Category Archives: media

The Great and Powerful Blog

This week our class focused on a different form of social media: blogs. More specifically, the topic for this week focused on blogging, citizen journalism, and digital democracy. What once started out as a way to chronicle one’s opinions and feelings has turned into a dynamic tool used in journalism. For some individuals, blogs are written as a way to provide a point of view that is not being broadcast by traditional media outlets. For others, it is a way to express one’s thoughts and feelings about their day-to-day lives chronicling their personal history. No matter how a blog is used one thing is for sure; blogs have made an impact not only for personal journaling [diaries], but as a way for individuals to take news journalism into their own hands.

Our assigned readings and TED Talk lectures focused on the perks and drawbacks of this type of social media [blogs]. In her TED Talk, Mena Trott opened up her discussion stating that blogs are scary. She is right. Blogs can be an unfriendly place. What we chronicle online can be read by anyone (depending upon settings) and the responses back may be something less than desirable. That being said, blogs do not have to be a scary place. They can be transformed into a place where we feel comfortable writing, as well as a way we can be open with each other and form connections. I found it quite interesting that in a few of the articles assigned for this week mentioned that one of the top reasons behind why some people blog was to build close relationships or connections with other people. For something that is a solo pursuit, I found that to be extremely fascinating.

Because blogging is a solo pursuit, I find that one downside to all of this virtual connection is that even though we are connecting with other individuals, in essence, we are alone behind a computer (or phone) screen. The best way to describe this is a term used by Sherry Turkle in her TED Talk “Connected, but Alone?” that we are becoming “alone together.” This means that even when we are together, we our turning our attention to our devices or online places external from our current location. By focusing on our connections online, we are distancing ourselves from real-time face to face conversations and meetings. Because this form of communication is online, we can also present a false sense of ourselves. Conversations can be delayed, edited, or deleted. Since we can choose what we share on the internet, we can project the type of person we want people to perceive we are. This is more so for individuals who chose to write blogs chronicling their lives.

As for those wanting to write about news, politics, or their profession, one of the most powerful aspects of a blog is how we, the consumer, can take journalism and reporting information into our own hands. Because of a blog’s nature, it is easy to create a website and instantly begin to write posts about anything ranging from personal stories to community events to current world affairs. The citizen journalist is becoming even more valuable than ever before. One of the greatest aspects about citizen journalism is being able to provide a unique perspective on events, which when compared by what is driven by mainstream media, can be a refreshing viewpoint (Revis, 2011). During the 2005 tsunami, “ordinary” individuals began posting pictures and videos of the tragic events before the mainstream media had picked up the news. These people were documenting the events and providing eyewitness accounts via pictures, videos, and testimonies. This is extremely important in that these individuals helped to preserve stories of this tragedy through their first-hand accounts.

Not only does this allow ordinary individuals the chance to express their opinions, but it also helps to provide more balanced reporting. The citizen reporter acts as another check and balance to what is being broadcast by the mainstream media (Revis, 2011). It opens up the creation of news content making it an even playing field between professional and citizen journalists promoting digital democracy. Blogs enable individuals to find an audience that is not blocked by traditional media to discern the truth from fiction (Silberberg, 2008). Since blogs can contain a variety of information from personal journals to professional or news specific websites, how do you know if the information that is being published is filled with credible or reliable information? Because we can hide behind the internet, you never know who is creating the content. There is a combination of things that can be done by both the author and the reader. For the author, they should post a list of their credentials, including education and previous work history. The author should also provide links to relevant sources that connect to scholarly information or mainstream news stories providing evidence for their reporting. That being said, the reader should look at the blog to evaluate whether or not the author has any experience in the topics they are covering in their blog. By the author listing the above information, it can help the reader to determine the quality of the information they find within the blog.

On a personal note, I love blogs. I have been actively reading and/or participating in blogs for at least ten years and have even done some research and presentations on their benefits to libraries and librarians. I discovered blogs while in college when LiveJournal and Xanga were the place to be and be read. As I grew older, my focus turned from reading personal blogs written by friends to blogs written by people in my profession (librarianship). I have found following blogs written by colleagues in my field to be extremely beneficial in my day-to-day work and even in some of my research. These blogs range from personal anecdotes about the profession to reporting professional development opportunities to thought-provoking essays that could actually have been published in a journal or trade magazine. The greatest benefit I have found in them is that they open up a conversation and promote collaboration between individuals who would never have met without the blog.

As I come to an end of this blog post, I realize more than ever the power of a blog. As I type this, I have the opportunity to contribute meaningful information and a unique perspective. We have a powerful tool at the tip of our fingers. If you blog, why? If you don’t, why not?

Additional Sources:

Revis, L. (2011, November 10). How citizen journalism is reshaping media and democracy. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/11/10/citizen-journalism-democracy/.

Silberberg, A. W., & Shapira, R. J. (2008, October 2). Bloggers lead media to report McCain/Palin’s campaign “Lies”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-w-silberberg-and-ralph-j-shapira/bloggers-lead-media-to-re_b_131155.html.

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Mobile Communication

Welcome back to a new installment! This week our focus was placed on mobile communication, strategic communication, and mobile technologies. The articles we read and the TED talks we watched discussed different points of view of the effect of mobile technology on communication.

I, for one, have slowly become more and more connected to my smartphone and I know I am not alone in this statement. In his TED Talk “The Anthropology of Mobile Phones,” Jan Chipchase discusses the research he is conducting on human behavior. Traveling around the world, he asks people the question “what do you carry?” The three most common answers he receives are: keys, money, and a mobile phone (if the person owns one). Why these three things, you ask? Because these items equal survival. Keys = shelter; money = sustenance; and mobile phones = a recovery tool. Individuals are able to use a mobile phone most anywhere and at any time to communicate information or needs, hence the reason it is one of the most commonly carried items.

I have to agree that I rarely leave my house without my keys, money (debit/credit card), or my iPhone. I even decided a few years ago to forgo having a land line to rely solely on my mobile phone. By cutting out the land line, I would save money plus the added bonus of never missing a call (although, this can be a drawback). A mobile phone allows me to stay connected wherever I go without the worry of having to find a phone. I can receive phone calls and text messages, I can check my email, check in with my social networking sites, take pictures, play games, and surf the mobile web. All of this I am able to do with a device that is smaller than my hand and weighs less than 5 ounces! Looking back thirteen years ago to my first mobile phone, I would have never have dreamed that all of these features would be a possibility.

Because so many people are purchasing smartphones or tablets, the need for these devices to provide information and entertainment is even more apparent today. The mobile devices are not going away anytime soon, so businesses are developing mobile web and/or mobile applications to promote their services or to disseminate information. Almost every news media outlet either has a downloadable app or a social media account that can be used to communicate with its audience. Users are able to get real-time updates via their smartphones instead of waiting until they are in front of a computer or television. When a major news event occurs, I can receive updates from my CNN or WSFA apps or if inclement weather is on its way (like tonight), I receive alerts from my Weather Channel app. I can pull my phone out of my pocket and from there I can go directly to the story or video to find out more information.

Some businesses and companies are even including promotional material in their apps that allow consumers to benefit from downloading and using their apps. The article “If You Love Something, Let it Go Mobile: Mobile Marketing and Mobile Social Media 4×4” discusses different forms of mobile social media, a type of mobile marketing that allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content (2012). Companies are able to develop applications that are able to conduct market research, communicate with users, offer sales and promotions, and develop relationships and loyalty programs with their users. Four points that were made in the article as advice to companies about mobile social media are to integrate (into the lives of users), individualize (take into account a user’s preferences), involve (by engaging in conversation), and initiate (allowing user-generated content). One of the major players that integrates all of these features is the application, Foursquare. The app allows users to “check-in” to different places, where they can receive points or badges or even become a “Mayor” of that location after so many check-ins. By checking in to places, users can receive special promotions or offers, which include discounts and freebies offered by that business.

After reading this article, I started to think about other apps that offered similar functions and I thought of an app that was introduced to me several months ago called Shopkick. After downloading the app, users create a log in with their Facebook or Google+ accounts immediately making the app social. Once the user logs in, they can start earning “kicks” (kicks = points) by visiting certain stores or performing certain tasks. Users open the app when they reach a particular store listed on the app and earn kicks by just walking through the door. The app then allows users to perform a “scavenger hunt” for kicks by scanning certain items. After users build up a certain amount of kicks they can be redeemed for gift cards or other items. One of the features of the app are “Editor’s books,” which promotes products that are available at particular stores bringing the company to the user. Through the app, users get rewards, discounts or gift cards and businesses receive increased foot traffic from the app drawing users into their stores. One downside is that businesses are tracking your spending and shopping habits.

What about individuals living in Developing Countries? We tend to take for granted all of these options we are afforded, most of which is limited in Developing Countries. So the question posed is, “how do we bridge this digital divide?” In the article “The Mobile Web to Bridge the Digital Divide?,” author Stéphane Boyera discusses different directions that can be taken to help people in rural and under-privileged communities improve their life and support community development by providing individuals access to mobile technologies. He believes that by providing access to mobile technologies via SMS, voice, or web it would allow individuals greater access to information. This would help connect these individuals to the world outside of their community.

The world is definitely going mobile, but the discussion in the field of communications is whether business should go “mobile only” or “mobile first” or an additional way posed by Henry Blodget in “‘Mobile First’ is a Bad Strategy” is “mobile too.” For many countries, smartphone purchases have skyrocketed past desktop and laptop computer sales. However, we still live in a multi-screen world where people are accessing information multiple ways. We are definitely headed in a more mobile direction, but we haven’t completely let go of our desktop world.

Sources:
Blodget, H. (2012, December 22). AND THE SURVEY SAYS… “Mobile First” Is A Dumb Strategy. Business Insider. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/survey-mobile-first-bad-strategy-2012-12

Boyera, S. (2006). The mobile web to bridge the digital divide?. W3. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.w3.org/2006/12/digital_divide/IST-africa-final.pdf

Chipchase, J. (2007). The anthropology of mobile phones. TED. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC4QtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ted.com%2Ftalks%2Fjan_chipchase_on_our_mobile_phones&ei=D_RBU4T7KO_NsQSD6IGgBA&usg=AFQjCNGNnAd6mC3G1ZSX4DTU-JklvayMmg&sig2=PrLTDK-KHmmehjsMGnoCxA&bvm=bv.64125504,d.cWc

Kaplan, A. M. (2011). If You Love Something, Let It Go Mobile: Mobile Marketing And Mobile Social Media 4×4. Business Horizons, 55, 129-139.

 

 

Media In Your Pocket

I have to admit that the first paragraph in the article “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” accurately describes a typical day for me (Anderson, 2010).  I kick-start my daily routine by checking the weather and my email on my iPhone.  While I eat breakfast, I usually scroll through Facebook and Twitter (again from my iPhone) and then head to my RSS feeder app, Feedly, to see what’s going on the world (occasionally I’ll turn on NBC for news or to have a bit of noise in the background).  Throughout my day, I’ll take breaks to check these sites again to see if I’m missing out on anything (which I’m usually not).  Once I’m home from work, I usually switch to my iPad and use the apps I’ve downloaded on to that device.  I share these little facts because never once did I mention using my computer to check these sites.  I used apps downloaded to my smart devices.

So many media organizations are making it easy and convenient for us [consumers] to access their information through an app.  Lists can be created to keep related topics together to provide an easy to navigate app and alerts can be set.  This makes the app personalized just for you.  I created lists on my Twitter app so that if I want to see news articles I click on “News” or if I want to see what my friends have tweeted I click on “People I Know.”  I follow a traffic report account that alerts me to accidents that may delay me from getting to work or back home on time.  When I entered into this program I discovered that Blackboard had an app, and I immediately downloaded it to my smart devices.  Through this app I receive alerts and updates that help me to stay current with assignments and postings.  Thinking back to my earlier degrees, I am very thankful for this luxury and wonder how I ever got by without it.  I also wonder if it may just be another distraction.

All of that being said, I still access these sites via a computer, but it seems almost as if these companies are encouraging us to leave our computers and head to our smart devices.  Even reading the Wired article, I noticed an advertisement on the right side panel encouraging readers to subscribe to Wired on their tablet (see picture below).  Upon clicking on the offer, the site says “It’s easier than ever to enjoy this groundbreaking monthly on your tablet. Plus, each issue includes exclusive interactive extras, including videos, slideshows and more.”  What leaps out at you after reading the description is “more bang for your buck and you don’t even have to leave your house!”

Wired On Your Tablet
Wired On Your Tablet via Wired.com, 2014.

I find all of this interesting, because I feel that companies like Netflix and Hulu are also spreading this same message: “access me from the comfort of anywhere whenever it’s convenient for you!”  This past week, I found a rather timely article while reading through my Facebook feed that focuses on the television habits of  Millennials called “Study: Most Millennials Don’t Watch TV on the TV” (Allen, 2013).  The article states that for “Millennials aged 14 to 24, the bulk of entertainment is spent on laptops, smartphones, tablets and Internet-connected video gaming systems.”  Their time spent watching TV on the TV is only 44%, where Millennials aged 25-30 spend 53% of their time watching TV on TV.  I am a part of the older Millennial group and I admit that I spend most of my television time not watching it in real-time on television, but via Hulu or Netflix.  Knowing that the show will be available streaming online later allows viewers to watch shows at their own pace and not be so tied down by television schedules.  How is this hurting television and the shows we enjoy watching?  Because more individuals are consuming television this way, it is good that measurement companies, like Nielson, are starting to include viewership via these mediums into their statistics.  For media companies, Nielson adding these numbers is long overdue and these added numbers can only help with their future growth (Flint, 2013).

As I come to a close, I leave you with a few things to consider.  Do you think all of this media convergence is helping or hurting the industry?  Or is it making additional work for companies by not only providing information across their traditional platforms, but also having to create content for mobile apps or social networking platforms?  How do you access your media?

 

Sources:

Allen, F.V. (2014, March 28). Study: Most Millennials Don’t Watch TV on the TV | TIME. Time. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://time.com/42164/study-most-millennials-dont-watch-tv-on-the-tv/.

Anderson, C. & Wolff, M. (2010, August 17). The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet. Wired.com. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/.

Flint, J. (2013, February 21). Nielsen changing the way it measures television consumption. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/21/entertainment/la-et-ct-nielsen-20130221.

What is happening with traditional media?

This week focused on the question “are traditional media dying?”  I do not think they are dying, but evolving and transitioning along with the digital age.  The availability of the internet and mobile devices are the driving forces behind the future of media.  Because the internet is almost everywhere, print newspapers are beginning to producing more online articles, magazines are moving to digital editions with interactive components, radio shows now have a competitor with podcasts, and people are delaying the television experience by utilizing TiVo/digital recorders or waiting to watch shows on sites like Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube.  I decided a few years ago to drop my cable subscription and only have an internet subscription.  I was not watching television, so why have a subscription?  I soon realized how much I was missing out on news events, so I decided to include the basic news stations to watch the morning and evening news broadcasts.

After reading through this week’s articles, I started to think about how much the media has changed over the past few decades.  Newspapers were printed so consumers were kept up-to-date with what was going on in their community.  Editions were printed in the morning and in the evening with news updates.  Radio was introduced, and news became more social.  People would “tune in” every night to listen to the latest news briefs (not only focused on the community, but the world) or entertaining radio programs.  During the time between radio and television, people would go to their local theaters to watch newsreels.  This was the first time people were able to actually see recordings of world events.  Once the television was introduced, people would gather around, much like with the radio, to watch the news or shows for pure entertainment.  Not only were consumers getting their information instantaneously like they were with the radio, but they were now able to actually see what was happening.  In the 1960s, consumers were able to see in-real time news about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I had a dream” speech, and the first rocket launch towards space.  This was a major shift from reading about it in the morning paper!

Fast forward to now.  All of these mediums still exist, but are utilized in different ways.  Newspaper is still “king,” but in certain cities print circulation has moved from daily printing to a few times a week.  Content that was previously created to be printed in the morning edition is now being produced for the internet so that consumers can get instant access.  The radio is still around, but instead of tuning in to listen to a radio program (for example, “Little Orphan Annie”) consumers are listening traffic reports, morning shows, and music to make their commute to work much more enjoyable.  The television is still showing news broadcasts, but instead of having three channels, we now have hundreds of channels filled with countless amounts of programming.

All that being said, one post that stuck out to me the most was a TED Talk by Jacek Utko titled “Can design save newspapers?”  During his presentation, he described the positive effects that happened when he redesigned his newspaper.  I found it very interesting that by making a few simple changes to the layout, readership grew.  It was his mission to turn a dull paper into something more extraordinary and it worked.  The media field is now at a point where it needs to redesign itself to stay current.  We [consumers] are “demanding” immediate access to information due to the portability of smart devices.  Because these devices offer a way to view, listen, and see content, newspapers can now offer audio commentary and radio and television stations can produce online articles.  A crossover is occurring and each type of media can benefit from each other to help each other survive.  By redesigning how each medium communicates to their audience, each area of the media industry can work to keeping themselves relevant in the digital world.

All in all, I believe the media field is in the process of trying to re-invent itself.  People still want to read the written word, but how?  Print editions, on a computer, via an app on a smart device?  This is just one question that the media field is trying to address in this digital age.  We are living in a really interesting time and I am looking forward to seeing where we find ourselves a few decades from now.