Author Archive

Final Assignment: Local News – “The Valley”

Posted: April 19, 2011 by trevorjnichols in Uncategorized

The Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia is a unique news environment. It’s made up of several small, and a few medium-sized towns, stretched out along one long road. There’s no question that each town is its own unique place, with distinct people, culture and atmosphere.

For example: The town of Wolfville is the beating bohemian heart of the Valley. It is home to Acadia university, a thriving Saturday farmer’s market and for the most part a population of liberal-minded, forward-thinking young people. Just half an hour’s drive away sits the quaint town of Berwick. Berwick is close to the Michelin tire plant – the main source of jobs in the valley outside of agriculture industry – and is populated mostly by older people who tend to be on the conservative side.

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Pew’s Good News

Posted: March 31, 2011 by trevorjnichols in Uncategorized

The Pew Research Centre’s Project for Excellence in Journalism seems at first to paint a pretty grim picture for the state of news media. However, some of their findings signify for me that, in the long run, the news is going to be OK.

The one figure that really stood out to me was that large online-only newspapers are starting to create original reporting. In fact, the Pew Research Centre suggested that for the first time the new jobs created for online reporters matched the jobs lost by traditional print ones.

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Japan from Japan

Posted: March 22, 2011 by trevorjnichols in Uncategorized

For most people today, the age of waiting for the evening news cast is over.

Especially for those of my generation (I believe we are Gen. Z at this point) the idea of sitting down for an hour and listening to a news anchor feels kind of like an obligatory visit to our grandparents, where grandpa keeps telling the same story about the ace cream riots of 1932 every time we go.

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What about WikiLeaks?

Posted: March 2, 2011 by trevorjnichols in #7 Ethics

A little over three months since WikiLeaks shocked diplomatic and journalistic worlds by releasing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables – and Speilberg is already set to immortalize Julian Assange in film. This makes me wonder, how will people remember Assange and WikiLeaks, but also, how will we as journalists?

Even though it makes me a little ill, I think we have to think of WikiLeaks as a news organization. They are essentially doing what news organizations do – putting important information into the public sphere – even if their methods are less than ideal. Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief, Guardian News even acknowledged that the leak of US diplomatic cables is considered by some to be the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years.

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My Life as a Twit

Posted: February 22, 2011 by trevorjnichols in Uncategorized

I just spent a week on twitter, and let me tell you I was not happy about it. I’ve been standing smugly by for the last five years as all of my friends and peers have been going the way of the twit. To me, twitter represented everything bad about social networking: we had reached the point where we were just shouting random thoughts – not even thoughts, pieces of thoughts – into the void in order to validate our existence in some superficial way. Supernews hit the nail on the head with this great satire on the twittersphere. Now, after being coerced into spending a week on the site, I’m ready to accept twitter – but I’m still not sure it’s that useful.

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Experiencing Egypt

Posted: February 9, 2011 by trevorjnichols in Uncategorized

egyptsign

Internet revolution?

We seem to feel the need to turn every protest, march and demonstration into a “facebook revolution,” but I’m not sure I buy that. No question new forms of social media played at least some part in the Egyptian uprising (the government didn’t just shut down the internet for a laugh), but even after the net went down in that country people were still communicating and gathering.

I think that once the mood of the country reaches a certain point, this uprising would have happened whether or not facebook groups calling for it existed. Once people were actually out in the streets, however, the story of the Egyptian protest made it around the world in a very significant way.

I’m not just talking about the sort of instantaneous twitter news updates. I think the way people outside of Egypt have experienced this revolution is truly unique and extraordinary. For myself, at least, this was the first time that I have ever felt so connected to people who were so far away from me – both physically and culturally – and so moved by their struggle.

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#3 Propublica

Posted: February 2, 2011 by trevorjnichols in #3 Propublica

The relative ignorance of the public when it comes to the value of death investigators is a great example of how often huge issues – that have huge impacts on our lives – often go unnoticed.

Watching ProPublica’s collaborative investigation with NRP and PBS’s Frontline made me realize, once again, how valuable good investigative journalism can be.

The hour-long documentary looked at the problem with death investigations in many parts of the United States. It pulled back the CSI stereotype of flashy equipment and state-of-the-art facilities and revealed how underfunded and incompetent the coroner system can be (one former coroner said he used to do autopsies in a converted garage lit by a single light bulb).

Near the end of the story, one forensic scientist commented on how the importance of good death investigations doesn’t dawn on people until they are touched by it personally. Now I have never had personal experience with death investigations, however, I now feel strongly about the issue, after hearing the stories of families who have struggled because of them.

This, to me, exemplifies why this type of journalism is so important. It’s because good investigative journalism makes us feel touched on a personal level by something we would otherwise have no experience with. In a society that moves as fast as ours, anything that causes us to stop and think about others is extremely valuable.

ProPublica’s investigative work is injecting empathy and information into our society, and are successful because they are pragmatic, as well as ideological.

It’s sometimes hard not to scoff at some major news organizations, the MSNBC’s and Fox News’ who put profit well above the fair and thoughtful dissemination of information. At the same time, those organizations that operate outside the capitalist model usually have very little impact, because they are unable to reach a significant audience.

ProPublica is funded by a grant, so they don’t need to worry about making money. At the same time, they are partnered with major news organizations, so their stories aren’t left to decompose in an obscure web archive that no one ever sees. They have seemingly found a way to capitalize on the exposure of the mainstream media, while retaining the objectivity that comes from operating without the need to be profitable, and this is a great thing for journalism.



Trevor’s Media Diary

Posted: January 20, 2011 by trevorjnichols in Uncategorized

Today I woke up to the soothing voice of Jian Ghomeshi on my radio; an interaction with media from the very second I opened my eyes. I had the radio on as I made myself breakfast, and listened to it as I ate.

When breakfast was over I turned on my computer and of course checked facebook and surfed the internet for an hour or two. I then turned on iTunes and listened to music as I read an article for class.

For the entire afternoon my music was on as I did homework, laundry, read from my textbook and made myself dinner. I switched off the computer as I left for my evening class, where I read a newspaper waiting for the class to start, and then I stared at a screen while my professor lectured.

After class as I was getting groceries, generic music was playing in the background, punctuated by the occasional announcement or advertisement.

When I returned I spent the rest of the evening on my computer doing homework, listening to the radio as I did.

Altogether, I don’t think there was more than about one or two hours where I wasn’t interacting with media in some way.