Online Journalism

George Mason University and the Use of Social Media in the Case of Abdirashid Dahir

April 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on George Mason University and the Use of Social Media in the Case of Abdirashid Dahir

Abdirashid Dahir on Dipity. A recent post by Mindy McAdams about the use of timelines in journalism had me wanting to try out the idea. I thought the recent case of George Mason student Abdirashid Dahir would lend itself to a timeline. How quickly events happened after the Sarah Evans Facebook post would help to […]

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Mark Potts visit

March 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Mark Potts visit

Mark Potts started out by stating that Wikipedia is a sort of new site. It’s useful because it’s built by the crowd and articles can be built instantly.

The Washington Post implemented Facebook to tell a story about a mother who gave birth and then got sick a couple months ago. Potts said this story was hard to tell without including the medium in which it happened.

Potts said Storify is the flavor of the month; but when it’s used, it needs transitions between bits. Otherwise the reader can get lost.

Potts said people who blog about their community do it out of passion not for the money. They want the pride of being recognized by their community. Bloggers have passion. You want people who care.

Computational journalism: the application of computation to the activities of journalism. Potts recommended Five Thirty Eight, a blog that excels at computational journalism and “is devoted to rigorous analysis of politics, polling, public affairs, sports, science and culture, largely through statistical means.” Nate Silver from being a zero to a top 20 blogger in six months.

Potts considers WikiLeaks journalism. Journalism isn’t necessarily about writing something, but disseminating information. Not affording the same protections to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, as other journalists is damaging to journalism, according to Potts.

Tubeify is an example of a web site that excelled at data visualization by showing which songs were tops on the Billboard 100 throughout the years.

According to Potts, Twitter is worthless as a professional tool; it’s too much noise for him. RSS feeds are much more valuable to him. But Twitter is a must-use tool for professional journalists to increase publicity.

The most important tool in the last five years for journalists is the smartphone.

Potts says journalism is better than ever been before. The problem is the gutting of newsrooms, having fewer people to cover things. Those people are shifting to other places.

The river of news today is overwhelming, so people need to be their own filter of news.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · online journalism · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 9: Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

March 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 9: Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

graphic design work by Emmanuel Cloix

Image via Wikipedia

Digital life is based upon a gratuitous amount of information and data; therefore, managing the data is the most critical part of digital life in journalism. Organized data not only helps journalists retrieve their memories from certain events via computer-assisted reporting, but also helps keeping in contact with colleagues and people of interest, and even coming up with new story ideas. Data-driven journalism excels in the following areas: depth, customization, searchability and long shelf life. The areas of management ranges from:

  • Emails
  • Contacts
    • Digitally stored contact lists expedites search
  • To-do lists
  • Calendars
  • Notes
  • Productivity tools
    • Word processing
    • Spreadsheets
    • Presentations
    • Images
    • Databases
    • Project management
    • Web or graphic design
    • Collaboration with colleagues

Besides Google and Office Live, there are a variety of productivity tools that one can start with

  • Instapaper: Saves web pages to be read later
  • Remember the Milk: To-do list manager
  • Oh don’t forget: Reminder tool that uses SMS
  • Evernote: To-do list and note taking utility that can also record audio using cell phone
  • Jott: Audio to-do list
  • Dropbox: Collaborative cloud file storage
  • Backpack: Organizer that is used for document sharing, plus notes, task lists and calendar
  • Basecamp: Team project manager
  • Socrata: Database and spreadsheet-managment
  • MindMeister: Brainstorming helper that uses mip-maps

Often these services use cloud-computing method — in which the user accesses the third-party server outside of his or her own computer to use the service. This method requires internet connection at all times, but it is also convenient that the user does not need to always bring the storage required for the project.

The ability to share data is also a critical advantage in data-driven journalism. Several large news organizations such as the New York Times, the BBC, NPR, and the Guardian utilize application program interface (API) to allow anyone to borrow their data and build tools for their webpages. The API helps circulation of the digital ecosystem, bringing up full potentials of any data provided. Some of examples include interactive maps that geographically explain certain stories.

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Tags: Comm361 · New York Times · Student Blog Posts

Guest Speaker: Jim Iovino

March 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Speaker: Jim Iovino

Jim Iovino, editor from NBC Washington, came and spoke to our Comm. 361 class today. He spoke to us about online journalism and how to make it better than the next person.


Iovino started his journalism working as a writer for a newspaper in Pittsburgh, then transferred over to TV, then was a senior news editor in Columbus, Ohio, then finally came to Washington, D.C. to pursue his career as an online journalist.

I wanted to be ahead of the next curve,” Iovino said. “I knew that there was a transition from print journalism to online journalism and I was ready to get into it.”

He showed us a video that Pat Collins did during the DMV snowstorm of 2010. The video, which can be viewed here was just an interview of a woman who walked 6 milesin the snow for a free sandwich. Iovino explained that Pat is good at what he does because he’s not afraid to take chances and cover stories others don’t even think of.

Iovino said, “Find an interesting angle to a story that you think nobody else is going to have and OWN it.” Don’t be afraid to try something different and see how it does.

Iovino explained how there’s a lot of collaborating on the NBC Washington website. He showed us the blog The 20 which has various blog posts from other journalists in which people can comment on.

How do you set yourself apar from others?

Iovino explained how, “You want to be the first one out there with the story. You want to be able to say that YOU were the first one to break the story.”

He also showed us a really cool part of the website called “Adept or Inept” which is an original series produced by American University’s Spring 2011 Intro to Studio Television class. It’s a site compiled of student produced videos that has ordinary people learn how to do certain skills such as become a male cheerleader, dance hip-hop, or even bellydance. At the end of the video viewers can then vote whether they found the person to be adept or inept to the skill. Very cool!

In regards to video, Iovino explained that, “People love to see rough footage.”

Sometimes less really is more. Very helpful presentation.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts · video

Facebook Journalism On The Rise

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Facebook Journalism On The Rise

Facebook is not only a place to connect with friends, it is now more and more a way to connect with news. A recent post by Vadim Lavrusik on Mashable talks about this growing trend. Facebook journalism is on the rise because the social media site is becoming more public, Lavrusik says. The recent Egyptian revolution [...]

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · Student Blog Posts

‘JournalismNext’ Chapter 10 Summary

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on ‘JournalismNext’ Chapter 10 Summary

News is a conversation now, not a lecture, and there is no going back, says Mark Briggs in Chapter 10. Briggs acknowledges that some journalists would prefer a lecture style of news, but says that journalism is made better by audience participation. The key now is for journalists to learn to “manage, and leverage, that [...]

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Dan Rather and Tucker Carlson C-Span

March 1st, 2011 · Comments Off on Dan Rather and Tucker Carlson C-Span

In the GSFC Science Studio. Waleed Abdalati an...

Image via Wikipedia

Dan Rather and Tucker Carlson spoke with George Mason students through video conference on Feb. 24, 2011 to speak about the state of journalism and where it’s headed.

Rather, who was the news anchor for the CBS Evening News from 1981 to 2005 and is now the anchor of Dan Rather Reports on HDNet and Carlson, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller and former co-host of Crossfire on CNN, joined students participating from the George Mason University Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the University of Denver, Purdue University and Georgetown University.

The distance learning course, which is produced by C-SPAN, is a unique opportunity for students to interview guests via video conference. The course airs on C-SPAN3 on Fridays at 5 p.m. and also streams online.

So according to Dan Rather, what makes a good reporter?

Curiosity and determination makes a good reporter,” Rather said. “Writing is a bedrock of the craft.” Even if you want to get into television or radio, you have to be a good writer to be a good reporter.

Rather has been working in news since 1950 and was there to report about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, one of the hardest events to work through. He reported what he saw from the Zapruder film directly from memory and was remarkably calm through the live telecast.

“As a professional you are hit with the same emotions everyone else has, but you have to seal out those emotions,” Rather said. Sealing out those emotions were what allowed Rather to report how JFK died in such a calm manner.

When Kennedy’s assassination occurred, the television was the national hearth according to Rather, replacing radio. After 9/11, the Internet was becoming the national hearth.

“Now here in 2011, we’re in the Internet age,” Rather said. “President Obama is our first Internet president.”

Rather has often spoken out about the lack of courage amongst journalists in today’s media to ask tough questions. Tucker Carlson weighed in along with rather about what journalism needs now.

“Basically what journalism needs is more guts and a sense of independence,” Rather said.

“The best journalism is tough and it pays no regard to authority and it doesn’t suck up to power,” Carlson said. “A central problem is the unwillingness to take on central authority.

“Journalism’s not complicated, it’s a matter of finding out what happened and reporting it to the people.”

Tags: Comm361 · online journalism · Student Blog Posts

Ch.3 ‘Crowd-powered collaboration’

February 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Ch.3 ‘Crowd-powered collaboration’

“The hunter-gatherer model of journalism is no long sufficient. Citizens can do their own hunting and gathering on the Internet. What they need is somebody to add value to that information by processing it–digesting it, organizing it, making it usable.” — Phil Meyer, author of “Precision Journalism”

Briggs starts out the third chapter of “Journalism Next” by writing about how today’s journalists are embracing technology more than ever and using information gathered from citizens to help them assemble their news.

What Briggs writes about reminds a lot about what Mandy Jenkins was talking about when she visited to speak about TBD. TBD uses tweets from people to learn about events and incidents that are happening around the area because TBD is limited to only 15 reporters who can be out on the streets. It also reminds me of Patch as they do the same thing where the editors allow people to e-mail them or tweet them with tips about what’s going on or what they would like to be covered.

The most interesting term I found from the chapter was pro-am journalism. This is the kind of journalism that allows people to publish directly to the same platform the journalists use to publish their news, which also reminds of what Patch does a little bit.

Briggs then goes into detail about crowdsourcing and why it is important for journalists. Crowdsourcing allows communities to focus on a specific project where they can outperform a small group of experienced journalists because they can employ more manpower.

Briggs then talks about invaluable links are to writing for online media. Just a few years ago, linking to the competition was pretty much forbidden, but now it is welcome and many online journalists use it to link to valuable information from other journalists. They do this in the hope that readers will come back to their website because they find that what they link to is credible.

Briggs’ final point is that these types of collaborative journalism aren’t going to go away. With the access to technology that we have now, people are more invested in what is going on right around the corner from them. With companies laying off journalists, media platforms are going to need contribution from ‘regular people’ now more than ever.

Tags: Comm361 · online journalism · Student Blog Posts

Chapter three: Crowd-powered collaboration

February 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter three: Crowd-powered collaboration

In chapter three, Mark Briggs focuses on the new types of reporting methods that are becoming more prevalent in this day and age.


Coined by Wired News’ Jeff Howe in 2006, this term basically means distributed reporting. It is using a lot of news sources at a given time to help research a specific story. The concept itself lends to grassroots organizations and projects such as InnoCentive and Amazon. According to Briggs, crowdsourcing aims a community power on a specific task and shows that a group of committed individuals can outperform a small group of experience and paid professionals that aren’t as committed.

Open-source reporting

This is a transparent way of obtaining news and showing off your news sources to the public. Due to open-source reporting, blogs and social media websites are important because they keep the media on their toes from making mistakes. And if they do make any errors, they can fix it with a click of a button. Open-source reporting welcomes the reader’s feedback and helps journalists increase their credibility and social capital.

Pro-am Journalism

This is the most unfiltered form of journalism on the web. Everyone is their own author and decides what to publish when and where. It is a do-it-yourself movement that made everyone want to play the role of journalist. The example that Briggs gives is CNN’s iReport. This platform enables users to upload and publish their own content to CNN’s stories as a local reporter. With this approach, everyone is a media outlet.

Happy reading folks.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Mandy Jenkins Visits COMM 361

February 14th, 2011 · Comments Off on Mandy Jenkins Visits COMM 361

There’s a famous saying that the harder you work, the luckier you get. This saying holds true for Mandy Jenkins, director of social media for TBD.

Coming from a town in rural Ohio, Jenkins has always worked hard. She wanted to be a part of the media world; however, she discovered that her career path would not go the same way as past journalists. She would have to come up with something new.

She discovered Twitter back in 2007, when no one had even heard much of it. Not even Kanye West or Ashton Kutcher. Writing up a creative plan, Jenkins became the first social media coordinator for a newspaper in Ohio. Along with tweeting, Jenkins discovered blogging, Facebook and other social media websites.

When Jenkins arrived in my COMM 361 Online Journalism class, she spoke regarding the evolving state of journalism due to the fast development of the Internet. She gave a few details about her job that I found interesting and would like to share with you:

“90 percent of the work I do is reading and researching,” – Jenkins

Being a social media editor is not all about tweeting and using Facebook. One has to know what other people are talking about in order to keep up.

“I always do my best to respond to those who message me, even if they didn’t have anything nice to say,” – Jenkins

Responding to your followers is a nice way to keep them interested into following you. Even if they say inappropriate things, it is sometimes better to just address it in a nicer way. Just because someone is stooping low, doesn’t mean you have to stoop down to their level.

“I met my employer through Twitter,” – Jenkins

Although this is not the most traditional method of getting a job, it worked for Jenkins. The media world is rapidly changing and even Twitter can land some a decent job these days.

Happy reading.

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts