What about our rights?

May 13th, 2013

I was shocked to read about the U.S. Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records from journalists. They were taken from AP reporters, despite a letter of protest sent to the U.S. Attorney General from the AP president. It is speculated that the records were used in connection to a story about an al-Qaida plot.

Without going into much detail about the situation, from an ethical standpoint I have to completely disagree with what the Justice Department has done. Our job as journalists is to be independent, and independent from the government. We are meant to be watchdogs serving the public.

When the government steps in like this, especially with a secretive nature, it implies that journalists do not have the First Amendment protection they necessitate to be all that reporters are meant to be. Especially with the nature of our technological-centered world, getting private information like phone records and emails seems too easy for the government. Do our ever-growing and advancing technologies qualify for less First Amendment rights? I should say not.

More on social media

May 5th, 2013

(Jason Collins)

Recently a famous basketball player, Jason Collins, came out to be the first openly gay player in the NBA. Although that is big news in and of itself, I want to focus more on one aspect of the aftermath. Although I post of social media often, it has such a large influence on journalism today, it is impossible not to focus on it often.

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http://storify.com/Maddroz/tragedy-in-bangladesh-could-have-been-prevented#publicize

 

I recently read an article that got me thinking about online audience interaction. In honor of “Tornado Week”, The Weather Channel is letting people on Twitter control the amount of wind they have in their office. What I mean is, every time someone hashtags #TornadoWeek in a tweet, the wind will become more fierce in the offices of The Weather Channel, stimulating that of a tornado. They even have a live feed of their offices, showing the increase of wind, and chaos it is causing.

Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Z-KZsXMD8gw

All of this got me to thinking of ways that News sites can have fun interaction with their audience, and how this can increase traffic and community. I think what Weather Channel is doing is fantastic. It is using a wonderful tool to promote Tornado Week, as well as build community in their social media family. Tweeters have to work together to make the wind as chaotic as possible (one million hashtags would equal out to the winds of an F5 tornado).

Although I have written other posts worrying about the effects of social media in the news industry, this has made me reconsider my stance. If more news sites can come up with fun, exciting ways like this to interact with their audiences, they will be taking steps in the right direction.

My last post revolved around social media, and I can’t help but to continue with this theme after the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Very soon after social media sites were blowing up with news about the incident, and soon after that speculations went viral about who did it. Some people cried terrorism, and many were determined to help find the person/people responsible.

Although they had the best intentions in mind, the social media community on Reddit jumped to a conclusion far too early in the game, and wrongly accused a man as being responsible for the lethal explosions in Boston. Sunil Tripathi had disappeared a month prior to the explosions, and allegedly looked similar to a grainy picture the FBI had released of “suspect 2″. With little speculation, members of the Reddit community felt they had enough evidence to declare him the man responsible.

Due to the power of the Reddit community, Twitter exploded with reporters and others naming tTripathi as the man responsible. As we now know, Tripathi had nothing to do with explosions. Although Reddit issued a personal apology to the family of the accused, the damage cannot be undone.

This story makes me even more cautious with social media in the world of journalism. In the days of powerful newspaper, breaking news came with the morning paper. Nowadays, it can come at any second and it seems people are itching to be the first to tweet or post new information. However, this can cause journalists to jump the gun, such as they did with the death of Joe Paterno.

Reporting incorrect information can really hinder the credibility of a journalist. Though social media is an excellent resource, it can also be a journalists demise if not used responsibly.

 

Social media sites have been an immense help to market articles, and share them to audiences world wide. Facebook and Twitter enables online publications to reach more people, and interact with their readers. These tools have helped build online communities, and enable people to give journalists feedback. All of this sound wonderful, but the social media that brings out the good, can also lead to the bad with just one wrong step.

I was reading an article recently that sparked this blog post, and it made me very aware of just how careful we must be with social media. In summary, the article addresses people in various positions such as teachers, politicians, professional athletes, and even workers at Domino’s, who lose their jobs over things they posted on Facebook or Twitter. Some of the incidents were quite terrible, and firing the employees was well justified. However, there were some incidents that were far too innocent, and the people did deserve to lose their job.

For example, one woman lost a teaching position after posting pictures of herself with drinks in hand. Her Facebook profile was set to private, and although no students had seen the pictures, she was still let go from her job.

As an undergraduate journalism major, I know I will be working a lot with Social Media in the near future. Actually, I already have a position working for Warhawk Fitness that requires me to work with Facebook and Twitter quite a bit. As great of a tool that it is, I have never realized just how important it is to be cautious about what we post. At times, it is very helpful to take risks, and post items that will really get the audiences’ attention. However, there is obvious a line that cannot be crossed. The scary part is figuring out where the line is, so as not to get too close to it.

 

Recently, The Oregonian  made the brave decision to begin sending out a new weekly publication called the Beaverton Leader to cover local news. This is a print paper, delivered for free, with an advertising insert included. Bold move, or bad move? 

According to The Oregonian’s editor, Peter Bhatia, this weekly is an attempt to have, “effective community-level journalism and advertising.” I completely agree with this statement. However, the article I read on this topic seems to have a voice of disagreement with the publication. The article states, “Apparently [The Oregonian] missed the industry memo to stop the presses and get out of the print business.”  Read the rest of this entry »

 

It seems nowadays that younger generations are losing quality writing skills.  This is exemplified with the less-than-literate “text talk” used for sending messages via cellphone and online. –Brb –Idk –wat –‘your’ in place of ‘you’re’…these are just some examples of the short hand language, and misspellings used in the digital world.

Recently, I read an article addressing the importance of picking the right clips to send to possible employers when applying for journalism jobs. It is vital to showcase talent, knowledge and appreciation for technical and creative writing skill. However, as much as the employer may find this impressive, will the audience be able to follow suite? Currently, I do not see this as a dilemma. There is still a hefty part of the population that appreciates a good story with valuable news.  Read the rest of this entry »

Internet life

March 18th, 2013

In the year 2013, we now use the internet more than ever. We use it to stay connected with loved ones who live thousands of miles away, we use it to find the latest diet trend, to stay up-to-date on  news or to find recipes for baked goods. People rely very heavily on the internet, and a recent article I read has led me to believe this powerful tool could eventually also result in a catastrophe.

You will note in the article linked above, the author speaks of how safe the internet was back in 1982. Internet users were few, and thought of as smart and reliable. The internet overall was never considered a safe place, so it was the responsibility of the users to be trustworthy and keep the environment and community safe. Now, however, Scientist Danny Hillis who was part of the safe internet community back in the 80’s, does not think the people who populate the web presently are as reliable as they were back then. Now, Hillis describes the ever-growing internet populations as “bad and foolish people”.  There are many privacy and security gaps that hackers can get into, and people have tons of personal information online just waiting to be revealed and used for others’ benefits.
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Recently, an English boxer called out a man on Twitter, after the man made negative comments towards him. Apparently, sports trolls have became an increasing problem, with quite a few people utilizing social media to taunt athletes. Apparently, Curtis Woodhouse had zero tolerance for it. After losing his country’s light welterweight title a man began tweeting comments about Woodhouse, saying that he was “a complete disgrace”, etc. Woodhouse initially retaliated with his own trash talk, but quickly decided that was not enough.

Woodhouse began tweeting to his followers, asking for a name, picture and address for the man harassing him. He succeeded, sending the man into a scared frenzy. Woodhouse told the man he would be coming to his home to “discuss” the negative comments the man had made. He even tweeted a picture of the street sign leading up to his house, proving he was nearby. Woodhouse did not go as far as to knock on the man’s front door, but he definitely got his point across.

What this brings about is a sincere fear. Web journalism sometimes calls for encouraging audience members to participate and interact with the site via comments on posts, as well as through social media such as Facebook or Twitter. However, this may also bring about trolls such as what Woodhouse encountered. Is this a worry that should be weighed with the benefits of audience interaction? Encouraging audience feedback and connection through social media is a great way to reach out to our viewers. However, this could also bring about a lot of negative feedback, or even harassment towards specific journalists. Will this discourage individuals from stepping too far into the spotlight? Or, will it cause audience members to become too critical of content, knowing they have more free range to openly criticize journalists?

Again, I tend to post from an overly paranoid point of view, but I like to think of the worst case scenario to prepare for the real life of journalism.