Author Archive

How to Insert Page Breaks

Posted: April 20, 2011 by sharonfawcett in Uncategorized

Alyssa made a good point about page breaks, but I think a few people might have been absent from class when Philip showed us how to insert them. If you already know, I don’t mean to insult you. If you don’t know how to do it, the page break icon is under the “Visual” tab, top row, fourth from the right, immediately to the left of the spell check checkmark. Just put your cursor where you want to have a page break (after the first paragraph, for example) and then click the icon. Only the text above the page break will appear on the main screen of the blog. I’ll remove this post in a couple of days so it doesn’t interfere with what’s becoming a great looking blog. Good job, everyone!

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Final Assignment: “THE HUB” – Sharon Fawcett

Posted: April 17, 2011 by sharonfawcett in Uncategorized

The Mi’kmaq were the first people to live near the Pet-Kout-Koy-ek, “the river that bends like a bow.” The mud-brown waterway later became known as the “Petitcodiac,” and the town at its bend, Moncton, New Brunswick. Acadians, then Pennsylvanians, followed by United Empire Loyalists, and others, settled there. In the nineteenth century Moncton became a shipbuilding centre, then Intercolonial Railway’s headquarters. Today, many of its citizens work in manufacturing, health care, information technology, retail, and tourism. And the city’s becoming increasingly multicultural with newcomers arriving from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America. The individual stories of the Mi’kmaq, Acadians, and Anglophone settlers, and the approximately 125,000 residents of today’s Greater Moncton area, combine to tell the story of a community and a place.

The Westmorland Weekly Times

Moncton’s first newspaper, The Westmorland Weekly Times, was established in 1855 to keep residents of the growing town up-to-date on community happenings. Connection to place is what’s historically made newspapers popular. But in the modern internet age, that connection’s being lost. Readers from around the world can access a newspaper online, so there’s a temptation to move away from a local focus for many papers. The multi-media web platform I’ve designed for the Moncton area will reconnect people with the place, and one another, in an attempt to maintain a sense of community and common purpose in the region. The platform is called The Hub, in honour of Moncton’s central location in the Maritimes and its history as the centre for rail and land transportation in Atlantic Canada (which earned it the nickname “Hub City”). The goal is for the multi-media platform to become the centre, or hub, of the community. (more…)

Great use of interactive media

Posted: April 12, 2011 by sharonfawcett in Uncategorized

Why should I be the only one to get distracted, while working on the final paper for Reporting 2.0? Allow me to share my new-found favourite online distraction with you, fellow journalism students. It’s related to the topic of new media because it’s a creative use of interactive media.

If you click on the photos of cities around the world in this gallery (on boston.com/bigpicture)  you can see the lights fade as they are turned off by individuals, governments, organisations, and corporations in 134 countries worldwide on March 26 for Earth Hour. (Not all 134 countries made it into this album. That’s probably a good thing, or else the paper I should be writing might really suffer.) I wish there was an interactive photo of the entire planet from space!

#10 State of the Media – Sharon Fawcett

Posted: March 31, 2011 by sharonfawcett in Uncategorized

I never expect to read optimistic facts and figures about the state of the North American media. That’s why I was surprised by some of the findings of the Pew Research Center’s “State of the News Media 2011” report. Not all was gloomy, though a good deal of it was, depending on the form of media you turn to for news. But, as Johnny Mercer wrote in his popular 1944 tune, let’s “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.” (more…)

#9: Japan – Sharon Fawcett

Posted: March 21, 2011 by sharonfawcett in #9 Japan

Man in the wreckage where the body of his mother was found.

Nearly three hours have passed since I began the assignment to explore news coverage of the disaster in Japan—proof that there is no shortage of news and commentary to be found on the Internet. On Twitter, CNN posted: “More than 21,000 dead or missing in #Japan #quake, #tsunami aftermath, police say.” The linked entry leads to CNN’s news blog, “This Just In.” On this blog is an invitation for people in affected areas to send in “iReports.” It also has an “interactive explainer”—a mini-tutorial with slides and descriptions about nuclear reactor basics and what’s taking place at Japan’s damaged reactors. The blog also has numerous short news videos that address a variety of issues related to the earthquake and tsunami.

On the New York Times’ website are a number of articles about various aspects of the disaster in Japan, as well as photos. One interesting interactive feature on the site shows “before and after” satellite photos of a number of locations in Japan that were devastated by the tsunami, including the Fukushima nuclear plant. Viewers can drag the small blue bar in the middle of the photo to the left or right to see the exact same scene before or after the earthquake. It’s fascinating, and I spent far too much time using it. The New York Times also has a captivating a photo gallery-“Aftermath in Japan.” The images are categorised by date and as of March 21st, there were 172 of them. (more…)

Does Assange Claim Responsibility for the Mid-East Revolution?

Posted: March 17, 2011 by sharonfawcett in News

In a rare public appearance on March 15, at Cambridge University, Julian Assange told students that Facebook and Twitter played less of a role in the Middle East revolutions than has been previously suggested. But cables released by Wikileaks were instrumental in creating unrest and forcing the US government to back away from Egyptian president Muburak.

Assange also told students:

[The internet] is not a technology that favours freedom of speech. It is not a technology that favours human rights. It is not a technology that favours civil life. Rather it is a technology that can be used to set up a totalitarian spying regime, the likes of which we have never seen. Or, on the other hand, taken by us, taken by activists, and taken by all those who want a different trajectory for the technological world, it can be something we all hope for.

You can read more of Assange’s interesting statements at Cambridge here.

Truth equals freedom. The main ingredient in truth is information. That’s what Wikileaks founder and spokesperson Julian Assange believes. 

Journalists play an essential role in the dissemination of information that leads to “freedom,” and that’s necessary for democracy to function as it should.  However, while journalists work to uncover and report accurate information, governments often work to suppress truth, or spread false information, to further their agendas.  That’s why organisations like Wikileaks, that work to hold governments accountable by providing accurate–and usually hidden–information, are beloved by some and reviled by others.  (more…)

#7 Ethics – Sharon Fawcett

Posted: February 28, 2011 by sharonfawcett in #7 Ethics

Once upon a time when newspapers were made of paper and mail was tucked into a sealed, stamped envelope and carried by truck and by foot to the receiver, comments printed in “Letters to the Editor” sections of newspapers were civil and, often, intelligent. These letters were always signed—not only with the writer’s real name but also the city or town of residence. Those who wished to offer their comments to newspapers were accountable for the words they penned.

With the advent of the digital age much has changed. (more…)

One more reason to Twitter.

Posted: February 27, 2011 by sharonfawcett in Uncategorized

According a piece on Spark 121, following people on Twitter can make you more creative, by exposing you to those who think differently than you do. Apparently, this claim is scientifically supported.

A study showed that a group exposed to a differing opinion, which they believed was held by a minority of people, “made their thinking more original, more novel, more creative.”  Click to play the file under the “Twitter Strangers” heading (and the image seen above). It’s 14:25 in length.

#6 Twits ‘n Tweets – @FawcettSharon

Posted: February 22, 2011 by sharonfawcett in #6 Twitter

When I attended a writers’ conference a few years ago, one of the pieces of advice given to authors, and author wannabes, was to get on Twitter. “It’s a great platform to promote your work,” they claimed. And since I’m all about shameless self-promotion (not really) I did consider the recommendation.

In these days of transition in the publishing world, and economic crises restricting marketing budgets, publishers look for potential authors with existing platforms through which they can market their own books. So, having tens of thousands of followers on Twitter might actually help an aspiring author secure a publishing contract. (more…)

AlertNet: The world’s humanitarian news site

Posted: February 13, 2011 by sharonfawcett in News

  I recently found a good news site for human rights-related news. AlertNet is a service by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The content comes from AlertNet journalists from all over the world and from the Reuters news bureau network. Relief organisations and other specialists also provide contributions. AlertNet was founded in 1997, in reaction to the “slow media response and poorly coordinated activities of relief agencies” during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Besides breaking stories and special reports, it has a blog, multimedia section, a crisis centre where you can read about various crisis topics (like natural disasters, war, health, and hunger) or explore crises by region, country profiles, and even a database for careers in aid and relief.

AlertNet also has an amazing interactive tool you can use to find statistics on a multitude of areas in every country. For example, did you know that in 2002, 1.9% of Papua New Guinea’s land was protected and in 2007 that percentage had risen to 3.1%? That compares to 8% of Canada’s land being protected (I’d have expected that stat to be higher) and only 0.3% of Uruguay’s land. This particular tool may be useful to you in future research for other classes, or for articles you may write. But watch the clock while you’re using it–I’ve just blown more than an hour on AlertNet!

#5 Not-for-Profit – Sharon Fawcett

Posted: February 11, 2011 by sharonfawcett in #5 Not for Profit

Twenty-two year-old Masua Abaneru, a father and a fisherman, was kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced to serve as a porter. When he grew too weak to be of use to them any longer, LRA soldiers dragged him into the jungle. Then, they ordered captive children armed with sticks to beat him to death. Masua survived, but bears the brutal reminder of his ordeal on the back of his head.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting tells Masua’s story in the project “The Lord’s Resistance Army: The Hunt for Africa’s Most Wanted.” It includes articles, videos, blogs, and slide shows.  (more…)

I confess I haven’t spent much time looking for news on the current Egyptian revolution. It’s found me. Each time I turn on the radio, watch the BBC on TV, or open up the daily UN Wire e-mail I receive, it confronts me. Through sound bites and dramatic images I see the progression of protest. I couldn’t help but know what’s happening in Egypt. But until I sat down to do some research this past weekend, I didn’t really know why.

We usually don’t lack information about major world events, but we frequently lack knowledge. Information is showered upon us—updates, images, first-person accounts—but it isn’t often explained, analysed, or even understood by those who deliver it.

It’s a problem that’s prevalent in journalism. We’re overloaded with information from the media we follow, but that information often lacks context. Or, it’s irrelevant. Today, for the most part, news reports are designed to entertain and excite rather than inform. Images of bloodied journalists, angry protestors, and trucks mowing down pedestrians in the narrow streets of Cairo are more suitable to the visual media of television and internet news, and to the appetites of news consumers, than explanations of the intricacies of North African politics.

Because of the shift away from informative news toward infotainment, investigative journalism has been on the decline for decades. Investigative stories are time-consuming and costly to produce, and many news outlets have chosen to maximise profits by cutting this genre from their papers or programmes.

But it seems that investigative journalism may be making a comeback. (more…)

#3 Propublica – Sharon Fawcett

Posted: January 29, 2011 by sharonfawcett in #3 Propublica

A medical school can attempt to keep pharmaceutical companies from influencing future doctors by banning pharmaceutical reps from roaming the halls, or from offering swag and free lunches to students. However, when faculty members who teach the same students are secretly in Big Pharma’s pocket—earning up to six figures on the side by lecturing for them, in violation of university policies—what’s a respected educational institution to do? This is one of the issues covered by Propublica investigative journalists in their story, “Med Schools Flunk at Keeping Faculty Off Pharma Speaking Circuit.”

When those who teach doctors are tied to the pharmaceutical industry, future doctors can be influenced, or even taught fallacies about illnesses and their treatment. Vital objective, or scientifically supported, information may also be withheld from students.

(more…)

“The stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and it is broader, but it seems to run less deep.” Robert Pirsig wrote these words in 1974. They still ring true thirty-seven years later. Everything—including the way information is transmitted and received—is moving faster, and is “broader.”

The news media began its transformation from being “deep” to becoming “broad” after the end of the Cold War, with the perceived end of the foreign threat against Western nations. In his book, Junk News, American journalist Tom Fenton points out that corporate media owners believed it had become safe to ignore the world, and began shutting down foreign bureaus, laying off foreign correspondents, cutting news-gathering budgets, and “progressively feeding the public a diet that contained more infotainment and lifestyle items and less of what is commonly called hard news” (7). Real news fell by the wayside as news outlets began to seek profits by attracting audiences through entertainment, rather than fulfilling their civic duty to provide the sort of information that informs citizens, generates public debate, and holds governments to account.

News gathering began to die and newspapers were hard hit as the majority of people began to get their news from television networks that offered little substance but loads of images and excitement. Then came the internet, where one could find an unlimited amount of “news” at any time of the day or night. But it’s not the sort of news that existed in the days of Edward R. Murrow, John Hersey, or Walter Cronkite. It’s not the stuff that journalism classes will be reading and studying six decades from now. Unfortunately, the internet has followed in television’s footsteps to be, as Pirsig writes, “an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow.”

Several years ago I gave up reading my local newspaper. Stories of feline rescues by firemen served only to aggravate me, when I knew there was a world of information more worthy of the printed page. I tried reading the Globe and Mail for a while, but basically, I’ve been wandering in the wilderness for some time, without a reliable source of informational news. I watch BBC World News on cable television when I can, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I scan the BBC online, but I’m not especially comfortable with the brief stories provided. I prefer journalism that brings understanding, not just superficial awareness. It seems to be a time-consuming task to search for those stories on a day-to-day basis—time that I don’t have at this phase in my life. So, I attempt to keep myself informed on a few key issues that are important to me, through online searches for information and by reading articles in academic journals. In the 21st century, with all of the technology available, it should be easier to stay informed. But I find that because of the technology—which causes media to “move faster” and become “broader” (more shallow)—it’s more difficult to understand the world, the nation, and my own community.

#1 Sharon Fawcett – Media Diary

Posted: January 22, 2011 by sharonfawcett in #1 Media Diary

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
 

7:00 a.m.: I begin my day as usual, planning to check Facebook and e-mail. However, my laptop installed security updates overnight and then restarted itself, disrupting my tenuous wireless connection—it can take an entire day to reconnect. Devoid of hope for social stimulation, I proceed to step two of my morning ritual and watch a repeat of last night’s BBC World News on television, while munching on Mini Shredded Wheat doused in almond milk.

8:15 a.m.: My laptop has miraculously reconnected to the internet. I log on to the social network and spend a few minutes reading status updates. After checking my university e-mail (STU mail) and the weather forecast, I head to class, listening to CBC Radio 1 on my drive to campus.
 

10:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Class finished, I go to the library to check out a stack of books on genocide and spend some time reading through the Encyclopedia of Genocide by Dinah Shelton, as well as snippets from a number of books on the subject.

12:15 p.m.: Back in my apartment, I listen to the growl of my hungry stomach as I check my STU mail once again, my personal e-mail account, and Facebook. Then, I heat up some pizza in the microwave and plop myself in front of the television to catch a few minutes of The View.

Lunch finished, I decide to start this log before I forget the details of my media usage in the first half of the day. So as Whoopie Goldberg talks, I type. But thinking in a noisy environment is not my forte, so after five minutes I turn off the television and move on to paragraph two, in complete silence.

Once my media log is up to date, I send an e-mail to one of my professors. Next, I proceed with some research assigned for another course, spending about an hour on the internet, watching and reading reports on the December 2010 floods in New Brunswick. In the midst of my research on the floods I notice that the tab I left open for Facebook indicates there’s one update, so I check that.

 6:00 p.m.: After a late afternoon class and supper, I put in some time in front of a computer on campus, checking my STU mail, personal e-mail, and Facebook.

9:30 p.m.: Following my night class, I answer a few e-mails and make some posts to Facebook, while watching 30 minutes of television—America’s Funniest Home Videos and the last five minutes of a speech being given live by President Obama for the “Tragedy in Tucson” memorial service. As a stadium full of people applaud Obama’s message, I turn off the television and head to bed to read a chapter in the paper book My Father, Maker of the Trees, a memoir of Rwanda genocide survivor Eric Irivuzumugabe.

In total, time spent using media included approximately one hour watching television, 12 minutes listening to the radio, 40 minutes reading paper books, and one hour reading old news online. At least ninety minutes were frittered away checking e-mail accounts and Facebook. I spent thirty minutes taking in current news, but I read no newspapers—neither print, nor online. I listened to no music. I sent, and received, no text messages. All but 42 minutes of my day (when not in classes) was spent in silence, except for three minutes on the telephone with my husband and passing greetings to a few students. If I can’t find a career in my field of choice, I think I may have a future as a monk…as long as monks are allowed to use Facebook.

Monks in Assisi