Tag Archives: blogging

A Tumblr crush

Tumblr crushes

Tumblr is better than Twitter.

There, I’ve said it. I’m sure that Kanye would like to tweet me off my blogging platform right now, but hear me out.

Since Twitter is all about the brief written message, it’s great for mobile. But that strength is also a weakness. Where are the visuals? The videos? Oh yeah, in a link.

Click-throughs aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but if I can avoid adding to the seemingly endless list of open tabs in my browser, I will.

Tumblr, on the other hand, incorporates the visual and interactive components into its design. Embedding: It’s a thing! Who knew?

The formatting of Twitter means scrolling through the day’s messages and seeing an endless list of text and avatars. On Tumblr I can scroll through and stop to examine a picture that catches my eye. It’s like comparing the dos and don’ts of newspaper design.

And speaking of newspapers, I was surprised to find that I prefer Tumblr as a general news source.

Front Pages is a great way to keep up on the news worthy of A-1 from several major papers. The best part is that–as the name implies–the front page of each paper is scanned in. You get the best of both worlds: the feeling of print design with the convenience of hyperlinks.

As my Tumblr Crushes list shows, I am also a fan of the NPR, NPR Fresh Air and Today Show Tumblrs. They feature news that I’m interested in. And if it’s not something I’m interested in, the witty commentary is worthy of my attention. Unlike Twitter, there is always plenty of room to add a snarky quip.

As much as I love Tumblr, I do think that it can take a page from Twitter’s book in one area: lists.

Scrolling through all the content can seem impossible sometimes. It can be avoided by going to the individual pages of those that you are most interested in, but I don’t want to leave my homepage and click more than I have to.

I would love to separate the news Tumblogs from the personal updates, but right now I don’t see a way to do that. I’m going to write to them and see if they fix it.

Oh, and if you’re interested, here is my little Tumblr named Gray Space.

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AAJA Convention, Day 2

Okay, I’m back!

I wish that I had been able to continue this sooner, but when school and work have piles of deadlines, personal deadlines have a tendency to get pushed back.

On to day two of the convention…

The Present and Future of Print Journalism

Opportunities in Digital Journalism

A Hyphenated World

The Future of Mobile

….


The Present and Future of Print Journalism

I started off by attending “The Present and Future of Print Journalism,” which was sponsored by the Seattle Times.

The talk was focused on whether print even has a future. The answer I came away with was “yes,” but not a resounding one.

Although there was plenty of of discussion about the apparent problems with print—mostly the corporate ownership and lack of community focus—there were few proposed solutions.

For print to survive, it was proposed that news organizations need to figure out what it is “uniquely suited for,” or what it does better than any other medium. What that unique purpose might be was never elaborated on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love print. I think people will always prefer to read paper over a screen, but I also think that people will adapt to reading screens if it is cheaper and more convenient.

Much of this panel was focused on print’s transition to the Web. The concept of pay walls was debated well on both sides, and it is an issue that I think will need to be resolved for publications on an individual basis.

On the one hand, people are very much used to getting everything online for free, and consumers can feel betrayed when that suddenly changes. However, a company can’t continue to provide the news if it can’t pay the staff.

The pay wall has been proven to work for some companies, like Spot.Us. The trick is to keep the readers in control of the news. They can choose what news they are interested in and help fund those stories so they are able to be reported on.

Spot.Us has also played with the advertising model to make it work for them. Readers can participate in surveys to earn credits usable for funding stories.

It’s a clever way of doing business because the company only pays for stories that will get read, and they don’t have to guess as to which stories are “newsworthy.” The public tells them what is.


Opportunities in Digital Journalism

This panel, sponsored by NBC, focused too much on defining digital journalism, rather than exploring new opportunities it provides for journalists. The audience was told over and over again that digital journalism means a journalist who does it all, from the writing to the photography and video.

The “one man band” label was thrown about several times.

But what does this mean for journalists and journalism as a whole? Audience members were concerned that being the only one covering a story will compromise quality. After all, one person is never going to be as good at everything as a band of dedicated specialists.

The panel pointed out that although reporting single-handedly isn’t always the best approach, it has its benefits. Obviously, for a news corporation the money-saving is a huge benefit. The immediacy digital journalism allows for is rewarding for the audience.

But in terms of story-telling and producing quality journalism, having the ability to cover a story comprehensively by yourself allows greater freedom at times. Following the BP oil spill, one digital journalist was able to uncover the impact on the Vietnamese fishing community. This was in part due to his ability to speak Vietnamese, but it was also due to the fact that he didn’t have to wait for others to start reporting.

Consolidation in the newsroom and cost-cutting may not be the ideal situation to work in, but the resulting digital journalism trend will be here to stay.


A Hyphenated World

This was by far my favorite panel to  attend, and I almost didn’t go. Being a minority in the workplace, hearing about diversity can often time be boring. Obviously there needs to be more diversity; tell me something I don’t know!

The discussion here transcended that surface-level critique and delved into issues that are more relevant, but rarely mentioned in traditional workplace analyses. And all the while the discussion was funny and entertaining.

Being Asian-American means that you’re automatically part of this community, even if you aren’t actively involved in it. Just by being a member of a minority group, it can seem like you have to be an advocate for “your people.”

But advocacy isn’t journalism.

When reporting on stories involving people of your own race, the coverage still has to be fair. Sometimes, this can be difficult.

As a minority, it’s not uncommon to be stereotyped and wrongly associated with a certain ideal or behavior. When one member of the race is looked down upon, it can easily translate to the group as a whole. Just look at the way terrorism in America has given a bad reputation to the Middle Eastern community.

It can be tempting to give a member of your own race the benefit of the doubt in order to save your own skin. Similarly, a source might expect that you present him or her in only a favorable light due to shared race.

However, the fact of the matter is that if you engage in this behavior, it’s biased reporting.

The panel also brought up the idea that seeing negative coverage about a member of your race might actually be a good thing.

It used to be that Asians had such limited exposure that negative examples would seem too prominent a badge for us as a group. Now, increased exposure has allowed us to be more comfortable with a few bad seeds because it means we are being seen as equals in the media. There are a variety of personalities within the group, and we are not viewed as homogenous.

Bloggers from Disgrasian spoke at the panel and strongly held this view. Opening criticism toward our own race shows that there are people within our group that we like and don’t like, just as with anyone else.


The Future of Mobile

This panel focused on the latest technology in mobile and how it can be used to our advantage.

Part of using mobile effectively is understanding how people use it in their daily lives. If a person is reading a news story on their phone, they want the news to be quick and concise, because they’re probably looking at it in between other activities. A person’s attention span on a mobile device is much shorter than with any other medium.

A significant part of the discussion examined the latest iPad apps. Tablets are a relatively new part of the mobile market, and can be used differently from phones. The innovations in these apps may yield significant results, but at this point it’s just exciting to know that there are new possibilities.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I gained as much from this workshop as the others, but it was interesting to see what apps are being developed. More than anything, I left that discussion with a desire to own an iPad.


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Ro Sham Bo: Paper Beats All

Books can be burned, documents can be shredded, but paper is still eternal.

It sounds contradictory, but even in today’s digital environment where technology is constantly changing, print media isn’t going to disappear.

In recent years, traditional media of all sorts—from newspapers to vinyl records—have proven that people continue to hold value in them.

Compared to the fleeting nature of all things digital, the physical version is comfortably stable.

This stability, however, isn’t always a good thing.

The eternal nature of paper refers not only to the notion that paper products will continue to be valued by society, but also to the fact that what is committed to paper is permanent.

Content is fleeting on the Web, and mistakes can be corrected at any time. The same cannot be said of print. There is no “undo” button for paper, though some may wish for one.

I would bet that after an unforgiving interview with Rachel Maddow, author Richard Cohen is one of those left wishing.

The Ugandan government is using Cohen’s book “Coming Out Straight” as justification for anti-gay legislation that could allow the government to give homosexuals the death penalty.

In Maddow’s interview, she quoted the book to Cohen, who admitted that some information is incorrect and will be removed from the next edition.

Unfortunately the damage is already done.

I’m not saying that print is the cause of all this mess, but what is committed to paper is taken more seriously than what is on the Web, whether we like it or not.

The constancy of paper is what makes me both eager and cautious of my future as a journalist. I hope that what I contribute will have a lasting impression, but I must take care to make it the right one.

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Ashton Kutcher is Not a Journalist

I hate to break it to you, but Ashton Kutcher is not a journalist. Although he actively uses Twitter and beat CNN in the race to 1 million followers back in April*, he is not contributing to the world of news.

But he sure thinks so. In a YouTube video he said that this accomplishment “signifies the turning of the tide from traditional news outlets to social media outlets, social news outlets.”

(To get to the point, start at 2:06)

A Change in Medium, Not in Source

There is undeniably a shift in the way people are obtaining information, but the web isn’t the end of journalism as we know it. People will always want and need the news.

Kutcher goes on to say that sites like Twitter and Facebook are making average people “the source of the news.” In truth, it empowers people to disseminate and analyze the news, but rarely are they the source.

As Steve Outing said in his article, “What Bloggers Can Learn From Journalists,” bloggers rarely do original reporting. “They comment on the work of others, or write about personal experiences,” he said.

Traditional News is Still Bigger

Now, there’s nothing wrong with social networking or blogging, but claiming that they are taking the place of traditional news and reporting is laughable.

“I think it’s a huge statement about social media for one person to actually have the ability to broadcast to as many people as a major media network,” Kutcher said.

It would be a huge statement, if it were true. Although their Twitter numbers are comparable, CNN captured over double that number during Larry King last night alone.

When you consider the network news, one million followers pales next to the 7.620 million total viewers NBC Nightly News reeled in last week. The evening news on ABC also came in above 7 million viewers, and CBS above 5 million.

To make a more direct comparison, look at Oprah. According to her website, her talk show brings in an estimated 44 million viewers a week in the United States. She currently has over 2 million followers on Twitter. That is only 4.5% of her viewers.

Working Together

It seems to me that social networking, social news, and blogging aren’t taking over the current media, but they are a useful appendage to it.

The web has helped people connect to their news in a more convenient and personal way. Everyone can feel involved with the news instead of being a passive bystander. The great thing is that with that deeper connection, people will want to learn more.

Ultimately, this will lead them straight back to where they’ve always obtained their news: Journalists. The news may be presented in a different medium, but it is still coming from the same sector.

This fact is especially clear with the social news sites like Digg.com. The news you see can be personalized and commented on, but the stories originate from the websites of traditional news outlets, like magazines and newspapers.

Ironically, Ashton Kutcher—and others who share his opinion—is rebelling against the very thing that supports his cause. Without journalism there would be no social news. Social networking would be just for talking to friends. Blogging would be nothing more than a journal.

I wonder how many followers he would have received if this race hadn’t been covered by traditional news.

*I admit this news is a little old, but I felt that the opinions expressed in the video are commonly held today and therefore it still seemed relevant for this piece.

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