Tag Archives: politics

Social media values and possibilities changing the news

9 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

There is no question about it. Social media has revolutionized journalism. In some ways, some would argue it allows journalists to do or accomplish what they were already trying to accomplish, except in a more time efficient way that reaches more people.

Brenna Ehrlich said: “Journalists are, by nature, crafty folk who are wonderfully adept at stalking — I mean, finding sources and relevant information for various and sundry stories. Well, the advent of social media has made the process of reporting all the more nuanced, and has served as a vital channel for everything from finding leads to contacting sources to sharing and furthering one’s brand.”

Social media has made finding information about someone easier. Something that would have been awkward to ask may now be out in the open on Facebook. Ehrlich compares Facebook to a phonebook, except with photos and biographical information.

Social media has other advantages apart from facilitating information. It also makes it so that journalists are no longer asking questions because people are saying what they think.

In places where journalists are not allowed, people can use the Internet to broadcast their opinions or their oppression. Ehrlich mentioned Iran as an example.

Brian Stelter, a reporter for The New York Times, receives feedback on stories and polishes them through interaction with people on his Twitter and his blog. He also uses both to promote his work and create that ever desired “brand.”

The most crucial aspect of the social media tool is “engagement with the audience,” said Brian Dresher, manager of social media and digital partnerships at USA Today.

Burt Herman said: “Journalism will be more collaborative, embracing the fundamental social nature of the Internet. The story will be shaped by people involved in the news, curated by savvy editors from diverse sources and circulated back again to the audience. This is the new real-time news cycle.”

Social media has added the “personal” element into news. How “personal,” can be debated, but the point is that journalists and news organizations are taking advantage of these tools to connect with others.

“Get readers involved with your brand, engage them with their hearts and minds and the money will follow,” the CoverItLive editor said.

Dan Gillmor said there is a lot to be excited about.

“Why, given the crumbling of newspapers and the news industry in general, should we believe in abundance? Just look around,” he said. “The number of experiments taking place in new media is stunning and heartening. Entrepreneurs are moving swiftly to become pioneers in tomorrow’s news.”

With this breaking away from the monopoly of information, there is an issue with ensuring the credibility of the news media as it becomes more collaborative.

“We’ll have to instill throughout our society principles that add up to critical thinking and honorable behavior,” Gillmor said.

He said readers and participants need to be skeptical, critically think, and go out of their comfort zones. Journalists on the other hand, need to demand transparency, be fair, fact check and be independent. I find the first and last one very hard to do with this new collaborative journalism. How can you force people to be transparent and be independent when you rely on others a lot more heavily, which is what social media facilitates?

Esther Thorson and Michael R. Fancher found by using a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press study that the general audience and journalists have very different ideas about what the core values of the press should be.

If the values are different, it will be difficult for them to collaborate well together.

Matt Egan argues, “Social media is eroding core journalistic values. And whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, professional journalists are just as much to blame as flaming web trolls.”

He states that though journalists through social media are influencing a larger amount of people, they are also being influenced, and that may not be a good thing. He states this can be negative because the person influencing the news could be anyone. Anyone, means anyone.

Some are arguing that social media is destroying journalism completely; that journalists are trying to use what will end up being their demise. Robert Picard went as far as to write a piece in The Christian Science Monitor called “Why journalists deserve low pay.”

He began his piece by saying: “Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren’t creating much value these days. Until they come to grips with that issue, no amount of blogging, Twittering, or micropayments is going to solve their failing business models.”

Whatever your opinion may be, one thing is certain: Social media cannot be ignored.

Richard Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University said, “Social media are changing in fundamental ways. Journalists, newsrooms and media companies ignore these changes at their peril.”


Google Trends and Google Correlate:

Google Trends and Google Correlate are tools that give you special insight as a journalists. They give you a peek at the mind of the reader and average person out there and what they care about or think about together.

Google Trends shows what term or reference people refer when they search, while Google Correlate helps you see what people associate with each other and search patterns.

These tools can help journalists not only figure out what to write about and what a “hot” topic is but also it serves as a tool to write SEO-friendly headlines that will be more likely to pop-up when the reader types a search into Google.

Check out my Google Trends [a] and Google Correlate [b] below.


Hispanic vs. Latino in the Google search.

[a] Latino is obviously a more popular term. One can see that it was especially used in Mexico and Spain. In the U.S., however, both are almost used interchangeable and at the same rate.


French Elections

[b]  It is neat that Google Correlate works with other languages. I tried it in French. I searched “Election Presidentielle” and it reflected the association and search pattern with “Sondages,” which means surveys or polls, which is something the French actively follow to see how the public opinion on certain candidates changes. Very cool.  🙂

Case Study 9: Fetus or unborn child

30 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Editor response:

Summary: The story is about a man, Subhas Chander, who set fire to a house and killed his 5-month pregnant daughter, her husband, whom he disliked because he was from a lower caste, and his 3-year-old grandson.

The debate: The debate is whether it should be three counts of murder or whether the unborn should be counted as a person.

The arguments: Timothy J. McNulty argues that it was four deaths not three and that the stylebook or the writer’s own personal belief was what made the writer say three. He argues that this is wrong.

A Chicago media critic said McNulty is doing the same thing and basing his reasoning on his religious beliefs.

Conclusion: Ultimately, none of us can completely separate ourselves from our personal beliefs. It is also evident that some stylebooks advocate certain religious or political beliefs, so perhaps using them as a guide in these touchy situations will always cause some stir because someone may not agree.

The best thing to do would be to use the legal sentencing to describe what happened even if it makes the headline a bit longer or avoid it all together. I am afraid we’d have to ditch the stylebook in this case.

Instead of saying, “Grandfather charged in blaze that killed 3,” the headline could read, “Grandfather charged in blaze with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of intentional homicide of an unborn child.” By saying it like this, it is an accurate and legal. People may argue that the fact that it is called a child is political and religious if it is not born, but it is the way the court has written it, so that is an option.

Another option would be to say, “Grandfather charged in death of pregnant daughter, her husband and 3-year old grandson.” In this way you avoid having to choose between child or fetus.

No matter what you do, people will find something wrong with it. Being politically correct can be so annoying sometimes. There are some things that are so controversial that there is no neutrality available when talking about them.

Storify: Tragedy in Toulouse and the “Presidentielle 2012” in France

30 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

I have been following the French elections, and an event that has shaken the elections and affected the polls is the Toulouse shooting and comments made about Mohammad Merah, the Algerian shooter.

Storify is a great tool where you can collect comments from social media, YouTube and other sources and combine them to make one story that includes diversity in opinion and media.

I hope you enjoy!

(I speak French, but I tried to in the text explain whatever had no translation or subtitles.)



13 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Analysis of tool: This tool is very interesting. I like how it highlights keywords and names. On the side it gives a breakdown of the items highlighted, and if you click on the link, it takes you to more detailed information. It is interactive in that you can hover the mouse over a pie graph and it gives even more information than what is simply on the page. For example, hovering over a pie graph may not only reveal percentages but also, more specifically, dollar amounts.  It is interesting to think of who is giving to whom as far as contributions are concerned. This impacts how contributors and influential organizations present information, and knowing this information can help the readers take the information with the skepticism they need to achieve a “mental balance” of the information, so they can form their own opinion.

Link:  http://poligraft.com/GH4c

The article I submitted through Poligraft was from Washington D.C. It is about the “shift” of emphasis for the GOP campaigning in the South. Key points are that Mitt Romney, 458, has double the delegates of that of Rick Santorum, 203. To secure a nomination against Barak Obama, the GOP candidate needs 1,144 delegates. The piece also mentions that southern comedian Jeff Foxworthy will be campaigning for Romney.

Newt Gingrich, who currently has 66 delegates, is hoping to win Alabama and Mississippi.

According to CNN: “An American Research Group survey last week of likely Republican primary voters in Mississippi showed Gingrich with 35 percent support to 31 percent for Romney, 20 percent for Santorum and 7 percent for Paul. The poll’s four percentage-point sampling error meant Gingrich and Romney were in a statistical tie.”

The Poligraft report was interesting in that it showed what certain groups who contributed to the article have donated to PACs. For example,  according to Poligraft, NBC Universal donated $5,500 to the Rick Santorum campaign. CBS Corp. donated $83,344 to Barak Obama’s campaign. Through this list of information we can see the political leanings of the quoted sources and have a more in-depth look at why they asked certain questions or gave certain quotes.

For example, Gingrich sounds less sure about his Alabama-Mississippi victory on CBS than he did on Fox. CBS Corp., as stated above, was a major donator to the Obama campaign and it aggregated $501 to Ron Paul’s campaign. If you click on the link, it shows the top recipients for CBS Corp. and those lobbying on the company’s behalf.

Poligraft also gives “Points of Influence,” and it shows the party of the candidates that received what percent of contributions. Through this, the reader can see that Obama receives more contributions from individuals, while Gingrich receives a quarter of his contributions from PACs. Also, one can see what the types of people are the ones that most frequently contribute to certain campaigns. For Obama it’s lawyers and lobbyists, for Paul it’s people involved in finance, business and real estate.

Poligraft is a tool that helps reveal underlying influences in articles and news. In the end, it serves to prove what we already know: What is truly objective?