Afghanistan News That Isn't So Bad

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Afghanistan isn't just a trending topic among the news. It dominates our media almost as much as Tiger Woods does.

We've all heard the bad. In fact we've heard what's beyond bad. The ugly, the horrifying, and the downright disturbing.

Whether it is about a fallen soldier, suicide bombs, or kidnapping, ever since he 2001 US-led invasion overthrew the Taliban regime the media hasn't stopped with the nightmarish stories that are all too close to reality.

It is beyond rare to hear about something good about Afghanistan, and an Afghan immigrant is trying to change that.

Abdullah Qazi, after moving to America, got tired of seeing his country in such a negative light on the news. Knowing that the news would continue to show Afghanistan in an unfavorable way, he decided to set up a website,, that would focus on good things going on in his home country.

The site focuses on pretty much anything positive in Afghanistan. Whether it has to do with sports or transportation impovements, Qazi makes sure the article is uplifting. When it comes to unsavory topics, Qazi still makes them favorable and pleasing.

In the few months since Qazi launched Good Afghan News with the slogan "Afghan News That Will Make You Happy," he has registered thousands of hits from Afghans all over.

He may not have changed the way our nation's media portrays his country, but he is slowly trying to make America see that Afghanistan is just another country trying to make its way in the world. Reading about the positive things in this torn-up country is just a click away.


Using Social Media to Listen

Any journalist knows that they must constantly be listening to what is going on. Listening to the members of their community, officials and even the competition is key to discovering news. Now, social media can be added to the list.

Robert Quigley, social media editor for the Stateman, gives three tips to use social media to listen.

  • Read story comments - Stateman Business Editor Kathy Warbelow said, "[People's] comments have given up tipoffs on things like local layoffs...stores or restaurants opening or closing, the sudden stop of work on big construction projects and sometimes about companies we had not known about."

  • Besides tweeting, use Twitter just to listen - Follow users such as politicians, athletes, sports commentators, companies and other media outlets. These people and groups are reliable and informative.

  • Listen to your Facebook friends - Become friends with local people who can give information on what's going on within the community.

Social media is a good tool in discovering news. Several people use social sites to get their information, and if used well, it can be helpful in generating new story ideas.


AOL Change: Good or Bad?

Friday, February 26, 2010

AOL plans to build an online news format similar to that of Toronto-based start-up, Thoora, in attempts to return to it's former glory. Using Web-analytic software, AOL plans to create what Marty Moe, AOL senior vice-president, calls the "newsroom of the future." This software will help AOL to determine what news readers think is important and that it should write about.

Another component of the "newsroom of the future" includes hiring 500 full-time journalists and procuring stories form more than 3,000 freelance contributors. This allows AOL to produce original, prime content, and the better the content the more advertisers will pay for ad space.

However, content being based on what readers are doing, searching, and clicking on the Internet. Some journalists are afraid that readers influence on what they write will turn journalism's focus away from important, hard-hitting news to fluff. Fluff being celebrity gossip and what is trending in Hollywood.

Which is an excellent point. News isn't news until someone writes, blogs, or broadcasts it. How will people know what is going on in the world, if all that is being written about is someone's latest search on Google?


YouTube for College Application

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tufts University integrated YouTube videos into the application process for incoming freshmen, spawning discussion regarding technology's effect on future applicants at colleges nationwide.

Tufts University in Medford, Mass. paved new ground when administrators began accepting original one-minute YouTube videos as part of the college's application process for incoming freshmen. According to Anne Driscoll of Tonic, of Tufts's 15,436 applicants, six percent chose to create videos.

These videos ranged from the silly to the serious and gave students a new medium to show themselves to administrators. One girl performed "Math Dances," one boy made a stop-motion video, and another made a flying elephant helicopter.

The use of videos in the application process is only one of the unorthodox methods used by Tufts in its application process. Incoming freshmen are required to complete three short essay questions dealing with why they chose Tufts, the influence of their environments on who they are today and "what voice (they) will add to the class of 2014." These are typical admissions questions and might be asked at any other college. Tufts goes a step further and gives students the option of completing another task.

With Tufts's "Optional Essay," applicants really are given options. A student can complete an essay of 250-400 words on a given topic, a seemingly conventional assignment. However, the given topics are rather unconventional: "Imagine history without the United States as we know it"; "Are we alone?"; Was Kermit the Frog right when he said, 'It's not easy being green,'?; etc.

Students are given additional opportunities in this "Optional Essay" component. Given a 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper, a student gets the chance to "create something." The website invites applicants to "draw a cartoon strip, design a costume... compose a score or do something entirely different."

In the next section, applicants can write a short story using one of five given titles, and in the following section, an applicant writes about an incident when he took a stand for something he felt was important.

Though the use of videos in the application process is getting the most publicity, the other aspects of Tufts's application process are just as noteworthy. When applying to colleges, most students only consider which three people they'd like to meet, what classic novel affected them the most, or who they want to be in ten years. Tufts recognizes that every student is different and that different people express themselves in different ways and through different mediums.

We've all heard, "A picture is worth a thousand words." I hate that quote. How many pictures is a word worth? The word "picture," for instance. We all envision something different when we hear the word picture, but by showing me your idea of a picture, you hinder my creativity in envisioning the picture for myself. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a word can spawn at least as many pictures.

How many words is a video worth? What Tufts has done with its video/essay/short story/"create something" component is give applicants the chance to use their own words and their own pictures in their own way. And that, my friend, is priceless.


New Platform for Real-Time News

Kommons - Trustworthy news in real-time from Vadim Lavrusik on Vimeo.

Cody Brown, a senior at New York University and founder of NYU Local, is at it again. He's come up with a new idea for social media called Kommons.

Brown is still putting together the finished product, but it seems to be similar to Twitter with a twist of Wikipedia.

The idea is that instead of having a few major voices in Twitter giving you news, you can belong to a specific community on Kommons where the news pertains to you. You can also edit and add to certain posts like a Wikipedia page. Instead of using hash tags like Twitter, the @ symbol will be used to create these Wiki-like pages.

Brown plans on making the first community within Kommons for students and faculty at NYU.

A big part Brown's idea is to make sure people aren't anonymous on Kommons like they can be on Twitter. In an article posted by Vadim Lavrusik on his blog, Brown says that "if news reporting in real-time is to improve, genuine identity must be established."

It really seems like this idea may catch on. Just imagine a Twitter-like feed with the editing capabilities of Wikipedia for the Des Moines area. Reporters could even use it to find great stories. My only question is how long until the public gets to try it out?


Google Buzz: Not Here To Compete

Monday, February 22, 2010

When rumors of a new Google feature started, many Twitter and Facebook users felt it would be unnecessary and redundant.

Since Google Buzz arrived, feedback on the new feature has been split. Some Gmail users feel that Google Buzz is a convenient way to broadcast ideas and discoveries to other users. However, others feel that Buzz is a failed attempt by Google to compete with Facebook and Twitter.

According to Mashable, Google Executive Bradley Horowitz wants users to know that Google Buzz was not intended to be a rival to Facebook and Twitter. Buzz is intended to be a way of engagement with other Gmail users.

Google Buzz is different from Facebook and Twitter in the way that it allows users to truly discuss ideas and topics with each other, and not in 140 characters or less.

However, when compared against Facebook and Twitter in Mashable's reader poll, "Who would win in a fight, Google Buzz, Facebook, or Twitter?," it's hard not to feel like it is a competition.

Still, the public seems to have accepted Google Buzz among Twitter and Facebook, as a potential favorite way of online conversation. While still coming in third after Facebook and Twitter, Google Buzz received 1,298 votes out of a total 7,130. Whether Buzz is just a fad, or the new most popular social network in disguise, only time will be able to tell.


Radio Engage: A New Platform For Radio

It comes as no surprise that with social networking sites constantly growing and the Web undergoing drastic changes, all types of media organizations must learn to utilize the trend for their benefit. In her Feb. 15 article "The Future of Public Radio- Today," media strategist Margaret Rosas focuses on how one particular media organization, public radio, can create a new and improved presence on the Web, through the use of a product she currently works on designing, called Radio Engage. Although Rosas clearly holds a bias in favor of her product, I agree that Radio Engage potentially offers many benefits to public radio worth exploring.

As part of her pitch for Radio Engage, a platform for Web site creation, Rosas argues that public radio stations must adapt to the new and different ways that audiences use the web. The "destination Web site" no longer interests audiences, who now favor a "come to me" model, mainly driven by social networking sites. In addition, she argues that audiences now produce their own content and expect greater involvement in the "conversation" than ever before. However, the problem remains that many public radio stations simply do not have the manpower to manage their Web presence through all these channels.

The Radio Engage platform allows stations to accomplish this task as it engages Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and can be managed easily from one site. The program will assist stations in aggregating news from audience blogs and tweets, offering an even wider access to possible content. Also, audience comments and conversation can be managed from the same sight, allowing a station's team to customize content to further satisfy audiences. Another component of the program is the optimization of the station's site to place it higher on search engine searches. One user, has claimed that through the use of Radio Engage, visits to their Web site have tripled in only a month, possibly due to this feature.

As I mentioned earlier, Rosas' article clearly contains a bias, as she works as the lead strategist for Radio Engage. Still, I agree that Radio Engage has potential. It clearly provides an excellent tool for stations to manage a large amount of Web content from a single site, which becomes essential when considering the manpower a station would need otherwise. If results from the initial tests indicate the future of the product, then Radio Engage could soon become a well recognized name in the industry. Much of the platform's future, in my opinion, lies within how it will be offered to stations. If stations will be required to pay high prices for the service, I would project that many stations will find a way to manage their Web presence without Radio Engage. However, if Radio Engage remains cost beneficial, it is highly possible that the platform could have a great impact on public radio's future Web presence.


Measuring Audience Sentiment

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thoora, a Toronto-based startup, measures how well individual stories are doing in real-time. The company will analyze and calibrate real-time data from blogs, mainstream media sources and Twitter. The software Thoora uses, determines the highest quality stories as well as the ones with the most popular content.

The company says the data can be used to help editors decide where to place stories on a page, for example. It is also beneficial to news organizations because it can help them figure out where their story ranks in comparison to the competition.

CEO Mike Lee said this is the first time a tool has been used to determine audience sentiment for news at the story level instead of the topic level. Their consumer site groups stories together based on similar algorithms, much like Pandora does with its music.

Many people push the most popular and current topics to the top, but Lee said their goal is to also "drive quality to the surface."

While Thoora currently has no clients, Lee said they are in discussions with a major Canadian news organization and Canadian sports publisher.

They hope to release a free version of their platform in order for people to publish their stories and see how they compare to others' stories.

This technology seems as though it would benefit companies because they would be able to understand what people are reading now and how to position the story on their page. It also allows for better quality stories to be read, which can enhance a company's credibility.


Tiger Woods: More Than Enough

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What does CNN, E! News, CNBC, ESPN, and your local news station all have in common besides the fact that they all cover some sort of news?

Though they all tend to have their own different beat, they all have over-abundantly covered a man known as Tiger Woods. He's a celebrity on E! News, an athlete on ESPN, and simply a news worthy figure on large and local media stations.

Woods' 13 1/2 minute speech was covered by dozens of broadcast networks, cable news outlets and online streams. Not to mention it was viewed by millions of people.

The apology for his "sexual adventures" took place the TPC Sawgrass, home of the PGA Tour, in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

Though it can't really be considered a press conference because he didn't take any questions, the speech could be found anywhere and everywhere. Because it was during the workday, much of it was streamed online.

ESPN seemed to be the leader of coverage. It was broadcasted not only on ESPN, ESPNEWS and ESPN2, but also on, ESPN radio and ESPN Mobile.

E! News also didn't waste any time with getting articles out about it on their website, They have had 11 articles up and ready for the world to see since his talk.

One could even find Woods on Twitter under the popular thread "tigershouldve".

His wife, Elin, was not there to support him. His mother, however, was bravely sitting in the front row.

If you missed his speech, don't fret. It is beyond easy to find in our world of media.


Coupons Going Digital?

Friday, February 19, 2010

After reading a blog post written by Jeff Jarvis about the dying industry of print coupons, I began to think about what he say saying. Is there any relation between this and the rumored extinction of newspapers?

Jeff Jarvis believes so. He claims in his blog that when he was working as the Sunday editor at the New York Daily News that when they stopped providing coupons in their paper, circulation went up $100k. It turned out that people had been buying coupons more than the paper.

Jarvis isn't the only one recognizing the rising popularity of coupons, though. made $858 million last year on printouts of deals alone. Also, Americans redeemed $3.3 billion in coupons last year, a 27% increase since 2008.

What next then, you might ask? Well, like everything else in the media industry, coupons are going to have to make some changes.

Everything seems to be converting to digital, so why shouldn't coupons be the same way? Jarvis predicts coupon use going digital, even to the extent of our smart phones. "If I can check into my flight with the scan of my IPhone, shouldn't I be able to buy toilet paper with it?" Jarvis said.

If coupons begin to go digital, and online content has already begun to grow increasingly popular, this can only leave you wondering what lies in the future of newspapers everywhere.


Digital Media Pyramid

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Since the Civil War, journalist have used the Inverted Pyramid to write their news stories. With the change in technology, so too must the Inverted Pyramid change.

Using the Inverted Pyramid, journalist put the the five W's and H at the beginning of the story so readers know what it is about at a glance. The rest of the article contain information that supports the five W's and H.
While this style of writing is time-tested and true, the world of journalism is making a major transition to digital and so must the pyramid. The Inverted Pyramid is a style that can only really be success full in print media.

According to the Online Journalism Review, the Digital Media Pyramid is the way of the future.

Like the Inverted Pyramid, the Digital Media Pyramid starts off with the five W's and H and a body. However, this body is filled with copy, paste, and copywright taken straight from Internet sources, with restrictions of course. Next the pyramid contains art of pictures, videos, and interactivity with readers and ads. Lastly, the new pyramid has links, resources, and social content.

Its kind of like this blog. You get your five W's and H, a body derived from another Internet source, pictures, links and social content. Which means that this pyramid was already a component in the journalism world, but now it must become the one of the main elements for journalism to continue to be successfull in the future.


NY Times Using Foursquare at Olympics

Many businesses have already made deals with the increasingly popular Foursquare website. It has included HBO, the History Channel, and Warner Brothers. Foursquare is a social media site that allows many of your friends from Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter to find what your location is. This has increase the knowledge to your location. This is supposed to help you find friends near you. It acts as a simple finder. Foursquare also uses a "Mayor" function. This allows the person who has visited the place most often become the mayor. This then allows the mayor to receive incentives from the place at many locations. They also earn badges for certain achievements.

The interesting thing about this is that the New York Times and Foursquare have announced that they have announced that they have teamed up together. People who have written for the travel and entertainment areas are suggesting what type of venues are their best bet to go to. If someone goes to at least two of the suggested venues they will receive a special badge. A little incentive after trying the places. The Metro has also offered similar deals relevant to that of the New York Times.

The future of this is up in the air. The added support will add an increase of users on Foursquare. This will cause advertisement opportunities and in the end a successful future for Foursquare.


BBC Reporters Embrace Social Media

New Director of BBC Global News, Peter Horrocks told news journalist of BBC to use social media as a primary source of information.

He just recently took over last week and said that it was important for editorial staff to make better use of social media and become more collaborative in producing stories. Horrocks believes that technology is changing journalism and it is important for BBC to leave a program based mindset behind.

"This isn't just a kind of fad from someone who's an enthusiast of technology. I'm afraid you're not doing your job if you can't do those things. It's not discretionary." said Horrocks in the BBC in-house weekly Ariel.

BBC is following in the foot steps of competetors like CNN whose coverage of the Haiti earthquake through social media sources has shown to an international crowd that news organizations already have been professionalizing and harnessing user content and social media.

For BBC news editors, Twitter and RSS readers are to become essential tools under Horrocks regin. BBC journalists will have to integrate and listen to feedback for a better understanding of how the audience is relating to the BBC brand.

As technology is changing the nature of journalism the BBC is tyring to keep up with the pace.


Gannett Hides Revenue Goal

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gannett Co. Inc. got notification Wednesday, Feb. 16 that the company would be allowed to with hold its digital revenue goals by 2011. On the company's 2009 annual 10-K form they left put an asterisk where they were supposed to fill out their revenue.

The form was filed on Feb. 25, 2009 under rule 24b-2 which requests confidential treatment for the information about their planned earnings. The plan was originally drawn up for then new Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis that he would earn an extra $4 million if he reaches specific goals over the plan's four year period.

Next to the asterisk on the form was a footnote that said Gannett was waiting for conformation from the SEC to see if they would be able to keep their financial numbers secret. There is no exact explanation for why the SEC took so long to make their decision on Gannett's request.


Times Faces Plagiarism... Again

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A New York Times reporter recently resigned amid accusations of plagiarism, and on February 14, the Times issued an Editors' Note detailing the case.

Zachery Kouwe worked as a blogger and reporter for the New York Times since October 2008. The accusations of plagiarism were made by the Wall Street Journal regarding a post made by Kouwe on the DealBook blog at The WSJ found "extensive similarities" between Kouwe's article and an article printed just hours earlier by the WSJ, and Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson sent a letter to New York Times editor Bill Keller describing "this case of apparent plagiarism." In an internal investigation, the Times uncovered additional cases of plagiarism by Kouwe.

The Times printed a correction both as an Editors' Note and alongside Kouwe's plagiarized article. The newspaper detailed its own policy on plagiarism, ending with the Times' dedication to protecting the integrity of journalism.

This was not the first incidence of a Times reporter taking liberties with journalism. In 2003, Jayson Blair, another reporter for the Times, was found guilty of plagiarizing. Additionally, the Times discovered that Blair was inventing quotes, facts and even sources to enhance his stories.

Unfortunately, these incidences reflect poorly on the Times. In only seven years this newspaper produced two writers whose ethics were questionable by all standards of journalism. This does not seem coincidental.

Is there something in the atmosphere at the Times that forces writers to feel the need to cheat? Or, does the atmosphere at the Times enable cheaters and make them feel like they can get away with cheating?

The Times has promised to do a review of all articles written by Kouwe, but maybe it needs to review its own policies, and it certainly needs to review its editing practices. A respected paper like the Times will no longer have any respect if things like this continue.


Is a Journalism Degree Enough?

After finding a blog post written by Joe Sheller about what kind of education journalism majors should be seeking, I began to think about our own program here at Simpson College. Could the way students are learning about the journalism field really be as out of date as he says?

I don't believe Simpson is that far behind. Sure we still have a lot of catching up to do, but in the wake of the changing media industry I think the professors here are doing all they can to make sure their students receive the best education possible.

I dusted off my copy of the general catalog to look up what courses it takes to graduate with a degree in multimedia journalism or integrated marketing communication. It seems to me that many of the courses that students are required to take to obtain their degree also push them to think less as just writers and more as entrepreneurs.

Take our beginning news writing and reporting course for instance. I would have never dreamed I would be tweeting little pieces of news that I see happening around campus, let alone writing this blog. I'm also in a marketing course, and the one thing my professor keeps pounding into our heads is how we need to be tech savvy.

That doesn't just mean knowing how to use Facebook and Twitter. As Sheller tells us in his blog, more adults are learning all about these social media sites, and we as students need to be as ahead of the game as possible. Just taking a course in web design and web coding may put you miles ahead of your competitors in the job hunt.

So maybe the journalism field is changing, and maybe some colleges aren't doing enough to prepare their students, but the people at Simpson College seem to be making enough changes in the program to help enable students in the long run.


Now Hiring: The White House

Monday, February 15, 2010

Millions of Americans are currently on the hunt for a job. With many businesses laying off employees, it can be discouraging when no one is hiring.

Recently, a slightly unexpected job opportunity opened up dealing with social networks. President Barack Obama recently announced that the Democratic National Committee is in the process of hiring a new "social networks manager." According to the Wall Street Journal Blogs, the "social networks manager" is responsible for maintaining President Obama's Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace accounts.

The person currently responsible for this job is Mia Cambronero. Cambronero has recently announced that she is stepping down from her position as the "social networks manager."

According to Organizing for America's, "social networks manager" job description, applicants must be "passionate about engaging millions of Americans in advancing President Obama's agenda and changing the country."

So what does it take to become President Obama's new "social network manager?" According to the job description, qualifications include having excellent writing and editing skills, being able to craft affective messages, working under deadline pressure and many more.

The job description basically expresses their need for a professional 'tweeter,' or 'status updater.' Though the qualifications are higher than the Organizing for America's job description make it seem like, there is a chance that an ordinary U.S. citizen might end up working for the President.

If you would like more information on the job description and qualifications, or would like apply, visit the Organizing for America's "social network manager" application.


Creating a Good Video Story

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Video stories are becoming an essential part of online and newspaper multimedia reports. But what makes a video story good?

Recently, Rebecca Aguilar, freelance multimedia reporter in Dallas, asked three television news videographers what they think makes for a good video story.

Chuck Denton, a videographer based near Los Angeles, was one of the interviewees. Also interviewed were Bonnie Gonzalez, a reporter and videographer in Austin, and Jim Kent, a videographer with his own company, ArtGecko Productions.
Denton says you need to make sure there are visual elements that can help tell the story.

"Are the interviews dynamic?" he says you should ask yourself in order to determine if a story would make a good video story. "Are they compelling enough to keep folks interested in tuning in?"

Gonzalez says a good video story has a lot of action and natural sounds. These are the sounds you hear in the video that make you feel like you are actually there.

Kent says you should stick with print if the story is complicated and complex. Otherwise, it is better to use video because television is a visual medium.

All three agree that the characters in the video play an important role. Characters that are compelling help tell the story and keep the viewers interested.

They also say that having good sound to tell the story is key. Gonzalez says it is also important to have action to tell an interesting story.

I think that all of these things are important in telling a good video story. A video story would not be interesting if you didn't have energetic or emotional characters telling the story. A video story would also seem dull if there was no action or if the storyline wasn't fitting for a video story.


NORML Fights For CBS 's Billboard

Friday, February 12, 2010

The CBS Corporation has made their voice about not legalizing the use of marijuana loud and clear.

They recently denied NORML, the National Organization of Marijuana Laws, a spot on their digital billboard in New York City's Time Square.

The fifteen-second ad would argue that taxing and regulating the adult use and sale of marijuana would raise billions of dollars in national revenue. It was supposed to appear on Monday, February 1, 2010, but CBS, along with Neutron Media rejected the paid advertisement.

Representatives from Neutron Media had contacted NORML in January. The ad was supposed to air 18 times a day for two months. The NORML Foundation got a contractual agreement with Neutron Media to air two separate NORML advertisements, and made an initial ad exclusively for the CBS digital billboard. This advertisement was predicted to be seen by over 1.5 million people a day.

Not surprisingly, NORML was more than unhappy and set up a petition on their site to demand CBS to change their bias ruling.

To watch the ad, click here.
To sign the NORMAL petition, click here. So far there are 1,803 signatures. Their goal is 2,500.


Hyperlocal Site Builds on Olympic Games

As newspapers face an uncertain future, an emerging news platform, the hyperlocal Web site, may be opening exciting doors for citizens to follow and showcase their communities.

Although hyperlocal Web sites have been steadily growing through the past year, I would not be surprised if my readers are unfamiliar with the new platform. Described by Cain Miller and Brad Stone in their April 2009 article for the New York Times, hyperlocal websites provide extremely localized information. Often the Web sites operate without hired journalists, but instead with input from those within the community. The content of a typical hyperlocal Web site ranges from links to external articles and blogs, local government news, arrests, home sales, road construction, and restaurant and event reviews. Also, many of these sites have the capability to cover and deliver news faster than larger news organizations.

While smaller local newspapers (such as those in rural Iowa) can usually cover all the above information, hyperlocals prove beneficial in bigger metro areas, whose papers cannot always dedicate the manpower to covering individual neighborhoods or suburbs. Many are becoming even more innovative, following the examples of sites like, which has an iPhone app allowing users to locate news and events within a 1,000 foot radius of their location. Also, many supporters of hyperlocal Web sites praise its potential to bring local advertising dollars to the Web.

Clearly, hyperlocal Web sites serve a very defined audience. However, in a February 11, 2010 article at the Online Journalism Review, Dave Chase, owner and editor of the hyperlocal, presented several ways in which sites can boost their viewership to a larger, perhaps even national level. Currently, his site, which covers the Wood River Valley region of Idaho, is capitalizing on the 2010 Winter Olympics. A local of the Wood River Valley area, Curtis Bacca currently works for snowboarders Lindsey Jacobellis, Seth Wescott, and Shaun White and is with the team in Vancouver to prepare boards for competition. To help Chase and promote Sun Valley Online, Bacca shoots a video blog of his work with the team that is uploaded to the site. By doing this, Chase hopes to create a huge jump in short-term viewership as the games proceed that will lead to an increase in regular and steady viewers.

Examples of other national events or news that hyperlocals could connect to their own sites include natural disasters or local celebrity news. I certainly agree with Chase that hyperlocals provide an exciting new platform for news and I look forward to seeing them develop in the future. I do have one reservation however, and that is on the issue of quality. The downfall of the hyperlocal Web site will be when quality is ignored in an effort to produce fast content. As they develop, hyperlocals must be sure to adhere to high standards of quality and journalistic ethics.


Google Makes Necessary Changes to "Buzz"

Google has decided to make adjustments to privacy settings on Google Buzz after a bad perception in it's first week of service.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the new technology of Google Buzz, it's like Google's own, polished version of Facebook and Twitter. It is available to you as soon as you log into your Gmail account and allows you to share photos, videos, and more.
The big problem with Buzz, though, was that it automatically allowed anyone who accessed your page to view your list of followers and the list of people that you were following. Also, Google made it very difficult to access and change these privacy settings, leaving Buzz users distressed.

But changes have been made. Google has now added a feature to Buzz causing a window to pop up the first time Gmail users log on, asking them, "How do you want to be seen to others?" The default option will be to show the list of people you're following and the list of people following you as well on your public profile, but that box can be easily found and unchecked.

With these new adjustments being made, Google hopes to rid of it's initial bad reputation and have users recognize some of it's positive features. Buzz strives to offer convenience by automatically following the people you e-mail and chat with the most on your Gmail account, and by having new post pop up instantly with no refresh required.

Google has taken over the web as a search engine, a mail provider, and now possibly as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter. It seems we have to ask ourselves now: What will they come up with next?


Google Threatens Telecommunication Companies

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google announced February 10, that it would be testing its version of a new higher speed Internet. It will be offering this Internet access in certain communities to show people the abilities that the faster broadband network would have.

The company fully believes that their internet would be able to speedily stream 3-D medical images from hospitals to specialized medical centers and would make downloading full length movie only a matter of minutes.

Google has been frustrated with the low speed broadband that the United States currently has. The broadband networks in the U.S. are considerably slower than that of other well developed countries. But this is not Google's first attempt at changing broadband networks. Google paid $4 billion to buy a portion of a wireless spectrum to loosen the control carriers have over that area.

Google is proving "that we can have super-fast open broadband networks that break the duopoly of cable and telephone companies that we have today." said Ben Scott, policy director for Free Press.

Critics say this is just a public relations effort by Google to get broadband companies to offer higher speed internet to its customers and therefore have to play by Google's rules.

Google maintains that it is just trying to advance business and technology. Richard S. Whitt, Google's Washington telecommunications and media counsel say Google is using the test to get broadband companies to offer higher-speed internet at lower costs.

No matter what the intentions the test will be administered to many communities and could reach up to 500,000 internet consumers.


The Future of Newspapers and Coupons?

One of the most important reasons that newspapers should still be in print a couple days a week is for the coupons. As crazy as it sounds this might be the reason that newspapers continue to stay in print. The part this is sad is whether people would just be buying the paper for the savings rather than enriching their minds.

Coupon use has now jumped 27 percent compared to that of previous years. This is the first time in 17 years. Now that coupons are becoming the next best thing, there is the fear of them going digital as well. The main bandwagon is the Internet. Online coupons available for print are easy, cheap, and convenient. The actual facts is that coupons being used are very low. It seems that newspaper just might still have a chance of surviving this online enemy.


Life Without the AP

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

For nearly two months, Google News went with out using Associated Press articles on its site. Those article will soon be returning to the Google site once negatiations between the AP and Google are finished. The negotiation is over the creation of a new licensing argreement the at will allow Google to continue to publish AP articles.

While Google is jumping back on the AP bandwagon, CNN will be getting off and go a week cold turkey from using the AP wires. CNN wants to prove that it is still a top contender in gathering and breaking news by itself.

Unlike Google, does not use AP content or images. CNN only uses AP wires to collect information, but it believes it can rely on its own wires to provide the same great coverage.

However, will this really prove anything? If CNN goes a week without the AP and doesn't end up failing miserably, is one week really enough time to prove that CNN is capable of functioning without help. The only thing that one week can prove is that CNN cannot function on its own, if it ends up failling its own one week test.

I think a better test would be to see if CNN can stay a float for a month by itself. That would be a real test of its news gathering abilities.


Tweeting in the Media

A new form of interviewing is starting to replace the usual "man-on-the-street" work. Now, instead of putting a microphone in front of you and asking you to comment, many media companies may start asking if they can use your Twitter feed. To make this even easier, developing company Wiredset has created Trenderr to sort marketing information for businesses, and now a new site specifically designed for the media: Curatorr.

According to Frederic Lardinois, Curatorr allows the media to perform advanced Twitter searches and place relevant tweets into folders for future use. These tweets can then be shown on television straight off the site.

Curatorr was used first by MTV during the Hope for Haiti Concert to publish tweets on the air, and other networks like CNN have also began to use Curatorr. It currently is only available to TV networks and other media companies, and the price each company will pay depends on how it is used.


Twitter Replaces Fireside Chats?

Paul Boutin, a tech columnist for the New York Times wrote an article last May encouraging President Obama to use Twitter more frequently. Boutin felt that a few 140 character notes from the President could serve as abbreviated fireside chats and could give the White House positive PR.

About eight hours later, Epicenter writer Ryan Singel wrote a scathing reply begging Obama to stay off Twitter and focus on more important issues: running the country for instance.

Since this squabble, Obama's Twitter account has logged 548 tweets. The tone of this feed is less formal than that of the official White House Twitter feed which is run unapologetically by his staff. The White House feed has logged 831 tweets. Both of these accounts were created in May 2009.

Obama himself didn't tweet until the recent crisis in Haiti. On January 18, Obama pushed the 'send' button for a tweet written by someone else that was published on another's account.
Our technologically adept nation understands that much of the information we receive is given to us by staff members and personal assistants. We don't expect famous people to take time out of their busy days to fill us in. And, as far as the President is concerned, it is reassuring that he is too concerned with the nation's affairs to worry about projecting his personal image on a social networking site.
It's been a few months shy of a year, but I think both columnists got their wishes granted. The White House and the President have made a greater effort to connect with the people virtually, but the President has not neglected his duties to become more popular.


Is Google Trying too Hard?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Most of us are very familiar with the concept of a status update. We are accustomed to everyday conversations about someone's Facebook status. Twitter uses a similar concept with its Twitter updates.

The idea behind Facebook statuses and Twitter updates is to notify predetermined friends or followers what a person is doing at a certain time.

That same idea has now piqued the interest of Google. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google will announce the addition of a new feature on Gmail sometime this week. This feature will be similar to a Facebook status update. Gmail users will now be able to inform their e-mail contacts of their whereabouts and recent news.

A problem with this feature, according to Mashable's Adam Ostrow, is the simple fact that a Gmail user's contact list may not be who they would normally choose to receive their status updates and vice versa.

With the addition of Facebook and Twitter in the competitive world of social networking, it is without a doubt becoming difficult for email services to maintain existing users, while appealing to potential ones. The addition of a new Gmail feature is just another way that Google is trying to stay on top of the competition.


The Lack of Pepsi

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Watching the commercials during the Super Bowl has become near a tradition since it became a media blitz to sell products. While watching this year it may have become apparent that there was no Pepsi Commercial. This broke a 23 year streak of Pepsi having a commercial during the Super Bowl and it was snapped due to Pepsi's interest in social media.

The Super Bowl was broadcast by CBS this year and they wanted $3 million dollars for a 30-second commercial. Instead of investing in this as Pepsi traditionally has they have decided to pour their advertising dollars into social media. This movement into social media is what Pepsi is calling the Pepsi Refresh Project.

The point of the Pepsi Refresh Project is for Pepsi to become more involved with its customers. "The project is about creating a movement, not just a moment." said Bonin Bough, Pepsi's global director of digital and social media. Pepsi is donating $1 million dollars in February and is committed to $20 million dollars overall to social causes and community projects.

Pepsi is not the only big company getting into the social media craze. Budweiser let its customers vote on its Facebook site which commercials they wanted to see and's Facebook page had videos on it of the fiddling beaver from its Super Bowl commercials.


Writing is Not Enough For Journalists

These days everybody is practically a journalist. Typically, people wrote only when the teacher told them to, but real journalists wrote and reported stories outside the classroom.

The Internet has made it easier for anybody to become a journalist. Blogs and sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow people to write what they want, when they want.

Therefore, people who desire to earn a living as a journalist will need to acquire new traits in order to get hired or accepted into journalism school.

According to Robert Niles, a writer for the Online Journalism Review, journalists must be able to discover and analyze new information that would be of interest to their audience.

In order for this to happen, journalists are going to have to develop several characteristics, including strong analytic skills and the ability to uncover a story.

Just as the publishing market is competitive, so too is the market for journalists with numerous different skills.

I think it is very important to have multiple skills. In today's environment, it's not enough to just be able to write.

Social journalism is imperative for journalists. They have to be able to engage their audience and find and share stories that would be of interest to readers.


Reporters banned from Olympic site

In Vancouver Canada the Olympic officials have banned news reporters from the site where freestyle and snowboarding events are to take place. The site has been plagued by a lack of snow. Therefore the officials closed the site to the media and the public as helicopters and 300 lorries were used to bring snow down to the site from higher altitudes. Vanoc vice-president Tim Gayda assures the community that there is nothing to hide as he is thinking of safety first.

As far as a ban on the public that is understandable but the media should be able to view the ferrying of snow down to the site. If there is nothing to hide then why not let some of the reporters or just camera men in. Of course since it's in Canada the laws may be a little different for this sort of thing. However a complete ban just does not make much sense. This is the Olympics, the news coverage is crazy so to hear that the media has been banned from an area is really hard to fully comprehend, and of course, the reporters who are there are not too happy.


Stewart Burns Fox on Political Standing

Saturday, February 6, 2010

John Stewart, known for bashing media personalities, gives toughest criticism of Fox New than ever before seen on Fox News.

Fox News has always been criticized for being a part of the conservative movement by many on the left. "cyclonic perpetual emotion machine" that has "taken reasonable concerns about this president and this economy and turned it into a full-fledged panic about the next coming of Chairman Mao," said Stewart to Bill O'Reilly.

The interview was shown on Bill O'Reilly's show, The O'Reilly Factor, Fox's most popular show. However, much of the interview was cut out, in particular the parts where Stewart had a lot more to say.

Stewart has been known to stray from his Comedy Central comedy into more serious political media and gained a lot of attention for it. For example, In 2004 on CNN's "Crossfire" Stewart claimed the left right debate format was "hurting America," three months before the program was canceled.

Also Stewart took a jab at Jim Carmer, host of "Mad Money" from CNBC for being Wall Street cheerleaders, and that "the financial news industry is not just guilty of a sin of omission but a sin of commission," said Stewart.

Mr. O'Reilly defended Fox but citing a poll from last month by the Public Policy Polling organization that Fox was more widely trusted than any other television news organization. Also Fox News is the most-watched cable news channel and caused a lot of controversy and high ratings in the first year of the Obama administration by appearing to be the network of the opposition.

Mr. O'Reilly said Thursday: "It was interesting to hear Mr. Stewart put forth that Fox News is in business to help Republicans. I rebutted that, and you can decide who had the stronger argument."


The Sharks and Fish of The Media Ocean

Friday, February 5, 2010

Big ideas come from little places. It's been said for years under all types of circumstances, and local media stations across the nation are one of the perfect examples of this. But if big media is overtaking the local ones, what happens when these little places, no longer exist?

The media has been controlled by the media giants for years, but too often, these media giants cause local stations to go out of business.

Our media is much like an ocean. This media ocean consists of a few sharks, which are like the big media companies, and many fish, which are like the local stations. As the sharks eat up more and more fish, the once healthy and balanced ocean is now an unwholesome, noxious one.

Ted Turner is the founder of CNN, one of the media sharks. But he is also the first to say that the biggest ideas come from local stations. Without these local stations, healthy capital markets turn into deteriorating ones.

Smaller stations are so important because without them there is a loss of localism and democratic debate. In local stations, the mission and programming is different. When large media sharks dominate, it undercuts the democracy. The big companies don't compete the same and are not antagonistic. It is the little companies who know how to compete, which results in the biggest and best ideas.

"No one should underestimate the danger," Turner said. "Big media companies wan to eliminate all ownership limits."

With the elimination of these ownership limits, the media power will be in the hands of only a few corporations and individuals.

"This is a fight about freedom," Turner said. "The freedom of independent entrepreneurs to start and run a media business, and the freedom of citizens to get news, information, and entertainment from a wide variety of sources, at least some of which are truly independent and not run by people facing the pressure of quarterly earnings reports."

The media sharks dominating the local organizations leads to many questions. What will programming be like when it is produced for nothing but a profit? What will news be like when there are no independent news organizations to go after the important stories that big corporations avoid? Perhaps the most important question is a simple one, as free people, do we want to find out?


Could Blogging Be Your Ticket to Success?

Sometimes it only takes one minor change to make some major changes in a persons life.

Ryan Sholin began blogging when he was a graduate student at San Jose State University in the field of Mass Communications. With his first amateur blog, entitled "Big Silver Robot," Sholin quickly learned that uses and importance of blogging.

"You don't get to act like someone who has ideas unless there's some evidence of your ideas out there in the world," Sholin said.

Although there may be a lot of truth to that statement, statistics are showing that young people today are not taking advantage of the technology available to get their ideas out into the world. According to, blogging has dropped amount teens and young adults while simultaneously rising among older adults since 2006.

Teenagers today may not realize the impact a simple blog can have on their future, but luckily for Sholin he discovered early on in life how beneficial they can be. In 2007, Sholin worked at a newspaper where he posted a blog that thousands of people read every day, including possible employers.

"This blog has been instrumental in getting every full-time job I've had in the news buisness," Sholin said.

And it's never too soon to start thinking about your future. Teens as young as high school and college ages can take advantage of the perks blogging has to offer by getting their names out into the world earlier rather than later. No matter what you're blogging about, the fact that you are blogging is what's important.

"Pointing out the obvious to an audience that might not have spotted it yet and then repeating myself over and over again has become, shall we say, my thing," Sholin said.

What is the point in all of this you might ask? Well, like Nike says, just do it! Whether it's getting your own personal website or just starting your own blog, a minor decision like that can have a big impact on your future. And even if you feel like you have nothing to say, you do, and you never know who else is going to be interested in it too.


James O'Keefe's Tactics Questioned

Filmmaker and activist James O'Keefe made headlines again recently following his Jan. 25 arrest in New Orleans. Best known for his controversial 2009 undercover videos concerning the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now in which he and a partner posed as a pimp and a prostitute seeking business advice, O'Keefe, along with three other men, now faces a charge of entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. The charge stems from his attempt to interfere with phone lines at the office of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana by entering her office disguised as a telephone technician while secretly filming the episode.

In interviews with Sean Hannity and Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, O'Keefe claims to have been investigating constituent complaints that Sen. Landrieu's phones had not been working, giving them no access to her New Orleans office during a period of critical health care debates. When addressing the ethical nature of his behavior, O'Keefe has justified his actions, likening his stories to those of well known undercover journalism stories such as PrimeTimeLive's Food Lion story.

However, as Greg Marx has written in an article today for the Columbia Journalism Review, O'Keefe's argument stands on shaky ground. Pointing to a list created by Bob Steele of Poynter Online, Marx argues that good undercover journalism involving hidden cameras must meet two criteria. First, the information must be of "profound importance," reveal "great system failure," or be able to prevent harm to individuals. Second, the list requires that "all other alternatives for obtaining the same information be exhausted." According to Marx, O'Keefe's current project involving Sen. Landrieu meets neither of these criteria, as it had clear political motivations and the problem did not require such serious measures.

Why must journalists worry about radicals in the vein of O'Keefe? Undercover journalism, if done correctly, can be an excellent tool. However, as Marx again points out, if undercover journalism is done incorrectly or insensitively it can hurt the reputation of all journalists. In addition, information obtained undercover is not as likely to be believed by the public, further diminishing the credibility of journalism. Marx argues that O'Keefe's brand of journalism falls in this category in several ways.

I highly agree with Marx on the issue of James' O'Keefe's "reporting." While I understand that certain situations and stories require the use of disguises or false identities, such situations should be handled with a greater sensitivity than O'Keefe demonstrates. Another point Marx argues that I agree with is that O'Keefe fails to show his evidence in the context of a traditional news report, making his "reports" overly sensationalized and based merely in shock value. While some may herald O'Keefe as a new type of reporter, I hope that media consumers continue to understand and condemn the flaws within his work.


Not Dumb Blonde, Dumb Newspaper

London's Sunday Times committed two major sins of journalism, on Jan. 17, 2010. The Times didn't get the facts straight and it falsified quotes, in a story on scientists doing research on blondes.

The Times claims that Dr. Aaron Sell, a researcher at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California, has done research that proves that blond women are more assertive and want things to go their way more often than brunettes and red heads. Dr. Sell, however, claims his study never mentions anything about women's hair color or hair for that matter.
In addition to these misinterpreted facts, Times also completely made-up a quote by Dr. Sell about California being "the natural habitat of the privileged blonde." Dr. Sell denies ever having saying it in his over the phone interview with John Harlow.

Since the articles printing Dr. Sell has written a letter to the Times asking it to remove all references to himself and his research from the article and that it was just not true. Dr. Sell has also posted a note a on his Web site disowning the article.

This is not the first time the Times has publish an inaccurate article, and it is not the first inaccurate article about blondes. In 2006, the Sunday Times was deceived by a false claim that a WHO study discovered blondes were going the way of the dinosaur. Two other stories about blonds written by the Times were "Recession chic: why blondes are having more fun," and "You silly boys: blondes make men act dumb."

This repeat offence of blatant inaccuracy and fabrication can only hurt the Sunday Times' and the press media's reputations. Readers rely on news to be factual and tell them the truth. When the news is only accurate part the time, it causes readers to question it the rest of the time. London's Sunday Times is the a good example for all young journalist of bad journalism.


Online Term Papers Copyrighted

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In a new spin on the online term paper debate, an Illinois court ordered one company to provide proof of permission from the papers' authors.

Online term papers have always been controversial due to students' ability to simply purchase and submit work that isn't their own. This ethical dilemma was not addressed in the recent ruling.

This ruling was the culmination of a 2006 lawsuit revolving around authors of a research paper who found their work on sale online. The companies selling term papers online must provide proof of permission from the authors of all papers.

Though the companies prosecuted in this case are relatively small, it's possible that this ruling will discourage others from selling online term papers. 


Vote for the Super Bowl Ads You Want

Millions of people will watch the Super Bowl this year and while most people watch for the football, some of us (including me) watch solely for the advertisements. Many people can remember some of the commercials better than who actually played in the game, and Budweiser ads always entertain.

This year Budweiser has decided to use the social media website Facebook to its advantage by asking its fans to vote for the ads they want to see.

It's a great marketing scheme in itself, as Brenna Ehrlich describes in her post on Mashable. Before you can vote on what ad you'd like to see, you must first become a fan of Budweiser's Facebook page. The company is counting on you staying a fan after voting, and it can send you important product updates. Your friends may also see that you're a fan of the beer, and then become a fan of it themselves.

These advertisements have always received a lot of hype, and now more so with the help social media.


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