Media Criticism Spring 2012

Part 1: Deconstructing Super Bowl Ads

The Fight of Decade: Newspapers vs. The Web

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Small town newspapers are facing a huge battle in terms of staying relevant and even alive in this new age of the internet and the speedy access to news and information that this medium provides consumers.  Looking at a small town newspaper such as the South Hill Enterprise, the local paper of my home town published in a county, which according to the

The home of the South Hill Enterprise.

US Census, has less than 33,000 residents who are divided among three towns, the battle they face is how they incorporate the internet into its publishing of news in the area or if they will be resting on their laurels and becoming victim to some of the failures that Ken Doctor pointed out in his book Newsonomics, Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get.

What drew me to this topic was some of the trends that I read concerning newspapers in the book Newsonomics about how newspapers are being affected by this new age.  These trends included the numerous layoffs that newspapers have had to make around the nation and how some daily papers cannot even afford to continue to be printed on a daily basis.  Reading this I began to wonder how these trends where affecting my local newspaper and if they were using the medium known as the internet to stay relevant and to stay alive as a newspaper.  If local papers become extinct, small towns such as yours and mine will not have a source of news that caters to the news being made in small, local communities.  Local news items such as school board hearings and local business dealings will go unreported and the communities that lack newspapers will suffer as a result. Using the web properly and being able to profit from it is critical to the survival of the local newspaper but if bigger papers such as the Los Angeles Times

The home of the Los Angeles Times.

have had to resort to charge for access to the news online, according to an article published by The Daily Beast, what must smaller newspapers have to do to stay afloat? Vadim Lavrusik, a writer who has had work published by PBS Newshour, the Minneapolis/ St. Paul journal and other publications, said in his article for the website Mashable.com entitled 12 Things Newspapers Should Do to Survive, newspapers should focus their efforts on the web and that journalist for these papers need to put out their work in multiple forms beside the basic online news article.  They need to use other forms such as tweets from a Twitter account or even publishing video reports.  He also mentions that reporters should report in real time by incorporating social media tools such as Twitter so that news is broken quicker to consumers.  This is backed up by Ryan Thomas, who wrote a top ten list for the website Listverse.com entitled Top 10 Reasons the Newspaper is Dying, in which he criticized the once per day business model that papers have and continued to follow and cited the internet and how fast it allows news to be published as the main reason for the death of the newspaper.  He continues to say that because of this, newspapers have become “nothing more than a recap of what’s already been said/revealed.”

Both of these writers’ feelings are shared by Doctor in chapter four of Newsonomics, which is titled The Old News World Is Gone-Get Over It.  In this chapter he points out how “old media”, local newspapers and broadcast stations, have failed to adjust to the new world of the internet and its potential as a medium for news.  Singling out two things from this, he says that newspapers falsely believed that only text would be featured in the age of the internet and that news companies did not get the news out quickly enough despite that being one of the strengths of this medium.

Photos like this will soon be a thing of the past.

When Doctor says that, “Newspapers also figured that this new medium would be about text”, he means that newspapers did not take advantage of the video and audio options that the web afforded them.  Instead of having their reporters posting short video and audio clips of the stories they had written, newspapers had their reporters only focus on the news text that they had written.  Looking at the South Hill Enterprise as an example it seems that they have not fully grasped this concept themselves yet.  There are videos posted on the site but there are only a small amount of these and they lack a reporter speaking about the content of these videos or reporting about what is happening in
them.

Another area that Doctor said old media struggled with in this new age is staying relevant.  In today’s world readers expect to have the news minutes after it has happened.  Doctor points out how newspapers had grown accustomed to the large amount of turnaround time that was afforded to them by the once per day cycle.  What is meant by this is that because papers where only printed once daily newspapers did not rush to update readers about news as it was happening.  For example if a robbery had been attempted after that days paper had been printed then readers would have to wait until the next day to read about what had happened.  Using the South Hill Enterprise as a real life example again it seems that their writers post stories to their website as soon as the writer can.  This is assumed because of the date and time that the stories had been posted.  It seems that this paper has learned that readers expect content or at least updates on what is going on in their communities quicker than the next day’s paper.

Small town newspapers have to adapt to change and learn to use the web as a medium if they wish to stay alive.  Going forward people now have an understanding of some of the ways newspapers have failed to utilize the web and what some writers think newspapers can do to stay relevant.  This is important because newspapers are often times the only way some communities can get local news that pertains to them.  Future journalist reading this can now go and save some old school newspapers that have not adjusted well from facing the graveyard by helping to speed their adjustment to the web using this knowledge.

 

Photo’s courtesy of

http://video48.blogspot.com/2009/09/alfred-hitchcock-in-cameo-roles.html

http://dornsife.usc.edu/la-walking-tour/la-times-building/

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/44603945

This isn’t your normal newspaper and cup of joe routine

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Growing up, I walked downstairs in the morning to see my dad reading the Wall Street Journal with his daily cup of coffee. These days, I walk to my early classes and see dozens of students with a smartphone in one hand and a to-go cup of coffee in the other. Many people seem to be in a hurry in this modern age, and the media has adjusted to their  new needs. According to the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2012 report, 23 percent of adults in the United States read news on two or more digital electronic devices. Whether these devices are computers, smartphones or tablets, it is clear the traditional newspaper delivery system is no longer dominant in many Americans’ lives.

More and more people are turning to online news.

As a student journalist, I must reluctantly accept the fact that print newspapers are now second to online news sites and applications, which will help me (and hopefully others) adjust to and succeed in the new media age. In Ken Doctor’s book Newsonomics: Twelve News Trends That Will Shape the News You Get, a chapter entitled “The Old News World is Gone- Get Over It” basically tells readers that the Internet has changed how people consume news, and identifies that many news companies did not adjust to this, assumed readers would simply continue reading print, and then suffered or even failed as a result. According to Doctor, “Self-deception kept publishers from moving quickly enough to minimize the damage of great technological change” (Doctor 77). After newspapers caved and started supplying their content online for free, they began losing money. As Businessweek pointed out, companies charging readers does not always work either because readers do not like the idea of paying for something they have read for free for so long.

USA Today mentioned how many newspapers were dying in an article three years ago, and while this may be true, news itself is only growing. In the words of Doctor, the revolution of newspapers going online is “not a rejection of newspaper content” (Doctor 79). It is important to realize while print may not be thriving and the newspaper world is different now that so many people read news online or through news applications (e.g., Pulse), the Internet allows more stories to be read at a faster space, connection people from around the world in an instant through common stories.

Pulse is a smartphone application which provides news from multiple sources.

The global village concept, which Marshall McLuhan developed, says technology connects people from around the globe in an instant; therefore, technology wipes out any sense of distance or time. This concept is often applied to the Internet because people can connect so quickly that they see a story and are automatically brought together will millions of other people, whether they are aware of it or not. The traditional newspaper does not have this same effect because people cannot access it instantly nor can they comment on stories or share them through social media with a print newspaper. For example, when a natural disaster occurs in another country, people from the United States see the news story online via multiple electronic devices and can receive instant updates moment by moment about the story. Social media applications can promote a cause to help the country, usually causing the U.S. citizens to want to get involved. This technology causes people to feel connected to a story they are miles away from.

Many people rally for print media and against online media because they value the old-fashioned lifestyle print represents. While I personally prefer print newspapers and still read them regularly, I do also value the up-to-date articles and worldly connection the Internet brings when it comes to news. While many may be set against online news, it brings readers updated and interactive stories that print cannot provide. Even if one prefers print, they can appreciate and even embrace online news as well because it truly does bring more links and information quickly, as well as connections between people. I look at media differently because of online news- news is changing, but more importantly, it is growing.

 

Additional References

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s

Press.

 

All photo credits to author.

Too Much Media?

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

http://911research.wtc7.net

Where were you on September 11th, 2001? Everyone tends to have some kind of memory about where they were, what they were doing, who they were with, etc. We saw many examples of these memories days, weeks, and even months after the attack. Newspapers liked to feature certain families who had something to do with the worst attack of the 21st century.

Imagine what would have happened if the media we had available to us now was already available in 2001. Think of what would have happened on the internet – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr would all be covered with articles, opinions and pictures of what the attack looked like. Look at how the media has expanded in almost 11 years: we have a widespread array of social medias on the internet, it is constantly at our fingertips with our smart phones, iPods and iPads, and there are so many sites and channels that every side of the story is featured. I even found out about the death of Osama Bin Laden from Facebook. We are attached to our media because we always want to know what’s new and exciting.

Look at the newspapers, stations, and sites. A few decades ago, you had to wake up bright and early, make yourself a strong cup of coffee and wait for the newspaper to arrive at your front porch step. Now, with media expansion being a big deal, you can wake up whenever you’d like, reach over to your nightstand to grab your iPod and check what’s been happening for the past week. You can’t miss much anymore with the number of news channels, papers, and websites.

memrial.net

It’s not all fun and games, though. The media will compete within itself to be the best news station to get the most viewers, or the paper who gets the most readers. Take again the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how it was spread on the media. The next day, all of the front pages looked the same: a picture of the burning Twin Towers in New York, falling to ash. Inside the paper was totally different.

The whole issue was about 9/11 – articles about how people are dealing with the terror, people who had a family member in the attack, the efforts of the rescuers, police, and fire fighters. Each family interview had a different angle on the situation, each person would have an different story that people found interesting, etc. Each paper, station, or site had different kinds of stories to keep readers interested. Keep a lookout for things like this – it is important, being media literate, to understand the differences in the companies that are putting out the news. Events like these are still so universal, they are still talking about it on Facebook!

In Ken Doctor’s book “Newsonomics:  Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get,” Doctor has a chapter titled “The Digital Dozen Will Dominate.” It explains how the media not only fights within itself to gain viewers or readers, it also fights because of how much money they can make from advertising and sponsors. If they have more money, more people will choose to watch, read, and understand THEIR news. The more money put into advertising and content, the better.

The next time you pick up a newspaper, watch the news, or read about it on a news site or even Facebook, be aware of  the differences and content and make sure you are choosing to believe what you actually believe. Each company has a different look, angle, and story to try to draw you in to watching or reading the news they put out. The media is dangerous, but also gives us the opportunity to choose what we believe.

Who’s the ‘middleman’?

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

When you open your internet source, what is your homepage? Is it considered a portal that will take you to other links or websites? Well for me, Google is the first thing I see when ever open up the internet on my computer, but why do people use these sites? Why set Google at as your default website? For me and other people in the world that are notorious for using shortcuts, sites like Google are useful for getting me from one place to another fast and without a lot of hassle. Sites including Google, Yahoo, AOL, and MSN are commonly referred to as ‘search engines’ (Kavanagh and Ojalvo, 2010).

Search engines are also considered ‘middlemen’.  Ken Doctor author of the book, Newsonomics discusses the impact of ‘middlemen’ on the world today. In news lingo a ‘middlemen’ is used to get you from one place to another or acts as a short cut to make life easier. So, what’s the big deal about these websites? According to comScore Media Metrix, in the summer of 2011, there were estimated 1 billion visitors per month to Google’s website. As you can see in the graph below, Google is the number one used website used worldwide. Furthermore, Doctor reported that roughly 75% of the twenty-three-billion-dollar Internet industry goes to the four big middlemen including: Yahoo, Google, AOL, and MSN.

 

http://www.quora.com/How-many-people-use-Google-world-wide

Doctor considers Google to be a search-aggregation company. Aggregation in the media world indicates having more than the other guy and whoever has the most good content typically wins in revenue, followers, and participants. Doctor stated, “[Search-aggregation company] means it focuses powerful search technology on Other People’s Content. Its first trick: indexing the World Wide Web better than anyone.”

After four years after the birth of Google, in 2002, Google News was created. In today’s society, news companies all over the world have already made the switch or are beginning to make the fast and drastic switch from ‘old fashion’ newspapers to hybrid news, but are competing against companies like Google. Would you say that companies like Google take away from other news companies? Since Google news pages draw in more than 200 million views each month, I would say without a doubt they take away revenue and audiences from other hybrid news companies (Doctor, 2010). Doctor stated, “The short, but painful, history of the newspaper and broadcast companies on the Web is that they have been rounded up, rather doing the rounding up.”

 

fantomaster-seo.com

Google uses persuasive techniques such as Bandwagon and Majority belief which go hand in hand to persuade their audiences. Bandwagon means that everybody is doing it, so I should too. Majority belief is similar, but goes along with majority of individuals that believe in something, so it must be true. These persuasive techniques both use the fact that nobody wants to be left out and everyone wants to be included. For example, your peers influence you on how to act and what you believe, and if majority of your friends believe in Google and use the website, then you should too.

I feel it was important to recognize the worldwide impact Google has bestowed on news companies, similar websites, and individual audiences. I think it is beneficial to realize how often you are using ‘middlemen’ websites and have a better understanding how they influence you and others worldwide. Google will continue to improve its tactics and challenge news companies for years to come.

 

References:

Kavanagh, S., & Ojalvo, H. (2010). Just google it? developing internet search skills. New York Times. Retrieved from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/just-google-it-developing-internet-search-skills/.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

comScore Media Metrix (2011). How many people use google world wide?. Retrieved from http://www.quora.com/How-many-people-use-Google-world-wide

I Already Heard About That !

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you try and tell them a story and they tell you they have already heard the information on a social media site. For many younger adults the social media sites of Facebook ,Twitter and other readily available mediums allows for many people to get their news at a faster rate. However, how does this affect many newspapers across the nation, since readers can access other websites at the click of a button?

Many people can share a story online a lot easier through social media sites because all the person has to do is click share and billions of people worldwide can find what that person is saying. Many people can also attach articles related to the topic they are talking about. Therefore, if a newspaper is not jumping the digital divide then they will be left behind in the digital frenzy. This does not mean people will not read newspapers all together it is just stating that people will want to go to a source that has the story already posted with multiple opinions. In “Newsonomics “ by Ken Doctor he discusses that “The reading revolution is not a rejection of newspaper content.The newspaper is simply an anachronism.Why would you cut down all those trees,put gas in a truck to deliver the papers,and then have to settle for old news,when you can transport yourself to any news or opinion source on the globe at the click of a mouse or by tapping a few words into the ubiquitous Yahoo or Google search? “ We are in an age where people want instant gratification, therefore, people want their news and stories right away once a story is developing. This is also why search engines are helping with news. Sadly, “overall newspaper readership declined in spite of an increase in the number of people reading online newspapers: 14% of Americans said they read a newspaper online yesterday, up from 9% in 2006.“ Which leads into how semiotics is tying into the newspaper industry.

Semiotics “is the study of signs, symbols, and signification.” The newspaper can relate to this because the signifier is the print paper and the signified is the fact that newspapers are becoming outdated sources for people to receive their news. The print newspapers is can take advantage of the digital divide by creating websites for their newspapers because it is more economical. For example, my hometown newspaper the Virginia Pilot takes advantage of the web and also has advertisers labeled down the side of their website. When breaking news happens they are able to produce a story even if it is just a paragraph long. Plus they can build a fan basis because even if someone cannot afford to have the paper delivered they can still receive news from the websites. Click “here for an example of newspapers being delivered to people’s homes.

In conclusion, many social media sites help newspapers that are online because people can easily share those stories through the social media sites. There are many facts throughout this article that prove that it is very economical for newspapers to change to the media platform and spread articles faster. However, some people do not want this change to happen because of the nostalgia of the hard print and therefore this is a hard topic to tell someone to strictly change over to digital media only and lose the traditions such as the New York Times Crossword puzzles. However, if the newspaper does then they might be able to pay their staff better and the bills on time.

Evolution of Journalism: Blogging

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Since the creation of the Internet, individuals are now able to connect to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Most of these connections have been made through a new type of journalism: blogging. Blogging has provided interactive collaboration between professional journalists and amateur bloggers; something traditional journalism could never achieve.

I have just become a blogger myself and I can see how blogging has changed traditional journalism. With newspapers, journalists and readers were considered separated, meaning journalists would write a story and subscribers would read it. However, according to Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics, “blogs have made interaction easier between journalists and readers through commenting and various forms of easy feedback.” This statement means blogs create a community for anyone to discuss any topic deemed worthy by their standards; giving citizens the chance to become journalists and interact with one another.

Creating, commenting, or even reading blogs has the potential to increase one’s media literacy skills. Media literacy is the ability to interpret, analyze, and evaluate messages in all varieties and combinations of print, visual, and digital formats. By being able to read someone’s blog, then read comments to that blog, and even comment on the blog yourself grants the privilege of multiple points of view on a single topic. Traditional newspapers only allows the reader to view a single source produced by the journalist who wrote the story. Reading blogs has a higher probability of creating a more media literate audience opposed to only reading traditional newspapers

Although traditional journalism still exists, most professionals have adapted to becoming journalistic bloggers. Not only do blogs provide an easier way to reach an audience, they are a more informal, conversational type of writing compared to the storytelling style of newspaper columns. The benefit of having multiple viewpoints on a blog makes people inclined to become media literate individuals than reading a story from the newspaper. There are still hardcore traditional journalists who believe blogs are the death of “real” journalism; these same journalists could create amazing blogs with a large community. Besides, isn’t the purpose of journalism to reach the largest audience possible?

References:

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

 

 

Don’t Let Go!

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Last week was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The ship of wonders, the dawn of a new era, this ship was supposed to be the shining vessel of modern day (at the time). However, we all remember the movie Titanic with the ever so beautiful Rose and Jack Dawson. While the couple was waiting for the lifeboats, they waded in the below freezing temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean. Jack stated, “Don’t ever let go.” Rose stuttered an agreement. After noticing the lifeboats, Rose quickly turned to Jack cheerfully and realized he was no longer with her. She quietly muttered, “I’ll never let go,” and she let poor Jack submerge into the depths of the ocean. Have we done this with the media we once cherished and grasped onto with our lives? Have we let go?

In his book Newsonomics, Ken Doctor entitles a chapter called The Old News World is Gone: Get Over It. I for one refuse to let go, and offer a small rebuttal to his argument. When Doctor (2010) speaks of the “Old News World” he’s speaking of methods of news retrieval by the general public, in this case, newspapers and news broadcasts. Doctor (2010) speaks of a “Reader Revolution,” which in turn means that the readers can choose how to get their news information be simpler means. In his words (2010), “It’s a revolution of choice and ease.”

Here is my argument to him, the likeliness that the Old News World is gone, is just as possible as me having the desire to become President of the United States. I don’t believe the Old News World can die out. In the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times, the camera crew looks at how the New York Times stays afloat and still has the ability to act as a print source of news. David Carr, a columnist for the Times, was one of the individuals the camera crew followed around.

There’s a scene where an individual from an online news source spoke against print media and stated that no one truly goes for their information. Carr simply stated that everyone depends on print sources still, for example, the gentleman’s news website. Carr presented a collage of stories written by the gentleman’s website, and held up the same collage of stories but cut out all the ones that were linked to the Times. It goes without saying that the second collage was empty and full of holes.

In an interview Carr stated, “They asked, ‘Who reads The New York Times?’ And I would say about 90 percent of the hands went up—and, yeah, there were a few people who wished The New York Times would fail. But what is it that these people are constantly annotating? Where do they get this data that they pore over? It’s very often the work of The New York Times and other large news organizations like it.”

I am arguing that the Old News World is not gone, but just a bit more hidden in the shadows. In the meantime, the Old News Media groups stay alive by offering online services. This correlates with the Advertising Revolution described by Doctor (2010) who describes it as an issue at hand because newspapers are losing ad space due to the fiery intensity of the internet. However, according to the St. Louis Journalism Review, “the news isn’t dying; it’s shape-shifting.” The newspapers are hitting the internet and charging people to view their information. For example, in order to access the New York Times individuals have to pay in order view the content.

The original news media outlets will never let go, they’ll just hide in the shadows. Just because they’re not as prominent as before, they’ll always still exist. Online media outlets and other news gathering groups rely on the print sources to gain the main information needed.

Sources:

Steege, J. (2008, January). The shape of newspapers. St. Louis Journalism Review. pp. 12-13.

Rossi, A. (Director). (2011). Page One: Inside the New York Times [Documentary]. United States: Magnolia Pictures.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Paper in the Digital World – How a Dying Industry Is Adapting

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Since the dawn of the digital/internet age it’s been no secret that newspapers are becoming obsolete. Newsrooms are downsizing at high rates and some papers that have been in business for a hundred years are shutting their doors forever, not even offering an online edition of the paper. Some big papers have a market penetration percentage that is as low as -11.3%. Yet everyday, we rely on the news industry for information, stories, and updates. So while the business is dying, the news is not. The transition from paper to Internet has forced reporters to adapt to the new world of news.

Image from: shootingatbubbles.com

 

In his book Newsonomics, author Ken Doctor discussed the crossover between professional journalists and the average citizen, or amateurs, as he calls them. Doctor has noted that many news outlets, be they paper or broadcast have sections on their websites where readers/viewers can submit their own eyewitness footage or accounts. This has worked out well for the news industry, as they receive information to run and do not have to pay a reporter to go out and get it.

 

By featuring the blog posts and content produced by amateurs, the media is able to cut costs as well as contribute to the reader/contributor’s looking glass self. The looking glass self is essentially how a person’s sense of self is developed through their interpersonal interactions. When the media uses an amateur’s submission, they help develop that person’s sense of importance and it can even help encourage them to submit more useful insights or footage.

 

Blogging is also coming to the forefront of news reporting. According to Doctor, “As story writing in newspapers has decreased – I estimate that production of stories is down 20 percent in the last five years – “post” production is up” (132). Blogs are not only cheap to produce; they’re interactive as well. Readers can view a post, respond to it, and get an immediate response from the author or other readers – instantly.

Image from: theunemployee.com

 

Doctor has also noted that papers that jumped on the blogging trend first have been more successful in terms of readership and collecting ad revenue. Even though most of our news is now online, media outlets still rely on those advertising dollars to keep the company afloat. Those who have not caught up to the blogging trend are missing out; other bloggers are finding news and breaking it every second. Hot Air, Politico, Talking Points Memo, Salon and the Huffington Post are just a few leading this trend.

 

Papers also need to compete with news aggregators, or online companies that collect news stories from different outlets across the country or even globe and put them all in one easy place for readers to find them. While this is convenient for the consumer, it takes away from the readership and potential ad revenue for online newspapers. One such aggregator is TBD.Com, a startup in the Washington D.C. area that collects local news from sites like Facebook and Twitter. According to the site’s social media producer Mandy Jenkins, TBD uses “geo-targeting” technology that can locate where its readers are, thus making the site not only easy to use but interactive as well.

It is sad to see an entire industry begin to collapse under the pressure and speed of the digital age. However, traditional media will still have a place in our society if they continue to adapt their methods of presenting the news. Eventually, there will be no need for physical newspapers at all as articles and stories become more available online and through web applications or devices like Amazon’s Kindle. It is a challenging battle that I hope journalists and future journalists are willing to fight.

For more on this topic, I found this video to be very helpful.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

 

The Social Media Takeover

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

At home we have a rule that we are not allowed to use cellphones at meal time. My parents basically came up with this rule because I would always bring my cellphone to the table and I could not get through a meal without an interruption. I would constantly be checking Facebook, Twitter, email, and text messages to make sure I was not missing anything that was going on in the world or even with my friends. There have also been times that I have informed my parents and friends of important news stories because I was on my iPhone connected to Facebook and Twitter. I was on Twitter while out to eat for dinner with my parents when I found out that Whitney Houston had passed away. I was also attached to my phone during Midnight Breakfast when the news flew around Longwood’s Dinning Hall that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. During both of these cases various news stories had been posted on different social media sites that their subscribers had read and posted for other to read also. News is constantly at our fingertips and not because everyone is walking around with newspapers in their hands, but because our attachment we have to our smart phones that allow us to stay connected on social media sites.

In the book Newsonomics, the author talks about the Newsonomics Law No. 5: The Great Gathering or as we might call it pulling information from other sources. Doctor uses the example of Larry Schwartz and how he gathers information from various different news sites to create his blog that he has. With the introduction of smartphone and social media this “law” has become more and more popular. Facebook and Twitter are examples of how social media now plays a role in this. Their users collect different sources from news sites or other social media sites and share it with their friends or followers for them to read. Basically your Facebook page potentially has the opportunity to be one large conglomerate of different news sources so your friends can be up-to-date on what is going on in the world around them.

According to an article America’s Digital Divide Closing with the Rise in Smartphone Use, author Paul Koring stated that 90% of young adults have internet access at their fingertips because they own either a smart phone or a tablet. The Pew Center for Internet and American Life reported, “These mobile users go online not just to find information but to share what they find and even create new content much more than they did before.” Teens and young adults are able to use social media sites to gather their news information rather than actually going to popular news sites to find out what is going on. In Technology: At Your Fingertips, the “I want it now!” syndrome is mentioned. With the increase of speedy access to news because of digital technology the number of newspapers printed has declined. The suppliers of digital news now have a competition among each other of who can produce the information faster and better while being successful in what they do.

Ken Doctor sates in Newsonomics, that 75% of the online news industry comes from the online aggregation companies such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL. With the change in how people receive their news companies need to be aware so they can keep up with society in order to be a successful company. It will be interesting to see what the digital world will bring to us next in the form of ways for readers to get news.

The Huffington Post: The Start of an Online Revolution

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

With technology advancing as much as it is, the old newspaper might be forced online to stay in business. Numerous newspapers have already made the move online such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Huffington Post started on the internet with an online newspaper when the demand started a few years ago. They did not have to worry about distribution or keeping their newspaper going since it was a strictly an online venture. The President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, stated that companies who do not move to the internet will ultimately fail since times have changed (Tipping Point for the News Media, 2009, p. 61). The Huffington Post is an online newspaper, but it is also an aggregator and takes advantage of a relationship between professionals and amateurs.

The Huffington Post recently won a Pulitzer Prize . There was a debate on whether or not The Huffington Post met the criteria of a newspaper. According to Oremus, some people argued that The Huffington Post could even be considered a magazine since it does not have an actual print form, but The Huffington Post never saw themselves as a magazine. On their website, they labeled themselves as an “internet newspaper.” They provide news articles as well as blogs and videos posted by people around the world.

Although The Huffington Post considers themselves an internet newspaper, they are also aggregators. According to Dcotor (2010), “the importance in aggregation is having more than the other guy” (p. 104). The Huffington Post has gathered news, blogs, videos and more to create a site where readers can find articles and links to what they need (Castelluccio, 2011, p. 60). This increases their traffic to the site because viewers are constantly searching in search engines to find information on news around the world. A reader could be led to The Huffington Post because they have a link to an article which would interest them. The Huffington Post’s main profit is from the traffic on their site (Tipping Point for the News Media, 2009, p. 62). The main purpose of aggregating is so readers can sort through all of the information available on the internet (Bond, 2011, p. 8). The Huffington Post puts the information in organized sections so viewers can go straight to whatever they would like to read about. The key is that The Huffington Post writes a paragraph or two about the article and then they link the original story (Tipping Point for the News Media, 2009, p. 62). Although most readers would click on the link to the original story, some may get all that they need from the brief description The Huffington Post provides. It adds to their views but sometimes does not help the site that first produced the story.

Besides aggregation, The Huffington Post works with a professional-amateur relationship, or as Ken Doctor calls it, “pro-am” (Doctor, 2010, p. 101). Although they do have professional writers on staff that produce original stories, most of the content on the website is from amateurs. Citizens can blog about their thoughts and news stories and The Huffington Post publishes it on their site. By doing this, The Huffington Post gives their bloggers public recognition but only actually pays a few of them (Doctor, 2010, p.121). By having the amateurs “on staff,” The Huffington Post is able to cover hundreds more stories than the leading newspapers while saving money since they are not professional writers strictly working for the site. Also, the use of video gives amateurs a way to express themselves without having to write stories.

The Huffington Post is the site of the future. It is strictly online and covers a variety of topics so that anyone can find something they are interested in. The Huffington Post brings in thousands of views by providing links to other sites and profits from it. They are aggregators and gather as many stories so they can to dominate the news world. In February of 2011, AOL bought the Huffington Post for $315 million and increased their coverage even more. Although The New York Times and other newspapers are still huge competitors, The Huffington Post is successful because it takes advantage of the pro-am relationship and remains a useful tool when searching for the news online.

 

Bond, M. (2011). Aggregating Without Aggravating. American Journalism Review33(2), 8-9.

Castelluccio, M. (2011). New Newspapers Online. Strategic Finance92(9), 59-60.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Tipping Point for the New Media. (2009). New Perspectives Quarterly26(3), 61-65.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tBfnpvUXNI0/Tl0sP7ITQfI/AAAAAAAAASI/Z9KLyw4di4Y/s400/huffingtonpost.jpg

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http://i.huffpost.com/gen/245103/thumbs/r-HUFFINGTON-POST-AOL-large570.jpg

Black And White And Read All Over

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

How many of us actually remember waking up during the weekends to find out parents both sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee or tea, reading the newspaper? My parents usually gave me the comics so I could feel included. Of course, that was in the late 90s. Today, children wake up and find their parents either watching the news on television or on their computers looking up the latest stories, sometimes even contributing in a blog post.

http://wpmu.org/7-ways-to-link-wordpress-and-tumblr-blogs/

The internet has transformed the way we obtain our news. According to Ken Doctor’s Newsonomics Law No. 7: Reporters Become Bloggers. “They become bloggers, but remain reporters” (Doctor, 131). In other words, instead of only focusing on one or two stories to publish for a printed newspaper, reporters are taking their reporting skills to the internet and working on multiple stories at a time. The general public then has access to read these quickly published blogs within a few minutes. “We think of stories as something that traditional media do, in a newspaper or a magazine or on air. A blog, well that’s something you do for the Internet” (Doctor, 132).

http://wftprintpm.wikispaces.com/e-books,+Newspapers+and+Magazines

“Blogging began as a grassroots alternative phenomenon, and it was some years before the mainstream media took notice, let alone responded by introducing their own blogs” (Garden). With blogging in the news comes access for the general public to contribute to blogs, or create their own. It is a free, fast way for the media as well as the public to obtain more information about a certain news story. “In fact, “placebloggers” is the collective name for the citizens who generate locally driven blogs and news sites” (Fanselow). These blogs are usually free and whoever is a paid employee does not make very much money. But these bloggers are not usually looking for a steady income from this business; it is more of a hobby that does not take too much time out of the day. There are also entertainment blogs, not just new-related blogs on the internet. A popular website that people use as a free blogging forum is Tumblr. There are blogs centered around not only the news, but art and other things of people’s interests.

The use of blogs to generate news stories out faster to the public is definitely impacting the newspaper industry. Some papers are decreasing the frequency in which they are being delivered to houses, as well as upping their prices just to stay in business. Some smaller companies have already been shut down because they were either bought out or changed everything to be published online.

 

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Fanselow, J. (2008). Community Blogging: The New Wave of Citizen Journalism. National Civic Review, 97(4), 24-29.

Garden, M. (2010). NEWSPAPER BLOGS: THE GENUINE ARTICLE OR POOR COUNTERFEITS?. Media International Australia (8/1/07-Current), (135), 19-31.

How Major Newspaper Companies are Staying Alive

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

An hour a day is the amount of news most Americans are consuming every day, which according to author of Newsonomics, Ken Doctor says is about the same amount of news Americans consumed 10 years ago (Doctor 2010).  Even though the average American has kept the statistical measurement of one hour a day of news for 10 years, the way they are accessing the news has changed dramatically. In his book, Doctor mentions the “Reader Revolution” which is what he describes as “a revolution of choice and ease” where readers of news can access the information they want/need by the click of a mouse.  Ten years ago, Internet was still developing in sophistication and ease of access, and for many Americans the way they accessed news was still by newspapers, and television. Now, the Internet accounts for about one-quarter of the hour Americans spend accessing news daily (Doctor 2010).

Page One: Inside the New York Times is a documentary surrounding the idea of the newspaper business struggling to stay alive in the era of easy, free, and mobile news. Many writers at the New York Times are strong believers that print news will not die out completely, but in order to stay alive in a fast-paced news-gathering world, the major print corporations had no other choice but to turn to the Internet as well.

Veteran New York Times writer David Carr was part of the major cast in the documentary Page One. In an interview conducted after the documentary conducted by Shiela Roberts of Collider.com, Carr was asked about preserving the model of journalism. Carr said, “the problem with the Internet is information ads double two times every year and of course spaces are going to go down. So we have to make brands mean something and part of what we do when we erect a wall around our content is we create a new business and say ‘You know what, these people have opted in, and if you want them, it’s going to cost you a little more money’.”

What Carr is basically saying, is that since the Advertising Revolution (Doctor 2010) the newspaper business has been losing so much money due to loss of advertising in the newspaper. In order for newspaper companies to stay afloat, advertising is being put on their news sites in order to gain some of that lost revenue back.  Also, since the New York Times and other major newspaper companies are indeed still putting advertisements in their daily newspaper, it costs the readers more money per issue because the advertisements are becoming more specific in nature. The advertisers are seeking an audience, which is what the internet ads have become to be.  In an article by Eric Alterman called Out of Print: The Death and Life of the American Newspaper, he said “trends in circulation and advertising––the rise of the Internet,which has made the daily newspaper look slow and unresponsive; the advent of Craigslist, which is wiping out classified advertising––have created a palpable sense of doom” (Alterman 2008).

Along with Alterman, Ken Doctor agreed that Newspaper and Magazine publishers were slow to jump on the cyber bandwagon.  Like mentioned before, advertisers are about seeking the attention of their audience. Businesses advertise their products because they have to in order to make money. Doctor said, “Advertising is just a means to an end, and however those means can be tweaked, the better off merchants are. Newspaper and magazine publishers forgot that point” (Doctor, 2010).

Many readers of news look for it in the Internet, we  already know this. However, another change that some major news corporations are starting to do is make these readers subscribe to the news in order to read the full story article. It’s just like subscribing to the daily print newspaper. Many Americans still access free news, but if you want the top-of-of-the-line news like the Washington Post, or the New York Times, you have to subscribe in order to view full stories, or even watch their linked videos. This is one major way newspaper industries have been able to survive.  As a person who seeks the Internet and social media as my main news source, I was somewhat thrown off one day when I was reading an article by the Washington Post. I wanted to watch a video they had embedded into the article, but I was not allowed to view it unless I subscribed to their news. Although this means of getting money is not a brand new concept to news corps., it is still somewhat alarming to a reader when they can’t read further to get the whole story.

According to an article by Los Angeles Times writer Jerry Hirsch, “Digital subscription programs are intended to increase revenue and reverse a long slide in paid subscriptions for printed newspapers as more people go to the Internet for news” (Hirsch, 2012).  Although many news sites are still free for readers, it is the quality of news that is the point to keep in mind. According to Chief executive of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, “Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalising its ability to produce good reporting” (BBC news 2009).

In the past decade, so much has changed in the newspaper industry. Print news costs more for readers due to the decline of advertising in print. Although they still exist, the ads in the print news are more targeted, making the paper more expensive for readers. When reading online, you notice advertisements on pretty much every site.  According to Doctor, “Though newspaper companies saw high growth rates for online advertising until the recession, the growth has now turned negative. Even in the recover, we see little change that online ad revenues will ever come close to making up for lost print dollars” (Doctor, 2010). Since newspaper companies are still trying to make up for lost dollars since the Advertising Revolution, they are beginning to force readers to purchase a subscription to their news in order to continue reading their stories.  So in many ways yes, Internet news is free but only to a certain degree.

Don’t Slay This Gentle Giant

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

“Look how the mighty have fallen”. This phrase, one we are all familiar with,  can be used to describe the 2007 collapse of the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl or even with the 2011 Red Sox, going from first place to missing the playoffs in three weeks. The most shocking example of this saying, however, is that of the news paper industry. Over the past few years I have walked down my driveway and slowly realized the absence of plastic wrapped news papers around the neighborhood. This change didn’t faze me until my house stopped receiving the paper also. I asked my father why we had not been receiving it. His answer- “Hey, what’s the score of the game?” in which I replied- “Hold on, let me check my phone”.  Then it dawned on me. I realized that the new age of internet and smart phones was slowly choking the news paper industry to death. Granted, I wasn’t oblivious to the fact news papers companies were seeing lower numbers for there had been multiple articles about lower numbers, but I just thought it was because of the economy. If this trend continues to occur print media as we know it may cease to exist.

As I was reading “Newsonomics” by Ken Doctor, he brought out just how far the news paper industry has declined. Doctor says, “over the last 5 years, U.S. newspaper companies have cut their newsprint usage by 40 percent… about 20 percent of the news room staff has been cut”(Doctor, 2010). It is being compared to being the worst financial crisis for the news paper industry since the Great Depression (Salman,2011). If the News Paper Industry collapses, tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs.  What is causing this collapse at such a high rate? The answer is simple- technology.

I myself own an Android phone; on that phone I have an app for the stocks, weather, and sports. I also have an app for MSNBC which brings me up to the minute updates about world, political, and US news. Such media outlets like MSNBC CNN and NBC all now have 24 hour news websites. It is much easier to just go on those websites and find what information you need, the best part is, that it is on your time. You do not have to wait for a news paper to come to your house to learn about daily US news. If you can’t find the news you want, all you have to do is go to a search engine like Google, and it will look all over the web to find the story you want. In the time of “I want it now”, the news paper industry is very much so behind.

What is happening to the paper?

As previously state, the paper is slowly dying off, but the numbers aren’t widely advertised. On Sundays are the days the papers make the most money from its advertisers; however, according to Perez-Pena,  “Sundays have seen a decrease of circulation 4.8% annually in 2007” (Perez-Pena, 2008). If the papers cannot make as much money from the Sunday and even weekday circulation they lose money, when they lose money they cut pay or even cut jobs. When this happens, there is less coverage, and  some papers might stop daily circulation, “since the decline, 100 dailies are no longer daily” (Doctor,2010). With the lack of printing, advertisers are putting them their ads online where they can reach far more people and even have their ads on websites that will reach their target consumers.

Is all hope lost?

As it seems like there is no way the news industry can turn it around, there are ways they are trying to keep from going bankrupt and continue to circulate newspapers. A good majority of newspaper companies are turning to the internet. It seems odd at first that they would turn to the thing that is single handedly destroying its industry. In reality, it is genius. In 2007, “The Washington post saw revenues grow by 28% thanks to online viewership” (Wharton,2008). The reason for the revenue increase was due to the fact that advertisers were spending money for internet ads. When people would Google something The Washington Post would now show up in the search engine. Another more powerful way the industry is trying to save itself is by lobbying to the senate. The news paper industry and senate, “held a hearing on possibly changing the Antitrust Law to allow more collaborations and mergers in the newspaper industry…”(Kirchhoff, 2010). Some think that the Federal Government should support the news paper industry with federal funds to help maintain business. For others, they feel that even with all the online competition, the paper industry will stay strong, Werbach notes, “I don’t need the Washington Post anymore to give me my weather, sports scores, or basic news of the day, but I could still use its perspective on what is going on in Iraq, or how the Presidential campaign is going”(Wharton,2008).

The Newspaper has been around for over 300 years. It has lasted longer than the Quin Dynasty, the Prussian Empire and has seen itself go from the printing press with removable text to high tech computers and printers able to print thousands of pages per hour. The Newspaper is a vital role in our society. It is imperative that it cannot fail, and as of now, steps are being taken to make sure it doesn’t.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Kirchhoff, S. (2010). The U.S. Newspaper Industry in Transition.Congressional Research Service1, 1-28.

PÉREZ-PEÑA, R. (n.d.). Newspaper Circulation Continues to Decline Rapidly – NYTimes.com. NY Times Advertisement. Retrieved April 17, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/business/media/28circ.html?_r=1

Salman, A., Ibrahim, F., Yusof Hj.Abdullah, M., Mustaffa, N., & Mahbob, M. (2011). The Impact of New Media on Traditional Mainstream Mass Media. Innovation Journal16(3), 1-11.

Web vs. Print: Online Successes at One Newspaper Raise More Questions Than They Answer – Knowledge@Wharton. (n.d.).Knowledge@Wharton. Retrieved April 17, 2012, from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1699

” Google Image Result for http://www.gtnews.com/article/7240/1.gif.”Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.google.com/imgres?q=decline+of+%5Bpaper+subscriptions&um=1&hl=en&biw=1280&bih=656&tbm=isch&tbnid=gEKk4rxyCb-QbM:&imgrefurl=http://www.gtnews.com

“BOSSY BETTY: The Newspaper: Either You Get It or You Don’t..”BOSSY BETTY. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.bossybetty.com/2010/06/newspaper-either-you-get-it-or-you-dont_30.html>.

“Weasel Zippers » Blog Archive » White House Has MSNBC Hosts Over For Breakfast….” Weasel Zippers . N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://weaselzippers.us/2012/03/20/white-house-has-msnbc-hosts-over-for-breakfast/>.

Google Image Result for http://www.authentichistory.com/1898-1913/2-progressivism/4-TR-Taft/1904_Sherman_Anti-trust_Law_Returns-Bartholomew-Minneapolis_Journal.jpg.” Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.google.com/imgres?q=antitrust+law&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1280&bih=656&tbm=isch&tbnid=Bz1qaO49E0KRKM:&imgrefurl=http://www.authentichistory.com/1898-1913/2-progressivism/4-TR-Taft/index.html&docid=UZsHnoHuswRl7M&imgurl=http://www.authentichistory.com/1898-1913/2-progressivism/4-TR-Taft/1904_Sherman_Anti-trust_Law_Returns-Bartholomew-Minneapolis_Journal.jpg&w=900&h=95

 

 

 

Where did the readers go? Online!

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Do I have my IPhone? Check. Do I have my Tablet? Check. What’s on the agenda today? Work from 8 to 3 and Soccer practice at 4:30. I have to get dinner ready, make sure the children do their homework, and get everyone in bed by 10:00pm.

These could be the thoughts of a working mom today as she gets ready for her day. No time to sit and read the newspaper in the morning because she has to get the children ready for school and herself ready for work. She has no time to read the paper after work because of her child’s soccer practice then she has to come home to fulfill all of her duties as a mother like cooking, cleaning and making sure her children complete their homework. She has no time to sit down and read the news anymore. Her children dominate the remote after their homework so she doesn’t have a choice when it comes to the television. No more 6 o’clock news. But, what she does have is lunch breaks at work where she can take out her tablet and search the latest news online. This hectic schedule is also true for many working dads and full time college students.

“A steady decline in print circulation and a precipitous drop in advertising revenue in 2008 and 2009, especially classified advertising,have taken their toll on newspapers and newspaper chains.” (Grabowicz   2012). What is causing this decline? People are going online for their news. While other mediums like newspaper and broadcast are receiving a decline in viewers, online news’ audience is growing. Therefore, newspapers are becoming a digital brand “delivering news to consumers wherever, whenever, and however they want it” (Doctor 2010).

Newspapers can use the internet to attract specific audiences by directing their content towards them.“They must focus on large-scale, sustainable projects that have the ability to reach widespread, marketable audiences—not just local readers” (Moss 2009).

If the news is too general, they may go somewhere else for it. Newspapers need to give their readers a reason to read them by finding content that directly caters to their audience or the audience they want to have (Moss 2009). Also, websites are more suitable for breaking news content than print. Websites can be updated throughout the day giving the most recent information to its readers (Grabowicz 2012).

 

Websites also offer more to the table by allowing more than just text and photographs. Sites can incorporate videos and viewers love it. Videos do the work for them; they can just sit back, listen, watch, and enjoy. Therefore, many print companies like The New York Times are trying to become savvier with videography. At The New York Times, their staff “produces more than twenty-five video segments a week”.

The companies that will succeed over the rest are going to be the ones that can produce content in various different ways giving their readers more choices to read or view their content. There are plenty of companies that are already dabbling in multimedia and multiplatform. Kent Doctor refers to these as the digital dozen and they include The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Guardian, The Telegraphm , NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News,  the Associated Press, Reuters, and NPR. These companies are using “pictures, voices, and words-to deliver the news” attracting audiences online and through print allowing for everyone to find news in the way that they want and is most convenient for them.

Works Cited:

Doctor, Ken. Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get. New York: St. Martin’s, 2010. Print.

Grabowicz, Paul. “The Transition to Digital Journalism.” Print Editions Decline. The Regents of the University of California, 11 Apr. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/digital-transform/print-editions-decline/>.

Moss, Davis. “Newspaper Brands That Manage the Transition to Digital Models Can Thrive.” Reuters. 28 Nov. 2009. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2009/11/28/newspaper-brands-that-manage-the-transition-to-digital-models-can-thrive/>.

“Stock Photo – Business News on Tablet PC.” Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.123rf.com/photo_9362699_business-news-on-tablet-pc.html>.

Facebook-Mining

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Facebook has become the world’s most popular social media site and has about 200 million members. I remember when I made my facebook, back in 2007, and how different the set up and privacy options were. Facebook updates their format quite often, which usually throws off the privacy settings everyone personalizes. In the past few years, Facebook has started to subtly advertising to its users. For those of you who have Facebook, have you noticed the many different ads the right side of your news feed and wall? Well, those advertisements are specially personalized to the user, also known as data mining. In other words, according to Mashable Social Media, “Companies are mining the social web, information posted publicly on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are fair game” (Betancourt 2010).

It is important to be aware of data mining and your privacy settings, because you never know who is out there searching the Internet, waiting to bump into your site and receive as much information about you as possible. Take a moment to look at your own Facebook page, or any other social media site, and observe what kind of advertisements companies have paired you with. Some of the advertisements I receive do not even pertain to me and some are precisely on target; take the “Film your way to $500” ad on the right. Companies have observed that I am a college student and that I have researched financial aid and insurance at least once on the Web. Some could find this strategy creepy and a violation of their privacy, but it has helped the digital ad revolution, creating three major changes. According to Ken Doctor, the author of Newsenomics, “data mining is growing into such a discipline—such a means of selling stuff to us better—that the buying and selling of behavioral buying-related data itself is a new booming business of its own” (Doctor 2010, pp.88). Although, this approach is helpful to those companies, it still puts our personal lives and interests out there in the World Wide Web.

The theory of data mining is defined as a new strategy of “retargeting” company’s previous consumers, by sorting through everything that is known about us, such as our interests and what we do, through the Internet (Doctor 2010, pp.88). The traditional marketing research involves “assessing the overall market for a good or service, surveying consumers about their likes and dislikes” (Hall, chron.com). The difference in traditional marketing and data mining is that data mining does not always involve surveying consumers. It uses targeting techniques, such as Cookies, which are data stored by a website browser and then information is sent back through the same browser, to gain information without consent.

Data mining does not always cause harm, and companies’ intentions are not to violate your personal bubble, but it is important to be aware of how your information is gathered and where it goes. Make sure to edit privacy settings on social media pages, and research how to enable cookies, or how to make cookies less invasive.

 

  1. Betancourt, Leah. (2010). How Companies are Using Your Social Media Data.

Mashable Social Media. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2010/03/02/data-mining-social-media/

2. Doctor, Ken. Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get.

New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010. Print.

3. Hall, Shane. Media, Demand. Examples Of Data Mining Vs. Traditional

Marketing Research. Retrieved from:

<http://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-data-mining-vs-

traditional-marketing-research-24716.html>.

Image:

http://www.knowledgeminer.net/difficulties-of-data-mining.htm

It’s Not Always On Paper!

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

When it comes to receiving the latest news, the internet is the place to go. Newspapers are now starting to turn their own pages over in shame because they are no longer getting the attention they used to. With all the different sources available in today’s society, traditional newspapers are having a tough time competing in the digital world. Not only does news come at no cost to access online, but it’s also quicker and easier to obtain.

Social networking sites are also a huge component such as Facebook and Twitter, which are currently the two most popular, and have become so much more than just posting statuses about your day and uploading pictures of you and your friends. Now you can rely on these sites in order to learn what’s happening in your area and quite possibly the world around you depending on who you’re connected with. Through social networking sites, local news realities can turn into national tragedies instantly with the simple click of a button. When you re-post, share, like, or comment on something it will display in everyone’s news feed to view and act on allowing the information to continue spreading rapidly everywhere.

Two weeks ago on April 5, 2012 a young man that I knew from my hometown took his life when jumping off the Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge in Richmond, Virginia. This horrific event became viral in just seconds after it happened due to someone’s tweet about it. Minutes later posts started adding up on Facebook about the incident and people from all over knew and were talking about it. If I hadn’t of checked Facebook that afternoon, I wouldn’t have heard about his death until 9:25pm that night when our local Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote an article online soon after it was aired on Fox News. Not only did it take the press that long to make the announcement, but they still hadn’t even released the name of the victim. At that point everyone knew exactly who he was thanks to social media sites. This goes to show how strong of an effect the internet has on consumers when it comes to news related content, because the full story wasn’t published in the newspaper until Sunday, which could have kept people anxiously waiting to find out the substantial details.

In Newsonomics, law number 4 states: “The old news world is gone, get over it” (Doctor 2010). Newspapers are definitely becoming a fad of the past so they might as well write their obituary and kiss the old news world goodbye. The internet age has given readers and journalists of the once so prominent newspaper, the opportunity to distribute news themselves. Jay Rosen therefore had to re-define the notion of “readers” as those formerly known as the audience (Doctor 2010). Now “readers” are no longer sitting back waiting for the news to come to them, but they are actually contributing to the news being read. With the tools available presently, people can produce news just as any other corporation can because of the various options to do so online or by using a smart phone.

Lots of news is delivered within Facebook by its users and it’s about time news companies encourage their writers and reporters to do the same. They must get involved by posting news related statuses with a link attached directly to their news site or either by tweeting. If news companies did that, more people could become aware of what’s happening as its taking place. After all 175 million people log into Facebook everyday, which makes it the most visited website beating Google out of its number one spot.

Since people are spending far more time on Facebook than any other website, it would be smart for news companies to make note of this and change the way things are being done. All in all, people are more willing to trust a reliable source versus amateurs that post news to the web. Like the question asked in Newsonomics, “If anyone can be a publisher, how can a reader or viewer figure out who’s paying them to say whatever it is they’re saying” (Doctor 2010)? You don’t really know which is why it would be easier if the publisher were a big commercial name that is well recognized. In the process of networked journalism, the public can get involved in a story before it is reported (like they did in the suicide case mentioned above) and contribute facts, but in the end people are going to want to go straight to a known source for verification.

Works Cited:

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Old News Is Gone… But How Gone?

Posted on | April 19, 2012 | No Comments

Click here to view the embedded video.

In September of last year, a documentary called Page One: Inside the New York Times was released. This documentary looked into the life of one of the most powerful newspapers ever to exist and the downfall of traditional media. The New York Times has famously broken major news stories, such as the Pentagon Papers, and has long been theorized to have been the go-to story source for other print news outlets.

It’s called The New York Times Effect according to James McQuivey, an analyst for Forrester Research. Basically, if The Times ran a story on day one, the next day all of the “tier two” papers would take the story and put their own spin on it.  According to Michael Hirschorn, “You really can trace almost any major story these days back to something that originally appeared in The Times.”

In 2008, internet ad spending in the United States was over $23 billion (Doctor, 84). Ad spending online has taken ad monies from traditional media sources like television and print media for three main reasons: it’s cheaper, you get more exposure, and you can track your views and viewers quickly and accurately. When money moves online, instead of on the pages of the newspaper, newspapers have to make cuts or find ways to make up that money. The Times is no exception. They’ve looked into finding funding through foundations and even borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from a telecommunications investor, Carlos Slim.

So why does this matter? Yes, it’s faster and easier for all of us to get online and find the headlines than it is to go searching through the newspaper. It’s quicker to read a tweet or a Facebook post than to read an entire news article. What many don’t realize is that without traditional news media the blog posts, the tweets, the Facebook posts, and the online news curators wouldn’t exist. These online content curators don’t go out there and hunt down the stories, they don’t research or interview sources. They take headlines and give online readers a short summation of an event. They take content from internet sources and compile it. If they don’t have the stories to share, they have nothing. If they have nothing, we have nothing. If traditional news dies, the world has no news… at least not professionally and responsibly researched news.

Ken Doctor’s fourth law of news, The Old News World In Gone: Get Over It, says two revolutions are happening. Advertisers are spending their money online because that’s where people are going for their news. People are looking for news online because they can skim it, it’s shorter, and there’s more available (74-100). Many people don’t actively search for news, it pops up in a social media news feed and that’s how they know it applies to them. Finding short descriptions of breaking news is what readers want. They don’t want to waste time reading an entire article, they want the facts and then they’re done. Traditional news media has to understand this. The news industry doesn’t have control of the readers, the readers determine the direction of the news industry.

For example, On April 6, 2012, a Navy jet crashed into an apartment building in Virginia Beach, VA. It destroyed 40 apartments but there were no casualties of the disaster. I’m from Virginia Beach, but live in Farmville, VA going to school at Longwood University. I didn’t find out about the crash from my parents, my friends, or the news telling me. I saw a picture of the wreckage “Mobile Uploaded” to Facebook. I scrolled down further and saw someone’s status talking about the incident. I didn’t even have to look for the news, it found me.

But readers aren’t just passive anymore. Thanks to the online news surge, people can comment or even contribute to news. Every-day contributors often add to stories and can even edit them. By blogging, tweeting, or posting on your personal page you create your own version of a story for those who follow you online to see. You are in control of the story so you are the editor. Consider this, the picture I saw on Facebook was basically the same picture on CNN webpage for the story.

CNN:

My Friend’s Picture:

Every-day citizens being able to produce and contribute to news is a blessing. The news has been handed the task of being society’s watchdog for decades but there are hidden agendas once advertisers own too much of any industry. Anyone being able to edit and contribute to news gives everyone a right to correct mistakes and eliminate bias in any story. What is important to remember is this: the internet makes life easier, but without journalists out there finding and researching the stories in the first place we have nothing. Without the news media, we have no news. Traditional media, to some extent, must find its footing and keep working in order for online curators and commentators to have a place in the newsroom. Old news may be gone to some level, but without some level of the old news we will all greatly struggle to find stories that have not been strewn incorrectly. It may be easy to find breaking news on Facebook or Twitter, but remember where you go to find the rest of story.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Rossi, A. (Director) (2011). Page one: Inside the new york times [DVD].

Carved Into Stone

Posted on | April 19, 2012 | No Comments

picture courtesy of thesun.com

My iPhone has three separate apps on its homepage dedicated to delivering me news no matter where I am. My Facebook feed fills up with my friends using media apps to view popular stories and breaking news. Not to mention my twitter feed is in its own ways a very personal form of news, keeping me up to date on my friends and families activities. All of this comes at no charge, anyone with internet access has an equal chance to read an array of articles through both professional and amateur sources.

Past civilizations such as the Hand Dynasty of China and Ancient Rome realized the publics need for current information and developed the earliest version of newspapers. Whether handwritten on silk or carved into stone. The turning point came when the printing press came out (a tool not invented by Johannes Gutenburg, contrary to popular belief, but his work did greatly improve the press and allowed the machine to progress).

Simple fliers turned into multiple page booklets, then the addition of photography became an integral role to the stories and thus those who made media had to create a broader sheet with more pages. This birthed what we know as the modern paper, but perhaps, the next generation will not know be able to make reference to the “modern newspaper.” A medium that has taken the full brunt of the world wide web’s presence in the business of supplying the masses for information.

 

 

 

In the book “Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get” author Ken Doctor discusses in depth the affect that the internet has had on the business of newspapers. One of the topics covered within the text is the difference between print ads and online ads. Flash adverts online are the bigger money makers in this picture, those banners on the edges of a webpage are how many companies make their money.  A guide to creating these adverts for your company on ezinearticles.com states that the banner should “avoid black and white” “have no clutter” “and “include links.” These are clearly not qualities of a newspaper.

cover of “Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get”

Companies must recognize the large profit margins that a website offers. Doctor has 12 laws to help those companies that give the masses news as well as its consumers.

News organizations such as Bloomberg have released online guides to help others learn from their success. They put emphasis on short bullet like news format instead of the “New York Times flowery” style of writing.

As the kindle begins to replace the book, DVDs replaced VHS, and IPods replaced CD’s, websites will replace the newspaper. Some may find it unfortunate, this imminent loss of American History but if this was our way of life we would still be carving headlines into stone or handwriting on woven silk sheets.

 

I saw it on Facebook

Posted on | April 19, 2012 | No Comments

The other day I heard about a shooting that had happened in Richmond during the early hours of the morning. I didn’t’ hear it on the radio driving to class, I didn’t watch on Fox or ABC news, and I didn’t read it in the paper; I saw it on Facebook.

Newspapers are declining and people are going elsewhere to get their news. Everything about them is changing. Sections of the newspaper such as classifieds, personal ads, or the travel section are being cut due to websites such as craigslist.com, Yahoo travel, and the new trend of online dating. They are also making more online versions of their paper rather than printing it everyday. This has affected society because the newspaper companies are going bankrupt since people can now get the news from their website for free and some newspapers no longer exist causing people to be laid off from work.

Ken Doctor’s Law No. 4 states, “The Old News Is Gone. Get Over It.” The days of having a newspaper hit your door at 6 a.m. just in time for your morning coffee are coming to a stop. People are beginning to use the Internet to access their news much more frequently than before. Thanks to technology, it is now easier for us to access the news from almost anywhere. People no longer have to sit through their long commute home or wait for the commercials on the radio to be over with to get the news. They can simply pull out their Iphone, Blackberry, Droid, or tablet device and use the Internet connection to find out what’s happening now. College students can get on Facebook or Twitter to see what is happening on their campus or the surrounding area, and that news always travels fast.

Everyday when I get on Facebook I don’t really see people posting pictures or comments on their friends’ walls anymore. I see people posting news clips from YouTube or links to news sites of something that had recently happened. Everyday I scroll down my newsfeed and it tells me that this many of my friends have read this article and I usually end up reading it myself. I get the majority of my news from seeing what my friends on Facebook have posted.

The decline of newspapers and rise of Internet use has changed society. People can get their news from anywhere and they don’t need a subscription to it anymore. News is always happening and now it’s even easier than before to access with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Rumor Has It

Posted on | April 13, 2012 | No Comments

April 20, 1999 is a day that has gone down in history as a day of death, sadness, and fear. On this day at Columbine High School, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went through the school causing chaos. These young men killed 13 fellow students before taking their own lives. But why? Rumors have been growing causing great controversy on the subject. What has the media led us to?


Some of the rumors being thrown around included the fact that the young men were being bullied, according to Cullen’s (2009) book Columbine. In reality Eric was a well received young man, he had the looks and had the popularity. The fact of the matter is, he was a sociopath and Dylan was incredibly depressed. Another rumor that rose with the media’s coverage of the event includes a group known as the Trench Coat Mafia, which happened to be a body of students that constantly wore trenchcoats, were loners, and continuously listened to the macabre lyrics of Marilyn Manson.

All these rumors were being thrown around thanks to the media. Two theories match the purpose of why such things were said at the time. The first theory is called the Cultivation Theory which states, the more a person focuses on violent images on television, the more likely they’ll continue seeing the real world, as the mean world. An example of this occurrence could be the Marilyn Manson myth, stating that thanks to his music and his look, it helped drive the two young men to shoot up the school. Manson stated once in an interview, “Blaming me for [Columbine] was ridiculous. It’s a lack of responsibility from everyone. If you want to blame something, well, I went to a Christian school. That’s why I write what I write. Shall we blame the Christians?” It’s all a blame game, just because his music is seen as dark and macabre, he automatically has to be blamed for the shootings? The other theory associated with the events, could be the Agenda Setting Theory, pretty much stating, the media can alter or determine what we think and worry about. A rumored example could be the story of Cassie the Martyr. It was stated that Cassie was murdered for her belief in God, the media blew up about this, and Cassie’s fame grew. However, that apparently didn’t happen according to Cullen. In reality a young woman named Val was asked the very same question, and yet she was not shot because of it, the young man simply ignored her and walked away. The media kept focusing of Cassie, causing the world to call her a martyr and a brave soul, when in reality the young woman that actually went through it was criticized for wanting attention.

Rumors can occur between enemies and friends. No matter what, rumors will fly all around us. It is our duty to focus on reality and focus on real facts. We should not be persuaded by one source constantly, we should look at all sources of information before we go around making statements that we know very little about.

A Martyr’s Story

Posted on | April 13, 2012 | No Comments

Click here to view the embedded video.

video courtesy of YouTube user phillyvideofan

Enter two emotionally troubled teens, one Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold; eighteen year old students of Columbine High School, a common find in the social gathering known as the American public school system.

On the day April 20th 1999 thirteen innocent lives ended when the two teens brought an arsenal of weapons and homemade bombs to school. This atrocity has been labeled the Columbine High School Massacre.

This is an event that the public needs to know about as it unfolds, the media knows this and rushes to report quickly. Dave Cullen’s book “Columbine” discusses this very process and reveals some serious possibilities for misinformation.

Throughout the day that of April 20th many misconceptions were released into the news; one major misconstrued ideal was the two students involvement with a group known as “The Trench coat Mafia” or that the video game “DOOM” inspired the murder spree, but perhaps the most important mistake involved two girls Cassie and Val.

Murder, or unprovoked violence resulting in an innocent’s death, is not a natural thing for mankind, though at one time it was required for survival now it seems to only be caused by abnormal mental behavior.

In an article featured on Nature.com Martin Daly and Margo Wilson of the McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and the authors of Homicide stated on that “murderous actions are usually the by-product of urges towards some other goal. The purpose of the sometimes violent competition that goes with human urges for higher status and greater reproductive success is not to kill.”

A way that mankind has found comfort in death is religion, which often plays a pivotal role in the tragedies and persons coping mechanisms.  This is an important fact to remember as we begin discussing the true topic of this blog.

image courtesy of http://acolumbinesite.com/

The story of Cassie Bernall spread through the media like wildfire, a modern day “martyr” she was called. It was said that Eric or Dylan (possibly both) entered the library, placed a gun to the young girl’s head and asked if she believed in god, when she answered yes he/they pulled the trigger. It triggered artist to dedicate songs, paintings, and poems to her. Church’s all over the nation held memorial services and spoke of what being a martyr truly means.

Cullen devoted a section of his book in discussing the truth of this matter. It seems that, heard from multiple eye witness accounts, that Dylan Klebold walked in to the library and shot a shotgun (which has a large area of pellet spread) which killed injured a girl named Valeen Schnurr.

As Valeen knelt on the ground, struggling in pain from the injuries she said aloud “Oh my God, oh my God, don’t let me die,” hearing this Dylan turned and asked do you “God, do you believe in God.” “Yes I believe in God.”  Dylan: “Why?” Valeen: Because I believe and my parents brought me up that way.” Then Dylan reloaded his gun and walked away.

Even before this tense interaction took place Erik had already entered the same room and killed Cassie, saying only the word “Peekaboo” before he pulled the trigger.

Though, truly, each death is a tragedy beyond measuring it shows how the media can take myth and create fact. Fact that is not only accepted for some time but also effects the world in a profound way. The reaction to this story pushed the killers into a new level of villainy and its victim Cassie Bernall into a role of religious fanaticism.

 

The Difference Between Fact and Fiction

Posted on | April 13, 2012 | No Comments

The first shots of the Columbine Massacre were heard at 11:19 a.m. on April 20, 1999; after that, the school, the county, and the nation would be the same. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, both students of the high school stuffed their book-bags with a number of deadly weapons and entered the school with the intent to kill. During the very day of the

tusconcitizen.com

shootings, the media spread news of the massacre, whether the things said were true or false, like a wildfire across the whole United States. Everyone was seeking answers: Who did this? What would possess someone to do this? How many were killed? Unfortunately, due to the severity and confusion of the matter, it became a matter of “he said, she said” instead of just the facts. The media takes a lot of criticism for resulting to personal testimony and conspiracies, and not only in this situation.

The media is always evolving: nowadays there’s Twitter, Facebook, fancy cellphones, etc. It is not easy to avoid the news anymore, so people use their resources to get caught up on the daily scoop whether that be the internet, television broadcasts, or the old-fashioned newspaper. Each medium, and even each station or paper, has different facts as well as opinions and myths, but when something so devastating, confusing, and violent as Columbine happens, the world doesn’t know what to think and will race to everything possible to try to get a different side of the story and learn what “really” happened. Many myths had been circulating the media, most of them pertaining to the killers, Harris and Kelbold, as they were perceived as outcasts and Goths because of their choices in music, clothing, and so on.

The rumors surrounding Harris, Klebold, and the victims of the shooting were effects of many different media theories, such as the agenda setting theory and the cultivation theory. The Agenda Setting Theory theory, “says the media (mainly the news media) aren’t always successful at telling us what to think, but they are quite successful at telling us what to think about.” This pertains to the myths and rumors created by the media to get the attention of more viewers or readers onto what they want to cover most. During the Columbine Massacre, the students in danger would call the media stations to let them know of the situation. Unfortunately, the media failed to determine whether what the students were saying was the truth rather than a fear induced thought or vision. Of course every student would say something different, and this lead to the spread of rumors and myths which went years without being uncovered.

Another theory, George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory states that “… people who viewed more television, had more mainstreamed and homogenous views and perceptions that converged with those represented on television shows.” Columbine was all over the news for quite some time, and most people were interested in learning the “truth” behind it all, so would tune in nightly. The videos were graphic, the stories were gory and violent, and hearing that all of this happened to people just like us is horrifying. Compare this to the very recent Massacre at Virginia Tech in 2006. It was featured on the news for months, and sometimes still is.

Watching this on the news many times a night made us realize that this could just as easily happen to us; we started viewing the world as mean. This is known simply as “Mean World Syndrome” – where we watch violence o

homeless_in_arizona.tripod.com

n TV or see it and other forms of media makes us think about what has happened and that the world is actually violent. After the Massacre at Virginia Tech, our high school took extra measures to ensure our safety: started locking doors to the outside, sent in people to talk to us about school shootings and what to do if someone talks about it, etc.

The media has more of an effect on our lives than we think. Think about where you see the news or news stories: your iPhone, television, newspapers, billboards, and so on. You are more likely to think and talk about the things and stories you see most often. On top of it, we will start to believe everything we hear and read, and this is dangerous. Let Columbine be the example of this; with all the rumors not being debunked until at least ten years later, that just goes to show how the media doesn’t only recap what has happened, it tells us how to think and how to live.

 

Columbine: How Media affects Our Lives.

Posted on | April 13, 2012 | No Comments

Courtesy of USA Today

April 20, 1999 is a date that would go down in infamy, as it is the date that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attacked their high school killing 13 people before eventually killing themselves. Columbine High School located in Littleton, Colorado was slammed with the media during and after the incident. The shooting has gone to be one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history, and almost anyone will hear the word Columbine and think of it as the worst school shooting that is the measure for all other school shootings. Why has Columbine created such a name for itself? I mean in 1927, know as the Bath School Disaster, Andrew Kehoe bombed a Michigan elementary school that killed 44 people most of which were under 14 years-old. This is such a horrific incident that is still known truly as the worst school mass murder of all time, and I’m sure not many people would know what the Bath School Disaster is at all. So why though?

 

The explanation to me is that Columbine happend at a time when technology was advancing. Videos,cell phones, websites, video games, and music all had an impact on the shooting. Communication was much different than it was in the past. Cullen (2009) explained in his book Columbine that students were using cell phones to communicate to the media. Their calls being broadcasted right on T.V. in real time. Police told the media to stop broadcasting the calls for the students safety, because for all they know the shooters could be watching T.V. in another room and use it to find the victims and hurt them.

 

Technology and the media combined with Columbine tragedy sparked some of the biggest examples of Cultivation Theory and Agenda Setting Theory at work. Cultivation Theory is the effect that the more time people are exposed to media, the more they form exaggerated beliefs about the real world. Agenda Setting Theory is when the media controls how we think and view something. Cullen (2009) wrote in his book Columbine as well as in an article for slate that many of the accusations about the shooters were myths. Media led people to believe that they were bullied and were outcasts. People were also led to believe that they were part of the “Trenchcoat Mafia” which was a group of kids who wore trenchcoats and seen as loners. Also, that the “trenchcoat mafia” connected them to the “goth” style and this led them to be warped and become violent. People now viewed  ”goth” as violent culture that only wishes to cause harm. People started blaming musicians such as Marilyn Manson. In a documentary called “Bowling for Columbine” Manson stated it’s easy to blame him because “I am the poster boy for fear…I represent what everyone is afraid of.” Manson blamed the media and went on to say that the media is a campaign of fear and consumption. None of these accusations were true though as Cullen (2009) writes that they looked like normal kids. They did well at school and had many friends. They had no problems with girls, and that they were the ones who were actually bullying people. The following the video is an MSNBC interview with Cullen expanding on the myths caused by the media.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

Courtesy of Kotaku

Another connection that caused a controversy was that the killers were influenced by violent video games such as “Doom.”  There has been no real connection to “Doom”and the reason why they committed the killings. In an article from The Escapist it quotes Peter Langman the author of the book Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. Langman states that, “These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems.” It’s easy to look at violent video games and blame them for the reason why kids kill. Langman says that they didn’t kill because playing ”Doom”  left them from being able to separate fantasy from reality, these young men were simply very disturbed.These accusations through the media have now led people today to view violent video games as a scary problem that could lead their children to become violent and unstable. In an New York Times blog it quotes the executive director of the International Game Developer’s Association stating that, “There’s no denying the concern for someone that does something on an extremely excessive basis (be it gaming, watching TV, doing exercise, working, etc.). In most cases, this has more to do with the person than the thing: mental stability, depression, social anxieties, low self-esteem, whatever. Let’s find better ways to help the people and worry less about the “things.” The clear answer was that Harris was a Psychopath and Kelbold was severely depressed. They needed the attention not the video games.

 

The media has a severe effect on all of us. It can be good or bad depending on how we take it. I advise everyone to never take or accept anything as the truth without further investigation. Nothing is ever what seems. Cullen (2009) explained how the news media was wrong about many of the initial claims concerning Columbine. This shows we have to be aware and always use the media to form our own opinions not theirs.

 

 

Cullen, David. Columbine. New York: Twelve, 2009. Print.

Is it Safe?

Posted on | April 13, 2012 | No Comments

Columbine.  It’s hard to hear the name and not think of the massacre that happened thirteen years ago.  In addition to the anniversary of Columbine, it has also been five years since the Virginia Tech massacre.  Both of these stories received national attention as American tragedies, and since then, school safety has been an important issue.

It is simple to understand why school shootings are such a concern… they’re terrifying.  It is a parent’s worst nightmare that his or her child will be the victim of a school shooting, and unfortunately for some parents, that nightmare has become a reality.  Even those who do not know the victims of school shootings can relate to watching hours of footage in the aftermath, their hearts racing upon hearing the news.  Everyone thinks the same thing:  it could happen to anyone.

In 2007, Mike Pelonzi and Joe Curran invented My Child’s Pack, a backpack lined with a bulletproof plate that sells for $175.  While some praise Pelonzi and Curran’s invention, others were not persuaded of its usefulness.  In Columbine, Dave Cullen talks about how the national fear of school shooters decreased in the years after Columbine, but it came back into the spotlight in 2006.  Cullen comments on the four shootings that happened in a three week period in August of 2006, noting “the shooters used various tactics to resemble the Columbine killers… they appeared to see Eric and Dylan’s legacy as a marketing opportunity” (p. 347).  Less than one year later, the Virginia Tech Massacre became the deadliest school shooting in the United States.  Pelonzi and Curran came up with My Child’s Pack following this tragedy.  Just as Cullen said the killers saw Eric and Dylan’s legacy as a marketing opportunity, Pelonzi and Curran’s marketing strategy played on parents’ fears of Columbine and Virginia Tech, as seen in their commercial.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Pelonzi and Curran did come up with a practical way to protect children in the event of a school shooting; however, experts are not convinced that they are completely necessary.  Kenneth Trump, President of the National School Safety and Security Services, argues that because weapons are often concealed in bags, many schools are prohibiting backpacks in the classrooms and hallways, and children are unlikely to be carrying their backpacks to lunch or in class.  Trump continues that “the best way to protect students… is to train children and teachers to recognize potentially dangerous people and situations.“  Pelonzi and Curran said that their website received 12,000 hits in the first two days.  This large number is likely from the increase in the national fear of school shootings that Cullen identified.  Dewey Cornell, a forensic clinical psychologists, says that media attention sparks this fear, and people “leap to dubious ideas, like bulletproof backpacks,” when in reality, school shootings statistically represent .2% of all homicides in the United States.  Schools are unlikely to be the scene of a violent attack.

The safety of children is important, and there is no doubt that Pelonzi and Curran were thinking about safety when they invented My Child’s Pack.  However, suggestions like bulletproof backpacks and teachers being armed seem like they would keep children in fear and distract them from learning.  It is important to understand that school shootings, though tragic, are not as common as they seem.  To put this into perspective, there are over five million car accidents every year, and of course, we want to encourage children to buckle up for safety in case of an accident.  On average, there are about nine school shootings per year.  Do we necessarily need to send our children to school with bulletproof shields?  How do you explain to your children that they have to wear a bulletproof backpack because an unstable classmate could bring a gun to school and start shooting teachers and students?  The benefits of bulletproof backpacks do not seem to outweigh the cost having children fear that their peers are going to bring guns to school.  School should be a place children want to go, not a place they feel like they are in danger.

BREAKING NEWS FROM COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL

Posted on | April 13, 2012 | No Comments

On April 20, 1999, in the small town of Littleton, Colorado it started off as an ordinary spring day, well for most residents. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would soon change that for everyone. For almost a year and a half the two friends had been planning a gruesome attack on Columbine High School. On this day their plan did not quite turn out like they had planned. Nothing had gone right. The bombs that they had planted at a near by location to distract law enforcement only ended up setting off a small grass fire, which did cause much damage, and the other bombs that they planted in Columbine’s cafeteria did not go off either. Eric and Dylan did not have a back up plan on how to carry out their objective, but what they then ended up doing later became known as the “deadliest school shooting in United States history until a student killed 32 people, and himself, at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007”, according to the New York Times.

As the chaos broke out and the media started to pick up on the story the calls started to flood the news stations. It was not just the news media that was getting all different types of reports about what was going on inside the high school, but police, faculty and staff, and parents were getting conflicting reports. All these reports were coming directly from those that were witnessing the chaos that were inside the school. According to the author of Columbine, Dave Cullen, one news station eventually reported for students that were inside the school to turn off their televisions that they were watching or to turn them down to cause less panic among those still inside. No one fully had a true story of what was going on inside Columbine High School. How many shooters were there? Who were they? Were they members of this Trench Coat Mafia that the media was reporting about? The false reporting or the lack of concrete facts was starting to cause more worry among everyone.  It wasn’t until later in the day did more accurate reports start coming in about who the real shooters were. The news media did not have social media or smart phones to rely on for updates. Instead they had to take caller’s word for what they thought to believe what was going on.

Unlike today where we have faster ways, such as Facebook and Twitter, of communicating news, news media outlets did not have this. For a while viewers were taking anything that the news media said as true. With out the reassuring live footage with concrete reports, it is hard for viewers to determine what the facts were and what was not. Today news media does not need to be interrupted with other breaking stories because of social media. Quickly news can be spread through Facebook, Twitter, and trending stories in real time. The short amount of space that these social media sites allows users to post stories do not always have the full pictures allowing for viewers to do more research on their topic or move on to the next story because the 140 characters was all they needed. Viewers of mass media need to be critical of what they are watching. According to the article The Twitter Effect: How Social Media Changes the News Narrative, even some news reporting is solely based on social media updates. Although some people do view as all media reporting as true, not everything is. According to Katie Rogers, journalist for The Washington Post, in her article Va. Tech Shootings: Rumors Spread Quickly Through Social Media, she even states that false reportings were spread through social media about the recent officer shootings that occurred last year. Someone had even posted a picture claiming it was officers casing the campus but later to find out it was from 2007 during the Virginia Tech shootings. A lot of media outlets rely on texts, pictures, or statements sent into the stations in order for them to bring a better understanding or more facts to those watching.

What would have media reporting been like if Facebook and Twitter were in existence during the Columbine shootings? Some already claim that the reason for Columbine receiving as much media coverage as they did was part of the news stations going along with agenda setting objectives. School shootings were peaking during this time. According to the article Media Framing and Policy Changing After Columbine, after viewers were more aware of what was going on more policies were put in place for how schools should deal with school shootings and the media coverage.

The media already had a huge effect of its viewers and how the situation was delivered. Just imagine what it would have been like if social media was in place. According to the article Media Influence and the Columbine Shootings, sometimes the amount of media coverage these tragedies receive allows the murderers to be perceived more as legends rather than who they really were. As viewers of news media we have to be aware of what the true facts are and what the real meaning behind a story is. Not two teens like Eric and Dylan trying to beat those before them in how massive of massacre they create.

 

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