A video conference with Dan Rather and Tucker Carlson

March 6th, 2011 March 6th, 2011
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Curiosity, determination and the ability to write is what makes a good journalist, according to Dan Rather.

“Curiosity is the bedrock of being a good reporter. Determination is very important because one has to stay with it and writing well and quickly is the bedrock of the craft,” says Rather, a American journalist and managing editor of his show Dan Rather Reports on the cable channel HDNet.

Rather, who was also a former anchor for the CBS Evening News, 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 and Pace University.

Along with Rather, Tucker Carlson joined the session midway and spoke regarding the pros and cons of being a journalist in the online medium.

“What is wrong with online media? It’s young and it’s costly. It’s very expensive to send entourages to places all over the world and the money hasn’t yet shifted online,” says Carlson, an American political news correspondent and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller. “This is a transition period for the online medium.”

To Rather, online journalism represents a new wave of changing media, whether anyone wants it or not.

“Whether you like the Internet or not, it is already the dominant media. It is no good cursing the winds or the waves anymore,” Rather says. “In journalism, the old order is gone and the new one is not in place yet.”

However, Rather still wishes journalists would cover the iron core of true journalism.

“What is the iron core of journalism? Investigative journalism,” Rather says. “Even in the online medium, journalists need to expose corruption, make the calls, go door-to-door and find out what those in power don’t want the public to know. That is what true journalism is.”

George Mason University junior Stefanie Juvinel, who watched the program, has her own perspective regarding the discussion on online media.

“When it comes to online media, it is changing the world in a good way,” says Juvinel, a integrative studies major. “It has brought the news to the consumer so as consumers, we pick out what we want to know and think is important.”

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.

Five ways you can use Twitter for bloggers

February 27th, 2011 February 27th, 2011
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It’s been the buzz of the past few years. Now, that it has made it big, everyone is encouraged to jump on the bandwagon and get with it.  Here’s are the top five ways you can get in on the hype:

5. Interesting drives traffic

With Twitter, if you are smart, witty or cool enough, you will get a decent following of people who care what you have to say. So, as a blogger, you can host blog contests or ask your followers for advice, and they with so many followers, you are bound to get some traffic. The cool part is that if they care enough, they will spread the word as well by using the Twitter retweet feature. 

4. Be the expert

Whether it be politics, sports, fashion or food, become the expert in what you write about best. By picking a topic that you are passionate about, you will be established as the expert and would be able to answer questions via tweets, find new contacts and your credibility will grow.

3. Domino effect

When you have a Twitter account, you also probably have a Digg, StumbleUpon and Facebook account. By having a Twitter, you can direct your tweets to these various outlets as well and direct them to your blog posts.

2. And we are on…live!

Twitter lets you broadcast news live! Court cases, sport games and breaking news are all perfect scenarios for users to tweet what is happening. What’s better than sharing real-time information?

1. Talk to the experts when you are not sure!

Want to ask Mark Halperin a question? Look up to Lance Armstrong? Whoever it might be, Twitter gives each person a chance to build their name for themselves. Ask the experts questions about anything you want and don’t be afraid.

So, go establish a Twitter account now and blog your way to the top!

Chapter seven: Making audio journalism visible

February 23rd, 2011 February 23rd, 2011
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Painting sound pictures for listeners is a skill that takes much practice, according to Mark Briggs. Thank god, we have audio journalism to help us with that.

The good thing about audio journalism is that it can be done with a handful of tools — a microphone, recorder and free software. Long gone are the days of silent films. Now, through audio, journalists can capture the true essence of a story.

But what does audio actually bring to the table?

Presence: Now, you can bring your readers to the story, instead of the other way around.

Emotions: Tone, voice, expression and sound can be heard and moreover, felt.

Atmosphere: You can hear the environment and be a part of it.

Audio journalism expert and NPR’s very own Jonathan Kern has some tips for those who want to pursue this medium and how to write for it:

1. Write for the ear:  Write as you speak. Don’t go around using technical words like operose that many have no idea what the heck it means.

2. Use one idea per sentence: When people don’t have a visual aid to go along with a story, they lose a lot of what they hear. So stick to keeping it simple.

3. Repeat complex ideas: If there is something you want to stick to readers, repeat it. If there is something you want to stick to readers, repeat it. If there is something you want to stick to readers, repeat it.

4. Structure your words: Let people feel the tension of the rising action, climax and conclusion!

5. Perform: Keep the listener’s attention and interest any way possible!

Recording audio can be used for many different purposes such as:

So, get out your digital recorder. I f you don’t have one, buy one here and start recording!

Happy reading recording!

Who would have ever thought?

February 22nd, 2011 February 22nd, 2011
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Last week, I asked my father, who has spent a good portion of his life in Libya (my two brothers were born there), if he thought that a Libyan revolution was possible.

His response? Never in a million years.

A few days later, a new revolution was born.

The social media revolution

It is a remarkable thing when the oppressed stand up for their basic human rights. But what is more remarkable is the effect technology, particularly social media has played in this new turn of events.

As the protests move into Northern Africa, particularly Libya and Morocco, we begin to see the government crackdown on websites like Twitter and Facebook. These websites have been the main basis for these protest movements to gather support and rally for their freedom. Using the hashtag #feb20, these protesters are doing their best to sneak around their oppressors.

Who would have ever thought?

To read more on the Libyan and Moroccan social media revolution, click here.

Happy reading.

I really need you to read this blog, ok?

February 22nd, 2011 February 22nd, 2011
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I really need you to read this article, okay?

Joel Achenbach, a Washington Post staff writer, is worried.

Where once was the time that journalists were not driven by money, this is certainly not the case now. Back then, money came with the job. Now, the job is aimed at making money. As print journalism is moving into the online platform, page views are determining what content gets posted because the more page views one gets, the more likely he or she is to make more moolah. The problem is that sometimes the best content really does not get a lot of exposure. As Achenbach mentions, topics such as American Idol rejects or Brittney Spears’s crotch get searched more often than other important matters. As humans, we love to read about gossip, entertainment and drama. The serious stuff, we save for later. Where once we read the morning paper with our breakfast, we now read the news on our Twitter as we drive to work. News outlets are so obsessed with chasing readers, they sometimes miss out on the action.

So it’s time we stop focusing on the quantity of page views and readers and instead put our attention to the quality of news. Here is a funny clip from the Onion that tackles a similar topic:

Happy reading folks.

Chapter six: Visual storytelling with photographs

February 18th, 2011 February 18th, 2011
Posted in Briggs Chapter Summaries
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“Journalism without photographs is like writing without words,” says according to Mark Briggs, author of “Journalism Next.” In this day and age, we are lucky to have digital technology because it’s made our life much easier. No more taking those big bulky cameras out to site.

Some old-timers might relish in classic technology and not realize the advantages of digital photography such as:

– Taking as many pictures as you want

– Seeing the picture you took on your camera there and then

– Uploading pictures to the web for your network to see

– Editing the pictures on a computer

– Not needing to purchase film every 24 pictures

Some of the best software to use in conjunction with digital photos:

iPhoto, Windows Photo Gallery: Good for basic photo editing

Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket: Good for managing your photo collection online

Photoshop Elements, Pain Shop Pro: Good for advanced photo editing

Photoshop: Good for serious photographers and web designers

For more tips on taking and editing photos, check out this tutorial:

Chapter 5: Mobile journalism

February 18th, 2011 February 18th, 2011
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According to a research poll in the Daily Telegraph, children living in the United Kingdom receive their first cell phone at the age of eight. Similarly, two-thirds of all Americans own a cell phone.




Well, either way, we can all agree that mobile journalism is changing the news world. It brings the story a more personalized view point all the while telling it as soon as it happens. Some questions to ask yourself before pursuing a story through mobile journalism.

  • Will the audience benefit if I tell them this story?
  • Will the journalism be better if it’s done on location and with urgency?
  • Will quick video footage or sound reporting help people understand the story?

If the answer is  to most of these questions, then maybe you should use mobile technology to report.  A few examples of times when you should use mobile journalism:

  • Criminal and civil trials, especially when the verdict is being read
  • Important speeches
  • Breaking news
  • Public gatherings such as protests
  • Sporting events
  • Grand openings in the area

Some items to take with you when reporting mobile:

  • Laptop, iPad or some type of computer
  • Internet connection
  • Camera
  • Video camera
  • Audio recorder
  • Tripod
  • Cell phone!

In the end, enjoy yourself. Do what makes your comfortable. Tell the story, not your opinion (unless asked). And have fun.

Happy reading!

Quora: What is it?

February 17th, 2011 February 17th, 2011
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In a world of twitter, twellow, bebo, cloob and fotki, there possibly couldn’t be any use for Quora. Turns out I am wrong.

Quora.com, a website founded by two former Facebook moguls, has been buzzing in the world of media gurus lately due to its community-driven Q & A repository. Deemed a “social network for knowledge” on its website, Quora is a fresh take on an old idea.  It lets you post questions and answers on any topic and search for ones that have been posted already. There is no dumb question, but there are dumb answers. But, as always, the good ones pop out while the horrible ones are shoved to the back.  When I created my account, I noticed a lot of factual questions about how much Kanye West makes to a lot of philosophical questions like what is love? According to a recent Mashable.com article, there are nine ways to utilize Quora for what it’s worth. Here are the top five!

  1. Strengthen customers’ experience: Talk about your name or company on Quora and monitor who is talking about it as well. Follow your name or company as a topic and respond to people’s questions that are asking about you. Respond to the concerns, criticisms and give feedback to keep a following!
  2. Research your competition: Learn about your competition. See what they are up to and what people are saying about them. Remember the saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer!”
  3. Connect with journalists: Find reporters and market your ideas. Remember, by connecting with others, you are creating your name!
  4. Embrace long-form dialogue: No more 140-character limit! Expand and write out your thought process…..Be creative! Just don’t ramble.
  5. Mine for hot topics: Find what is hip, new and exciting! The Quora network lets you keep on top of your game!

For more tips, go to Mashable.com or Quora.com.

Happy reading folks!

Twitter raises awareness for the homeless

February 16th, 2011 February 16th, 2011
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I never thought of myself as much of a blog or Twitter person. Yes, I have a personal blog where I vent and write about issues that are important to me. And yes, I have a Twitter account where I would tweet maybe once every two months. However, when I started this class, doing these weekly blogs and tweeting has gotten me excited for what’s to come. It has gotten me excited because personalized social media is creating such an awareness of things around the world. And now, Twitter has come to save the world, one person at a time.

In a recent Mashable.com article I was reading, Underheard in New York, an initiative created to raise homeless awareness, has brought the magic of Twitter to these men.

Four men were picked to start tweeting about their lives in the real world. They were given a cell phone, unlimited texting and a Twitter account.

The goal is to showcase the huge challenges the homeless community faces and by giving these men the opportunity to tweet, they are giving them a voice that they have long craved for. According to the mentioned Mashable article, homelessness in New York has increased by 34 percent in the past year alone.

Although these men are operating on inexpensive phones and aren’t making money off this project, they are being given a chance to explore technology as they have never before. Twitter is paving the way to do big things. But all those big things start small.

Happy reading.

Chapter four: Microblogging

February 15th, 2011 February 15th, 2011
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It’s the one thing that comes to mind when you hear the word microblogging. In what way can we possibly cover news in less than 140 characters?

What is microblogging?

It’s the idea that lets individuals write and share small content of news online via short sentences, images or video links.

It is an effective medium for journalists to use to break news. But what many people don’t also see is that it works both ways. It lets journalists find breaking news from local citizens as well. When Captain Sully landed the plane in Hudson River, people had tweeted the plane landing’s picture before traditional media even got there.

Microblogging also opens the door for crowdsourcing and building communities. By building a community on a website such as Twitter, people can form real connections, build a network and even gain a job (see previous Mandy Jenkins blog). It lets people conduct public interviews, find news leads and connect with their audience.

And finally, microblogging lets you market yourself. By building your own brand, you give yourself a reputation…whether it’s a good or bad one… that is on you.

Happy reading folks.