Tatamagouche is a small community on the North Shore of Nova Scotia. It’s approximately a 30 minute drive to Truro which has been nicknamed the hub of Nova Scotia and a 2 hour drive from the capital city, Halifax. Its population is about 5,000 in town residents, with approximately 10,000 if you include surrounding areas. Even for a small town, Tatamagouche has a lot to offer and is very beautiful. Its residents have won community based awards from the province and even beat competition for the hit CBC reality TV show, The Week the Women Went. Though I personally could never see myself moving back to Tatamagouche to make a living, I make regular visits to see my family and walk along the shore. If I were to create a news website for Tatamagouche, it would look something like this….
The most optimistic finding that I found through the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism was their findings on people getting their news from mobile devices. I view this information as a positive thing because it shows that people are still interested in news, they still want to read the news, and they are still following current events (local, national, and international), therefore, the market for news and the demand for news is still present. We, the journalists, have to adapt to this new change and switch to these mobile devices and be creative with the mediums! Just because paper is dying doesn’t mean there are fewer stories out there to cover, or that no one wants to read or watch a long form documentary piece, or that their job is going to be cut- we just have to come to terms with the fact that technology keeps changing and our job, like many other jobs (car industries adapting to robotics, fashion industry adapting to new styles and trends, publishing companies adapting to online e-Books, etc.) is to learn how to use the new mediums (cell phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, etc) to our benefit and its full potential. According to the study, almost half of Americans get their local news and information through their mobiles- this is a huge number and it would be easy for the percentage to grow because more and more people are buying smart phones, becoming interested in tablets, and most people own an iPod as their media player.
My birthday was shaken by a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, killing thousands of people, injuring thousands more, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and in fear. Once the earthquake occurred, news organizations from across North America went overseas to find a story. The story they covered was of the massive tsunami, showing high definition footage of a 3-story wave crashing upon the shores of Japan, racing through their streets, knocking down trees, power lines, cars and houses as it pushed through. For days, people seen “The Day After Tomorrow” like footage, it seemed surreal and almost like it were on a movie set and not reality.
Wikileaks has changed the way in which journalists and the public receive information from their governments. Before Wikileaks, journalists relied heavily on their own research, archive material, research databases, interviews, and months upon months of work and story development- sometimes years. However, Wikileaks was able to compete and completely squash the media competition towards information and was able to release more classified, top secret information (mainly government documents) to the public on their website than all media sources combined. However, can journalists, the public, and our governments be able to handle this amount of information? Is Wikileaks a valuable piece in the puzzle or is it the Jenga piece that makes our way of knowing the world collapse?
Journalism Code of Ethics – Quality vs. Speed
We live in a world where speed means everything- the faster you can go, the more you get to accomplish. Think for a second of all the activities you do in a day: you wake up, take a shower, blow dry your hair, do your makeup (well some of us), listen to some tunes, listen to the morning radio, eat your breakfast, grab a coffee at Tim’s, go to class, hang out with friends, listen to your iPod, watch television, go to work. Therefore, it’s obvious why we want our news NOW, not later.
A lot of news rooms go to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to find news, some look at blogs and Youtube to find leads. When we rely on news from our viewers, some can be good- others bad. We have to realize that our viewers are not professionals and not every story is worthy a voice. Due to 24/7 news channels like CNN and CBC News World, we rely on almost ANY story to fill in space. These stories includes a lot of entertainment news such as Charlie Sheen going crazy, Lindsay Lohan is crazy and allegedly a thief, and Justin Bieber has a new haircut. To think we have all of this time to cover genocides and rape in Africa, young girls prostituting themselves in order to afford Scientology, and we don’t do it. If I were to write the Code of Ethics for Journalism, I would include more time for international news rather than infotainment. We have the speed and technology to do so, so I don’t understand why we don’t? Our job is to inform the public, especially about human rights and injustice.
However, when we speed up the process, fact can be blurred with fiction or opinion. Journalists must always, ALWAYS, verify their stories and facts. When looking at Twitter, for example, people are constantly updating their statuses and can do so in seconds. It is hard to add any background context to a story with only 140 characters to do your status. For example, when the “roof collapsed” at Regent Mall, everyone tweeted it- however, when you looked at the background and context, only ten ceiling tiles fell and broke. The worst to see is journalists reporting on “fake deaths”- like Gordon Lightfoot. He’s not dead but a journalist in Toronto wrote an article for online stating that he was after reading Twitter. This reporter could have EASILY called up Lightfoot’s agent, family member, or even old Gordon himself! In my Code of Ethics book, I would create a policy where reporters who choose story ideas from any blog, social network, or online must verify with the editor, all facts, and find at least 3 contacts who can verify that it’s true and to comment.
My Life with Twitter thus Far
I thought I would never open a Twitter account because I’m already addicted to Facebook. I really didn’t need another website to distract me from my homework. For the five “important” things I’ve learned while using Twitter, the first one was how to use it.
“The medium is the message.”
Millions of people flood the streets of Cairo, Egypt’s capital city. Millions more flood the streets of neighbouring cities, towns, and villages. The protestors chant with one thing in common: the freedom of their people, democracy, and for Mubarak to step down as the 20-year reigning president. Only a handful of Egyptians are chanting for Mubarak to stay in power compared to the opposition and many of them are paid by the government to stir up trouble with the peaceful protestors.
Many of the protestors communicate and join together through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Twitter allows registered members to post 140-character “status” descriptions of what is currently happening around them. Most of the posts keep the facts plain, simple, and clean, i.e. “Opposition voices scepticism about Mubarak’s constitutional panel” by Al-Masry Al-Youm. On Facebook, a registered member can create groups and invite millions of friends and supporters to one common place on the internet. On these groups, people can make “wall posts”, explaining where they are, and pose questions, share ideas, and communicate with people. Members can also send personal, private messages, create forums on the group site, and create events with specific dates and times.
When glancing through the Propublica’s section for their investigations, my eyes stopped at the word “Omniscan”. Curious, I read the little summary that followed the headline, “Omniscan: Specter of MRI Disease Haunts General Electric”. It briefly introduced what Omniscan is and why GE is linked with the chemical, but not much of a background.
I clicked on it to read further, not only because I was interested in what this multi-billion corporation has to do with a potentially fatal disease, but also because I have family members and friends who has had MRI scans before. Also, I am really interested in investigative journalism concerning corporations, greed, money, and heart-felt stories from victims of crime. Thinking this would be a good investigation to read and write a response to for Reporting 2.0, I pressed on ward.
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.
-Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Every morning, as a child, my mother would ask me to go to the end of the driveway and fetch the newspaper. My parents subscribed to the Halifax Chronicle Herald and I enjoyed opening the fresh pages, reading the front headlines, flipping to the funnies, and looking at the photos. My mom would glance at a story or two, mostly to get to the crossword. My dad always read the letters to the editor, claiming it’s the most important section of the paper- which I agree.
Now that I am 21, living on my own, and finally attending a journalism school, I find myself not as excited for news. I don’t receive the morning newspaper, instead I quickly glance over the headlines, skim through the first paragraphs of the stories that interest me, and skip the rest. All of these stories are found on my laptop; CBC news is my homepage whenever I click the internet icon. As an inspiring journalist this scares me. After reading the first two chapters of Robert Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I don’t feel alone.
Pirsig says that our consciousness moves faster. Because our minds move faster, we are able to absorb information quickly and easily, making internet surfing a breeze. However, by just surfing the web, we are only broadening our minds with information but not running deeper into the issue. As I stated above, I am a sucker when it comes to quick, easy, effective, and flashy marketing for online news- the faster I can read the top stories before I catch my coffee at Tim Horton’s and off to class the better! Or is it better?
The internet has made finding information and news quicker and effortless. You justsimply have to type in the website in the address space, click ‘go’, and POOF, you have every top story worldwide. A person can easily find out what happened in Russia, America, Australia, Africa, anywhere in the world with a quick click of the mouse. Newspapers, television and radio stations, and magazines across the world have their very own website, with easy access to free online content (only a select few use pay walls). They thought by doing so, more viewers would become interested in their content and would then start purchasing the paper copy. Needless to say, viewers adapted to the free, effortless access to news on the internet, rather than rushing to newsstands and purchasing the newspaper.
It has become even easier now, with portable laptops, e-book readers like the Kindle, iPads, and cell phones like the iPhone and Blackberry capable of Wi-Fi services. People can easily share, email, and post thoughts about an article online on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, or post them directly on the story comment board.
However, this method of “communication” is boring, anonymous, and unproductive. Pirsig wrote, “In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more T.V. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.” When you relate this to the world of Web 2.0, you come to realize that our car has become our
computer room. We’ve become used to it, adapted to the technology, assuming that it only gets better. The conversation towards the news has become boring, just like small-talk in a car. We post our thoughts on the forum but many of us don’t even return to the website to see what others have posted. Who has the time to sift through and read hundreds of comment posts? We should continue to engage in discussions at coffee shops after reading the newspaper, or talking to our families at the supper table.
Broader Sense of the News
Due to the vast amount of information online, we do not have the time to sift through every website, every post, every comment, etc. The internet has made us impatient. We want to read the headlines quickly, get the jest of the story after skimming the first few paragraphs, and be on our way. When we skim articles our knowledge of the world is broad but “meaningless”. As journalists, we should always be concerned with the questions: Who, what, when, where, why, and how? It is easy to post who did what, what happened, and when it occurred on a website- but it’s the why and the how that needs the deeper thought. This takes a lot of resources which we have due to the advancement in technology but it also takes time which we assume we have little of. Investigative journalism is in danger because of the internet and reader’s short attention spans and impatience. The internet could be a marvellous place to uncover corruption, greed, scandals, and find solutions but we need to grow patient with it.
Look at John’s stubbornness to not learn how to take care of his motorcycle and to have a mechanic do it for him. He assumes that the mechanic knows better because that is their job; he assumes that he doesn’t have the time to do it by himself and he could use the time he would have used trying to fix his bike on something else; he assumes that the advancement in technology will always be on his side and will save him from any
problem. The mechanic’s wisdom plus the technology equals problem solved. However, when Robert took his bike to the mechanic to be repaired, the mechanics had the resources to do their job but they did a half ass job doing it. It became quantity over quality; money over quality; time over quality. When you put these three factors against the quality of a journalist’s work, their work becomes meaningless and only gives you the broad sense of what is happening in this world.
Back to Paper
I remember the feeling I had the first time I seen my letter to the editor published in the Daily Gleaner. I felt like I had done something of value and made my father proud. However, I think I cheated a little because I emailed the letter instead of postage. Whatever the case, the internet can still be a useful tool to engage people, help people to learn more about the world around us, and to inform people- we just have to be patient, less greedy, and value what we put on it.
Wednesday January 12, 2011
When I wake up in the morning I usually put on Much Music on my T.V. to listen to the hits. Usually they play more folk, light rock, and pop but mix in the hits from the billboards to spice it up. I just enjoy listening to music while I brush my teeth, put on make up, and do my hair. I also like to copy down songs I liked listening to so that I can download them later, or listen to them on Groove Shark, a website dedicated to making playlists. Much Music is also a haven for smart marketing and communications, on part of the corporations- not the poor parents who now have to go and buy their child a new pair of Nike shoes because Kayne West had them in his new video. Due to the invention of personal video recorders (or P.V.Rs), people can fast forward through commercials so more and more companies are relying on product placement and celebrity endorsements.
I also checked my Facebook. I’m seriously addicted. It is crack to me. No one changed their status since I last checked it out at midnight. I don’t even make a new status- it’s a boring day in the world of Facebook this morning.
Not for Profit News Organizations
The Voice of San Diego (www.voiceofsandiego.com)
When you open the homepage for Voice of San Diego, it is bright, colourful, and easy to work through and read article that you find interesting. The large photo window grabs your attention, especially its current photo of artists in front of their large painting. The headline font is a bit too small for me. I prefer the font to be large, bold, and catchy if it is on the web because it’s easier to read and to decipher what sounds interesting.