Why Learn?

Why do attend we attend college?  Most people will say to get an education and prepare us for jobs in the real world.  For aspiring journalists this means spending countless hours in edit labs or mock newsrooms learning the craft.  They learn how to conduct an interview, write effectively to capture the essence of a story, and learn what is newsworthy and what is not.  The increase of social media, in my opinion, has blurred the importance of attending college and learning the ways of journalism.

 

Think about it, people everywhere in the world are becoming their own journalist through their use of social media.  If something important happens there will be someone on Twitter who posts about it as quickly as possible.  If there is a new bill that is passed by Congress someone on Facebook will post it to their timeline for all of the world, or at least their Facebook friends, to see.  In essence, an everyday citizen who posts to their social media accounts about the events of the world are practicing journalistic skills especially when it comes to late-breaking news.

 

So if we can learn journalistic skills through social media then what is the point in attending a four year university and pay money to learn the craft?  Now news organizations these days are pushing for digital work through online readership and social media.  CNN has even started the iReport blog in which they encourage the mass public to come together to present story ideas or push a story along.  This has been on my mind a lot lately and I wanted to know what everyone else thought on that.

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Photos here, photos there, photos everywhere!

I’ve decided to switch gears a bit for this post and discuss more of the photojournalism aspect of the industry and social media has impacted it.  More and more people are using Instagram these days for their photo taking and sharing needs.  With Instagram anyone can take a picture, obviously, change the filter of a shot to fit their needs and instantly share it with anyone in the world.  This much freedom can allow almost anyone to develop serious skills with camera work.

The rise in the amount of Instagram users has caused the fashion industry, for example, to take notice.  You will see a lot of fashion journalist using their smartphones along with Instagram to capture shots of models on the runway, or gather pictures during a photo-shoot.  Some fans who attended fashion and took pictures of the event actually had their photos used professionally.

Of course with a powerful tool, such as Instagram, it would only be a matter of time until the news industry would catch on and capitalize on this.  In today’s world you will see a lot more news organizations utilizing Instagram as they’ll post pictures of important events happening in the news.  Do you think this takes away from the job of the photojournalist?  If a reporter is capable of going out and capturing their photos and posting it to Instagram then why would we need a photojournalist?

Power to the People

I think I will continue on the positive aspects of social media and technology in regards to journalism for a little while longer.  In this go around I want to talk about how news organizations are using social media encourage the mass public to participate in the news.  Gone are the days where professional journalists are the sole gate keepers of information, people are now able to dig up information through the use of social media and technology, and now news organizations have decided to capitalize on this idea.

Crowd sourcing and pro-am journalism are two concepts that flourish with the use of social media.  Basically, what these concepts are saying is to use the knowledge and insight of many people to gain more information on a particular subject that could help develop a news story.  Professional journalist will now call upon the mass public for information when needed, and who knows what wealth of information a journalist could gather by doing so.  A journalist not only gains information from the public, but they could also earn their trust.  People will be more inclined to listen to and trust a journalist when they do the same for the public.  In essence it could become a symbiotic relationship, the journalist gains knowledge on a subject to develop a better story while earning the trust of the public.  Meanwhile the public will have their ideas and stories heard and discussed and feel included in the media world.

As with almost anything in life there are some negative aspects to crowd sourcing and pro-am journalism.  As I’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts utilizing the crowd could lead to gaining false information.  Ultimately it is up to the journalist to determine what information to use but there is the possibility of some false information slipping through the cracks. Look at example with the Boston bombing suspect who was falsely accused. Bad story suggestions is also a possibility when encouraging the crowd to participate, sometimes there may be some frustrations if bad story ideas are suggested, which is obviously counter-productive.

Positive Strides With Technology

I feel as though I’ve spent the last few posts talking about how social media and new technology has negatively affected the professional world of journalism, so with this post I want to talk about the benefits of social media and technology.  At the end of the day social media and technology has made work for journalist easier in many regards.

 

In the world of journalism some people are familiar with the concept of “on man banding,” which is when a journalist is in the field by his or herself and is responsible for all aspects of a news story.  That one journalist is responsible for gathering the facts, taking pictures, and recording video when necessary rather than having a whole team with each person focusing on different aspects.   Technology, in particular cell phones, has greatly enhanced the way a journalist can tell their story their own.  Now a journalist can bring their smartphone to an event take pictures, record video, take down notes and tweet the event live all from their phone.

 

The level of convenience is absolutely astounding and 20 years ago the idea of doing everything on a phone was a farfetched idea.  Social media has journalist a chance to connect with their audience on a greater level.  These days most news organizations either have a Facebook page, a Twitter page or both.  Having these social media sites allows news organizations to post things faster but it also encourages the mass public to engage in and participate with the news.  A great example of this is CNN’s iReport blog site, which encourages readers/viewers to present potential newsworthy ideas and share those ideas on blog site.  This level of connectivity could be the way of the future for journalism as more “crowd sourcing” is used to come up with story ideas or further push a story along.

 

There’s no doubt technology is changing the way journalist cover stories.  Yes, there are some negative aspects to it, but there some positives that go along with it.  Journalist can now cover a story much easier by themselves with the use of one cell phone.  Social media has now allowed news organizations to connect with audience on a greater level.

Old Mediums Are Fading

Social media has provided us with a new means of getting our news information.  We no longer have to wait for the six o’clock news broadcast to air for late breaking coverage and gone are the days in which people had to wait until the next day to grab a copy of a newspaper to get caught up with information.  Social media, and technology as a whole, has altered how fast we can receive information, but what has this done to older mediums such as newspapers? In essence, people no longer need newspapers to get their information and the print industry on all levels has been greatly affected by social media and technology.

There is no doubt that the print industry has taken one of the harder hits of this new form of media.  According to reports newspaper circulations have decreased by double digits since 2008, and advertising revenues have also taken a dive.  The rise of social media has given the mass public more flexibility to get their news how they want to and when they want to.  Facebook may even include a newspaper feature for its users.  The mass public no longer needs to pick up the paper in order to get their information.  With circulations down some companies need to make major staff cuts and create a bigger push to integrate technology into the journalism craft.

A lot of major newspapers are putting more emphasis into their online publications (The New York Times etc.) and with that they utilize the features of social media.  Professional journalists now have the ability to publish up-to-the-minute information through the use of social media, but this could create even more pressure for a professional journalist to get it done faster but maintain the accuracy.   These days news organizations are becoming more focused on how many views their Facebook gets page rather than how many newspapers they have in circulation or how many viewers are tuned in for their broadcasts.

Social media is completely changing the way news organizations present their news and this may be a permanent change. Do you think a day will exist when we no longer have newspapers or people no longer gather around the television as a family to watch the nightly broadcast?

Speed vs. Accuracy

Ask yourself this question. Do you think it’s more important to be the first one to complete a task, or to be the first one to complete it properly?  I’m looking at a broad picture with that question, but in the world of social media information can get around at an alarming rate, and with that news outlets are feeling the pressure to get stories out to the public as quickly as possible.  While this is part of the job for a journalist sometimes the facts and the accuracy of the stories are compromised.

I understand mistakes happen and will continue to happen, but in the case of news stories mistakes are only amplified with the use of social media.  Sites like Twitter or Facebook are frequently used to post headlines, and anyone can on those sites read the headlines and repost them, thus quickly spreading the word of any given story.  Can you begin to see how posting the wrong information could lead to some potential issues?

Let’s look at the shooting that took place in Arizona two years ago when Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot.  Of course when the news broke about the shooting Twitter and Facebook exploded with posts in regards to the issue.  However, things would become confusing when a report came through that said Giffords was killed in the shooting.

The claim was never verified, but various news outlets like CNN, Fox News and CBS reported that she was killed anyway.  As we would later learn Giffords was, in fact, still alive and in surgery at the time.  These outlets, amongst others had to apologize for reporting false information.

Even though the claims were never verified why did these outlets decide to report the story?  I believe it is that pressure to be one of the first few to get the story out before others.  Social media has created a pressure on journalist and organizations to get the story out there as quickly as possible before it reaches media sites.   Once a report is released it can spread quckly on sites like Twitter, whether it is other news outlets or just the average Twitter or Facebook user.

Earlier this week I watched an episode of The Newsroom, which is a fantastic show, which dealt with them covering the shooting in Arizona.  Even though station was getting numerous reports about Giffords death they refused to report on it until they received confirmation.  Turns out they did the right thing, and it really stuck with me how important it is to get it right rather than to be the first one to get it wrong.

Blogs I Follow

Here are the blogs that I am currently following.

Boston Blog Pictures: I’ve decided to follow this blog because I think their use of story telling through pictures is excellent and I hope to implement visuals of my own to enhance my blog posts.

CNN iReportThis is an excellent blog for me to follow because it’s user-generated media.  This blog site follows stories that are important/covered by the mass public.

Cyber Journalist: This blog site covers different aspects of journalism, news and social media.  For example there is a post about how Facebook is trying to implement a newspaper program for its mobile users.

Djenne Djenno: This is a blog site in which the author, Sophie Sarin, talks about her experiences opening a hotel in Mali.  I thought this would be a great blog to follow because the author does a fantastic job of using her words to create vivid story telling, something I hope to use effectively in the future.

James Fallows – The AtlanticI believe this will be a great blog to follow because of the content matter.  James Fallows talks about a number of different issues; one of is unbalanced media coverage of American politics.

Jeff Bullas: I started following Jeff Bullas’ blog because he talks about how social media sites are being used by people or companies to advertise and promote.  I want to look at social media through a variety of aspects.

John Teti – The Gameological Society: I followed this blog because I like the idea of taking something your genuinely interested in, in this case that’s video games, and making an in-depth blog site about it.  I want to take the same approach for my blog, by turning something I’m passionate about into a comprehensive blog.

Online Journalism BlogI thought this blog would be informative for me since it pertains to happenings in the world of journalism, in particular, online journalism.

Press ThinkThis is another blog site that pertains strictly to journalism and any events that occur which directly affect it.

The Washington Post/Erik WempleI thought Erik Wemple’s blog would be great to follow because not only does he report on certain issues but he also gives his opinions on the matter.  A reporter giving his or her opinion on a subject is not something you will find often, and for that reason I will Wemple’s blog.

Social Media and Journalism

Technology has given the mass public an opportunity to engage in and participate in the news industry.  These days whenever a reporter posts an online story there is a comment section where people are encouraged to leave their thoughts on that particular story.

Technology has also given rise to social media and now people can remain to connected to the news and each other at all times if necessary.  Websites like WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blog sites gives anyone the power to express themselves however they see fit, but has social media given people too much power? Has social media allowed anyone to be a journalist?  In some regards social media has allowed people to act as pseudo-journalist.  In today’s society someone could find out about a breaking news story through Facebook or Twitter from a friend on his or her news feed.  That individual has now become a channel of some sort for that particular news story

Today some people take it upon themselves to report the news whether it is through their blog sites or other websites like Facebook.  An average citizen could act as a journalist in some regard by reporting their own stories and posting them online to social media sites.  This could potentially lead to serious issues dealing with accuracy and biases.  This idea of social journalism grants someone the power to speak to the public and potentially alter the judgments of those who pay attention.  For example if it were election season someone could post stories or snippets online through social media about one particular candidate that could alter someone’s viewpoint.

Social media has allowed all of us to stay connected with one another, but has it given too much power to people with no journalism experience

Hello World

Hello my name is Charles Richardson and I am a senior at WVU’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism and I am from a town called Pennsauken located in New Jersey.  I initially fell in love with journalism when I wrote for my high school’s newspaper during my sophomore year.

I previously worked as a news staffer at the campus radio station, WWVU-FM, which is commonly referred to as U92. At U92 I wrote, produced and broadcasted live news story as well as put together news packages. I also worked for WVU Her Campus as a staff writer. Every week I was responsible for producing an article that pertained to events or issues occurring on the West Virginia University campus.

I hope one day that I will be a television news producer for a major network.  Working behind the scenes in the control room or the editing room is exciting.  Putting together a television or radio production for many people is something that I will take great pride and joy in.  In addition I would like to work for a news network that is located in New York City.  I would love to work in any major city, but New York City is my number one destination for my career.

I am starting a new blog here on WordPress that will discuss how social media has given more power to the people in regards to the news and breaking events.  I also want to explore how, if at all possible, if the perception of a journalist has changed since the rise of social media.  Certain aspects like how fast a story is published versus whether the story is accurate is one of the many things I would like to cover.