Social Media Causes Shift In Political Power

Friday, September 30, 2011

In early July this year Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man was allegedly beaten to death by Fullerton, California police. The beating was caught on tape by a pedestrian with a cell phone. Paul Detrick of shows how the release of this video and images of Thomas on his deathbed have shown how the use of social journalism has changed the political power in today’s society.

After Thomas’s death, the Fullerton police department refused to release information as the investigation was still pending. Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father, attempted to contact local media outlets and was outraged that no media outlet would pick up the story. Ron then released an image of his son on his deathbed showing the graphic outcome of the beating.

Ron Thomas then release a video taken by a pedestrian who filmed the assault via a cell phone. The video’s audio track captures Kelly Thomas screaming out for the police to please stop. Eventually, Kelly breaks down and calls out for his dad.

The Fullerton Police continued to only provide vague answers.

The deliverance of this story via social media sparked outcry in the Fullerton area. Protesters now pack Fullerton city hall meetings and gather in masses outside the Fullerton police department in protest.

The citizens of Fullerton are an example of the power of citizen media. No longer are full stories controlled by police departments and other official agencies. With nearly every American carrying a cell phone with a camera if not video capabilities, we the citizens are becoming the source of truth.

As one outraged Fullerton citizen says, “Now, they’re under the watch of us.”

According to the LA Times, the two Fullerton officers involved with the case, Officer Manuel Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli have been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter against Ramos and of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force against Cicinelli. Both will be placed on leave without pay starting October 8.

Photograph compliments of CBS Los Angeles.


Breaking News and Your Credibility

With the use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media devices news travels at an astounding rate. Getting the story out in the newspaper the next day is considered a snails pace comparatively. With the race to beat the clock journalists have been facing the problem of releasing misinformation.

For example, in late July a journalists tweet was released stating Pierce Morgan had been suspended by CNN.

Clearly this was false, but the false information was published because the journalist didn't act responsibly and wanted to get the breaking story out.

This release of misinformation tarnished the image of this particular journalist. I bet that viewers will find it difficult to trust news from this source from now on.

In order to prevent these occurrences a website was founded called which focuses mainly on educating journalists to be responsible news sources. In addition to information on their website hosts conventions to inform journalists of how to avoid certain mistakes.

It's risky to be a minute to minute reporter. One can never be 100 percent sure if their information is true. Just because Joe the plumber spewed the information off doesn't necessarily make it credible.

Thats why it is important to make one extra phone call or email to fact check before releasing the news to the masses. To be a successful journalist when it comes to prompt reporting be responsible.

Being the first to Tweet the most interesting breaking news can be an exciting thrill, but make sure the facts are accurate. If not, all credibility could be lost.

Photo courtesy of Photo Bucket.


AP Style or Search Engine Optimization?

The AP Stylebook has been in existence for a considerable amount of time. It is important in order to ensure consistency amongst journalistic publications. But is its usefulness beginning to wane as publications transition into online formats?

There are many reasons to like the AP Stylebook, including the reasons found on this list by a professor from Kansas University. There have been many instances in this accelerated semester where I have had to reference this book. The information contained within is incredible, even breaking down individual sports terms. Helpful lists such as this, covering baseball terms, can help spread the word to bloggers to increase the consistency of journalism.

But is AP Style worthwhile online?

There may be a more important focus to consider when writing for an online format. In order to improve readership, a website is recommended to utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is the use of strong, relevant keywords within articles and websites that will place you higher and more frequently in search results. The end result would be more readers having a chance to click upon your website.

If the popular search is "base ball" instead of "baseball" and "web site" instead of "website", following the AP Styleguide could mean losing thousands of potential readers. Citizen journalists, who choose not to follow any style but their own, will see increased readership over the legitimate, professional journalists.

Is it almost time to consider changing to SEO instead of AP for online journalism? I think it makes enough sense that a strong case could be argued. What do you think?

For more information on the SEO and its uses for journalists, check out an article from the Online Journalism Review and this blog that writes about SEO for Journalists.

Pictures courtesy of creative commons.


Newpapers in the Community

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Holy Kernan of KALW interviewed David Wier regading the changing media landscape. Weir is a bit of an expert on this topic as he is the co-founder of the Center for Investigative Reporting and blogs consistently on the subject of the change in today’s media.

At one point Kernan asked Weir what newspapers mean to a community. According to Weir, there is no way to tell because newspapers in America have not fully invested themselves in their communities. Weir comments that while newspapers cover community stories, they do not become involved in the community.

Weir goes on to point out a news group in Mexico that has a quite different system from any in America, La Reforma, the largest, most sucessful newspaper group in Mecico (according to Weir). What makes la Reforma so sucessful? They have a long standing policy of inviting members of the public on to an advisory panel to review the new and provide suggestions on how to cover the community better.

This method of community involvement has been so successful that when La Reforma faced the challenge of moving its content online, 80% of its subscibers agreed to continue paying for online content because they felt invested in the newspaper. Readers felt they were part of the newspaper and that the stories did not belong to the paper, but the community.

Is this devotion to community lost within American newspapers? Would more community involvement help papers as they transit from physical paper to online media?


Google Takes Over News, Again

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Google News created a new way for readers to easily find the top stories. They’ve created a “Standout” tag which is set in the header of the story in order to flag down the reader.  Also, in working with the competition, there is also a peer-to-element which will send the reader to competitions best stories.

Instructions on Standout
First journalists will identify critical stories and then the stories will then have the Standout tag fixed on the header. Finally, Google News adds a “Feature” label to the story, thus attracting more readers.

In order to prevent companies from labeling every story as important, Google reserves the power to deem what is important. 

Goggle reported that most people go to them for news and as such they claimed to have over one billion clicks every month.


Journalists denied access to Twitter page

Last February, Texas Governor Rick Perry made a few headlines in an effort to avoid them. Specifically, Perry was found to have blocked a number of Texan media members from accessing his Twitter account (you can read the original article here).'s Tom Benning reported being denied following access after trying to subscribe to @GovernorPerry. At least two other journalists, Bud Kennedy and Scott Braddock, were singled out by Perry and blocked.

Surprisingly, even after Perry was called out on his behavior, reported on Monday that Perry still blocks reporters from viewing his account. Why would this be news? Now that Perry is running for GOP nomination, journalists are even more curious to know why members of the press are not allowed to subscribe to his account.

But no worries, correspondents: nine minutes after Steve Myers reported on Poynter, Yahel Carmon created @PerryUnblocked by putting the RSS feed for @GovernorPerry into Yahoo Pipes, and flowing that in to Twitterfeed.


Dropping G's

Last weekend, AP reporter Mark Smith, was looked down upon for one of the hugest errors a journalist can do. Dropping letters at the end of a word. In this case, Smith had dropped the G's in President Barack Obama's speech towards African American voters.
As an example, Smith wrote quoting President Obama "Shake it off. Stop Complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'. "
Many African Americans felt that this report was racist, including an African American author Karen Hunter.
Smith claims that he usually uses AP Stylebook, which does say not to use slang or dialect. Smith argues that President Obama was making an emphasis on dropping the G's, so that was why he wrote it as such.
"I believe I was respecting his intent in this. Certainly disrespect was the last thing I intended." States Smith to Mediaite.
Its very important for young journalist to not jump on Smith's band-wagon. Play it safe and always resort to the AP Stylebook when there is any doubt of whether or not you should write in a certain way.

Works Cited:
Picture Cited: Creative Commons


Punishments Among Professional Players

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On Sept 27 Wayne Simmonds, a Professional Hockey Player, was accused of a slur allegation towards Sean Avery during a preseason game.

This homophobic language was brought up in the N.H.L. meeting and was ruled that Simmonds will have no punishment. My question is when do we draw the line?

Sports have been around for many years and have always been very competitive. However, inappropriate slurs and vulgar language should not ever be allowed and should always have some punishment.

Any professional player is paid well so why not charge them with a few thousand dollars? Everybody deserves the right treatment and respect out on the court, field, or arena; therefore, punishments should be talked about and should take charge.

No one signs up to be humiliated on the competitive floor and no one deserves to be treated like that. Emotions are to blame for some language, but when do we draw the line and take charge?

Simmonds should never have got away with his slur towards Avery. The N.H.L. obviously has better things to handle and not take charge of people and how they are treated on the ice. I strongly believe if any slur is caught on the floor that a manager or coach should punish them.

Punishment doesn't always have to be money but a penalty or time out of a game would be an option as well. It is safe to say if I was ever humiliated on the competitive floor I would want action to be taken towards the other person. I would hope people would feel the same about being humiliated.

Not only do I think the N.H.L. needs to take more action but also more organizations like the N.B.A, W.N.B.A., or M.L.B.. Vulgar language does not always happen on the ice it happens in almost every sport and needs to have more action taken about it.



Luxury, status, wealth and importance are all ideas that come mind when we think of having a personal driver. Well, it what some people in this world think of when it comes to chauffeuring. If you are a woman and live in Saudi Arabia, however, you most likely think the opposite. Oppression, inequality and control are the conflicting beliefs if you are a Saudi female. This is due to the Saudi law that bans women from driving.

King Abdullah just took giant steps forward with women's rights this week by finally allowing Saudi female suffrage. This is a tremendous step towards equality, but still not allowing women to drive is overshadowing this monumental change in the society.

So what are women doing to show solidarity on this issue? They are taking to the streets-literally. All across the country women documented themselves driving cars in protest. This protest was arranged primarily through social media. #Right2drive covered twitter posts and informed women what they would be doing to raise awareness about this injustice. The BBC documented some of these protesters and described how different their lives would be if they could have this right. Also documented was how much social media helped further exposure and spread the word for this protest.

Social media has made large strides since the uprisings in the region this year, but usage is still far below averages in other parts of the world. Fadi Salem of the Dubai School of Government recognizes the correlation between the use of the Internet and a more stable economy, and how the Internet has helped the economy grow in Saudi Arabia. Salem believes that a similar trend will come with social media as well, and the growth has already begun.

Facebook and Twitter have recently proven to be powerful tools all over the world, and not simply for "social" or recreational uses. They are liberating the suppressed, engaging the outsiders and now helping to create a women's movement. I have to say I "like" this.

Photo credits: NY Times


The Media: Full of 'Gutter Snipes'

The world is constantly changing and growing. People develop new technologies, come up with new ideas, and as the whole the human race develops. So, when Bill O' Reilly mentions during an interview, "The media, remarkably, hasn’t changed since Benjamin Franklin was printing ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac'," it stirs up a bit of thought.

O' Reilly explains that media is filled with "a bunch of gutter snipes" all trying to push opinions backed with facts, and that dishonesty is so prevalent it is almost scandalous.

Despite this fact he says, "The media does keep an eye on what's going on and the people really get both sides of the story..."

With this in mind, where do American's go for reliable, unbiased news? The news is easy to find, online, in print, or on television, and it is a citizens responsibility to detect if the news does show bias. If so, they should look at the story from both sides and form an educated opinion.

When considering O'Reilly's comment that the news hasn't changed since Ben Franklin he is showing that the media has been motivated by their own agenda and it's up to the public to decide what is right and wrong form there.

Photo from Photo Bucket


The Power of the Picture

If a picture can speak 1,000 words, what affect could 52 photographs of Osama bin Laden's death play on the war, and even on the world?

Judicial Watch has recently filed a Freedom of Information act lawsuit to try to grant the public access to the photographs taken after the assassination of bin Laden. Government officials fear that the release of these photographs will instigate a vicious counterattack by anti-American groups and terrorists, such as the Taliban. When looking at this situation, one cannot help but compare this situation to Saddam Hussein's execution in December 2006 and the video leaked capturing his hanging. This unauthorized video shot from a mobile phone created a huge stir across the world surrounding the conduct of execution. Yet, no extreme violent outbursts have been linked back to his hanging.

Is it possible that the pictures of Osama would have a much different effect on its viewers than the video of Saddam? With this in mind, the public must wonder what the American government is hiding in these pictures. It is claimed they wish to protect the identities of the soldiers who accomplished this mission and to protect American military strategies from leaking to enemies. If these pictures are released to the public, newspapers will need to decide whether or not they want to publish them, and possibly put lives in danger.

When dealing with powerful images, such as these, each media outlet needs to make a decision on where it stands. Is it okay to publish picture of the death of a notorious criminal or are photographs capturing any death pushing the ethical boundaries for any publication? Powerful images may make an event more believable, helps sell stories and thus, more papers. Photographic or video proof help the credibility of any story and help readers understand that an event actually happened. Yet, when unveiling powerful images about death, violence, starvation, or any number of disturbing events that take place every day across the world, will journalists choose to show images simply because the public demands them and because they want to boost sales this month? Or will they choose to shield the eyes of the public and hope the truth conveys itself well enough through their writing?


FOX News Uses Fake Headlines for Story

When covering the Chicago Bears game that was on Sep. 11, 2011, Fox News lied about newspaper headlines about quarterback Jay Cutler.

Referring to the knee injury Cutler received in a game during the playoffs last year, the headlines that were displayed during the segment were, “Cutler Lacks Courage” and “Cutler’s No Leader.”

FOX announcer Daryl Johnston said during the segment, “These are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago.” These headlines make it seem like the newspapers in Chicago are being too tough on their quarterback. The only problem is these headlines never existed.

While apologizing about the headline incident, FOX sports came clean and said that they made the headlines up about Cutler and said, “It was misleading.” The fake newspaper headlines going across the screen are misleading, yes, but to say that they were actual newspaper headlines from Chicago newspapers is a lie since they never were.

This is not the first time FOX has been caught saying something that never happened, has a list of a lot of these. And still FOX remains as the most watched cable news channel, even with all of these reported lies.

Does this mean people like to hear what they agree with, even if it isn’t true? Whatever the reason, dishonesty doesn’t seem to bother FOX much, or their viewers.

Photo from Creative Commons


Journalists are Killed in Times of War

A major controversy arose only a few weeks ago after details of an Afghan journalist's death surface.

BBC reporter, Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, was originally believed to be killed by insurgents in suicide attacks that had taken place July 28; nevertheless, recent discoveries have uncovered that Khpulwak was killed by an American soldier who had mistaken Khpulwak for a suicide bomber in the seemingly complex attacks that took place.

The foremost problem, however, is not that this journalist was killed in moments of war, but that the details of his death were not made known until after Khpulwak's family pressured for an investigation.

In an article published by the New York Times, details about the investigation report were provided.

The report stated that the soldier who killed Khpulwak believed that he had fired on American soldiers and was attempting to detonate a suicide vest when the soldier killed him. However, Khpulwak's brother states later in the article that he was skeptical of NATO's report since Khpulwak spoke sufficient English and would have simply been showing his press card to the soldiers.

Ther have been 19 other journalists killed in Afghanistan since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, according to the aformentioned article.

My question is, however, why this investigation seemed to have been swept under the rug. It took the family of the deceased to initially pressure the BBC to do something before the ball got rolling.

It would appear to me that it would be a present concern of those individuals who love to claim freedom, that if there is a suspicious death of an individual who is willing to ask difficult questions of those in power--such as a reporter--that those individuals would make it a point to seek out the truth.

This investigation should not have waited until September to turn-up results when Khpulwak was killed in July. If this is going to be the results of a journalist's death, fellow journalists need to make an outcry of anger, and soon.


Where Do People Get Their Local News?

A recent study showed that 69% of people said if their local newspaper no longer existed their community wouldn't be largely effected. The study, done for the Project of Excellence in Journalism and Pew Internet & American Life Project showed a lot of interesting facts about where people tune in for local news.

Here's the breakdown of what media people turned to for what type of news:

  • Top source for news on community events, crimes, taxes, local government, arts and culture, social services, zoning and development
  • Ties with the internet as top source on housing, schools and jobs
  • Ties with TV as top source for local political news
  • Top source for weather and breaking news
  • Ties with radio as top source for traffic news
  • Ties with newspaper as top source for political news
  • Top source for information about restaurants and other local businesses
  • Ties with the newspaper as top source on housing, schools and jobs
  • Ties with internet as top source for traffic news
There are several contradicting findings in this study. Even though people said they would not be affected in a major way if their local newspaper were to shut down, they also said they rely on their local newspaper for 11 of the 16 news topics they are concerned about.

The most popular local topics that people want to get news about are weather (89%), breaking news (80%), local politics (67%), and crime (66%). Some less popular topics were zoning and development information, local social services, job openings and local government activities.

The study also found that 47%, nearly half, of all people use mobile devices to get their online information. In the survey a lot of people said they used the internet for a lot of their information. I think it would be interesting to go further in depth with the survey and see how many people were using an actual computer and how many were using a mobile internet device.

I've heard a lot of my friends say they assume everyone gets their news from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, so I think it's interesting that the study found only 17% percent of people rely on sites like these for local news.

It's also interesting to see that although a lot of people refer to local news as it's own entity, you can still break it down further. Local news is still coming from a variety of different sources, and although I've heard "the medium is the message" it seems like the type of message people are looking for still determines which medium they use.


Mobile Advertisement

In today's society advertisement plays a big role in everyday life. As the worlds technology becomes more advanced so does the advertisement.

It has spread to mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. In the article "How publishers can overcome the abundance problem in mobile adverting," discusses how publishers can use the ads affectedly.

By knowing how organizations build apps can help the publisher understand the placement of ads because it is a key importance. Now the best place for the ads is to go the publisher can try to catch peoples attention and get them to click on the ads to bust online production.

Knowing your audience for a publisher is an important thing. No ad about about a 55 year old man will get the attention of a 18 year old. Take Men's Health Magazine for example, they are just targeting men so there will be no women advertisement unless they so the sexiest female model of the year in the magazine.

The mobile advertisement is on the rise right now because smart phones and tablets are also on the rise in the market. For a publisher this is good, because expanding your business to reach the consumer virtually everywhere is a big step.

Publishers see this as an advantage in getting business, knowing how to target their audience is just an upgrade on their smart phones.

Photo by Creative Commons


"Show don't Tell"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting the perfect photo to complement any story is vital, but photographers need to know their constitutional rights.

When in a public place, photographers have the right to photograph anything in plain view. When on private property, the property owner sets the rules.

Police officers cannot confiscate or demand to view photographs without a warrant. They can also not delete photographs under any circumstance.

If a photographer is stopped by a police officer, always act polite and calm. The photographer needs to ask the officer for the reasons behind being detained.

Photos, just like written stories, give new knowledge to their audiences. They also provide a check on the government.

The First Amendment guarantees photographers the rights to shoot whatever they find useful, as long as they don't break any other laws, such as trespassing, while doing so.

Photographs can do something articles can't. Photos physically show the situation, and evoke strong emotions. The rights of these people need to be protected because they are doing their community a great service.

Photo Credit: Maddie Boswell


Facebook - The New Advertising Giant?

It seems that every few months Facebook comes out with 'new and improved' changes that seem to infuriate the masses. Facebook has incorporated games, chats, and now even updated status feeds that people have tended to revolt against initially. But, in the end, everyone moves on with their lives and learns to accept the new features without a second glance.

This is one of the biggest benefits for advertising firms and Facebook as over the years, they have worked to incorporate an all important trait that most people tend to ignore; the sponsorships that Facebook provides. It is hard to think that these and many other advertising revenues have helped to boost the social networking site to a $1 Billion profit for the year.

It is staggering to think of such large revenues for a social site that many of us use on a daily basis and don't give a second thought to 'adds', but the additional revenue is getting the attention of another advertising giant; Google.

Google has been trying to compete for the top-spot in the advertising frenzy that is linked to social media, but it doesn't seem as though they are going to be able to keep up as Facebook works to keep posting annually increases of 20 percent or more.

The biggest drawback to all of this? When will it be enough and when will we see our favorite media site turned into nothing more then pop-ups and flashing adds as they keep working towards more money?


Freelance Journalism

In todays journalism world there is starting to be more freelanced writers. What exactly is a freelance journalist/writer? Wisegeek gives a good definition: A freelancer is a non-fiction writer who contracts their services to different media sectors.

A lot of freelance journalists write about specific topics like business, entertainment, and many other fields. Some write about numerous topics. That is one of the best parts about being a freelance writer. You are allowed to pick what you want to write about and what interests you. Another good part of freelancing is there is always an audience for whatever you choose to write about whether its about marine biology or guitar amplifiers.

In an article by Matthew Stibbe, he writes about the skills you need as a freelance journalist. One of the biggest things a freelance writer can do is read and write. Another is having curiosity. Being curious can help you discover new topics to write about. One of the most important skill a they must have is being able to market themselves. Freelancing is a business it's self. These journalists must be able to sell their product to a media or marketing firm.

There are a number of downsides to freelancing. One of the biggest is money. When doing freelance work it is sometimes very hard to find a steady job that will bring steady cash flow. Along with that there are a lot of times freelancers will go without getting paid for their work.

Another downside to freelancing is isolation. Because there journalist are writing by yourself they have no team or no one to assist them.

Freelancing is important to the journalism field because we are starting to see more and more of it. Freelance journalists may very well change the way journalism is done in the future.


Where is the Money?

In 2011 the revenues from online advertising overtook print advertising. This shift signifies that more companies are placing their faith in the future of the internet, yet for the newspaper industry most of their revenue still comes in from print advertisements. But according to an article on Reuters, 46 percent of Americans get their news online at least three times a week versus 40 percent in print.

Where are the online advertising dollars for newspapers?

According to that same article most online ad spending is in search advertising, little of which finances news. Even though newspaper advertising has dropped 46 percent in the past four years, it is still more than seven times the revenue of online advertising for newspapers. Thus the print newspaper is the financial backbone that allows the newspapers to expand and explore online options.

According to a new study by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, readers are willing to pay for a print newspaper but not the online equivalent. 23 percent of respondents to a survey conducted for the above study say they would pay, but no more than $5 a month. A month of receiving the Seattle Times, for example, costs $22.40 a month. Only 5% of people who currently get their news online pay for the content.

According to the Reuters article, three dozen newspapers have moved to an online pay model. Of those newspapers, only one percent of readers opted to pay for the service.

This leaves a dark shadow hovering over newspapers. If the printed news no longer becomes profitable, can they find a way to survive online? Or will the world resort to dependance upon citizen journalists who blog and tweet about the news?

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.


Dissatisfaction with News Media

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The American public is not happy with journalists or the news that they cover, according to a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center.

Only 25 percent of people say that news organizations are factual within their stories, and 66 percent say that stories are "often inaccurate". This is quite the decline from 2007 when 39 percent said that news mostly got their facts straight, and 53 percent said that stories are inaccurate.

An overwhelming majority of the public also believe that the press is "often influenced by powerful people and organizations" and "tend to favor one side".

Of the 12 evaluation categories of news media, nine equal or surpass record highs in percent of displeased responders, indicating that the public is growing more and more dissatisfied with the media.

There is some good news, though. The public trusts news organizations (especially local news) more than state and federal government, business, and congress. (While I'm not sure that this is really GOOD news, it does make journalists feel a little better!)

Pew Research Center releases an annual report on the public views of the values of news media. They have been performing this survey since 1985.

With all of these negative views on news media, shouldn't we do something about it? One of the main goals of journalism is to provide factual information to the public, something that they are telling us we are not doing.

Joseph Pulitzer, establisher of the coveted Pulitzer Prize, warned of biased media in his journalistic credo:
Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.

Click here for a complete report of Pew Research Center's findings.


Public Lacks Trust in the Press

Americans don't believe every thing they see, hear or read. According to a Pew Study, citizens have a hard time trusting the press.

The poll reported "66% say news stories often are inaccurate, 77% think that news organizations tend to favor one side, and 80% say news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and organizations."

Although these figures may seem abysmal, the public trusts the press more than government and business, and "62% say their main news sources get the facts straight."

Because the press is supposed to be the trusted source of information. It's watchdog reputation means that Americans should be able to rely on the news to tell the truth in regards to government, business, and any facet of life.

All journalists should take note of these statistics. Personally, this reinforces my belief in double- and triple-checking facts and interviews because our readers and viewers shouldn't have to question our credibility or motivations.

Our job is to report.

It should be that simple. Ask questions. Write down the answers. Report the facts.


Social Media Background Checks

Social media is a powerful tool. It can be used to define and brand yourself – for some, this can be either good or bad. Social media background checks are not a novel idea as employers have been using social media go research potential candidates for years.

Vanessa Junkin of the Carroll County Times reports on how social media affects today’s modern hiring process. Employers need be wary and potential employees be aware, there are rules in place for such a process.

Social media screenings for positions may only screen for certain types of information. As Junkin points out, these screenings may look for excessive use of vulgar language, racial remarks, inappropriate photos, and references to violent tendencies.

Vivian Luckiewicz of reports on some of the restrictions of such screenings. While there is no law against social media background checks, employers must continue to abide by fair practice hiring laws already in place. While conducting social media background checks, as with other background checks, employers may not discriminate against race, religion, age, disability, or gender.

Junkin interviewed Don McCombie, president and virtual CEO of NoWorriesIT. Junkin asked McCombie about the influence social media has on the hiring process.

“A candidate doesn’t become disqualified for just a silly comment,” McCombie said. “The check [is] more to see what the person’s character is like.

It is important to keep in mind not only how you and your peers view your social media presence, but also how potential employers view it as well.


Social Media Fills Gap Left by Press

In Mexico City, before police and reporters even arrived to the location of a violent crime twitter users were tweeting about the dangerous situations advising readers to avoid the area. Is social media saving lives in Mexico? Damien Cave reports on the importance of social media and the need it fills in the New York Times.

Recently, a law was passed by the Veracruz State Assembly made it illegal for social network users to use such outlets to undermine public order. This comes following charges last month when two individuals spread rumors via Twitter that local schools were under attack causing mass panic.

Cave interviewed Andres Monroy-Hernandez, a doctoral candidate from Mexico at the M.I.T. Media Lab.

“Social media is filling the gap left by the press,” Monroy-Hernandez said. “In different regions of Mexico, both the state and the press are weak, while organized crime is becoming stronger and, in some places, replacing the state.”

Social media is quickly becoming the largest, most trusted source of information in Mexico. In a country with weak press, Twitter is becoming a staple of not only information, but safety in some dangerous areas.

How much credit should the general public give to information passed along by social media? In some cases, information may divert individuals away from a crime scene. However, in some cases false information may cause mass panic. How can this be monitored?


The Ecosystem of Journalism

We have discussed in many posts the future of journalism, and decline in traditional media. One group of graduate students has decided to quit discussing it and use scientific methods and studies to help save the industry. The City University of New York School of Journalism has a program of dedicated students in its graduate journalism program that have begun the attempt to take on this rising challenge.

The project, being funded by the Knight and McCormick Foundations, is taking a new approach to build revenues and lasting companies in this unstable market. Two conferences sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation is where it all began as well as the idea to look at journalism as an ecosystem to better understand where strides can be made.

Viewing the industry as an ecosystem has allowed these students to identify who is reliant on each other and examine how all of the components in each niche work together. Advertising, local news and papers are some of the areas of greater focus. They believe by working in unison with all of the players, a more comprehensive approach to solving the problem of declining revenues is feasible.

Another major focus for the students is on-line news. They will be gathering new information and doing experiments to see how they can generate the most revenue.

"You may want to be small, but to succeed at being small, you probably have to be probably have to be part of something big."-Mark Potts.

Being part of something big is just what these students will be if they can solve all of the problems in journalism. They will be relying on each other, just as we all do in this ecosystem, for support and ideas as they try and save the future of the news.


Facebook's New Layout Important to Newspapers

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A month ago I would have scoffed at the idea. There was no way that Facebook would have any importance to a newspaper, apart from their need to have a Facebook page for fans to follow. With the new changes to Facebook, newspapers should start paying attention.

Facebook has over 800 million users and has posted a day with over 500 million members logging in. It is safe to say that a lot of people's opinions are able to be expressed via Facebook. This is why the reaction to the new layout should be alarming to newspapers everywhere.

According to this article, Facebook claims it is trying to become "your own personal newspaper". Their news feed section is something taken directly from many newspaper websites. There is also a real-time ticker off to the side that keeps you up-to-date on who is doing what all the time.

And the overall consensus seems to be dislike.

If the Facebook members have such a strong reaction against the new format, what does that mean for the newspapers? It means that there is a possibility that a large number of potential readers would not like navigating their website. It means that they might be losing readers because of their layout.

Or maybe there is no correlation at all. What are your thoughts? Does the initial reaction over Facebook mean that newspapers should look into revamping their format? If so, how could they do it better?

Photo via Creative Commons.


Government Over Taking the Media

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Australian Press Council is butting heads with its government over print media. Before September 14 the press was funded independently. The government took action and stepped in to take over but not just because of the decrease of funding. They also want to regulate the media.

This action that the government is taking reminds one of the Egypt government back in January of 2011. Recalling the events they shut down the internet to block social media sites so that the people could not get together for more protesting.

Media should not be controlled by the government because like the Egyptian people, societies will get upset on what they are blocking and not showing what is in the news.

Rupert Murdoch is an important figure in Australia media because he owns 70 percent of there newspapers. The big scandal with him hacking phone lines is also causing government to step in and make sure that does not happen again.

Even though Murdoch was in the wrong he was just trying to get the news out faster to the people because they have the right to know.

The government is acting out of being scared. They are worried that something is going to go wrong and make them look bad.

The Australian Press Council has to accept the government regulating because that is where all the funding is coming from. Government controlling the media, is that bad? Or against our moral rights?


How Twitter has Changed Campaign Coverage

More and more people are getting their news, including political news, from social media. This offers a quicker and more up to date way to see the latest news about political candidates. But does quicker mean better? Or are reporters these days just worried about the quantity and speed of their reports, and not the quality?

Jodi Edna said in his report, Campaign Coverage in the Time of Twitter, from the American Journalism Review."No longer do reporters slog elbow to elbow with presidential contenders vying for votes in Iowa and New Hampshire. No longer do they get to know the candidates in a way that voters do not – up close and personal, with their feet up, their guard down and, perhaps, a drink at the ready. No longer do they have the luxury of weeks or days or even hours to gather string and dig deep and analyze before they write a story."

Edna continues on say that many reporters today don't have enough time to write what reporters 10 years ago would consider a story since they are so busy with Twitter, blogging, or shooting a video clip.

Reporters these days are no longer following candidates around and getting to know them,"There are fewer people observing these candidates up close and more people writing about them from afar. There are a lot more people opining, blogging, tweeting, but not out there looking at candidates face to face," says Zeleny of the New York Times. Is this a good thing? Are we getting the best, most accurate stories from these reporters? Or is this just the fastest way to get out information?

The new way of reporting has both its positives and negatives. People are definitely getting their news faster and more often by using social media. Also they have the options of seeing pictures of the candidate, clicking on a link to view a video that the reporter shot with his/her phone, or hear an audio recording captured by the reporter. And nothing is better than hearing from the candidates themselves.

But the negatives are clear as well. Continuing in his report Edna says this referring to today's reporters, "Almost to a person, they bemoan the loss of time to engage in in-depth reporting, to go beyond the story of the day to unearth the insightful gems that really tell us something instructive, something fundamentally important, about the men and women who would be president." Reporters today are sacrificing their time to do deep research on candidates so that they can keep getting the latest, newer news.

Everyone is a potential journalist today. What is considered news today only remains news for a little while, until something new has to be blogged about. Is the new form of reporting on campaigns (little amounts of data but constantly updated) better for the voter than the old form of reporting, where we received in-depth stories about the candidate but not as often? Whatever way is better, campaigns are being covered more and more by people on sites like twitter, and less and less by reporters who do in-depth reporting.

Photo from


Media Bias....Helpful?

Bias seems to be a term met with much negativity in the journalism world. As budding journalists we strive to keep our stories right in the middle of the political spectrum.

How boring is that though? This is the idea that Jack Shafer implanted in my head with his recent blog, Media Bias? Give me more Please!

Bias keeps us guessing and if you think about it it is one of the few things keeping the news honest. Without opposition in the journalistic world, people would never question anything.

It must be true if it's unbiased. Is that a positive mindset? No, I want to be told if I'm wrong or right just.

Why shouldn't we enjoy a little bias when it comes to our news? There are always two sides to every story and they most certainly will be told.

Blaming bad news on a biased opinion is lazy. If you hold strong opinions on a topic and upon investigation you find out you're wrong, well that would be the time to change your opinion.

As journalists we should be filters. We should be able to screen our news and be able to tell what is right and wrong. Simple reasoning should allow us to find the middle ground between two bias stories.

In the end journalism needs bias. It is the want to be right that is associated with bias that keeps people asking questions in the pursuit of the truth.


Rage Against the Media

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 3 Occupy Wall Street 2011 Shankbone 7
Photo courtesy of

On September 17th, all was normal with Twitter. However, if you chose to glance down at trending topics, there were a couple of interesting choices:

If you were intrigued enough to click on one of these hashtags, the content might have surprised you. For it appeared our nation was in the middle of a giant, unexpected economic protest on Wall Street. The hacktivist group Anonymous used some of its many Twitter accounts to help organize the event, and stood among the crowd during peaceful demonstrations against 'coporate pigs' and the American government.

If you were watching the mainstream American news, you never would have heard any of it. As the day went on, Twitter users began complaining of a major media blackout against what they claimed civilians would deem to be news. And it seems to be true: the first major media company to release an article over the event was Al Jeezera English, a foreign media outlet (read the article here). In fact, while Al Jeezera released their article the same day as the popular revolution begun, it took American outlets at least a full day before they began to release any kind of coverage (see Business Week's coverage here). It was too long for the protesters, one of whom tweeted "This whole lack of news coverage thing for #occupywallstreet is kind of disturbing. Yet the asinine Glen Beck rally got all that press?"

Why did it take the American media so long to respond to a major protest on one of our country's most famous streets? For weeks, journalists have been covering foreign protests with a lot of effort and no small amount of dedication, yet the biggest news of Saturday was left to the foreign media and protesters to break themselves. There is speculation that major media corporations dragged their feet on purpose to cover it, because after all- the public was protesting specifically against corporations. Were the major news networks purposefully avoiding the subject to save their own dignity?

If journalists are going to continue referring to themselves as our nation's 'watchdog', then they need to be watching their own business moves. When you are a journalist, you don't do what's best for the corporation. You're doing what's best for your nation's civilians, and sometimes, you need to swallow your pride.


Ten Years Later

Twitter exploded with hashtags of #neverforget and #GodblesstheUSA on the decade anniversary of 9/11, as over three million tweets acknowledged the occasion.

We shared where we were, who we were with, what we thought on that Tuesday morning ten years ago. Various news and social media websites encouraged us to express our memories and describe our experience since. The New York Times, among others, created an entire addition to their website covering every aspect of 9/11 from the events of the day itself to the impact on American Muslims since. Television documentaries and films consumed practically every station from CBS to OWN, Animal Planet to the History Channel. Newspapers took the opportunity to bring out the biggest and best in front page illustration.

We were bombarded with images and sounds. Videos of the attacks themselves and the minutes after. Recordings of panicked 911 calls and final goodbyes to loved ones.

Was it too much? Did the hundreds of hours of anniversary coverage trivialize the events? Or honor those affected most by the tragedy?

Nevertheless, whether there was too much exposure or not enough, the media succeeded in helping us remember that tragic day and the lives lost. A plummeting stock market, the Presidential election, and debt reduction plans were slightly further from our mind as we took the time to tune in to the coverage or glance through the commemorative magazine. Through television specials and newspaper articles, Americans came closer together as a nation in remembrance, just as we were a decade before.

photo courtesy of via


Twitter Changes the Game for Reporters

With the arrival of the 21st Century, journalism has had to evolve to keep up with reader's demands. In this new, technological age, social media websites have completely changes the journalistic world. Social media sites, especially Twitter, provide readers with constant, immediate news. This has created a more competitive working environment for reporters to break the stories first.

Additionally, journalists cannot simply be reporters in this changing business. They must also become editors, multi-media experts, and marketers to develop a brand for themselves in a way that makes them stand out from their competitors. They have to know how to do it all.

Twitter gives journalists tools they never dreamed would have been possible in the past millennium. This website allows journalists to watch for trends, establish sources, share and develop their stories, and brand themselves to millions of followers almost instantaneously. Plus they can do this all in the palm of their hand.

This one website has also changed the way readers get their news. The days of the newspaper are a thing of the past; replaced by LED screened cellphones and tablets. Readers want to know what is happening "now" not what happened yesterday, or even ten minutes ago. If journalists want to be successful in today's field, then it is essential they get with the times and use the resources in front of them wisely.

photo from by okalkavan


Hanging Out with Google

There's a new way for journalist to video chat these days, and its all thanks to Google+'s new features which were announced today. The new version named "Hang outs on Air" will allow journalist to record video and live stream their discussions to their colleagues.
Now with this built in feature, journalist can conduct their discussions publicly by:
  • Creating a virtual town hall where they can be outside and officials tell them the latest news.
  • Have a meeting with the editorial staff and then after everything is discussed and edited, they can post the video and the written editorial report.
  • They can even have a political debate at the Hangout!

If that wasn't the icing on the cake, Google made another announcement that they would be making a few more changes, including: support for Android phones that had front facing cameras, sharing streaming through their computer's screen, and sharing a GoogleDoc.

With all these new changes to the world of journalism, its making me very excited to hop right into the business and learn all these new ways to give me an edge of success.

Picture Credit: Creative Commons.

Accreditation: Jeff Sonderman at


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