Archive | January, 2012

Case Study 1

25 Jan

The “Eagle Snatches Dog” story really surprised me. It’s amazing how convincing a story can sound just because of far-fetched facts. It also shows me how people will do almost anything for a good story.

As soon as I finished reading this story, so many questions bubbled up from inside me: Why was this couple in Alaska? Why were they unidentified (couldn’t the reporter at least have gotten their names?)? My initial thought was that this story was a great example of sloppy reporting. I seriously thought the writer just felt too lazy to care about getting more important information.

 Urban legends seem to make attractive stories. Sometimes they sound really convincing, too. Obviously my B.S. detector was not on when I looked through this story. However, the fact that my partners and I tried to find out was was wrong was indeed a good sign, since we could tell that something was not right. 

 Quora proved to be an interesting experience. When I began typing a question about witnesses, the question “Is it always okay to take witnesses at their word?” showed up. Todd Gardiner, a self-proclaimed “photographer and questioner of too much privacy,” said journalists tend to be careful to attribute what people say rather than “reporting their statements as a fact.” It is extremely important that reporters do this, and at least the reporter did attribute what the witnesses said and did not state it as fact.

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Blogging may replace news stories, detail still important

25 Jan

Blogs are the future of journalism.

I don’t think there is any set definition for a blog. This article clearly shows that no two websites mentioned have the same meaning. The important thing about blogs is that they get information on pretty much any topic imaginable to hundreds of thousands of people in just a few brief paragraphs. With the creation of the Argo Project about one year ago, radio stations were able to spread information on a variety of topics to an average of 400,000 people. It’s pretty incredible to think that a news story filed in separate, incremental updates can be more effective and impactful than a single article. In fact, just yesterday the Argo Project created a Project Argo toolkit for creating niche websites using WordPress. The best part? It’s free. Tools like this are making it so much easier for journalists to spread news and spark discussion.

If a project like this could help inexperienced reporters use Twitter like pros and help them become expert bloggers in a time when social media wasn’t huge yet, imagine what Argo could have been like if it had started this year! Now, news is spread much more through tweets, Facebook statuses, Google+, etc. However, I do still think long entries like blogs are invaluable to the journalism industry, since they provide a good amount of detail and information. People do still want to get all of the facts in a story. I also agree with Matt Thompson, who said blogging partnerships are essential. Although this blog entry mainly concerns pet blogging partnerships, it is a good example of how stepping out of your niche and helping out other writers can be beneficial. In addition, since blogs could very well be replacing newspapers, any good blog needs strong editors just like newspapers do. Even if a reporter thinks his or her work is flawless, he or she usually needs a second eye to look things over. Good editing means good credibility.

Blogs definitely help in developing a large news story by breaking the story up into smaller pieces. If we had blogs back in 1994 when the O.J. Simpson case was going on, people probably wouldn’t even have to be watching the trials every night on TV. There is a dilemma when considering whether blog posts or a longer news story would be more effective in recounting events. I think blog posts are more helpful when there is a developing story; each part can be explained in great detail and space would not have to be saved.

Nowadays, there really is no set way to tell a story. Frequent updates and blog entries are what people depend on. Although some people may see this as a decline in journalistic storytelling, I see it as a way to merely improve storytelling. More people are getting more up-to-date information, and a lot of it is pretty accurate. It will be exciting to see if the Argo Project sparks other blogging projects as well.

Aggregation and Curation – Week 1

18 Jan

Olivia Feldman – feldmano@ufl.edu

Curation combined with aggregation is just an added to bonus to journalism articles. Aggregation by itself is a perfect example of how the digital world is indeed affecting journalism – giving people more information than the original article has provided readers with. According to Mathew Ingram’s article on the Huffington Post’s aggregation of Miami Herald articles, some people are complaining that HuffPo “over-aggregates” the Herald and in addition does not attribute to the Herald enough. However, Ingram makes a good point in stating that HuffPo does indeed have multiple references to the paper and even includes links with more information about the story. How does this do damage to journalism in any way?

The analogy he uses works well in this case, comparing aggregation to the invention and progression of cars. Just like how cars improved people’s lives after living so long with horses and buggies, aggregation is improving articles and how journalism works in general. In this new Twitter-powered society of people who have an urgent need for accurate news (especially the most up-to-date information) right away, we need to provide more in-depth links to other stories in order to feed this need. However, it is also important that these aggregated articles are well-attributed. In an almost response blog entry, Kyle Munzenreider of the Miami New Times wrote that some Miami Herald insiders don’t include links to other stories they’ve attributed. He thinks that at least HuffPo at least “has the courtesy of linking back” to Miami Herald stories. It seems to make sense these days to link back to a story that you have taken information from, even if the article has already been attributed. However, as long as the story is attributed, even without a link, that should still be considered a form of good journalism ethics.

Curation is also important to the social-media-powered journalism of today: People only want the most important information; they don’t want to read through tedious, boring articles. In order to market its best news, a newspaper or news site should be hiring excellent journalism “curators” to figure out what news should make the website that day. In addition, according to a Mashable blog entry written by Josh Sternberg, non-journalists (“everyday people”) can be curators as well. People can share links to articles in their Twitter feeds if it “brings up a great fact [he or she thinks] everyone should know.” Curation can lead to discussion and the sharing of other links to other articles on the subject. As Steven Rosenbaum said in his blog entry, these days news could be considered more of a dialogue than a monologue.

Mindy McAdams gives some great information on certain “aspects of journalistic curation.” Curation is a lot like editing in that it just refines information and makes it more understandable and interesting for readers.

Overall, if we don’t adjust to the curation and aggregation of articles, we as journalists are going to fall way behind in the technology world. It is time embrace new techniques, not shun them.