The Great Hurricane Hype

Monday, August 29, 2011

Did the extensive coverage of Hurricane Irene save lives? At what point is coverage necessary versus excessive?

The media coverage preceding the land fall and during the course of Hurricane Irene seemed to some as on overbearing stream of gloom and doom to come. Though I personally have no relatives and only a handful of acquaintances living on the eastern seaboard, I found myself perpetually glued to any form of media I could lay eyes on, waiting for news of the impending disaster.

Yet, the apocalypse which I had come to expect from this storm did not come. Please note that I strongly feel the deaths, injuries, and damages left in the wake of this storm are indeed tragedies, but this is not the tragedy that I expected.

This lead to a reflective question: why was I waiting to read about the world ending (or at least Jersey Shore being destroyed)? Was I, along with others, swept up in the great Hurricane Hype?

Julie Moos hits on some excellent point as to how media builds “hype” for a story/event. Moos defines (media) hype:

“Hype is not simply the difference between what I think matters and what you think matters. It’s not even the difference between what I think matters and what leads a newscast or a front page. Hype is the discrepancy between the real value of something and the perceived value of that same thing.”

Perhaps the Hurricane was “over-hyped” by incredibly zealous coverage. However, I firmly believe that if the hype saved lives, it is solidly justified.

What are your thoughts? Was Hurricane Irene over-hyped by the Media?

Photo courtesy of NOAA


Is Twitter the New Soapbox?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How do you cope with "cyberstalking"? Do you ignore your offenders, block them, or file a law suit against them? These were the choices presented to Alyce Zeoli, a Buddhist leader based in Maryland, as reported by Somini Sengupta in the New York Times. Zeoli received over 8,000 harassing messages via Twitter from a disgruntled former member of her Buddhist group, William Lawrence Cassidy.

The case filed against Cassidy walks a fine line. Should Cassidy’s actions be considered harassment or be protected by his right to freedom of speech.

The rapid introduction of social media into today’s society leaves many cases such as this open ended. An important decision must be made in this case. Should posts on social media sites such as Twitter be seen as printed material or viewed as free expression much like a speaker on a soap box.

If Cassidy’s tweets are viewed a print material, New York Times v. Sullivan comes to mind as Zeoli is considered by many a public figure. If twitter is deemed a digital soapbox, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. In both cases, I think Mr. Cassidy’s defense team has its work cut out for it as it seems malice should be easy to prove given the nature of the harassing tweets.

As US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer outlines in his book Active Liberty, liberty must expand and contract as society needs. I am very interested to observe the outcome of Mr. Cassidy’s trial as it will help shape the interaction between social media and the First Amendment.


Where does journalism end and media begin?

A book by Ronald Bishop recently sparked interest, and increasing concern, about what is really journalism? More: The Vanishing of Scale in an Over-The-Top Nation begs the question I have also began to ask, where do we stop?

With so many personal details of our lives being divulged countless times throughout the day, I must stop and wonder when do we decide enough is enough? Today, everyone seems to first: have a story to tell, and second: a strong opinion to go with it. Not only are we contributing to this, but Bishop says these personal places in our lives are being assaulted with trivial messages everyday. This is where the lines begin to blur with journalism.

We are begging to accept the casual, non-expert input as real news. It is in reality, a sort of media obsession rather than true reporting that we are settling for instead of seeking stories and information with real depth and information.

New outlets in social media have made it very convenient to get "news," but that "news" has lead to a new scale of consumption as indicated by Bishop. I know that I fall into this trap, and going to make a conscious effort to seek out more than what is easy and support those who are attempting with their work to take a stand for true journalism and reporting.


Google+ and Journalists - Is it Really Necessary?

Facebook is arguably the king of social media these days. If there is anyone who can threaten to steal the crown away, it would have to be Google. The new Google+ may be capable of committing social media regicide.

Google+ is a Facebook clone in some ways, and for that reason there will be many who steer clear of it. What is the point in having another Facebook account?

The reaction to Google+ has been positive from the Journalism community. There are tools and benefits of Google+ that are helpful for a journalist. As of the second of August, there were more than 140 journalists with confirmed Google+ accounts. That is a large number, considering it is still exclusive to people who get an invite from someone.

How are journalists using Google+ so far? A recent Mashable article provided five different ways that journalists have been using this new tool: Talking about Google+, Hosting Audience Hangouts, Engaging Readers, Analyzing News Coverage, and Showing Personality.

The early comparisons between conversations on Facebook and Google+ are already rolling in. During that same Mashable article, they mentioned starting an identical discussion on both platforms

about a study that claims 34% of iPhone users think they have 4G. The posts were published at roughly the same time and had similar prompts, posing questions about the study’s results. On Facebook, there were 57 likes and 40 comments, while the Google+ post had 183 +1′s and 116 comments.
There are other benefits to be found from having a Google+ account that makes it unique. The ability to have content be public or private helps to have a personal account that also allows for personal branding. You control who gets to see your posts through the use of circles. A journalist no longer needs to have a personal account and a professional account in order to maintain their proper identities.

Google+ is also part of the Search Engine Google, which makes it so your posts are searchable, thus driving in more readers without any extra effort spent. Whether you choose to share news and blog posts, or market books and Web sites, your information is easier to find.

More information on how journalists can benefit from a Google+ account can be found here.

A journalist at any level in their career can see immediate benefits from using Google+. There are many more articles about the benefits than were included in this blog. Over the course of the next two years, it will be as essential to have a Google+ account as any other social media platform. I'm ready for that future. Are you?

Photo Courtesy of Jon Lee Clark's Flickr via Creative Commons.


Is a blogger a journalist?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I will preface this post with the fact that this is the first "official" blog I have ever written. This new challenge got me thinking more and more about what blogging really is, and if it constitutes journalism. After doing some research, I began to agree with Gina Masullo Chen.

She candidly states that she believes blogging is not journalism. I must say she has many compelling arguments to sustain this side.

Blogging, like so many new media outlets we see today, has opened an unbelievable amount of doors for many who otherwise would not have a voice. I see this as a positive. However, that is a lot of voices claiming to have authority on topics that may not be the voices we should let advise us. This is where the problem arises when it come to journalism, and being able to get accurate and credible details on a topic.

It is a new frontier and an aspect of journalism that cannot be ignored, despite our feelings on the matter. Chen states that it is not blogging itself that is worry-some to many, it is rather the change it is propelling in the way people consume news. I completely agree that change is scary, but perhaps after it passes, the possibilities of what may come is the end goal that is a truly great result of this new form of communicating.


The Future of Journalism

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Tuesday, the Bay Area News Group (BANG) announced a

rebranding of many of its newspapers to better reflect the scope of its regional coverage.
The reality of that statement: eleven newspapers that are currently operating independently will merge into two newspapers. This is also anticipated to impact 120 jobs- at least 40 of these journalists.

It seems everywhere I've looked this week, I have come across mention of newspapers either closing or cutting jobs. With such drastic cuts, where does that leave the journalists of the future? The answer is online.

In spite of these cuts, BANG is placing an emphasis on multimedia content delivery. They have put out a stream of recent apps for iPads and iPhones. Their websites are offering new and expanded coverage. BANG is far from being the only place where online growth is being seen. The full article about the changes to BANG can be read here.

This week also happened to mark the launching of a new newspaper: The Daily Dot. It proclaims to be the Hometown Newspaper of the World Wide Web. It aims to cover the news among the social media outlets of the internet. This includes, but is not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Digg, and YouTube.

The first reaction might be to scratch your head over this, but after some deep contemplation I believe this is trending in the right direction. The Daily Dot might not be too far off when it claims that
The global online community is the largest body politic in the world and it is growing rapidly, stretching across geography, boundaries, and borders.
Social networking has grown to such massive proportions that its population could rival countries.

If the population has the interest, why not write about it?

It will create more journalism jobs. It will create a stronger demand for journalism in the online communities. This could be the phoenix rising from the ashes of the paper newspapers.

And maybe this might even convince some people to pick up one of those paper newspapers. I can't wait to see the ripple effect that The Daily Dot creates. I, for one, am excited about the future of journalism.

Photo Credit: Newspaper Death Watch via Creative Commons.


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