What are Topic Pages You Ask?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In searching for a topic for my Beginning Newswriting Class at Simpson College regarding journalism in the news I came across article by Maurreen Skowran called, "How Topic Pages can give Readers a Bird's-Eye View of the News" on PoynterOnline. The words "topic pages" caught my eye, but then I wondered what topic pages were

Basically what topic pages are is summaries of new stories. This always people to get caught up on the news quicker.

In a study commisioned by the Associated Press in 2008 showed that adults between the ages of 18 and 24 experiance "new fatigue" because we are continually supplied updates but lack the meat of the story.

Topic pages include summaries to stories, but also include links that the original story might not have.

But will they work? In December and January of this past year Google did an experiment with the help of The New York Times and The Washington Post called the "Living Stories." In this experiment each topic had a summary that was approximately five paragraphs long. The ending result showed that 75 percent preferred the "Living Stories" over regular online news stories.

This is a wonderful idea! Who has time these days to read the paper from front to back anymore. We want the information that we feel we need and we want it as quick as possible, easy to read, and links to answer any new questions we might have.


Please, No More Hateful Comments

The Washington Post is taking steps to curtail online commentary from anonymous bloggers that is particularly abusive. They have no intention of stopping anonymous bloggers from posting, just a more careful moderating. Online commentary is important, it draws attention to the issues of the day and provides a forum for the public to express their views.

However; some anonymous comments serve no purpose but to convey hate. Andrew Alexander cites the following examples:

"Excellent!" exulted a Post commenter when conservative columnist Robert Novak died in August. "Hope he suffered."

When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died a week later, a commenter wrote: "They are going to have to bury him in a secret location to stop people from defecating on his grave."

And after The Post reported last month that the wife and daughter of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had been badly injured when their car was hit by a tractor-trailer, a commenter applauded: "I would dearly LOVE to shake the hand of the driver of the other vehicle."

The Post would implement a system of tiers where some bloggers would be considered "trusted commentators" and placed in one section and those that do not provide their names or first time bloggers may be placed in another tier and still others who violate the rules in another or blocked.

I applaud The Post for taking steps to curtail these hateful comments. A public forum is no place for some of these distasteful and sometimes heinous comments. It is no wonder that are children are bullying each other on Facebook and in text messages when this is the example that is set.


How Much Do We Need to Know?

In 1990, a man dubbed the Gainesville Ripper raped, murdered, and mutilated five college age women in the town of Gainesville, Florida. 17 year old Sonja Larson was one of those women. At some point during the investigation, photos of the crime scenes where the young women were found began to be questioned. Media lawyer Tom Julin, argued for the release of crime scene photos, claiming that in order to maintain the integrity of an open court system, the public has a right to see information such as this.

Wait... wait... this story is over ten years old? Or did I just hear it? The situation sounds familiar.

Recent debate regarding the release of a video tape portraying SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau being attacked by a killer whale, and attempts by a reporter for Hustler magazine to obtain crime scene photos of murder victim Meredith Emerson, have brought older media rights cases to the front line again. They have also raised very important questions for both journalists and media consumers: How much, exactly, does the public need to know?

The terms "sealed documents" and "gag order" have been thrown around much more frequently in the past few years. Due to vast amounts of instantaneous information we have access to, court officials have had to issue these in order to protect both plaintiff and defendant during the proceedings. How is a person going to have a fair trial with photographs floating around showing the criminal acts? Casey Anthony is a perfect example; images showing her partying during the time her two year old child was missing were splashed over the Internet and other sources of news even before her trial began. This was obviously damaging to her defense case, and advantageous for the prosecution. When the trial out of the court room into our living rooms, the information becomes subject to public judgement. Can a person be convicted even before the trial begins?

Ada Larson, mother of murder victim Sonja, described to CNN how devastated she would have been if crime scene photos of her daughter's mutilated body had been flashed over the papers and on the news.

"We did not want our loved ones to be put out there in the scenes where they were found..." she stated regarding the case.

In the Gainesville trial, the judge involved ruled that the media and public could see the 700 crime scene photos, but no copies could be made. This action helped to prevent the photos from being republished time and time again.

Media representatives state that their goal is not to cause harm to the victims or their families, but they also say the public interest regarding these cases has to be respected as well. Rachel Fugate, a media attorney in the state of Florida, states that part of the media's responsibility is to provide verification of facts; this is especially important in situations where there are multiple reports and stories racing through the channels. She does understand, however, that the families of victims need to be respected.

"We are not advocating that the photographs be released or that they be published or broadcast in any manner," she said. "We want the opportunity to inspect."

Inspect, yes. But how far does inspection go? With everyone having cameras on their cell phones, is it truly possible to issue a gag order? A jury sees a crime scene photo and one member snaps a shot with his camera, and sends it to a friend, who sends it to a friend, and so on. Though the member of the jury ultimately may be charged with something, that image is still out there for all to see. Because, in today's world, we have access to everything we could ever want to see at our fingertips if you search hard enough for it.

Note my own experience writing this blog. I typed "Gainesville Ripper" into Google to just get some basic information on the case, and instantly was presented with several links to crime scene photos, and various other crime images, some of which had nothing to do with my search query. Try as we might, we can't protect ourselves from everything. Perhaps the public is served by having media view such images, but beyond that, I personally believe it is a great disservice to everyone involved if the images are released too broadly and splashed across the internet for all to see.


Can Bloggers be Credible Journalists?

We use blogs every day to find sources, story ideas and general news, but is all of this information accurate?

According to a study done by PRWeek and PRNewswire, 52 percent of bloggers think they are journalists, but Jeremy Porter disagrees with this idea.

His argument is that many bloggers just copy and paste what others have already said, making it harder to source information. The speed of the Internet itself becomes a problem when something that's not true goes viral.

What makes this information any less credible than that of the big media companies? Even they use blogs and other social media as sources in their articles.

Porter says, "It comes down to the quality, accuracy and authenticity of the content."

Major media companies have an advantage in this, but today many people trust their peers over what they see on television or read in newspapers.

Some of the people who answered yes to the question of if they are a journalists are definitely credible, but it all comes down to your own judgment to discern what is and isn't.


Strategy for Delivering News Via Video

Robert Niles has warned the public that the iPad will not save journalism, but application development never hurt anyone. He decided that if you are going to get ahead of the tech curve you must begin playing with video on demand.

Netflix sent him a disc that lets you watch it on a Wii, it seems a lot better on a larger screen he said. So why not make it VOD? This he feels is the future of journalism. This kind of media seems to be in control with distributors such as Netflix and TiVo. Pretty soon televisions will let people easily upload video to the web, and then it is much easier to get and distribute news. So video on demand will be the future it seems in Niles eyes. We will see then, i guess.


News and it's Interaction

Remember wen you had to pick up a newspaper or wait until the nightly news to see what is happening in the world. Well, I dont, mostly because I was to young to care about what has happened in the world. However, for individuals who are older than do you remember having to work for your media.

Well, nowadays the work to find media has gotten less while the user participation in creating media has increased. With the usage of blogs and social media normal citizens can contribute to the countless amounts of information that make up our daily news sources. Also people hear about news faster through internet and phones than they ever could have dreamed using newspapers.

So does this mean newspapers will die? I cant answere that question, but it certainly looks that way. Also what will happen to trained Journalists whose job is to bring you the news? Will they become extinct and be replaced by more evolved and better equipped citizens of the world who can gather information and post it online in a matter of seconds?

It is only natural to evolve and natural for things to die. However only time will tell if newspapers and journalists will ever take the same route as the dinosaurs.


Will Newspapers Last 10 More Years?

Is newspaper extinction really 10 years away? The way technology changes on a daily basis, I personally don't think it will take 10 years. Do you?

According to James Tyree, CEO Mesirow Financial Inc., who led lasts October's buyout of the Chicago Sun-Times' publisher, "Newspapers have got a good strong 10 years."

C'mon, Mr. Tyree! Do they really have that long? Can they survive for a whole decade in this 24-hour news cycle, gotta have it now, world we live in?

In this article, which I found on Poynter Online, Tyree goes on to say, "By then you'll have to evolve into something else -- maybe five years evolve into something else -- or you'll just be out of business."

I think newspapers are on their way to being history in far less than 10 years.


  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP