Online Journalism

Entries Tagged as 'social media'

Making sense of the digital world despite the myths

March 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Making sense of the digital world despite the myths

The world of journalism brings with it an enormous amount of confusion, as we are in one of the biggest transition period since the printing press. In his article “5 Myths about digital journalism” Mark S. Luckie speaks of several points of confusion, and tries to debunk them.

The first myth he speaks of is journalists must know everything. According the Luckie this myth could not be farther from the truth. As he puts it, “the trick is not to be a master of everything, but to be knowledgeable about the tools at your disposal.” Imagine this: you are a company-owner seeking to hire somebody for your press department. You have one candidate who is an expert on web design but does not know much about social media and one candidate who knows a little bit about web design, writing, photography, and videography. Who would you be more inclined to hire? Probably the second candidate with experience in several different aspects of multimedia.

The second myth Luckie speaks about in his article is social media is the answer. The world of Twitter and Facebook has allowed us to connect with our audiences in ways that were inconceivable less than a decade ago. As the journalism ship is sinking, it is easy for us to become caught up in the idea that it will be the clear answer that will save us all. Nobody, “not even social media gurus” knows what is going to save journalism. All that we can do is use “social media to help augment and distribute the news” and to make “audiences more invested in the development and discussion of news.” If that is enough to save journalism remains to be seen.

The third myth in this article is journalists must have database development skills. Although it is good to have some skill with web page development, Luckie essentially tells us that we just aren’t as good at . He explains, “unless a journalist has a knack for computer programming and web development skills, the quality of work they can produce cannot match the level of expertise of a dedicated programmer or developer.” Don’t let these words discourage you from practicing web design, though. Who knows, one day you might even be considered your organization’s resident Internet expert!

The fourth myth is that comments suck and that they are essential for democracy. Many people believe that comments are awful. As Luckie puts it, “truly civil and engaging comment threads that news sites strive to cultivate are far and in between.” The reason for such unsuccessful message boards is not necessarily the fault of our readers, however. We cannot control the fact that some lunatics frequent our websites and like to voice their opinions. What we can control is if we allow those users to post comments. By making use of tools such as Facebook Connect and “flag comment” features, we can take positive steps necessary towards the truly engaging conversations we desire.

The last myth he talks about in his article, which is perhaps the most reassuring point he makes, is that there are no journalism jobs. It is indeed true that there are much more applicants for a much smaller amount of jobs today. It is also true that “journalism jobs that existed decades ago are often not the jobs that are available.” Don’t let these facts hinder your decision to go in to journalism though. With the tremendous growth in online journalism ventures, journalists just need to learn to look in unexpected places for jobs. Rather than being set on print journalism, look towards jobs in social media or other multimedia aspects. Also, remember to “set yourself apart from the pack by developing diverse and unique skills.” If you practice with Twitter and blogging, photography and Photoshop, and with sound editing software such as Audacity, you will stand out from the enormous group of unemployed, and will very quickly receive job offers.

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Ch. 11 ‘Building a digital audience for news’

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Ch. 11 ‘Building a digital audience for news’

Image representing Google Analytics as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

The traditional business model for journalism is in disarray.

That’s for damn sure true, with everyone having the ability to  write what they want on the Internet thanks to technology.

To increase an online audience, a journalist needs to:

  • Analyze what is published
  • Determine what readers like and don’t like
  • Do more of what readers like

Here are the fundamentals of building an online audience:

  • Tracking your content
  • Web analytics
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Effective headline writing for the Web
  • Distribution through social media

Track what you publish, such as blog posts, video stories per week, podcasts, Twitter and other social network posts and total stories per day.

Set benchmarks. Determine what you want to accomplish so you have something to measure against.

Track your audience. Use tools like Omniture and Google Analytics to measure who is viewing your stuff.

Determine what is going to be your key data. Typically it is going to be pageviews, visits vs. unique visitors, and engagement and referrers.

Understand SEO and use it to your benefit. Many news sites receive as much as one-third of their traffic from search engines, so it’s very important to get yourself near  or in the first 10 of results shown.

The best way to take advantage of SEO? Make sure your content is top-notch and link as much as possible as long as it’s relevant. Make good headlines better.

And above all else, use social media to push your stuff. Provide links of yourself on Twitter and Facebook. Contribute to blogs that deal with the same content as you. Put your name out there as much as possible.

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Lecture by Jon DeNunzio from The Washington Post

March 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Lecture by Jon DeNunzio from The Washington Post

Jon DeNunzio, User Engagement Editor, The Washington Post. (former Online Sports Editor) Follow Jon’s tweets!

DeNunzio came to George Mason University on Mar. 3, 2011; he talking about integrating Social Media Into your journalism.


  • Graduated UVA in 1991
  • Was not a journalism major
  • Concentrated in high school sports at Washington post 2000-2007
  • Got into digital communication to keep a job

One of the biggest highlights of the lecture was when he talked about third party platforms. He asked, “Who is Mashall McLuhan?” He then showed the Annie Hall Youtube video. YOU SHOULD WATCH IT. The just of the video is a quote, “The medium is the message”- McLuhan 1964.

DeNunzio blasted back, “Its not the media, it’s the social.”

And of course, he gave a few websites that as online journalists we should all be aware of. They are:

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 11: building a digital audience for news

March 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 11: building a digital audience for news

You’ve created your blog. You tweet about it, you put on Facebook. You want people to read it. Not enough? You’re not having the traffic you wish you had? Mark Briggs is here to help you. And I am too.

  1. First, you need the measure your blog’s traffic. Who is reading your blog? What is the most popular content? You need to track everything you produce. Slideshows, posts, newsletter. Everything. Know what works for your readers, and what doesn’t.
  2. Set your goals. Establish benchmarks.
  3. Use a Web analytics to track your performance. Omniture, Hitbox, and Google Analytics are some examples of services available for that purpose.
  4. Know key data points, such as pageviews, visitors and unique visitors, engagement and referrers.

Heard of search engine optimization (SEO) before? Want your blog to be on top your the Google search? Here are some things to consider:

  • Grow audience with content and links. Briggs said content is king, and linking is queen! Link, link, link! (But make sure they make sense, and go somewhere)
  • Write effective Web headlines. Use key words that will lead readers to your page.
  • Use conversational language, and don’t be boring.

Now it’s time to use social media as distribution channels. Find your audience! Reach out! And happy blogging!

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 10: managing news as a conversation

March 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 10: managing news as a conversation

News is becoming social. The internet is interactive, and allows the news to become a conversation, other just being information.

With news gaining this character, there are some concerns about ethics, credibility, and being objective. As journalism, we have no control of what the reader, and now writer, is going to say about your piece on your website. You’re also responsible for your website content. Where do you cross the line?

We’re finding out by experimenting it. TDB is a great example of how journalists are managing the conversation and creating news. Here are some points to consider along the way:

  • Read the comments! Learn from Jon DeNunzio‘s visit, read and respond comments!
  • Use social media. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace are here for you to connect with  people and spread information. Use it!
  • Be transparent when reporting.
  • Make use of  word-of-mouth as your marketing tool. How? By interacting with the audience.
  • Get instant feedback, and know if you’re on the right track.
  • Set guidelines, and manage offensive posts.
  • Know your legal grounds, and correct errors.

What’s next? Build your own online community. How?

  1. Make your news participatory. Add photos, calendars, blog posts, votes and recommendations. Reader can get bored with the comments section. They might be more likely to answer a survey and vote than to write a comment. Give them the option.
  2. Get involved. Manage the conversation, reach out, moderate.
  3. Develop sources through social networks. Find people that are also interested in the topic, find people that know more.
  4. Collaborate with your community. Link. Talk to other bloggers.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #5: Guest Speaker Jon DeNunzio

March 7th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #5: Guest Speaker Jon DeNunzio

Jon DeNunzio, User Engagement Editor at The Washington Post, visited our class for a lecture on how social media is impacting journalism today and how we can use it to our advantage.

DeNunzio gave us a list of a few social media website worth looking into:

He also stressed that “It’s not the media, it’s the social,” rather than “The medium is the message,” referring to a quote from Marshall McLuhan.

DeNunzio also gave some great advice for job interviews. In your cover letter, talk about how you can connect with users in journalism — it will set you apart from other prospective applicants.

For more information, check out Jon DeNunzio’s Tumblr account or follow his Tweets on his personal Twitter account!

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Guest speaker: Jon DeNunzio

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Jon DeNunzio

Jon DeNunzio is going to talk about integrating social media into your journalism.

He learned a lot, and still learning. National Park Fan Tweets experiment in the Washington Post is a good example.

Some experiments and good tools to try:

Why we use social media:

  1. It’s where users are
  2. It helps our reporting
  3. It allows us to build a relationship with users

It’s an art, not a science.

Third-party platforms: not the only way 

“The medium is the message”- McLuhan, 1964. Now, it’s not the media, it’s the social part.

His point?

  • Be social with your users whenever you can. It’s us, journalists, being social.
  • Respond
  • Ask for ideas
  • Ask for photos
  • Host a debate, elevate one of the comments
  • Answer user questions

Southern California Public Radio: good example of reader engagement, and how powerful it can be.

Why am I talking about this?

  • He just recently hired people. Now how to connect with users. Network. Twitter feed.
  • Startups! There are so many companies starting, and using social media. For example, T-shirt design user-oriented

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

MediaShift: How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on MediaShift: How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide

You never know when just an act of fun can turn into a social media frenzy.

The article titled How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide“, byTerri Thorton, is an amazing example of how an innocent video placed on a social media outlet can go a long way in the world.

The article talks about how the city of Atlanta, GA got hit with a few inches of snow that then got topped off with a sheet of ice back on Sunday January the 9th of this year. At about 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning videographer and web developer Brian Danin and his wife spotted a skater skating on Peachtree Street. While Danin didn’t have his normal equipment, he shot the footage of the skater with his Droid X smartphone.

It was one of those ironic moments, ” Danin said.

Danin then uploaded the video to YouTube. Andrew Nendel, the skater, had handed his pocket video recorder to a security guard and uploaded the result to Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport.

Neither Danin nor Nendel knew how popular this video was going to become. Not only did the video become widespread and an instant hit, but it also had an effect on the city of Atlanta’s snow removal system.

Click here to view the embedded video.

“The video became emblematic of the pressure on the city and the state to clear the roads and get things back to normal.”

I thought this was a really interesting article because it showed how the social media tool of YouTube was not only able to create an incredibly popular video and story, but also helped in fixing a problem with the city of Atlanta’s lack of proper snow removal measures.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · social media · Student Blog Posts

C-SPAN: Dan Rather

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on C-SPAN: Dan Rather

Dan Rather, former news anchor for CBS Evening News, joined students participating in the George Mason University Video Studio on C-SPAN conference on Feb.  24. Rather talked about the changes and challenges journalism is facing. 

The distance learning course produced by C-SPAN gives students an opportunity to talk to guests via video conference.

Journalism is about passion, investigative work, and news gathering. No matter the platform.

“American journalism today needs a spine transplant,” Rather said.

Tucker Carlson joined Rather in the conversation, giving his scoop about journalism. “Best journalism is tough,” Carlson said. Carlson and Rather agreed on the fact that journalism is about the facts: getting  them straight and simple to the audience. Here are some points discussed by Rather:
  • Rather on good journalism:

“Curiosity, determination, ability to do right. Ability to write well and critically,” Rather said.

  • Rather was the CBS anchor for years, and he was the person that gave Americans some bad news throughout the years.

 “You are hit by the same emotions. As a pro, you have to train to get yourself out of the story.”

  • When Kennedy died, he had the change had the chance to watch a video of JFK assassination, and describe it on television.  He had to put his own feeling aside in order to pass the right message. He repeated the expression zone out a couple of times when referring to reporting on television.
  • How did Rather get the opportunity to cover major events?

“I’m a reporter that got lucky.”

  • Lucky and good journalism. Rather wouldn’t be in the media for so long if he wasn’t good at what he does.
  • What is news for Rather?

“News is something  important that people need to know that somebody in power doesn’t want them to know.”

  • Rather emphasized the importance of investigative reporting. Journalists have to keep an eye on politicians. We need to understand that news matters!
  • He also touched on the point that politicians are learning how to control and manipulate the media.
  • We need to educate readers consumers in order to avoid that to happen.
  • Will CBS be around in 10 years?

” The dominant place for information is the internet.”

Old news models need to adapt to the new model and transformation in order to stay alive.

“President Obama is our first internet president,” Rather said.

During the conversation, the topic news gathering vs. news packaging came up. News packaging is becoming majority of it. Part of the new media evolution is to have journalists aggregating information, instead of creating content. Rather said there is still a demand for creating content, someone has to report the new stuff.


Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Is the world obsessed with Facebook?

February 26th, 2011 · No Comments

The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo.

Tags: Facebook · social media