Monday, June 6, 2011

Good Journalism

If you skip to 11:40 in the video, Jon Stewart talks to Bill Moyers about journalism and its present state. I know Bart will also appreciate the reference to Wayne Gretzky, and I think what Moyers says is so true.
I think it's interesting that Jon Stewart talks about journalism on his show because his entire show is based off the humor of how people receive their news. Jon Stewart has, unfortunately, or fortunately, become the main source of news for our generation and I think that we've lost sight of what news is meant to do.
Moyers talks about the issues that journalists face today and I happened to see the rerun on today and felt like sharing it with you guys because it's some of the issues we talked about in class this quarter.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Facebook: What we spend

When we discussed the idea of privacy, another topic that was introduced that frightened me was the idea of shopping history. Obviously with the idea of tracking devices online, it is a scary notion that we are constantly typing in our credit card number. I was deeply concerned when a student (I think Kevin) brought up the idea that Facebook had put up a way in which viewers can see what you have been spending with your credit card! This application was quickly taken down, but still, the idea that a company on such a grand scale as Facebook would think it okay to take somebody's shopping history and put in out in the open for anybody and everybody to see is extremely frightening. I think that we definitely need to be more careful regarding who we give specific information. We also talked about the ignorance of many people as to how much the cyber world actually knows about us, and to me, we need to realize that the answer is: most everything.

Kevin scared me

The way that Kevin has opened my eyes to the issues surrounding privacy and internet use has me questioning how I use tools online. I wish I knew half of the information that he did so that I could thoroughly educate myself, because I believe that is the problem: the public doesn't know about these issues.
And then reading about how Zuckerburg and Facebook hired a team to trash talk in order to his their trail just leads me to believe that there really is a issue for the public to be concerned about.
How does this seem logical on the fact that we have a whole Bill of Rights protecting us from the invasion of our privacy and other rights, but then in the online world we have none? Does this make sense? I think not.
I think, as we discussed in class, that there should be some sort of protection for consumers online. But even more importantly than that there should be education open to the public in order for them (meaning ALL online consumers) to learn about the issues, because a lot of people have no idea.
So, in summary, KEVIN TEACH US THE ISSUES! Ha, just kidding, but in reality it would be nice if there were a group that could get the attention of everyone on these important issues.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Message on Journalism Comes from a Weird Place

Okay, "gun to my head" my favorite genre of movies is romantic comedies.

Looks like I just got shot. I mean come on you are not clutching your Sno-Caps in suspense. You aren't gasping for air out of pure terror. You aren't weeping or sobbing uncontrollably (I'm not that sensitive guys). It is happy. The ending is safe and structured. And if the right "wingman" character is casted to waywardly aid his or her friend in their pursuit of love, you may gather a few giggles out of it.

So, that is precisely why I spent the night before Easter on the couch with my mother and sister viewing Morning Glory. It is a romantic comedy (surprise) starring Rachel McAdams (naturally), Diane Keaton (at least she was in the Godfather), and Harrison Ford. The latter sounds pretty badass. However, I'm here to assure you it wasn't.

I was shocked to discover as the movie wore on that it was extremely relevant to the modern media world. Harrison Ford plays a seasoned, grizzly veteran of the evening news desk. He champions hard news and content of journalistic value. He is paid by the network IBS (there's one of the giggles), but for the most part is retired from daily news.

McAdams plays an ambitious young producer who dreams of leading the Today Show from behind the scenes. She gets hired to salvage IBS' dreadful morning show and immediately fires Diane Keaton's co-host. She is given an ultimatum by the station to raise ratings to a certain level by a certain time, or the show would be pulled.

Through an arduous process of getting ridiculed and scoffed at, McAdams gets Ford to agree to co-anchor the morning show. What results is awful for ratings. Keaton attempts to show ersonality, while Ford sticks stubbornly to hard news stories. Eventually, the pair push the show to the brink of failure.

McAdams starts to turn the corner by sending their apprehensive and socially awkward weatherman across the country to participate in borderline stuntman activities. The ratings finally rise, though, when Ford does an investigative piece that leads to the arrest of the governor of New york (score one for journalism).

In the end, McAdams gets an offer from the Today Show and turns it down to work with Ford. At first, Ford was incredibly reluctant to embrace the entertainment side of the show. But in an emotional and tense moment at the end of the movie Ford caves in and makes his favorite egg breakfast dish on the air. Ultimately, it was the content that was the polar opposite of journalism that raised the ratings and pushed the show over the top.

Again, this was just a movie, but it still held some interesting insights to the television world. The Today Show is a great example. Matt Lauer and Ann Curry are capable of doing and have done tremendous journalistic work. However, it is their ability to do the other stuff that sets them apart.

Oh, I should mention that throughout the movie Rachel McAdams was falling in love. Regretfully, it was not with Harrison Ford. But him and Diane Keaton was a better match in the end anyway.

How one newspaper used Facebook to build readership ... and make money

We've engaged in a lot of discussion this quarter about the role social media plays in news. I came across this article today and thought it was worth sharing.

In this post, the editor of the Lake Country Sun (a weekly newspaper in Gradford, Texas) talks about how his newspaper used its Facebook page to spread news about wildfires in the area.

Mark Engebretson, the managing editor of the Sun, discusses Facebook and Twitter as tools for disseminating credible news that the community needed. His essay was published by the Texas Center for Community Journalism at Texas Christian University. I particularly liked the last paragraph:
As communications become more advanced, we must also advance. Newspapers will not become relics of a bygone era, but will remain as the written history of today for tomorrow’s generations. Tweets and Facebook postings will be lost, purged for more space, but the written word will last far into the future. The trick will be in dedicating the resources necessary to integrate the past with the present and prepare for the future.
Also worth noting: As traffic to the website surged because of Facebook and Twitter traffic, advertisers took note. Web advertising almost quadrupled, and new advertisers were also looking for space in the print product.

Engebretson made this observation:
By posting instant updates on Facebook that were accurate, The Sun gained not only exposure, but also credibility and that credibility is what added to the advertising revenue and will continue over the next several weeks.
Here is a link to the whole essay:

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I've thoroughly enjoyed our conversations regarding privacy throughout the last few classes, so I just wanted to give my opinion on the matter here on the blog. I think that I definitely agree with Kevin's sentiments that we need a broad reaching form of legislation to help alleviate cyber privacy issues, and issues with privacy in general. As a student in our class stated, legislation is fluid. Just because our technology is growing more rapidly than our legislation is, does not mean that we can't write legislation that will impact types of privacy that we have not come up with yet. A net-type of legislation can, and will help to improve protection that we will receive, and deter the ways in which companies are delving into our private lives.
On the other hand, I think that we need to remain cognizant of fact that we are the ones who give out this information the majority of the time. We give out our age, phone number, credit card number and religious affiliation. Not that we are entirely to blame, though we must realize that we are a contributing factor to the beast that is privacy violations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to block cookies you don't want

Eerily related to our class discussion today, the website How to Geek has posted a step-by-step guide to disabling the cookies of decidedly more questionable nature. The post also gives us a quick, concise explanation of what a cookie is and what it does.

A cookie is simply a small file that a web site places on your computer to store information. The process itself is totally benign and can even be helpful when cookies do useful things like store your shopping cart information between sessions, save you from the hassle of logging into a site every time you open and close your browser, and other helpful time savers. The ones that give cookies a bad name track users without their explicit knowledge and help advertisers (among others) build profiles of users. Many people want to limit the amount of information that is gathered about them and do so by limited the kind of cookies that their browser accepts and/or retains.
From there, the site takes you through the settings menus of the three major browsers; Chrome, Firefox and IE. Granted, the methods outlined in the How to Geek post will require some extra curating work from you, the user, but I think you'll find some peace of mind in it.

Both Chrome and Firefox support private browsing in some shape or form. If you're a Chrome user, you have the option of browsing in Incognito Mode. If you use Firefox, you can use private browsing found in the privacy settings menu. The video below talks more about Chrome overall and focuses in on Incognito Mode at about the 1:25 mark.

Hopefully you'll find the How to Geek post helpful, and I encourage you all to read the whole thing. You can also visit the native site of your browser of choice for more information on what your privacy settings mean and how your information is used.

As we mentioned in class, there's no ON/OFF switch, no silver bullet, nothing that will handle and solve every Internet privacy issue, but it serves us all to better understand the technology and be more in control of our own private information.