News: Information That is New?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grab a pen and paper. Got it? Okay. Now, go ask 15 different journalists this question: what is news?

As you have discovered, the 15 different journalists gave you 15 different definitions. We now have a dilemma. What is news? One way of defining news is to list out its characteristics. These are the values that journalists use when they select which stories to report. These include the following:

Timeliness: A tornado that happened last night is more newsworthy than the one that happened 3 months ago.

Proximity: A fire that occured in your town in which three people are injured, is more likely to make it in the paper than a fire that occured 400 miles away.

Consequence: A $70 billion tax cut is more newsworthy than a $3,000 one.

Rarity: An albino child being born is news.

Human Interest: Events that touch our hearts, often make the news.

Charles Dana, editor of the The New York Sun in the late 1800s defined news as "anything that will make people talk." Journalist Walter Lippmann defined news as a "picture of reality on which men can act."

There are many definitions as to what "news" is. It's hard to just pick one and stick with it because the news is different for everybody. But one thing that doesn't change the definition of news is the characteristics and reasons why you tell, write and present the stories you report.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons


First Impressions

First impressions are important. Whether it be meeting someone new, going to class for the first time, or, more importantly, a job interview.

The first thing you are judged on is your apperance. What do you look like? What are you wearing?

For example, if you where to show up to your first class of the semester late and looking like you just rolled out of bed, the professor will not get a great impression to start the year off with. Or the first time you meet some dreamy hunk of a guy, you spill your drink on him. Not exactly on anybody's to-do list of first impressions, I bet.

The same guidelines apply for a job interview, if not more. You need to show up on time and by on time I mean before the interview is sheduled to start. It is recommended to show up around 10 minutes before it starts. Also don't show up too early. By showing up too early you can look desperate and as if you have all the time in the world to waste waiting.

The next thing an interviewer sees is what your general appearence looks like. Don't look like you just woke up and forgot to brush your hair. Take a shower, brush your teeth; personal hygiene is important. Along with this is how you smell. You don't want to smell like you have not showered, but you don't want to smell like you poured the entire bottle of perfume or colonge on you. For females, do not overdo your makeup, no raccoon eyes.

The next part dealing with appearance is what you are wearing. The general rule of thumb is to be dressed one step above the interviewer. Do not show up to an interview wearing sweats or jeans. Put on what can be referred to as your Sunday best. Slacks with a button up shirt with a tie or a suit for males. For females, dress pants with a dress shirt, skirt or maybe a dress in some cases.

The next part of your first impression is your introduction. Many employers start out with a handshake. The handshake is more important than it may seem. It needs to be firm but not aggressive.

The last part of your first impression is the verbal introduction. Don't assume they know who you are, introduce yourself. Also, know how to pronounce your interviewers name and the company. Know the position you are applying for and its requirements.

For more helpful interview tips check out the link.

Photo Credit: Via Creative Commons


The World of 3D

Smart phones, being so successful, have been quickly picked up by many of the biggest phone companies.

Each company has modified and added features to its own version, trying to get an edge over other companies and boost sales.

The company LG for example, is gearing to release its new phone the Optimus 3D. This smart phone would be the first of its kind to offer images in three dimensional form.

Buyers would be able to take pictures and even shoot video in 3D form, which the company hopes will start a new technology crave. The Optimus 3D can also be hooked up to a 3D tv in order to display images and videos in this way.

Additionally, the phone would allow buyers to watch movies and play games in 3D. All of these available actions can be done without the use of glasses.

The release date and price of the Optimus 3D has not yet been released.

Whether this new idea of a 3D phone world will become the new hottest must- have depends on the wants of the consumer.

Companies must be innovative and continually think of new cutting edge ideas in order to beat the competition. This is why we are seeing such a fast paced and continuously changing technology market.

Some ideas have broke through and have been very successful on the market, while other ideas flop. To learn more about the Optimus 3D and its features, check out this link.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


What's a Story Without Pictures?

Pictures in a lot of cases are necessary for journalism. For example, newspapers are never or very rarely seen without pictures. However because newspaper staffs are shrinking it is possible that if you are writing a story for a newspaper, you will also have to take the photography for your article as well.

Taking a photography class in highschool I learned some basic tips.

One of the most important things that you need to do to be able to take good pictures is to have a high quality camera if possible. The better quality the camera the better quality the pictures are likely to be.

Also, it is important to be familiar with your camera. For example, you do not want to buy a brand new camera just before going out to take pictures because you will not know how that camera works. The best idea is to buy a camera and go out and practice with it, even read the manual if you have time so you can learn how to get the best use out of it.

Also, when taking your own pictures, make sure that they match the emotion of your story. If your story is about rebuilding after a flood, you would want to show not only the devastation caused but also the hope that comes in the rebuilding process.

Pictures with people are also good typically because people show emotion which can help make your story more meaningful. Also, if it is for a local newspaper and the picture features local people it can be an attention getter.

Also, it's important to have a camera that has video capabilities in case you need to interview someone on the fly.

Another important thing is to have a phone with camera or video capabilties in case you do not have your camera with you.

There are still options for those people who are unable to take pictures of their own. A perfect example is this blog. Creative Commons is a fantastic website that allows users to access non-copyrighted pictures. As long as credit is given to where the photograph came from, they can be used.
If you have any more questions about photography feel free to ask.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons


The Role of Media in Protests in Africa.

Since January, media do not speak nearly as protests in Africa. Tunisia was the first country hit by revolts. Since it affects many African countries.

Did media play an important role in the spread of the idea of freedom across a continent largely sidelined by dictatorship and persecution?

The primary role of media is to deliver the information and also to reveal the truth to the world about criminal actions of government, as was the case in Egypt with Hosni Mubarak.

Indeed, they were so effective that countries around Egypt and Tunisia, decided to start revolutions after seeing the results in Egypt. Now Algeria, Yemen and Bahrein are protesting against their government.

I believe the internet plays a major role spreading the information, especially through social media like Twitter and Facebook.

Nowadays, media are playing an important role giving the information quickly and accurately. The internet stays the main source of information for many people all around the world.

Photo credits: via


You Could be an Award Winning Reporter!

Alright, it's pretty clear to all of us who are wanting to get into this industry to realize that news is all around us. Heck, you don't have to be a media-aspiring addict to realize that. Major outlets, such as CNN, see that as well.
Mediabistro announced this afternoon that the world leader in news is awarding everyday citizens on their outstanding reporting. The CNN iReport Awards wil select the best the best content which was submitted by viewers throughout 2010. There will be five categories: Breaking News, Compelling Imagery, Interview, Commentary and Personal Story.
The moral of this story is that anyone who has a camera (or even their phone for that matter), can submit any type of story and become a reporter. It doesn't take someone to have great credentials to report a story. Just make sure a camera is near you, and just maybe, you can get "15 Seconds of Fame" thanks to iReport.

Photo Credit: Fotopedia via Creative Commons


Practice makes perfect

News writing, just like any other types of writing, takes practice in order to become good at. Brian Steffen, the communications departments chair at Simpson College, said in order to make your writing skills better you need to read more news writing and write more news stories. We all know how to get a hold of news stories, but if it's those stories in class that we are so worried about doing bad on, how do we practice writing to prepare ourselves for that writing?

These different news writing exercises will help enhance your news writing in more ways then one. They will allow you to practice stories of novelty, immediacy, proximity, prominence, conflict, emotional quality, and one with an impact on an audience. The exercises are as follows:

Car Crash: It's 10:30 p.m. You're on the graveyard shift again at the Centerville Gazette and hear some chatter on the police scanner about a car crash out on Highway 32, a road that runs through a rural area of town. It sounds like a big crash so you head to the scene.

Shooting: You're on the graveyard shift at the Centerville Gazette. You phone the cops to see if anything's going on. Lt. Jane Ortlieb of the Centerville Police Department tells you there was a shooting tonight at the Fandango Bar & Grill on Wilson Street in the Grungeville section of the city.

School board meeting: You’re covering a 7 p.m. meeting of the Centerville School Board. The meeting is being held in the auditorium of Centerville High School. The board begins with discussion of ongoing cleanup at McKinley Elementary School; school had experienced water damage during heavy rains and flooding two weeks ago in the city’s Parksburg section, near the Root River.

These are just a few exercises that you can practice. There are many places that offer stories just like these. These are just places to start, but you can practice your journalism skills in order to one day reach their potential.

Photo credit: Josh Hallett, Flickr


Manipulation in Photojournalism

Most of us are have a passing familiarity with Kodachrome film, which only recently went out of production after 75 years of popularity. Paul Simon, in his song named for the color reversal film, sang that Kodachrome "makes you think all the world's/ a sunny day."

There are some critics who take up arms when someone calls manipulated photos "photojournalism" precisely because they agree with Simon- certain filters and lenses do alter the way we perceive the captured image.

Damon Winter' s recent photojournalism series, "A Grunt's Life," shot using the iPhone App Hipstamatic, won third place this year in the Feature Picture Story- Newspaper category of the International Pictures of the Year contest. His subjects were the young American men of the Delta Company 2nd Platoon in Afghanistan.

The picture above is a great example of just one of the many effects that the Hipstamatic App can produce. Significantly, the App creates the effects itself, automatically.

The photographer, however, still makes his/her own creative contribution-- there is no worthy photojournalism series without a significant subject, and that is inevitably chosen by the photographer. He/She then intentionally frames the subject and that can make all the difference in the shot.

For example, take an image like the one of Specialist Jake Fisher smiling broadly and getting air by jumping on an elevated platform salvaged from a bed frame. The subject of the photo, Fisher jumping on the make-shift trampoline, is nostalgic and youthful in itself and photographer Winter chose it specifically for that reason.

Winter's image says these men are too young, too innocent to give their lives in Afghanistan. "Look! Even in the face of their own mortality, they spend their spare time playing the games of impeccant boys," it says.

Since the subject is key to interpreting the message, some say any additions made to the composition by the App only enhance the message already intended by the photographer. In the case of most of these photos, the alterations to the image are barely noticeable.

On the other hand, war and military conflicts are tricky subjects. It may be the case that they deserve special attention, and that it is wrong to alter the way we perceive the subjects in such a serious context.

Also problematic is the fact that the message a received from photographs was a very emotional message for a proclaimed journalist- but there it is, throughout the series. And with emotion come biases. A message about the innocence of our soldiers in Afghanistan can't be called unbiased journalism.

Flawed or not, I think that this series can and should be categorized as photojournalism. It is about a current event and it gives a truthful representation of the events and the life led by grunts in the conflict. The series gives good insight on a significant event in contemporary American history. What do you think?

Photo Credit: Jonas Nilsson Lee, on Flikr, via


Wikipedia: 10 Reasons Why its Unrealiable

According to a recent article published by there are ten main reasons why students shouldn't use Wikipedia as a reliable source for journalism or for academic papers.

10. Always check more than one source for information. Never rely on just one.
Always be sure to look around and get the big picture before assuming things are true. Many scholarly journals and publications have made mistakes and have to correct them later. If a student or journalist relies on one source without checking it, there is a chance that the information could be incorrect even if it appears to be a reliable source.

9. Don't rely on a source like Wikipedia when the author is unknown.
Most people who post information to Wikipedia are un-named and even the editors are not recognized. Always ask yourself who wrote the information and why.

8. Often the contributor with an agenda gets their information out there.
The information posted on Wikipedia is not always the most accurate information. A lot of the time the information that stays published is the information published by the author with an agenda.

7. Contributors with an agenda also coincidently get editing positions as well.
When editors have the power to control the content based on their agenda, that's when the information starts to be inaccurate and opinionated.

6. Some people post wrong information on purpose.
When anyone can post to Wikipedia there is nothing protecting readers from authors who post incorrect information on purpose. Purposely-wrong information can often go unnoticed for months.

5. There is very little diversity among Wikipedia editors. This can reflect in the content left published.
A 2009 study showed that the mass majority of editors were male and are mostly from North America or Europe.

4. Although new information is still being published on Wikipedia everyday, the number of new editors has stopped.

3. The average person is becoming less powerful in the Wikipedia world.
With the contributor numbers down, a small group of editors have most of the control over the large amount of diverse content.

2. Accurate information can get deleted.
When accurate information is published by a reliable source there is still a good chance that it could get deleted. It is all up the the editors and they are the ones who decide what is reliable and what isn't.

1. Wikipedia admits their faults.
Why trust Wikipedia when they tell readers not to rely on their information. The site itself reads, "We do not expect you to trust us." They also go on to say not to trust them as a primary source and that the information on Wikipedia should not be used to make difficult decisions.

Photo Credit: Alexis Brion via Creative commons


Twitter Phone in the making?

Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, went to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Monday to address how he believes the Twitter brand works best: when it's invisible and everywhere.

He didn't come to reveal his finances, despite saying Twitter is "making money", he coolly denied rumors that Google was going to buy Twitter for $10 billion, and he didn't come to launch a new product.

An analyst still responded by asking about if he could ever see a Twitter-branded smartphone after referencing the "Facebook phone." Costolo gave a quick and simple answer of "No."

"Twitter already works on every device you're going to hear about this week," said Costolo. "Tweets flow seamlessly across platforms; that's what we're trying to accomplish."

During the explanation, he ended up comparing Twitter to water -- a utility so useful and copious, we almost forget it's there. We don't need to learn new ways to use it in different contexts.

Amid the country-wide of Egypt, Twitter was lost as part of a wider Internet blackout. "People in the desert will always find a way to water." said Costolo. Google and Twitter did indeed provide a voice-to-tweet service that kept the protesters in touch.

So under the leadership of Costolo, there will be no such thing as a "Twitter phone." Water doesn't need branding because it's simply water. Everybody needs it everyday.

I think Costolo gave a fair explanation of the brand Twitter. The way Twitter has developed over the years it has become not only similar to water, but in my opinion like an addictive sugary drink with it's sweet, satisfying taste. Some of us just can't get enough of Twitter and use it everyday without much of a thought.

Photo Credit: via Creative Commons


Public News and its Importance

An article recently appeared on ABC News' website about proposed budget federal budget cuts that could harm National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System.

This drive is mostly spearheaded by Republicans, who have long considered these organizations to have a liberal bias, but the issue is only drawing a large amount of national attention as the government increasingly looks for ways to cut spending.

The whole liberal bias issue has been talked to death over the last couple of decades, so I'll steer clear of that. What really annoys me, however, is the idea that taking away programs that actually provide useful, renewable services for the population is in any way going to solve the monetary crisis in America.

These two organizations provide services to both young and old people, promoting discussion and education in issues. I have heard several Europeans I know comment that PBS is the best, least ridiculous of the US news networks that they can watch from an American perspective.

This is relevant to all journalists, whether working at privately owned or federally owned organizations, because the spreading of ideas, truth and discourse is journalism is supposed to do. If we cut funding to some of the few remaining places that strive to do that, how can we avoid making the same mistakes that led us to the current financial crisis in the future?

Photo Credit: merfam via Creative Commons


Being A Freelance Journalist

Have you ever known somebody with a passion for writing but had another dream for his or her career? Talk to them about freelance writing.

A freelance journalist is a writer that can be self-employed and not committed to a specific employer for a long term.

With a passion and desire to be an Admissions Counselor someday, this has been something I have been taking deep consideration in for my future. Not only can you engage in a career you love, you can also continue to write about topics of your choice.

In the world today, there are billions of different people that will respond to situations in similar and different ways. As writers, many feel a good reason to write a story is because they have something relevant to say about a certain topic.

When writing a story, a journalist can always find at least one person that will feel what they wrote was newsworthy. A freelance journalist could write about something that engaged their interest and allowed them to specialize in their passions.

Another positive thing about being a freelance journalist is your hours are flexible, because you'd only be writing part-time. After a day at your job, it'd still be easy to go home and work behind your computer.

A person that is a freelance writer has the advantage of having profit to fall back on if something in their job went bad. While writing on the side, you can still make profit. There are many magazine and newspaper editors that wish to share other people's knowledge to their readers.

Many people associate freelance writing with freestyle writing. With many of us being college students interested in journalism, we should even consider starting a freelance writing career now to build our writing portfolios for future jobs and internships.

Photo Credit: Cambridge Who's Who Authors @ Creative Commons


Apps 101

Mobile applications are gradually becoming popular each and every day as smart phones begin to take over the journalist world. Although, journalists may face an issue in regards to what applications are useful as well as accessible. Therefore, I will share with you the most highly suggested apps available.

Everyone uses there smart phone in order to receive calls and make outgoing calls, as well as SMS (text). However, there are plenty of applications available that help improve these features.
· Skype is a program that allows the user to instant message and live-voice client. This app allows the user to go beyond the norm and give a new twist to communication. (iPhone, Android and Blackberry).
· Facetime allows the user to have a video conversation face-to-face. (iPhone).
· Fring is similar to Facetime, yet works for the Android as well.
· GroupMe lets the user organize and send SMS messages to groups of people. (iPhone and Android).

A common necessity that most journalists need are apps that improve note taking. I will discuss several applications that will allow users to make this process become more easy and organized.
· Evernote is a program that lets the user take notes. Once the notes are completed, the user can tag them and then sync them to multiple devices. (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm and Win Mobile).
· Simplenote is a popular note taking app that can be a substitute for the standard iPhone app. National Velocity is an app for Mac users that works well with Simplenote because you can sync them together. (iPhone and Mac.)

Another common need for journalists are apps that capture photo, video and audio.
· Instagram is a program that lets the user take photos and upload them shortly after. (iPhone.)
· Picplz functions the same as Instagram, but is created for the Android.
· Cinchcast and AudioBoo are good programs when it comes to audio. Both quickly capture and publish the audio while working with social sites. (iPhone and Android.)
· Bambuser, JustinTv, Qik, and Ustream are good apps for live streaming video. (All work with Android and iPhone.)

All of these applications are very beneficial, especially for a journalist, because they supply you with tools available whenever you need them. I strongly recommend a future journalist to look into using these apps because they will allow you to be a better reporter, while staying organized.

Photo Credit:


Subscriptions Now Offered for iPad Publications

Apple has now agreed to allow publishers to sell subscriptions through its App Store; this has been an issue that has been a source of contention with magazine companies since the iPad was released last spring.
It is unclear yet if Apple's new model will satisfy publishers because they have been pushing for full access to the buyer's information. Apple only uses some data with the use of consent.
How is this going to work?
Well, Apple explains that customers purchasing a subscription through the App Store will be given the option of providing the publisher with their name, email address and zip code when they subscribe. Publishers may seek additional information if the customers are given a clear choice and are informed that any additional information will be handled under the publisher's privacy policy rather than Apple's.

The revenue from the subscriptions sold through the App Store will be shared by both Apple and the publishers; Apple will recieve 30 percent and publishers will keep 70 percent. On the other hand Apple will not restrict the publishers to selling through Apple itself. When they sell apps outside Apple's store, they will get to keep 100 percent of the revenue.

"Our philosophy is simple - when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an exisiting or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing," Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, said.
Photo Credit: CreativeCommons, SeattleClouds.


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