Is Censorship Realistic?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recently I have been thinking about the fact that not all countries have the same ideals as America when it comes to censorship and free speech. This is evident in the turmoil happening in Egypt recently, with the government attempting to completely shut down the internet to prevent word getting out of the goings on in the country.

This got me thinking about whether or not censorship of journalism is realistic in our society today. With social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, people can update their status or tweet without even needing a computer: they can simply text.

Also, anonymity is another issue that makes censorship nearly impossible. With the ability for people to make Twitter accounts or blogs under pseudonyms or fake names it is nearly impossible for, say, the Egyptian to report or censor all journalists.

There are many people on social media sites that are even encouraging this rebellion.

It seems that these days people are intent on knowing as much information as the possibly can, even sometimes at the expense of laws or respect of the government.

What is your opinion? Do you think that we should be able to have access to all information, even if it goes against the government? Do you think that the journalists in Egypt are right for getting the word out? Do you think censorship still exists, or is it only theory?

Photo Credit: via


Hulu: Television Without Limits

Everything in technology is advancing. The way we read is being advanced through Amazon's Kindle. The way we listen to music is always improving thanks to Apple. Now, thanks to Hulu, an online video service which viewers can watch their favorite shows on-demand, TV is now getting an upgrade.

This is for those who want to watch their favorite shows online, but do not have the time to. For instance, there are some BNR female students who like to watch "The Bachelor," which airs Monday nights on ABC. If one should be unfortunate to miss an episode, it's right there waiting for them the next morning on Hulu.

Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, released a statement telling consumers why Hulu is the way to go to watch their favorite shows. He argues three points which are simple to understand:

1. Traditional TV has too many ads.

2. Consumers want convenience.

3. Hulu is a great marketing force for consumers to decide what shows they like and want to throw out.

Traditional television will not go away. Hulu will just be another resource for those on-the-go to watch what they want, whenever they want. Convenience is endless, and for the consumer in today's age, it's a busy consumer's best friend.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons


Gaining Brain Cells through -- Video Games?

Despite the perception of video games having negative effects on people's minds, many actually build rather than burn brain cells.

If your skeptical of that statement you may ask "Well, how could they possibly help more than harm?" That's a fair question considering the view on video games, so here's four answers.

Video games provide good hands-on experience, job training, contextual learning, and teamwork.

"Many children can pass biology and physics tests, but few can apply that knowledge to solve real-world problems." says author James Paul Gee. Video games promote higher levels of engagement over passive forms of entertainment such as TV and movies because people are actually involved with the on-screen activity.

In the job world, different universities and businesses such as NASA and the U.S. Army are using interactive simulations and virtual worlds to educate employees. An example is Loyalist College when they had a simulation program where students played as guards of U.S./Canada boarder crossing and saw the rate of successful test scores go up from 56% to 95%.

Dr. Jeffrey Taekman, the director Duke University's Human Simulation and Patient Center, teaches medical students saying simulations help build the abilities to make choices, see results, and apply information immediately. Traditional classrooms can't compete when considering greater scalability and group collaboration.

There are many multi-player games being played and the more popular ones that have a huge following connect players through the internet. These games often require active teamwork and high-level project management to complete objectives and battle other opponents. Georgia Tech professor and Persuasive Games founder Ian Bogost says video games require advanced mastery of resource allocation and practical leadership techniques.

Video games help in all these ways, but being a gamer myself I've learned that they at least encourage people to fall on their face then get up and try again until they succeed. I don't think that's too bad of a lesson right?

You can't lose to many brain cells learning skills like these from video games.

Photo credit: from Creative Commons


When the Media Go Too Far

Do media have to show everything? Do we have to see, hear or know everything? As a student in journalism, I ask myself sometimes if there is a limit in news world.

The first example that come in my mind is the specialized media in the lives of famous people. They always try to find something interested in stars' private life. Magazines like People like to provide readers with provocative and shocking facts around in the private lifes of celebrities.

But Magazines are not the only media that is interesting in great stories. They all are and even the most reliable media can be brought to use unsavory means to attract the audience. During the Sep. 11 terrorists' attacks in New York City for example, television reporters didn't be afraid to show people jumping from the twin towers live in a worlwide broadcast. I was 13 years-old when I saw these images and I was shocked.

And media also make mistakes because they are attracted by the scoop, the big story and rush to deliver informations without verifying the veracity. The case of Gabrielle Giffords reported dead on national T.V while she was still in surgery.

When you know that her husband heard that she was dead and finally found her alive at the hospital, you can tell that media make serious mistaskes and can ruin lives just because they don't take the time to check facts.

Photo credit: People cover page via


Scared Of The Truth

Lately it seems journalists are having difficulties reporting stories in foreign countries. Currently the problem seems to be magnified in Egypt.

News network AlJazeera was kicked out of the country for reporting on the outcry over President Hosni Mubarak's policies of thirty years.

Other journalists are using pseudonyms on Twitter to still get news out.

A story on Find Law discusses Egypt's military not allowing foreign correspondents to enter Tahrir Square in Cairo on Tuesday.

United States journalists Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric left Egypt due to the arressts of and attacks on journalists there.

For me this begs the question:Is it merely not wanting information to get out before it should or is Egypt scared that people will know the truth about what is going on?

I believe that they are being a true dictatorship. A good dictator knows that the truth must be hidden.

Does Mubarak's government think they have anyone fooled?

Photo Credit:WikkiTravel


Tips Young Reporters Need to Know

In the chaos of recent events in Cairo, Egypt, journalists have had to think on their feet.

"In periods of intense breaking news, logistics can be as important as brains and courage," says native freelance journalist Dan Morrison. While observing young journalists Morrison was concerned at the number of young journalists who were caught off guard when things started to go wrong that effected their journalism.

In the article, "Reporting Lessons for the Next Revolution," Morrison offers three basic tips to young journalists.

The first tip Morrison talks about is "Don't count on local networks." This is particularly relevant now after what is happening in Egypt. Journalists who were relying on the local Internet or cell phone connects were out of luck when the government made the decision to shut down the Internet and cell phone service.

His tip to journalists is to invest in a BGAN terminal. This device is priced at around $1000 and works with prepaid cards as a satellite Internet connection. He also says that every journalist should at least have a pre-paid satphone in case cell phone service becomes unavailable.

The second piece of advice Morrison gives young journalists is to keep spares of everything. No journalist should rely on just one camera, memory card, contact list, voice recorder etc.

Third, Morrison says to "seed your sources," or keep solid connections with your sources. As a final piece of advice he says that it is a good idea to give a trusted source a copy of your client contacts.

Although many of these suggestions might not apply to journalists doing work close to home in a stable area, the general principles still apply.

Just like Morrison tells journalists not to rely on local networks, the same can be said about practicing journalism anywhere. This advice could also apply to the issue of journalists relying to heavily on technology to get the work done.

Also, no matter where you are it is always a good idea to keep spares. If the deadline to a story is coming up fast and the device is lost or not working, then you're out of luck.

Just like Morrison said, it comes down to journalists thinking as well as acting.

Photo credit: University of Connecticut via Creative Commons


X, Y, Z, &

Hello fellow BNR students. If you where in class this last Wednesday, you would have learned why a comma looks the way it does. This got me thinking of why other puncuations marks look the way they do. Have you ever wondered why? Well, if that is a yes, you are in luck because listed below is a few of the common punctuation marks and how they came about.

The question mark. You know that little scribble and dot? Yeah, just like that. When Latin scholars wrote a sentence that was question, they would write the word "questio" at the end of it. As you can imagine writing that word got old and it was shortened to "qo." This got confusing too and it got changed to a q on top of a o. Very similar to what the question mark looks like nowadays.

The exclamation point. That super excitied dot and line! Well it is like the question mark. It is based off the Latin word "io," meaning "exclamation of joy. When written vertically, with the i above the o it begins to look like the exclamation point we see today.

The last punctuation mark was actually considered to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. "X, Y, Z, &." This mark is called the ampersand, but was orginally pronunced "and, per, se." It just got mashed together and is no longer the 27th alphabet letter.

If you would like to check out more punctuation marks and where I found this interesting information, check out the link.
Photo Credit: Via Creative Commons


10 Privacy Settings for Facebook Users

Everyone has heard those stories about people getting fired, secrets coming out and ultimately people finding out things that others don't want them to know. This can be considered news on various levels; a great deal of these stories happen because of Facebook. If you want to protect yourself from becoming unwanted news, here are some privacy tips to take into consideration.

Step 1: Understand Your Friend Lists
You are now able to group your friends and control their individual privacy settings. It's also possible to group a friend in more than one group like family, friends, co-workers and more. This is handy for controlling who sees what on your profile. For those whom are placed in two different groups, the one with the most restrictive privacy settings will be enforced for that person.
Step 2: Remove Yourself from Search
This is handy for professionals and teachers who don't want students and collegues in their personal lives but is not limited to just them. If you do not want to be found in a search, simply visit the FB privacy settings page, click on "edit settings", enter your password and next to "Facebook Search Results" select the "only friends" setting.
Step 3: Remove Yourself from Google
Some users like the attention of being more public about their things, if you aren't then I would advise removing yourself from Google index and search engines. This can be done by visiting the search privacy settings page and simple uncheck the box next to "Public Search Results" which says "allow indexing".
Step 4: Avoid the Infamous Photo Tag Mistake
Head back to privacy page, go to the section "Photos and Videos of Me", click on the drop down selector, click on the "custom" option and then select "only me". This will prevent any pictures from mistakenly ruining your rep.
Step 5: Protect Your Albums
If you want to limit access on your personal albums you are able to change the settings to "only friends". Unless you are pursuing a career in professional photography then, of course, you'd want to do the opposite.
Step 6: Avoid the Post-Breakup FB Effect
If you're one of those people who don't want attention when changing your relationship status, not everyone is, then I would suggest going to the settings page and changing the "Family and Relationship" setting to "only me".
Step 7: Control What Information Applications Can Access
When you visit some of the applications on FB you may be asked if they may access your informations; this includes name, gender, birthday, profile picture and others. The more restrictive you make your settings the less information those applications can use. You're able to control those settings here.
Step 8: Make Contact Information Private
Have you ever gotten mysterious calls or texts from people you are certain you didn't give your number to? Well it turns out that you might have without actually thinking of it. It makes sense if you're going to put that kind of information on your page that you may want to restrict it to whom you trust with it. There are two ways to do this. First you can visit the privacy page and customize it to your liking; secondly, you can do it straight from your profile by clicking edit, clicking on the locks and customizing it from there.
Step 9: Avoid Embarassing Wall Posts
As much fun as you had at that party last weekend, you may not want the entire world to know. Your friends may not be using Facebook for professional use and may not think twice about posting things you don't necessarily want shared about it on your wall. Of course most people don't want to uncheck the "Friends may post to my wall", but you go to your privacy options, scroll down the page and click the drop selector by the "can see wall posts by friends" and customize those settings.
Step 10: Understand the Privacy Settings
Everyone - literally means everyone (internet, companies, friends...)
Friends and Networks - Friends and the networks you are in (universities or professional organization, cities...)
Friends of Friends - I'm not sure why you would want this option but it basically just restricts in some of your networks
Friends Only - this is pretty straight forward.
Custom - manually selecting individual friends for different settings.

Be smart with your social networking. Stay out of the negative news.
Photo Credit: CreativeCommons, User:ZyMOS.


Be educated in the world of journalism

Though you may not be the least bit interested in journalism, media, or a Communications major, it is still important that you have a basic knowledge on how to deal with related issues surrounding these topics. Topics such as interviews, media, and journalism can save someone's career. Without this knowledge, a person could make the simplest mistake ruining their career, reputation, or both.

It doesn't matter if you come from a large city, or a small town, your future career and experiences could force you into a situation involving media exposure. Like Aaron Thomas, son of legendary Ed Thomas, for example. Thomas was a small town graduate of Aplington-Parkersburg, and went to college to become a future educator himself. Little did he know that the murder of his father would throw him into the world of journalism, involving unexpected public conferences following the event. Without the basic knowledge of journalism, and a background in communication skills, this task would have been very difficult for Thomas to accomplish. He stated in his speech at the Iowa College Media Association Conference on February 5, 2011, that watching his father handle the press due to the tornado taught him how to handle the publicity that followed his father's death.

Another small town citizen that wasn't looking for a career which involved journalists, or media, was chief of the astronauts, Peggy Whitson. Whitson was someone who had a dream of becoming an astronaut after witnessing mans first steps on the moon, but has never enjoyed the publicity that is accompanied with such an accomplishment. Recently Gabrielle Giffords, wife to astronaut Mark E. Kelly, was shot in the head. Kelly was to fly on a 2 week mission in April, but due to the circumstances was forced to make a decision on whether to follow through with the mission, or stay behind with his wife. After Kelly took time off training to be with his wife, another person was training for his position. It was Whitson's decision on who would be a part of the team for that mission, and recently she decided that Kelly would be the safest decision. This event caused many interactions with journalists and the media, and if Whitson wasn't instructed on how to handle these situations with the press then she could have made one simple mistake shattering her career.

Journalism skills are not only for people who are pursuing a future in Communications. Having certain skills as these, and a basic knowledge in the Communications department, will allow people to be able to handle these situations at any given time. You never know why you could have this type of situation on your hands requiring this specific knowledge, it could be because of an unexpected death in your family, your job, or something that happens specifically to you. Are you ready for that day, because if not now is the time to become prepared. Take a journalism class, do some online research, interview someone that has the experience, regardless now is the time to become educated.


Sympathy and respect

On the morning of Friday, Feb. 4 I was fortunate enough to see Aaron Thomas give his speech entitled "The Meaning of Courage: A Story of Family and Compassion" at this year's Iowa Newspaper Association convention. He is the son of the late Ed Thomas, coach of Aplington-Parkersburg high school.

As many are aware, a tornado hit and destroyed a significant portion of the town, and a relatively short time later Coach Thomas was shot and killed by a mentally disturbed player on his team.

One of the most interesting things to note about Thomas' presentation on Friday was his repeated thanks to the media for being polite and respecting his, his family's and the town's feelings in their coverage of this story.

Despite two relatively minor incidents with the press, Thomas was deeply thankful for the respect news people showed to those in deep mourning. Luckily, this instance was not one where the media was as intrusive into a private citizen's life as it may have been in the past.

There is a fine line journalists must draw between desire to get "the big story" and respect the people in that story as human beings. Having a deadline is hard, and meeting it is even harder sometimes, but no matter how different one journalist's idea of what sympathy or ethics might be, they must all agree to respect victims to the utmost of their ability.

Student journalists today absolutely have to be educated about journalism ethics and, even more than that, they must be taught to treat victims or relatives/friends of victims as human beings first and stories second.

There is usually an interesting human angle to most stories, but that "angle" involves people with hopes, dreams and emotions just like the journalist's. The day a journalist forgets that fact, he or she can no longer completely fulfill the purpose of journalism.

Photo Credit - Anthony Easton via Creative Commons


The Daily Uprising

The Daily app is a new source of digital media that delivers news, entertainment and advertising to consumers. This type of media is a fine example of how consumers in the future will receive information on a handheld device, such as an iPad, rather than a newspaper.

Although some may believe The Daily app is pointless and will not gain interest from consumers, there are many hidden benefits, such as: dramatic display, concise storytelling, rich-media integration and interactive advertising.

The dramatic display plays a huge role on the iPad by delivering information on a large, high resolution screen. There are photo galleries in every issue in which you access by turning your tablet into the horizontal position. This allows the consumer to pick and choose what sort of pictures they are interested in, rather than being stuck with the one-dimensional ways of the newspaper.

The Daily holds their stories to a screen or two while still trying to make every paragraph enticing to the reader. This can be hard at times because the attention span of a reader is not lost for a long amount of time; therefore, what they are writing has to make an impact or offer some sort of emotional relation in order to keep their consumers satisfied.

Even though there have been issues of The Daily app freezing up while in use, the emotional impact of a video, audio, photo and graphics overrule this problem. Video and audio clips are effective because they make the news unique by adding eminence to the story. Also, you can add comments to a story by recording your voice and submitting it. The photos and graphics are superb as well because they are artistic and unique, which makes the story more appealing.
Interactive advertising in The Daily allows ads to come alive and encourage consumers to purchase or research the products that are being advertised being that they are available with a click of a button. In other words, it allows consumers to be satisfied instantly because of availability.

The Daily is a unique app that is challenging society in many ways because not many are used to this type of digital media, nor are they ready for it. Slowly but surely, there will be multiple types of apps similar to The Daily, it is just in a matter of time.

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