Monthly Archives: March 2012

BLOGGING via TYPEWRITER.

BLOGGING via TYPEWRITER..

 

In Other News is a great news tumblr that features frequent updates, humor, quotes from the Colbert Report and The Daily Show, and an honest take on politics. Not to mention a “good morning tumblr” post each morning for his followers. His latest post “More fun with contextual advertising at NYTimes.com” points out a hilarious juxtaposition of a Starbucks ad and a front page Starbucks story. Funny how the news works out that way…

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I can has my cheezburger and eat it too

I was happy to see an article about I can has cheezburger  recently in Business Week. I knew about the site years ago, probably in middle school. It was back in the day where internet nerds like myself could communicate in the new language of LOLCAT speak, as invented by founder Eric Nakagawa. In a way, Nakagawa practically invented the modern meme. A meme is a reoccurring joke/image/saying online, that users share to communicate specific feelings or inside jokes about things. Examples include rage comics, trolling, nyan cat:

and characters to relate to like the Socially Awkward Penguin:

His site is successful not only because it’s so funny, but because people are allowed to share jokes and submit their own to the blog. It became participatory and easy. Anyone can upload a picture of their pet and put a funny caption on it to share with friends.

See, I made my own just now:

I love sloths. No joke.

While his website may have been started as a joke without the intention of growing so much, it has. Cheezburger, as it’s now shortened to, now owns various other hilarious websites. If you visit the original site, you will see links to Know Your Meme (a website dedicated to just explaining memes), The Daily What (a popular new short-form news and entertainment blog that I personally read every day), Failblog and more. These sites were all strong and popular on the web independently, but are even stronger linked to Cheezburger in a collective community. According to the aforementioned article,  “Cheezburger now gets 500,000 page views a day from between 100,000 and 200,000 unique visitors”, which is also great traffic for partner sites. And with all the best sites in one place, why would internet users go anywhere else?

Another great element about I can has cheezburger, that it has also passed onto The Daily What, is posting at key times of the day. Posts in the morning, during lunch breaks, and in the evening, make sure readers don’t feel too far behind on the blog — whether it’s funny cats or serious news. The Daily What calls its first post “the Early Bird Special of the Day”, often followed at some time by the “This X That of the Day” with categories of links titled “Read This”, “Look at this” and “Know this.” The “OMG! Adorbz! of the Day” is the random post with something cute to cheer readers up. But the site isn’t all giggles. The Daily What also covers “Hate Crime Investigation of the Day” (the “of the day” title is used loosely) and the site is often known for calling out media and internet gaffs. There’s no faster way to critique and correct incorrect stories or call out people on lies than on a blog. TDW jumps on stories, updates them quickly if changes are made, and keeps its following by reporting honestly and ethically. This is an excerpt from an interview I did with creator Neetzan Zimmerman last year:

“I believe accuracy in news is more important now than ever. There is a rush to get content up as soon as possible, and often times accuracy is sacrificed in the name of celebrity,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, a professional full-time blogger, strives for accuracy in his blog, which constantly competes with other news blogs and the new trend of dissemination of information through social media.

            “With Twitter taking over as the main source of news reporting for many fast-paced stories such as the popular uprisings in the Middle East, sifting through the rumors to find the truth is fast becoming a very arduous task. Unfortunately, at a time when people need to be increasingly vigilant in their information intake, they are, for a variety of reasons, becoming increasingly negligent in discerning between fact and fiction,” said Zimmerman.

Neetzan and Zimmerman’s success gives me hope that someday I can also create a successful blog. People are creating new genres through independent media sources and filling niches that people didn’t know needed to be filled. These two examples have gone about creating and monetizing their blogs very successfully, though they had no idea how far their audience would reach. New journalists and people with great ideas can learn from these movers and shakers so that they may also have cheezburgers one day.

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All Major News Outlets Cover Trayvon Martin Tragedy, Except Fox News | ThinkProgress

All Major News Outlets Cover Trayvon Martin Tragedy, Except Fox News | ThinkProgress.

I first heard about the case on tumblr and learned more later after watching various Young Turks videos. I love the way they report with the truth and with their emotions. They get angry about the whole situation and are helping to spread the knowledge of this injustice. We SHOULD get mad and we should demand justice. Some people participated in the Hoodie march to show solidarity with Martin and make a statement about how innocent he was.

Giraldo Rivera blames Trayvon Martin’s hoodie for his murder and calls his murderer a “nutty neighborhood watch guy”. Nutty. Yeah. Just like the Professor!

This is a textbook example of victim blaming (something female rape victims are far too familiar with), not to mention blatantly ignoring racism and the hate crime involved in this tragedy. Fox news is not only late to this game, which is frankly embarrassing- but they are now missing the point of the story completely. It’s moments like this that have the power to define our nation and give the media a chance to play an important role in bringing someone to justice. If we’re not careful though, this moment could just as easily send us back in time when hate crimes were explained away and the media were complicit in letting another murderer go free.

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Narrative Science, robot journalists, customized news, and the danger to civil discourse. – Slate Magazine

Narrative Science, robot journalists, customized news, and the danger to civil discourse. – Slate Magazine.

This frightening piece by Slate talks about the new technology of computer generated journalistic content. Most of these writing “robots” are creating simple articles for sports, finance, and real estate but they may expand to cover other formulaic news pieces. Who’s to say the next city council meeting or election won’t be covered by a robot? It would be easy enough with the advancement of Google technology, translators, statistics, and software that’s getting increasingly better at writing readable stories.

It’s eery to see robots taking journalism jobs at the same time the industry is struggling. But this Orwellian technology has become a reality. The truth is we will soon be competing against this technology for our livelihoods. Who will report the next Watergate better-humans or robots?

It was only a matter of time....

This technology is hailed for being very objective and factual (more than a human could be?). But will this technology be capable of investigative reporting in the future? The question now is not when this will happen (it has begun) but how far this will reach and how many publications will employ these writing robots. Are independent bloggers above this kind of technology? In ten years we might not even have to ask this, it might already be too late and Glenn Greewald will be replaced with Glenn Greenbot.

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The News, In Fact

George Seldes and his publication In Fact will forever stand as a symbol of independent media in the face of adversity. Although he passed away at 104 in 1995, his legacy lives on in every journalist who marches to the beat of his own drum. Drudge, Huffington, I.F. Stone, Josh Marshall and others have learned from example of In Fact that to beat the mainstream media, you have to create your own vessel for media. Seldes challenged dictators in his time, challenged the cigarette industry, challenged the government during wartime, and most of all challenged other publications. He started at the Pittsburgh Post and Chicago Tribune and later criticized the newspaper industry in America in his books Freedom of the Press and Lords of the Press. In You Can’t Print That! and Can These Things Be! Seldes he was able to publish work he wasn’t allowed to publish at the Tribune. No one believed Seldes when he reported unpublished scientific evidence linking cigarettes to cancer (until the news was reprinted in Reader’s Digest). He took the unpopular root because he defied advertisers that usually controlled content in MSMs.

I know that some lessons I have learned from George include:

  • screw advertisers, you don’t need them
  • you don’t need other writers to help, they might just bog you down
  • stick to your principles
  • pass on your wisdom (like Seldes did to Stone)
  • always challenge war. nothing is natural, everything is political. 
  • tell the truth and run

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Open Journalism in The Guardian

The new ad for The Guardian is clear it cares about how news is shared among its readers. It’s a call for open journalism, news with an interactive element. The ad cleverly touches on current events through the Three Little Pigs parable. Instead of showing a busy news room responding to the story, the ad depicts motivated and ambitious readers upset with the news and doing all they can to change it. A quote from the editor on their new open journalism campaign reads, “The newspaper is moving beyond a newspaper. Journalists are finding they can give the whole picture better. Over a year the readership grows – a little in print, vastly in digital. Advertisers like it, too.This is what we mean by open. The newspaper is the Guardian.”

via The Guardian: a world of news at your fingertips | Help | The Guardian.

It’s a step in the right direction to acknowledge the intelligence of your readership. Now more than ever readers of online and print news want to be a part of the reporting- whether it’s sports, fashion, Occupy, Arab springs…  I wonder if any other big publications will see this and follow suit.

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