Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lecture 7: Headline Practise

Guiding Ideas:
  • What is the purpose of a headline?
  • What are the different types and styles of headlines in modern newspapers?
  • How have computers changed the methodology employed in headline writing?
  • What makes an effective headline?
Critical questions:
  • What makes a headline "good" or "bad?"
  • What is the difference between news headlines and feature headlines?
  • How do you know if a headline will fit in the allotted space?
  • What kinds of questions can I ask myself in determining whether my headline is effective?

Activity 1:
Read the following headlines collected in the 2007 edition of The Lower Case (Columbia Review of Journalism). Note, as a comment, what is incorrect or humorous in these headlines:

Guest-worker plan proposed
Texas police want bullet lodged in teenager's head
The (London) Independent 12.23.06
Fifth Avenue clogged with police shooting protestors
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.) 12.17.06
U.S. pilots in Brazil crash back at home
The Press of Atlantic City 12.10.06
Will hanging help Bush?…

Activity 2: 

What are the elements of headline writing? What are some purposes of headlines?  Add your answers in the form of a WORDLE (word cloud). Then, post your Wordle as a blog post. You'll need to create your Wordle, then save it to the public gallery and finally, copy the HTML code that appears at the bottom of the page. You'll then paste the HTML code into your blog (when in "Edit HTML" mode, NOT in the "compose" mode). 

Your blog title should be: Headline Wordle, Student Name. The labels for your post should be: lecture 7, review, headlines.  

Here is an example of a Wordle that I did using information from Chapter 9:

Wordle: Importance of Writing Headlines

Activity 3:

Go to the Huffington Post and read a few articles and then identify elements of strength and/or weaknesses you find in the headlines. Then read a short feature article, and similarly think about its headline. Examine differences in style, sensitivity, when humor is appropriate, inappropriate. Note the use of verbs, need for extensive "shorter word" vocabulary, etc. Then evaluate the headlines according to the "Characteristics of Good Headlines" in Chapter 9. Add your thoughts as a comment to this lecture post.

Activity 4:

Compare headlines from the Huffington Post with column width, typographical specs and spacing (how the headline must also fit within predetermined space) as explained in Chapter 9. Did you find any headlines that were too long or too short? How might you change them to fit with rules noted in Chapter 9? Add a comment here.

Activity 5:
Review the vocabulary list on page 181. Note the importance of shorter synonyms to ensure clear and precise headlines. Choose ten words from the vocabulary list and add at least two other synonyms not noted in Chapter 9. Also, include two or three words that don't appear in this list along with your own shorter synonyms. Add your vocabulary information to a blog post. Title: Vocabulary Builder. Labels: lecture 7, headlines, stylistics. Remember to include an image in your post.

Activity 6:
If time permits, we can finish the class by adding to your E-Portfolios. You may choose to edit posts you have already written, or begin a new one.

Practise spelling and review vocabulary
Come to class with a topic to add to your E-Portfolio

Note: Question mark sign image from Illinois Wesleyan University and newspapers image from 24/7 Wall St.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Evaluating “The Edmonton Journal,” and Bias Activity, Matt White

I chose to evaluate "The Edmonton Journal" because it's local and it's reliable. Using the tips found on page 99 I came to the following conclusions.
  • The overall content and purpose of this website is news. It is there to inform the public. It includes news from many authors and covers a variety of subjects. You can check for accuracy by comparing the articles with other news related sites, as well as doing some of your own research into the subject through reliable web pages. If you come across anything inaccurate, you are able to comment on the article, or contact an editor via email.
  • Comparing this site with others of the same nature is a good way to check for accuracy. It's rare that you would find articles the differ greatly from articles posted on other reliable sites.
  • The authors themselfes are professional journalists who answer to a code of ethics. Any citizen partcipation or freelance writing is noted, so readers are always aware of the source.
  • Lastly, the links used on this site usually lead to other rebutalble websites, but the user should always be aware of where they're getting their information from. Just because you have been linked from a reliable site, doesn't mean you're going to one

Bias Activity

I chose to focus more on the initial bias of an article instead on focusing on the entire piece.

In The National Post article, there is strong evidence of bias in the word use and balance. This article has many subtle words that direct the reader towards the feeling of “Republications bad; Democrats good.” In the first paragraph the word “derailed” is used to describe the republications effort to stop the bill from passing. As if they are causing a train crash by voicing their opinion or doing what they feel is right. The second paragraph then states that Obama’s health plan aims to “provide cover for 31 million uninsured Americans and crack down on exorbitant premium hikes by insurers.” This does a great job of painting a lovely picture of Obama saving all those poor and helpless Americans from the big bad capitalist giants. Using these two examples so high up in the article instantly gives us a feeling on the topic. We are steered in the direction of favoring this health care bill before we even have a chance to dissect what we’re reading. The article then goes on to give facts supporting the health plan and exhibiting the massive expenses of health care today. It’s not until we’re roughly three quarters of the way through the article do we begin to see an attempt at providing a balanced piece. Lastly, I thought adding the fact that “The United States spends more than double what Britain, France and Germany do per person on health care,” was kind of funny since the article was written by Tangi Quemener, Agence France-Presse.

In the Fox News article, even the headline itself contains a hint of bias: “Controversial Health Plan Provision Aims to Protect Consumers.” Using the word “controversial” in the headline immediately gives the impression that this health plan has flaws and people are debating on it. As the first paragraph takes form, we are given the information that “Republicans have been invited to post their own ideas for reform,” as well as the general public, on a White House website. Why is there a special mention of republicans? The second paragraph then begins with “One of the proposals Republicans are expected to take aim at is the idea of a rate hike authority that will oversee insurance premiums.” I’m already seeing a problem with this new health plan. Surprisingly, the rest of the article does a descent job of providing both sides of the argument. Using examples and quotes from both sides gives the reader a fair view of the issue.

I stumbled upon the One News Page website and this article through a link on The Edmonton Sun website and I’m quite glad I did. I think writing shorter articles is something not often taken advantage of. The article is in fact so short, that I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not it contains bias.

“Barack Obama today revealed the health care proposal he’ll be taking into bipartisan meetings this week, a $950 billion bill that hews closer to the Senate’s model than the House’s. The plan seeks to resolve some of the contentious issues between the two bills, cutting, for example, the special Medicaid...”

Chapter 5: Critical Interpretation, Matt White

This chapter covers the reliability of reference sources, Indexes (what they are and how to use them), how to use internet search engines and discussion groups, Usenet newsgroups, and finally, the role and function of commercial electronic databases. The author of the text wants to get the message across of how important accuracy is in journalism, and reliable ways of obtaining accurate information on the internet. I see this information being valuable to anyone who is interested in getting accurate information off the internet. I see it being especially useful for those who may not be so familiar with the internet, and haven’t already developed the skills necessary to properly use the internet for info.

Structures and Features
I find he structure this particular chapter follows to be very mundane. It is roughly 15 pages of paragraph after paragraph after paragraph, with no pictures, charts, or anything significant enough to give my poor eyes a break. There is a small attempt of breaking up the text with bullet lists, greyed boxes, and bold subheads, but it doesn't come close to overcoming the intense amount of tiny text. The design of the text seems to suggest that it was written to be presented in an academic textbook format (go figure). The one thing that could be considered an image was the "How to Unravel a Web Address" box. It did exactly what the title suggests by pointing out the various points of a web address and what they each represent and what they're used for. The language used is clearly formal/academic.

I think that the text is very fair. It does an excellent job of giving an extremely in-depth look at finding reliable information on the internet. As far as people being seen in good or bad lights, the text does give some bias, but it is rightly so. The text points out the reliability of academic or professional sites over amateur or citizen pages. While this may shed an unfair light on all the citizen information out there that is accurate, the insane amount of garbage on the internet requires us to surf cautiously and be sceptical of anything not done by professionals. The text in this chapter serves the interest of anyone with reliable information on the internet. Even if the information is presented via citizen participation, reliable information is being praised throughout this entire chapter, and that can only help the accurate citizen.

I guess you could say that the people who are "seen but not heard" in the chapter would be all those people who have contributed information to massive databases. These databases are primarily used for fact checking as opposed to enjoyable reading. This tends to draw attention away from the piece as a whole or the authors themselves. It leads to skimming for facts instead of reading the piece as a hole. I would say that this text would obviously not be intended for anyone who isn't interested in the subject at hand. I don't feel that the text left out any impertinent information; in fact, I thought it went a bit too far and actually should have included less information.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Citizen Journalism and The Future Of Journalism, Kate

There is an over abundance of discussion on "new media": mainly debates on the effects it has had and continues to have on the new wave of information sharing, but never do these discussions seem to end with much of an answer: only reaffirmation of the fact that we do not know what will come next. The market of the future is just that, unpredictable, unstable, and next to impossible to navigate with certainty. What is obvious is that the internet, and everything that comes with it, has rapidly changed the way people communicate, and this change is permanent. As long as there is internet, people will look to it to find current news, socially interact with peers and find out what is happening in their communities and around the world. Many members of the established and credited news sources are upset with the number of people who are deemed incredible and even possibly bias that are now able to gain a following and become a major news source, even without basic reporting credentials or training. But is this new wave of citizen journalism bad? Or could it be the serious deterioration of newspaper revenues and the instability of the careers of media moguls that is causing all the upset?

At the FTC's two day workshop discussion on the future of journalism, Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post, noted that the contributions of citizen journalists who are unpaid but work with technologies to supply news to the public are "constantly mocked and derided by the critics of new media" because they don't understand that this social change has caused those who may have been passive observers into becoming active participants in their world. Those who blog or find other ways to share news information online have been given a platform from which to speak and seized the opportunity to transform in a way which Huffington describes as "couch potato to self-expression". A comment not likely to bode well with many of the FTC members in the workshop, members who are noted as experts and high profile executives in the journalism world, many of whom are vying for ways to hold onto the hierarchical control and the current structure of journalism which has been built up over time, and is now quickly deteriorating due to the multifaceted opportunity's available online for citizen's free expression and access to audience via the web: herein lies the issues of "new media".

One of the first bloggers to hit notoriety on the level of a house hold name was Perez Hilton, who started his celebrity gossip blog in 2004. Many debate the credibility, personal bias and sensationalism Hilton puts into the articles and the photograph doodles on his blog, but with comparison to relative news sources such as US Weekly and Star Magazine, it is senseless to say that Hilton has not being doing his job correctly. Hilton has the online blog advantage of to the minute updates, and the fashion in which he supplies news to his followers has been an undeniable success. But Perez Hilton is not a journalist. Or is he?

Historically, journalism is a fifth estate created out of necessity for the everyman. Working to create a check and balance system for the people in regards to government and business, as well as providing an information flow for the public to be informed on local and global world events. The new wave of citizen journalists and bloggers have been attacked for lacking in credibility and being jaded with bias in comparison to those who run newspapers which are held to a standard of credibility and have a reputation to uphold. Yet, for years now television news channels have been asking those who witness events to film them, take pictures, and send them in for the station to use on their shows. News sources of all kinds have been seeking out eye witnesses and subject 'experts' to take note from and then compile their stories from. Now the power is in the hand of those eye witnesses and experts and those embodied with eager curiosity to seek out information and to compile their own drafts of what is happening in the world and let others know. If you hear off a riot in Iran you no longer need to simply see what CBC has to tell you about it, because the people in Iran have posted blogs, pictures, videos and tweets about what they are in the midst of, long before CBC has gotten their facts straight.

I think the biggest change the internet has brought about towards creating the future of journalism is that the gatekeepers, those who control the flow of news to the people, have changed. The people of the world are creating and sharing the news as it happens. The public is accessing this information and can openly and instantly give their opinion on the matter. The gatekeepers no longer need to sit in nice offices and deliberate over which story should be deemed most newsworthy or grapple with alliterations to make the most eye-catching top-selling headlines. The gatekeepers of the future need to be nurtured and fostered in the minds of the individual now more than ever. The public needs a solid basis of understanding in what credibility means, what research means, and the intellectual capability to see differences between truths and falsities. So when you hear the next discussion about "new media", which likely will be centered on how newspapers can (not) make money off the internet, filter what you have heard about the evils of citizen journalism and give the world your opinion on it.

Image Source:

Citizen Journalism and the Future of Journalism, Tyler Grant

Photo courtesy of

The shift from paper to pixels has had a profound effect on that state of media. Critics of the new media scoff at the idea that anyone can be a journalist. But the reality is that anyone can post newsworthy events to the internet via blogs, or social media websites such as Twitter. The change in media formats isn't going to stop, but the defenders of traditional journalism won't stop either. The battle lines have been set with both sides having valid arguments. On the side of the new media critics, there is the argument that people will pay for good content. This notion is backed with the mentality that paid journalists lend more credence to a story than someone who simply writes unchecked information to get a story out to the world. Defenders of new media would argue that the move into the realm of new "free" media is where the majority of people prefer to get their news. On the surface, the arguments appear to be about about money as opposed to the value of content, but the underlying issue comes down to credibility.

In December, 2009 at the Federal Trade Commission hosted workshop "How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age," media baron Rupert Murdoch stated his case plainly when he said, "[s]ome rewrite, at times without attribution, the news stories of expensive and distinguished journalists who invested days, weeks, or even months in their stories, all under the tattered veil of 'fair use." Here, the problem of plagiarism arises. Once it's been established that someone has lifted content from another source without properly crediting the original author, any semblance of validity dissolves. To solidify this point, Murdoch asserted that, "their almost wholesale misappropriation of our stories is not 'fair use.' To be impolite, it's theft." This statement serves to discredit citizen journalists further by aligning them with the common criminal. The clich├ęd idea of "you get what you pay for," hammers home the point Murdoch is trying to make.

For those who view Murdoch as nothing more than businessman looking to control the media for profit, they can wade through the countless blogs and Tweets offered up by the citizen journalists. Arianna Huffington sticks up for citizen journalists though: "The contributions of citizen journalists, bloggers, and others who aren't paid to cover the news are constantly mocked and derided by the critics of new media who clearly don't understand that technology has enabled millions of consumers to shift their focus from passive observation to active participation -- from couch potato to self-expression." One meaning behind this statement is the citizens of the world are free to be citizen journalists should they wish to participate in informing the masses about important events. Another meaning Huffington's statement implies serves as newsicide for the citizen journalist. "[F]rom couch potato to self-expression" leaves a person with thought that citizens are entering the field of journalism not to inform, but to express themselves and their opinions. A problem with this is opinions are often not fact-checked. It happens. And the result is a loss of credibility.

Fact-checking isn't just a problem of the citizen journalist, either. Both accredited journalists and citizen journalists displayed a lack of restraint when reporting the death of Canadian folk singer, Gordon Lightfoot on February 18th, 2010. A Twitter post that day, purported to be from Lightfoot's grandson, stated his grandfather had died. Thanks to the immediacy of the internet, the rumour spread like a virus. But it wasn't only citizen journalists who were infected, the mainstream media reported the story as well. Mr. Lightfoot himself heard the news of his death on a radio report. By the afternoon of the 18th, the story's retractions were posted to the internet. This slip displays that even the most educated professionals can get the story wrong as well, but they have the opportunity to maintain their credibility more easily than the average person sitting behind a keyboard at home.

The arguments for both side will persist, and so will their stories. Consumers will have to determine for themselves who to trust. Difficulty in this situation lies in the aspect that there is no governing board for journalist like there is on other professions such as medicine. Nobody would choose just anyone for sound medical advice, but people are often willing to get news from anyone who offers a hint of interesting story. Media moguls like Rupert Murdoch will always have professionalism on their side, but citizen journalists will have free news on theirs. Either way, the argument is going to continue.

Citizen Journalism and the Future of Journalism, Chelsey Smith

Journalism as a profession follows a code of ethics and practices in the exchange of information. Protocols are adhered to in order to relay what is newsworthy to the public with respect to constitutions, and in the interest of the individual. Professionals strive for balance, justice, and enlightenment.
The multimedia and digitalization of the 21st century has dramatically altered the way in which the public shares information, and the way in which it is consumed.

Social media constructs and online news have undoubtedly become ragingly popular, but what is so revolutionary and controversial is participatory journalism. Individuals are becoming active and finding a voice to express emotion, events, news, and personal interests.

Citizen journalism does not follow a protocol, but provides individuals with the opportunity to transfer what is subjectively newsworthy; although, objectivity is a rule of traditional Journalism. Citizen reporting can provide fast, first-hand coverage of breaking news events, but many will question credibility.

On MediaShift, Jessica Clark notes that Rupert Murdoch and Arianna Huffington provided the most outstanding and opposing views at the FTC workshop “How will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?”.

Murdoch accused websites public of rewriting works without attribution, misappropriation of stories, and unfairness, whilst Huffington took on a very different standpoint:

“The contributions of citizen journalists, bloggers, and others who aren’t paid to cover the news are constantly mocked and derided by the critics of the new media who clearly don’t understand that technology has enabled millions of consumers to shift their focus from passive observation to active participation – from couch potato to self-expression”.

An example of active participation in the form of Social Media Marketing, can be found on the personal blog of Scott Monty. Monty was planning a long weekend for his family at Disney World when he came across Twisney, a twitter application that has live updates, photos, and various uses. Monty writes,

“If you want to understand how citizen journalists armed with cellphones are going to change the world–and create challenges and opportunities for businesses–spend a few minutes at”

He shares Huffington’s optimism in creation and self-expression, urging others to acknowledge and expand the possibilities of user generated content and shared intellectual property.

Steve Jobs Had No Heart Attack…And Citizen Journalism Just Failed, by Sarah Perez scolds Citizen Journalism, and the CNNs iReport for releasing a false report about Apple’s Steve Jobs being rushed to the hospital after an alleged heart attack. The report caused an immediate drop in the Apple stock, and panic and confusion in many newsrooms. Because of this report, credibility, reputation and trust were compromised. No fact checking is required and anyone can sign up to be an iReport journalist on the CNN website, which has consequences.

The future of journalism and news sharing is morphing and only through experience, and trial and error. Like technology, and ourselves, it will continue to evolve. Active journalists, both professional and citizen, must help the process along by being responsible what what is contributed as news, and by striving for balance.

Photo courtesy of Fabola on Flickr.

Citizen Journalism and the Future of Journalism, Trevor Robb

This is not the first time I have tackled the journalism vs citizen journalism argument, and it doesn't look like this will be the last time I argue it either. I understand that bloggers and citizen journalists aren't going away, in fact the number of citizen journalists has been increasing and will continue to increase as technology allows the average Joe to emulate their favorite T.V news personalities like Anderson Cooper in the U.S or in Canada, Kevin Newman. But these men have something that no citizen journalist, blogger or Twitter fanatic has: credibility and experience. (Newman has been involved in radio and television news since 1981, landing his first reporter job at Global Ontario. Cooper, while not having any journalistic education background, studied at Yale and got his first taste of journalism while reporting in Vietnam in 1999.)

Fast forward to today where citizens are on the other end of the news spectrum. They were at once receiving the news, now they are reporting it. Most do not have experience or training. Most do not collect paychecks. Without a formal education it is questionable whether they follow the strict guidelines payed journalists must follow. Fact checking, Libel/slander, plagiarization, these are the things that if not payed attention to can cost a journalist their job. What happens when a citizen journalist or a blogger makes these mistakes? Do they get fired? From where? Some Bloggers don't use their real names or choose to remain anonymous. If you're not adhering to the same rules and standards as the professionals with whom you're competing against, why should I listen to you? Why should I trust you?

Case and point. February 18th, 2010. Word escaped that Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot had died. The news was traced back to a post made on Twitter, which was actually posted in response to a phone call the user received from the original "leaker". CanNews picked this up and reported as fact. As did several other Canadian online news sites. Lightfoot heard the news and phoned into a Toronto radio station to confirm that he was in fact, still breathing. This is embarrassing. But for both parties. News agencies were duped by what who now being called a "prankster" on Twitter. These agencies should have done a better job fact checking but in order to compete with the speed and demand in the online news world they ran it anyway. That's their mistake. But they're the ones who apologized. They're the ones who took the fall and they weren't the only ones reporting it either. Blogs were circulating all over the country saying that Lightfood had died. Where's their public apology? Is their reputation tarnished? Even if they did apologize, would you care?

So who's to blame here? The case mentioned above is one example of how easily news and facts can be distorted through technology. It looks as as if the blame should squarely go the shoulders of the news agencies that reported this debauchery. But if not for Citizen Journalists, Bloggers and those supporting them insisting that they're in fact credible sources, than news agencies would not think twice about using Twitter as a source. Its a social networking site is not? I understand how it could be used as a medium to disperse current events but look where that got us. Bloggers and Citizen Journalists can be used as effective tools to help and assist in the process of news gathering but they should not be solely relied upon as actual credible journalists.

If I have a leaky drain or faucet, do I call up a buddy who's a self professed handyman? Or do I call a Journeyman Plumber? What if I need some wiring done to my basement? Or My furnace breaks down? Am I gonna pay amateurs or even apprentices to tackle these jobs? No! Nine times out of ten a person will rely on and pay for the expertise of a Journeyman. This brings me to the central point. Online news is free. It costs nothing. It is unregulated. Hence, anybody can contribute. Citizen Journalists and Bloggers have watered down the industry and flooded it with equally ambitious but inexperienced writers. Who cares about "self-expression" when it comes to the news? Facts, facts, facts. That's all I want.

Lecture 6: Checking Facts and Forms of Bias

Homework Review
Evaluate Websites
Forms of Bias
Blog Report 2

Chapter 5 Review:

With a partner or on your own:
Write a blog post responding to the following questions
Title: Chapter 5: Critical Interpretation, Student Names
Label: Lecture 6, Review
Interaction: Add a comment to another group’s Chapter 5 blog post

20 – 25 minutes

  • What is this text about?
  • What does the author of the text want me to know or think?
  • What does the author want me to do?
  • Who would read or view this text?
Structures and Features
  • What structures and features are used in the text?
  • What does the design or style suggest about the text or about the audience of the text?
  • What do the images/figures suggest?
  • What kind of language is used?
  • What do the words suggest?
  • Is the text fair?
  • Are there people or groups who are seen in a ‘good light’? Are there people or groups who
  • are not?
  • Whose interests does the text serve?
  • Who benefits from the text being read or viewed?
  • Are there people depicted in the text who are ‘seen’ but ‘not heard’?
  • Who is not seen in the text?
  • Are there people for whom this text is not intended?
  • Does the text leave out or avoid certain ideas or issues?

Checking Sites for Accuracy:
Choose a journalism related website
Using the tips on page 99, evaluate the website for accuracy
Include your findings in a blog post
Title: Evaluating “Name of Website,” Student Name
Label: Lecture 6, accuracy, journalism 2.0, fact-checking

30 minutes

Types of Bias:

  • Political bias, including bias in favour of or against a particular political party, candidate, or policy.
  • Advertising bias, corporate media depends on advertising revenue for funding. This relationship promotes a bias to please the advertisers.
  • Corporate bias, coverage of political campaigns in such a way as to favour or oppose corporate interests, and the reporting of issues to favour the interests of the owners of the news media or its advertisers. Some critics view the financing of news outlets through advertising as an inherent cause of bias.
  • Mainstream bias, a tendency to report what everyone else is reporting, and to gather news from a relatively small number of easily available sources.
  • Religious bias, including bias in which one religious or nonreligious viewpoint is given preference over others.
  • Bias for or against a group based because of their race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
  • Sensationalism, bias in favour of the exceptional over the ordinary, giving the impression that rare events, such as airplane crashes, are more common than common events, such as automobile crashes.

Critical Questions:
  1. What is the author's/speaker's socio-political position? With what social, political, or professional groups is the speaker identified?
  2. Does the speaker have anything to gain personally from delivering the message?
  3. Who is paying for the message? Where does the message appear? What is the bias of the medium? Who stands to gain?
  4. What sources does the speaker use, and how credible are they? Does the speaker cite statistics? If so, how were the data gathered, who gathered the data, and are the data being presented fully?
  5. How does the speaker present arguments? Is the message one-sided, or does it include alternative points of view? Does the speaker fairly present alternative arguments? Does the speaker ignore obviously conflicting arguments?
  6. If the message includes alternative points of view, how are those views characterised? Does the speaker use positive words and images to describe his/her point of view and negative words and images to describe other points of view? Does the speaker ascribe positive motivations to his/her point of view and negative motivations to alternative points of view?

Bias Activity:
Choose an event and locate 3-4 articles in different news sources. For example, if it is a Canadian story choose news sources from various regions of the country, if it is an international issue such as conflict in the Middle East select sources from various sides of the issue.
Some good websites include:, and (Canadian Newspaper Index)
write a paragraph on whether there is bias in the news and give examples related to the chosen issue to prove your points

Blog Report 2:

Due: March 15th
Title: We Regret the Error, Name Surname
Label: Blog Report 2

Respond, using examples and in an academic tone:
“Journalists are conditioned to fear and avoid mistakes. This helps send the message that accuracy is important. From there, the best course of action is to help mitigate the fear by teaching practices and introducing tools that help prevent factual errors. Fear of mistakes doesn't lead to accuracy. In fact, one of the best ways to learn how to avoid errors is to make them in the first place. A study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition is just the latest piece of research that suggests, as lead author Nate Kornell, an assistant professor of psychology at Williams College told me, that "making errors is the best way to learn information that you want to learn." Perhaps this sounds a bit confusing: fear is good, but also bad; mistakes are bad, but also instructive. That's exactly the point. Teaching accuracy is a multi-faceted process. It's complicated, and in truth it never really ends. You can't learn accuracy the way you learn to add and subtract. It's a process and a combination of learned behaviours, not a matter of memorization or motor memory.” ~ Craig Silverman

Include at least three mistakes made in Canadian newspapers (online versions)
Note the inaccuracy
“In a story on Page 3-A of Wednesday’s Independent about the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Trail of Terror haunted house, a reaction to strobe lights should have included the word “freaking.” The word was replaced with asterisks, perhaps causing confusion about what was actually said. The Independent apologizes for this confusion and the impression it left.” — The Grand Island Independent

Read Chapter 9
Read a current edition of the Huffington Post (the Feb. 28 or March 1 issue)
Come with a topic for your e-portfolio

Note: Image 1 from Wristwatch Review, Image 2 from Unambiguously Ambidextrous.

Citizen Journalism and the Future of Journalism, Susan Eder

Note: Photo courtesy of The Vincenton Post

The future of journalism involves an extension of the written word, a way for the average citizen to contribute and the ability not only to interact but the ability to access vast amounts of information whenever and however they want. There should be no question that journalism will not only survive the Internet age, but will flourish as well. The Internet, allowing the average citizen to participate, will increase opportunities for writing. With more writing opportunities comes growth ensuring that journalism will thrive, thus surviving the Internet age. But news delivery is changing. People are more likely to get their news online where they can control how they view the stories they want to read. This means that fewer people are reading newspapers and this decrease in readership has caused many papers to fold. However, newspapers will be available for many more years to come and we need not worry that the future of journalism will be jeopardized in any way although the direction it takes may change. There are now more ways to access news in the age of the Internet. Citizens can now take an active role by participating instead of being observers only. This leads to instant news availability.

One of the ways that the Internet has increased readership is that news can now be made available faster than ever before. Citizen journalists and bloggers can now post news stories as soon as they happen. We are no longer waiting for the news hour on television. We are no longer waiting for the paper to be printed. We see stories, via face book, twitter and other social networking sites that are now available because of the Internet. And once people become use to getting their news right away, they will become addicted. Why go back to the old ways and wait for the news to reach you when you can access the news yourself as soon as the news happens. Recording devices that combine audio and video, such as cell phones, have allowed citizen journalist to report on and post stories as soon as they happen.

We take for granted that what we read in the newspapers are accurate, unbiased stories that are not only credible, but also checked for accuracy before publishing. This is not the case with news found on the Internet since on the Internet anyone and everyone has a chance to comment. There are good journalists and there are bad ones too. As online users we need to take each story with a grain of salt. We need to know what and what not to believe. We need to check out information from non-credible sources. It is most likely that credible news sites such as "The Washington Post" and "The Toronto Star" will become the main online source for finding news, but citizen journalists play an important role in providing content that may have been missed on other sites. News is everywhere and we must decide what to take in and what not to.

If users have to pay for the news they read on the Internet, then reading online news will certainly decrease according to some critics. Rupert Murdoch, in Jessica Clark's article, claims that consumers know commodities come with a price. He believes that people will pay for on-line news. However, Arianna Huffington disagrees since "80 percent of U.S. news consumers say they wouldn't bother to read news and magazines online if the content were no longer free," she said. With more news being read online and the question of good and bad journalism, perhaps paying a small fee to read credible stories online many be worth it. Considering the amount of time that it takes to check out facts and considering the value of one's time, it may be cheaper in the long run to pay for online news. Since paid-for content is expected to meet all expectations and requirements and pass credibility tests, then the information sites need to be exciting and interesting as well as user friendly; a site the user can fully interact with. This brings us back to the beginning where the future of journalism will not only survive, but job opportunities have also expanded proving that citizen journalist will play an important role in the future of our news.

With so many new ways to view news our opportunities grow. Critics may not yet understand the full implications that the Internet has provided in allowing anybody to post news stories. Critics may not get that ordinary citizens can now become active participants instead of passive observers. What is not understood is often criticized. It is no wonder then that citizen journalists, bloggers and other unpaid news reporters are not yet respected. But recognition comes with time. The future will provide these opportunities in the creation of new job positions and opportunities to post ones thoughts. In the future everyone shines. The future looks bright.

Citizen Journalism and the Future of Journalism, Erik Nelson

The advent of technology and the internet has stirred up the world of journalism. With blogs and Twitter increasing in popularity, many citizens now have the chance to spread news and information across the world instantly. As society moves from a position of passive observation to active participation, critics of new media chastise citizen journalists for not being credible with their information, as well as thief's to the work of journalists who investigate matters and are paid to cover the news. Although the new media is not fully understood, what is certain is that millions of people around the world are learning more about their world due to citizen journalists and bloggers.

Blogs have become a rising trend since the 21st century. Evan Williams, who runs Blogger, told Wired in the article Blah, Blah, Blah and Blog, “In January alone, at least 41,000 people created new blogs using Blogger, and that number is always increasing,” Williams said. “Some have put the total number of weblogs at more than 500,000.” Blogs are used as a means for people to write about things that interest them. Generally, most blogs are specific to certain genre's, such as music, art, or sports, which allows creators to write about topics that they care about. The credibility of the information that is written is a cause for concern however, and with specific genre's being written about by one author, a bias will usually prevail in their writing. One of the key aspects of journalism lies in the journalist being transparent in their writing so that the story is told as it happened and lets the reader interpret the information however they please. When discovering a blog, it is usually due to searching for a specific topic of interest. An Oilers fan will want to read about another person's theories on the poor performance of the Oilers latest season, whereas a journalist will only dictate the Oilers progress in the season and will not provide personal insight into the topic. Blogs are not trying to replace the true journalistic fashion that is provided in newspapers, but rather they are assets that can be utilized for insight and discovery into certain topics that cannot be found outside of an editorial section in a newspaper.

Like the mysteries of the universe, the deep challenges and possibilities of new media can be scary to venture into. Arianna Huffington said at a workshop How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?, "The contributions of citizen journalists, bloggers, and others who aren't paid to cover the news are constantly mocked and derided by the critics of new media.” Without a definitive understanding of the role that blogs and twitter have in the scheme of news on the internet, citizen journalists are being devalued and insulted for their work towards educating people. Although the bloggers might not have a full story to publish, or perhaps they are missing some of the facts, common sense is enough for readers to know if what they are reading is fictitious or misleading. The hatred is not tied only to unaffiliated bloggers, but as was the case with Fangoria, a large horror genre magazine, the bias was also directed to one of their old writers James Zahn. Zahn wrote about the attitude received while writing for their website, “Most competing websites, and later the staff of were frowned upon by the magazine staff as “bloggers”, effectively looked at as “scum” not good enough to be considered proper “journalists” or “writers.” The blatant disrespect that Zahn received from coworkers in the same company was disrespectful and unwarranted. The ignorance of the magazine staff about online publication shows that the use of new media is still unknown to most within the industry. Without respect, the vast amounts of content created by citizen journalists could dry up if they leave their blogs due to a lack of respect.

The creation of new technology has allowed devices such as the iPhone and other smart-phones to be direct lines for creating and updating online content due to internet access, built-in camera and video capturing. A statistic at shows that 173.6 million smartphone's were sold in 2008, more than ever do people have the tools required to capture and report events as they unfold on the field. With citizen journalists providing timely current events, people across the world can quickly know what is happening in the world. In Cell Journalism by Carolynne Burkholder tells us that journalists can piece together facts through interviews to recreate events that had happened, “But when the London Underground was bombed on July 7, 2005, photos of the event were published on websites and blogs, and made their way to the mainstream media. It was the people with camera cell phones that captured the images, not reporters.” Citizen journalists are great assets to the world because with anyone with a cellphone can document the facts as they unfold so that not only will journalists have a more accurate set of information to refer to when recreating the events for a story, but the public will also have the facts as its reported, which in turn can protect the public because they will know to avoid the subway such as with the London bombings.

The online realms is still in its infancy as it learns and adapts with the challenges produced by the world. As more and more services come out that allow people to share their ideas, document events, and send instant messages, the world will be able to flourish with the access to greater amounts of information. Although the credibility of some sources has tarnished the view of citizen journalism as a whole, strides are being made to rebuild the trust of the public. While print media is struggling to maintain itself, the adaptation of online resources will be a major stepping stone towards improving the timeliness of news sources, an increase in viewership, and hopefully sustainable field for revinue which will lead to a brighter world of journalism as a whole.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Citizen Journalism and the Future of Journalism, Isaac Kaplyuk

To be considered a professional in a certain field, one must have been paid for their services at any one point; A musician getting paid for a gig, a motocross rider getting paid for a show, or a writer getting paid for an article. A person getting paid for something that they are doing in a particular field is considered 'a professional' in that particular field; In theory, a musician can call themselves a professional musician if they have even but one paid show under their belts. Thus, people who aren't paid by any news organizations to deliver news of any kind may not be considered 'professionals', but this does not mean that this growing wave of citizen journalists, bloggers, 'tweeters' and more are to be overlooked. Citizen journalists that aren't considered 'professional' in the professional sense can still be a force to be reckoned with. Applications like Twitter and Youtube can enable any regular person with a camera, smartphone, or computer to deliver journalistic content similiar to a professional journalist.

Now-a-days, applications like Twitter can turn anybody with a computer or a smart phone into an active journalist, without the need of years of experience within post-secondary institutions. Applications like Twitter via smartphones, can allow anybody on the scene of any kind of news incident to immediately 'tweet' what's going on, with the added ability of being able to link to pictures, video, audio, other stories, and more. According to The Canoe Dossier, Twitter does some things very well, such as "Filing fast reports, some from the scene; reflecting the sentiment of the online population; revealing multiple points of view; directing people to useful sources, and revealing new information." Many notable celebrities, athletes, politicians, newsgroups and more use Twitter. Not only can people use the application as a reporting device no matter where they are, but people can likewise use Twitter as an RSS feed, 'following' multiple sources and getting information as soon as it breaks. Though it is conceded that Twitter can be a tool in aiding both citizen and career journalist, it is not without setbacks. Since anybody can 'tweet' on Twitter, information may be inaccurate, untrue, or could potentially compromise certain situations, such as giving away information that could potentially put someone at harm. An example of this could be someone tweeting about a hostage taking, potentially allowing the assailant to know what people are talking about, giving them valuable information.

As well as being able to post immediate updates about breaking news, linking to pictures, videos and other articles, citizen journalists also have the internet media giant, Youtube, at their disposal. Since the inception of Youtube in February of 2005, users have uploaded over 78 million videos as of March 17th, 2008, and over 65,000 videos are now uploaded daily. Many smartphones such as the iPhone feature the ability to upload videos almost instantaneously, and even cameras such as the JVC Everio have a one-touch 'Upload to YouTube' button, making instant-video uploads from anywhere a simple, one touch affair. Thanks to video equipment becoming more and more affordable, citizen journalists can now upload videos of breaking news stories, interviews, documentaries, insights and much, much more from any corner of the globe, at any time. Because the professional journalist can't be everywhere, and the citizen journalist could be anyone, anywhere, anytime, the ability to film and instantly upload news footage via a phone or a laptop is an additional source for news for people, which woulnd't have been there otherwise if not for some citizen journalism. Although there is alot of 'fluff' and pointless, irrelevant videos on sites like YouTube, there is alot of genuine and prudential content on these types of sites. Citizen journalism has become such a large part of the Internet's news-gathering effort, that many organizations have given citizen journalists their due recognition, with the launch of Citizen Journalism channels on YouTube, called Citizen News.

Arianna Huffington once noted, "technology has enabled millions of consumers to shift their focus from passive observation to active participation-from couch potato to self expression." Not only have things like Twitter and YouTube allowed the average person to be able to participate in the world of journalism, but it is also becoming more mainstream, which could be a concern for the career journalist. Organizations like CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Yahoo and Reuters have all committed web-space and time for citizen journalism, with BBC having an application called Your News, Yahoo and Reuters partnered to create You Witness News, and MSNBC owns a citizen journalism focused site called Newsvine, and there are many more such things created for citizen journalism. With these developments, it is clear that citizen journalism has become a fixture within the media realm. Although journalists may see these developments as something that is infringing on their craft, it is a beneficial development for people who want to stay informed at all times, and who would like to do more than just listen and observe. Once again, a journalist cannot be everywhere at once, especially when a news-worthy story breaks. If journalists were the only people that were able to produce news, it wouldn't be considered 'news', because there is no way that there would be a professional writer on hand to cover everything that's going on; hence, citizen

Since the inception of the Internet, and with it a flurry of developments like Twitter, YouTube, and various other social-networking and news sites, citizen journalism has been on the rise. Slowly disappearing are newspapers and with it the traditional method of story telling, and career journalists fear their jobs are at risk due to these citizen journalists. But, because not everybody can be a professional journalist, and there will never be enough career journalists to cover everything that will ever happen, all the time, there is a benefit to these citizen journalists, and they should not altogether be disregarded. A citizen journalist can be anyone with a smartphone, camera, computer and enough skills to compose a legible sentence. In theory, one of these people can be somewhere the same time major event, when a journalist is not. Using the tools available to them, citizen journalists can inform when a career journalist can sometimes not. Although there is a definite risk posed to career journalists in terms of getting noticed, at the core of all these tools should still be a writer's skillset-the ability to write well. Ultimately, despite all the advancements made, good writing will still be the core of story telling and journalism, and what will truly seperate the good writers from the mediocre, or just plain bad.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Citizen Journalism and the Future of Journalism, Nancy Gordy

Arianna Huffington presents a strong quote pertaining to the future of journalism and the contributions of citizen journalists and bloggers in the article by Jessica Clark. As Arianna appears to defend the rising involvement of the audience in such ways that technology allows them too, it is in agreement that i find my self needing to defend the citizen journalists and bloggers and the useful and positive ways they contribute information. People have begun to turn to the web for instant access to information as a primary means of receiving their daily dose of news. Being able to easily pick and choose what websites to go to, what to read, and what to comment on, to name a few of the things one can do online, provides the user with a sense of interaction. This interaction can go even further if the user were to create their own blog and become a citizen journalist that provides other users with news they wish to deliver.

As there are millions and millions of blogs from all over the world that can be found online, the array of information is outstanding. The benefits that these citizen journalists bring to the world of journalism can also be seen as outstanding when considering the changes that have occurred to journalism and how journalists find, receive, edit, and distribute information due to the existence of your every day person having the ability to disseminate news to a broad range of people. Journalists can now read others blogs and participate in social networking sites only to discover endless amounts of news worthy stories and ideas, find people that are willing to share opinions and facts, hear of breaking news in any part of the world, and be kept up to date with occurrences and events by the second, to name only a few of the benefits. Journalists and citizen journalists/bloggers find themselves in a correlative relationship. While journalists can benefit in the ways that i just listed, the bloggers and citizen journalists (audiences) also strongly benefit from journalists as well. When the user can find articles via credible news sites, they are able to comment on the article on the site, write in to the editor if they wish, be linked to related articles, and share the article via twitter, facebook, and many other social networking sites, allowing anyone to participate in analyzing, sharing, reporting, and collecting news. In an article by Alfred Hermida, he states that "in interviews with local journalists working for the Johnston Press, Jane Singer found that most see the public as complementing, rather than replacing, the work of professionals." While it may appear that citizen journalists and bloggers are doing the work of journalists, but for free, this isn't exactly the case.

Barriers may seem to be falling between journalists and citizen journalists, but there are many differences between the two. Education, accuracy, and credibility play a large role in determining a good journalist. A citizen journalist does not usually have a journalism education and is simply just reporting what they see or hear with minimal fact checking. In the article by Alfred Hermida, he also states how audience participation is delineated. "The public can send in their news tips, photos and videos, but the journalist retains a traditional gatekeeper role, deciding what is newsworthy and what isn't. There is little room for the public to be involved in the actual making of the news -- in deciding whom to interview, how to frame the story and how to produce it. Once the story is complete and published, the audience can freely comment on the final product," Hermida writes. I strongly agree with this perspective and think that the audience simply adds to the journalistic experience. Bringing together different opinions, points of view, facts, questions, and answers allows for an overall beneficial interactive opportunity.

This is not a reality in some countries around the world, however. In an article by Clothilde Le Coz, she states that according to Reporters Without Borders, "there are currently 100 bloggers and cyber-dissidents imprisoned worldwide as a result of posting their opinions online in 2009." The entire article is filled with alarming facts on the dwindling freedom of speech within new media around the globe. It appears that distribution of opinions on political and economic matters that can present a country negatively are not tolerated as they would be here in Canada. This creates many issues. For one, if those bloggers and citizen journalists are not able to paint us a picture of the situation and circumstances on the other side of the world, global interaction is affected in many ways. People become uninformed which eliminates the sole purpose of journalism.

As the many controversies of the new online world of journalism arise, and many continue to question the validity and benefits of the ever rising citizen journalists and bloggers, one thing is for sure; they will both forever be around and the number of unqualified citizen journalists posting information may surmount the amount of educated and qualified journalists distributing information, and it will simply be up to the audience to act as a filter and absorb the accurate news only. In hopes of the interactive on line journalism world becoming one of intelligence and accuracy, I also hope that globally, journalism becomes accepted as a means of disseminating opinions, facts, news, culture and more, as freely as possible and that somehow a balance can be found within the two so as not too make journalism polluted and a means of picking out the treasures within the garbage.

Note: Image from Moderatorated on flickr.