What to Look for When Following Twitter Users

Friday, October 29, 2010

As any Twitter user would know, Twitter is all about following and obtaining followers who are interested in the same things you.

Like any other social media, users need to be cautious when trying to utilize social media such as Twitter. You need to be able to decipher the people that are interested in the same things you are, and are actively using twitter in a way that benefits you.

A vital point to choosing the right people to follow is to first choose what you are interested in. For this blog's purpose I will use my own description on Twitter of what I am interested in.

Make sure user's tweets are relavent to you. For example, MTV's hit show "Jersey Shore," has Snooki and Sammi, couple of the shows characters, actively using Twitter.

Unless I wanted to follow Snooki or Sammi for entertainment purposes, their information doesn't relay any message that fits the description that I am looking for.

Users I do follow are @designmodo and @Designrfix.

Because both of these users tweet about Art related topics, it would be logical to network with these Twitter users.

As a current student, following people that tweet about topics related to my majors allows me to obtain ideas from others that are more experienced in the field I want to enter.

Using Twitter to network with people like @Designrfix and @designmodo allows for useful information rather than how to dress up as Sammi off of "The Jersey Shore" for Halloween.

Finally don't allow the amount of people that Twitter users follow/being followed by fool you. Even if there are high amounts of people following the user, it doesn't mean they are a useful source of information.

If users only have 1 tweet with 100,000 followers it defeats the whole purpose of having a Twitter account.

Making sure that you know what you want to get out of Twitter and pick the right people to follower that share a mutual desire similar topics are essentials to utilize the full potential of your Twitter account.


Google Donates $5 Million in Support of Digital Journalism

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In an effort to spur innovation in digital journalism, Google announced on Oct. 26 a $5 million donation to help news publishers in the digital age.

Acknowledging the importance of reliable journalism for everyone, Google will donate $5 million worth of grants to non-profit journalism organizations to help foster new ideas to support digital journalism, reach bigger audiences and make online news more engaging through innovation.

"We hope these grants will help new ideas blossom and encourage experimentation. We look forward to working with the journalism community to help digital news move forward," said Nikesh Arora, president of global sales operations and business development at Google.

Google has granted $2 million to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, host of the annual Knight News Challenge, a program that funds innovative ideas to develop journalism tools and platforms.

Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation, talks about Google's donation to support its innovation efforts. 10/26/2010

The recipients of the remaining $3 million will be announced early next year. So far, Google aims to give the money to international journalism organizations with the same desire to boost the flow of reliable news.

I find it very valuable that such an influential and important company as Google sees the importance of journalism and, even more important, supports it.

Hopefully, this initiative will be followed by even more donations not only from Google, but from other profitable companies that acknowledge the need for innovation within news organizations and the enhancement of digital journalism.


People Crave Good History and Good Journalism- Let's Collaborate

Monday, October 25, 2010

Today, it seems that everyone is too wrapped up in what is happening in the present and not paying enough attention to the history behind it. The History News Network calls this "what-happens-today-is-all-that-counts journalism."

The problem with this is that people don't know vital information about previous events that formed events happening now. The public is told routine historical facts in the news, but the press rarely provides them with insights to the deeper historical meaning underlying the news. There is a disconnect between history and the media.

"Though a select number of historians recently have become media stars, the fact remains that few are publicly quoted, and hardly any are given the public platform," shared the History News Network.

As their website puts it, "Who we are and how we react to events depends, to a great extent, on our past." This demonstrates how important it is to include the past when talking about events.

You can look on television channels and find endless documentaries, in history textbooks and history classes or anywhere on the internet to find history facts. History is everywhere, which shows that people want this information.

History is lacking, but vital, because as Eugene O'Neill, a character in Long Day's Journey into Night said, "The past is the present, and the future, too."

An article I read about the new editor of the History News Service, David Nord, informed me about what this service is doing to help the problem at hand.

The History News Service was founded in 1966 and aims to improve public discussion of current events by putting those events in historical context. They work to do so in three ways:

1. By providing "op-ed" (opposite-editorial) articles to the news media
2. By putting reporters and editors in contact with historians

3. By trying to improve links between the journalism and historical professions

They want to set journalists up with historians who can help them prepare news in a way that will include historical implications of the covered events. They want editors and reporters to understand historical concepts and know of the historical resources available.

On the opposite side, they want historians to work to fully understand the practice and values of professional journalists. The History News Service is made up of a group of writers and editors, not just members without media experience.
I think that the History News Services has a lot of great objectives and goals to help bridge the huge gap between the media and history. People obviously want good media and they obviously want good history.
People also want that facts. They want their journalism and reporters to be reliable. They want to know that they are getting all the facts and they want to know that the facts they're getting are true.
I expect to see even more work done in the near future from the History News Service and possbily other groups to collaborate the media and history.


Wikileaks threaten military "playbook"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

As new journalists, we're in the beginning to learn what kinds of journalism could end us in some trouble. On Friday, October 22, a journalist tested the limits of privacy, possibly putting the nation in danger.

A constant inflow of chatter on the topic of Wikileaks in all the major newspapers and social-media platforms is causing creator Julian Assange to search for cover.

Assange, described as having a "near genius IQ,"  has recently globally exposed almost 500,000 classified documents pertaining to the Iraq conflict on the site.

His justification for the act is in that the public has the right to know what the government is doing in terms of warfare. He argues that a transparent government is essential to a proper democracy. By knowing, the public is able to protect themselves and act in accordance to what each person feels is necessary in order to sustain personal welfare.

The government greatly disagrees with this logic, however. One angry blogger speaks for the government saying "The harm is in providing a whole bucketful of looks inside our operations, movements... basically giving the enemy bits and pieces of "our playbook!"

The website is considered to be highly dangerous because governments are unable to access the site in order to remove it.

This is no surprise consider that Assange has proven his extensive knowledge of computers.. In one instance, he escaped jail-time on 25 charges of computer hacking.

The information about the Afghan conflict was gathered from Private Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old former Army intelligence operative.

Assange and  Pfc. Bradley Manning are both in danger of facing legal consequences.

The debate among the public is whether Assange was really helping out the public or the nations at conflict more. The blogger mentioned previously made this statement, "Sorry "Mr. Assange" but you are NOT qualified to judge whether or not the information you released is in any way, shape or form harmful to any group or individual."

Assange is considered by Swedish citizens as the "James Bond of journalism." It's because of this that he is being "hunted down," as The New York Times puts it.

 This is a real example of how the power of press can lead to serious trouble with the law. Journalists can enjoy  limited freedom when it comes to what they say and how they say it.

Assange has committed one of the seven deadly sins of journalism: theft. The government did not give him permission to uncover those confidential documents on the Internet, but he did anyway and that's illegal.


Social Media Privacy Is A Problem

It was discovered last week that Facebook apps have been leaking user profile information to third parties on the web.

According to the article by Samuel Axon, when users would click on an ad on Facebook, or also on MySpace because the same happened there not too long ago, the site would leak profile information of the users who accessed the ad to that ad's company.

Axon points out that not only are Facebook and MySpace vulnerable to this problem but almost any social media site could be vulnerable.

The problem is an issue of privacy. Many social media sites will say that they offer their users a great deal of privacy protection yet there are still problems like this occurring.

People who do not want their private information going out to people they do not know can have a tough time controlling it. Mainly the reason they have a problem is that they do not know how to go about setting their privacy to correctly hide their information.

Also as the article points out the Internet is set up in a way that it allows companies to know the exact web address from where users click onto their ads. It is a problem that has been around forever but nobody really knows about it.

However in light of the social media boom and more personal information being displayed on the web it is becoming a more prevalent problem.

How do we go about fixing privacy on the Internet? That is a question that I cannot answer. I would love to see some sort of safeguard put into place to protect people's privacy, especially with social media outlets, but the odds of that happening are a long shot.

For the time being users just have to be smart. Take the time and read through the privacy rules and settings on your social media pages. Make sure you know the sites rules and you can then set your page to the setting you want. That, for now, is the only way you can help protect your personal information on your social media pages.


How to Become a Photojournalist

Friday, October 22, 2010

Many of us have a difference focus we want to take as journalists. One of those focuses is photojournalism.

There are some important steps to take when deciding how to become a photojournalist.

Some of these steps were presented by eHow in "How to Become a Photojournalist."

Step 1: Invest in good equipment meaning get a higher end camera other than a point and shoot. This may be hard to do, but sometimes you need to bite the bullet.

Step 2: Attend a photography or journalism school. This step can be checked off on the list.

Step 3: Get an internship with a magazine or newspaper. This allows you to gain experience and get your name out there.

Step 4: Develop a portfolio to showcase your work. It may help you get an internship or job.

Step 5: Learn how to scan or upload images from your camera to your computer. This should be checked as well because most people know how to do this already.

Step 6: Know how to think quickly and try to emotionally detach yourself from what event you may be covering.

Step 7: Go for the best story and don't settle for the easy break.

Step 8: Prepare for mental and physical tests. Carrying heavy equipment will test you physically while other situations may put your life in danger.

Step 9: Work well under the pressure and don't miss deadlines. I cannot stress this step enough. If you need a time extension just ask for it, don't assume it will be okay if you're late.

Step 10: Make sure what you are capturing photographs of tells a story, and don't be afraid to get up in people's faces to photograph them.

Hopefully this was helpful for all future photojournalists.

If anybody would like to add anything to the list then feel free to do so.


Religious Messages Fuel Hate, Survey Says

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Religious messages have always been a source of controversy in the news, but a recent survey shows that most people think they fuel hate and judgment on diversity.

What is the role of the media in publicizing controversial religious messages? With the rise in gay-teen suicides scattered across the media headlines, it is no doubt that religious messages and controversies are also a topic of discussion.

It is one thing for the messages to be from the pulpit, but these messages are now also shown in the media as fueling judgment and hate. It is obvious that the religious groups are getting the brunt of the blame for these issues.

The survey said that while "Americans are split about whether they see homosexual activity as a sin, 72 percent say religion contributes to negative views of gays and lesbians." One example of a religious establishment that many people point a finger at is the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City. Senior apostle Boyd K. Packer recently referred to "same-sex attraction as "impure and unnatural.""

Comments such as these make the Christian church as a whole an obvious target for anger and blame with the rise of publicized gay-teen suicides. However, there are only a small number of churches currently or recently in the public eye for these kinds of comments and actions against gay and lesbian tendencies.

It is important for media consumers to remember that the media highlights specific things for the purpose of readership. Media outlets look for controversy in order to gain readership and sometimes this can make a small amount of people appear to represent a larger group like the "Christian church".

The "Christian church" can not technically be blamed for the actions of one or two congregations around the country. It is also important to remember that though under the umbrella term of "Christian," churches around the country are for the most part not directly connected to each other. In fact, many churches have spoken out against the actions of these media engrossed congregations. Churches speaking out against hate don't get as much media attention because they aren't sparking the same kind of intense controversy among the public.

Religious messages will always be a source of controversy and will always be blamed for tragedies like the gay-teen suicides. The important thing to remember is that a small group like a single church congregation does not always efficiently represent the larger group that it identifies itself with.


The Secrets Behind Facebook

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We all remember when we first got Facebook and the difficult time we had getting started. But a recent study done, by The Daily Beast, shows that Facebook has a few secrets about how they choose what goes on users news feeds.

1. Facebook has a bias against newcomers. Those who are new to Facebook have a hard time showing up on their friends' news feeds. Their invisibility only changes when people start interacting with them.

2. Facebook has a Catch-22. Like I said before to start showing up new users need interaction with other users but how will they know to interact if you're invisible? They obviously won't know to interact with you unless you tell them to.

3. The Velvet Rope: "Top News". The "top news" choice on Facebook's news feed doesn't show every post that your friends have made. Obviously it's not all exciting "news" and Facebook doesn't want it's users to get bored so Facebook chooses what is top news. It's not how much activity users have but the type of activity.

4. "Most Recent" news is censored as well. Users think that when they click this option in their news feed they're getting all of their friends who have posted the most recently. Not true. Facebook still chooses what news to put in the "most recent" news feed.

5. Stalking won't up your popularity in the news feed. Users, trying to get noticed by other users by being all over their page does absolutely no good. It doesn't make you show up in their news feed anymore than it would if you didn't stalk their page.

6. Having friends stalk your page does help out your popularity on others news feed. If other users click on your links, photos and such then you'll start showing up in not only their news feed but your other friends as well.

7. Links over status updates help users gain popularity. Posting links is more engaging then status updates and therefore they show up more frequently than status updates. The reason for this is that links bring up user engagement and that results in more time spent on Facebook.

8. Photos and Videos beat out links. Users are more likely to click on a thumbnail photo or video rather than a link. Facebook wants more user engagement and so the more clicks the better.

9. Comments on your posts help your popularity. If you post something that in turn is commented on a lot you're more likely to pop up more in the news feed.

10. Facebook is really just like high school. The popular crowd on Facebook, a.k.a. the people with the most friends, hold a lot of power to who shows up on different users news feeds. The more friends you interact with, that in turn have a lot of friends, the better chance you have of showing up on users news feeds.

For someone who has never considered how Facebook chooses what to post in users' news feed, or even the fact that there are algorithms they use to decide, this study is very eye opening. It is also helpful for those who are working to create a brand for themselves and have a wide reach of who sees them.

So post pictures, links, video and anything else that will generate comments. Get as many people to interact with your page as possible and before you know it you too can be one of the popular people.


Journalism School May Be The Future Backbone of Democracy

While many saying that journalism is a dying profession, others will argue against this until the end. Students at University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism will especially tell you they don't believe this at all.

This article shares why some think that journalism will strive and is a necessity for our society.

Some students are avoiding journalism majors because of the predicted future of the media. Orion de Nevers, a freshman at USC shared, "Information will just all be basically free, so there's no money to be mae in journalism. As much as I would like to pursue my love and all that, I like food, too. And I just don't want to sacrifice it all."

Many of the students here, not to mention all over the world, have been stared at skeptically when they say they're majoring in journalism. People have told them journalism is dead and there's no money to be made in it, but they remain hopeful and confident.

It's easy to guess where the gloomy predictions are coming from. Recently many newspaper companies have been forced to seek bankruptcy protections and are having to see their productions and let go of a good portion of their staff. This demonstrates why some believe that journalism is on it's last path.

USC costs nearly $55,000 a year with all charges included, which is a lot of money to invest in a major in a profession that's falling rapidly downhill. However, Ernest Wilson, Annenberg's Dean argues that this major is still successful and is linked with good citizenship.

Wilson said, "I am concerned, as the dean, at the costs and debt burdens these students take on, but I'm also concerned about training the next generation of people who are doing to provide the backbone of democracy."

He says that the independent press and availability for anyone to use it helps maintain our country's democracy, that this way people will be provided with more information and that although anyone can be a journalist by using the web now, those with degrees in communications will do better in job searches.

Students at the university also claim that they will find success in this field. They know it is different, but still want to learn the new methods of the media.

A professor at Annenberg, Robert Hernandez put it this way, "These students have signed up for journalism school knowing that's the climate they're facing, and they're not thinking 'gloom and doom'. There's something exciting happening in our industry. These folks want to become a part of that."

With flip cameras, cell phones, blog and vlogs, and social networks, journalism may be changing but it's not dying. The director of journalism at Annenberg shares that journalism is not simply cracking up, but realigning.


5 Reason Why You May Be A Boring Online Chatter

Social media is used a lot now a days as ways of communication from one person to the next. Just like there are unwritten verbal communication rules the same goes for cyber communication.

Do the people you chat on Facebook really want to talk to you or are they tempted to block you from chat or not be visible at all?

In a recent article from CNN they talked about 5 reasons why someone would want to block you on Faebook chat. The article also gives examples for each reason.

Reason number 1: You're a downer
You start off the conversation with hi and then being talking about how much your life sucks and about all the bad things that happened during the day. Not everyone has the time to sit and read that all the time. Every now and then is one thing but every day. That would make you want to block that person

Reason number 2: You're dull
In simple text you are a one word responder. Such as answer "nothing" to "what's up" After reading nothing that just puts a damper on the whole conversation and trying to make a good conversation off of one word responses is not very entertaining.

Reason number 3: You over-share
Basically saying that every time someone you talk to signs on you send a link to their chat of a new article to read or a new video to watch. Not everyone has time to sit and look at the link. Some people just sign on check and get off real quick. People aren't going to want to chat if you constantly are sending links to their chat.

Reason number 4: You're invisible
I take this as people who are on but they are idle. You may message them over and over but they still are not going to respond. It is frustrating sometimes when you see that someone is on but they are technically idle and you can't talk with them.

Reason number 5: You put up annoying statuses
While you are chatting with someone if you are continually changing your status to what you are doing or something annoying about your life people are going to get tired of constantly seeing the status changes.


How To: Become a "Popular Kid" on Facebook

In his article, "Cracking the Facebook Code," columnist Thomas E. Weber released a list of 10 discoveries after a one-month experiment to break Facebook's algorithm, which decides who appears in a person's news feed.

Weber's experimentation using "virtual tests" is very interesting, and I encourage all of you to read the complete article at.

At the end of his data gathering, Weber arised with a set of 10 "rules" that Facebook's algorithm seems to follow:

1. "Facebook's Bias Against Newcomers." Weber says that if you are a "newbie," your activity on Facebook won't show up in people's news feeds.

2. "Facebook's Catch-22: To get exposure on Facebook, you need friends to interact with your updates in certain ways."

3. The Velvet Rope: "Top News": It's difficult to get into someones Top News feed. Facebook is selective about who appears in people's news feeds because they don't want users to become over-whelmed with too much information.

4. "Most Recent"News is Censored, Too. This is for the same reason as above.

5. "Stalking" Your Friends Won't Get You Noticed. If you're like me, you breathed out a sigh of relief after reading this discovery.

6. Having Friends Who Stalk You WILL Help Your Popularity.

7. Link Trump Status Updates

8. Photos and Videos Trump Links

9. The Power of Comments. When a person commented on the test subject's post, or continually commented, the subject appeared in more people's news feeds.

10. Why Facebook Really is Like High School. Who your friends are will determine how often you appear in news feeds.

If you are only friends with the "popular kids," or "users of Facebook with 600 or more friends," you are less likely to appear in news feeds. Having friends with less friends leads to more posts in news feeds. This leads to more friends commenting or clicking on your links. This, of course, leads to you becoming more popular and being in more people's news feeds.

Facebook's algorithm can't be changed by users. However, users still have some choices for what is shown in their news feeds. Being comfortable with all of Facebook's settings is key.

By understanding how Facebook works, users can have a more fulfilled experience each time they log in.

Whether you are trying to "get your name out there" through Facebook, or are simply curious why Susie keeps appearing in your news feed, Weber's story gives readers valuable answers.

Furthermore, with Weber's references to "Facebook Stalking" and the "popular kids" in High School, you can't help but chuckle while reading.


3 Female Journalists Recieve Courage in Journalism Awards

The International Women's Media Foundation awarded Courage in Journalism awards to three female journalists, including a Tibetan blogger under constant surveillance from the Chinese government, a Columbian radio journalist, and a Tanzanian freelance journalist.

Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan writer who recorded first-hand accounts of the Chinese government crackdown on anti-government portests in Tibet in 2008, was unable to attend the luncheon to accept her award as her passport had been confiscated. In comments made during a video acceptance of her award, Woeser commented that if she had not continued to publish her blog, "the anguish of an entire people would vanish forever behind a veil of darkness."

Claudia Julieta Duque, the second award-winner, was an investigative journalist for Colombia's Radio Nizkor, and was kidnapped twice in an attempt to silence her investigations. In 2004, her suspicions were confirmed when she revealed that Columbia's secret police had tampered with evidence related to the 1999 murder of political humorist and journalist Jaime Garzon. She endured several threats to her life and her family's lives before and after her investigations were published.

The third award-winner is Vicky Ntetema, a freelance reporter working for BBC since 1991, who has been investigating the brutual murders of albinos in Tanzania by witchdoctors. Despite death threats, Ntetema continued investigating and discovered fifty-eight murdered albinos, six with amputations, three with severe injuries, and ten graves of albinos that had been robbed. Ntetema said "the witchdoctors pedal the notion that potions made with albino organs, hair and blood bring wealth." As a result of her investigation, ten men have been sentenced to death, and about two hundred witchdoctors have been arrested.


From Journalism to PR: The 'Other' Side of the Divide

Developing trends in journalism have included everything from new ways of news gathering to upgrading to digital news spreading. But beyond the 'traditional' ways of thinking about technological advances in journalism, there is yet another developing trend: journalists are now transitioning into the realm of Public Relations.

This is an interesting, and to some, quite a daring move for journalists who at one time thought of PR work to be 'less worthy' than that of reporting.

Investigative reporter Nick Davies, who is also the author of Flat Earth News, has been studying these recent changes since 2007. Many 'high profile' journalists have been on the move since then, including former BBC technology editor Darren Waters, who is now the managing director Monument PR Worldwide, and Rav Singh, who became the special projects consultant at The Outside Organization.

A career recruitment consultant even said the number of clients she receives who are journalists looking for a career in PR has gone up by '100 per cent, year on year'.

Why the shift?

It's pretty evident that journalism is changing a lot at the moment. Journalism's low pay and demanding working hours have been the cause for reporters to move toward PR. It can also be noted that the print-news industry in general has suffered from the decline in advertisements, increased competition from online sources, and the recession, resulting in reduced budgets for all.

In addition, the image of public relations has changed as well. Once frowned upon, PR has gone from being a bit of a 'second rate' reporting firm to a communications output machine with better pay.

All the more reason for PR firms to take journalists into employment with open arms.

Journalists have what's called 'news sense' -- meaning, they know what their audiences want and tailor their press releases accordingly. Jez Ashberry, a former editor and journalist, says that journalists often make the best PR professionals because of their ability to be resourceful, quick-witted, write well and know what is of interest.

Many firms and agencies are taking advantage of these skills by hiring experienced journalists to write and create compelling material in 'non-traditional' PR ways.

However, there is some danger: journalism is often times 'one dimensional'. Public relations, on the other hand, often requires a wider range of other skills that involve more than just writing.

Public relations agencies have taken it upon themselves to make transitional courses in 'journalism-to-PR' to help their employees make the transition with the hope of breaking some of the 'journalist mindset.'

This shift in professions has not only emphasized a growing trend, but also the wide range of possibilities available for aspiring journalists and communicators.


Straight Statistics of Americans and their Technology

Americans' technology have an increasing amount of ownership throughout time whereas some of the newer devices haven't taken off yet.

Inthe digital age people use an abundance amount of technology throughout their daily lives. Among these people, I have found statistics specifically referring to America.

Cell phones are popular among the digital age are seen just about everywhere you turn. Eighty-five percent of Americans now own cell phones and 96 percent of 18-29 year olds own a cell
phone of some sort.

Desktop and laptop computers will almost be a necessity in the near future. Seventy-six percent of Americans own either a desktop or a laptop computer.

Although the rising popularity of the mp3 player has not reached its peak, it is still lower than I anticipated for the statistics that I found. A little under half of Americana adults own an mp3 player, which was an increase from the 11 percent in 2005.

A step down from mp3 players, gaming consoles such as the Wii, Xbox, or PlayStation, are shown to be owned by 42 percent of Americans.

Among the newest devices such as the e-Book reader and tablet computers, five percent own a
e-Book and only four percent own a tablet computer.

The statistics are based on a survey of 3,001 American adults (ages 18 and older) conducted between August 9 and September 13, 2010. Download the document HERE for specific detail on the statistics.


Digitalized America

Today's world is filled with digital technology and it is hard to imagine our lives without it.

Much of today's technology makes it convenient to perform tasks in the journalism world. Many devices are now available for you to be able to write, access news, friends, information, and entertainment from where ever you may be.

These days it seems as if everyone has a cell phone and/or iPod or iPod Touch. Both of my grandmothers own one and so does my youngest cousin who has had her cell phone since the 6th grade.

Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project researched seven main appliances of today's age.

Research shows that now 85 percent of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind and is also now a necessity of modern communication. Another fact is that 96 percent of Americans ages 18-29 own a cell phone.

47 percent of Americans own a MP3 player such as an iPod, iPod Touch, or Zune.

Recent technology like the iPad, Kindle, and the Nook are vastly changing today's journalism by making paper media available through their services. These devices are proving their popularity and have a steady increase in purchases.

When you sit and think about how our nation has evolved it makes you realize that we can still only move forward.


Newspapers are Saved

According to a recent article on Mashable, the iPad is going to save newspapers. The iPad offers many features that make reading news on the go easy thanks to a large screen, interactive features, and quick downloads. In order to utilize all of this, however, you actually need to own an iPad.

Current figures show that Apple has sold approximately 3.27 million iPads, and the number is expected to increase. And while many people have indicated that they wish to purchase an iPad at some point, not everyone is willing (or have the finances) to fork over $500.

iPads do seem like a good way to enhance more readership in newspapers, simply because this is a device that can easily be carried. While people might be able to look at newspapers on their phones, it is hard to read the tiny text, and scroll back and forth, up and down to get the full story. Some people have laptops, but those can be bulky, and not convenient to carry with at all times. So why would people choose to carry an electronic device instead of just hit up a newspaper stand?

First off, there is the large variety of newspapers that are already online, several of which are free. When you go to a newspaper stand, there are many selections as well, but it isn't practical to buy five different papers when you could simply have five different windows open on an iPad. With the iPad, you can download the newspaper apps, and open them that way.

Secondly, while there are some free newspaper apps, not all of them are free. For the ones that do cost, the price is generally around three bucks, and that is a one-time deal. How nice would it be not to dig the change out from under the couch each morning to buy your daily newspaper? Already the Wall Street Journal has had more than 650,000 downloads, many of those with paid subscribers.

Even though there seem to be many benefits of using the iPad for newspapers, there are also downsides. There is of course the possibility that you set it down somewhere and someone else walks off with it. Just like a computer or phone, you could accidentally dump water on it, leave it in the hot sun, etc. and fry it. And what about when the iPad updates (like so many devices do), are people going to pay each time to get a new one?

I think that utilizing the iPad to read newspapers is a good idea, though it may not be as practical in a few years. Newspapers are not going to make money at it unless they charge consumers to download their apps. I am anxious to see how this pans out in the coming years.


What Is All the Fuss About???

Monday, October 18, 2010

The ever popular mobile game Foursquare is set to hit 4 million users this week.

According to an article by Jennifer Van Grove, it was reported to online site Mashable that Foursquare will reach its 4 millionth member some time this week. That number has come as a surprise to many since it was only 50 days ago that Foursquare gained 3 million members.

For those who do not know what Foursquare is here's a brief explanation. Foursquare is a mobile social media game in which users check in when they reach a destination listed by Foursquare. Users earn points and badges for where and how many times they check in during a month.

Users can also track where their friends are through foursquare and it links up to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Now why has Foursquare seen such a huge rise in usage? Well it appears to this blogger that Foursquare is sort of an interesting social media tool that society can use. However what is really the point of Foursquare.

To me it just seems like another crazy game that can distract people from important events in society. It seems like people would spend more time trying to rack up points at different places when they could be doing something more productive with their day.

Now I have never used Foursquare so in essence I should not judge a book by its cover, but it really seems pointless to me. My honest opinion is that Foursquare holds no true value in society. It may be a good and fun way to track your friends and others but it really seems like a waste of time.

Maybe I am wrong but this just seems like another social media entity that is taking over our society and whether it is for the better or not who knows. In my opinion we would be better off without distracting games like Foursquare.

At some point there has to be too much in regards to the social media options. I think sticking with things such as Facebook and Twitter are good because they can actually provide some newsworthy information. Foursquare and its counterparts do not do any of that. Some of this social media stuff is really just becoming a waste of time.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Nan Palmero


Gates Foundation Plans to Boost Education with $20 Million Fund

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Aiming to improve America's education system, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Monday, Oct. 11 an initiative to help college students succeed with technology.

As reported by the New York Times,
the $20 million fund is being targeted to community colleges in order to boost college graduation rates among low-income and minority students.

“We’re living in a tremendous age of innovation. We should harness new technologies and innovation to help all students get the education they need to succeed,” Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Gates Foundation, said.

The initiative is called the 'Next Generation Learning Challenges' and it will provide financial grants for organizations and entrepreneurs to develop efficient online learning tools.

With a total fund of $20 million, grants will range from $250,000 to $750,000 for those applicants with top-rated proposals. Furthermore, the program will also allow current successful educational programs to expand and affect much larger groups of students.

The 'Next Generation Learning Challenges' program aims to incite the use of interactive applications like virtual simulations, interactive video and social media, thus, reinforcing students’ learning.

This program would also support the availability of OpenCourseWare, free and open digital publications of university-level educational material that can benefit students and professors as well.

Organizations supporting the initiative include: the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, EDUCASE, and other three nonprofit organizations; all with expertise in educational leadership and management.

As current and coming generations of college students experience constant technological changes, I believe initiatives like these are the best approach not only to improve education but also enhance society with more high-skilled individuals.


Twitter connects Obama to youth

On October 14th, President Obama took action to reach out to the young people  by holding a live, interactive, commercial-free discussion on MTVBET, CMT, and others.  

The discussion was open to 225 young people in the audience and anyone with a Twitter account.

By using the hastags #mygreatesthope and #mygreatestfear, all users able to voice their hopes and fears to the president.

Many concerns were addressed at the chat. Some of which included: violence in schools, legal immigration, crime among young people, increasing the rates of black men and women in college, and fears of America turning into a communist country.

Obama answered each concern individually, enforcing the idea of unity by saying, "We're all Americans. We all want the best for this country. We may have some disagreements in terms of how to get there, but all of us want to make sure our economy is strong, the jobs are growing..."

Politically speaking, this type of discussion can enforce a sense of unity among the youth for the future. Obama is known for reaching out to the young people. He is putting forth effort to get the youth involved with issues of their nation by using Twitter and MTV (popular mediums) as means to connect.

Other media platforms that were used included MTV.com, BET.com, and CMT.com where the chats were streamed live. Not only was media used to help viewers interact with Obama, but the discussion could be viewed by way of television or Internet, which increased viewer ratings.

These forms of media should  be attributed to the unity of the nation because only a select number of individuals would have been able to contribute to the conversation without them. By using Twitter to help viewers interact, the opinions of all young people were heard and addressed.

There is much thanks to be given to technology and media for opportunities like this to be made possible.

To view a clip from the discussion, visit http://www.mtv.com/videos/news/582038/a-conversation-with-obama-begins-with-a-question-on-healthcare.jhtml.


Social Media and Advertising

Friday, October 15, 2010

As social media like Facebook and Twitter grow, banner ads are becoming less common.

Banner ads are usually rectangular and placed above, below, or on the either side of a Website.

Even though these ads may be annoying to the average consumer, a good chunk of money is spent on them each year. Last year, $23 billion was spent on Internet advertising with one-third of that being spent on advertising involving banner ads.

Twitter and Facebook are affecting banner ads quite a bit because from my personal experience I haven't seen many banner ads on those forms of social media.

One thing that social media has been a helping hand with is the ability to customize ads based on the user's interaction or interests.

Have you ever noticed how the ads, usually on Facebook, involve your interests?

Google's managing director for media and platforms for the Americans thinks 75 percent of ads will be "socially enabled" by the 2015.

That means that the new advertising formats would allow for "on-the-fly" customization while the user currently interacts with the site.

I find this to be interesting because now social media isn't simply just for personal use. It's becoming a tool for companies as well.

Even though banner ads aren't doing so well right now there will be a new generation that evolves from that failure.

You can go to Dorian Benkoil's blog, "As Social Media Grows, What Will Become of the Plain Old Banner Ad?," for more information.


Reality is Made for TV After All

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reality TV isn't the only thing presenting reality with an agenda like a soap opera; a recent rescue of 33 miners could be the script for a movie.

Every trapped miner has a story line. Each is a well developed character with a family waiting on the surface for their rescue. Each had a will to live, and each appeared to be "resurrected" from the earth.

When a person sees this kind of story in the news, it can stir questions about reality versus scripted reality. How much of what is shown on TV a true replication of reality--even when it is reported?
It is a strange thing to think about. How much of reality is actually shown as reality?

Over the years there has been more and more distrust of the government. It would seem like if they can't trust the government they would then turn to the media (an establishment supposedly free from the government) in order to find truth. However, the public should perhaps be cautious about putting this kind of trust in the media.

We've all heard about or been warned about biases. We all have one and we all use one--but maybe more importantly, we all are exposed to information that has been filtered through a bias.

So what does that mean for reality TV? Most would agree that it isn't exactly representative of true reality. Instead, reality TV does a lot to influence our perspective on reality.

It's our job to filter out what we want to believe and what we don't. It's our job to question what is presented as 'reality' no matter what source it comes from.

Finally, it is our job to remember that everything is presented through and experienced through certain biases and the only way to truly understand the information is to understand what parts of our own perspective are influenced by these biases.


More Scientific Journalism is a Necessity

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Food, Fuel & Society: Stories of a Changing Landscape" was the name of the Symposium held at University of Missouri on Tuesday, October 12th to discuss Science Journalism. Ira Flatow, a radio and television journalism who hosts National Public Radio's Science Friday, was the keynote speaker for the event.

Lasting all day and broadcasted online and by many Midwest radio stations, this Symposium discussed topics such as agriculture production, food and fuel issues and immigrant farm workers.
These are all issues that Flatow would typically talk about on Science Friday, which always focuses on science, technology, environmental and health issues.

According to a study, the public wants to see more science in the news. Science Friday has over 73,000 followers on their Twitter page, over 14,000 Facebook fans, over 1.5 million subscribers to their podcasts and a website with high traffic.
There numbers demonstrate that there are people wanting and receiving scientific news. However, there are a few problems that make it difficult to include science in the media.

1. ) Science is being ignored
Many stations and newspapers are eliminating science coverage because of the total complications with including it. For example, in 2009 the Boston Globe completely eliminated it's scientific coverage.

2.) Science is often "dumbed down"
Many scientific facts are not common knowledge and it can be difficult for the average person to grasp some scientific facts. Media outlets want to entertain, not educate, so science news is being shared in simpler terms that don't get the point across instead of being fully explained.

3.) Poor communication
There are not enough scientists sharing their facts and knowledge with those writing. Journalists can't write stories about something they know nothing about, and it's hard to dig up true scientific facts to accurately report. Scientists and journalists must learn to further collaborate.

These problems may be hard to overcome, but it's crucial that we do so. Bill Allen of Missouri School of Journalism says that student journalists need to get out and understand the importance and complexity of scientific topics and learn how to effectively relay them to the public.

Flatow agreed by saying, "If you teach people to be good story tellers, they can tell a story about anything and make it interesting- even science."


Want to be seen in Times Square? Like Corona.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Corona Light is turning to Facebook in efforts to attract more young consumers. According to a recent blog, all you have to do is find the Corona Lite Facebook group, "like" them, then upload a photo of yourself on their Times Square app.

And if you happen to be in the New York City area any time between November 8th to December 6th, you may just see your face over Times Square.

While this may not seem like someone over the top, it is interesting that no one else has ever really tried this before (as far as companies go). What better way to attract more consumers than by offering them the chance to see their face blown to mammoth proportions over one of the busiest cities in the US?

Not only may this mean more sales for Corona, but Times Square may also see a surge in tourism, with people wanting to chance seeing themselves.

It also appears as though Corona is attempting to be somewhat responsible, because whenever I attempt to go to their Facebook page, it simply redirects me to my homepage. While this may be a glitch, I also feel as though this may be happening due to the fact that I am under 21. I think this is a smart move on their part, because they will look more responsible to parents and potential future business partners.

If more companies tried this form of advertising, do you think they would have the success? Like Corona's Facebook page, and see if your face appears on Times Square.


Why Journalism is Shaped by Search Engines

Being in the age of the internet, when we look for news, where is the first place we go?


But what about from there? Usually to Google, or some other type of resource commonly known as a search engine.

Search engines anymore are the channels that take us directly to an online news source. Whether it be a news website, a blog, forums, or any number of online-based periodicals, search engines direct our flow of gathering news. By typing in key words or phrases, the 'web master' knows to collect all relevant materials that could supplement your search...in mere seconds. -Talk about efficiency.

But often times the channels search engines use gets cluttered with a lot of the 'junk' that's out there. So while you may search for a specific topic or item, the likelihood of getting results that seem unrelated increases.

For journalists, this is incredibly problematic if you want your work to get read by the most readers possible; you want to be the first search result that comes up on any designated search or browser.

As more and more news gets shifted to online sites and in digital form, news writers must be aware of the many changes that are occurring in the methods which people gather their news.

Ross Dawson is a globally recognized entrepreneur and speaker, specializing in business strategies and consultant work for various firms. Dawson recognized seven key issues to consider as news continues to make its way on to the world wide web.

1. Traffic online provides substantial media income.
The more hits an article or a site has in a given time frame, the more money that source receives from advertisers also wanting to get views for potential sales.

2. Headline writing is becoming its own art form...and possibly even a science.
You won't just bring in the traffic by having a play-on-words field-day in a headline. While it may seem witty, you can't deceive the readers. If they expect one thing, but find another when they actually get the article, they'll leave immediately. Headlines need to be sharp and to the point, but compelling enough to draw in an audience.

3. Feedback has become faster and more accurate.
Instead of mailing in to the editor of a paper, readers can post replies, critiques, and reactions in a comment box below an article in seconds. Editors can easily read up on responses to news, see what's the most popular, and organize the top viewed news quickly. It makes balancing advertising and editorial interests much easier.

4. There must be a balance between commercial interests and media integrity.
No one wants to be overwhelmed by advertisements...and especially if they influence readers' opinions of the news. Ads need to be positioned in objective areas so they don't distract from the news itself. -Otherwise the audience won't want to read the story.

5. Recognizing that content influences search visibility.
Writing search engine-friendly text helps information get searched more easily. By using keywords, links, and trending topics, journalists can assess their audience to know what they're looking for. By doing this, the rate at which their news will be viewed increases dramatically.

6. Performance-based pay for journalists will increase.
A lot of writers only get paid for what they write, and some get paid on how much their work gets viewed. This is known as pay-per-view journalism. If journalists know their livelihood depends on writing, they'll be more intentional on making it search-friendly to get more views...because everyone wants to get paid.

7. Using advertising to gain online traffic.
As much as ads can be a pain, they're the sustaining factor of a search engine. Without them, companies like Google, Bing, and Ask.com wouldn't be able to sustain themselves for very long. Some ad companies have even begun 'bidding' on frequently searched terms as a way to gain traffic and support their own agenda.

In short, the online mode of news gathering, specifically through search engines, can change the way we view and interpret the news. By recognizing these changes and their impact on journalistic writing and reporters, it can help shape our attitudes toward this 'new' medium.
(so when newspapers eventually die out, we have a suitable 'back up plan')


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