Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wanted: Big Ideas

"Why aren't journalism schools coming up with solutions to the newspaper problem?" I was asked recently.

It's a great question and a potentially damning one. It's not that journalism educators aren't obsessing about the stresses being placed upon the profession. It's a fair question to ask what all that obsessing in the halls of academia has produced.

When one thinks about great journalism schools, does one imagine them as places of innovation and experimentation that test new methods of news gathering, presentation and delivery? Are they incubators of new industry models or is that more the province of business schools?

Where do new ideas in the journalism field come from?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big Ideas and Where to Find Them

While it may seem likely that journalism schools would be the places generating new ideas and solving the problems that plague our industry, I haven't seen much of that happening - that is, at least not at our journalism school. While we have a strong newspaper program led by a plethora of talented reporters and editors, what we as students are learning is very basic stuff. Anyone can learn to write a good lead, and anyone (except me, for some reason) can memorize all of the rules of AP style. That's a given.

But when it comes to true innovation, the fact of the matter is that we don't have the framework to support new discovery or new techniques. The business school continually improves the rating of its international business program, the schools of public health and nursing are ever-increasing in size and popularity, and the university's research efforts are on the brink of making the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells a reality for this country.

Meanwhile, back at our ranch, we're plodding through the basics. I've never been in more than two journalism classes at a time, but my accounting major friends spend all day correcting budgets and doing audits. My pre-med friends kill mice from noon to five every Wednesday and Thursday. They're getting hours and hours of substantial experience and exposure in their classes every day while we're learning concepts for only a few hours a week.

If journalism schools want to innovate, they have to give us the tools to really know what we're doing. Where is the class on HTML coding? When are we going to learn about new media? (Does anyone know what that means yet?) I get anxious knowing that I'm going into a field that I'm not fully prepared for.

Journalists have to be ready for all possibilities. At present, we're only ready to scramble for dwindling jobs in a dying medium. If j-schools want to innovate, they need to offer some kind of instruction in areas where the innovation is happening instead of leaving us to figure out those uncharted waters on our own. Once we have the tools to figure some of this stuff out (internet advertising, content generation, effective blogging and vlogging and the like), we'll be able to experiment with and develop our own approaches to the dire problems our industry faces.

New Ideas

When I think of great journalism schools I do assume that they are doing whatever is necessary to bring about change to the field. I don’t think that anyone would want to go to a place where they won’t learn the newest and more efficient way to gather information and deliver it to the masses. Innovation and experimentation is all apart of advancing in this industry, so it only makes sense that our universities should be doing this also. By learning these new models now while in college, it will place deep into the race of advancement and not lagging trying to catch up to the new technology. I believe that it is the responsibility to give us and create now ways to do our jobs, because if they didn’t we would be greatly unprepared for the world we choose to work in.
New ideas for journalism come from the people who take the risk and use new technology in a different way. Because it doesn’t take long for people to catch on, others will begin to see that the new way of using a program or device will be easier than the old. The whole field is about trial and error, and journalists are continually reinventing their crafts to fit the medium for which they work. It would help if colleges and universities would continually update their journalism curriculum that fit the changing world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We need a tweak things a bit

I believe it is a Journalism School's job to prepare future journalists for the profession, and that even means pushing the boundaries.

As you asked, "does one imagine them as places of innovation and experimentation that test new methods of news gathering, presentation and delivery?"

The answer is, yes. College is where you can try new things, and where new ideas are incubated, so when the newly trained journalist gets in the work force, they can present those ideas learned in college to the higher ups at a paper/magazine/website/etc. I believe our school should adapt to the new environment, and experiment with some new teaching and curriculum tactics, while still providing the solid base it has become known for.

Even though we have a print medium, and should keep it, our curriculum should include more online journalism classes, since that is the medium things look to be going. That way, our curriculum can help form new ideas to improve journalism.

And, as you asked: " Are they (schools) incubators of new industry models or is that more the province of business schools?"I don't believe it is solely up to the business guys to decide things, but that is where our new endowment for business journalism comes in. Not only should that branch focus on covering business, but also it should focus on the business of journalism, so we can fix this whole mess we are in now.

It is said that journalists are chameleons, that we can go and fit into any environment, and adapt to it. We are currently adapting to the digital takeover of information, so shouldn't our journalism schools be equally adaptable?

I think so.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Adler's Luck

Straight talk from a straight shooter, way to go, Steve Adler you continue to fulfill your journalistic role of sharing useful, succinct and timely information.

So the ‘sky is not falling,’ there is the possibility of a future but it’s all on me, good to know.

It is scary time to begin this process. The whole landscape and nature of the business is shifting, and where it's going is only partially apparent. Throughout the country newsrooms are being forced to cut their staff and their budgets. Some have shifted to online only while others have closed all together.

My Journalism 201 professor, Auggie Grant takes a positive look at these paradigm changes. He says this is the most exciting time to be in this field and if you can adapt and learn and be on the cutting edge you will have no problems.

He said this with the obvious idea that first you must write well, and in addition be on the cutting edge. It is good advice. I plan to focus on my tech skills and writing, stay positive and work hard. Hopefully, I will have a bit of Adler’s luck.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thoughts on Plain

1. Your career will probably depend on luck.

That is true. It is all about being at the right place and the right time, and knowing the right people.

2. Few journalists write really well, so you have an advantage if you can, especially as editing resources shrink.

No matter what happens to the form journalism is presented, great writing will always take precedent.

3. Despite the current hard times, students have an advantage over professionals because they have tech skills, and aren’t entrenched in the hierarchy.

That is true. Just another example of Structural economics.

4. Attitude counts more than ever.

Hope it doesn't count too much.

5. You’ve got to get known, because editors tend to hire people they already know. (Note, this is when Adler mentioned that he’s interviewed “children of board members of companies they cover” for jobs.)

Like I said in question 1. It is all about who you know, not so much what you know.

6. Be essential, not discretionary.


7. Advertisers have much more power than ever, and that’s an enormous problem.

Since they pay, they have a lot of leeway. I'd also think Magazine subscribers have a good bit a leeway.

8. An editor-in-chief spends less than half his time doing anything even remotely journalistic.

Mostly business talk.

9. Analog dollars make digital pennies, but online may save the industry.

Let's hope it does.

10. The skills of a journalist have value, even if it’s not in journalism. (Especially helpful to hear when Adler predicted that journalists’ salaries will likely take a downward turn.)

Once hired, it is all about what you bring to the table. Who know gets you in the door, what you know and what you do makes the paycheck.

A good home for investigative journalism

Atlanta Unfiltered is a good example of the journalism watchdog role continuing and adapting in the face of the changing media venue. The site and others like it are sure to be a part of the future of journalism. Likely reporters will continue to create niche sites, including some that specialize in investigative reporting, as they find traditional media venues offering less or unable to continue to employ them in the areas they specialize in.

Online sites are the perfect vehicle for upstart investigative reporting as the overhead is low and the writer can focus on specific stories without specific time frames or deadlines, as investigative pieces can take time to flesh out. As the sites develop, the more popular sites will likely grow and become more slick and user friendly. One could envision such sites growing in readership and then being bought out by bigger media venues, as happens with other popular online sites.

I think we will see more reporter operated investigative sites develop and I think it is a good thing. The worst problem I could think of is the development of sites that operate outside of traditional ethical standards, but I think that the audience will be able to discern the good from the bad.

I know the Internet is a great venue for local, regional and international investigative reporting. I have been reading a fantastic investigative reporter online for about six years. Greg Palast, http://www.gregpalast.com/, offers great investigative reporting, though it is of a progressive nature. Palast uncovered a variety of issues following the 2000 and 2004 elections, and then went on to uncover eerily similar irregularities in the national Mexican election. His site has grown in popularity and become more polished and slick since i first began reading it and since then he has himself turned a great deal of the issues first developed on his site into a book. Palast has been able to grow his site through quality in depth reporting and self-marketing. He is offering a valuable needed commodity to his community of readers, a need which other media outlets -at least American ones - are not providing and is fulfilling the watchdog role. I think it is up to the reader to judge the product of sites like Atlanta Unfiltered and Palast and decide if they are serious quality journalism. It is up to the writer to produce and self-promote and find the audience.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Atlanta response

I have to agree with Charlotte. But the problem, I think, doesn't end with the news sites not being universally accessible or universally trustworthy for consumers.

It seems like high-ranking sources that would be ideal for interviewing in hard-hitting news stories would be less willing to cooperate with these independent outlets. Especially when it's hard to differentiate between the good Web sites and potential time-wasters.

I can't imagine that, without the backing of an institution like The State or The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it's going to be possible for very long for independent news sites to actually get tough questions answered for investigative stories.

But maybe these independent Web sites will be able to make enough of a name for themselves to create some sort of loyal following and be taken seriously by potential story subjects. Matt Drudge has a job, doesn't he?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Atlanta Unfiltered Response

If the future of serious journalism is independent Web sites, then we're in trouble.

First of all, newsrooms should be doing investigative journalism. But layoffs and consolidation have created a tough environment that makes it hard for journalists to do their jobs. I think the business mindset of the newsroom is more to blame than the economy. It's a regrettable situation, and it needs to be fixed.

Secondly, an independent website does not have nearly the same clout as an established news organization. Anyone can publish anything on the Web. Jim Walls may have great credentials, but how does the casual browser tell the difference between a sham site and a legitimate one? People often glance at a website and gauge its credibility based on how professional the design is and who the sponsoring organization is.

Also, the Web may be world wide, but it still has limited reach. Newspapers are affordable and widely available. Internet access is not. Residential internet service is a luxury, and many people do not have internet access at home or at work. A 35 or 50 cent newspaper is easier to get than an open computer at the local library.

This is not to say that there shouldn't be watchdog sites on the internet, but it is especially hard online to tell what is trustworthy information and what is not. These sites will have to build credibility with readers, just as traditional news organizations have. And hopefully, traditional newsrooms can regain some of the credibility they've lost with layoffs. Society needs its watchdogs. Letting public officials operate without oversight is certainly not an option.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The new face of journalism

In the recent years, "journalism" has become more adorned with flashy graphics, high def TV touch screens, and perfectly groomed reporters. This change over the years has led journalists farther from getting to the truth and "peeling the onion" and more about ratings and spin.

Jim Walls Atlanta Unfiltered is, I believe, a perfect representation of where journalism, actual investigative journalism, is going in the future. It's unpolished look IS a representation of where we are, but it is also an homage to the muckrakers of the past. Those journalists weren't afraid to crawl through the muck of society and get a little dirty to get the facts, and neither is this site.

Journalism is going to go through a trend were it will no longer be about flash, graphics, and image, but be more about substance. Walls' site looks to do this.

I truly believe that this will be the future of journalism. In the art and design world, trends are pushed to the limit until they look tacky, and then artists come in and scale back, and journalism is getting ready to go through that trend design wise. This site is the best example.

And I don't believe that is a bad thing. Journalism seems to have lost its mind and turned into a conglomorated business venture and has forgotten the people it works for. It has become too much about style and look, and not about getting to the bottom of stories. This will be a welcome change, and I believe, this is where journalism will be heading.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Generation

I don’t think that there is anything with local newspapers, but I’m not all that surprised that the younger generation doesn’t seem to have a use for it. With the rise in technology and with interesting events happening all over the world, I think that the younger generation has traded local events with world and national events. Most civic life isn’t interesting to a generation that wants the information before it even happens. I think the appetite for knowledge of all kinds in insatiable for the younger generation and it’s become easier to receive that information by other means. If my local paper can email updates to my Blackberry just as the Washington Post does then maybe I’ll read it, but it’s just easier to sit down with and watch WIS for local events while I also read my online papers and Twitter from a phone. Reading a paper takes time and concentration, and I’m afraid that maybe the younger generation doesn’t want to make that time.
I do believe that if the civic papers want to gain youth readership that they should cater to that audience. There can be a way to include information that everyone should want to read, and I think that the younger generation is somewhat being ignored and that the internet has picked up on that and has decided to encroach on this market. Journalists need to find a way to make it work. They need to find whatever it is that will pull us in and make us want to read that paper. I also think that as new, younger interns and journalists enter the field that we will see a shift in the content of local papers. As we bring new ideas and information we will also bring a new readership along with us. But mostly it’s important for newspapers to keep up with the way we receive our information.

Adapt, Adopt and Reach

The journalist's role has not changed.  He or she should gather information, process and present it in an honest and intriguing manner.  The journalist's responsibilities have changed - they have increased.  Getting the message out in as many different formats as possible including print, online, cell phone, ect..., has moved to the top of the list.  Who are we writing for and how do we reach them? 

The unprecedented growth in voter turnout among 18- to 29-year olds in 2008 was a response to identification.  Young voters identified with a candidate and a set of issues including change of the status quo, ethics and anger over the war and the economy.  These voters did not have to read the paper the previous day to know the most up to date information, because they were saturated with information from a variety of traditional and non-traditional sources.  Information was available on TV and from online sources.  Information was available directly from the candidate as e-mail and cell phone updates.  Information broke on cell phones first in some cases.

The newspaper is not the easiest or best media source for all users anymore, particularly the younger demographic, but that does not translate to a failure to understand the value of a free press to a free society.  Parker does not offer any data to make the case or compare past and present media use and understanding for the 18- to- 29 demographic.   I would guess from my own experience that today's youth are more aware of what is going on than in the past.  That they are more reachable than ever.  However, the journalist is now competing with many other players on these newly opened roads for access to the media user.  It is then the journalist's responsibility, as one of the few players on the road who was trained to be accurate, objective, ethical and concise to go through as many media sources so he or she can to reach the user.

That said, the journalists and everyone else inside and outside of newspapers should find a way to do whatever possible to preserve newspapers.  Endow newspaper?  Story for another time.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lost Generation Response

I do not think voter turnout in the 2008 election had much to do with local newspaper readership. Most voters were probably most interested in the presidential race and used other media to follow it. I think the unpopularity of President Bush and the historic nature of the election were the two main factors that increased young voter turnout.

With that said, the increased young voter turnout is at odds with Parker's comment that the younger generation doesn't understand or appreciate the free society-free press connection. I think today's young people are connected to civic life, but in new ways. Young people are building their own communities, many on the Internet, around shared interests, if not geographic location. So many young people may be engaged in civic life based on broader causes rather than their smaller communities.

But people still use media to stay connected to civic life. For many young people, that media is television, the Internet, and magazines. But journalism is not just media. Journalism is supposed to give people unbiased information so they can make up their own minds. Journalism is essential for a free society because it allows people to think freely.

And journalists have an important role in helping young people stay connected to civic life. I think this role is to seek out and report more stories that directly involve young people. In general, people like to see, hear, and read about others like themselves. So the best way to get young people to read newspapers is to write about young people in newspapers. I know I liked to read the page of my local Sunday newspaper that was devoted to students when I was in high school, and I will look through the marriage announcements now that some of my classmates have gotten married. At any rate, the most valuable news is news that affects you and news that involves you. Young people will not read the newspaper if they think the news in it has nothing to do with them, but they will find other ways to stay connected to civic life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Generation is Lost? Maybe not quite yet

Most people don't read the newspaper today, but they still utilized publications to get their news, but it is now over the web. And most don't go to local news papers websites, but the national papers. It seems most young people aren't concerned with their town, but the nation.

Also, the unprecedented voter turnout can be contributed to what we grew up with.
We grew up knowing what was going on in the world, and 9/11 is the keynote. After that, I believe many young people saw that there are things wrong in this country, and we took it on our shoulders as a need to fix, and now that that generation can finally vote, we used that ambition to make our voices known.

To tell the truth, I don't know what truly connects people to civic life. I believe it is a side effect of globalization, that the sense of small community is lost, and that most are connected to the big picture of what is going on nationally and internationally.

Most people, it seems, connect to a "news" broadcast that reflects their views, and doesn't necessarily report the news. Conservatives connect with FoxNews, liberals connect with MSNBC, and moderates connect with CNN.

I believe it is our role as journalists to keep that public informed, but to not spin that information, or omit things that don't fit certain political agendas. Our first allegiance is to the public, and to maintain that connection of civic duty, we need to ourselves act civil and ethical in our news coverage.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Defuse and Follow-up

Post game news conferences often veer off the topic of the immediate game, the season or sport in general and into a variety of conversations including coaches and personalities.  Why not a question and discussion on coach Jim Calhoun's salary and its relation to other state employees salaries.  The question was clear and relevant.  Calhoun ends the discussion at the press conference stating the reporter should get some facts and that the program brings in $12 million to the University of Connecticut.  Case closed.

When is a good time to discuss Calhoun's salary?  Apparently in the parking lot.  

The conversation about Calhoun, his program or practices should be open to public scrutiny just as it would for any state employee.  Calhoun is able to deflect the argument in the news conference where emotions run high and the coach can both speak loudly and carry a big stick.  That however can not be the end of the debate.  Knowing the program contributes $ 12 million to the university's general fund should not be a condition for interviewing Calhoun, though including that info in the reporter's question might have garnered a more reasoned response.  

That said, the reporter should take Calhoun's advice and bring it back to him ten fold in a follow-up interview, which the coach is apparently open to.  The reporter should come armed with new facts and careful questions, and in a less hostile environment he will likely receive more sober and reasoned answers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Calhoun response

Really, I don't see a story here involved with interviewing Calhoun.
I do think you would interview the University and see the sheer monotony of having a basketball coach as your highest paid state official.
That is the real story, and why such a lower tier job in respect to jobs in the medical field is seen in such high regards.
Though his program does contribute a large sum of money ($12 million I believe) to the state, it doesn't excuse his behavior and his ridiculous paycheck.
But this isn't a story with him, because he is a private citizen and can do what he wants with his money.
UConn needs to be questioned in their thought process to pay him so much for doing what could be seen as a volunteer job.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hollywood's journalists

Investigative journalists are great protagonists because--motivated by a desire to find stuff out either for the public or for their job--they are catapulted into the center of whatever action. If you want to tell a story about some crime or some corruption, putting a neutral inquirer in the center of your story is a good way to examine all the angles.

There are other ways to examine issues--like in "Michael Clayton,"where corruption is realized from the inside--but having a journalist at the center of a story removes the tendency for any immediate blame. When something is up, a journalist slowly uncovers pieces of evidence to complete the picture.

I think that Hollywood's version of journalism gets a little skewed when they try to introduce too much glamor into it. Not glitzy glamor, necessarily, but things like danger and intrigue where sources turn up dead after car bombs go off or anthrax gets mailed to the newsroom.

But the fact that those threats exist in the first place--however overstated they may be in movies--is, I think, a large part of what makes a journalist an exciting protagonist. They are in a neutral position, must shed light on some crime or corruption, and must fight (with their pen!) the natural antagonists that arise from the possibility of being found out.

And the fact that these journalists have to persevere to tell their stories, despite the overstated car bombs and anthrax scares, makes them pretty heroic. Even if they are egotistical or womanizing or otherwise flawed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Movie Journalists Response

Hollywood and journalism have an odd relationship.

Hollywood has a fascination with the journalism career, but why? Perhaps it is the ability the journalist has to unravel falsehood and reveal the truth. Perhaps it is that the journalist presents an easy antogonist, someone that is instantly unlikable by the public.

Two different takes on a journalist span 40 years of film. The first is the character E.K. Hornebeck in the film "Inherit the Wind." In this film, the journalist recites the classic line, "it is the duty of the paper to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable." This one character is the epitomy of the journalism field. The character, while afflicting those in power in a small, extremist Christian community, is the antithesis of an annoying journalist with an overly cynic look on life. But the character also is shown for his bias against the leader, Matthew Harrison Brady, who happens to be anti-evolution teaching in schools. (The film is based on the Scopes Monkey Trial)

A second view is by Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) in the film "Thank You for Smoking." Here, Holloway is shown as an ego driven reporter who is willing to do anything, including sleep with Aaron Eckhart's character, to get the big story, even if things are done, "off the record."

It seems that Hollywood, in these two roles at least, view journalism as a career that attracts those with low moral character and lack of ethics. It really seems that Hollywood has almost a disdain with the reporter. But, Hollywood also uses the reporter as the one that brings down those in power that are filled with corruption (like in "All the Presidents Men").

I think we tend to focus on the negative of our own personnas as we ignore the positive ones, and Hollywood merely shows that. Although it may appear journalists are portrayed in a bad light, I believe closer inference on all roles that involve journalists, will reveal that journalists are presented in a relatively equal light.

Pot Post

I think that Paul Blake makes a valid point. The fact that Leon Lott is trying to arrest Michael Phelps for his actions at a party based on a photo is ridiculous! Unless Lott was there at the time of the party, there is no way he can prove that the substance in the pipe was marijuana. It does seem that Lott is drawing unnecessary attention to a minor situation. I don’t think that the photo works against the publisher but rather makes his feelings on the matter very clear. If Lott is going to try everything he can to arrest Phelps then he should also try and arrest Blake.

A week after the Phelps Pot story broke out Katie Couric interviewed rap artist Lil’ Wayne. In that interview Lil’ Wayne admits to smoking pot. If Leon Lott can go after Phelps then shouldn’t someone be going after Lil’ Wayne?

Hip Hop Journalism

John Randolph’s video can easily be mistaken as journalism but it lacks a few important elements. I feel like all he did was find a journalist who had already reported on a similar story and had her reiterate her own research and how it applied to the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation. If Randolph really wanted to do his own research he should of tried to talk to someone a little closer related to the story. Since Chris Brown and Rihanna are probably not taking too many calls right now, Randolph could have tried to interview someone who has been in a similar situation to try and better understand the celebrity feud. He could of also tried to get more than one view on the matter. Rather than just talking to one person he should of talked to several different people on different sides of the issue so that the story didn’t seem so one sided. Though this was an attempt at “doing a little journalism,” I don’t think we can quite call it that.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blake makes a point

Blakes article, as over-the-top as it may seem, conveys perfectly the point I believe he was trying to make.
Whether you condone the use of marijuana or not, its not unreasonable for a citizen to challenge the law. I commend Blake for taking a stand and making a case for the ludicrousness of Sheriff Lott's pursuits. Blake didn't just want to say that Lott's attempting to charge Phelps based on a photo was ludicrous, he wanted to note that pursuing the case is simply a waste of his time because of the nature of the crime. By using marijuana, taking a photo, posting the photo, and writing about his experience using the marijuana Blake makes a very convincing (in my opinion), ironic, and humorous point about the nature of the law and law enforcement.
Blake was within his rights as a writer and publisher. He wanted to make a statement and he did. If Sheriff Lott wants to pursue him as well... we'll just see who wins that battle. My money's on Blake.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hip-Hop J Response

Well, I hate to break it to this guy, but he didn't do any journalism.
Talking to a journalist to expand on a story she already wrote isn't journalism for the simple fact that he didn't do any of the work.

To be a journalist, we have to not only tell the story, but to sift through the facts, investigate the situation, and go out and do your own interviews.

This guy did tell a story, but not the story. He didn't sift through the story for the facts, he didn't investigate the situation-he only read about it and brought it to a broader audience, and though he did his own interview, he didn't interview the people directly involved in the matter.

This vlog (video blog), though informative, isn't journalism. He gave this writer a chance to expand on the piece she wrote and to help bring awareness to domestic abuse. But this guy is no journalist, and did not practice journalism in this video.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pot Response

Although slightly dramatic, I think that Paul Blake has a point. Pictures only don’t seem like a good source if credibility in cases like these. It could have been nothing in the bong, or it could have been hay for all I know, but the point is unless the sheriff was there this whole thing seems like a waste of time. Maybe some politicking is taking place here, but I don’t think that any serious charges will come out of this because the proof is either all smoked up or nonexistent.
I don’t think that the story and photo work against Blake because we don’t know if what he says is actually true. We can conclude our own thoughts when we see the photo and I’m sure if we interviewed a serious stoner they could and point out any discrepancies with the photo if there were any, but we won’t.
While comedic, Blake has a point.

Hip Hop Response

I commend him in his effort to talk about this subject, but I think that calling this journalism is a stretch. The whole story is one sided from the point of view of Elizabeth Berry. He doesn’t get both sides of the story and it seems that he didn’t even attempt to.
If he had gotten some feedback from battered women and their specific situations and then backed it up with information from Berry, I think I would look at it differently than I do now. The story now is about her and what she thinks and not about Chris Brown or Rihanna. I think if you’re going to talk about domestic abuse, then you need to really talk about it and not just “report” a one sided story from the mouth of a professional. Get in the trenches with the people who have experienced the violence.
He could still relate it to hip hop culture by sourcing other artists who have been victims of domestic violence and then have Berry talk more about the statistics.
There could have been other ways of going about this, especially if you were going to call it journalism. I think that serious topics deserve serious reporting.


I feel like since the birth of the Suleman octuplets not a day goes by without seeing them in the news. Though the successful delivery of the children is recognized, what news media seems to be infatuated with is the mother’s story. A single mother attempting to raise 14 children on her own seems to be quite a challenge, to say the least.

I believe that Nadya Suleman doesn’t agree or at least is trying to believe that the issue is solely the fact that she is single. She says that her “unconventional way of life”, meaning her decision to be single, is what has put her under the microscope. There are so many single mothers in this country and the fact that she doesn’t have a husband is not what I see as the biggest issue. The problem is that she is being irresponsible by bringing children into this world that she can’t fully provide for. She doesn’t have a job, is still trying to finish school, and has received her last disability check. All that makes for quite the story. Even Ann Curry struggles to find the words when asked about Suleman’s financial situation. There is no nice way of saying that she has no plan of how to provide for her family.

Another thing that seems to be catching people’s attention is her incredible resemblance to actress Angelina Jolie. Though she has well passed Jolie in family size “Octomom” seems to be mimicking the actress’s lifestyle and appearance. Suleman says all she ever wanted was a big family but I think her actions are some kind of cry of attention. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pot Points Response

First, I agree full heartedly with Blake's opposition to Sheriff Lott.
Although the picture with the column is controversial, I think it emphasizes a point, and again takes another swipe at Lott.

The biggest problem with the Phelps case is that you can't tell if he was actually smoking or if he was joking around, or if he was smoking marijuana or another substance, like hookah. The same with Blake's picture, although it is just a simple pipe, you can't tell if it is plain tobacco, or an overly elaborate way to smoke weed. This picture is taking a blatent shot at Lott to show just how inept and how much a waste of time the whole situation is.

In a round-about way, the photo actually enhances the column. Even though the writer says he smoked weed, you can't truly tell just by simply looking at the picture. The same is inferred with the Phelps photo.

"Future Shock" Yes and No

Stress can be both a useful and/or destructive force.  Stress properly focused can direct and lead through pressure to positive results.  Regular newspaper deadlines are an example of positive stress.  Stress can also be highly destructive physically and emotionally and can stifle one's creativity and overall quality of work and life.  I would argue that stress has plagued man since we were painting caves and hunting beasts for food.

That said, I personally understand and agree with Toffler's argument of "future shock" that rapid technology changes are stressing people out and causing anxiety.  I can see examples of future shock throughout my life.  Technological innovation such as personal computers with high-speed wireless Internet access, e-mail, cell phones and text messaging have created a work-life environment where a person never really has a day off of work because they are always connected to their work, boss, staff, clients or products.  Text messaging has allowed for work or social information to silently enter any environment no matter how prestigious or sacred.  Have you ever texted a friend during a meeting, class or church?  This constant connection for many people, myself included, takes away from peace of mind.

The other side of the coin is that many people lose their peace of mind from not being constantly connected to every available media and information device.  I do think that many, but not all, in society have adapted to the root concerns of Toffler's "future shock" argument.  Many people are no longer shocked by constant technological upgrade and change.  An example of this can be seen in the waiting lists to get the newest editions of I-Phones or Blackberries.  Many are in fact impatient for the next innovation.

Just how will this effect the news and information media?  Well it could very well end newspapers as we currently recognize them, and fundamentally evolve them and save the newspaper industry.  There is a wonderful article in the Feb. 16 issue of Time titled, How to Save Your Newspaper, that states that newspapers and news magazines and other forms of traditional journalism are more popular than ever but the problem is that few of these consumers are paying for content.  The article makes the point that some news organizations might choose to get users to pay for the news services and journalism they provide through an ITunes-esque method of small, one to five cents, one-click micro payments.  

Certainly there is a great deal of information available, and the new medias and information technology have made the information available more popular than ever.  Look at sites like Google or Yahoo News.  It's likely this new technology will not be the executioner of traditional medias but rather a high evolutionary forcing them to adapt and innovate, and in the process base their future and their quality of work on their customers rather than their advertisers.     

Monday, February 9, 2009

An irresponsible mother? Stop the presses!

The story here doesn’t seem to be about a successful delivery of octuplets. While it is a rare occurrence, nobody in the report gives any statistics about the frequency of octuplet births. At this point, the basics of Suleman’s story are already out. The novelty of her situation is a given. If this had happened without fertilization treatments, it would only add to the novelty.

The idea that the crux of the story is Suleman’s lack of a spouse is closer to the point. Ann Curry brings this up early and often, and Suleman seems to have known ahead of time that this would be a major talking point. If we are talking about the story the Today Show wanted to tell, this is probably it. But this is not to say that there isn’t a better story to tell.

People make irresponsible decisions every day. If the media reported on every mother who had children when she probably shouldn’t have, they’d have no time to report on anything else.

As it has been reported, this story is about one woman and her children. As such, it has no impact whatsoever on practically anybody. We watch to fulfill our voyeuristic instincts and pass judgment on this woman. If this were a legitimate news story, it might tie into current trends in in vitro fertilization. Are other mothers opting to have multiple embryos implanted? What are some of the reasons they offer? How common is it for laboratory pregnancies to produce multiples?

I remember a piece National Geographic ran a few years back about a town in New Jersey with a disproportionate number of multiple-birth children. The article tied this to the large number of fertility clinics in central New Jersey, saying that multiples are a known side effect of fertilization procedures. This worked as a story because it wasn’t just about one family’s predicament. It was about a whole community and, by extension, the people having these procedures done nationwide.

Response to Octuplets Post

After watching the interview, I believe the main focus of the story is on the life of Nadya Suleman.  Although the octuplets are a big deal, it seems as if her lifestyle is much more interesting.  The story highly focuses on her economic issues.  She's a single mother of 14 children, so the question is how will she be able to take care and provide for them?  She plans on going back to college to get her master's but how will she have time to do that, with such a big commitment as a single mom?  

Another big focus in the story is her mental state.  Why did she decide to have so many children?  In the interview she talks about "filling a void" but there must be more reasoning beyond that.  How does she feel she will be able to care for all of her children, and how will they feel growing up with so many brothers and sisters?  

There's so many questions to be asked of this woman.  It's an interesting story and I hope to learn more about the reasoning behind her decision to care for so many kids.  

Suleman Story

Personal feelings aside, the main point of this interview is really to know why a single parent would do this to herself and to these children. I think that the world wants to what she could possibly be thinking. It's great that the babies are healthy and they were delivered with little complication, but that's not the story. People are interested in her mental state and how she is going to raise all these children if she doesn't have a job or a home of her own. It seems that having us know that they are the first surviving octuplets to have been born is supposed to make this more of a story, but the purpose is really to fulfill our desire to know what this woman was thinking in taking this major risk. By interviewing her it gives us insight into her past and her reasoning for doing this. People have speculated about it and now we know.

Another aspect that makes it a story is wanting to know what type of doctor would implant all the embryos into a woman of her age. Ethical questions keep coming up in question to the doctor and people want to know what motivation he had for doing this. Did he properly advise her of the risks? It would seem that he had alterior motives, but what could they be?

This story is not about the babies. It’s about the Nadya Suleman.

Response to Octuplets Story

I think this story is indeed newsworthy and rather interesting in that it is so very strange. However, I think that the "real story" does not lie in Ann Curry's interview with the mother of the babies. I think the real story here is WHY this woman has chosen to have a set of eight children in addition to the other six she already has at home. She says its because she was an only child, etc. But in reality, I think that nobody believes her reasoning. Why haven't we heard more about her battle with depression? Or her earlier career at a mental institution. She obvoiusly possesses some instabilities of her own. Secondly, I think another story should take more focus on the ethical choices made by the doctors and whether or not there needs to be some application of a set of standards or criteria in the field of artificial insemination/invitro fertilization. I would like to have seen how this woman and her and her doctors decisions will likely affect the reproductive medical field in the future, for others that may be seeking similar procedures. I think this story focuses on these two main aspects, the woman's past and what got her to this point and the consequences she may cause not only for herself but for the reproductive medical field in regards to invitro procedures.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Octuplet Story Response

There are a multitude of stories that are, and can be, interwoven into the Nadya Sulemann and the Octuplets Story. Of course a natural story line is the oddity of the birth, and if, and how, it was successful. It is in the realm of oddity, and that makes it newsworthy.
I think one thing that makes this birth so much more newsworthy is that it was done by artificial fertilization, and Ms. Sulemann chose to have that many done. Another story is the fact that she wants to raise 14 children on her own, with no current means of income (even though she wants to after she gets a college degree).

All of these are good story lines, but one that struck me the most, and one that wasn't looked into, was the 'why she wants to do this.' Due to her family history, she felt neglected and needed to have a large family. I think this is a story that could be done, and turned into a social retrospect to see if this is a trend that is taking hold in society.

Do neglected girls feel a need to have large families to fill a void? Why do they feel this way? What options are there to counteract that mindset? Is it prevalent all over society, or does it stay in particular socio-economic group?

The event is loaded with storylines that could be brought out, and I personally feel the Today Show interview failed to do that.

French Newspapers

I believe the idea of an “independent, free, and pluralistic press” is bittersweet. President Sarkozy’s plan to give free subscriptions to all 18 year olds is a great way to re-popularize print media. With readership of newspapers and magazines on a declining slope this idea could help save the industry. On the other hand, does allowing government involvement somehow affect our freedom of speech? By keeping the government out of media involvement we have the right to report on anything and everything in an unbiased manner. I feel like if we were to use this plan in America it could become very complicated. Though I would love for the government to help news media in this tough time, i don't know that I would want media feeling as if they owed the government anything in return. I say we sit back and watch how Sarkozy's plan plays out while we try and find a better way of reviving the news media.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Response to "Real America"

Herbert Gans is quoted as saying that small-town idealism, saying that small, rural towns is where the "American idea" is located, and not the big city.
From a media standpoint, Gans is correct.
Even though big cities may be patriotic, it is typically the small, rural towns (mostly in the South and Midwest it seems) that are depicted as "American." Even with the growth of 24-hour cable news and the Internet, this stigma hasn't changed.
Look at any news, and when they do a piece on "American goodness" or "family values" where is it they typically go? They go to the small towns.
One reason this may be, a simple way, is because that is the basic picture of what we idealize as what American is. Anther reason is because, even with the growth of news and the Internet, many small town residence don't have, or choose not to have, access to cable, and instead live with the five basic channels, while others don't have, or don't have time for, the Internet.
In the media, small town America is still portrayed as a place where "goodness" is still rooted.

French Papers

I'm very torn when it comes to the president's media bail out plan. On the one hand, I like the idea of giving out free newspapers in hopes of gaining more readers. Getting people interested in news and reading is always a plus. I also think that the media is a great part of any country and culture, and it's something that needs to be protected. If the newspaper market really needed the help, I definitely think it is important enough to deserve it.
However, the most important part about news is that it be truthful and unbiased. The government should have as little to do with delivering news as possible. If the government's financial ties didn't allow the government to seap in to the news itself, then the bail out plan sounds like a fine idea. If there was any chance of the news catering to the government because of the ties they had, I don't think it's worth it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

French Newspaper Response

I like President Nicolas Sarkozy's idea of giving out a free subscription to French youths on their 18th birthday. It's a great idea, and I think it would definitely help get more young people to read the newspaper and stay up to date with their current events. Although this is an idea that may work effectively in one country, I do not believe it would work well in America.

Sarkozy states, "It is indeed (the state's) responsibility ... to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists." Yes, we have freedom of the press and 'congress shall make no law abridging' that freedom. If we were to take on Sarkozy's idea and make the government become more responsible for newspaper production in America, this would also mean that many of our freedoms as journalists would probably be taken away as well. I think a lot of conflict would arise and we would not have the ability to publish a lot of the stories/opinions we are able to do in the present.

I do not think the government needs to bail out the news media. Print media may be declining, but that just goes to show that something needs to change, or we need to find new and creative ways to pick up readership across the country. It's hard to decide what will happen, especially with all of our new technology and the internet, but we just have to work hard as journalists in order to avoid anymore decline in our readership.

French Newspaper

I understand why President Sarkozy would want to assist the newspapers, but I don’t think the government should be bailing out the media. It’s like saying, “don’t tell me what to write about,” and then asking for help once readership declines. The theory sounds wonderful, but I can see some drama happening after that.
And who chooses which newspapers gets bailed out and how much of a bailout do they get? Does the Podunk city in Utah receive the same amount as the Washington Post? (My heart jumps to even think of this.) It just poses to many questions for me. What would we have to give up in order to receive help from the government? Nothing is free in this country so something will be lost. And once we slowly start releasing powers to them how long will it be before newspapers have no more power? Who will watchdog over the nasty officials in office and who will warm me about the peanut butter?
Newspapers have to find different ways to boost interest in the printed-paper. There has to be other ways. Having the government bail them out seems like a giving up and rolling over. The copout of all copouts. Is it hard? Yes, I get that. Does losing money suck? Yes, I get that too. But I think that they just have to get creative and move forward.
I understand wanting to help and boosting readership among youth, but at what cost for the future?

Monday, January 26, 2009

French Newspaper Post

French President Sarkozy wants to pay for newspapers to get the younger generation reading newspapers. Sarksozy believes that it is essiential to have an "independent, free and pluralistic press."

Sadly, this is not something we have here in our country. Although we have "freedom of the press" our press isn't necassarily so. Since the news industry has become meida corporations in the age of spin and objectivity, we here in America do not have, in essence, a free, independent press. This is an ideal we had, but now it is merely that, and ideal.

If we could get back to this, that would be an ideal where spin and subjectivity is replaced with straight news and objectivity.

I see no reason as to why the newspaper industry should not be bailed out. The only concern is that the government may get control of the press, creating a more propaganda publication. If this was insured to not happen, the paper should be bailed out. Since it works for the public interest, the government should give money to keep their citizens informed.

Future Shock Response

The future shock phenomenon that Toffler wrote about in the 1970s no longer exists in today's ever-changing society. From i-pods to computers, or just the phone that does it all, we welcome change with open arms--and wallets--and will do anything to get the newest and fastest form of technology. Even older generations of people are learning to keep up and adapt to the change around them. With some of us feeling that "information overload" is in the air due to the many new forms of technology that now exist, we must understand that we are the ones encouraging the production and feeding on the supply of these new devices. 
Though this trend may seem great now, what happens if this electronic form of media takes over other outlets? First, finding a job after college with a PRINT journalism degree is not going to be fun. With the internet literally at our fingertips, many people are using some form of electronic media and cutting out any kind of hard copy. Does this mean that eventually all newspapers and magazines are going to become extinct? That question is up for debate but in my opinion they will always be here. Maybe not continuing to be as prominent as they once were, but still fighting for recognition. 

Toffler Response

In today's society I do not believe many people are too stressed out by change. In fact, I think we all expect it to happen and we accept change as it comes. Think about buying a new phone, for example. You can go out and buy the new touchscreen keypad that has a GPS navigation system and an itunes library, or you can wait a month or two for a newer, more advanced one to come out. For our generation, change comes very easily and naturally. We can't WAIT for the next device to come out, but why? It may be harder for earlier generations to take this all in--try teaching your mother how to text--but advances in technology is something that will continue to keep us going. Yeah, we don't really need it...but when something new is there, we want it, and we WILL buy it. It's just how it works.

I don't really believe that our society is suffering from an "information overload." New information can be found all around us, anywhere we look, but it is up to us to choose what we want to learn, what we want to listen to, or what we want to read. And of course there's always Google to help us search for what we are looking for...

If this trend continues, I do believe news/media will be affected. We have seen changes in the way we retrieve our daily information already in the past few years. The internet is certainly a great way to get information, but what is to become of our other outlets? Print publications for example have probably been hit the hardest. People are taking advantage of the quick and easy access to information (internet, browsers on their cell phones, etc.). It's much easier and more entertaining to go online and find a short video to watch, rather then to sit down and read the newspaper.

Response to France

Idealisticly speaking, OF COURSE the government should bail out the newspaper industry in these times of great woe. The newspaper industry helped shape so much of our nation and has for years on end provided information that has kept the population aware and in the know and able to form their own opinions on great matters. President Sarkozy certainly is on to something with his efforts in France to provide newspapers, stating the obligation of the state to provide "an independent, free and pluralistic press", but is the internet no longer considered in this category? I think one of the major causes of the decreaed populatiry of printed newspapers is the easy access to equally reliable online publications. So while I would like to see governmental aid in a field that I personally believe to be beneficial to the United States, I do not think it is fully warranted or that it would ever happen. Then again, I'm still questioning the legitimacy of all the other financial bailouts we've seen recently.

"Future Shock" Response

I agree with the idea of "future shock." While many members of society have gotten used to change, I don't think we've adapted to as much as we like to think. Not only has technology changed, but the expectations of how we interact with that technology have changed. We've more from more passive to more active interaction, and the average consumer or end user is expected to know a lot more. This might account for the reason there is a “computer savvy” but not a “television savvy.” And consumers of technology have to be more sophisticated. There are so many choices that it can be overwhelming. Not everyone can be a savvy, sophisticated consumer, and maybe those expectations are too high.

I think many people experience “information overload.” It can be hard to process all the information we have access to and to sort out which information is credible. You could turn up thousands of results with an online search and still not find what you’re looking for. You could be bombarded with ads and propaganda so it’s hard to figure out what you can believe. And you could immerse yourself with constantly updated information 24/7 (online or with cable news). When you can receive information all the time, how much time should you spend doing that?

The news industry has necessarily adapted to changes in technology, but the big problem will be meeting consumer expectations when it comes to technology in the Information Age, especially on the internet. Should an entire newspaper be available free online? Should broadcasters post videos? Do readers/viewers expect to be able to post comments? Where do advertisers fit in? I think the news industry will have to go through a paradigm shift to make it work.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Future Shock Post

I can't speak for those who experienced technological change in the '70s, but I think right now, in terms at least of my generation, we are impatient for technological change--not intimidated. The cell phone, for example, started out as a huge box with buttons. And now, we use it to take pictures, listen to music, play games, plan our days, send emails and text. Its most basic, essential function--actually being a phone--is its most trivial. Who doesn't eagerly await Apple's press releases announcing new products and features. Who isn't eager to upgrade to a new, shiny iThing.

The information media have already begun to adapt to our propensity for text messages and instant notifications. The New York Times, for example, has a mobile phone service which sends updates directly to subscribers' phones. It gives you "All the News That's Fit to Go"! And news organizations are not only responding with instant messages. Podcasts are another response to technological advancements, providing video or audio bytes for traveling devices and computers. The information media are moving away--have to move away--from print and are converging with other mediums in order to survive the demands of today's technologically impatient consumers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Response to "Future Shock"

When Toffler came to his conclusion about techonology, it was a different time. In the 1970s, we as a nation did not have the kind of grasp on technology that we do today. Toffler's world was not one of 24 hour news channels and the internet. These things have expanded and grown and become something that few in the 1970s could have envisioned. When Toffler wrote his book, the technology we are used to today was only at its beginning, and I imagine that was quite scary. I have grown up with these tools and technology, and to me they are common place. I am not stressed by these things. Most technology today has a way in which it can be made better, more efficient, and I look forward to seeing what they can do with technology in the future. I think my generation is one that welcomes progress and can roll with technology because we have gotten so used to it in our lives.
When it comes to the news, there is so much to see and hear. News is being thrown at us from all directions. I think this gives people the opportunity to pick and choose their information better than they have ever been able to before, and there is definitely no shortage of news to choose from. However, there are downsides to this. In my opinion, the quality of the news has gone down a bit. And with all of the stories being thrown at us, I think sometimes people learn to drown out news, and it may cause them to miss important facts.
I do see significance to Toffler's theory, and on some aspects I agree, but I think that Toffler's theory had much more relevance to his generation.

Future Shock Post

I can see how Toffler could come to that conclusion, but because I live in this age I more than welcome all the information being thrown at me at once. I admit that it takes a while to get used to, but there is an upside to having information so readily at hand. We have the resources to gather and decode a story or article. We can cross reference if need be and then compare this story with that one. Technology had advanced a great deal, I won't dispute that, but the benefits are tremendous. By having everything thrown at us we can pick and choose what's important to us and move on from there. We can compare what was or was not highlighted in one place and go look for answers to those questions somewhere else. The information being pitched to us in great numbers is intimidating I’m sure, but as you focus on one topic and then move on the fear becomes less than if you tried to process it all at once.
I do agree that we today are hungry for information and impatient for change. It seems that instant gratification is no longer fast enough and we want what we want when we want it and it's now. I think that information media will continue to struggle with the rising technology as the future continues, and I hope that I'll be able to keep up with the change.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Response to Toffler post

I can see both sides of the argument.
On one hand, we are bombarded with thousand upon thousands of images, information, etc. With the Internet now on phones, 24/7 news, and the ability to never be out of touch with the world, it can lead to overload, and even withdrawal if the technology is taken away.

But, one can also see that we are immune to sensory overload, and one example can be involved with the media today. With so many stories about death, murder, rape, double homicide, and so on, one does become immune as the talking head jumps from story to story with a casual, almost non chalant feeling.

In regards to the news, I think it is clear to see that stories have gotten shorter, flashier, and have lost substance. Today's generation IS impatient. Not many want to sit down and read a paper, but rather have it beamed into their retinas in 30 second snip its.

So I guess, overall, I don't agree with Toffler's theory completely.