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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.

-MM

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.

-MM

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

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