Archive for the ‘ Comments on Journalism ’ Category

As the media slants

Ever since Bill Clinton passed the Fair Communications Act, which allowed the communication corporations to own an unlimited amount of air-space, we have seen the various media outlets begin to slant either left or right in their political standpoints.

Huge monopolies like FOX News have been growing and consuming smaller broadcast corporations to basically conform large portions of the media to FOX’s right sided perspective on events.

What does this mean for consumers of the media?  Why should we care that there seems to be a significant divide in media outlets between liberal and conservative viewpoints?  Does it mean that the news we read is no longer a strictly objective, two sided viewpoint of what is happening around us?

What it may mean for consumers is that in order to get a fair view of the days event you may need to read a number of different publications in order to take in all the different angles that each outlet pumps out.  Or it may mean that if you are a hard core liberal or conservative you will be happy reading one paper, knowing that it holds the same slants as you do.

Consumers should care about this shift to partisan media, because it means what we are reading is not 100% objective, not 100% fair.  It means that in order to get the full truth we must seek out more perspectives from the different sides, we must become more involved with the news.

Now don’t get me wrong, this new slanting of media outlets does not mean that objectivity and fairness are dead concepts.  We are not seeing salacious spins that distort what is reported to the point where it has become a one sided march, but we must be aware that each outlet has a specific underlying partisan viewpoint.

As monopolies continue to eat up the media into dominating factions we must be aware that we need to be more vigilant of what each groups standpoint is and how it affects what is written.

What’s private anymore?

I talk a lot about how the rise in technology is rapidly changing how we interact with each other and the world around us.  How with each breakthrough something is lost and changed to encompass the latest trends, how we are being sucked into this pool of information which overwhelms and embodies our senses to the point where we don’t know which way is up at times.

Knowing this and knowing that the internet is literally a place where if you look hard enough and know where to dig you can find anything, you wouldn’t think that people would be so shocked at the loss in privacy.  But as an article published by the New York Times discusses people can’t seem to understand how they are losing little bits of their personal lives to users on the web.

To me the lack of privacy is a no-brainer, duh!? I said to myself while reading the article, of course we are losing certain aspects of privacy as we give more of ourselves to the web.  If you have a Facebook, a twitter, myspace, blog, whatever it is, you are explicitly giving the web–and ultimately its users–very personal information about yourself, you should be prepared that someone, somewhere may have the prerogative to search you out.  And as far as people losing the social security number and becoming victims of identity theft, I cannot fully sympathize with them, we have to be smarter as the technology gets smarter.  You need to check the sites you’re giving information to, you need to find their security and make sure its legit.  You need to be able to think ahead and not be naive to the fact that people have the means to steal from you through a computer screen miles away.

This is not rocket science people, it is common sense.  Yes, we are losing our privacy but it is a small price to pay to have the world at your fingertips.

All hail the death of print

You would think Craig Mod, a self-titled computer programmer, book designer and book publisher, wouldn’t be saying good riddance to the traditional mode of printing books on paper.  You would think as a person who has made a living off publishing books he would be fighting to the death to keep the old fashioned manner of reading alive.

But as a blog from the NYTimes.com on a recent blog post of his pointed out, this is not the case.  Like many in the print industry he has been following the switch in trends very carefully and has come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter how the book is viewed, what is important is the content.

It doesn’t matter if you flip through a paperback or scroll through an iBook, you are still reading the same thing and whether or not it is good will not change depending on how it is read.  Mod argues that content is what matters, content is what makes or breaks a book, not whether Jane Doe is reading it on her iPad.

Reading his point of view made me see how the switch could be beneficial.  For one we wouldn’t be “shipping dead trees around the world,” that is always good right.  Save the environment one Kindle at a time.  But it still makes me sad to come to the realization that one day I may not be able to have the satisfaction of breaking in a new book, smelling that wonderful smell of ink on paper, turning a dog-ear on a break.

How do you feel about the death of print?

Do you think you care?

I don’t want to stand on a soap-box, but I know it may be the only way to get anyone to listen.  And don’t get me wrong I am as much a part of the problem as everyone of you.

Look at your life, look at the things you “need” to get through each day.  In particular look at all the electronic devices that control, what sometimes feels like, every aspect of our lives.  Right now you’re thinking, oh this again, like I haven’t heard this before.  But we have become absolutely dependent on technology and I can’t keep my mouth shut.

I almost have a heart attack every time I think I lose my cellphone (which is always in the most random places).  I remember when I didn’t have a cellphone, when no one had a cell phone, but I can’t remember what it was like to not need one attached to my persons at all times, I can’t remember ever feeling the panic of being disconnected.

And it’s not just the phone, it’s the computer, iPod, video games, smartphones, doing ten things at once, spending countless hours staring at screens.  Right now I am reading for a class, listening to music, uploading photos on my flickr, and talking to my boyfriend.  How is this productive again?

Am I being ridiculous, or does anyone else feel the consumption of technology on their lives seems to have well-surpassed the idea of luxury, and feels more like a necessity?

Is it weird that I feel there is something inherently wrong with that idea, please stop me if I’ve gone to far.

Yes, I love technology and it has done both gloriously good and bad things to change life on this planet, but something has been lost.  In a rise something always falls.  I think we can all agree there is a general decline in the traditional sense of community and interaction within the broader social spectrum.  Where did the days go when we were out there in reality actively playing in society?  Is this new web-based community comparable?

Kids would rather play video games than go outside for the real sports.  People would rather fall in love online than on a real date.  The real has become virtual, but does anyone care?  Probably, at least I hope so.  I’m not saying we have become technical drones and people don’t go out and interact with society everyday, but you cannot deny that it has changed significantly with the rise in technology.

I know…who am I to say the decline in traditional forms of community is a bad thing. Like I said, hate being on that soap-box.  Hell it may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened.  If you isolate a society through technology would you decrease conflict?

Is an apathetic nation better than one willing to fight for what they believe in?  I’m not sure…

The New Conversation

As more and more people find their way onto the web through blogging, tweeting, and social networking sites like Facebook, a new type of conversation is beginning to form.  News has begun to break away from the strict I am the writer you are the reader format to now incorporate a converstional type of writing that encourages users to be involved. 

“Everyone at some point has to start blogging,” moderator Steve Barnes said during a bloggind conference held by the Times Union at St. Rose Wed. March 3.

Journalists everywhere are taking the dive into blogging face first, with some finding it hard to come up for air.  From Kristi Gustafson’s On the Edge to Steve Barnes Table Hopping there is not shortage of posts being pumped out of timesunion.com.  The website is a domain for just about anything and everything people would be interested in reading about, giving users a dynamic mix of different points of view and content.

What many people are wondering is how do you make your blog as succesful as a blogger like  Gustafson, who gets thousands of views a day.

“You need to find something you are passionate about,” she said.  “I do wonder why sanyone cares that I don’t like to shower at the gym, but they do.”

What all the panelists at the event (which include Gustafson, Barnes, Greg Dahlmann, Gina Luttrel, and Rob Madeo)  tried to emphasize was that although you should be focusing your blogs on something you are personally interested in, you must also be prepared that not everyone will agree with you.  But don’t be discourage because that is part of what makes a blog successful, stirring up conversations that demand people to contribute to.

You don’t want to post something to be controversial, to cause problems, but you should not be afraid to put your opinions out there.  The more honest you are with your readers, the more true to yourself you are, the more interesting your posts will be.  If you have interesting posts you will have interested readers.

So whether you are a professional journalist picking up blogging as another avenue to write or a citizen trying to put your voice out there, remember one thing, speak your mind, edit for grammar not content, and let the conversation begin.

Anyone else running on empty?

It seems as soon as the phrase, “I’m a senior,” is uttered a flood of questions is doomed to follow.  What are you doing? Are you excited? Where are you going? How are you getting ready?  Automatically I would say: I applied to grad school, I can’t wait to graduate, I am leaving Albany, and trying to get ready for all of it.

But before I can worry about any of those things I need to make it through my last semester.

Over the past four years as an undergrad at U-Albany semesters have breezed by at a quick but steady pace.  With four classes, an internship, and extracurricular activities I’m hoping I will be busy enough this time around to speed time up.  However, as midterms loom on the horizon I can’t help but wish I had just given myself a break and coasted to the finish. We’re only halfway through and I already feel like I am sprinting to the end.

I know that working hard through the finish will pay off, but how often have we heard that, “work hard now and it will pay off later.” Come May it will be later, and it is a bit stressful to be on the edge of achieving our goals.

More questions flood in as we approach graduation: What have I done? Did I make the right decisions? Am I going to have the future I want?  Right now we are all waiting to find the answers to these questions, and there is nothing to do but wait.

One of the things that is making them harder to answer is the uncertainty of the job market graduates will be entering. This instability is one of the main reasons why I have chosen to continue my education in graduate school.

To be honest, going back to school is one of the last things I want to be doing next fall. I’ve spent almost 20 years in school and I am over being a student. But at the same time I have to be realistic about my future.  Do I think I could get a job after I graduate without going to grad school? Yes, I’m sure I could, but getting my masters degree is going to give me the job security a bachelors in journalism and art cannot.

Over the next few months that is what I am going to be preparing myself to do. I wish I could say that come May I will have finished my career as a student, but I just can’t seem to pull the umbilical cord.

Who’s the watchdog now?

Publish first, filter later is just one of the newly evolving publishing methods that has taken the role of watchdog away from mainstream media.  Everyone can blog, everyone is on Twitter.  You can say anything, be anyone, and in most scenarios nothing extremely bad happens.

Microblogging, or tweeting as it is more commonly referred as, seems to be the best example where the publish first, filter later article is used.  You write your 140 characters, sometimes without a second thought and sometimes with careful consideration to each word, and update, it’s out there for everyone to see.

Later you may go back and wonder why at 3:00 a.m. you decided to let the world know how it felt to fall on your ass in a mudd puddle on the way home, do you know anyone who would care?  You can choose to delete it and try and pretend it never happened, but the fact of the matter is someone, somewhere got a kick out of your clumsiness.

As these new forms of sharing continue to grow and integrate into our technologically driven lives there seems to be less filtration through traditional forms of news distribution (newspapers, tv, radio).  Old ways are replaced  by direct access to anyone with connection to the web to contribution.  With the new sharing networks like blogging, Twitter and Facebook everyone can have a voice.