Watch Out Smartphones

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do you have a smartphone? Yea, I didn't think so. According to comScore, as of January 2011 only about 28 percent of all mobile phones in the U.S. were smartphones. One of the best ways for a company to increase its customer base is to go after the kinds of phones that the majority of mobile users have in the U.S, feature phones.

Feature phones are usually cheaper devices that offer less computing ability than smartphones. Over the past weekend Facebook aquired Snaptu, a platform that delivers Java-based apps that run on most feature phones. 72 percent of U.S. cell phones are feature phones, most of which have a broad array of features, including the ability to run Java-based apps.

In January, Facebook launched a Snaptu powered feature phone app. It brought easier Facebook access to more than 2,500 mobile devices worldwide.

Snaptu's goal is to provide useful and innovative services to the mobile users that don't have access to smartphones. In this case, you and I.

Working as part of the Facebook team has offered them the best opportunity to keep accelerating the pace of their product development. And joining Facebook means they can make an even bigger impact on the world.

This acquisition is expected to close within a few weeks. They'll be working hard to offer a richer and more advance Facebook app on virtually every mobile phone. Which is good news for us!

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


Without a Topic

As the semester progresses, it seems as if this blog gets easier and harder at the same time. It is easier to write and to fullfill all of the requirements such as a link, picture and overall content, but it seems like it is harder to choose a topic that has not already been done. This is why I choose to write this weeks blog about choosing a topic. This may seem like a easy task but in many cases you must be able to think up a worthwhile topic in a short amount of time. This is especially important in the newswriting field. Below, I have seven tips for choosing a topic. 1. Know your audience. If you are writing an article addressed to teenage girls you most likely don't want to write it about baseball. 2. Have the topic be relavant. If it is the middle of winter, you do not want to write about the newest style of shorts on the market. 3. Consider your personal interests. If you hate the story, you are not going to put all of you effort into the story. 4. Brainstorm possible approaches and topic ideas. What style are you going to write in? Who can you interview? 5. Narrow it down. After brainstorming, narrow your desired topic down into a more specific and measurable story. 6. Do background research. A little bit of background research will help you get the basic understanding about your desired topic before you dive head first. 7. Make a list of words that describe your topic.The last suggestion is the write out key words that you can either use in your research of as descriptive details. An example of this is Alzheimer's disease. You can relate this topic to words such as memory loss or amnesia. You can also realte it to aged, aging, elderly or seniors. I hope this will help you in your future blogs or even your other classes where papers are assigned. Photo Credit: Via Creative Commons


New York Times Says "Not So Fast"

So, you thought you could get away with it didn't you? You figured out a way to get around that 20 article limit The New York Times will introduce in the U.S. next Monday. Well, it seems The New York Times has now said "Not so fast".

This new pay-wall system has a rule, if you get to a Times article by following a link it won't count against the 20 articles you get to read for free before paying a monthly subscription fee.

Of course, someone quickly introduced a twitter feed called @FreeNYTimes and it would be very resourceful for people looking for a way around it. The way it works is that person would have a subscription themselves and would have a link to every single New York Times article giving people the ability to use Twitter to get free articles.

"It is a violation of our trademark" said a representative for the Times and with that thought the Times has quickly countered this idea by asking Twitter to disable @FreeNYTimes.

Now is it really a trademark violation? Taking a look at the Twitter profile picture it has the distinctive Gothic "T" of the New York Times and the term "NYTimes" is identical to the newspaper's URL.

The Times may have a point now, but the name can easily be changed making it hard to press any trademark violation charges.

The Times' price is $35 per month to access the site on a computer, smartphone, and IPad while the computer only is $15. If the full package was $15 I believe a lot (and I mean a lot) more people would be willing to pay for the subscription.

So, What do you think? Is there a real trademark violation and do the prices for the subscription need to be adjusted?

I think the Times could simply avoid problems like this with a new plan. Make the pricing a good bit cheaper and people might be willing to pay for the subscription.

Photo Credit: via Creative Commons


Use the AP Stylebook People!

So I've been watching the news a fair amount recently, especially while sitting in the airport at crazy hours of the morning waiting for my flights over spring break.

One of the main things I noticed is that no one seems to spell Gadhafi the same way.

A New York Times article spells it "Muammar el-Qaddafi". Fortunately, this seems to be the typical spelling throughout the New York Times itself.

Fox News also uses Muammar el-Qaddafi as the standard for their news stories, however certain articles can be found that spell it differently (such as Ghadafi).
CBS also uses Qaddafi.

Wikipedia has a page dedicated to Muammar Gaddafi.

Looking online it would appear that the typical CNN spelling is Moammar Gadhafi as it is with ABC and MSNBC. However when watching CNN one morning, it was spelled at least two different ways within the same program. This was what truly caught my attention.

According to the AP Stylebook, it should be spelled Moammar Gadhafi. I just wish more people, specifically well known news venues and stations that have such a high viewership, should attend to the stylebook, especially on this issue.

Is it really that hard to cooperate?

Photo credit: Creative Commons.


Reading Between the Lines

Newspapers are a major part of medium which people assume is becoming less important as digital is slowly but sturdily becoming king. The print side of media is losing in many, many ways across the board. The one way which I would like to focus on is in terms of readership, especially in the young demographic of 18 to 24 years old.

The State of the News Media report for 2011 released its findings this past week, and for most, the numbers do not surprise many. While the lines are going downward on the graph as they move to the right, the concerns for print are increasing.

One-fourth of young adults read the newspaper on a daily basis, according to this study. In 2009, the percentage was slightly up at 27 percent, and in 2008, the amount of readership was at 31 percent. The two-year drop off in readership was the second smallest among demographic groups. (The smallest decline was in the 65+ age range with a two percent drop, respectively.)

Many young people read the newspaper online. According to findings by the Newspaper Association of America (which is separate from State of the News Media), of the 69 million people in the 18-34 range who claim to read the paper, 17.7 million of those say they read the current day’s paper online or hard copy. Almost 45 percent say young adults read the paper on a five-day consecutive basis.

Take these stats how you want it, but I’m still not concerned. These numbers are better than zero percent. Even though it may be a small portion, young adults do care about their newspapers. As a future newspaper writer, I would like to see these numbers a little bit higher. However, we as college media students who have a strong passion for newspapers as I do need to find a solution, and we need to find one fast.

Photo Credit: Fotopedia via Creative Commons


No Opinions Please

Recently the Huffington Post hired a new contributor. What's the big deal you ask?

Radley Balko was hired because he's a liberatarian. The claim is this is because they are trying to be less liberal in their newspaper.

I really despise opinions on news stories. News should be unbiased and report just the facts.

It seems no matter what network or newspaper it is their opinion is front and center.

If someone goes to Fox News they know the news will have a conservative spin. Likewise if someone goes to CNN they know the news will have a liberal spin.

What do politics have to do with news? When reporting on the economy I'd rather hear about the issue not someone's take on the issue.

Politics may be a mess but journalists need to leave their opinion out of the news. Just the facts mam!

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


Avoid Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of Privacy is one of the three different legal issues that journalists have to avoid doing on a daily basis. It is so important to avoid this issue that schools such as Simpson College demand that their Communication majors and minors take a Law and Ethics class that cover issues such as these.

The question is, How do we avoid issues in our journalism careers. Brian Steffen introduced the issues surrounding invasion of privacy to his Beginning of News Writing and Reporting students, and introduced the four ways to invade a person's privacy.

1. Intrusion
Even if you don't write a story about someone, gathering information about them unethically can get you sued. These are the common ways in which reporters gather information unethically: trespassing, secret surveillance, and misrepresentation (which is known as disguising yourself).

2. Public disclosure of private facts
Publishing private details of a person's life, such as their financial aid or sex life, could get you sued because it may cause emotional distress for the person it is about. Information that is private, intimate, or offensive to the person are all causes of emotional distress.

3. False light
These lawsuits are very familiar to a libel lawsuit. It can arise at anytime you run a story. If it displays a person in an inaccurate way you could be sued for invasion of privacy, because it could be offensive to the person the false information is about.

4. Appropriation
This is the case where a journalist uses someone's name, words, or photo in an unauthorized way to promote a product. This lawsuit is more common with advertising, but journalists still shouldn't use anyone to sell anything without their consent to avoid being sued.

These legal issues surrounding invasion of privacy are all very scary situations for journalists, but if you just look at the different types of guidelines above, and make sure to avoid them. If you do then you shouldn't be worried about getting sued for invading someone's privacy.

Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis, Google


Online Feedback Aggregator

A recent article at Technology Review discussed a new business called Livefyre. It is an online service dedicated to making interaction with Facebook, Twitter, and other discussion-based sites all possible on the website where the actual content is at.

It essentially aggregates all comments made regarding the article from any source and adds them to a "comment section" underneath it. This comment section is much more like a discussion section, however, as it constantly updates without refreshing the page. The user will also be able to see all others who are currently browsing the article and know how popular it is.

The developers of this service see connectivity of these services as the next important step in social networking and hope "the publisher will get more page views and advertising dollars," because of the technology. This might be key if online journalism is to flourish, especially if pay-to-view methods start to consistently fail and online advertising must be relied on.

This system is supposed to make people more likely to comment on something as there is a visible audience of people looking over that same article, and they want their comments to be seen by that audience, hopefully resulting in discussions.

I personally hope something like this would result in fewer of the typical comments you could find on CNN's online articles, where a lot of the "comments" are just hate-filled ignorance fests. We'll have to see if this method is successful.

Photo Credit Jordan Kretchmer


AP Style Changes as Language Evolves

In a recent article published by the Columbia Journalism Review there are many new changes to the AP Stylebook brought to the readers attention.

Many of the new changes have to do with frequent use of words that correlate with technology. What used to be e-mail is now email and what used to be smart phones, hand helds, or cell phones is now smartphones, handhelds, and cellphones.

The Associated Press Stylebook, announced these changes as well as others at the annual conference of the American Copy Editors Society.

Even as I type this blog on my new laptop these new styles are popping up wrong on my spell check. This just goes to show the constant changes that language is undergoing.

Many changes like these have been adapted due to the increase in use of the words. Words like smartphone, cellphone, email, and handheld were not frequently used in the past, but are now used in everyday conversation. Because these words are more frequently used they become an issue to the AP Stylebook.

However, students and professionals alike should remember that the AP Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary are not the same and many things now accepted by the AP Stylebook are not yet accepted by Webster's New World College Dictionary.

Students looking to stay updated on AP Stylebook changes can visit their website or follow them on Twitter at @APStylebook.

Photo Credit: allaboutgeorge on via Creative Commons


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