Jounralism’s need to adapt

3 Apr

Journalism needs to adapt. With continual changes to the way people receive information, the need for journalism to be not only restructure but to be flexible is more important than ever before.

This adaptation is more than simply learning a how a few new social media tools work. Media corporations need to learn how to incorporate social media and networking into all aspects of the story-telling and news gathering process.  Smaller and more socially tuned-in news publications will surpass the traditional news sources in views and readership if they do not learn to take advantage of the tools available to them. Creating a news source that is entertaining and relatable is critical in today’s connected world. It really is adapt or die.

If publications want to remain relevant, they need to focus on hearing the input of their audience. Publications are learning the hard way that publications that take notice of their audiences interest and that utilize social media can do the work of traditional media. The most difficult pill for traditional news sources to swallow is that these new publications often provide the news with a smaller staff and get a larger readership. Knowing what your readers want, and giving it to them in an easily consumable format is just good business sense.

Although some are slow to comprehend that this new news format is here to stay and is dominating, others realize that the way people get information has fundamentally changed. When a Google search can answer almost any question a person can ask, hoping to be the only source for people is naïve. Accepting the information has become decentralized and that traditional formats need to be melded with the new ones is the only way to keep a publication going. Publications must be come experts at linking to other sources, posting online updated versions of print stories and following online trends. Also, journalists need to realize that they can still tell the stories they always have, in written format as they always have as long as they find ways to still engage the readers.

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The digitization of journalism

27 Mar

Journalism is changing not only due to big new social media or new techniques to gather new, but simply because stories are being posted online.  The ability to go back into a story an changes, enhance and expand is relatively new. Journalists are still learning all of the ways that they can take the digitization of their stories and use it to the advantage of the publication and their readers.

Posting a story online before it is printed is becoming common practice. There are many advantages to doing so. It allows for reader feedback so the publication can know what issues to focus on. It also allows for more details to come in either from readers or official sources, before a story is set in the unforgiving permanent ink.  Creating and focusing on easily sharable and linkable digital versions of stories increases views, popularity and the ever important ad revenue.

However, it is not just the posting of stories online that is going digital. The whole news cycle from story idea to leads and finally to the finished product is being posted for the world to see by some news organizations.  This method of gathering news gives readers an understanding of how the story developed and the transparency helps readers trust that the publication is giving them the full story.  It also makes it easier for the reporters to make sure they are writing about the issues that matter the most to their audience. Some journalists worry though, that reporters are becoming more dependent on readers than the readers are on the content journalists post. Journalist must be careful to attribute the work that comes from readers through these transparent techniques but remain a valuable source of information at the same time.

One tip to keep the quality of the digital stories on par with the rest of the publication is to take a page out of Sports Illustrated. The magazine has a very successful digital edition that is equal to their print publication because the print and digital edition are created by the same people, not separated in to digital and print sectors.

Some publications are even instituting digital first policies that require their journalists and editors to create content primarily and originally for the web. Though the Atlantic, a publication known for crediting this policy for their success, has had rough times, the forward-thinking digital first policy kept the Atlantic ahead of the curve.

This idea that posting online is becoming the original form that news will be posted in, is leading some to question the format of the traditional news article.  Journalists should realize that the article was a form of writing invented for the newspaper and that a new shorter, more linked and more easily shared story format is developing.  Taking advantage of new story formats will help generate an audience that can share and market a story for the publication.

More and more,

large media outlets are learning this lesson and taking advantage of the story sharing social media sources available to them. Anyone not willing to adapt will get left behind and major media organizations are taking heed of that.  However, not just big companies are adapting to take advantage of the changing news landscape. With a few simple tricks, anyone can optimize their blog or webpage or Twitter to attract views and develop an audience.

So, the face of journalism is always changing and as digital news becomes peoples main source of information, it is also becoming organizations main focus. Over time new advances will emerge and the journalism industry needs to continue to roll with the punches to stay relevant.

Dropbox link to compiled story: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/57121047/Afghan%2BPoll%2BCompiled.doc

How interpretation changes stories

27 Mar

When a news organization receives information, the leanings of the publication and of the journalist immediately begin to color the story.  Because of this, two organizations can receive the same information and create two very different stories based upon the same facts. This is exactly what happened with the USA Today and the New York Times when they covered a poll of the Afghan citizens. Both organizations received the same numbers on how safe the population of Afghanistan felt, but drew very different conclusions.

The story by USA Today did a good job of telling the story and including many statistics pulled from the report. The USA Today story seemed less biased, although both stories had obvious spins on them. The USA Today story had bullet points taken verbatim from the report made the data somewhat more reliable and believable.  However, even some of the bullet points seemed to be placed next to statistics that would make them seem more positive than they really were. Also, this story included dissenting opinions, albeit at the very bottom, stating that some of the more positive statistics seems difficult to believe.

The New York Times had a less positive view of the situation than USA Today. They saw the decrease in security that the Afghan people felt was significant. The New York Times story presented the facts in a graphic, which is a good way to remove the bias of text around numbers. However, the title of the graph stated that Afghans are losing confidence, rather than letting the readers interpret the graph for themselves.

Both stories looked at the same report and took from it what they expected to see based on the writer’s preconceived notions about the situation in Afghanistan. In reality, this should have been a report that the amount of security that the Afghan people felt was down from a few years before but overall had increased since American forces had intervened. While both stories mention this point, neither of them focused on this, since it is not very strong or telling one way or the other. It is simply not that interesting of a story to report that things are marginally worse but generally improved. Both organizations chose to tell a good story that fit with the narrative in the minds of their journalist rather than the facts.

 

 

BBC and RTE use Twitter to cover Belgium grenade attack

21 Mar

News outlets are turning to Twitter to get breaking news out to their audience. But the use of Twitter is going beyond simple updates for some companies. Recently a bus in Belgium was attacked using a grenade and guns. During the attack the news outlets RTE and the BBC both took to Twitter for the story. But the companies took different approaches to how they used the social networking tool.

RTE Tweeted about the events in Belgium and linked readers to the full story. The BBC on the other hand, had multiple updates as the event unfolded. They posted as news came out and even asked eyewitnesses to contact them through Twitter with any information that may have been relevant. While the BBC’s method takes more advantage of the media tools at hand, it is also risky. People like to embellish and exaggerate events, which is why knowing who the sources really are and attributing quotes to people’s real names, is so critical. It is difficult to determine if a source is reliable through a medium like Twitter. Still, if there is no other clear way to get information it makes sense to take advantage of the people who are on the scene already and who are willing to help. Since the BBC does ask for more contact information, it is plausible that they could assess the reliability of the person Tweeting them by calling, or looking into their story. RTE was smart to link directly to their  story through their tweets but could have Tweeted more information along the way as the BBC did.

Both news stations were smart to take advantage of Twitter to get their stories out, but they could also both learn something from the other. The need to be taking advantage of all of the options such as the linking feature and the ability not only disseminate information but also to gather information.

Twitter changing what is seen as news

20 Mar

Twitter makes it easy to share what is happening around you easy. In the case of revolutions and  national disasters, this ability to spread accurate and urgent information is extremely beneficial for the people involved and the journalists trying to cover the event. However, sometimes the news broadcast through Twitter is not so urgent or beneficial.

Recently the story of a couple fighting at Burger King was live Tweeted by Twitter user Andy Boyle. Though what Boyle did was technically legal, I do not think any respectable publication would allow that sort of story to be posted on the internet. The only reason he was able to put this out into the world is that he published it on his own. I think it is important to note that while I think publishing this story is ethically wrong, this is an example of how media outlets do not always get to decide what is considered any longer.

Still, I think this story was in poor taste. This woman is clearly in a very bad relationship and her standing up for herself should not have been used as a source of entertainment for others. This story is proof that there may be some benefit to news outlet’s gatekeeping role. Whether or not this story can be considered news is subjective. If news is anything people want to know about, then yes this story is news. But, personally I hold news, and journalism for that matter, to a higher standard. I think that there should be some benefit to a community or some social issue being addressed in a story before it can be considered journalism.

So, while I see why this story would be entertaining and even significant, seeing as it breaks new ground, I just cannot consider this type of invasive story ethical. I would not consider publishing anything along these lines because my personal ethical standards and I do not think this story is journalism.

 

Twitter Story:# CookingwithChris

Twitter puts news in the hands of the people

19 Mar

Social media has been letting non-mainstreams voices enter the news-reporting world for a while now, but Twitter is particularly good at letting amateurs have a say. Twitter lets people who are in the thick of the action report on events as they happen. This shift in the ease and speed of broadcasting information is transforming the way people get their news.

Since twitter is accessed by so many people, it has become a way to crowd source information. No one person needs to have the whole story as long as many people are sharing their experiences, a full picture of any ongoing event can be captured in real time. However, it is important for any new sources looking to capitalize on this feature of Twitter to remember  that they will have more luck joining the crowd if they represent themselves as a human, rather than a corporation.

One critical event in which Twitter was able to play a large role was the revolt in Iran. The death of Neda Agha-Soltan was posted online and through the video and tweets about what happened to her, Agha-Soltan became a source of inspiration for the protesters and an example of how bad things were to the people following the story.

Twitter is currently being used to raise awareness about the death of Trayvon Martin . Though keeping his name trending on Twitter, his supports are rallying for the arrest of the man who, protesters say, shot and killed Martin, George Zimmerman.

Though Twitter has been criticized for by many news sources as unreliable, one of the advantages to using Twitter is that it gives a larger number of critical eyes a chance to read about a news event. That means that while it is easy to spread false information through twitter, it also will not be long before the hoax can be debunked. On the other hand, journalists can use the somewhat untrustworthy nature of twitter to their advantage. If journalists make it a point to always provide accurate, confirmed information and can deliver it quickly by tweet, then they can get a reputation through twitter as a trustworthy and worthwhile news source. Cultivating a loyal twitter following will increase journalist’s readership and bring them more sources for any questions they may want to pose to their followers.

Twitter has made it easy for its users to follow certain events and find new people to follow though its lists feature . The lists allow users to group people tweeting about similar things together to organize and streamline news coverage.  The lists are viewable on the side of each person’s twitter feed, meaning that users can find new people to follow from the pages of people they already know they like.

Twitter makes crowd-sourcing information quick and lets critical information spread quicker than ever before. Journalist need to learn how to take advantage of all that twitter has to offer to keep up with today’s constant news cycle.

Twitter hashtag: #CookingwithChris

Poligraft makes story connections clear

11 Mar

Poligraft is a tool that can both help journalists and make them work harder. Having the ability to see the contributions from one group to another with just a simple copy and paste is a great step in increasing transparency in journalism. Political figures true motivations in dealing with each other and other groups can be revealed through the Poligraft citations. On the other hand, it makes it even more critical for journalists to look into these motivations on their own. If there is a clear monetary motivation for a politicians actions that is not mentioned in a story, savvy readers can now find it on their own. Publications need to make sure they are giving readers the full story, otherwise they may look like they are not doing there jobs.

 

I used Poligraft on a story about the IRS offering a tax break for victims of  natural disasters. The tax relief is only available for uninsured items and only covers a small portion of the original worth of the item. Another aspect of the deal is the ability to file taxes late. While the help is small, it is still aid to those in need.

My Poligraft results:

Aggregated Contributions

Represents total campaign contributions from an organization’s employees and/or its PAC.

Points of Influence

Graphs for politicians represent received campaign contributions, while graphs for organizations represent aggregate campaign contributions made.

 

 

 

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