Tag Archives: journalism

How I’m using social media

Well, hello strangers.

I’ve finally decided to resurrect my blog from its sad, dormant state. I have to admit that I’m a little embarrassed by how long it has been since my last post. I guess I’ve been filling my blogging void through my social media accounts. However, I realize that I still need to practice my long-form writing skills, and I can’t exactly do that on Twitter or Facebook.

So, I took time to reflect on how I’m using social media to refresh myself on what it is I want to accomplish through my accounts and to look at why I make it a point to visit these sites each day. What I found: It’s all about the news. (Shocking for a journalism graduate, right?) Whether it’s about me reading the news via social media or about me sharing news via social media, I like being in the know, and that’s why I like and use social media. Now, I can’t say for certain why others follow me on social media, and I’m not so convinced Klout can gauge that either (here‘s my Klout profile, by the way, if you care), but I can at least explain how I’m using social media.

Twitter

Twitter is my favorite social media site and the one I use most often. It’s concise. It’s engaging. It’s effective. Content drives Twitter, which is why I try to keep my tweets less about me and more about others by sharing stories, videos, photos, etc., that I find interesting and think others will, too. During my last year at KU, I helped manage the University Daily Kansan‘s Twitter account and the KU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists‘ Twitter account. Twitter is my “Google Reader” (I wonder: Do people still use that?). It’s my microblog. It can be my way of getting customer service, and it’s often where I search for news topics, KU basketball commentary or what’s going on around Lawrence.

LinkedIn

I’ve heard people say that they don’t understand how to use LinkedIn to network or find jobs or that they don’t like it, but along with Facebook and Twitter, it’s a site I visit daily. It’s not that I’m constantly updating or refining my professional profile, or looking for connections. And while that is important, one of my favorite features on the site is the customizable LinkedIn Today section. I find links to news articles that are being shared by among industries I’m interested in (and often share those articles), and I can see which articles my LinkedIn connections have shared. I love that I can pare down the news to suit my interests and then browse articles in a visual, organized format. Aside from that function, to state the obvious, LinkedIn helps me establish a professional presence online and then share that presence with other professionals. I should also mention other key functions I’ve used on the site, like its job search function, which suggests jobs I might be interested in based on my experience, or groups, which provide a forum for people with similar interests to hold discussions, share articles or just stay in touch.

Facebook

You’ll find that if we’re not Facebook friends, you probably won’t be able to see much of my profile. I use Facebook more for personal sharing than I do on other sites because, unlike Twitter, for me, Facebook revolves more around keeping up with what my friends are doing. I don’t visit Facebook to find my hard news. I do believe, however, Facebook pages are great for businesses and organizations to engage with their audiences and share information. Currently, along with my sister and dad, I help manage a couple of Facebook pages: Silver Lake Girls Golf and Silver Lake Baseball (my dad coaches both of the teams). Also, during college, I managed the Kansan’s Facebook page.

Google+

I have to confess: I dig Google+. The problem? Only a handful of my friends are actually using the site. I don’t even post there as much as I’d like — mostly because I know only a few friends will see it and, I guess, anyone who has added me in one of their circles. But, I still have hope it will catch on eventually. If nothing else, I really like visiting Google+ to see how the news organizations I follow use the site. I find that I like Google+’s interface for following news stories because it’s more visual than Twitter. Also, I love Google+ Hangouts and the awesome features I can include while “hanging out.”

Pinterest

I refuse to believe that Pinterest is only good for pinning items about weddings, home decor, food recipes, or arts and crafts. I certainly try to use it for other purposes than that. So far, I’ve got boards about topics ranging from visual news to design/typography, to video. (And, yes, I occasionally pin a recipe or home decor idea, too.) Pinterest is my newest social media venture, and I’m already scheming ideas for new boards. But first, I think it’s important to build up the boards I’ve got.  I love (and am taking notes from) this list of how journalists can use Pinterest. So far, I haven’t found too many journalists using Pinterest in ways that this article mentions, but here’s hoping that catches on.

What’s above also appears on my “About Lauren” page, which may seem like a blog post cop-out, but hey, baby steps. I’ll go on the record here and say that I will post more often, I promise.

Advertisements

Translating definitions

The following blog post appears on my “Media and the Environment” class blog. I’ve posted it on my blog to share some of what I’ve been learning this semester.

Recently while eating at Angler’s in Lawrence, I saw something on the menu I hadn’t noticed before.

On the back side of the menu, it was noted at the bottom that the restaurant was a sustainable seafood restaurant. I pointed it out to my boyfriend, feeling better about our decision to eat there, but I also wanted to know more about exactly what that meant. Below the headline, there was some information that kind of explained what the term “sustainable seafood” meant, but the two short paragraphs on the menu didn’t really inform me completely.

Since then, I’ve checked out their Web site to see exactly what the restaurant meant by their sustainable seafood statement. They give some good explanations as to what they mean by sustainable seafood, but I wonder how the term translates to other restaurants and to those restaurants’ consumers.

The term “sustainability” has been thrown into a lot of media coverage about environmental or political issues. Often the word is defined as a balance between people, planet and profit. But I think it’s interesting that the word at one point didn’t include anything about the environment.

I looked up “sustainablility” in the Oxford English Dictionary through the KU Libraries Web site and found that up until December 2001, no definitions included anything about the environment. The definitions before 2001 did include descriptions of maintenance and the ability to be upheld or stand alone, which I am realizing is essential for others to understand in order to apply it to the environment.

I agree that it’s important to include the planet in the discussion when people take on sustainable projects or talk about making things more sustainable, but I’m not so sure that sustainability — the word itself — fully encompasses the aspect of the environment within its definition. It is nice to have a go-to word that can be used when discussing green or environmental issues, but I don’t think a single word cannot possibly sum up the planet, profit or people.

Instead of just labeling some project or item as “sustainable,” I believe meaningful discussions and definite definitions should be given to the public. Honestly, I don’t have a great answer as to who should give that definition, but I see more news outlets and blogs who are trying to offer some guidance. But of course, there’s always the question of who, if anyone, will actually take the time to educate themselves? My hope is that the term won’t try to define or take on too many aspects, and I hope more people begin to understand that research should be done in order to truly have a meaningful discussion about the environment and the food we get from it.

A response to Kevin Marsh: Different doesn’t mean worse

In Death of the Story Kevin Marsh writes simply and with a tone of cynicism, “The story is dead.”

Dead? Really?

After reading this, I wondered what it was that I had been studying for the past three and a half years in the William Allen White School of Journalism. Without “the story,” what am I to do with my knowledge of how to set up quotes or write a nut graf? More importantly, what now will I do with my editing skills? Sure, someone can correct grammar and usage mistakes on bad Web sites or other media of the sort, but what will I now do with my abilities to craft information in a way that an audience can understand it.

Fortunately, Marsh’s idea of the dead story is dead wrong.

His main argument lies within three main points he makes in the article. First, he concludes that journalists have stretched and distorted “the story” in ways that make it no longer helpful to an audience. He seems perturbed that journalists are no longer the only ones who can “spot stories.”

My question to Marsh regarding that statement: Why is this a bad thing? Yes, this does mean a more citizen-journalism-like approach to storytelling, but journalism should not be an exclusive entity.

Journalists might cringe at the phrase “citizen journalism,” but if used correctly and in the appropriate context, a deeper and better-rounded story can be told with more viewpoints. It’s easy to imagine how easily a story could write itself with accounts from as many people as possible. Of course, though, with that method comes the task of wading through relevant and factual information. Anyone can easily post information online about his or her personal experiences or thoughts on current events, etc., but a true journalist will be able to determine which of those posts are meaningful and relevant in the scheme of news.

In his article, Marsh even states that the story is “the journalistic creation that grew out of narrative accounts of the world.” And still he tries to say that “the story” is dead.

Well, what Marsh needs to realize is that it most definitely is not dead, but rather it is different. Telling “the story” is a mutual effort. Marsh only talks of journalism as a one-way line of communication — we the journalists tell the stories, and you, the audience, take it in. But without some consideration of an audience’s input, a story cannot be well written. Technology can allow news sources to gain more feedback through comments on Web sites, Twitter, YouTube or iReport. By injecting “the story” with more stories, the reading experience is not only personalized for each reader, but it is also enriched.

One of my favorite journalist blogs is 10,000words.net started by Mark S. Luckie. Luckie is an online/ multimedia journalist who understands and respects the changing face of journalism. Unlike Marsh, he embraces the change through using multimedia. He often posts tongue-in-cheek entries that poke fun at the mindset of those against the changing industry.

Perhaps the most relevant and sarcastic passage from one of his posts on using multimedia: “The hundreds of voices on a website can’t compare to the two quality experts in a print or broadcast story.” With what comes across as a sarcastic comment with Luckie, Marsh would say with sincerity.

Marsh’s second main argument deals with the mistrust generated from this lack of “the story.” The way in which Marsh structures his first and second arguments give his message a voice that screams, “This isn’t the way we used to write stories. What are all of you non-journalists doing giving input to what I’m writing? Let me do it. I’m the journalist here.”

I agree with Marsh that the term “journalism” has been used to describe things that it hasn’t before. But that’s OK. Though different or frightening to some, it is not a bad thing. It is merely a phase in the evolution of journalism.

The most bothersome aspect of Marsh’s argument on the new face of journalism is his problem with consumers being able to now get the news when they want and how they want: “The more I find out about how our former audiences are getting their news now that they don’t have to rely on us journalists, the more convinced I become that our invention, ‘the story,’ and all that goes with it is dead.”

I guess I missed the problem with that. Do others really think this is a problem?

By personalizing the way in which someone views information, it is better retained. Consider it: If someone can visit a site that allows him or her to input certain information that might be different for someone else, each person’s outcome would be unique. Because of that exclusiveness, a consumer is given more of a reason to remember whatever was just read.

Marsh does mention the Poynter Instititute Eye Track Studies, citing that in fact people do read less on Web sites. However, he fails to mention the other half of that notion. A news consumer must have something to latch onto to stay on that site, specifically a story — “the story.”

Every part of journalism, from the graphics to the break boxes to the maps to the Flash interactives to the actual pieces themselves tell a story, and that story sticks with and draws in a reader if properly done.

In the realm of journalists, I assume that Marsh falls in the end of the spectrum that includes older journalists. Marsh acknowledges the Web in some parts of his article, but never in a good light until the end when he suggests that we should all adjust to the changing times.

But with his attitude that journalists can only be the gatekeepers to information, Marsh distinguishes himself from the prevailing journalists. He begrudgingly admits that we journalists must deal with the dead story and move on to gathering information to put on some Web site.

Though I do agree that journalism is in an important transitional phase right now, I do not agree that the story is dead. I think that the message is one that is common to older journalists who are more set in their ways and have seen drastic changes in the profession.

Those changes have occurred. I’m not denying that. But why is it that whenever there is change at any level the worst is automatically assumed to have happened?

On 10,000words.net, Luckie has a section in which he collects others’ opinions on the death of journalism, some sarcastic and some accurate. It seems as though most negative views on journalism now come out of fear.

Journalism cannot be exclusive anymore. If the majority of people simply weighing in on an issue ever threatens the story, it is a journalist’s job to pull back the reins of integrity and objectivity.

But to simply deny the spread of journalism in whatever form it comes in is to kill ‘the story’ — the who, what, where, when, why accurate and skillful structure of language  — right then and there.

Slacker

I have been such a slacker on this blog.

Sorry- I’m trying to remember to blog more, but I always seem to forget because I’ve been doing so many things. Many of my friends have informed me that Ryan is much better at blogging than me. But hey, I might be better if I only had photos to put on a blog. 🙂 (I mean that in the best way possible, Ryan.)

OK anyway, I’m still doing well in NYC. I’m slowly running out of money, which was to be expected but is still no fun either way. Nevertheless, I just want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can be while I’m here. Which reminds me, I need to try to find more journalism-y lectures while here! Ryan and I have already gone to listen to a NY Times multimedia producer give a lecture at B&H. That was awesome.

What to do, what to do

The most recent highlights of my time here: Bryant Park (every Monday for free movies), Museum of Natural History, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (we saw an improv show there- Mo Rocca, Bobby Moynihan, and John Lutz were some of the comedians there),  Metropolitan Museum of Art, Coney Island/Hudson River for the 4th, American Ballet Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet, etc. You can check out my Facebook album that has photos I’ve taken so far while here.

Work it

Work is still going well. Today I went to a News Practices & Standards session where I learned about policies and such. Basically, I’m not allowed to blog in detail about what I’m doing before it is published/broadcasted. But I will say that I’m working more on original stuff that I’ve written, recorded and started to edit.

I went to an intern meeting yesterday, too, where a group of us could meet with HR interns and speak candidly about our internships. There I found out how lucky I’ve been with NBC Mobile. I can actually get my hands on whatever really- editing, writing, shooting- and do what I want with footage I find. Some people in this HR session definitely didn’t sound like they were too happy with what they were doing. Thank goodness I’m actually getting to spend valuable time on projects.

I just can’t believe I have like three weeks left at NBC and in New York! It feels like there’s still so much to do in the city before I go.

I am excited for Mom and Dad to come the weekend before my birthday! And hopefully Leah and Justin can come, too. Then Sachi and Michelle are here, and then I’m basically home. Yikes!

New York state of mind

I think I better understand the general New Yorker’s state of mind. Everyone here is just busy. Plain and simple. There are millions of people here with millions of schedules and probably billions of things to worry about. I get it.

But sometimes, I just want to shake some of the people I see on the street here and say, “You’re in New York City! You can do whatever you want to do tonight!” I just think that so many natives here are so busy and so cynical that they don’t always appreciate the amazing city in which they live.

It’s so easy to get tense and upset about the littlest things here. I catch myself becoming a bit tense at times over dumb things like slow walkers or the grammar of people on the streets, so I can’t even imagine the kind of tension that New Yorkers have.

But then again, I find myself asking if they even have tension. New Yorkers, in general, seem to be so oblivious to their surroundings that even a man in a costume shouting absurdities down the street wouldn’t faze them. So it could be that no one cares enough about the people around them or surroundings to have that much tension here.

Like I said, I’m only beginning to somewhat understand the mindset here. I don’t think I get it. And wouldn’t be able to until I live here for a good year. But who knows if that will ever happen.

I love New York, but I do miss my family and friends back in Kansas. Hope all is well with everyone reading this.

Much, much love.