November 2009 Archives

Harvard News

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Compared to the Cavalier, I liked the busy look of the Harvard News layout. From reading other blogs, some people didn't like the way it looked, but I liked having so many different titles and pictures appear right on the mainscreen to give me a quick glance at what is happening with multiple topics.

I do think that all the articles could have been categorized a little better. Instead of just throwing all the article links together with a subheading here or there. It kind of needs to have a more organized chaos look rather than just chaos.

I think one of my favorite characteristics that can be found on a lot of news sites is when there is a continuous slideshow of pictures with news captions below them at the top of the main page. If I only have a few mintues to browser, these slideshows can provide me with a lot of information in a short amount of time.

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The Cavalier

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The Cavalier seems well organized and user friendly. Its categories and the way they are presented on the website make it very easy to find a story that you are looking for. Some newspaper websites are harder to navigate because they aren't so organzied, especially when it comes to searching for older articles.

A neat feature I found a little unique to the website was its option to view the print form. I've never seen this feature on any other news site I have been on. Although it seems a little pointless (why show pictures of the physical newspaper why the same stuff is already on the site, with added features), I still found it sort of considerate of those creating the website acknowledge the print form. I think this was because I'm so used to the debate about whether the internet is going to cause newspapers to go out of print (which it probably will someday), that I found it surprising that the website would provide this link to the print source.

What I thought could improve on the site was some of the spacing and the design. Although  the design aided to the organziation, I think it could be adjusted to where more news, pictures, and links could be provided on the site instead of just filling the space with the design. Also, there seems to be a lot of white space between links, stories, and headings. Richelle commented in her blog how the spacing caused her to become distracted. However, Jen commented in her blog how the spacing helped her view the paper. I guess this is just a personal point.

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Addition or Distraction?

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Links: harmful or beneficial to an article? Or can they be both? For a reader who is extremely interested in the article they are reading and is disciplined with their link usage, links can add a lot of useful information and help to expand on a topic. However, if an article is too link happy and it is being explored by someone who can't resist not exploring a link, links may distract from an article instead of help support it. This especially occurs when the links included in the article lead to sites filled with other links, and so on. When this happens, I feel myself paging through everything website in the Internet. So, with this assignment, I decided to perform a micro experiment to show an instance of when links can distract from rather than expand upon what an article is talking about.

On the Wired.com website, I clicked on a link to an article titled Music: Too Expensive to Be Free, Too Free to Be Expensive. This article was discussing streaming free music vs. paying for downloads. I noticed at first that it was very link happy, with links scattered in several places throughout the entire article. So, for my experiement, I decided I would click on the first link on any page I would encounter to see how distracted I could become.

The first link I clicked on this page led to a You Tube Video about how one executive of News Corp Digital was answering a question on the topic. I watched the video and found that it did add helpful information to understanding the topic. I was able to return to the original article without having been distracted from the topic.

The next link in the article I came to led to a site with another article. Imeem Not Closing, Though It Wants New Label Deals had its own article which again was link happy. I began reading the article, searching for how it related to my original. Before I was able to make a solid connection however, I found my first link to click on.

This link led me t o a site called Listening Post's Top 10 Hottest Music Sites. At this point, I was becoming distracted from my original topic. Although this site wasn't relevant to what I had been reading, I figured I would still check it out. Once again, there were plenty of links in the article to chose from, so I selected which one came first.

This link led me directly to the Imeem main page. On this site, I immediately saw a link for music, so I clicked. And....magically I ended up even farther away from what I had been reading.

Now I found myself on a site called New Music Tuesdays....and do you know what it was encouraging me to do? Stream music, basically for free. I couldn't download and keep any of the songs on the website for free, but I could definately listen to all of the songs and artists on it for free as long as my browser was open to the site.

At this point, after tracking through several websites, I decided to end my experiement. What did I discover? Something that surprised me. Although I did feel distracted when looking at the links in the articles that appeared in the middle of my experiement, the final website I found myself on wasn't necessary talking about the subject I had been originally readind about, but was encouraging me to do something that had been talked about in my original article. This forced me to think back to the original article I had been reading and made me begin thinking about some of the concepts I had already read in it. It also encouraged me to open up the original article, finish it, and compare it to the situation the last website presented me with.

To conclude this, a lot of links can lead to distractions from the article, but they also provide opportunities to expand upon the information being presented, even if it is in a roundabout way.

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Backup Needed

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I tried several times (waiting long periods of time each time) to get the videos to load and work, but in the end, I failed. I think it had something to do with my laptop connecting to the sites because the text alongside the videos was slightly distorted as well. I also don't think I was able to see or use all of the links I saw everyone talking about in their blogs, but I did mangage to access one or two that appeared on the screen.

I thought about trying another computer to try to access the sites, but since everyone else had talked about most of the site and the multimedia, I decided to talk about the sites from the perspective of when multimedia fails on sites.

Although there was text beside the video to provide me with some information, I was interested and wondered what I was missing in the videos. I read through the blog entries of several other people, figuring out what I had missed. It seems like the majority of the information had been given in the video, for some it seemed like too much information had been given.

If I had been someone who had to use the site and I didn't have a back up of ten of my classmates' blogs to refer to, I would have had a lot of difficulty making any use out of the site. I think this proves that although multimedia on websites is a great tool and usually provides a great advantage, it can also cause the site's downfall. Had there been more text, I can have refered to that and probably have learned at least a few more facts.

A postive note about the website was the extra links I was able to manage. These links, such as The City of Tuscon Environmental Services Website  and the Google Map of the city of Tuscon allowed me to explore some more information that wasn't offered only in the videos. 

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Would I want that to happen to me?

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"In conversations with journalists, we asked how often the professional and ethical obligation to be fair came up in news staff meetings or in informal newsroom conversations. The answer, with few exceptions, was almost never. Several journalists said they recalled hearing caveats against bias during conversations about stories on minority groups or women or instructions to be 'balanced' in stories about controversial political races. Many recalled frequent warnings about libel and privacy laws, and regular questions from editors about whether they were sure they had something "right".

 But they could not recall any general newsroom conversations about fairness, nor could they recall ever having been asked by an editor if they were sure they were being fair to all parties in a story. Some journalists even reflected a sense of discomfort at the ideas of being asked to discuss fairness in a public forum. Such discussions, lef by the top editors, not only reinforced the newspaper's journalistic values but give everyone a clear roadmap of what is expected" (Haiman 60).

   Although I have never been in the news for a major story or something controversial, it makes me nervous knowing newspapers aren't really concerned with fairness. If I were to be in the news, I would want the story to be treated fairly. I think to keep fairness in mind, it would be a good idea if some reporters and editors would take a step back from their work and think "Would I want this to be done to me?"

There are some cases where even a "no" to this answer shouldn't stop a story, like when a reporter has found information out that needs to be made known to the public for safety or other reasons. However, in some cases reporters dig up information where there is no story or highlight information that damages a person's reputation when it isn't needed. Being unfair or biased in an article can also sway the audience's viewpoint of the situation, especially when the only information they receive on the topic is from a biased reporter.

Although a reporter may gain more information who have a better story by avoiding thinking about what is fair, I think fairness should still be an important topic between editors and reporters.

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Comparing Sites

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Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group - This is where the idea and actual guidelines for the program originated. This site has been really useful in developing interview questions for the high school athete directors and trainers I have been talking to.

Bryn Mawr Sports Medicine- Gives background information on what an ACL injury is, how it occurs, and when a program for rehabilitation should be started. Many of  the links found on the site refer back to the Santa Monica website.

ACL Prevention Program Now Available to Individual Female Athletes - Gives a sample of what the program may include as well as some research pointing out that the program is mostly beneficial for women.

**For my this article, I'm considering either videotapping or taking pictures of someone going through the steps of the program. I will probably ask a trainer to do this because I doubt if I would be able to get permission to tape a student. There were several Youtube videos online, each differing in what exercises were used in the program, so I thought it would be a better idea to video/take pictures of a program one of the high schools I interviewed was actually using (if possible).

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Series

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The New York Times website is organized in such a way that a reader can clearly pick and choose what stories they want to read or what topics they want to research. The interactive parts of the website are very beneficial as well and add an extra level to the story that a reader would miss with only the physical newspaper. I find this website to be a midpoint: one connecting a newspaper to TV broadcasting, making better quality of perhaps both by using media to expand on stories while refining images and video with added written content to add more detail.

Some of the interactions I liked the most were the ones where there were a series of video for a series of stories that was connected under one main topic. One series topic was called Held by the Taliban. This series included five parts and an epilogue. Each part had a written articles as well as added media, such as a short video interview or a slideshow. The combination of the two really made the series effective, added faces to names and images to areas being described.

Check out each part:

Part One: 7 Months, 10 days in Captivity

Part Two: Inside the Islamic Emirate

Part Three: You Have Atomic Bombs, but We Have Suicide Bombers

Part Four: A Drone Strike and Dwindling Hope

Part Five: A Rope and A Prayer

Epilogue

The titles of each part were effective as well. The title of Part Three immediately gained my attention first because of how threatening it sounded.

Which one interested you the most?

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A Tough Situation

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"In severeal cities, older members of minority groups acknowledged that the newspaper - along with life in general- had greatly changed for the better from the time of their childhood. But there also was a fear expressed that progress in race relations and in newspaper coverage of minority community issues might be leveling off as journalists lost enthusiasm for the effort" (Haiman 43).

 This topic makes such a touchy situation for any environment because of all the emotional ties connected with it. When refering to the newspapers I read, whether in Greensburg or at home, I have mixed feelings about whether or not the papers have fair coverage/staffing of minority groups. To be honest, I never really paid attention when reading an article whether or not the article was representing a minority group. As a female, I don't really look to see if there are as many female staff members as male or if the papers are presenting news about women faily. I think this indicates that the papers are doing a fair job, at least with this aspect, otherwise I would have noticed something not being presented fairly.

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Daily American vs. Tribune Democrat

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In my hometown, there are two papers in circulation. It seems like the majority of my town receives the Tribune Democrat. However, some receive the Daily American along with the Tribune Democrat or just on its own. The difference between the two papers is extremely noticable, and I feel they really reveal some of the personlity of their readers just by the choice of who reads what.

If I had to describe the Tribune Democrat in only one word, I would say: cold. The paper is filled with death and desctruction as well as a growing amount of advertising. Also, it gives little attention to local happenings that aren't dealing with death and destruction, such as sporting events or events with schools. However, when pushed and pressured enough to cover an event, the paper does do a nice job in creating the articles and I rarely see any mistakes. However, as I mentioned before, I do think the paper is a little too in love with death and destruction. I remember the day after 9/11, the paper had "WAR!!!" printed across the top. The font was so big that it took up a third of the page. Even though our country had been attacked, war still wasn't main priority at that point because the attackers weren't necessarily attacking for a certain country, but rather for an organization. I think the editors were thinking a little too much along the lines of Pearl Harbor and WWII when they did this.

The Daily American is a much more positve paper with a strong interest in local events rather than national news. The paper is filled with coverage of community events, high school sports, and school activites. Although I do enjoy reading this paper from time to time just to break away from the negativity of the Tribune Democrat, I have to admit that I think the writing isn't as strong. Also, I have noticed more errors in the Daily American and sometimes the news articles seem a little too opinionated or are have several pieces of incorrect information.

At home, my family subscribes to both newspapers, mainly because the Tribune Democrat keeps closer tabs on more critical issues whereas the Daily American is in love with my sisters' (and my previous) girls high school soccer team as well as other high school sports. I enjoy reading both and I feel that by doing so I get a bigger picture of my communtiy than I would if I only subscribed to one.

 

 

 

Might Be a Little Too Much

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"The great British newspaper publisher Lord Northcliffe once said: 'News is what somebody, somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.'" (Sample Investigative Reporting)

I'm glad I'm taking this class this semester because my honors capstone project is based around investigative reporting. Since I'm not a journalism major, I wanted to try something outside of my usual confort zone and saw an attempt at investigative reporting as a possible way to include journalism in my project. For my project, I'm kind of creating a portfolio about what I find out about the acid mine draingage cleanup that is taking place (or not) in Somerset, Cambria and Westmoreland counties (its a long story of how I got myself into this).

The more I have researched for my project, the more questionable stats and information I have come across, especially for my home county. What concerns me most is that I don't know enough about investigative reporting to approach this correctly. What I will be writing in the future won't be published, however just me trying to pry at some information that is being protected and down played for a reason may cause problems as well.

In a way I am looking forward to my project, but it has caused me to become nervous as well. The more I have looked at investigative journalism, the more I realize it involves a lot of walking on eggshells. Not only do I have to be careful about how I treat my sources and back up what I am writing, I also have to consider how what I am writing will influence other people. Even though it won't be published, I'm really trying to avoid having what I write about this project becoming any more than just a project and a kind of experiment. Maybe I'm in over my head, but hopefully getting more background and experience with investigative journalism will help me to decide if I actually want to go through with the project.

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The Press Should Protect the Kids

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"The public feels strongly that children deserve special treatment from the press. Roundtable participants were almost unanimous in saying that children, especially young children, shouldn not be interviewed about serious subjects or when they may be traumatized without parental permission" (Haiman 31).

Considering the effects reporting had on the adults in this chapter, I agree completely with this statement. What a child says on camera after a tragedy can negatively change their lives. Take the Richard Jewell case and compare his situation to that of a child's. The child may not have discovered a bomb at the olympics, but something traumatic could have happened to them that would throw them into news coverage. Richard Jewell, an adult, had to deal with the damage done by the press for the rest of his life. What about a child or even a teenager who has a whole lifetime in front of them?

When in a traumatic situation, people say things that they don't necessarily mean or act out of their normal behavior. For a child or teenager, a reporting of their interview could cause serious consequences that could be permanently damaging, such as what the child would experience at school from classmates or how it would affect that child's future plans when it comes to applying for college or going to a job interview.

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Two Sides

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"Asked what they would prefer if the press found it impossible to get anyone to confirm on the record the facts in a story, 45% said they would prefer if the story not run at all, 28% said the story should run with quotes from unidentified sources, and 23% said they were not concerned about unidentified sources" (Haiman 17).

If an important story took place where the reporters had sources but couldn't necessarily identify them so they decided not to run the important story, the same 45% from the above statistics would probably vote to rather have the story run with unidentified sources rather than have no knowledge of the story at all. I look at this issue as having two sides that have to be weighed carefully by the reporter and maybe even more so by the readers: a news story can me made to give people notice or updates on important happenings that sometimes wouldn't be possible without the use of unidentifiable sources; however the realability of these sources should be kept in mind and checked as well because of the chance of false information being relayed.

Taking the example from Haiman, the Clinton-Lewinsky story is a situation where people may look back now and complain of the lack of clear, identified sources, but at the time a large percentage of newspapers readers were probably hanging on the every word of each story published on the topic, regardless of the unidentified sources mentioned. The topic provided a source of a kind of entertainment because of the magnitude of the scandal and people wanted regular updates on what was taking place.

However, I personally feel that the more identifiable sources, the better. Although I too would be angry if I missed out on something important because an article wasn't published, I feel more informed and trusting towards an article when I can see the sources listed. I think this helps newspapers from chancing the reporting of false information as well as gives a source that is readily accessible for backtracking if false information does happen to be reported.

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Portfolio 3 - The Semester is Flying

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      For those who aren't familiar with my blogging as well as the writings of my classmates, this portfolio was created to combine my writings over the past few weeks for my EL227 Newswriting class at Seton Hill University. The blogs I have included in this porfolio take a look at some newswritng issues, such as methods, problems, and different situations in reporting.              

       This portfolio made me realize how fast this semester seems to be flying by. Although we didn't have a lot of new blogs for this portfolio, what I did enjoy was getting to do more writing and practing of the methods we have been learning. Also, I really enjoyed reading the Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists handbook by Robert Haiman. I think it helped to give the class perspectives from literally two sides of a story: those reporting and writing the news, and those who the news is about or being relayed to. In many of the situations and problems that were brought up in the handbook, I found myself having to weigh out options because I would have agreements/disagreements with both parties in the argument. For journalism students, I think this handbook would be very helpful in determining the line between what their job requires and what they personally believe is right.

             For the blogs in this portfolio, I managed to keep discussing most of the issues in a fair amount of detail. Once again, my weakest points were interaction and discussion. I still have the "out of sight, out of mind" problem when it comes to blogging: once I blog or comment on someone else's blog, I always forget to go back and continue the discussion. With only one portfolio to go, I really need to keep working on this. 

                                                       ~ Coverage ~

To start out with, here are some blogs that show some of the topics we have been discussing in class. Both of them deal with the Haiman handbook, so let me know what your stance is on the issues!

Protecting the Kids- When it comes to reporting, I think kids should be off limit as much as possible, especially when it comes to interviewing them.

Two Sides- Would you rather have a report that is providing breaking news information with unidentified sources or would you rather have no article at all in order to avoid these faceless, nameless sources?

~Timeliness~

Here's an example of a blog I managed to get posted on time.

Fresh News - this was the blog I started when we were supposed to track a breaking news story. Neither of my choices went anywhere and it seems the topic was dropped and forgotten somewhat in class as well.

~ Depth ~

Many of my blogs have been longer in this class than in previous classes because I am more interested in the material being covered.

Damage Can Be Done - Editorials can be touchy, especially when trying to avoid being biased. Being one-sided in an editorial can do more damage than good.

~ Interaction ~

This, as I mentioned before, is one of the areas that I need to improve on. I comment, but I rarely follow up on my comments.

I managed to leave some comments over the past few weeks on my classmates blogs. For examples, here are comments I left on Matt's blog and Jeanine's blog when they were discussing some Haiman topics.

 

~ Discussion ~

This is the other area that I need to improve on. Discussions start on my own blogs, but I always forget to go back and actually join in or continue them.

They Have to Make the Right Mistakes- True, journalists are human and will make mistakes in their writing that will cause problems, but what mistakes are too costly and how many is too many? Those journalists who boil mistake-making down to the fact that they are human probably wouldn't want a doctor making a mistake on their surgery or a pilot making a mistake during landing. Journalists mistakes can have just as severe consequences, and shouldn't be taken lightly.

 

~ Xenoblogging ~

This blog has a few links to other websites that help to show the start of this project.

Fresh News - this was the blog I started when we were supposed to track a breaking news story. Neither of my choices went anywhere and it seems the topic was dropped and forgotten somewhat in class as well.

~ Wildcard ~

For my wildcard, I decided to create a blog that compared the two newspapers I receive at home. As I discuss, the two are almost like night and day.

 Tribune Democrat vs. Daily American : battle of the hometown papers

 

 Thanks for taking time to look at my third porfoltio for this semester. Stop back in a few weeks, the fourth and final will arriving soon.

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