Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blog #10 - Starting a Discussion

Due: Monday, May 19, at the end of class
300 words minimum
2 links minimum

Your blogs this week will be the basis for class discussions next week. It's very important these get done by Friday so I can spend some time this weekend to put together discussions for next week. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Take a look at one (or a few) of the following sites that deal with current issues in Journalism and New Media.

Journalism.org | Pew Internet and American Life Project | Pew Research Center | Columbia Journalism Review |  Journalist's Resource | Sensible Talk: Analysis | NPR's On The Media | CyberJournalist.net | New Media @ Media Life|Online Journalism Review | Newsthinking.org | Poynter.org |

1. Either find an article that presents or raises  a great question and explore it. Examine the author's points and bring in some points that either support or refute it. Finally, ask questions that could lead to a great class discussion based on what you researched.

2. Ask questions first and find articles that could give clues to answers. Create the discussion yourself.

For example: I found this tremendous article on the influence of a single person on journalism that could be greater than Twitter or even Facebook. I would love to start a discussion based on this, including the visual data included in the article. I'd reflect on it, finding some other sources that helped with my understanding and then include some questions to start a discussion.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Blog #9: Welcome to the Fake News

Due: Tuesday, May 13
Minimum Word Cout: 350
Minimum Links: 3

A Study by the Pew Research Study claims that people who view The Daily Show and Colbert Report are more informed than other people when it comes to the news. At the very least, they are as informed as readers of Major Newspapers.
Data from Pew Research Study
Data from Pew Research Study

However, the study also found that
Since the late 1980s, the emergence of 24-hour cable news as a dominant news source and the explosive growth of the internet have led to major changes in the American public's news habits. But a new nationwide survey finds that the coaxial and digital revolutions and attendant changes in news audience behaviors have had little impact on how much Americans know about national and international affairs.

Essentially, it found that Americans, in general, aren't any more informed about current event news stories now than they were 20 years ago, despite CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, and thousands of online news sources. We're also less informed than Europeans about World issues (CJR - A News Deficit). That could bring up the first question - why do you think that is?

A 2006 Study showed that more than half of American teens got their news from entertainment sources (including the Daily Show and Colbert Report) at least once a week, and that
Only 10 percent of teens say they are not at all interested in the news, mostly because they feel it isn’t presented in an interesting way.

Things brings up a second question, but look for that later.

Recently, Jon Stewart has gone on the offensive against the media, claiming that it's not only boring, but also harmful to American. The first clip is his now famous appearance on Crossfire, where Stewart argues that the show is hurting the country when it could be helping the country. He argues that the focus shouldn't be on debate and contention but on informing and analysis - looking for meaning from both sides.

The second clip is more recent. After trading barbs on their own shows, Jon Stewart and Jim Kramer went face-to-face on the set of The Daily Show, and the general opinion is the Stewart dominated the discussion. He accused Kramer of being, in a word, evil and showed evidence of him manipulating the stock market for the benefit of his own show. He once again pointed out a way that the media is twisting reality for profit and drama. Are his criticisms of specific shows representative of the news media as a whole, or is this just a battle for ratings between two shows?

The backstory:

The Summary of the show:

In class this week, we've seen examples of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report using their status as Wise Fools to tell the truth about news in the name of Comedy. We've also seen C-SPAN and CNN and the way they've presented news.

What the public knows
What the public knows? From Pew Research (2014)

A recent book I read said that most people view The Daily Show as more honest than other news sources because they believe that the voice of Jon Stewart reflects their own voice better. His outrage mirrors their outrage, his desperation matches their desperation, and his sense of helplessness is something they can relate to. Simply because he's free to be funny, emotional, confused, and angry - something traditional journalists all have been trained to avoid - he gains credibility and popularity. The Pew Study shows that his delivery isn't making people dumber, either. His audience is as smart as any audience. (I won't go as far as to say that he's making people smart. Maybe smart people are more likely to watch his show for any number of reasons.)

At the same time, are major media outlets trying harder to win awards and get respect from other news outlets than to actually inform readers about things that matter to them? Is "good news" being produced that doesn't actually matter?

Delaney Freer explores the concept of the Court Jester and the "Crazy Grandma" in her blog. Look to her writing for some inspiration and great sources to get you started thinking deeper about the topic. She even found some sources on how Court Jesters work in today's business world.

So, here are the questions I can come up with. Feel free to make your own questions. You get major respect for that.

  1. Do you think that traditional media outlets should attempt to change their presentation to get more of an audience? If so, how should they change?

  2. What do you think about the fact that only 10% of teens are interested in the  news and that most of them say that it's because the news is presented poorly? Why do you think that is? 66% of teens say they get most of their news only from the front pages of portal sites (like Yahoo, Google, and MSN's default front pages).

  3. Do you think that Fake News can be better than actual news, or is this a dangerous road to travel? Should news organizations ignore Entertainment to adhere to strict ethics codes, or should they start dabbling in Comedy, too?

  4. CNN is supposedly the most trusted name in news, but check out this topic on the message board. What do you think of the direction of news in general? Is The Daily Show closer to the right direction than CNN? Is CNN still better for actual news? Is Jon Stewart right to be critical, or should be save his criticisms because he operates with a different set of rules?

  5. Make your own response! Please!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog 8: Those who own the media create your reality. Who creates your reality?

Due Date: Thursday, May 1
Minimum Length: 400 words
Minimum Links: 3

In class, we've heard many sources declare that traditional print media (newspapers and magazines) and perhaps even traditional broadcast media are dying fast and being quickly replaced by independent or locally-produced digital content. This week, let's think about the way that traditional print media and broadcast outlets are still exerting influence. I'd also like to see what you think about other dangers associated with this shift.

Barack Obama used Digital Media (blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook) to great effect during his campaign for presidency. His administration is also using digital methods to communicate with America and send messages to the world.

There are positives and negatives to the use of digital media as opposed to traditional sources. One of the most dangerous questions that has arisen is the question of Media Ownership. If something doesn't have to be newsworthy to become news, and if there are no gatekeepers to screen out biased content, and there is no consistent ethical standards for the content. At the same time, this could be closer to truth than traditional methods.

The people and places we allow to define our truths creates our daily realities. Who defines the truth in the age of Digital Media? Who creates our realities? The choices you make on a daily basis define your world.

Feel free to engage as many (or none) of he the following questions in your blog this week. A good blog post can come from answering even one of the questions or by posing your own.

  1. What role do you think traditional print media still serves?

  2. What danger is there when people can choose their sources and be exposed to only things that interest them?

  3. What do you think about the fact that government agencies and personnel can communicate directly and create their own media more easily than ever?

  4. How likely will you be to subscribe to a daily newspaper (local or state) or a weekly/monthly magazine when you're our of college?

  5. Does being exposed to a variety of ideas from unexpected sources - traditionally supplied in print publications - help a person be more literate? If so, how can you be sure you stay well informed about new things?

  6. What's the job of a reader in the digital age?

  7. Is Democracy in trouble when people stop reading traditional media? How can we protect our democracy in a digital age?

I bolded #6 because this is a question that is intriguing me a lot right now. Can readers actually own this new media, or are we just being made to feel like this so we accept it more easily? That doesn't mean that you need to answer this question. It's just what's on my mind.

This site, produced by the Columbia Journalism Review, gives you a comprehensive look at what media companies actually own. You can see everything they own and when they acquired it. For one surprising example, take a look at Time Warner and see how much of what they own is a part of your life.

Consider using some of this information in your blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blog #7: Where do you get your news?

Due Date: Sunday, May 27
Word Count: At least 400
Links: At least 2

Before you write, you should take this quiz from the Pew Research Center. Take note of how you did compared with the rest of the country.

I got them all right, so take that.

You've spent the last 10 days being exposed to news that comes from sources you don't typically consult. You've hopefully learned something or evolved in your way of thinking about news in general.

When you think back on your experience, what conclusions can you come to about;

  • The purpose or biases of your news source,

  • The point of news,

  • The importance of news,

  • Your attitudes toward news,

  • Whether you'd keep looking for news,

  • Where people should look for news,

  • or anything else.

Once you've thought about your own reactions, take a stab at one of the questions you came up with as a group at the start of last week. What meaningful conclusions can you come to?

Why does news matter?

Why is news so depressing?

Why is “cute cats” news?

How much of news is entertainment?

Who defines news?

Are you better off if you’re up to date on news?
Are you worse off knowing?

Why are there so many places to get news, why not narrow it down to five?

Does anything change when you’re looking at news?

How does news make you feel?

How does it benefit you?

How can you make others better through your knowledge?

Why do we get so interested in things that are none of our business?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blog #6: Design

Due: Sunday, April 6
More than 400 words
At least three links to sources with Synthesis included
At least 1 original design (the one we did in class for the 40 minute challenge counts)

During class this week, we spent most of our time talking about the importance of Design in our lives, our society, and especially in Journalism and media. The presentations we looked at to base some of our discussions on are below.

Here are some questions to consider as you think about your blog:

  1. How do design elements affect a reader's experience with a publication?

  2. In what ways are you a designer?

  3. In what ways has design influenced decisions you have made?

  4. Write about a time that design has changed your behavior or your way of thinking.

  5. Write about a time when you solved a problem with design.

  6. How could you design a  solution to a problem you've seen.

  7. What have you realized about design that you hadn't before?

  8. In what ways does awareness relate to journalism?

  9. What rules have you constructed for yourself without knowing it that may be limiting your ability or awareness?

  10. How has the role of play changed throughout your life?

  11. What do you enjoy about school or your work?

  12. Explain how play influences motivation.

  13. What have you come to realize about the relationship between work and play?

Optional reading for smart folks:

Optional viewing for smart folks:

Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see

The Beauty of Data Visualization

Stunning Data Visualization

Monday, March 3, 2014

Blog #5: A Good Story

Due: Friday, March 14
No minimum word count. 
No required links

Your task this week is to create something totally unique. You don’t have to link anything, find any outside sources, or process. Your job is simple, but it’s the most consistently challenging task for great journalists.

Go out and find a person with a story to tell and get a story from them. Pass that story along on your blog in the form of an extended quote. Challenge yourself to keep your post to only the quote and descriptions of their speaking.

You’re not allowed to do email/messenger reporting. Online video and audio reporting is acceptable. This should be a quote you get as a result of a conversation.  Think about relatives, teachers, siblings, bosses, or just interesting people who will let you talk to them. You do not need to put the person’s name in your post if they aren’t comfortable with you using it.

The story could be sad, funny, nostalgic, powerful, or mundane. The most important thing is that you’re finding it and getting it down to share. Use your best judgment about what is appropriate to publish online and protect the identity of your source if the story is sensitive.

I can’t wait to read what you guys come up with.

If you want an example of people getting stories from people who they care about, listen to these excellent examples on StoryCorps.

If you want to know what StoryCorps is, check this out. There's also a great NPR story/audio about it.

If you would like to do your update an an audio file or video file, go ahead. I can help if you need it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blog #4: Choice

Due: Sunday, March 2
Word count: 400 or more.
Minimum number of links: 3 actual sources, not just definitions.

Potential New Questions:
  • What kind of choices do you make about news? How does that impact your view of the world? Choosing "No." to news is also a choice.

  • Do you believe what the old folks say about online news being bad for people? Were things better when we had fewer choices? Or, is this something great?

  • Barry Schwartz argued that too many choices lead to paralysis. Do you think that applies to news coverage? If this is true, what should a person do to stay up-to-date on news coverage, narrowing choices down without falling victim to confirmation bias? Maybe Barry is full of crap.

  • Whose fault is it when people make bad choices about news?

  • What's the difference between allowing people to customize their news and encouraging confirmation bias?

  • Does "He-said-she-said" Journalism encourage the propagation of unpopular opinions or is it balance?
People are customizing their news sources, clicking on only stories they want to read, and deciding where they get their news from on an individual level. One one level, this is a great thing. People are more involved with news than ever before, and that means that people are more likely to read news.

On the other hand, this means that people can choose to ignore news that they don't like or topics they simply don't want to hear about. This could create problems.

This video talks about this Paradox of Choice.

What do you think the right balance is?

There are certainly things people need to know, but we know that not all people will choose to listen to it. How do you break through the culture of choice when there are important issues to be heard?

How do you break through the issues of 140-character attention spans and give people something other than a headline. We all blogged about how the truth is a lengthy process, but we rely on summaries and headlines more than ever.

We expect doctors to do what's right for our bodies or mechanics to do what's right for our cars based on their expertise, training, and experience, however, we may not give that same permission to editors or publications.

Are people capable of making good information choices for themselves?  Are we losing something by replacing magazines and newspapers with digital content? Is confirmation bias a real problem, or is it even an issue at all?

How to you still give people a choice while also making them knowledgeable, informed participants in the global culture and a democratic society? Or, is that even desirable?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Blog #3: The Future

Due date: Wednesday, February 19.
Minimum words: 350
Minimum links: 2 (Link to at least your project and one other group's project for the 2 links)

As you and your group works to create a newspaper, news system, device, or media outlet that can survive the next ten years, you’ll be asking important questions and coming to some conclusions about the state of newspapers.

Remember, you don’t have to answer all or any of these prompts.

From your experiences brainstorming for this project;
  1. What have you come to understand about newspapers right now?
  2. Are you finding any "good news" about either the present state or the future of news?
  3. What are successful outlets doing that others aren't?
  4. How do you think the job of a reporter is changing? How will it continue to change?
  5. What are the main struggles you had making a newspaper people would buy and advertisers would support?
  6. What are newspapers (or any news agency) going to struggle with in the near future?
  7. What are you basing your ideas for the future on?
  8. What are your main conclusions about the future of news, reporting, and/or news creation?
Embed your group's project and PowerPoint and write a reflection on it as a portfolio entry.

Include visuals if possible. Take pictures of your designs, export your InDesign project as a jpeg, embed your Google Presentation, or save your Illustrator or PhotoShop files for the web and upload them to your blog.


  • Write about what you did, the things you learned along the way, what you think you did well and what areas you still have for improvement.
  • What would you do differently if you could do it again?
  • How can it be applied to future projects and layouts?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blog #2: What is journalism, anyway?

Due date: Sunday, February 2
Minimum Word Count: 400
Minimum Links: 3

If you're like me, it's been a long time since you've gotten most of the news about your world from a print newspaper (besides The Hoofprint, of course) or traditional television news broadcast. Subscription numbers and revenue is starting to drop for traditional media outlets. Chances are, you've been getting your news from websites - even sites like Facebook and Twitter - your cell phone, YouTube, or other non-traditional media. More and more, Blogs are becoming news sources, and phrase Citizen Journalist and Participatory Journalism are becoming part of our common vocabularies.

This brings us to two important questions for the modern journalist:

  1. How does journalism survive when digital devices have made centralized printing presses and TV stations all but obsolete?

  2. What is journalism, anyway, in a time when citizens with a cell phone and laptop can tell stories, take photos and be journalists for a day anytime they want?

Tackle one or both (or neither) of these questions in your blog. Remember to make these posts your own. Link to and quote from other sources, including your classmates' blog. Proofread your blog after you post and feel free to make changes to it after you've proofread it or read more of your classmates' work.

Gentle reminders:

  • Please use paragraphs.
  • You need to include links to outside sources in this blog. Don't just say "Here is a link I found about this". Include a sentence or two that relates what you've found to your point. Use them as evidence.

Our classroom discussions and notes may help you as you consider this topic.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blog #1: What is truth?

"The task is the same no matter where the skilled journalist plies his trade: be inquisitive, be honest and be loyal to the truth and your reader. Advocate for the community, and tell it like it is. Ask and learn. Share the knowledge."

Due date: Thursday, January 23

Although all journalists are supposed to be loyal to the truth, truth is a difficult concept to define. For the past two days, we've discussed your interpretations of the meaning of Truth. We came up with a wide variety of possible definitions and characteristics for the concept of truth, but we were unable to come up with a broad definition that could satisfy everyone. Your first blog entry should tackle this difficult situation.

Take a look at the following questions and respond in any way you choose on your blog. Try to include the word "Truth" somewhere in your post's title.

  1. What is truth to you?

  2. What should all journalists know about the truth?

  3. What does it mean to be loyal to the truth?

  4. In what ways can a high school journalist find a report the truth?

  5. Can you find or link to a story/video/podcast that exemplifies the pursuit of Truth.

Your response should be thorough and personal, capturing your unique voice and perspective. Try to write at least 200 words. A true blog will contain links to outside sources or responses to the thoughts of the other blogs in the class. Look to last year's examples to see what a good blog should be like.

Good luck.