will lets users promote their videos by bidding on keywords.

The program will work by allowing users to decide which of the videos that have been uploaded they want to promote through site search.

The individuals then decide which keywords they want to target.

Google has also created automated tools that help users place bids for the keywords in an automated online auction and also set spending budgets.

When people use keywords in search terms for videos, YouTube will display relevant videos alongside the search results. gives an example of if a film studio is on YouTube, they may bid on the words "movie trailer" to obtain those rights.

This new bidding seems to be a huge step in allowing online companies to make money off of their users.

YouTube currently has around 80 million users, but Google's cheif executive officer Eric Schmidt said that YouTube was not generating the kind of revenue the company hoped for.

Matthew Lui, a YouTube product manager, also agreed with Schmidt and said that the companies plans to implement this product was challenging.

"We've been working on this for months," Lui said. "The key was [that] we wanted to make sure we got it right."

"YouTube is a video discovery platform," he said. "We've been integrating with Google AdWords for some time, and now we're at a place where it can be win and win."

Will Google profit from the keyword bids?

The Sponsored Videos are priced on a cost-per-click basis, and only U.S. users can bid on video keywords.

The producers of Sponsored Videos are not certain on whether the program will generate revenues or boost YouTube's ratings.

YouTube has recently surpassed Yahoo to become the second Web search provider, behind Google.

According to, "Google has launched other ad formats, such as posting links near videos, enabling visitors to purchase goods found in the clip."

This company also has signed deals that will bring full-length TV and film content to the site.

Even though Google is expanding their target audience, YouTube will have to wait and see if consumers are embracing this new technique.


Paying for stories

By: Callie McBroom

Crowdfunding is the practice of receiving mini donations through the internet to help fund a venture. It has worked for bands, film makers, and political figures, and now MediaShift is asking if it could work for newspapers.

This site references two local newspapers, and Representative Journalism, that are giving the process a try. or anyone else comes up with a story idea, and people pledge money toward the story. Once a freelance Journalists is covering the story, people can donate up to 20% of the total cost of the story to help fund it. After the journalist has written the story, news organizations can pay the full cost to receive exclusive rights, or the story will be posted online for all to see.

Representative Journalism hires a journalist to cover a specific community or issue. The community then supports that journalist to write stories.

There are some bloggers who are using crowdfunding to raise money as well.

Representative Journalism believes that this process can provide high quality journalism, familarize a community with a journalist, and help members of the community value the news in the area.

This could be a good idea if it's used correctly. If not, crowdfunding could lead to conflicts of interest, biased stories, and narrow story selection.

If people are paying for the news, they will demand only that in which they are interested. This could be a big problem potentially for truth and ethics in reporting.


Associated Press still thriving

By:  Erin Floro


The Associated Press is a huge nonprofit news organization owned by 1500 newspapers and employs 3,000 journalists in 97 countries.  The AP sells to over 15,000 news outlets worldwide, including 5,000 radio and TV stations and 4,000 Web sites. 


Last year revenues were $710.3 million and showed a 6 percent increase due to this year’s election.  Tom Curley, CEO of the 162-year-old AP, reports $30 million in the bank for the organization.  The AP has avoided layoffs and has diversified its business.


The biggest source of revenue 27 percent comes from U.S newspapers, which are facing their own revenue problems.  Many have announced plans to cancel their AP subscriptions.  Curley believes they are just blowing smoke and using these threats to negotiate.


Jim Willse, editor of the Star Ledger of Newark, N.J. reasoned that canceling is due to shrinking revenue and layoffs, not that the AP is invaluable.  His paper did print an entire issue without any AP stories in September to prove it was possible to live without the service. 


Other news organizations are sprouting up around the country.  CNN is launching their wire service in December and GlobalPost is starting an international network of correspondents in 2009. 


Under Curley, the AP has a vision for the news organization to set up ways to share premium breaking news yet it can’t start up a portal that would compete with those they sell their stories to, somewhat of a catch-22.  


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