Monday, April 18, 2011

Links We Love

Today, a news website can't just be a news website — it needs to talk to you, to make you laugh, to show you videos, to let you hear something new, to link you to other fun places on the web and to work within your social network. While most websites, independent or mainstream, rarely have all of these components, it's interesting to see how they are trying to adapt to a web savvy audience that wants it all.

A site that I came across today that I thought was a great way to incorporate another form of news was HerCampus' Links We Love. If you are anything like me, you click on that funny, fresh new video, article or photo that your Facebook friends post in their status. You laugh or say 'oh wow' and you send it to your other friends so you all can talk about it. This is how our generation functions. We like all of these little fun factoids that everyone wants to talk about. Links We Love isn't just a page of news articles that you have to sift through, it's quick little blurbs and links that can start those viral conversations.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cisco will stop making Flip Video

Sad news: Yesterday, a few news outlets — like Yahoo — picked up the story that Cisco Systems, Inc. "is killing the Flip Video, the most popular video camera in the U.S., just two years after it bought the startup that created it."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Huffington Post Slaves

"“The Huffington bloggers have essentially been turned into modern-day slaves on Arianna Huffington’s plantation,” Mr. Tasini said in a conference call with reporters. He vowed to picket Ms. Huffington’s house and turn her into an outcast in the liberal circles where she made her blog so prominent."

Let me Tweet in class

I cannot keep up with my Twitter account and I know I'm not the only student saying that today. When I first signed up, I really didn't know how I wanted to use Twitter. I didn't want it to turn into a human GPS of updates as to where I was at all times and I didn't want it to only aggregate national or world news. I wanted it to be an interesting news source from me. But, when I started Tweeting, I didn't have a data plan for my phone and the only time I could Tweet was when I was at home sitting by my laptop. And, well, nothing interesting was happening then. When I was at a journalism conference two years ago, I noticed a lot of people Tweeting conference information they thought was interesting through their feed. I thought that was good idea — use Twitter to tell people what you are learning throughout the day. But, I found it really hard to do that when I came back to school.

How many times has your professor told you to shut your laptop and put away your phone in class? If you've been in any of my classes, you've heard that rule quite a lot. Using media in class is considered rude in a lot of classrooms. But, what are they so afraid of? Do they think I'm going to be on Facebook during their class? Well, I probably will be. But, what if I'm posting information I'm learning from class? Isn't that beneficial? That's the way students work today. We need to be plugged in to social media and we usually are at any other time of the day. But, until recently, I haven't found a professor who whole-heartedly agrees with the idea of using social media in class.

Yesterday, our college hosted the 2011 Izzy Awards for independent media and before the ceremony I, along with several other students and visitors, had the opportunity to have dinner with Robert Sheer, editor-in-chief of TruthDig, and Jarrett Murphy, editor of City Limits. The dinner was presented more like a panel discussion with my professor Jeff Cohen mediating comments between the two journalists. But, Sheer was the clear voice of the evening and early on in the conversation he asked why the students at the dinner weren't on laptops.

He seemed pretty disturbed that we weren't Googling, Tweeting and researching while we listened. And, at that moment, I thought "YES! FINALLY! HE UNDERSTANDS!"

Do I think I'm going be able to Tweet in class? Probably not. But, maybe soon ...

photo from

Monday, April 11, 2011

On the Record

In the age of immediate Twitter feeds, Facebook updates and high-speed Internet, Americans expect news immediately. I think most people would agree that we are a fast-paced society. We are impatient and we want what we want now. In the realm of journalism, reporters are very familiar with the idea of instant news and the problems that accompany that desire — like, throwing up information as soon as it is received, without fact checking. Also, news consumers are giving more attention to citizen journalists for news, because it can be a faster way to get the information.

But, there is still a clear distinction between what is mainstream and what is citizen journalism and that is, the editing process and the reporting style. Mainstream media, while they do get the facts confused sometimes and mess up, have a newsroom, with editors and, in theory, they are suppose to fact check and report as educated journalists. Citizen journalists are usually self-editors and don't follow specific rules when reporting. For example, a citizen journalist might not say, "Hello, I'm a blogger for the Huffington Post. How do you feel about the article that was recently published in Vanity Fair?" No, they are more likely to say, "What do you think of that hatchet job somebody did on you in Vanity Fair at the end of the race?" That's exactly what Mayhill Fowler did in 2008.

Fowler, however, was a hybrid citizen journalist/mainstream journalist in a sense. She bounced off of the Huffington Post and had some editing help. But she conducted herself like a citizen journalist when she asked a question to former President Bill Clinton like she was a supporter, instead of a journalist. But, what's the big deal? Well, Clinton responded with a few harsh words towards the writer of the Vanity Fair article and received backlash because of Fowler's article. But, the main controversy seems to be how Fowler approached the question.

It's clear she didn't say she was a reporter and Clinton probably wasn't expecting his comments to end up on the Huffington Post. But, why is Fowler unethical here? So, what if she wasn't a Huffington Post writer. What if she just posted his comment on her Twitter or Facebook? It's still online. A reporter from a mainstream outlet could have seen it and called her up to verify the quote. It still could have been seen by hundreds or millions of people.

I think to say the response from Clinton should have been "off the record" because of how the question was asked is ridiculous in today's world. Nothing is off the record. I don't even think that exists anymore.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to balance a job and Facebook

The New York Times reported a problem that has been discussed over the past few years dealing with conflicts between social networking and a career. Police Officers are now receiving at the least, public humiliation and lack of respect when media sources report inappropriate comments or photographs on the officers' Facebook, Twitter or Myspace pages. It's clear what the officers say through social media can be damaging, but courts and legalities are still a little confused about how to handle those problems.

"Officer Trey Economidy of the Albuquerque police now realizes that he should have thought harder before listing his occupation on his Facebook profile as 'human waste disposal'. After he was involved in a fatal on-duty shooting in February, a local television station dug up the Facebook page. Officer Economidy was placed on desk duty, and last month the Albuquerque Police Department announced a new policy to govern officers’ use of social networking sites." Read Police Lesson: Social Network Tools Have 2 Edges

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wait a minuteThe New York Times reported this morning that, a website promoting Donald Trump as the next presidential candidate, was started by "a group of New Hampshire Trump loyalists" and "they said Mr. Trump had nothing to do with their efforts."

BUT, if you go to, it says that the site is paid for Michael Cohen and Stewart Rahr. BLTWY reported on March 21 that Cohen, "an executive vice president in the Trump Organization who also serves as his special counsel," was "allowed" by Trump to "found" the website to "gauge the public's interest in a potential presidential run in 2012, as well as to carry out other politically related activities." As far as Rahr, he was featured in Forbes last year after securing a deal to sell a $1.3 billion company to Cardinal Health and interested in promoting "his friend Donald Trump as a candidate for president in 2012."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review: The World of Modern Men

A few days ago I was thinking about how I haven't come across many independent news sites specifically targeted to men. I know, at least in magazines, women are typically the best target audience. But, there has to be some kind of news for guys, right? So, I Googled "modern men online magazine" and The World of Modern Men came up. And, to be honest, I was pretty unimpressed. But, I'm a woman and I felt like I shouldn't be the judge. This site is not geared towards me. So, I asked my boyfriend, a 20 year-old male who visits about four news sites at least once a day, what he thought about it:

First of all, he said he didn't like the overall design of the page. "The tabs are okay, but the overall look of it isn't that appealing to me. Features like the grey news icon doesn't look professional, it looks unfinished."

To get better acquainted with the site, he clicked on Men's Health and skimmed these articles — 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Running and Skincare: The 4 Dangers of Winter. He said he clicked on these particular articles because they pertain to his life. The only piece of information he remembered from these articles when he navigated away was a skincare tip: don't take hot showers, it dries out your skin.

After he was about 5 minutes deep into the website, he said he wasn't really that interested in it and wouldn't be coming back. Why?

"There are other sources that seem more reliable. I would rather go to Huffington Post or The New York Times. I've never heard or seen this site endorsed anywhere. I don't think he is the most reliable source and nothing shows me that the information he is writing about is credible. Typically I don't get my news from bloggers unless I have heard of them from someone I know or if the blogger is someone I know."

With my boyfriend's input, I think a huge problem with the website is home page appeal. Second, he needs to prove why he is an expert about these topics he is writing about or at least interview an expert. I didn't read any articles where he cited where he got his information from. Also, I went a little further and clicked on a few links in the articles on the page — all of the links send you to a weird search engine. I thought this was really unrelated to the story content and frustrates the reader. This also cuts down this bloggers credibility for me, because it makes me feel like he isn't trying to help the reader.

C'mon, help a guy out. Pull your news together!