April 27th, 2011 April 27th, 2011
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We all love Tweeting about our daily lives. What we think, we what like, what we DON’T like, what thrills us and what is going on around us. Especially, if that something going on around us is BIG.

The royal wedding that will be held this Friday, April 29 has put an end to that. No guest will be allowed to tweet during the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Kate Middleton.

A signal-blocking technology will be installed at Westminister Abbey to obstruct all cell phone usage, according to a article.

The royal family hopes that by blocking this technology, it will cut down on the photos and gossip about the wedding. There will be no annoying guests with distracting ringtones or iPhone camera clicks. And there you have it, one of the biggest bannings of social media in history.

Happy reading folks!

Brad Kalbfeld talks about digital journalism

April 16th, 2011 April 16th, 2011
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Brad Kalbfeld

Brad Kalbfeld knows what it’s like to be a journalist. He has been doing it for more than 36 years.

Three weeks ago, on Tuesday, April 5, Kalbfeld joined students in Steve Klein’s COMM 361 Online Journalism class and spoke regarding the implications of the iPhone.

He brought with himself, a typewriter, a Telex machine, a bulky laptop and an iPhone.

“From typewriters to laptops, journalism has taken a drastic turn of events…for the best,” said Kalbfeld, a former international correspondent for the Associated Press.

Kalbfeld also helped in writing the 2006 AP Style Guidebook.

“I used this Telex machine where I would have to pay by the word,” Kalbfeld said.

Sound similar to something we used nowadays to save words? TWITTER.

As the discussion continued, Kalbfeld displayed a chart that showed the difference between the analog world and digital world.

“The analog world goes like this: event occurs, the reporter writes a story on it, the copy editor edits it, the section editor edits it, and the managing editor edits it until it goes to the reader.”

For Kalbfeld, they are all filters to the public.

“In the digital world, anyone can write a story and it goes straight to the audience, without any filters.”

This gives readers the power to decide what news is and what is not. However, there is one problem in citizen journalism for Kalbfeld.

“There is no balance. We take a picture and it only represents one side of the story. A lot of times, we fail to give the whole picture,” Kalbfeld said. “It is the citizen’s responsibility to be skeptical!”

Video conference: Anita McBride takes the floor

April 16th, 2011 April 16th, 2011
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Anita McBride

According to Anita McBride, no one will ever comprehend what the presidential family of the United States goes through on a daily basis.

“No one will ever understand what the president of the United States and the first lady face every day,” said McBride, chief-of-staff to First Lady Laura Bush. “However, it is possible for their children to lead a life of normalcy in the White House.”

McBride, assistant to President George W. Bush, has directed a wide range of issues under First Lady Laura Bush’s time at the White House. These issues include education, global literacy, youth development, women’s rights and health, historic preservation and conservation and more.

“I have a real desire to improve the lives of the Afghani women,” McBride said. “They are the most courageous women in the world. You just cannot imagine living in those conditions and surviving.”

According to McBride, who has worked in corporate philanthropy, Afghan women do not want to be seen as victims.

“These women are lawyers, judges, carpenters and teachers,” McBride said.

McBride, who is also a member of the U.S. Afghan Women Council, joined students participating from the George Mason University Video Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the University of Denver.

McBride has worked on wide range of philanthropy issues and discussed her take on various issues around the world.

“I admire how former First Lady Hillary Clinton shifted her focus from healthcare to a global landscape, despite taking many blows at first,” McBride said. “It really isn’t easy to have such a controversial agenda.”

Other students who attended the discussion had their own questions to ask McBride.

“If you could pick any First Lady in the White House to work for, who would it be?” asked Lexi Ramage, a junior majoring in communication.

“I would love to work for Dolly Madison,” McBride said. “It would be very interesting and also Abigail Adams, since she was an early abolitionist. She sacrificed for this country. She is an extraordinary character.”

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.

Facebook moves into China

April 8th, 2011 April 8th, 2011
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Hear ye! Hear ye! The revolution is coming! The revolution is coming!

Well, wait. Maybe not a COMPLETE revolution. 

As of an April 8, 2011 article, rumor has it that the social media revolution that has been spreading like wildfire in the Western world seems to be coming to China.

With the CEO of Baidu Robin Li tweeting on how he has already signed a deal with Facebook, it looks like the wait is finally over.

However, with China’s history of censorship, I really don’t expect that Facebook will be the same as it is here.

Even China realizes that Facebook can be a liberating tool for those being oppressed and silenced. However, it is hard for me to believe that it will allow Facebook to roam free as it does in most parts of the world.

Since China has had a history of subjugating the press, it is almost expected that it would control this form of media too, even if it is online.

And unfortunately, all we can really expect is a watered down version of the Facebook we have known and grown to love.

Next up....China!

Chapter 11: Building a digital audience for news

March 27th, 2011 March 27th, 2011
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There is no denying that the Internet has changed the world. So, how do we keep up with it? For most of us, using the Internet doesn’t cost much. So, why pay 50 cents for a newspaper when you have access to all the information in the world for free?

One way journalists are trying to keep up with the new business model is through advertising digitally. Marketing with ads, using viral campaigns and creating memorable slogans are all ways to make enough money to be sufficient.

According to Mark Briggs, there are five ways journalists can build and sustain an audience.

  1. Tracking content
  2. Web analytics
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  4. Effective headline writing for the web
  5. Distribution through social media

Tracking content

The key is to track anything that can be tracked. Here are some sample ideas of what should be tracked regularly:

  • Total news stories per day
  • News stories by topic or section
  • Total blog posts per day
  • Videos per week
  • Podcasts or other audio stories

The best way to track information is by using a web-based spreadsheet that is accessible to many people at once.

Web analytics

Web analytics can be a software or mechanism that is used to track website traffic. Software such as Omniture, Google Analytics and Hitbox are easy tools to track your website performance.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In a nutshell, SEO allows web users to find you as easily as possible. When you type “John” into Google’s search engine, SEO displays a list of websites ranked from most popular and relevant to what “John” could mean or who it could refer to. Whether you are referring to the “John” meaning restroom or whether you are looking for a biography of “John Travolta” that is what SEO does best to determine.

By using HTML meta tags, title tags, links and other user-friendly tricks, you can grow an audience using SEO.

Writing effective headlines

Everyone can write a headline. However, not everyone can write an effective one. According to Brian Clark, writer of Copyblogger, an average, eight out of 10 people will read headline, but only two out of 10 will read the rest of the story.

Here are some tips to write effective headlines:

  • Use conversational language: Be direct and focused.
  • Use keywords: Remember the basics — who, what and where.
  • Use attitude: Being fair and accurate doesn’t mean you have to be boring! ZZZZZ

Using social media as distribution channels

Social media is the new newspaper of this decade. Here are some websites to market your story though this medium.

Chapter ten: Managing news as a conversation

March 27th, 2011 March 27th, 2011
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One of the greatest challenges journalists face today is learning how to manage a news conversation. According to Mark Briggs, this begs three questions:

  • How do journalists participate in the conversation without sacrificing their objectivity or credibility?
  • What about legal and ethical issues now that everyone can publish anything they want on a professional news site?
  • And what happens when you really want the audience to participate, but they don’t?

News conversations have changed drastically over the past few decades. What once was a lecture is now an interactive conversation. Journalists require feedback and encourage discussion among readers and viewers.

What are some ways that online journalism has allowed for user participation?

  • Comments: That little box on the bottom of every story that allows you to type your thoughts on the story allows journalists to receive feedback.
  • Discussion forums: These discussion forums range from topics such as politics to fashion to sports. They allow the media to keep up with how the conversation is going among the public.
  • Social networking: Websites such as Facebook and Twitter have been critical in listening to conversation among the public. Believe it or not, when you write a status update about Joe Smith, Joe Smith is out reading it.

Sometimes it can be difficult to monitor such conversation when people become outraged and nasty. All communication is not good communication. But remember to take everything with a grain of salt and try to learn from everything, even the negatives.

Happy reading folks.

Chapter nine: Data-drive journalism and digitizing your life

March 25th, 2011 March 25th, 2011
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There are some things everyone should know about when it comes to data productivity and organization.

What you need to manage + the right tools to manage = personal productivity

We often feel the need to organize our digital data. Things like e-mail, contacts, to-do lists, calendars and word documents. Tools such as Google, Office Live and Zoho can help us organize our data.

Google helps organize our contacts, e-mail, documents calendar and allows us to share our data and files.

Office Live provides us with Word, Excel and Powerpoint, applications that organize data.

Zoho is a full suite of productivity and collaboration tools, most of them free. Zoho provides tools for everything, plus Wiki, customer relationship management and much more.

Now, how does this apply to journalism?


Well, all journalism is driven by data. We used databases, spreadsheets and other forms of organized data to write our articles. Any assignment can be broken into data points, including this very blog.

Data-driven journalism is important because news organizations used web sites as data destinations. They can use depth, customization and searchability to archive news stories. Other kinds of databases used in news sites include public employee salaries, a list of top employers and property tax assessments.

Gazetteonline is a great web site that displays data-drive journalism.

Data-driven journalism helps reporters do their jobs by sorting out and displaying data in a simplified way. It allows reporters to share their data and tell their stories in more creative ways.

One way is by using a collaborative map such as MindMeister to display a storyboard. Map Builder also allows similar use.

Data-driven journalism is one of the most important tools in online journalism and it can certainly sets no limit in allowing what journalists can do when it comes to telling their stories.

Facebook can make or break you

March 19th, 2011 March 19th, 2011
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Some people love it. Some people say it’s the devil. But with over 500 million users, we cannot deny its power.

Facebook is the latest medium that can help decide if your interviewer will hire you.

We all have had someone put in a good word so that it can help us get a job. A more formal name for that is references.

Facebook is one of the leading websites that socially and professionally networks people so that they can apply for a job. It was designed to connect people to the jobs they want.

New jobs such as social media strategist, social media publicist and social media coordinator have opened up because of the Facebook Revolution.

Getting recommendations is one of the biggest boosts in obtaining a job. Whether you are in the automotive, marketing, fashion or construction industty, Facebook is the tool to market careers for all.

By networking through Facebook, it creates a much more personalized tone to showcase who you are. Posting pictures of you getting wasted with your tongue kissing a bottle of Jose Cuervo is not the wisest thing.

Facebook is not just about updating your statuses about what you are eating for breakfast. Writing about yourself in pursuit of a job to your friends…that can also help.

So, it’s time for you to get on Facebook, but this time for doing good and exhibiting your talents, not just stirring up drama.

Happy reading folks.

Chapter eight: Telling stories with video

March 10th, 2011 March 10th, 2011
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These days, as long as you have a phone with a camera, you are armed with one of the most powerful tools on the planet: a video camera. What words and pictures can’t capture, video does. From World Cup soccer matches to political revolutions to weddings, video captures it all with the click of a red button.

As Professor Klein has told me throughout my year at Mason, “Don’t leave Mason without learning video!”

And it’s true.

Video is one of the most essential ways for journalists to tell stories.

So, what accessories do you need as a journalist to tell a basic news story?

• Tapes and batteries: We have all had the time where we have gone to interview someone and realized that our battery is about to die. Embarrassing, isn’t it? The best way to ensure that your battery lasts longer is to charge it before you come and always keep a back-up in your case just in case! As for tapes, keep at least two to three back-ups in case something urgent arises!
• Microphones: Audio, audio, audio! 70 percent of video is audio, so if you cannot hear the person being interviewed, you are only left with a 30 percent retention rate.
• Tripod: Always try to use a tripod to make your video look professional. There is no need to zoom in and out or move around when interviewing someone unless it’s an emergency. So, just use a tripod.
• Headphones: Buy a pair of decent headphones and plug into the camera and listen to the audio while you are shooting. That way you can ensure your interviewee can be heard.
• Lighting: A spotlight is essential when interviewing candidates, especially indoors. Entry-level lighting cost less than 100 dollars but use battery up quickly!

Happy reading!

Our Mindmeister for The Soldier Transition Project

March 8th, 2011 March 8th, 2011
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The Soldier Transition Project aims to highlight and tell the stories of returning soldiers who are trying to readjust back into life as a civilian.

As the techy in the group, I will be in charge of the web site development/layout along with helping other group members out with incorporating their sections into one area. I will be utilizing audio, video, social media and text onto the web page. The web page will be hosted on its own server and not with any platform such as WordPress or Storify.