Rage Against the Media

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 3 Occupy Wall Street 2011 Shankbone 7
Photo courtesy of CreativeCommons.org

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 pingnews.com via www.creativecommons.com


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 www.creativecommons.org 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 Poynter.org


Reactions to Osama's Death

The night of May 2, 2011 is one that no American can forget. President Barack Obama declared, "Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden." It was with these words that the entire country erupted in shock and celebration. The media also exploded with the news, and different themes were prominent in different mediums.

Citizens jumped onto Facebook and Twitter, many praising the military for the kill and using humor. @NZAfro tweeted, "R.I.P. Osama bin Laden- World Hide and Go Seek Champion. (2001-2011). Social media websites also hosted many discussions over if bin Laden was really dead or not.

Mainstream media focused on the details of the events leading up to and during the attack on bin Laden's compound. These outlets also spotlighted on the American and global reaction to the event.

As websites like Facebook and Twitter get even more popular, it allows the average citizen to have a say in the news and what themes get covered. Collecting information from many different mediums is vital to get the entire story because there is such a variety in the coverage. Events like this help support Marshall McLuhan's famous quote, "The medium is the message."

Photo credit: Sgt. Randall A Clinton


Risky Responsibility

"I am hiding. Death has come."

These are the last words spoken by BBC journalist Ahmad Omed Khpulwak in a text message to his brother before he was killed by a United States' soldier in Afghanistan this past July. Khpulwak was one of 19 people to die in a fight that erupted between American forces and the Taliban after an attack on an Afghan television station.

Determined journalists travel abroad every year, risking their lives in countries plagued by war and destruction, but are getting these stories worth risking it all?

Khpulwak was only one tragic example, but journalists put themselves in the way of danger all the time. Seventy journalists were killed around the world in 2009, the highest death toll recorded in the last 30 years. War, hurricanes, gang violence, prisons, and drugs are just some of the frequent risks journalists take.

Many may doubt the sanity of journalists willing to cover dangerous situations, but these reporters simply believe that getting the story is worth it. A story means gaining a new knowledge that can be shared with the world that without the dedication of journalists would remain unknown. This knowledge gives journalists the power to influence decisions made around the world and provides a strong check on government. Journalists with the passion for truth and the longing to teach others are willing to undergo danger to share their story, their knowledge, and their influence. To all journalists who have died in pursuit of truth, may they be honored with our full respect and gratitude.

Photo Credit: Senior Airman Steve Czyz


A Conflict of Interest

Don't bring your work home. Don't mix business with pleasure. Don't poop where you eat. Personal life and professional life should be separate.

The concept is simple enough. In order to be objective at work, we need to remain unbiased. For example, a doctor can't treat his/her spouse because of conflict of interest.

According to Thomas Sheeran on Huffington Post, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz resigned from her position at The Plain Dealer due to her husband's senatorial race. She explained that her decision resulted from the fact that her newspaper regularly reports on her husband's election.

Journalists and politicians are like macaroni and cheese; one without the other is devastating. The idea that either one would have to choose between a spouse and a career is equally devastating.

Schultz worked for The Plain Dealer for 18 years. Although she will no longer work for that newspaper, she will continue to writing for magazines and her book. I don't know how she chose one love over another, but it was her decision to make.

As a political science and multi-media journalism major, I often wonder whether I want to make headlines or write them. In high school I had the best of both worlds; I was president of student council and editor of the newspaper. I have avoided conflict between my two interests so far, but in the real world, I know I will have to decide.


Twitter's Place in Publications

"Off the record," journalists have heard this over and over again, and it is a bit of a disappointment every time. Clearly journalists want the entirety of an interview to be "on the record"; we are not nearly as interested if it can't be published. With this in mind, what is the right way to use tweets?

As of late, members of the senate have been claiming that their public tweets are to be considered off the record. The fact that these tweets are public, for everyone to see, should point out how outlandish of a suggestion this is.

According to Jeff Sonderman on Poynter, several prominent bloggers and writers noticed this disclaimer and were then forced to remove several tweet quotes from their blog, noting the absurdity of the situation.

If prominent members of the senate are willing to tweet their thoughts for the entire Twitter community to see, then they should be equally willing to have these tweets quoted in text. It is no different then journalists using a quote from a previous speech. Senate members should back off, and keep their tweets "on record


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