Archive | March, 2012

Open sources, digital journalism weave together

28 Mar

Over the past 10 years, journalism has gone from mostly newspapers to almost completely digital. With the massive growth of technology that has occurred, this has been pretty much inevitable.

One growing portion of digital journalism is the blog. Blogs are becoming some of our main sources for news, so they need to be marketed efficiently. Liz Borod Wright of Mashable gives some great tips on how bloggers can utilize social media; even I have started using them for my own blog. Digital journalism has also allowed for reader participation. Programs like OpenFile let readers suggest the story ideas rather than the editors. Although through this tool some may think readers are becoming the journalists, they are only suggesting the ideas for a story, making both regular and digital newspapers more interesting to read. Readers can then tweet about stories they’ve suggested, sparking discussion.

Although this is not news to anyone, even newspaper websites are using social media in their reporting. Foursquare and Facebook check-ins by both reporters and average citizens can help viewers find out where something is happening in their community. If they wanted, Twitter users could even tweet something they saw happening in their neighborhood to their local news station, thus allowing even more open sources. To think that the Wall Street Journal’s use of Foursquare was a small contribution in helping bring Hurricane Irene to the national circuit is incredible.

Since news has become a flurry of tweets and status updates, Mathew Ingram of Gigaom is correct in saying that news is now considered a process rather than a finished piece. Recently the Trayvon Martin story has been gaining awareness through Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, and more updates on his death are being posted every day, even every few hours. Hashtags have made finding news topics easier (ex: Justice4Trayvon).

Of course, with the addition of new technology, news story structures have changed as well. There are so many components that go into an article now, from personalization to participation. The practice of “real-time” news has also become important with the rise of instant updates via computer and mobile phone.

Magazines like Sports Illustrated and The Atlantic have done remarkable jobs of keeping up with digitalism in this new age of journalism. Because Sports Illustrated lacks a digital department and is therefore practicing digitalism in all aspects of its newsroom, they have set forth a movement that other magazines should follow.


NY Times story shows more bias, but gives a narrative look

28 Mar

Both articles showed that, although about half of the Afghani population feels the country is moving in the right direction, many Afghanis are unhappy with the way their country is moving.

I think the USA Today article “Afghans express confidence in country’s direction, security” did a great job of pulling straight quotes from the Asia Foundation’s poll, and I think this helps readers look at the facts that stand out to them the most. However, the New York Times expressed the people’s feelings rather than just facts, and it explained each statistic rather than just listing it.

In this case, the New York Times did a better job of putting both statistics and descriptions together. Although it may seem a little biased because of the narrative style, I don’t think most articles are entirely without opinion.


Afghans have lost a considerable amount of confidence in the direction of their country over the past two years, according to an Asia Foundation survey released Wednesday.

It was the largest opinion survey conducted in Afghanistan, with 6,226 Afghans ages 18 and older being surveyed in 32 of the country’s 34 provinces over the summer.

Although the number of people with negative or mixed views on the trajectory of the country has grown significantly since a similar survey in 2004, the national mood remains positive on the whole.

44 percent of Afghans interviewed said the country was headed in the right direction, compared with 64 percent in 2004 on the eve of the first democratic presidential elections in Afghanistan. Twenty-one percent said the country was headed in the wrong direction — compared with 11 percent in 2004 — and 29 percent had mixed feelings. Four percent were unsure. Security was the main reason for the increased concern, the survey said.

The main goal of the survey was to determine the attitudes of Afghans toward the political process, public policy and development progress.

Security was the main source for optimism among those who said the country was headed in the right direction. But among those who expressed pessimism, more than half said the biggest problem was a lack of security, the Taliban threat and warlords. The southern provinces of Zabul and Uruzgan were excluded from the survey due to extreme security problems.

87 percent said they trusted the Afghan National Army, and 86 percent said they trusted the Afghan National Police, although the International Crisis Group called the Afghan police “little more than private militias” and are “regarded more as a source of insecurity than protection.”

Corruption, which has become one of the main criticisms of the government, was less of a concern for respondents than unemployment and lack of services, with only 8 percent naming it as the biggest problem locally. But when asked specifically if corruption was a problem nationally, 77 percent of respondents said it was, and 60 percent said it had increased.

George Varughese, director of the poll, agrees that some of the results “appear to challenge the current wisdom on issues in Afghanistan,” but said it is still an important, solid piece of work.

However, Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, said the findings do not mean the country does not still need help.
“What they affirm is that help produces results, which in turn generates appreciation.”

BBC’s Liege story action questionable

14 Mar

While both RTE News and BBC News tweeted about the grenade attack in Liege, these two news outlets approached the subject differently. On the RTE News website, there are ways readers can share the article: via Twitter, Facebook and Google+. BBC News, however, does not have a sharing toolbar on its story and instead asks readers to post pictures of what happened in Liege if they were there.

BBC’s approach raises several issues. People could fake that they were in Liege during the attack and send in fake/Photoshopped pictures of the disaster. This could skew the story into an entirely different direction.  Also, computer “robots” are known for stealing content from other people and aggregating it onto other websites (this happened with one of my websites). A bot could post false information and even give a fake phone number. Like “Jimmy’s Story” and the “eagle snatches dog” legend, BBC’s request for pictures could bring in fake or negative sources. Although BBC may have been trying to be more interactive with its readers, this just isn’t the right way to go about it.

RTE’s allowing people to share the article is a much more effective (and accurate) way to let people interact with the story; whenever a story is shared on a social network, it can be discussed. Also, requests for help can be made this way.


14 Mar

Based on how I’ve used Poligraft, it is a pretty good fact-checking tool, but a few things could be added. Right now, citations only include which organizations have given contributions, but additional information could be added, such as the politician’s state and a few other facts. This way, journalists would not have to constantly look up other facts about politicians.

The story I used describes Rick Santorum’s primary victories in Alabama and Mississippi. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingirch had been battling each other for the second-place victory, although Romney also picked up a caucus victory in the American Samoa. One of Romney’s senior campaign advisers said the campaign met its goal of taking about one-third of Alabama’s and Mississippi’s delegates.

When I ran this article through Poligraft, it showed citations for George W. Bush, Rick Santorum, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and it tried to cite Chris Welch, one of the writers of this story. However, Chris Welch ended up being incorrectly cited as Emanuel Welch, a Democratic politician.

Live tweeting unethical if subjects are named

14 Mar

Andy Boyle’s piece couldn’t exactly be called journalism. However, it certainly appeals to human interest, and people are bound to read Boyle’s account of what happened. As far as ethics goes, I think it would have been a bit unethical to post this if the couple’s names were mentioned. Still, since Boyle took pictures of the couple, they may be able to be identified by a Twitter user, although the likeliness of this is small since we don’t know which Burger King Boyle is tweeting from. It may not be tasteful to be publish this, but Boyle’s “storytweets” are definitely likely to be retweeted.

Similarly, last year actor and comedian Donald Glover tweeted a picture of a couple hooking up at a Bank of America ATM. Although Glvoer did not identify who the couple was, police could find this picture on Twitter and possibly find out who the perpetrators are. However, since the picture quality is poor, the couple may not be able to be identified and it could just be a good laugh for Twitter users.

Tweeting a great social media tool that should be fact-checked

14 Mar

Twitter has become a part of daily life. It is second nature for many of my friends to tweet about what they’re doing almost every hour of their day.

Sometimes I wish I could grab my friends by the shoulders, shake them and tell them that Twitter can also be used (more effectively) as a news outlet. Lately I have been using Twitter to promote my blog on ‘90s nostalgia, as Mallory Jean Tenore of Poynter suggests. I’m not sure how well it has been working for me, but at least I’m getting it out there.

In an attempt to organize my tweets, I created a “news outlets” list so that I could have all my tweets from newspaper websites in one place. If I made my list public so that it could be shared, journalists could use this as a way to find breaking news, therefore coming up with new story ideas.

Although tweeting a finished story to sources may sound like a good idea, if you write for a local newspaper, some of your older sources may not have a Twitter, so it would still be a good idea to email or call each said source and tell them to either pick up a newspaper to see the story or send them said news story via email.

Tweeting parts of a story is also effective, since the whole point of Twitter is to spark conversation. This helps people interact more with their news. Reactions to a story via tweets can also make a great article. In short, on Twitter, anyone can be a journalist or publisher. However, Mathew Ingram of Gigaom makes a good point when he says this new “networked journalism” has made news a bit more chaotic. Instead of looking to one prominent newspaper/reporter for our news, we have many outlets, which is great but can also be a bit repetitive. Many people like to tweet the same stories over and over again.

Because of Twitter’s many benefits to the world of journalism and social media, you could say that the site has become a worldwide sensation. However, Mark Hill of argues that it indeed has become a sensation — only in the U.S., that is. It isn’t too surprising to me that people in the Middle East barely use social networking, since there are many third-world countries in the area, meaning a supply of computers is scarce. Although Hill is probably right, I disagree with him when he writes that social networking is a terrible source for news. Yes, people may tweet inaccurate information sometimes, but since Twitter is not an actual “news site,” it is up to us to figure out the truth. Research is still important.

Reporters should not depend on Twitter entirely for their stories; they need to check the facts first, as is common journalistic practice.

Twitter story

17 MarOlivia FeldmanOlivia Feldman ‏ @oliviarianne 

This is Olivia Feldman live tweeting from a bus filled with alcohol on the way to Wet N Wild. Happy St. Patty’s! #shotbus

17 MarOlivia FeldmanOlivia Feldman ‏ @oliviarianne 

A girl in a Gator blazer is walking around telling us “You want a shot” while holding a bottle of rum. #shotbus

Someone turns to their friend and says, “This is gonna be a long bus ride.” #shotbus

My seat neighbor is explaining the differences between different types of pigs. #shotbus

The soft country music does not reflect the mood on this vehicle.#shotbus

17 MarOlivia FeldmanOlivia Feldman ‏ @oliviarianne 

After going onto the Turnpike exit on I-75, a group of people rejoice, “We’re not going to Tampa!” #shotbus