Technology as a Tool

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Jeff Jarvis’s “The Article as Luxury or Byproduct” makes the argument that writing an article may not be necessary for every piece of news anymore, thanks to advances in technology (like Twitter and YouTube).

Jarvis references Brian Stelter‘s experience covering the Joplin tornado.  Stelter had limited resources while in Joplin, but he was able to use Twitter to get his stories started for The New York Times.

Jarvis says although the article is not necessary for everything, it’s not an obsolete form of information.  To this, I agree.  There is so much news to cover and not enough man power to cover it in terms of writing articles.  However, advances in technology such as Twitter and blogging have provided new outlets from where information can found.

Jarvis also makes an interesting point when he basically asks why write something if it’s already been written?  Why not link to it and add to it instead of repeating it?  His answer: because (as journalists and human beings, we want our names out there).

He says, “In a do-what-you-do-best-and-link-to-the-rest ecosystem, if someone else has written a good article (or background wiki) isn’t it often more efficient to link than to write? Isn’t it more valuable to add reporting, filling in missing facts or correcting mistakes or adding perspectives, than to rewrite what someone else has already written?

We write articles for many reasons: because the form demands it, because we want the bylines and ego gratification, because we are competitive, because we had to. Now we should write articles when necessary.”

He is very clear to reiterate his stance on articles, “Let the record show that I am not declaring the article useless or dead. Just optional.”

In response to this article, Mathew Ingram wrote “No, Twitter is Not a Replacement for Journalism.”  (Ingram’s interpretation of Jarvis’s article was not well-received by Jarvis).

Like Jarvis, Ingram also uses Brian Stelter’s Joplin coverage as an example, saying, “If anything, in fact, the kind of live reporting that Andy Carvin and others do with Twitter, and the kind Brian Stelter did in Joplin, increases the need for curation and context and background and reporting. Watching the stream of thousands of tweets that Carvin produced during the uprising in Egypt was fascinating and compelling, but it was also overwhelming in terms of the sheer magnitude of data.”

While Jarvis argues the traditional news article may not be necessary for all news anymore (much like it used to be–it used to be the only source of news), Ingram defends the need for articles. Ingram claims Twitter and blogging are not replacing articles, but are tools that are changing the roles of journalists and how news is covered.

Ingram’s point reminds me of a quote from David Cage in the most recent issue of “Game Informer.” (Cage is co-CEO of Quantic Dream.  He writes and directs all of Quantic’s games.) In an interview with Cage about his most recent project, Beyond: Two Souls, he is asked about cutting-edge technology.  What he says rings true not only in video games, but in multi-media journalism, too.

Cage: “I like what it [technology] allows me to do on the creative side, but any technology, no matter how good it is, is only a tool.  It is the pen to write the book, but not the book.  If you have no vision, no idea, the best technology won’t make your game any better, just as the best pen won’t make a great book.  But if you have something to say, it gives you the means to say it better.” (His quote comes from the magazine issue, not online exclusive previously linked.)

I couldn’t agree more.  Twitter, YouTube, etc… aren’t going to ever replace articles.  Just because people publish information with them doesn’t mean the information is factual, fair, or even informative.  However, for journalists seeking to truly inform and share information, these new tools have enhanced the art of journalism and how information is shared.

Jarvis and Ingram make valid points in both their articles, but I believe David Cage hit the nail on the head with this one.


Bumpers and Teasers

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Joan Schleuder, Alice White, and Glen Cameron’s study looks at if nightly news broadcast bumpers and teasers act as primes to prepare viewers to pay more attention to certain stories when they air.  The study also examines whether or not viewers remember information better when it is presented in stories that are primed compared to stories that are not primed.

According to the article, “bumpers” are defined as “previews or some of the stories that will be covered during the broadcast.”  “Teasers” are defined as previews occurring just before commercials that “tease” viewers and show them stories that will follow the commercials.

The study discusses priming in the context of the spreading activation theory.  This theory views the mind as a “network of thoughts, feelings, and prior memories interconnected by associative pathways.”

The study’s hypotheses were: “Mean reaction time will be slower (indicating higher attention) to news stories that have been double-primed primed with teasers, or primed with bumpers than to stories that have not been primed,” and “Visual and verbal recognition scores will be higher for stories that have been double-primed, primed with teasers, or primed with bumpers than for stories that have not been primed.”

Forty-six University of Texas undergraduate communications students participated in the study for course credit.  Subjects were divided into two groups of 23 students each. Both groups watched three 20-minute newscasts containing bumpers and primes.  After each newscast, visual and verbal recognition tests were given.  One of the groups was also given a secondary task while watching the newscasts which consisted of pressing a button as fast as possible every time they heard a tone.  Attention, visual memory, and verbal memory were all measured.

Results showed a priming effect in bumped and teased stories compared to stories without bumps or teasers.  Teased stories received the most viewer attention and were remembered better than the other primes and no-primed stories.  Results showed bumpers and teasers help viewers remember verbal components of stories, but they do not help viewers remember visual components.

The article makes me wonder if I’m truly watching the news or just passively watching the news.  As with broadcast, so much of the story is visual (packages, clips, etc…).  And with more and more news being on the Internet, users can watch their news (like broadcast), read their news (like newspapers), or listen to their news (like radio).  All of these worlds come together online.

I believe it would be interesting to find research on how online news components (interactive graphics, videos, etc…) prime users or affect how much they remember about a particular story.


Schleuder, J., White, A., & Cameron, G. (1993, Fall 93). Priming effects of television news bumpers and teasers on attention and memory. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 37(4), 437

If you can’t beat them, Join them.

September 11, 2012 1 comment

In Emily Nussbaum‘s article, The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady, she follows the almost down fall of the New York Times and the changes to move toward the digital age of journalism.

While the article focused on the large scale newspaper, I believe it’s important to remember there are smaller papers all over the country (and world) who are dealing with or who have dealt with some of the same issues faced by the New York Times.  There’s the mix of the young programmers who haven’t been out of college more than 5 years with the veteran journalists and editors who will often tell you what things were like “back in their day.”

Just when people began to turn their backs to the Times, these young programmers turned the paper into something that said, “Don’t pull the plug on me, yet.  There’s still life left in here.”

David Carr, a blogger for the Times sums up many of the feelings felt by papers going digital: “This notion of ‘Let’s give it a whirl’—that’s not how we act in our analog iteration. In our digital iteration, there’s a willingness to make big bets and shoot them down if they don’t work. And yet it’s all very deadly serious. Other print websites can innovate because nobody’s watching. Here, everybody’s watching.”  Yes, everybody was watching the Times, but more people are beginning to peg a closer eye on other newspapers, whether large scale or small town.

Aron Pilhofer, one of the first team members that helped turn the Times around, says at the end of the article he hopes the Times can excite “online readers about the value of reportage, engaging them deeply in the Times’ specific brand of journalism—perhaps even so much that they might want to pay for it.”  And pay for it, they do.  The Times now offers various levels of digital subscriptions.

The team that turned the Times around definitely did something right.  However, not all newspapers have been so fortunate, and there are plenty out there who are still facing this uphill struggle.  There are also those who keep resisting the changes of going digital.  I hope those who are trying continue to try and, in time, embrace moving to the digital age of journalism and not resist the changes.  Look to the Times as an example.  And for those papers out there who are struggling more than ever and are continuing to resist the movement, well, all I can say is if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.


Look at Blogs!

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

I have to be honest, I’m not sure where to start after reading Look at Me! by Maureen Tkacik (also known as Moe Tkacik).

Let’s start with Jezebel.  I don’t know if any of you actively read Jezebel, but I’ve followed off and on since it launched in 2007.  (I mean, come on.  With a tag line of “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women” how could you not follow the site?)  Anyways, I had never put much thought into the origins of the site, other than I knew it was related to Gizmodo (which is another good site).  I found Tkacik’s article very interesting because of the her ties to Jezebel.

One point that especially stood out to me was this bit from Tkacik on the subject of her blogs at Jezebel: “But the real revelation, to me at least, was that the readers who came for Faith Hill returned for posts about the Iranian insurgency, the foreclosure crisis, military contracting, campaign finance, corporate malfeasance, the global food crisis—essentially whatever I found outrageous or absurd or interesting on a given day.”

Tkacik goes on to say, “This enabled me to more honestly confront feminist pieties and hypocrisies, write more vividly and confidently, and perhaps even challenge the stereotypes about ‘women who write about shit that happened to them.'”

Andrew Sullivan (Tkacik even mentions Sullivan in her article) also gives an insight to blogging in his article, Why I Blog.  With tomorrow (or today depending on when I get this submitted) being September 11, it’s interesting to look at what Sullivan wrote regarding 9/11.  He says, “On my blog, my readers and I experienced 9/11 together, in real time. I can look back and see not just how I responded to the event, but how I responded to it at 3:47 that afternoon. And at 9:46 that night. There is a vividness to this immediacy that cannot be rivaled by print.”

Blogs offer so many different avenues than traditional print media.  No, not all blogs are journalistic in nature, but there are a lot that are journalistic.  Sullivan points out one of the greatest things about blogs is that the readers are instantly a part of the conversation with the author.  How many times have you picked up a newspaper and had immediate access to the reporter after reading the story?  I’d guess never.  And if you do want to “comment” you have to write a letter to the editor where it will be edited before publication.  Blogs aren’t like that.  You get to say what you want when you want.  It becomes personal (Sullivan likens the relationship between blogger and readers to a friendship).

More personal is more humanizing.  Tkacik makes an excellent point in regard to making journalism personal.  She says, “By humanizing journalism, we maybe can begin to develop a mutual trust between reader and writer that would benefit both.”

Tkacik was able to write about things close to her and form a “brand” without giving up too much of who she really was.  She saw the darker side of journalism where reporters cater to the advertisers and parent companies and let themselves become too absorbed in that world.  I agree with her statement about training journalists to use their own experiences to help share the news.  When we share news with friends and family, don’t we always incorporate some little personal tid bit?

Tkacik also admits the incorporation of experience and storytelling is “a lot easier to do with the creative liberties afforded by a blog…”

Blogs aren’t going anywhere.  They’re here to stay.  They’re here to skirt the line of pure information and opinion.  They’re here to engage conversation.  Sure, journalism still isn’t quite sure how to handle blogs, but I believe it’s getting a better idea of how they fit into the overall journalistic picture.


It’s Alive!! Or is it?

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

In a 2008 article from the The New Yorker titled Out of Print: The death and life of the American newspaper, Eric Alterman brings up several points regarding journalism that are still relevant today.

One point Alderman brings up is “the nature of ‘news’ itself.”  He says, “The American newspaper (and the nightly newscast) is designed to appeal to a broad audience, with conflicting values and opinions, by virtue of its commitment to the goal of objectivity.”  Since the news has become so broad, are we really getting news or just extended headlines where if we want more information, we have to seek it out ourselves?

He also brings up the fact that many newspaper policies forbid reporters or staff to “voice their opinions publicly, march in demonstrations, volunteer in political campaigns, wear political buttons, or attach bumper stickers to their cars.”  Check out the Chattanooga Times Free Press ethics policy for an example of such restrictions.  Since this article has been written, a more recent issue probably added to ethics policies (in careers other than journalism, too) is social media profiles and posts.

Alderman also says many journalists “discount the notion that their beliefs could interfere with their ability to report a story with perfect balance.”  Objectivity seems to be a topic of constant debate within journalism.  Are they left?  Are they right?  What are they really trying to say?  No journalist is 100% objective–it’s simply impossible.  However, I believe there are journalists who are definitely better at it than others.  Objectivity also leads into questions of trust.  Can we trust where we get our news?  Alterman’s article claims most American don’t trust the news.  And cases like these don’t help the trust issues.  Do cases like those distort the image of how many journalists fabricate or copy things?–Much like does constant reporting on violent crimes lead to a distorted image of how often violent crimes actually happen?

I do not own this image. It is a stock photo, and you can get it here.

And finally, the topic of the Huffington Post was interesting.  Huffington Post is a site I use to get a large percentage of my news, but I had never really taken note of its early stages.  When Alterman’s article was written, it seemed HuffPost was still trying to find its niche on the Internet.  Was it going to be news?  Gossip?  Blogs?  Contributions?  It appears since this article’s 2008 release, the HuffPost has become much more news-oriented (even winning a Pulitzer in 2012).  Yes, the site still offers an extremely wide variety of blogs and contributions, it has definitely taken a more newsworthy shape in the last four years and appears to have made major growth in employees and reporters.  Although a lot of people still visit the site for the blogs, some people (like me) visit for the news, and I believe it was a smart move on the HuffPost to begin catering to a more “newsy” site rather than all blogs.

So with all the changes and advances in the last decade, is the newspaper dead?  I don’t believe so.  No, it may not always be the newspaper as we know it now–printed on the thick paper with the ink that turns your fingers black, but that’s because it’s evolving–going through it’s own form of Darwinism.  Who knows?  Maybe the newspaper will join the dinosaurs and become extinct, or maybe it will continue to evolve.


New Sites

August 28, 2012 1 comment

After finding the site mentioned in my previous post, and then seeing a site mentioned in our syllabus for Multimedia Writing, I thought this list might be worth sharing with everyone.

Yes, I realize the list was posted in 2009, but that doesn’t mean the sites on the list are any less valuable in the world of Multimedia Journalism.  I haven’t had the opportunity to view each site listed in depth.  However, I did glance through duckrabbit, and it may be something I start checking regularly along with the Interactive Narratives.

Oh, and are you looking for more of Phillip Toledano’s story about his family from my last post?  Check this out.


Interactive Narratives

August 27, 2012 1 comment

While searching for some interesting sites within the Multimedia Journalism and Storytelling, I came across this site.

“Ok, cool,” I thought. “I’ll search through here for some interesting stories to share with the class.”

The story I landed on was so simple.  So clean.  So touching.  It’s a story I have to share with you all.

“Days With My Father”

So many emotions swept over me while viewing this story and reading the text.  Dread, happiness, sadness, etc… I think my overwhelming show of emotion while viewing this has something to do with my dad recently overcoming throat cancer. (He was diagnosed at Stage 4 in September 2010… He was given a 20 percent chance. The cancer was a result of Agent Orange exposure during Vietnam).

I think it also has to do with the declining health of my grandparents, especially my grandfather in the recent years… months… weeks.  I’ll spare you the emotions, but it’s a constant battle with myself accepting that I cannot be in Sheridan being able to help my family.

So what with the emotions?  So this:  As storytellers, what are we doing when we decide to tell a story?  Why are we telling the story?  Are we bringing awareness to something?  Are we helping someone?  Are we trying to connect with people?  What are we doing?

I believe the answers are different for each person and for each story.  However, these are questions we should ask ourselves.  Storytelling doesn’t have to be glamorous with lots of special effects or glitzy camera shots.  Sometimes less is more.

I didn’t log on to my computer tonight looking for a story that would stick with me for the rest of my life… But I found one.



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