Archive | April, 2012

Social Media Report: Pinning Pros

25 Apr

To promote my blog, Pinning Pros, which discusses the ins and outs of the new popular social media site Pinterest, I used several social media tools. By using social media, my goal was to promote my blog and gain readership. Some attempts to publicize my blog through social media were successful, and some were less successful. Overall, though, I feel my blog benefited from my use of social media.

The first thing I did was to go into the settings on WordPress and allow it to publish to my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google Plus. By doing this, it placed small icons for each of these sites at the bottom of each of my blog posts. This way if someone was reading my blog and they wanted to share it on a social networking site, they easily could. This also enabled WordPress to automatically post my new blog posts to my Facebook profile, so my friends could see my entries.

After connecting with Facebook, I had the idea to even put some blogs I was really proud of in status updates. In these statuses, I included the link to the blog post, a brief description of the post and urged my friends to read it. These status updates definitely helped my friends know about my blog. I received several “likes” on these statuses and even a few comments. I also posted about my blog on the other social networking sites, like Twitter.

The stats for my blog site show how many views my blog has had. Overall, my blog has had 50 views, according to the stats on WordPress. The number of views on my busiest day was 11. Today, alone, I received 4 views. I also began to receive comments from strangers on my posts, which lets me know that my blog is out there for people to see and read. There is no question that the number of views I receive has increased since I started the blog and began to promote it through social media. This shows the positive effect social media has had on my blog.

I think for my first blogging attempt, social media helped others read the thoughts I was publishing. While I do not have an overwhelming following or a staggering number of views, I know I wouldn’t have had as many as I did without using these social media sites. I feel that if I were to continue to use social media to promote my blog, eventually my blog would become widely read.

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Journalism: a constant cycle of adapting

18 Apr

One major theme I’ve noticed regarding journalism today is change. After extensive reading on how journalism is constantly changing, listening to what professional journalists say about the new world of journalism and exploring new journalism sites, I have come to one simple realization. The key to being a journalist is to adapt.

The BBC’s business editor, Robert Peston, exemplifies this adaptation. He tells his journey of becoming a total journalist in the 21st century. He shares his transformation from writing one or two stories a week on a typewriter to constantly blogging, broadcasting and reporting every single day. His blog, Peston’s Picks, has become quite popular and essential to his work as a journalist. And Peston is just one of many journalists that have had to adapt. If you want to remain competitive in the world of journalism, it is crucial to adapt and change as the industry does.

And the industry is changing all of the time. Some think that the world of journalism still needs to undergo further changes to better benefit the public. Jonathan Stray feels that we need to design journalism so that it is used. He feels that the news should be something that attracts and excites readers.

Journalists are discovering and utilizing new tools every day. News organizations have begun to use Facebook to their advantage by creating fan pages. For instance, Facebook users can like Marie Claire’s Facebook page and get special information regarding the magazine. Journalists are now using Twitter to tweet stories live from the scene. Journalists and news organizations are now using Pinterest, even. News organizations can create boards promoting their brand, like the Today Show board does. There is a world of opportunity for journalists to enhance their storytelling with these new online sites, and the smart, adaptive journalists are taking advantage of them and thriving.

Whether it is on an individual level, organization level or industry level, things are changing. Adapting is key. Those who open their minds and adapt have the chance to thrive in an exciting new industry that is full of new possibilities. Those who choose to stay rigid and practice the ways of the past will undoubtedly fall behind. Journalists today who want to be successful need to embrace these changes and adapt.

Case Study 10: Wordle in journalism

18 Apr

Wordle is a unique site that generates word clouds. You can paste your latest column or someone else’s latest story and create a visual display of the words used in the piece. The cool thing is that Wordle will display the most used words in the text in the largest font. Therefore, when looking at the word cloud, it is easy to tell which words played a main role in the work.

For example, as president, Obama has given three State of the Union messages. In his first address in 2010, he repeats words like Americans, people, year, now, America, families, businesses, work, know, knew and time. In his second address, Obama uses words like people, new, make, American, jobs, last, government and years. In the third address, he uses words like American, America, jobs, people, new, years and energy the most. So, we can sense a certain theme in the words he uses most frequently in his State of the Union messages. There are certain prominent words he consistently uses from speech to speech, such as America, people, year and now. But, the vocabulary he uses does change in the speeches. In the first address, his vocabulary is very hopeful and determined. Words like even, continue, many, hard and now create an air of hope and prosperity. In the second message, he uses more words like business, innovation, research and technology. The use of this vocabulary creates a feeling of urgency to be the best and better our country. Here, Obama’s words feel like a parent nagging and pushing their child to be better. The third address contains words like gas, tax, home, working, pay and help. This vocabulary has a more real-world feel. Obama is using words that refer to today’s issues and problems. So, basically, Obama seems more idealistic and hopeful earlier in his addresses but then turns more realistic and focused on today’s problems in his later addresses. This progression and change is made clear by the vocabulary used in his State of the Union addresses.

Wordle is a useful tool because it allows you to pick up on the main message and tone of a work. The vocabulary used plays a large part in creating the overall tone and message. Wordle tells you which vocabulary is used and which words are most prevalent in the writing. It is a really quick, easy way to analyze a passage of writing. In journalism, Wordle could be used to evaluate your own work before publishing it. This way you could see if the tone created by the words you used is what you intended. You could also use it to analyze the stories of others. Perhaps if many have already written about a breaking news story that you are now assigned to write about, you could use Wordle to analyze the word usage in the other stories. That way you could be sure to use different words to ensure that your story is original and stands out.

Social media in the world of journalism

11 Apr

Today social media is everywhere, including newsrooms across the country. You can read a copy of your favorite newspaper on your Kindle or iPad, watch ABC news on YouTube, leave comments on online news stories, listen to a podcast from National Public Radio radio, participate in an online discussion hosted by the Washington Post on the election, and even receive tweets of breaking news directly to your phone from CNN. Yes, social media has become a big part of our lives and an even bigger part of the world of journalism.

Social media has presented journalists with so many new ways to report a story and communicate with readers. It is evident that social media is expanding the world of journalism and helping it flourish in new ways. While some new organizations still don’t have the hang of social media, others are excelling. These innovative journalists are using social media to their advantage and seeing results. These journalists have made the effort to understand social media and have learned to harness its power. They are using social media to discover trends, find new story ideas, connect with readers, find sources, give a voice to readers and share stories.

Some feel that a new age of journalism is finally emerging. According to Nieman Journalism Lab’s Burt Herman, in the coming year social media journalism will finally mature. This new social media journalism is decentralized, real-time, collaborative and curated. Along with a new age of journalism emerging, there is also a new creed for 21st century journalists. WIth so many resources and options for communicating the news to readers, journalists now have more responsibility than ever. It is exciting to watch this change in the world of journalism take place and to see what incredible things journalists will do with these new social media tools.

Two new tools that are valuable to journalists are Google Trends and Google Correlate. Below, I have included the graphs from my two searches. These tools are very easy to use and could be valuable to journalists when reporting on a story. For example, trend stories always make good stories because they draw conclusions about the world around us. Or, if a reporter ever needed to see if two topics were related to help a story, he or she could see if there was a correlation between the two with Google Correlate.

Media Ride-Along Report: The Boise Guardian

5 Apr

David R. Frazier, founder and sole proprietor of The Boise Guardian, is a man on a mission. The 66-year-old award-winning photographer and blogger founded the Guardian in 2005, out of what he called “necessity and frustration.” His objective is to give the residents of Boise a voice, while keeping the city honest. Although Frazier may be considered a thorn in the side of the city council, he has been successful in the courts and is raising political awareness in the community. Frazier has thus far sent half a dozen people to jail, had a court case named after him following a successful lawsuit and won a $3,000 award from the Sam Adams Alliance. His extensive knowledge of the federal constitution has enabled him to hold the city accountable to its laws and stipulations. For example, when the city announced it was going to build a $20 million police station with taxpayers’ dollars, Frazier pointed out that Idaho law first requires a vote of the people, unless the structure or measure is ordinary or necessary. Appearing as his own attorney, he fought the city and won. This victory earned him a fiery reputation and added credit to his name.

On its website, the Guardian claims no affiliation with any religious group or political party. “If you value the rule of law, free speech, truth, honesty, and a voice in your government, the Guardian is your friend,” it reads. Frazier has no agenda, other than to raise awareness in his community. He is the only writer for the website and receives news tips from people at least once a day. Anonymity is OK with Frazier, but he checks every tip thoroughly before reporting on it. The same principle is applied to the comment section on his website, where false accusations or inaccurate information is deleted. Only constructive narratives that add substance to the story are permitted to remain.

The Guardian is currently run through donations only. Although the site has no ad revenue as of now, Frazier doesn’t rule out the possibility. “There’s always that potential of gaining advertising. We get between 1,500 and 2,500 hits per day that are unique visits, and the vast majority of those are educated people in the demographic,” he said.

Journalism runs in Frazier’s blood. “I’m an old newspaper guy. Third generation and my grandfather and father were both newspaper people and editors.” He has freelanced for the NY Times and Time magazine, among others, and he also worked for the local Boise newspaper from 1968-1973. Now, though, his “hobby” is The Guardian, written to fill the void of the local “legacy” media. “With the cutbacks in newsrooms, nobody covers anything anymore unless it’s handed to them on a platter,” Frazier said. However, he has no intention of replacing the day-to-day local newspaper. Instead, he points out and publishes the ills of the city. Lawmakers and city councilmen are held responsible for their actions while on Frazier’s watch. His job, in his own words, is “to be the name, the Guardian, to let people know when something’s crooked and where it’s bad.”

Adjusting to survive: the future of the news

4 Apr

News and the typical newsrooms news has always been produced in are changing. Today, things are not as cut and dry as they used to be. With new technology and digital media, the lines are blurring. New approaches to producing the news are popping up. Some are simply using a dorm room as their news headquarters and making use of social media tools. This new, innovative way of reporting the news presents competition for the traditional news gatherers. Their old way of doing things mostly in print and operating one-dimensionally from a central newsroom is not the wave of the future. Some feel that if these traditional news organizations don’t adapt, they will soon become extinct.

There are definite differences between the new news operations starting and the old ones. These new organizations are utilizing every online resource available to bring the news to readers. By having their content mostly online, this makes their news more easy accessible to readers. This is one of the reasons why digital news and media have become so popular among readers. In fact, some people are starting entirely online news websites. There are even sites like the Bleacher Report who draw heavily on reader-based content, as well as their own writing. These newbies are blowing some old media organizations out of the water with their innovative techniques.

The differences are really highlighted when comparing two organizations, who cover the same beat but have taken different approaches. Penn State University has witnessed these differences first hand with the rivalry between a campus news blog and the official university newspaper. The Onward State has used the powers of social media to become a worthy competitor with The Daily Collegian. Their different tactics when giving readers the news truly defines the current growing pains of the news industry.

If the old organizations don’t begin to change at least somewhat, then they are sure to be overshadowed by these new organizations and eventually die out. The bottom line is no one gets excited about something old when there is something new and different to be excited about.

Case Study 9: 3 or 4 dead?

3 Apr

This is obviously a very touchy subject. There are both the topics of religion and morality that come into play here. As a reporter, the goal is to report the straight facts in an unbiased way. If I was the editor of this story, I would try to have the story be as neutral as possible. Maybe to start with, it might help to take out the specific number of people killed in the headline. The headline could instead say something like, “Grandfather charged in blaze that killed his family member.” This way there is nothing potentially controversial in the headline, and the story can explain that there were three actually deaths and one unborn fetus killed. I think this removes some of the bias. Then, I would just try to have the story report the facts from there. I would make sure there were many quotes from reliable sources as to the actual events. By doing these things, I think the story should remain largely unbiased and trustworthy.