Angela Avery's Blog

In these times, reporters matter more than ever

Posted in Digital Journalism, Journalism by aavery on September 26, 2010

Link to article: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20100926/NEWS0101/9260351/1007/NEWS01/In-these-times–reporters-matter-more-than-ever

Enough already! Journalism is not dying; it is, as this anonymous blogger put it, “changing.” Just because a couple (okay, a lot) of newspapers have been closed out, does not mean the entire industry of reporting the truth is closed as well. Sure, can you see it? “Well guys, looks like Ann Arbor News is out of print now, I guess we should all just pack up and go home.” Yeah—that isn’t exactly how it works. Sure, it may not be the glamorous career it was back when Watergate was split open, the white house was turned upside-down and Woodward and Bernstein pushed everyone to decide to go to J-school, but it still has a purpose. A purpose only a journalist can fulfill. A really big purpose that Joe the baker doesn’t quite see apparently.

Journalists today will go that extra mile to get the story, whereas the blogger may not. A blogger may not want to put in the effort to fly a distance to cover a much needed story that needs exposure, investigate fine details or have access to certain venues or contacts. A journalist’s job is to learn, know and understand the SPJ code of ethics (ethics link: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp). More importantly, a journalists job is to report the truth and have some integrity, which is something a lot of bloggers are severely lacking.

There is no one to be held accountable for bloggers writing or a citizen journalist’s blog. Journalists are held accountable because they not only conduct the interviews themselves, but also put their name at the tippy-top of the article with the title of the company they work for printed across the top of the very front page, usually in really large black print. They are easy to reach and their email addresses and phone contacts are usually only a click away. Accountability is the main factor being left behind in the blogosphere—but a real journalist is least concerned about that because they are adhering to a set of ethics and values that were instilled in them early on in their collegiate career. They also have mentors who have PhDs in journalism, have studied the profession for years under their college professors and didn’t just randomly develop an interest one day while rethinking their lives, but rather have always had some sort of appreciation for the news, writing, reading and correcting others grammar.

It doesn’t matter what people say, journalists are here to stay and there is no “threat” to their future. There is simply a transitional phase that is occurring at the moment. Journalism has made it over humps before and will make it over this one just the same with a little more work. Journalists and copy desk chiefs are highly intelligent people with excellent problem solving skills. Give them a few long minutes to get through the hump of the internet age and bloggers and you will notice that journalists were not only right there all along, but unchanged.

As the author of the article in the link above put it, “It will change forms, it will change mediums, but it will—at its heart—remain the same.”

Explanation Leads To Information, Not The Other Way Around

Posted in Digital Journalism, Uncategorized by aavery on April 4, 2010

Link: http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2008/08/13/national_explain.html

In an article written by Jay Rosen at Pressthink.com, he says, “Any commonly shared opacity is a signal of deep public need that can only be met by outstanding story-tellers who are reporters too.” This is true because a story needs to be told first before the list of facts come in with many bits of information scattered throughout the internet and blog pages.

Also in the article, Rosen says, “In the normal hierarchy of journalistic achievement the most ‘basic’ acts are reporting today’s news and providing current information, as with prices, weather reports and ball scores. We think of “analysis,” “interpretation,” and also “explanation” as higher order acts. They come after the news has been reported, building upon a base of factual information laid down by prior reports.” This is the gist of the article where he means that people would be better off if they could understand what was going on before looking into it. sometimes, when a story is explained first, it strikes an interest in hearing more about the topic over all.

Until one is able to understand the whole of a story, it is difficult to understand any one particular part of it. Also, it is important to leave readers feeling like they need to hear the other side of the story. Making sure the whole story is told is important as a reporter. Reporters should pay closer attention to this and find a way to become less biased, more objective, explanatory, honest and hold tightly to ethical values and even personal integrity.

Another point is that journalists practically reword what other writers say and put their name on it. They take what the experts say, opposing experts view and other people with knowledge on a topic and just write about it. Are journalists qualified all the time to report certain topics? Once they have reported on a topic, who is the original producer of the information?

Often Unobserved Eastern Michigan Spot

Posted in Digital Journalism, Uncategorized by aavery on April 4, 2010

Eastern Michigan’s Often Overlooked Art Gallery

Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26626766@N05/

EMU has a great art gallery that often goes unobserved by students and faculty.  The attendant sitting behind the desk at the entrance of the gallery, appearing to be no older than 24-years-old, says she sees a lot of people visit the place.  I asked her “what is considered a lot?”  She remarked, “I have seen about 4 people come in today alone!”  Being that the day was nearing to an end, that to me didn’t seem like many at all.  I looked outside and saw lots of students out enjoying the day, jogging, walking, lying in the grass reading, and sitting at the tables. I wondered how many of them even knew this gallery existed.

I thought this assignment was interesting because although I was aware of the art gallery, something I was not aware of was the memorial on the side of the Pray-Harold building. I googled what it was about and found some interesting information on it as well.  Had I not done this assignment, I never would have known of its existence.

Reconstruction of American Journalism

Posted in Digital Journalism by aavery on March 26, 2010

Link:  http://www.cjr.org/reconstruction/the_reconstruction_of_american.php

In a report by Leonard Downie Jr. and Michael Schudson regarding the reconstruction of American journalism, they ask a series of interesting questions throughout their article. One in particular, “The questions that this transformation raises are simple enough: What is going to take the place of what is being lost, and can the new array of news media report on our nation and our communities as well as—or better than—journalism has until now?” I think the first thing journalists need to do is get cracking learning more about the world of computers. HTML, CSS, etc. Integrity is the easy part!

The most frightening part of this article was not that journalism should go knocking on government’s door asking for hand-outs, but more so the comments at the end of the article. It is all too easy to bash the profession of journalism, calling it a “trade” rather than a profession as one commenter who goes by the name of “Padkiller” criticized. I certainly hope that my four year degree will not end up as a simple wall decoration. It was not only one commenter, but many who seemed to share this view.
I believe the real question here is what are journalists going to DO about skeptics such as Mr. “Padkiller” and the many like him who believe that journalism is a profession that just any old Joe can accomplish?

I digress…

The following statements in this article are what really matter in the world of journalism in my opinion–today just as much as yesterday and also for tomorrow:

“Independent reporting not only reveals what government or private interests appear to be doing but also what lies behind their actions. This is the watchdog function of the press—reporting that holds government officials accountable to the legal and moral standards of public service and keeps business and professional leaders accountable to society’s expectations of integrity and fairness.”

“The Watchdogs of Democracy” as Helen Thomas calls it. Ethics, law and values are what will keep journalism pure in the future. Trust is the only thing that will allow journalists to build credibility. It’s as simple as that. Holding tightly to the values no matter what the writer is confronted with.

My journalism professor, Dr. Schlagheck, says, if you are offered a gift, graciously refuse—no matter what the gift, what the reason or how grateful the person is. Accepting the gift sends a negative message.

The World Wide Web in Journalism

Posted in Digital Journalism by aavery on March 24, 2010

Link: http://dig.csail.mit.edu/2007/03/01-ushouse-future-of-the-web

According to a testimony of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee of CSAIL Decentralized Information Group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “The World Wide Web, itself built on the open Internet, has depended on three critical factors: 1) unlimited links from any part of the Web to any other: 2) open technical standards as the basis for continued growth of innovation applications: and 3) separation of network layers, enabling independent innovation for network transport, routing and information applications.”

These things, especially number one in Berners-Lee’s list are what make the world of journalism online a great place. Because we are able to post links to the Web in any way we like, without restrictions, we are able to link together multiple sources without having to manually create each bit of information. It allows a user-friendly online newspaper to appear smoother, seamless and easier to understand–just as the newspaper was intended.

The ability to virtually travel to any part of the world with only the mere click of a button is by far the most innovative tool a journalist could possess.

Would you pay for your online news?

Posted in Digital Journalism by aavery on March 20, 2010

Link: http://www.buzzmachine.com/

According to Jeff Jarvis, blogger of buzzmachine.com and Pew data, 82% of people who have a favorite news site they visit regularly say they would simply find somewhere else to get their news if it were no longer available to them online for free.

News sources, new and old are spreading online like wildfire and the idea of charging people to view these sites at this point is just crazy. The only way this might work is if every news company decided to start charging at the same time.

I was under the impression the only reason homeowners were charged to begin with was to keep track of the readership for each household. How much profit is there really for the sale of a paper? Advertisers are always willing to pay for space in a place with high traffic.

What do you think? Should we pay for our online news? Would you pay for it or would you simply look for it elsewhere for free?

Testimony of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee

Posted in Digital Journalism by aavery on March 13, 2010

Article Link:  http://dig.csail.mit.edu/2007/03/01-ushouse-future-of-the-web.html

Timothy Berners-Lee calls the Internet a “never-ending worldwide conversation.” This is true, especially because of the less than five year-old blogosphere. The internet has provided a useful outlet for people to express themselves and creatively contribute to the world by offering opinions, advice, research, thoughts, information and a multitude of other things.

I think the World Wide Web is a primary example of a close comparison of how news is transforming just like the Internet. News, like Internet, has come a long way and not because of just one man or woman. It has changed in so many ways and continues to change every day. News also is changing every day with the online news sources, blogging, hyper-links, commenting, citizen journalism and editing. Just as it took many people to transform the Web, it has taken just as many people and ideas to change the world of journalism.

Also, another important point is that the World Wide Web, just like journalism, respect core values when further developing itself. The Internet and digital journalism are nowhere near complete and still have a long way to go. The best way to make sure the Web is moving in a positive direction is to adhere to a strong and decent set of core values. The Web is not controlled by one man in a control center calling all the shots. It will take the integrity of a million others to create safe and credible place online for all people.

More About the ‘Citizen Journalist’

Posted in Digital Journalism by aavery on March 5, 2010

Carl Outing, columnist for Journalism Conversations at Poynter Online Groups,  wrote an article (http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=79670) relating to car break-ins and the citizen journalist helping out with uncovering the thieves identities like a game of clue by sending in photos and commenting on articles. Outing explains how if the combination of citizens and journalists, photographers and amateurs work together, they can create a lasting article rather than just a 12” story buried in a pile of papers long forgotten. This can actually help public officials catch a perpetrator and even make an arrest.

This example of citizen journalism is a great idea to create a new future for digital journalism. It will expand the short little articles and could even possibly aid in the capture of criminals or find a lost pet. This will keep articles alive and in a continuous flow instead of dead in a heap of papers on the floor. It is the .com era.

Citizen Journalism II

Posted in Digital Journalism by aavery on March 5, 2010

In an article written by Dr. Christine Tracy, Professor of Journalism at Eastern Michigan University called Citizen Journalism in the Digital Age, the question is brought up, “Exactly how will individuals affect existing and emerging news outlets and production centers?” Well, that is a question that cannot be answered at this moment in time. I think as long as there are professional journalists out there, there will always be minds working towards fixing any issues that will arise. For every problem there is a solution.

In the article, Dr. Tracy mentions that open reporting is not a new idea to journalism. That is why the digital world is absorbing journalism too. Having multiple sources to gather information from, add photographs, gather new sources and discover things that cannot be predicted is only going to help the journalist and editors, which in turn helps the people.

Throwing away our style books?

Posted in Digital Journalism by aavery on March 3, 2010

According to Bay Area News Project Editor Jonathan Weber (article found at pointer.org), the newsroom in the future will have strong Web and mobile presence; avoid AP writing in favor of more direct, conversational style and play nice with other smaller media sites.

If there is no more AP style, who will the journalists be? AP style provides consistency, clarity, brevity and accuracy to journalistic writing. Also, AP prevents use of offensive words and language.

I wonder how journalists feel about throwing away their dog-eared style books and becoming more “conversational.” I mean, who needs consistency and a politically correct presence? If there were a vote on this, I would vote to save the AP style books.