Monday, December 6, 2010

Posting Wikileaks info on social media could ruin job prospects

Career services at Columbia University sent an email out this week warning students to refrain from posting links or comments to any of the recent Wikileak documents on Facebook or Twitter because it could ruin their job prospects in the future. Although leaked, the documents are still considered classified and any online comment or posts about the documents could damage the chances of jobs for those wanting to work in the state/federal sector.

Interesting. If I don't link to the documents, but a CNN article, am I ruining my chances of one day working for the state department after law school? Can I give an opinion about the organization? Is this post going to ruin me?

WikiLeaks, part II

Doug wrote an earlier post about Wikileaks, so I'm here for some recent updates that happened in the last several days, and some important implications the leak of these documents on journalism today. The Columbia Journalism Review has a great rundown of some news outlets' coverage of the documents.

Here's the break down of what has happened since the release of more than 250,000 confidential U.S. State Department documents last week:
  • It's been has been hit with denial-of-service notices, and kicked off the servers in the U.S. and France
  • On Friday, U.S.-based Paypal cut off Wikileak's account, a major source of income
  • Amazon has cut Wikileaks off its server service, it has now hired a Switzerland-based company to host its site
  • As a result of this censorship, WL has been using its Twitter account to request followers to start "mirror sites"
  • WL's founder Julian Assange is now wanted by the Swedish government on allegations of sex crimes, including rape

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Some shocking facts about social media

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think everyone is tired of reading yet another post about Facebook and Twitter so I'll keep this brief. This video has some shocking facts about the revolution of the internet and its implications on our way of life. To be honest, I was a little scared after seeing it. Let me know what you think!

The Expansion of Topics Pages

I think something great that has come out of several news organizations is the idea of a topics page for their online editions. A topics page typically contains a brief background of more general topics, such as The Debt Crisis, The Board of Education, the War on Iraq, and archives of stories, articles and links related to that topic. I think this is an amazing reference tool for current readers and an introduction to new, young readers who might not be familiar with certain topics, such as the Texas Ethics Commission or the history of abortion.

I first was introduced to Topics pages last year when I stumbled on the Texas Tribune's site when it first started. As its progressed, the Tribune has amassed an impressive list of topics related to state agencies, political races, current issues, and so much more. Even better, it has a list of editor's picks that link to hot topics.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The need for quality websites

By: Amber Genuske

To supplement my previous posts on shovelware (and why not to do it) and the importance of stellar multimedia, it is impossible to ignore the need for a great website for publications to implement these practices. The shift from print to online has many publications maintaining the print-purists ideas, often applying to their website with an exact replica of the front page of the newspaper as the homepage, or worse, the blog format with a running list of stories, like The Daily Texan.

Newspapers and magazines tote the circulation of the physical paper, ignoring that the largest readership is online, where anyone with access to the internet can look at their website. While the design of the printed publication should still be slaved over, it is what catches people's eye when they walk past a newsstand, the website has the potential to have an even greater impact.

Of course, there is the discussion of how to receive funding for a website and how to convert from a free to a pay wall system, but maybe people will be more inclined to pay for an attractive website with beautiful content than a blog roll.

The New York Times has the largest online readership and it's understandable with the website they have. Though still traditional as the Times will always be, there is a wealth of multimedia content on the front page, begging people to click and explore.

Clever and stylish design has always played an vital roll in magazines and there websites reflect that. New York Magazine and GQ's front pages are full of graphics, videos, photos and colorful links, while still maintaining the ever-important ease of navigation.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mobile Phones & Journalism Education


80% of Americans now own a cell phone. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans own a smart phone.

Although this isn't much information, what does this mean in immediate terms?

It means that the majority of Americans have access to a mobile device, and nearly a third have access to a mobile device that has full computer capabilities. This in turn means that the majority of people are consuming information in a very different way than ever before.

The mobile device as a media platform is much more immediate and is also much more location-based than any other media.

For as often as we download apps, look up directions and access social media through our phones, how much have student journalists explored the mobile territory?

It is important to look at a mobile device for all of its benefits. What can a smart phone realistically do? What is it not so good at?

But to focus a little better on what multimedia journalism students should already be learning about mobile devices

1. Apps
  • Obviously, everyone knows what an app is. Every person with a smart phone downloads apps all the time. Any business, organization, or other establishment with a heavy presence (and a lot of times even not) has many apps out on the market. EX: Google has apps for almost all of their desktop counterparts.
  • What many students don't know however, is how to create and execute a highly successful app.
  • Apps, despite oftentimes seemingly simple and easy to use, generally have a fair amount of work put into them. It takes good design and user friendly concepts to create a good app. This is important to teach to upcoming multimedia journalism students.
2. Different Services Can Be Offered Via Phone
  • Although many would view mobile devices as limited modes of communication, there are actually an infinite amount of ways to maximize communication.
  • This can happen through emails to phones, texts to phones, implementation of hyper-geographic content, and mobile-specific deals or information.
  • Because so many different services can be offered via mobiles, the content must naturally also evolve. People are purchasing smart phones in increasingly large numbers, so this mobile audience will only continue to grow in the near future. People have already adapted to the cell phone. It is now up to journalists to continue adapting to cell phones.
  • Multimedia journalism students should be able to adapt to these differences.
3. Packages for Mobile Version of Sites
  • As mentioned earlier, as a new and successful medium like mobiles is introduced, an evolution of content or packaging becomes inevitable.
  • Mainly, websites should create their mobile compatible version at the very least. The next step is the app. After that is adding mobile specific content.
  • Some smart phones do not use Adobe Flash, for example. This is a problem that all multimedia journalists should be aware of.
  • Journalists should also not just use the everyday shovelware. This is a sin committed by even the most well-known of news organizations but really should not ever have the chance to happen.
  • Mobile journalism has so many hyper-specific benefits that they should be fully used, and not just stocked full with junk already sitting on the desktop page or physical newspaper.
As multimedia journalists, it is important to stay on top of trends. Currently, mobile is where everything seems to be going. Increased traffic is to be found, as well as many opportunities to connect with readers in a way never thought before.

Keeping Up With Your Inner Journalist: A Brief Memo on Maintaining and Improving Skills


Some of us multimedia journalism students are graduating this weekend, and some of us are sticking around for another semester.

No matter what the case is, keeping up with journalistic skills we acquired at UT will prove to be extremely beneficial in any school or career path.

This is because journalism requires critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a vital component of surviving and thriving in the real world of internships, jobs, and graduate schools.

Journalism is best simplified as the gathering and sharing of information, two topics every productive society must pay attention to.

Researching stories, shooting video, organizing a photo shoot, prepping interview questions, and creating marketing plans all require the analysis of various factors others might not immediately think of.

These abilities are not only valuable for reporting but are also useful in other fields. To know how to effectively gather and share knowledge is an invaluable tool to harness and nurture.

Here are three things you can do to sustain the freshness of your talents.

1. Make sure you own the tools you need to efficiently gather and share information.
  • While the terms "mojo" and "backpack journalism" seem silly to some, the concepts they describe are not.
  • The ability to capture events and send them to contacts is important. If you cannot achieve this on your person, competing in the future will more difficult. This is because with the increased popularity of handling all business via cell phone (calls, messages, photos, document sharing, etc.).
  • This can be achieved by remembering what the essentials are: your smart phone, a laptop if possible, and a USB port or SD card to store the things you capture.
2. Maintain a contextual perspective on journalism by reading a healthy dosage of blogs dedicated exclusively to the topic.
  • By even just scanning a variety of journalism or tech blogs on a regular basis, your mind will automatically pay attention to key words it recognizes, and consequently be able to recognize the overall trend and what it means.
  • For example, usage of the word "tweet" exploded in the past year. This indicates how embedded social media has now become in our culture. This is pertinent information to everyone, not just news makers.
  • Keep up with these to start with: Mashable, Media Shift, and CyberJournalist.
3. Multimedia journalism is relevant to your life, no matter what. Challenge yourself to encourage it!
  • This is the hardest thing to do, not just for recent graduates. As people become distanced from material they learned, the less relevant it becomes.
It really is important to maintain these skills we have learned, even if they are just the basics. You never know what people or future employers might be impressed by. Be knowledgeable about your crafts. Yes, even the ones you thought you forgot, or think will be unimportant.