Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Modern Journalism: the Truth in Technology

Dana DeCenzo

Modern-day technology allows any private citizen with a smartphone to become a journalist/ photo via Pexels

"New Kids on the Block"

In this new age of journalism, news gathering takes place on all platforms, by public and private citizens, at all altitudes. However, it is important to clarify the roles of journalists in society, as the reputation for the "dishonest" media seems to elude it. With today's technology and social media, the title "journalists" extends to both public and private citizens. In this new age of journalism, journalists can be described as anyone covering or gathering news on the public's behalf- fueling the popular, public opinion.  

Modern-day Technology and its Controversy 

Thanks to modern-day technology - including that of drone photography and live streaming capability - journalists are able to report and share news like never before. However, these developments continue to blur lines of legality as neither technological practice has official federal usage guidelines set in place.

Drones have been available for retail purchase since 2015/ photo via Flickr

Drone photography
, for instance, is a question of what is considered privacy and trespassing, as airspace remains public domain. While private companies such as Amazon plan to utilize drone technology with Amazon Prime Airthe potential danger of legality issues concerning the invasion of privacy and trespassing laws remains present. Yet, because airspace is considered a public sector, the lines of fair use remain blurred - for now.

Facebook Live video streaming enables users to follow their favorite celebrities and broadcast events
to their personal feed in real-time/ photo via newsroom.fb.com

Video streaming services such as Facebook Live have transformed the way the public engages online. In practice, Facebook Live and similar services have been credited for their immediacy, coverage of national events and underlying function as evidence for law enforcement.

To the journalists' advantage, live streaming documenting a crime has been known to be used as evidence to law enforcement. For example, Facebook Live recently shut down the live stream of a shooting per police requests. Live streams, however, have also been used to prove the misconduct of police officers and law enforcement - working to ensure law enforcement is no longer able to dictate the public knowledge of a news story and giving the power of reporting to the public, changing the way we view and are affected by violence.

Trolling Headlines and Social Media

Social media platforms are proven to boost content views,
regardless of truth/ photo via Wikimedia Commons
Thanks to social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and BuzzFeed, promoting and sharing content as well as achieving viral status has become easier than ever. Some journalists today (such as "new yellow journalists") tend use deception, satire and a variety of outrageous, satirical and often controversial wording in headlines in order to draw the eye of their audience. This strategy - known as clickbait - suggests we must trick people into reading the news. 

While most who share content on Facebook never finish reading the content they share, the public often doesn't research the truth of the claims. According to these trolling bloggers themselves, tactics of exaggeration and fear get results. Additionally, these "new yellow journalists" credit search engine optimization and social media algorithms as their vehicle to success - claiming  "violence,  chaos and aggressive wording are what people are attracted to" in an interview. 

What it Means for Journalists

So, what does modern-day technology mean for the field of journalism? The answer is opportunity. The opportunity for innovative content, audience engagement, and finally, transparency - an opportunity to reverse the constant stigma of the "dishonest media" and promote the use of journalistic power for the responsible and honest sharing of news.

Living with Live Streaming: A Shift in Viewership Attention

Blake Dava

The trend of Live Stream has reached new levels of popularity in recent years and has become adopted by many different social media platforms and digital technologies to make live stream more accessible for producers of content and for viewership.

Traditional live streaming sites have reached new levels of popularity, like Twitch.tv, where a culture of live media entertainment has taken the world by storm. Sites like these mostly appeal to fans of video gaming and comedy and can still feel like niche websites offering very specific content in a very wide variety.

Also, the easy accessibility of entertainment live streaming means that there's always a large collection of people creating content. For most, all that's needed is a decent quality computer, audio recording equipment and a camera. This had lead to people trying by the hundreds to stand out from the crowd and establish a strong fan base, which can lead to a life-long career in entertainment and media creation.

Live streaming is also seen in a much more casual format, such as Facebook's recent feature simply called "going live." With the push of a button, anyone can begin recording from their phone and immediately be streaming it for any of their friends to see.

What makes this seemingly casual practice so effective is that Facebook also notifies any of their friends when their live stream starts, so people are instantly informed and can choose to go watch immediately. There's no work needed in order to draw in viewers. Facebook does the work for them.

The increase in popularity and accessibility in live streaming indicates a shift in what people want to watch. Up until now, it's been easy to say that the attention span of viewers, especially on the internet, has been very limited and our media has grown to reflect that. Trending YouTube content five years ago used to be less than a minute long, and live streaming was not seen as widespread entertainment.

But now, YouTube is flooded with videos that average around four minutes and twenty seconds and the larger media producers put out content ranging from 15 to 35 minutes. Popular YouTubers like Markiplier, Jacksepticeye and Game Theory all produce much larger content like this daily.

What this means for us is that the way people desire content is changing. There's so much content out there, that now people have to choose what they want to watch, and once they make a decision they're willing to watch more of it. Live Streaming is an inherently slow media to watch, because there's no post-production editing, but it still captures millions of viewers.

It's possible that, because streaming is all done in one take, the viewers feel like the content is more genuine. Watching an entertainer live gives you a better sense of who that person is. Watching a live stream of a police riot gives you a clear, and potentially unbiased, view of the situation.

People want to trust the media that they watch, and live streaming has the potential to fill that need. We, the journalists, just have to decide what to do with it.

Ethical Journalists Must Explain the Value in Good Journalism

Maygan Beeler

Provided via Centre for Research on Globalizataion

The proliferation of fake news is assuredly an issue that journalists will encounter as they spend extended time with family and friends this holiday season. People across the political spectrum are guilty of fueling the fake news machine by spreading fabricated stories. Inevitably, Aunt Susie read in her Facebook feed a story that proved Hillary Clinton faked a concussion to avoid testifying about Benghazi. She will want the journalist, her brilliant niece or nephew, to answer for this atrocity. To say the story is fake won’t be enough—and it shouldn’t be. Journalists need to explain their job and why it is different than the content fake news sites produced. It’s the responsibility of ethical journalists to make sure the public knows how to find reliable sources of information.

Media companies feed the public’s distrust of journalists

“If journalists don’t inform the public about what we do and why, we’re ceding the debate to those looking to vilify and delegitimize the press at a dangerous moment in history,” a Neiman Report article by Michael Calderone begins. We’re experiencing a moment in time when Americans are inherently distrusting of the media, and this perception is partially the media’s fault.

Large media companies are pushing for the freedom to fly drones in any public place to take photographs without restrictions. They’re choosing to ignore the need to implement some privacy protections in favor of access to information they believe will produce the best content, a Columbia Journalism Review article states. This is a mistake. The SPJ Code of Ethics recognizes the responsibility of journalists to minimize harm. “Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness,” the code reads. The public’s need to know will not be most important in every situation, exemplifying why some limits on drone use make sense. Journalists need to carefully explain why drone use is necessary at all, and how their organization will use it responsibly if they hope to win back public trust.

Social Media: A tool used by journalists, a weapon used against journalists

A BuzzFeed article reports that top fake news stories from this election cycle generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election coverage from 19 major news outlets combined. News stories can reach a huge volume of readers more easily than ever before. With the simple click of a Facebook “share” or Twitter “retweet” button, a new audience is exposed to content they likely would not have organically encountered if not for social media. This is great for journalists charged with disseminating accurate information to the largest possible population. This is terrible when you consider BuzzFeed’s analysis that reveals stories doing really well on social media are often fake.

A Vox article posted earlier this month explains why social media, Facebook specifically, perpetuates fake news so consistently. “Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes “ engagement”—and a reliable way to get readers to engage is by making up outrageous nonsense about politicians they don’t like,” the article states. Journalists would do well to explain this concept when faced with a conversation about fake news.

The idea of social media algorithms is also important to consider when faced with angry folks who can’t understand why a media organization “isn’t covering” a certain person or event they’ve decided is particularly newsworthy. In my own Twitter feed last night, I spotted the following tweet: “If you’re wondering why people have lost faith in today’s media an entire town is currently on fire and no one is talking about it #Gatlinburg.” This tweet received more than 400 retweets and more than 400 likes after one hour. Directly above this message, I found a news article about Gatlinburg that was retweeted by a journalist I follow.

The individual tweeting that journalists weren’t covering the fires in Gatlinburg might not have seen news stories on his or her social media feed due to the site’s algorithm. Or, maybe, the individual isn’t following many news outlets or journalists. Then, there’s also the possibility that there weren’t any news stories immediately available to this person because journalists were working hard to make sure they gathered accurate information before sharing it with the public.

At a time when instant gratification and immediate access to information is so prized, it’s easy to forget accuracy is a key element of good journalism. Journalists would do well to explain these concepts to anyone who asks why media organizations are scum, or ignoring the real issues, or acting on a personal agenda. If journalists don’t explain their job and work carefully to earn the trust of those around them by transparent communication and action, fake news with its outrageous claims and provocative headlines will continue to rule the day.

Technology and News Reporting

Rachel Sinistro

Photo via Flickr of people protesting police brutality. Bystanders have been given the ability to capture footage of acts of police brutality through technology.

The rise of technology has given us the ability to see the truth in news reporting due to live streaming on social media. It is no longer just news reporters who have the power to reveal hard-hitting news to society. Almost everyone, nowadays, has a camera phone, which means just about anyone has the ability to capture a newsworthy moment. Before camera phones, we relied on photographers and journalists to capture news footage. These professionals oftentimes were restricted with what footage they could and could not release, which often times left the public in the dark when it came to very important and controversial issues within society.

Today, we are a lot less in the dark with some news topics thanks to technology. An example of this has been in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement. Many videos taken on camera phones by bystanders have gone viral and brought about awareness of police brutality and the racism that is still very real in our society. Most people do not get to actually see these racist occurrences happening daily, which makes it very less real to them. However, video footage such as the footage of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man being held down and choked to death by a police officer, changes these racist acts from rumors to reality for many people. Videos like the one of Eric Garner are shocking and tragic, but they have opened people’s eyes to the truth and have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.


While technology can reveal truths to society, it can also create a mess of lies. The recent election has become a prime example of just how easy it is to fabricate stories and how it is even easier to get people to believe these stories. From my own experiences leading up to the election, I can recall hearing a new crazy story about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton almost everyday. Most people held very strong opinions towards the end of this election and that meant that they were going to believe any dirty thing about the opposing candidate that they heard, and they were probably going to spread the word to others. This caused an unending amount of false news stories to be spread and, unfortunately, another humiliating situation for journalists.

When hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs are getting a higher amount of views than major news websites, it is hard to figure out whom to blame. Do we blame the professional news outlets for not being trusted by the public? Do we blame technology for making all of these faulty news stories available to the public? Do we blame the public for believing everything they are reading and not fact checking their sources? It is really hard to choose who is to blame, but in my opinion it is a pretty equal balance of each one of these factors that is causing this mayhem.

Creating Balance

As journalists, it is our ethical duty to provide the truth to the public. All we can do to fight the spreading of false news is to continue to report the news in the most true and accurate ways possible. The SPJ Code of Ethics says, “Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.” I hope that with the help of everyday people who are capturing newsworthy footage for the journalists who cannot in those moments, that more truth and transparency is brought to the world. This transparency will hopefully lead us into fighting the issues that truly matter most. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Technology- Is It Enhancing or Impairing?

D'Asia Leathers

Technology and cable go hand-in-hand with how society receives its information, nowadays. If you’re not getting it from your phone, it is more than likely coming from HLN, CNN, Fox (yikes) or any such outlets. However, how can we assure we’re receiving credible, unbiased and safe information? Lawrence R. Samuel lists topics deemed off limits as “politics, sex, adultery, unemployment, poverty, successful criminality and alcohol”—now the basic food groups of cable.

Technology, Oh Technology

We are fortunate enough to have been provided with many technological advances throughout the century and even this decade, and there are more we are still encountering every day. These technological advances usually serve us good, but just as with any other good thing, there are risks attached.

One new form of technology that has been bestowed upon us is the drone (the little things we sometimes see in the sky and wonder if they’re a bird or just a really far away airplane). Drones are great for many reasons- they’re high in the sky and are therefore able to get an aerial view of many places and along with that, there are few interferences in the air. However, drones film anything within an outside view, so how do you determine what’s private and what’s public?  There are many private and commercial entities (including news outlets) that are utilizing drones. Because of this, there has recently been a minuscule battle between First and Fourth Amendment advocates, pitting news organizations that want unfettered access to the view from the air against privacy advocates and even lobbyists for big technology companies who want at least some rules to keep drones out of people’s personal lives. Many news organizations have argued that you don’t need a person’s permission to photograph them when they’re out in public. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Another technological advance we have been granted with is live streaming. One of the most recent and memorable live streams is the death of Philando Castile that was filmed live on Facebook by Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s fiancĂ©. However, there are always live streams with more positive lights such as my cousin going live during her son’s talent show. Live streaming is a way to experience things that are occurring in real time, without actually being present. Before, you would find out about something like a talent show or police shooting after the fact. Now, we have this ability to transport to where it’s actually happening — “it’s a real visceral, emotional connection.” Some live streaming advocates argue that live streaming has given incredible power to victims of systemic violence, both online and offline. But how are these advances affecting us?

So What Does This Mean for Us in This Biz?

The great thing about live streaming (and the reason it is becoming more common for people to use it-especially when getting pulled over) is because everything is in real time, so it is therefore impossible for anything to be distorted or edited. However, this is not the case with most technology. As millennials, most of the information we retrieve comes from the palm of our hands- in our cell phones. And while there are many credible sources we can look to, there are also a variety of sources providing a variety of information. And in a crazy turn of events, the fake stories are usually the ones that receive more attention than the truthful ones. During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. As journalists, and even advertisers, it is imperative to remember we always seek truth only and report it. And it is even more imperative we inform the public that this is what our sole purpose is.

Journalists or Advertisers?

Raquel Devariel

It’s the twenty-first century, and technology is at its peak. Pretty obvious by now that not only millennials, but also baby boomers and even older generations, are taking part in world-wide conversations through the web.

Everyone has a voice that can be heard through the different social media outlets. Whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social medium you are connected to what’s happening around you.

But, if you’re like most readers, you don’t even bother to open the links your friends or followers share. You let yourself get information from the small synopsis a header can offer.

In a world where sharing information is extremely easy, as a journalist, how do you stand out from the crowd?

In recent years, journalists have created connections and engagements by trolling their readers with headlines, which has proven to be extremely effective.

The Columbia Journalism Review, in its article "Stop trolling your readers," calls these hate-share headlines, which are meant to generate public dissonance and infuriate the readers. After successfully generating those reactions, journalists know that most of the readers will click or share the article.

Little do they know that they have fallen for it because the article might not even be talking about what was mentioned in the headline. However, it has served its purpose of getting views and engagements, which then leads to more profit for the company.

Could it be possible that journalists are falsely advertising their content for views?

Are we, as journalists, putting our credibility at risk just to generating a couple more bucks?

As the American Advertising Federation says in their Code of Principles and Practices for Advertising Ethics, “The latest research from the Adweek Media/Harris Poll shows that only one in five Americans trust advertising most of the time and 13% say they never trust it,” which could become one of the most important statistics for the news and information industry.

Crossing to the “other side,” the advertising world, can result in more profit, but is it worth it to lose your credibility for more likes?  

This is a question that we journalists have to ask ourselves on a daily basis.

Taken from: http://stroudassociates.com
In my opinion, technology no doubt has made it difficult for us to stand out and for us to deliver news that stands out from the clutter, but we should use this reality as a motivation to succeed at what we do.

We need to use this to encourage ourselves to create exceptional content that will stand out regardless of the headline it comes with, and then, this is how you prove your success.

Creating stories that mean something and stories that no matter how busy or lazy readers are, create a spark of curiosity that leads not only to a click or a share, but also create a difference and impacts the lives of those who read and inform themselves.

Next time you are about to publish a story, ask yourself are you an advertiser who has lost their credibility? Or are you a journalist who upholds the standards of the industry and delivers relevant and important information?