Portfolio 4: End of Semester/Final Portfolio

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It's the end of my first semester here at Seton Hill University, and while there have been a few stressful moments here and there, I have enjoyed my time here, much more than any other institution I have attended.  The classes I took were a large part of my experience here, as one could imagine, particularly this class.

This class introduced me to blogging, and the process of sharing my work with my peers outside of class.  While I did not have a positive association with blogging before EL237, I feel that blogging gave me a way to understand the material that I would have not been able to simply by reading the assignments and just showing up for class.  The discussions I had with my peers inside and outside of class because of the blogging gave me a different, and fresh perspective of news-writing, a subject that I wasn't particularly a fan of before.


Portfolio:


For the Coverage section, I blogged for all of the assignments, including:

"NY Times": My Life and The New York Times, One in 8 Million


"Haiman 57-67": Is this actually about fairness, or how they look in the newspaper?

"Arizona Star": Arizona Star: Interactive Trash Report

"Wired": Link use on Websites and Video Games

"Harvard Crimson": Live Nudes at Harvard

"The Cavalier Daily": Gratuitous use of fold at the University of Virgina

"Haiman 71-73": Are the news organizations doing their job?

For the In-Depth section, I discussed how not only does your layout need to be clear, but your website will fall flat if your stories are lacking, in Live Nudes at Harvard.

For the Interaction section, I commented about Greta's view of the "Haiman 57-67" assignment, expanding upon her ideas to consider the motivations of politicians, and how that might effect their view of news-reporters in Is this actually about fairness, or how they look in the newspaper?.

For the Discussion section, one of my blogs, My Life and The New York Times, One in 8 Million, had two comments.  I also continued the discussion with one of the commenters on her blog.

While
My Life and The New York Times, One in 8 Million was submitted well before the due date, in a Timely manner, Arizona Star: Interactive Trash Report and Link use on Websites and Video Games were both submitted before the class.

     Xenoblogging:

For the Comment Primo, I was the first to comment on Matthew Henderson's blog about The New York Times.

For the Comment Informative, I noted that a photograph that was included in the online version of an article Kaitlin Monier blogged about, was probably not included in the print version of the same article.

For the Link Gracious, I was inspired by, and linked to, Greta Carrol's blog in Is this actually about fairness, or how they look in the newspaper?

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For my Wildcard, I linked to a video that highlights some seriously faulty statistics on a news program in Fair, not so Balanced.

Original Assignment

Are the news organizations doing their job?

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A statistic that has been quoted through-out Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists is that 53% of Americans believe that the press has too much freedom, with many feeling (even in our class) that the news media is not essential to our lives.  While it is hard to argue that we would be better off without the news, I think a large part of this is that the News media is losing credibility with their attempts to reach a larger audience, and they have yet to prove their importance to those 53% of those people polled.  While people who don't stay up-to-date on current events get their news from second and third-hand sources, what is going to happen to our society if less and less people don't trust the news they hear.

Original Assignment

Fair, not so Balanced

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Regardless of your political or news-network affiliation, news-writing students should watch this video of Jon Stewart highlighting some shaky statistics presented in a news program.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-december-8-2009/gretchen-carlson-dumbs-down
In Greta Caroll's article, she stresses the importance of being open-minded.  However, I have found that while writing my news articles, a small number of my subjects have complained about how they were represented.  I followed all of the rules of news writing, and I made sure to give them enough room for their voice, but they still found fault with the articles.  One even implied that my article was inaccurate, but I didn't get any specific information wrong, it was rather that my article didn't have the slant that they wanted for themselves.

So when I hear that "elected and appointed office holders" have complaints about news writers, I take it with a grain of salt.  There are no real facts or statistics directly relevant to the subject, just the assumption that news writers have preconceptions about their stories. I think I can recall Rod Blagojevich saying that there wasn't really a story when the investigation about him was made public.  It is important to remain fair and balanced, but that might not always put you or your subjects in the best light.

Original Assignment

Gratuitous use of fold at the University of Virgina

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The Cavalier Daily has by far a more interesting design than the Crimson, but what it makes up for in form, it lacks in function.  The layout always has the navigation bar at the top, with three photos at the bottom of the visible page when it first loads.  However, these photos are cut off at the bottom, much like how pictures are included in most physical papers along the fold.  While I understand that this is to get the person viewing the webpage to scroll down and read more, the news is buried in an attempt to get the reader to pay attention to the page.  When the viewer first glances at the page, they do not get any news.  The Cavalier Daily could include some headlines in the white space above the photos, or include more photos above the online fold to improve the design.

Original Assignment


Live Nudes at Harvard

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When I read the Harvard Crimson online, I first noticed that the articles were very well written.  My experience with student newspapers from elite and top-tier colleges (in particular CMU's The Tartan, as well as others) is that the tone can be condescending, and that the writers will often break the basic news-writing rules (such as the five w's and the inverted pyramid).  One of the senior staff members at the Tartan (I can't remember the position) recently wrote an article that I got so frustrated with that I didn't even bother to finish reading it.  The article contained about 6 or 7 subjects in the first few paragraphs, and in the middle of the article, they introduced another person without stating who they were.  Another article was focused on how much more CMU students study, but didn't back up the claim with any statistics or quotes (because we're just supposed to know that they work harder than the rest of us).

As far as the layout, while I thought it could use some work to be more appealing and eye-catching, it was very well put together.  I like how the text size and color is different for each part of the online article, so that the link, by line, publication date are easy to distinguish from each other.  One thing I think would be good is to separate the blogs from the news.  The links to the blogs look like links to older stories on most news websites, and after I clicked on a link pertaining to Harvard's newest pornographic publication, I didn't realize I was reading a blog until I read that it would contain "basically all of the nudity without that stupid artsy shit [of the old magazine]."

Original Assignment

Links for Article 4

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Link Use on Websites and Video Games

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My Wii just doesn't get much use these days.  I often have more pressing things to do, and I don't get hyped up too much about a lot of games that have been recently been released.  However, I do have a soft-spot for 2D games, and much of the space on my Wii's Virtual Console is reserved for classics like Super Metroid and Donkey Kong Country 2.

So I was drawn to Wired's review of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a multiplayer update of Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  I have been looking forward to this game for a while, since it's simple, familiar design lends itself to competitions with friends involving inebriants.

But I liked how the website used links within the article.  Instead of simply explaining every obscure reference, or just linking to every video game, the article struck a balance.  The article explained more relevant information instead of just linking, and less relevant information was just linked to instead of taking away from the article to explain it.

Orignal Assignment

Arizona Star: Interactive Trash Report

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I've always wondered what happened to recyclables.  I knew that garbage went into landfills without much processing, but I did not have the slightest clue as to what happens to the newspaper and cans after they're put to the curb.

I found that the process seemed to me very inefficient.  Recyclable material is first sorted four times by both machine and hand, all before it undergoes the exact same process again.  I always wondered why there were so few products made with recyclable material, but after watching this, I see now how it might be easier to convert a few gallons of oil into new plastic.

Either way, I felt that I wouldn't have had the same impression had I been passively watching a news report on a television.  I was actively involved, and I was able to learn more by reading the facts and information presented along with watching and listening to the interviews with the workers.

Original Assignment

My Life and The New York Times, One in 8 Million

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It's been a while since the last time I was on nytimes.com; maybe a few seconds.  The online version of The New York Times has been my start-up page on Firefox for about a year now, and has become a immense part of my life.  It broke the news to me about Ted Kennedy's passing, the two major shootings in Pittsburgh this year, and most recently, Lou Dobb's resignation from CNN.  While the organization and layout can be hectic, and I don't care much for Chandler Burr, but it really has become an indispensable part of my life.

But my favorite feature of the site is by far One in 8 Million.  I actually mentioned the feature in a comment on Matthew Henderson's blogs recently, because it has featured LGBT people in the past.  It is an audio/visual slide show that highlights a different person living in the Naked City each week, but I can't describe it as well as The NYTimes does:

"New York is a city of characters. On the subway and in its streets, from the intensity of Midtown to the intimacy of neighborhood blocks, is a 305-square-mile parade of people with something to say. This is a collection of a few of their passions and problems, relationships and routines, vocations and obsessions."

It's a really unique concept, to try and profile an entire city one person at a time, and it's a really unassuming (but effective) name for the feature.  The tone and the black-and-white theme reminds me of listening to This American Life as a child, listening to unique and down-right strange people revealing the deepest parts of their lives.

Original Assignment
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