Archive | February, 2012

Journalism’s new balance: Tradition and participation

7 Feb

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

The challenges to journalism are paradoxes. They range from corrupt bonuses for those at the top of the industry who do little that is positive and fire people, to the media being transformed by what used to be “the audience.”

It is amusing to think of journalism as a suffering industry while Craig Dubow received $37.1 million in severance, according to The New York Times’ David Carr.

In many publishing companies, thousands of people are fired and millions of dollars are available for bonuses and retirement. The millions of dollars go to those who are not helping the papers gain revenue, and they are not helping their employees keep their jobs.

What if instead of the bonus, they used the money available for the salaries of those who otherwise would have been fired? By paying journalists, perhaps better content and reporting would be produced for the readers, and stocks and revenue would see growth.

Carr said: “No one, least of all me, is suggesting that running a newspaper company is a piece of cake. But the people in the industry who are content to slide people out of the back of the truck until it runs out of gas not only don’t deserve tens of millions in bonuses, they don’t deserve jobs.”

I agree. People who are greedy enough to take millions and watch others with families go out into the streets jobless don’t deserve jobs. Maybe Carr is right, Instead of Occupy Wall Street, they should occupy the newsrooms.

According to Newsroom American Staff, though some top executives are taking the money, other companies, though not in journalism, are trying to pay bonuses to their employees to encourage them to stay with struggling companies. A solar panel company is trying to get bonuses approved for engineers and information technology workers to lure them into staying with the company. Journalism should do the same in using available money for employees and rewarding hard work.

Though the field of journalism is suffering in some aspects, and those who have jobs are fortunate, others are making money in journalism through content-farms.

Content-farms are websites that generate a lot of content that is search-engine friendly on a diversity of topics, Janet Spavlik said.

Unfortunately, content-farms lead to a mechanical delivery of articles that are often not high-quality or fact-checked. Ironically, many writers are paid for their “churning” out of shallow articles.

Of course, some content-farms are more respected than others. Janet Spavlik features the Examiner as a cutting-edge content-farm that is doing big things. It has 70,000 contributers and 3,000 articles published a day.

Content-farms present the new idea that we “the audience” can become a part of the media. We deliver.

Jay Rosen of Press Think asks, if everyone speaks who is left to listen? As our technology advances, anyone can edit a video, Photoshop a photo and make themselves look like a celebrity, write a blog and publish it, and the list can go on.

The common citizen is being called a journalist. Rupert Murdoch said the people want control over the media. They no longer want to be controlled by it. We are publishing and forming our view of the world and putting it out there for all to see. Take a blog for example, or even cooler yet: CNN iReport where people can upload videos, and they may be chosen to be aired on national television. Some videos have gone as far as to received awards.

The CNN spokesperson called it “the most developed and active citizen journalism platform of any news organization worldwide.”

I really like the way CNN’s iReport verifies and fact-checks. CNN has eight full-time producers checking videos. They moderate and make sure there is no copyrighted material in the submissions. If the video has not been seen by a moderator, the reader is warned and it is labled as such.

So far, its fact-checking is working because CNN has not aired something false that it has had to retract.

Journalism is not dying, it is changing. There is now a delicate balance between participation and reception. Publishing corporations should do their best to keep employees that will continue a standard of excellence, accuracy and bring in revenue. Companies should also take advantage of what technological advances allow us to do and contribute as ordinary citizens. Through blogs and platforms like CNN iReport, stories that wouldn’t have been heard before, were given a voice and power.

Editors and reporters: How to be a team and win

7 Feb

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

When you are a copy editor, as you edit, it is important to be sensitive to the time and effort the reporter put into his or her work.

According to Jenny Fucilla, freelance writers, and I am sure most reporters, have written a story they want published exactly the way they turn it in; word for word. Instead, what usually happens in the real world outside of writer fantasies is that the copy is changed to maintain a certain tone and uniformity with the publication.

Editors have their own tastes. This means they may change wording, or because of space limitations, cut parts of the manuscript. Minor changes are usually left to the editor’s discretion. Other, more significant changes, however, should be discussed with the writer.

It is important for an editor to remember that his or her name is not on the byline and that they have a responsibility to the writer. It is also important for the editor to be sure that corrections made are really clarifying or correcting the story and not introducing error into the manuscript.

Craig Silverman said editors may catch reporter’s many errors, but sometimes, they introduce errors.

One time, the Charlotte Observer wrote that instead of a “herniated disc,” the NBA player had a “herniated dick.” This happened while the editor was trying to correct the original to “herniated disk.”

Stephen Rynkiewicz said there are marked differences in how reporters and editors think. He said reporters are from Mars, and editors are from Uranus.

“Give me a job as a reporter and I’ll complain about where my work appears in the paper or headlines that miss the point. Put me at an editing desk and I’ll find statements that raise far more questions than they answer,” he said.

Though both are different, it is crucial that the reporter and editor collaborate. According to a piece written in the University of Nebraska Journalism and Mass Communications Faculty Journal by Will Norton Jr., John W. Windhauser and Allyn Boone, both the reporter and editor hold the role of decision makers of what is deemed as “newsworthy.” Of course, the noted difference being that the editor ultimately decides what gets published.

New York Times Bestselling Author Shirley Jump has a list of ways to get along with your editor. An editor can be a mentor for a reporter. The reporter can use his or her relationship with the editor to know what he or she is doing correctly. This relationship can also serve to show what can be improved in the future.

The key to resolving this historic conflict is to try to understand each other’s jobs. Some general guidelines by Nick Juliano are that the editor should speak to the reporter about “potential libel, numbers that don’t work, facts that don’t check out, quotes that are missing words, sentences that don’t make sense, holes in the story and names that are misspelled.” The editor should do this in a respectful way.

“Copy editors and reporters do not get along because they do not understand each other’s jobs,” said Dick Hughes, editorial page editor for the Statesman Journal.

“Reporters see copy editors as people who just sit there and hack stories. Copy editors see reporters as people who are always late and don’t give them enough time to write good headlines,” Hughes said.

Jenny Fucilla said, “In a word, the editor should put himself in the writer’s place; he should make only such changes as the writer would make himself if he had the editor’s experience.”

It is also important for the reporter to know that it is a copy editor’s job to scrutinize, tear apart and modify using good judgment.

Instead of seeing each other as adversaries, the reporter and editor should, as Juliano said, remember the reader. They should remember that their ultimate purpose is to, together, create an excellent publication.