Author Archive

Proximity is Priority.

Posted: April 20, 2011 by Mike Carter in Uncategorized

Like this house, online-only publications await their foundation.


As newspapers continue to decline, the building of a sustainable economic model for online news websites still remains undecided. The manner in which news is disseminated has changed so dramatically that the industry can’t keep up.

Says John Paton, the new head of Journal Register newspapers: “We have had nearly 15 years to figure out the web and, as an industry, we newspaper people are no good at it.”

The traditional newspaper’s economic model relies on a funding structure that is based primarily on selling audience numbers to those who wish to advertise in their publication. Secondly, newspapers have for years supplemented this revenue with sales, there are no secrets being revealed here. With content mainly free online, the problem with building a successful model for an online-only publication lays in pushing revenue past a reliance on ads and finding a way to provide something the public is willing to pay for. (more…)


Where are we headed?

Another year brings another State of the News Media report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The eighth edition of the American centered media report featured a comparison between how American newspapers fare against newspapers from other countries, two reports on the status of community media, a survey on mobile and paid content and a report on African American media.

Most promising for journalists was the optimism the report held regarding the recovery of news organizations from the recession. (more…)

Covering a Disaster Digitally

Posted: March 31, 2011 by Mike Carter in #9 Japan

News organizations handle large amounts of information everyday that has arrived to them through a variety of sources. When large catastrophic events happen, such as the recent natural disasters in Japan, there is a brief moment when these varied sources turn their collective attention on the gripping event. (more…)

WikiLeaks Wonders

Posted: March 16, 2011 by Mike Carter in #8 Wikileaks

Criminal organization or whistle blowing evolution? What does WikiLeaks mean for journalists in the information age? Some would rather say it is a threat to national security, while others would say it’s a new spin on an old idea where news media and the public need “people to leak and people to dig and people to consume and explain, and people who care enough to find the documents and bring them to light,” according to Mike Sager of the Esquire, Rolling Stone and The Washington Post.

Regardless of where data comes from it always needs someone to organize and explain it, to tell its stories. That is where journalists come in.


On the Lighter Side…

Posted: March 4, 2011 by Mike Carter in Uncategorized

Me contemplating philosophy, science, and soceity. Brought to you by bathroom reading.

I have been thinking a lot about how the media is changing. New sources and platforms for journalists lead to interesting and exciting possibilities to hear from our audiences and have a meaningful interaction with them. As true today as it was before the internet, for every million true stories that get shared online, the one fake sensational one will get through. It serves as a reminder to us that this can happen. I often wonder how often it is undetected in the not so newsworthy realm.

One fake news story I read about a few years ago had MCNBC’s Keith Olbermann reporting a study that said new parents lost as many as 12 IQ points after the birth of their first child, causing them to think that their child is the cutest, brightest, smartest. Olbermann’s quote following the revelation that the story was indeed fake summed up not just this incident, but also an intriguing journalistic concern regarding ethical decision making.  As he laughed at himself and his news team while reading the retraction, Olbermann said, “So there is no survey showing that parenthood will cost you at least 12 IQ points. But did you hear about the one showing how many IQ points newscasters lose when they see a story they really want to run?”

Here are a couple of fake news stories from Uncle John’s bathroom reader that I couldn’t resist posting:


The “Line of Verification”

Posted: March 2, 2011 by Mike Carter in #7 Ethics

In the reporting past, the divide between what was verified truth and unverified rumor was easy to discern. Filtering the ‘noise’ was as easy as hanging up the phone, or otherwise ignoring a dicey source. Increasingly, in the web 2.0 world, journalists are easily duped by unverified sources. The influx of social media as a research tool for journalists has blurred the lines between what we know is true, and what we would like to report. Couple this with the perceived need to be the first to break the news, a very real pressure for modern journalists and news associations, and we have an ethical issue that we can’t ignore.


All A-Twitter

Posted: February 28, 2011 by Mike Carter in #6 Twitter

Is the past tense of tweet twat? I sometimes feel like a twat for using this thing. But that is because, before this class, I had not realized the uses for twitter that can be applied for businesses and journalists alike.


One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Posted: February 16, 2011 by Mike Carter in #5 Not for Profit

A severe storm hit Britain in 1987. What was unique about this particular storm had nothing to do with Mother Nature. Some claim that the storm took the nation by surprise because of faulty whether equipment. Rowland Lorimer, the author of Mass Communication in Canada, begs to differ. Because the once national weather service had been privatized, only those who had subscribed to the top-level of service were aware of the coming storm. Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to create private knowledge-based industries on a foundation of public-sector information included no safeguard for public emergencies.

If you have stuck with me for this long you are probably asking yourself, neat story, but what does it have to do with non-profit news organizations?


Mubarak Quits!

Posted: February 11, 2011 by Mike Carter in News

Jubilant scenes in Cairo. Al-Jazeera live feed is amazing! Reports say it was the Army that finally pulled the plug after the reaction from the speech last night. Quatar welcomes transfer of power to the military. EU lends its support as well.

Al-Jazeera’s live feed found here

Al-Ahram coverage here (more…)

Suez Canal Authority headquarters in Port Said. IMAGE: Wikipedia

Amid the ongoing two-week anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, a new protest emerges in the country at one of the worlds most important trade routes. Workers for service companies owned by the Suez Canal Authority began a strike this week, raising fears among some of higher crude prices.


Wael Said Abbas Ghonim


Rumours that the protests in Egypt had been relenting as of late were shattered by the turn out yesterday in Tahrir (Liberation) Square. According to the CBC and Public Radio International’s The World, last night saw the largest gatherings as of yet assembled in the two weeks of protests at the square.


It’s like that mosquito that buzzes around the dark room as you try to sleep away a hot summer night. Long-form investigative journalism continues to be the some-what pesky provider of expose in the public interest that is resurgent, just when the comfy dwellers in the bedroom of blunders thought it was gone for good.

To put a negative spin on this would be to sell short what, in the end, is the job of the journalist. The connotations that follow a word like “pesky” (and the subsequent comparison to a mosquito) do not speak accurately to the role that investigative long-form journalists have. Never has this role been more tested than in the era of emerging forms of new media.

The not-so recent challenges to the worth of long-form and the frequent predictions of it’s fade into oblivion (or “fade into bolivian”, as Mike Tyson once said about his boxing career) are rather ironic in the opinion of many, since it has never been easier to access great exploratory pieces.


Zen 2.0 (web based version).

Posted: January 26, 2011 by Mike Carter in #2 Zen and Web 2.0

The Roman Emperor Claudius was once called to join his army in battle by a chain of bonfires lit from Britain to Rome in 43AD. That is about as far away from instant messaging as you can get. Even then, society had cemented a demand for types of broad communication which years later would evolve into a world of instantaneous everything.

Robert Prisig, in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance writes, “The stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep. The old channels cannot contain it and in its search for new ones there seems to be growing havoc and destruction along its banks. . . .”  The problem portrayed is the same that Marshal McLuhan spoke of when he said, “we may be drowning”, and which Todd Gitlin would describe as, “information overflow”.

Written in 1974, Zen comes from the perspective of an age when all the old technologies of today were brand new, and the biggest of all new media, the internet, was in its infant stages -when Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) were still being perfected by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. There are remarkable similarities in Zen to current conversations about media, most which either render “the overflow” problematic or praise its democratizing effect.

The Web 2.0 is the world of instant everything that represents a time where the maturity of the internet has become as much of a harness (see maturity link) as it is a sling-shot for information and conversation with a worldwide range and quickness unprecedented in the past. If we are made, as Prisig writes in 1974, “a stranger in our land” by all our technologies, than what does this mean for the web 2.0? How might Prisig’s motorcycle meditations reflect upon our relationship with technologies?

Like John and Sylvia, many of us who see value in relationships with the other dissent from reliance on technologies and lament “the good old days”. Still, as a journalist, a total deflection of the web is the equivalent to career suicide; and besides, who doesn’t like the ease of access it provides? The point should not be that any effort to escape from technologies is futile. We need to force ourselves as journalists and citizens to engage creatively with these technologies that let us know our “friends” and “freinemies” as well as distribute the news. But, we also need to be aware that a torrent of text, images and sound can overwhelm us; observable anytime you witness someone’s brain shut down when the answer isn’t instant, obvious or readily available. And heaven forbid there be a few seconds of silence while one thinks!

The majority of us are, like John, not narrow-minded, lazy or stupid but flat out refuse to keep up on the maintenance of a healthy relationship with technology. This involves not over-doing it and not under-doing it. Inability on our part is to be discounted right away, “either one of them could learn to tune a motorcycle in an hour and a half”, Presig writes, and we know this.

A Day in the Life

Posted: January 19, 2011 by Mike Carter in #1 Media Diary

Dirty, Dirty Social MediaA Diary of Media Consumption

It is the era of easy access, and it’s not hard to tell. Everything from food consumption, to communication and information gathering is billed as a one-stop, spend-what-you-got experience.

Has this changed the way we think about and interact with the world? Of course! The debate rages on about whether new technological changes are all bad, all good or somewhere in between. The future of news in a new media world is a fascinating area of interest for any serious journalist or student of journalism.

Like it or lump it, we live in a world permeated with technologies of all kinds. Whether the highway is metaphorical, as in the information highway, or literal, as in the 4-lane highways of New Brunswick (Canada’s drive through province), there is a sense among many that there is something being missed in our age of increasingly quick and easy access. There is also a sense within the news community of a great opportunity for transformational change – an information revolution. This change, of course, is in the way we communicate, receive and discuss information.

For this week’s blog, we have been asked to keep a media diary outlining “a day in the life” of media consumption.

Thursday January 13, 2011:

Last night I went to bed listening to the CBC’s Overnight program. I was lucky enough to get a real nice Grundig S350DL shortwave radio for my birthday this year with a sleep function which I set for 30 minuets, just enough to get myself into a snooze. Public Radio International’s program, The World, was on between 1:00am and 2:00am. The World is a news and features program on the Overnight repertoire that reminds me of As it Happens.

Before I drifted off, I set my radio alarm clock for the morning. Waking up to the radio is much more pleasant than the shock of that annoying buzzer alarm and so when it went off at 8 AM, it was the CBC again. This time, Information Morning filled my room with Terry Seguin’s voice. Although his interview style gets to me sometimes, I do enjoy this program in the morning. I continue listening to the radio as The Current comes on while getting ready for the day.

After having a shower and grabbing something for breakfast, I switched my laptop on and signed into both MSN messenger and Facebook. I poked around checking the “news feed” and reading my friends status’s that had been updated since I had last been online. Facebook is a pain when I am working. I am not a very good multi-tasker and so when I am on Facebook (and I mean actually on it, not just having the window open in my browser) I find it very distracting. A lot of procrastination and time wasting goes hand-in-hand for me with Facebook and MSN. Some people I talk to have interesting theories about how their Facebook use quadruples when they are in school compared to when they are on vacation.

I closed Facebook. I went to check last night’s hockey scores. I follow my team through its website, its twitter feed and its Facebook updates as well the major sports networks like TSN and ESPN. I also check trade rumor websites to see what’s happening on trade front and I have a fantasy hockey team through ESPN that I check up on regularly. After checking the scores and the standings in my fantasy league, I moved on to the real news of the day.

As is my routine, the first news website I browsed was the BBC. After reading a couple of articles here and viewing a video about the revolution in Tunisia I moved onto the website of the Globe and Mail where the lead story was about the remorse  the owner of a stolen snowplow felt after it struck and killed Toronto Police officer Sergeant Ryan Russell. For an injection of local news and humor I first checked Charles Leblanc’s blog, and then the Daily Gleaner, before proceeding with my day.

As I signed in to Facebook intermittently throughout the day, I noticed something: I multi-task more than I thought. While reading or going over class notes, I find myself chatting on MSN, listening to the radio or having Facebook open, even though I am paying no attention to it. When I take a break from my work, I serf the web looking for anything and everything that might inform or entertain me, with Facebook at most times only a tab away.

My older brother works for Los Cabos , a drumstick manufacturer based in Hanwell, New Brunswick. He maintains their website and their blog. Today he did his first video blog, check it out here. It is a very useful way to get the word out about the company and I watch these whenever they come out and I read the blog often.

I find myself listening to commercial radio a lot more than normal today. Since I started keep track of my media usage for this post, I am more conscious of it. I guess that is why I decided, on a few occasions, to flick on 92.3 FredFM or 105.3 The Fox when normally I wouldn’t have done so.

When I think about the implications of the various types of new media I use, I can’t help but think about the problems a complete reliance on these media forms brings. These problems will be smoothed out as time goes on, but for now they are very real. Mark Coddington writes for the Neiman Journalism lab about one such problem. He describes how initial reports of breaking news stories (especially those using twitter) are more likely to be untrue in the “stream of consciousness” of the web. The moment-to-moment reporting which social media allows gives fact checking far less prominence because immediacy is the norm. After the fact is where longer and more in depth stories are to be found, and are more than likely where the complete story is to be found.