Media coverage of Baltimore Riots


The Baltimore riots have been dominating the news lately and as you can imagine the media has been all over it. And not just media but celebrities and social media alike have been sharing their opinions of the death of Freddie Gray. The opinions are varied because of views on race and politics but everyone is doing their best to make sure their neighbor knows exactly what they think. This blog isn’t for opinions however, it is merely to report on everything media that has happened since the riots occurred.

NBC’s coverage has been constant since the riots began and will continue to follow it until the public has lost interest. I think that this coverage, while perhaps excessive, is warranted and for the most part, on point. It is also great for a national audience to follow whenever they can. ESPN also had great coverage of the events involving the Baltimore Orioles game. Obviously, it is not ESPN’s place to report on the riots but they did a great job filling the sports community in on the game and why it was being played without any fans. I thought it was really good reporting anyway.

Social media was blowing up for days in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death and you can imagine the amount of Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos and many many other ways of sharing opinions that were launched during the riots. I don’t really think this is a great way for people to share their views because it only encourages arguments between friends but I do think it was a great way news companies to get quick information to their followers. The Baltimore Sun for example was tweeting constantly and I know it was a great way to get an update as quickly as possible. After this entire semester of studying in this class I think this is a great way to wrap up our study of social media. Was it a pit of unfounded and uneducated opinion? Yes. But more than that, the public could get updated information immediately and that would have been invaluable for families who had relatives in the middle of the riots. Social media can be a hinderance to professional journalism but it can also be a saving grace for many people.

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Baltimore Riots Escalating

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Paywalls

Our class discussion got me thinking about paywalls and whether or not they are really beneficial to the advancement of journalism in our society. Does this method of sealing off our news from the public really benefit our profession as a whole? Or does is simply alienate them further and drive them to with more fury to Facebook and Twitter for their news? I have done a lot of thinking on the topic and I’ve decided I’m not really in favor of paywalls and I’ll tell you why.

1-I’ve never really seen a product that forces a person to pay for a product before they view it. To force someone to pay to read an article before they’ve read it to me seems odd and off putting.
2- The time it takes to find a website and the article you want will take more time than most people are willing to spend. Think of it this way; if most people read less than the first paragraph of a story, why would they read any of a paywall that tells them they cannot pass without simply checking another Google search?
And finally…
3- The money. Having these paywalls up, as we learned in class, is expensive and is some cases wasteful. With newsroom budgets already suffering why take the chance they might suffer more?

I understand newsrooms feel the need to do something, anything to keep their companies running but in my opinion this is not it. This is merely a way to postpone the inevitable and meanwhile anger the few consumers they have left. I’m not sure what the answer to this problem is but paywalls are not it.

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Reporting using social media

After the post I had last week I began thinking about other social media networks and the positives and negatives involved with them. I think everyone involved in media knows by now that any kind of information gathering using social media is less than credible and worse, completely irresponsible. With that being said it is a good way to get some type of information quickly and a good way to gage the general publics interest level in something. With that being said however, in my opinion, it is better to be correct and slower, than quick and wrong. Notice I said SLOWER because being slow is still a bad quality to have in journalism. So how do you combat the quickness of live posts, tweets, or instagram pics of other reporters and still remain credible to your followers? The answer is simple; double check every fact the second you are able.

It is something that we have been taught since our first year in journalism school and is even more important now than it was then. Most of us in this class will be graduating soon and entering the field for the first time and it could be a career death sentence to be known as an irresponsible reporter. Perhaps, if you gather some esteem and prestige someday people will give you the benefit of the doubt but just starting out you’ll have to watch your back every step of the way. With that comes being patient when wanting to be the first journalist to report something. Be skeptical of everything and leave nothing to chance.

Yes, you can carve a niche for yourself in the reporting world if you are known for getting stories quickly but at what cost? How many times does a misspelled word on Facebook or Twitter eventually cause your followers to decide that perhaps they would rather find someone to read who can spell the difference between “defiantly” and “definitely.” As a studier of all kinds of media I see this everyday, by some of the most well known reporters in the business and every time I see it, I cringe. I see credible newspapers going by the wayside and other news companies tweeting and posting incorrect information all the time and, whats even worse, our generation is flocking to them with open arms! Hopefully companies will be able to figure out how to regulate this type of news generation before none of us no if what we’re reading is true or not.

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Next News Sensation?

Twitter recently unveiled Meekrat which is a live feed video application that will allow users to send their news live via video. This is another new wave of news that will allow the public to get their updates faster and hopefully more accurately.

Meekrat

Twitter has now been around for nine years and when it was initially unveiled people questioned whether it could really catch on and become the new face of instant news. Needless to say it has exceeded most peoples expectations and for good reason. It allows citizens, professionals and entire news corporations get their news out to their viewers instantly and credibly. Understandably, when news comes out this quickly their is bound to be spelling errors and possibly even fact checking errors but nonetheless it makes the viewers happy to have their news so quickly. Meekrat will only help this cause.

For starters Meekrat will allow the public to feel more connected to their news broadcaster, which is always a good thing. Take for example, someone cannot watch the upcoming NFL draft but still wants to see who their team drafted. They could follow their favorite team on Twitter and see real time on their phone who their team selects. This way there is no way that there could be any possible false reporting and you would immediately see everything that anyone watching cable was seeing.

Finally, this new app allows people to stream video that otherwise people may never get to see. Take, for example, a fire breaking out in your apartment building. This news is happening right NOW and although a fire would be a terrible life changing experience wouldn’t you want to see what was happening exactly when it was happening? This new app allows you to do just that. This new video streaming service will be the new face of instant news and again change the news reporting game.

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News Dependent on Facebook?

It’s not new that news companies rely on many other types of companies in order to stay alive. As a matter of fact, most other businesses do that as well (as I’m sure you all know). Dependencies on the printing industry, advertisers and ink suppliers have long been the bane of, and saviors of, news companies but as with all partnerships their must be some give and take. Where this begins to get dangerous however is when news companies begin to get nervous about how they are going to continue to stay profitable online and begin to depend on other companies that may or may not hurt them in the long run.

Some questions a company would have to ask when turning to Facebook as their new platform for news would be: Can you sell ads on Facebook? Can you get access to data from Facebook to keep building your company upwards? I think that although people (including myself) use Facebook way too much and it would seem a tempting way to get people to read your news, it would also cause people to associate your professional news with the news of random people simply posting on Facebook and that is a slippery slope you do not want to go down.

I understand that the New York Times was looking into exploring a relationship with Facebook and I think that, as the New York Times makes decisions, the rest of the news world follows. If the Times can figure out a way to successfully implement their online news with Facebook while continuing to uphold the quality of their journalism then I could see how a partnership with the social media site could work but I believe that will be down the road. I will say however, that I do like the creativity behind the idea. These are the kinds of out of the box ideas that will someday save the news industry.

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“Unfriended” Shows Problem with Facebook

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRhUId3gtoE

The release of the new movie “Unfriended” shows that although millions upon millions of poeple use Facebook every single day, it is far from perfect. Online bullying is a growing concern with the explosion of popularity with all types of online social media, Facebook being chief among them.

Facebook allows people of all ages to communicate with each other and in most cases that is a good thing, it allows families to keep in touch and friends to communicate with one another, especially if they don’t have a phone. This movie shows that anything you might put online will be their forever and leaves you open to criticism and critique. Obviously, this movie takes it to the extreme and no one will come back and haunt you from the grave for being mean to them over Facebook but the pain that is felt is all too real.

This movie is a great example of how real and hurtful this type of online bullying can be and I don’t know how Facebook could possibly monitor these types of situations but it probably is something they should work on. Also, the parents really need to step up and keep an eye on what their children are doing online and try and help if they are being bullied online. Facebook really can be a valuable tool to help families and friends keep in touch with one another but it does have some bad aspects about it that need to be patrolled.

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Buzzfeed Owns Viral News

Buzzfeed has really taken the internet by storm over the last few years and that was never more relevant than by “the dress” from a few weeks ago. Within minutes it had 300,000 shares and by the end of the week that number had escalated to 38 million. So how does Buzzfeed do it?

I think that first and foremost Buzzfeed has a huge advantage over traditional news companies because they do not directly make a profit over the viral content that they release. That way they are able to release only what they think will be interesting, funny or delightful and prompt the people to share it with others. Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith says “If your goal — as is ours at BuzzFeed — is to deliver the reader something so new, funny, revelatory, or delightful that they feel compelled to share it, you have to do work that delivers on the headline’s promise, and more. This is a very high bar. It’s one thing to enjoy reading something, and quite another to make the active choice to share it with your friends. This is a core fact of sharing and the social web of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other platforms.”

I think that this is a very insightful thought but one that will continue to shape the web for years to come. It is becoming increasingly clear that news companies that focus solely on how many page views they get and how many clicks they acquire will falter down the stretch. I understand that money is and always will be the driver behind what news companies choose to show but how long will that continue to drive the content behind everything. Buzzfeed is so ahead of the curve because they have found a way to give the public what they want without sacrificing the content and I think the more companies that figure out how to do that the better for digital news overall.

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My Map

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The new era of Investigative Journalism

Everyone knows that the readership of paper news is starting to dwindle and that leads to the question of what will happen to perhaps the most important part of journalism. The investigative part portion of the journalism job (as I’ve learned in college) is critical to keeping people who have a lot of power, in check. Politicians, business men, and a myriad of others will generally have free reign to do as they please, if not for, well… us. But with news staff beginning to decline, who will take over?

Table from GIJN

Decreasing resources in the newsroom rank as the no.1 biggest concern for investigative journalists and it’s easy to see why. People want to do well at their jobs, and if they do not have the means to do so, why even start in the first place? As you can see by the chart, journalists are also being targeted more and more frequently by lawyers claiming illegal activity and hackers looking for classified information, all of which make the job less and less satisfying.

This goes without saying but I’m sure that some people that love the job more than anything could overlook all of those problems if it wasn’t for the financial stress. As always, money trumps all and as advertisers become less frequent, so do journalists. I don’t want you readers to assume that I know the answer to this dilemma because I can assure you that I do not. However, if someone doesn’t come up with an answer soon, we may have a bigger problem on our hands. Powerful people doing whatever they want with no consequences and that is a world I want no part of.

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