Cyber Society 2012?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is our society becoming a cyber society? Do we even need real human contact when we have social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.?

These past couple of Monday nights, I have had my eyes glued to the reality television show, "The Bachelor."

Now that you have stopped judging me, I have been using my Twitter account and tweeting what is happening on the show. I have gained many new followers and I follow many new followers. We all have one thing in common: our interest in Brad Womack, and whether he will choose a woman this time. (He better.)

This is part of a growing trend among many television watchers being connected to the Web.

People are connecting with other people over the internet feeling as if, they are all together in the same room.

A new social networking, entertainment website that is getting attention is GetGlue. Users 'check-in' to the entertainment that they are consuming and converse with other users . In my case I would talk about "The Bachelor" and how glad I am that Michelle is finally out of the picture.

60% of television viewers use smartphones, laptops or iPods, to be on a social network or browse the Web while watching.

With people spending so much time on online conversations, this could lead to future generations becoming antisocial.

But, this could also lead to future generations using a new communication skill.

Using these new tools, could help people become more socially savvy and participate in conversations in different areas online.

I have a group of girls on Twitter who I rely heavily on gossip, snarky remarks, and over all a conversation about "The Bachelor." We are being overtly social, but we are making friends and I definitely feel like there is no antisocial whatsoever in this community.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


Reasons to Blog

So as most of you all know midterms are happening right now. This of course means we have hit the half way mark. In our BNR class we have been blogging because it is an assignment and most of us probably don't want to fail so we just suck it up and write about something every week. Would any of us actually use this blog site if we were not forced to do it? Maybe yes, or maybe no, but there are reasons on why you should blog.

1. One reason to blog is that you can express yourself through your blog. Did you just watch a great movie and want to let others know about how fantastic it is? (Sanctum 3-D) Or maybe you want to rant about how outrageously high gas prices are. (Seriously, have you looked at them lately?) Whatever you want to say you can say it on your blog. This can help you stay connected with your friends or family who read your blog.

2. You can use your blog to market or promote something. I just promoted the movie Sanctum above. I also am promoting our BNR class by contributing to The News About The News.

3. Many blogs are written to be informative. This can range from helpful tips for interviews, how to take good pictures, or why to blog. By blogging about topics that are important to you, you can connect with people with similar views. Also, you can stay active or knowledeable about a variety of things.

4. The last reason I am going to give, is that by blogging you can get your name out there. It shows that you are "hip" with technology, and when somebody googles your name it will bring up your blog and show them what you are all about. By blogging about topics that are important to you, you will show them what matters to you. By blogging about your interests, it will show them what you find interesting or entertaining. Your blog will show them a better insight on you then perhaps your Facebook.

I hope that you will consider blogging after our BNR class is over.

Photo Credit: Via Creative Commons


Tips for Hosting a Good Interview

An essential part of being a good journalist is having the ability to conduct a good interview. Without a good interview, the story that is created is likely to lack substance or a journalist will not be able to get all of the information they need for their story.

There are some basic ways in which, as a journalist, you can conduct a successful one-on-one interview for a story.

First thing's first: be prepared. Make sure you know some backgroud about the person you are interviewing if possible. For example, if you were to interview Mick Jagger, you would want to be aware of the fact that he was the lead singer of The Rolling Stones.

Next, make sure you have enough time to conduct the interview. Don't think that 5 minutes will be enough time for you to get a whole story. If you only have a short amount of time, make sure you use what time you have wisely: don't waste time on small talk, get right to the important questions.

Make sure that you are friendly, and try to make the person you are interviewing feel as comfortable as possible. If any of you have sat through a job interview or any interview of some sort, it can be a nervewracking experience. Also, the more that an interviewee feels comfortable with you the more likely it is that they will be open and honest during the interview.

Another thing to do, if possible, is to avoid "yes" or "no" questions. You will typically get much more information out of a person if you ask questions that require more than either of those for an answer.

Using a recorder can be helpful, but make sure you know the laws. Some states do not allow the use of a tape recorder at all in journalism. Others have laws requiring you to ask consent of the interviewee first.

Taking notes is incredibly important in an interview. Without it, it is likely that you will not remember important aspects for your story, and it will be nearly impossible to report correct quotations.

For more tips on interviewing, you can check out pages 78-81 in the textbook Inside Reporting: A Practical Guide to the Craft of Journalism by Tim Harrower or check out this website or simply Google-search "tips for conducting an interview".

Photo Credit: via Creative Commons


China Continues To Be Unfriendly To Journalists

Fang Shimin, a Chinese journalist, was recently attacked by an unidentified assailant wielding a metal hammer. Fang escaped with minor injuries, but believes the attack is related to his work as a journalist.

Known in China as the "science cop," Fang concentrates on exposing flawed or weak scientific claims or research, fraudlent resumes and plagarism. He has received several threats.

"In an ideal world, some more formal and organized watchdogs ... professional organizations or a governmental agency would be in place," Fang said. "But China does not have these, so individual watchdogs become essential."

This attack followed a similar assault of Fang Xuanchang, an editor at Caijing magazine who has exposed multiple doctors promoting dubious miracle cures. He was beaten by two men while walking by his house in June. These two attacks are painful reminders that censorship is not the only risk facing journalists in China.

Fang Shimin, who writes under the pen name Fang Zhouzi, is a rare example of a journalist in China. "Fang Zhouzi touches upon power and business and the officials who support those businesses, because with any business, behind it there are officials in support," says Li Datong, former editor of Freezing Point. "So it's a matter of facing up to power. Chinese media, generally speaking, don't do a good job of this."

China is the leader in terms of jailing journalists; 24 were put in prison last year according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It also ranks near the bottom of the annual index of press freedom, complied by Reporters Without Borders.

Beijing police are investigating both attacks, but no arrests have been made so far. The attacks continue to contribute to the culture of fear that journalists and other whistle-blowers encounter.

"I will continue what I am doing," Fang Shimin said. "And of course I will take some security measures."
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Txting Leading 2 Bad Spelling & Grammar?

It is hated by parents and teachers alike- text lingo.

Many of today's teens use short abbreviations and acronyms in most of their messages, enfuriating teachers who insist texting has led to a decrease in spelling and grammar skills.

A recent study focused on the question of whether or not the use of texting language impacted a student's spelling and grammar in school work.

The study found that school work was not affected due to the fact that students were able to identify the certain situations in which it was appropriate to use texting language.

Students easily differentiate between when a formal style of writing is needed, such as for a school essay, and when an informal style can be used, such as in texting. Essentially, texting is kept strictly in the texting world.

If a student does use texting lingo in their school work, often only a warning against doing so is needed for them to correct the problem.

If teachers enforce and are strict about not using texting language, there should be no problem at all with students using it.

As texting users are getting younger and younger, it is also important for teachers to make sure they teach their students at an early age proper grammar and spelling skills.

For more information on the study and how texting has benefited users, visit this link.


The Effects of Media on Politicians

Media and politicians are close. Indeed, some politicians are partners or owners of television stations, newspapers or radio stations.

What effects media could have on the image of politicians? Media are powerful and can shape a person and destroy her a few moments later. It is common for major television networks to support a candidate one day and press him down in the polls the next day.

Sarah Palin is a perfect example of the unstable relationship between politicians and media. She became famous because media have started talking about her and they have shaped the image of an engaging, smiling and determined Sarah Palin.

But a few months later, after some media excesses, the image of Sarah Palin in media has completely changed. Media have changed the vision people should have about the governor of Alaska. This is what we call in communication the "magic bullet" theory: an immediate attitude change about something or someone created by media.

This phenomenon is not unique to the United States of America. Europe is also affected by this theory. The example of Nicolas Sarkozy in France is a proof. The French president, adored by the press during the first months of his term, will be decried little by little until becoming the "Bad Guy of the Republic" as called in the magazine Marianne.

Media could be a wonderful springboard to glory but can also be those that push you towards the exit.

Photo Credit: via
Translation from left to right: Marianne: "The Bad Guy of the Republic"; Le Point: "Is He so Lame?"; Le Nouvel Observateur: "Is this Man Dangerous?"


Checking the Ethical Component of a Story

In an article discussing the new frontier in ethical journalism, Ghanaian journalist Prosper Yao Tsikata lays out four rules for making sure a story is morally ripe for publication.

The four criteria he describes are preponderance to evidence, the filtering process, the crystallizing evolution and finally, disgorgement.

In order to satisfy Preponderance to Evidence, Tsikata urges journalists to check and double check sources-- especially given the consideration that today, there are vast sources like the internet that can't always be taken at face-value.

Tsikata says that one of the most important steps in this process, especially when considering high-profile public figures, is "contacting the individual(s) involved in the issues and checking with them or their inner circles." Had the many journalists mistakenly reporting that Gabrielle Giffords had died checked within her inner circle, it is likely that they wouldn't have made such a serious mistake.

The second step is the Filtering Process. Here, journalists should flesh out their story and pay attention to whether or not the facts they have acquired follow logically from each other. They should fill in as many gaps in the logic as they can by doing their own fact-checking: comparing dates and financial figures, examining individuals involved, etc.

In the third step, which Tsikata calls the Crystallizing Evolution, journalists should act as utilitarians, and make sure that the benefits of releasing the story outweigh any personal issues surrounding the subject of the story. This consideration should have been applied to the recent situation regarding Steve Jobs' health- many journalists and shareholders took the stance that Jobs' health status should be available to the public at large. To me, and seemingly to Tsikata as well, Jobs' health is a personal issue and an ethical journalist would consider it as such.

Finally, Tsikata calls for journalists to consider Disgorgement. For Tsikata, the word means that once the beans are spilled and the full story is out, journalists should take back any statements that have proved to be inaccurate. Disgorgement is a bit of an unconventional term since it is usually applied to unethical gains in economics, but Tsikata successfully applies it to journalism.

It is important to distinguish between the positive properties of transparency in journalism and politics and the ethical dilemma that comes from trying to apply this same transparency to the lives of individuals. Tsikata's guide is helpful in this regard because it delineates ethical boundaries in journalism.

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