Keeping Up With the Citizens

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Google Blog Search Feed Offerings

Who ever said journalists are so special from everybody else? The political analysts sure aren't. Not with Google in charge.

That's because Google's Politics & Elections blog is making it easier for ordinary citizens to become political analysts for the rest of the world. Jake Parillo, part of Google's Politics & Elections team, announced on Monday that the team is asking for citizens to use Google's tools- Google Insights for SearchGoogle Trends,and Google Correlate, for example- to help the Google team discover political or election trends across the country.

People now have the ability to research and analyze their own political stories. But will they make use of it? Will these tools become commonplace with the average family? Hard to tell. reported last month that out of all the time people spend on the internet, only 2.6 percent of it is spent on current events or global news (22.5 percent of their time is spent on social media websites, and 35.1 percent is spent on website types not specified in the survey, including- yep- pornography). Google's bet seems to be that customizing political coverage for the average Joe is what will make people pay attention to the political world swirling around them, but the real question is whether citizens will put in the extra effort.

One thing is clear, though: if journalists plan on competing with the serious amateur news sources these days, reporters should be the first to dive in to this new technology.

Photo by Danny Sullivan/


Journalism Organization Blossoms to Inspire Students Worlwide

I recently read an article about an interesting organization I'd never heard of. Youth Journalism International is an organization that was founded by a husband-wife team in 2004 that received non-profit status in 2010.

Their website serves as a news blog, but they also instruct many students. They send out ideas and topics to a huge e-mail list-serv and students participating develop stories of their own. What they write is then published on the blog.

Students cover everything from local to international news.

I think this organization is a fantastic idea and has the possibility to shape these students futures. It's teaching them how to be citizen-journalists, but they are learning many different aspects of writing. They are learning how to gather the news and report in one of the most interactive forms. I also think its great because the ideas they receive via e-mail encourage them to report and learn about something they otherwise might have never paid attention to.

I've had a lot of different opportunities open for me during college to experience something similar, but I wish I would have been a part of this during high school to start my practice early.


A recent article I read on the New York Times website shared a story about a group of high school students taking part in a unique journalism opportunity. They are students serving probation in the San Francisco Juvenile Justice system, and will doing a semester long internship to explore many aspects of journalism, including starting their own newsroom and producing hard-copy products. Here, I discuss several points I found important about their experience and interview Simpson College journalism students to see their take on the story.

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Cartoonists Portray Steve Jobs in Christian Heaven

Many editorial cartoons drawn for the death of Steve Jobs portray him in a Christian heaven, even though he is known to be a Buddhist.

After his passing, Steve Jobs has been in a number of cartoons that show him in a Christian heaven most often wearing a halo or talking to God at the Pearly Gates. Most may say this is just a nice gesture by the cartoonists suggesting that Jobs lived a good life and made it into heaven.

But it can also be seen as an insult. Since Jobs lived his life as a Buddhist he most likely wasn't expecting to go to a Christian heaven.

"Perhaps it is insensitive to impose your own religion on someone else when they die," suggests Daryl Cagle of The Cagle Post, "but what the heck - readers and editors love it.

To most readers who see these cartoons might not even know that Jobs was a Buddhist, so they see nothing wrong with the cartoons. Others might see the cartoons and know that he is a Buddhist but think that there is no harm done since the cartoons were done with good intentions.

One cartoon shows Jobs talking to God and saying, "What part of being a Buddhist don't you understand?"

This cartoon might make the reader think of what Jobs might have to say to all of these Christian heaven cartoons. He might consider it disrespectful to suggest Christianity over what he practiced in his life.

But in the end, there is only one true religion. And most of these cartoonists think they know the right one.

Photo from Creative Commons


The Media's Role in Society

The media plays a massive role in the way people think and they way they react to specific situations.

Recently, Maria Armoudian published a book, "Kill the Messenger," examining how the media has "perpetuated both good and evil." With this novel she examines articles surrounding the most pivotal moments of the 20th Century, such as the genocides in Germany, Rwanda, and Bosnia, and then explains how the media played a direct role in the heinous actions that took place and resulted in the loss of millions of lives.

Furthermore, Armoudian explains, "it is naïve to believe that the impact of radio and television in particular can be easily brushed aside."

With this quote, the role of the media on our society must be questioned. Right now the media has been covering the candidates they believe have the best chance to win, therefore candidates such as Ron Paul receive little to no positive coverage and are essentially eliminated from the race.

Another example, is the media's coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest going on in New York City and quickly spreading to different states across the U.S. When this protest began, mainstream media in the U.S. was hesitant to cover these protesters. If this was pre-social media times, this could have caused this protest to lose supporters and dwindle off; becoming forgotten in history.

The press should make sure to provide well-researched, unbiased coverage for any major event or person. They must be very careful about the ideas they back in their stories and remember what they print, say, or show will have some sort of impact on the audience good are bad, and need to be ready to take responsibility for any consequences that derive from their stories.

picture provided by _PaulS_ from


Media's Involvement in Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street is a movement that has been spreading across the nation. People gather to show their protest to the "financial greed and corruption" shown today. Despite the number of people who have been active in this movement, large media corporations were slow to cover the story.

MSNBC led the way with coverage, with Keith Olbermann being the first anchor to cover the story. Better late than never I suppose.

Now that the story is starting to get more publicity beyond the world of Twitter, several criticisms are being made of journalists.

The number one mistake: media only shows the stereotypical outcast or "dirty hippie." This is not giving a proper representation of the masses.

Even though this may make the story more interesting, media should show a variety of people that accurately represents the protestors as a whole.

Another critique of the stories covering Occupy Wall Street is that they are being framed poorly, with a "law and order" bias. Arrests are being shown, but the innocent acts are less noteworthy.

“[Social] movements are ragged — they’re patched together, and they’re improvised, and if you want to size up where they’re going, you’ve got to talk to a range of people and decide what’s relevant.” says Mallory Jean Tenore.

I think this quote sums up the issue facing Occupy Wall Street coverage perfectly. Media organizations need to work harder to get the story, the whole story.

Photo Courtesy of Photo Bucket


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