Responsive web design

This week, we’ve been asked to look at responsive web design. Essentially, responsive web design is used so Screenshot_2013-12-16-17-00-12that a website can be accessed on various devices (mobile, laptop, tablet, etc.) without the website having to change completely; the layout of the website  stays the same, but the resolution and parts of the website are accommodated for that specific device. When looking for examples of responsive web design, my immediate thought was to look at online stores, such as American Eagle.

Traditionally, I do my  online shopping on a computer, because it’s easier for me to type in my PayPal information on a keyboard and see the products more clearly. Recently, though, I’ve found that websites like American Eagle and Forever 21 do a great job optimizing responsive web design. It’s just as easy to scroll through their clothing on my smartphone as it on a computer, and it’s more convenient. When a website uses responsive web design, it makes it easier for the user. They don’t have to enlarge images or text; it’s all formatted through a grid system to make the website accessible, no matter what device is used.

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Garth Brooks Story on Storify

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Tweeting the news

This week, we’re looking at social media, and the role it plays in reporting the news. I think using social media to report the news is a great idea. I also think that Twitter is the best format when reporting the news. With the availability of only 140 characters, a news story can be summed up; short and to the point. Twitter’s mobile version is extremely easy to use and very accessible. Twitter is also frequently updated. The more people you follow, the more information you’re going to receive.

The idea of re-tweeting is also a great concept. A reporter can tweet a story, their followers can re-tweet, and so on. Twitter truly creates a social network that can expand much quicker than Facebook. Stories can be shared Facebook, but I feel that Twitter is more efficient. Another feature of Twitter that I love is that you can interact so quickly with people, whether they’re your best friend, a politician, a celebrity, etc. I’ve had the opportunity to exchange tweets with celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and Justin Pierre, from the band Motion City Soundtrack.

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The other part of Twitter that makes it great for reporting is the whole system of followers. As discussed in the commentary, Facebook does have a “subscribe” option, but from personal experience, I haven’t subscribed to anything on Facebook. I’ve “liked” pages and I have Facebook friends, but for newsworthy content, I follow people on Twitter. I just think being “friends” with a news corporation would be strange; I would rather follow them on Twitter and be able to share their content with my followers.

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SEO headlines

This week, we were asked to look at what makes a good headline, especially when making an online article headline. The key is SEO; search engine optimization. I feel like since my first semester at UW-Whitewater, in every journalism class, SEO has been brought up. It’s important because it helps people find your article quickly and efficiently. The best way to make sure a headline can be found at the top of a search engine is to use commonly used words to describe the subject of the article, but also use specifics with full names and unique elements that can be utilized to specify the article even more.

SEO isn’t only for news articles, but also in searching for certain files on the internet. For example, this last week for my capstone class, we had to do an assignment on a felony case file. I didn’t have time to go to the courthouse, so I googled a felony case that I knew happened in Jefferson County: the Diane Borchardt case. At first, I just simply typed in “Diane Borchardt Jefferson County” and was given a lot of links to the made-for-TV movie that was produced after she had her husband murdered. Then, I thought about the easiest way to find an actual case file, and instead typed in “Diane Borchardt Case File” and the first thing that popped up was a website that had the complete backstory, a PDF of her case file, and multiple articles about the trial and case. Using more specific terms while searching, and having links with a good SEO is key for websites to get more views.

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Comment moderation

This week, we were asked to look at different forms of comment moderation for websites, and discussed how comment moderation is still a gray area in legal terms. I agree with the law that comments cannot be edited. I think when looking at the different forms of comment moderation, click to see comments and the comment voting are the two best options.

With click to see comments, it gives the user a choice if they want to read through the comments or not. This makes me think of BuzzFeed. On the mobile version of the website, the comments are not shown at all. I use the mobile version a lot more than looking at the website on a computer screen, so I’m used to not seeing any comments. When I look at the desktop version of the website, the bottom of the page is bombarded with comments from Facebook…some funny or thoughtful, but most have something negative to say. I think BuzzFeed should utilize the click to see comments system, because you have to scroll through all the comments on the bottom of the page otherwise.I like the voting system, because it reinforces which comments are actually worthwhile, and which ones are just plain pointless.

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Online Media Law

This week, our topic was online media law. I took Laws of Mass Communication last Fall semester, and it actually taught me a lot about the laws of journalism, especially about defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement. With the Internet, it’s so easy to infringe on copyrighted work. Just look at Google Images…yes, those images are all over the Internet and people use them freely, without even thinking about who took or created the image their using, and how they are liable for infringing on said creator’s work. I know here at UW-Whitewater, we have more leniency in using images from search engines like Google, because we are using them for academic purposes. But, on other websites, copyright infringement happens all the time.

For example, I’m an avid user of Tumblr; I reblog images of my  favorite musicians, actors, song lyrics,etc. I never stop and think about how these images are indeed copyrighted and taken by professional photographers. However, I’m not using these images to profit from anything (like the Perez Hilton case in the NewsU course)…I’m just simply “collecting” images that I really enjoy. I’ve pinned images from Tumblr onto Pinterest, and just recently, I received an email from Pinterest that one of my pins was taken off the site because of copyright issues; the owner of the image had found it on Tumblr, where they had not posted it…someone on Tumblr had used their image without their permission. It just goes to show that when you think no one notices their image being used without permission, it actually does get caught. Thankfully, I wasn’t at fault because I wasn’t the original poster on Tumblr.

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Paying for News: The Paywall

This week, we’re discussing the monetizing journalism, and the use of paywalls when it comes to online journalism. I find that paywalls may work for some newspapers, depending on the target audience for the specific newspaper, or its online counterpart. The best example is the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal is meant for a well-educated, financially successful, wealthy audience. Ideally, they can afford to pay for their news.

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Especially in the Wall Street Journal’s case, they have news and information that can be crucial for its subscribers, such as stock market information. There are accessible stories on the Wall Street Journal’s homepage, but today’s edition of the paper is blocked and you’re left with having to pay for the news. Like I said, I think the Wall Street Journal wins the paywall war, mainly because their subscribers (or their companies) are willing to pay.

Other papers, like the New York Times, use a porous paywall. I think it can be successful when there are dedicated readers of the New York Times, who are going to read more than the allotted 20 free articles a month. I don’t think really local papers could be so successful, mostly because I feel that readers would shy away from the online version and just go pay the 75 cents for the physical paper. Paywalls can be successful, but only when the readers are willing to pay. It can be too easy to look for news elsewhere for free, unless if there is exclusive content from the specific online newspaper, like the Wall Street Journal.

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Measuring Audience

This week, we’ve been asked to look at how to measure website audiences, and how stories become popular. Search Engine Optimization and so-called “link bait,” always seem to work, as mentioned in the commentary. An example of of using keywords, or numbers, seems to always be relevant when BuzzFeed is posting stories. Personally, I’m always drawn in to any story that has to do with the ’90s and ’00s, because those are the two decades where nostalgia hits the hardest for me.

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Although I wasn’t a teenage in the ’90s, plenty of my friends’ sisters were, so I remember a lot of this stuff. Anyway, I think BuzzFeed gets a lot of traffic because of how the website is organized.  There are sub-categories, such as BuzzFeed Rewind, which specializes in nostalgia. Also,  social media plays such a huge role in gaining an even larger audience, and BuzzFeed makes it so simple to share their stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, by having an icon link right on the post. I believe that a good layout, a variety of stories, and easily share-able links contribute to increased traffic.

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Databases & Spreadsheets

This unit of databases and spreadsheets really showed me how much work journalists have to put into making a visual representation of data they collect. Trying to figure out the Google Maps activity was difficult, but it was rewarding to see my top five travel destinations with descriptions, mapped out right in front of me. Journalists can use these kind of applications to map data for articles and blog posts. The spreadsheet mapper is easy to use once all the errors are corrected, and the tutorial is properly followed.

Using a spreadsheet to create visual data makes it easier for the audience to comprehend the data. The data can be presented in a way that is visually appealing, and can pertain to a specific audience.

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My Top Five Travel Destinations


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