The Power of the Media Revisited

The Power of the Media Revisited

                        Writers have the ability to start revolutions, impart knowledge and change the world. With the globalization of media, these effects are now at a global level. Evidence of the power of writers is the Arab Spring (Wikipedia, 2016). In 2010 people connected over social media and the internet to overthrow governments and start revolutions in several countries in the Middle East. This movement still has wide reaching effects today.

There are two aspects to leveraging the power of media in ethical ways to be beneficial to society. One is the responsibility of the writer of media to verify facts before publically releasing a story. Second is the responsibly of the consumer to verify stories before they believe them and repost them on social media and repeat them to friends and colleagues.

This increased power of the writer in the internet age brings more responsibility. Incorrect information or false ideas can be spread rapidly when shared on social media. This makes even more important for writers to act ethically and verify stories before they publish them. False information can place all members of society at risk. An example was in 2013 60 Minutes ran an incorrect story about the Benghazi incident (Silverman, 2013). Many people watched this episode and it took a few days for other news sources to confirm the 60 Minutes story was incorrect. Writers of media need to balance the consumers need for instant updates and news with the making sure the inform ion is correct. Certainly a false story has potential to do more harm than a late story.

A media literate consumer is key to making them less susceptible to false information and enables them to be less influenced by non-verified stories. For example, there have multiple false news stories on major networks about Obama not being a U.S. Citizen (Marcotte, 2015). This is not true. If one didn’t take time to verify that this story was in fact an editorial, and the facts were debatable one could assume this was a truth and change the course of the United Sates with their vote.

Both the writer and consumer hold responsibility that false information does not get decimated as truths. This responsibility is more important than ever when a story can go “viral” and reach millions of people quickly.

Upon returning to my initial post for Comm 510, I find that I agree with my initial stance that media and communication holds much power over people and their thoughts. This power appears to be increasing and reaching a wider variety and number of people. One thing that has changed is how I view news stories I see online and on TV. I always had the opinion that certain news sources contained bias, but it surprises me how difficult it was to verify a story on Global Voices news, a source I thought was highly reputable and unbiased. Now when I am watching or reading a story, I am always careful to consider the source and see if the facts add are verifiable.

Marcotte, A. (2015) Fox News Brings up Obama Birther Lie Retrieved on February 22, 2016 from http://www.salon.com/2015/11/19/fox_news_brings_back_obama_birther_lies_donald_trump_dennis_miller_and_the_revolting_post_paris_sliming_of_the_president/

Silverman, C. (2013) Worst Media Errors in 2013 Retrieved on February 22, 2016 from http://www.poynter.org/2013/the-best-and-worst-media-errors-and-corrections-in-2013/233613/

Wikipedia (2016) Arab Spring Retrieved February 22, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring

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Comm 510 Blog: Multimedia Tools

Blog: Multimedia Tools

      A picture is worth a thousand words. That statement holds true for blogs. That is one reason why it is important for a blog to contain multimedia elements such as photos and videos. A primary goal of many bloggers is to obtain novel readers with each blog. For a blog to be successful, it has to provide quality content for its readers (Smith, 2013). Multimedia elements are part of providing a quality blog for media consumers.

There are many multimedia tools available to blog creators. They include tools to make photos or videos such as Windows Movie Maker, flip video and iMovie. Audio tools include Animoto and Garage Band (Educational Technology Resources, 2016). These multimedia elements can enhance blogs, but care must be taken since show some multimedia elements may be more effective for certain types of blogs than others.

A good way for a blog to attract new readers is to show up on search engines and be posted on social media sites. Search engines look at other media such as video and photo titles (Smith, 2013). Additionally, users of social media tend to post videos or photos, not necessarily text. Leveraging good quality photos and videos within a blog may be a good way to obtain novel viewers.

Dog lovers have probably seen the I Heart Dogs blog posts on social media (Palmer, 2016). This is a blog that is written to raise money for shelter dogs and does contain a retail section. The site claims they were able to feed 300,000 shelter dogs in the month of December (Palmer, 2016). The content is rich with many videos and engaging dog photos. The videos and photos are easily shareable on social media and the links usually have interesting dog stories when on clicks on them. This is a good example of leveraging engaging videos and photos to drive people to a blog.

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Oftentimes trends or maps of data are much more understandable in an image form. These infograms are also likely to be shared on social media and draw people to your blog (Smith , 2013). Do You Believe in Dogs (Cobb/Hecht, 2016) is a more scientific blog that makes use of charts and graphs to drive home points. This blog is written by two scientists to asses and discuss dog behavior and cognition. Below is one of their blogs and how they leverage the use of an infographic to make a point about poll results. This graph is much easier to read than the poll results would be if they were just listed in text form.

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Multimedia techniques are very useful if one is blogging in order to advertise or promote a product or other service. Audio and video enhancements to a website increase the memory for advertisements on a site (Sundar, 2000). When one has both text and photos about a story, they are bidirectional input (Sundar, 2000). This means they are receiving input about the story in two sensory pathways and it makes them more likely to remember a story. This holds particularly true if a blogger wants a media consumer to remember an advertisement (Sundar, 2000).

This engaging photo below is from Little Things (Little Thins, 2016). This blog contains sections for parenting food and dogs. It claims to be the third largest Facebook publisher and to reach 19% of the digital population (Little Things, 2016). This blog creates revenue by obtaining advertisers. They have an entire tab dedicated to the demographic they are targeting and how many novel hits they receive a month. It is clear Little Things leverages are multimedia content to drive readers to its site and obtain advertising dollars.

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Bloggers need to be cognizant about what their blog is about and what its purpose is in order to use appropriate multimedia tools. A study showed that adding multimedia to a website with news actually decreased the memory of news on the site (Sundar, 2000). Certainly this makes the argument that if a blog is more news or scientific oriented, a blogger may want to decrease the amount the multimedia elements or limit the multimedia elements to explanatory graphs. The author of Dog Food Advisor wants his blog on pet food to be viewed as a reference for pet owners to learn about pet food. Since his content is more news and science oriented, he has opted not to leverage many multimedia elements. This may be a benefit if he wants his readers to remember the details of the news he posts in his blog.

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Blogging has become a competitive area to vie for the consumer’s attention. In order to be successful, most bloggers need to consider leveraging some type of multimedia element. Before using the tools, one does need to consider what type of content will be most beneficial for their blog.

 

References

 

Cobb, M. and Hecht, J. (2016) Do You Believe in Dogs Retrieved on February 9, 2016 from http://doyoubelieveindog.blogspot.com/p/about.html

Educational Technology Resources (2016)       Multimedia Tools Retrieved on February 8, 2016 from https://aartechresources.wikispaces.com/Multimedia+Tools

Little Things (2016) Retrieved February 9, 2016 from http://www.littlethings.com/category/pets-2/

Palmer, S. (2016) I Love Dogs Retrieved February 9, 2016 from http://iheartdogs.com/

Sagman, P. (2016) Dog Food Advisor Retrieved February 8, 2016 from https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/blog/

Smith, M. (2013) Why Multimedia Blog Content is Good for Your Site Retrieved on February 8, 2016 from http://www.benchmarkemail.com/blogs/detail/why-multimedia-blog-content-is-good-for-your-site

Sundar, S. (2000) Multimedia Effects on Processing and Perception of Online News Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly; Autumn 2000; 77, 3; ABI/INFORM Global pg 480

 

 

Comm 510: Blog Best Practices

Blog Best Practices

                        Blogs are a useful resource that can be used by anybody to post articles, information, opinions, advice and reviews. The person writing a blog can be a citizen content creator or a professional journalist. Many times, companies will hire people to write blogs about their company or with information surrounding their business in order to grow brand awareness.

If an individual, either working independently or for a business, is writing a blog, they need to be cognizant of appropriate writing styles and formats for a blog. There are many blogs available, and a blogger wants to make sure her blog is captivating and a source of value to the consumer. The key to success is being consumer centered. Bloggers need to use a style that will engage audiences and show up easily on search engines (DM Consulting services, 2016). That includes straightforward writing style and direct language. This includes using an “inverted pyramid” writing style (DM Consulting, 2016). In this style, the blogger starts with the most important point first and follows with additional data. This style works because consumers want to be able to find the information they are searching for easily (DM Consulting services, 2016). Having a clean, professional looking page with visible links to other resources enables the ease of use and keeps the blog consumer centered.

Consumers may use blogs because they believe they are an independent source of information from an individual. It is important for a blogger to give opinions but not be too promotional (Rowse 2014). This should include the blogger mentioning any bias they may have about what they are writing. That way, the consumer can read the blog with an idea who wrote it. It helps if a blogger has knowledge and passion about the topic they are blogging about. The passion should be apparent in their writing style (Rowse, 2014).

Having a blog shared on social media is an excellent way to drive novel consumers to the blog. The best way to do this is installing a social media sharing widget (Chelidonis, 2011). This widget will make it easy for consumers to share the blog on social media. Of course, the content needs to be engaging enough that the reader wants to share the information with their friends and colleagues.

Analyzing a blog about pet health demonstrates the use of some of the blogging best practices. The blog is called Lifestyle Pets (Gentry/Woonten, 2016 ). The blog is written by a veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Wooten, and another author, Pamela Gentry.   They clearly state the mission of the blog is to be a source of information about pet health and wellness including pet food reviews, training animal information, adoption information and veterinary advice.

The Lifestyle Pets blog meets many of the blogger best practices concepts. The layout is clean and professional. The home page is easily navigable and searchable. There are clickable tabs at the top of the blog with links to specific information such as pet food and veterinary questions. There is also a box right on the front page with a large search area. In searching several terms, it worked and well and quickly found relevant information. Anybody could get to this blog and easily find what they topic they are researching.

It is obvious the blog’s authors were hoping readers would share the content on social media. There are several links to social media sites on the home page and then on each individual blog. The authors wrote descriptive, engaging titles for the blogs and have good visual images with each blog that would be easy to share on social media. They even have their own newsletter one can subscribe to listed on the homepage.

The one thing that could be improved is the writing style of both authors, but in particular the style of Dr. Wooten. She writes in a scientific style, and does not have the main point listed first. In other words, she does not use the inverted pyramid. One has to read through the article to find the main points. At times her language may be too complex for the web. For example, in the article about lumps in dogs, OMG a Lump, she uses terms such as infiltrative which may not be understood by pet owners (Woonten, 2016). She also has the main point of the blog that lipomas are usually not cancerous discussed toward the end of the article.

There does appear to be some bias. The Lifestyle Pets also serves as on-line pet store. Many of the products, especially the pet foods that are reviewed on the website are carried at the online store. They advertise the store on the homepage. It is not a hidden agenda. One does wonder about some of the pet food reviews. For example, there is one brand that has multiple issues in the past several years that they give a favorable review.

This blog could be recommended by veterinarians to pet owners as a source of pet health advice. Dr Wooten obviously has medical knowledge and her articles are based on scientific fact. The only slight bias is a favoring some products they carry at their online store, but these topics are mostly unrelated to the veterinary advice. The veterinary profession needs some good on-line resources and this blog is a good addition.

This blog written by Heather Puchalski is written for academic reasons for a Communications course. All the blogs posted to date have been researched and based on facts. From this standpoint, this blog is informative, but if the goal of this blog was to engage consumers, several changes would need to occur.

The layout of this blog is not consumer friendly. It needs to be made more consumer oriented. There is no place to search this blog and it doesn’t contain easily visible links to other sources of information. An improvement would be adding searchable tabs at the top, and adding more visuals would improve the consumer experience.

The content of this blog is probably something people would not share on social media. There are no visually engaging photos and the blog titles are descriptive, but not catchy. There are no widgets installed to link to social media.

Probably this blogs biggest drawback to engage consumers is the writing style. It is being written in an academic style. The inverted pyramid technique is not leveraged as much as it should be used. The language needs to be simplified and more passion needs to come through in the writing style.

Even with these drawbacks for consumers, this blog does suit its need as an academic resource and blog. One can see what course the blog was written for, the subject of each blog and a complete list of references.

Some food bloggers have proposed a “Bloggers Code of Conduct” (Burton/Greenstein, 2011). In this “Bloggers Code of Ethics” they propose that blogger admit bias, when they are given samples and research what they are writing. They did get some negative feedback on this concept but it is a valid idea that would help media consumers. If a consumer knows that a blogger adheres to standards and has established any bias they have when writing a blog, the consumer may accept the blog as more fact based. If researching items such as a product to purchase or a vacation location, this becomes very important. In a blog such as this one here, it would be important for the author to read and adhere to this code. If this blog is to serve as a source of facts and information, consumer needs to be sure that the details are researched and presented without bias.

Blogs are an important way to get messages to media consumers. Using blogging best practices will insure that a blogger’s site is successful and viewed by many people. When a blogger adds value to a consumer, they have succeeded.

 

References

Burton, B and Greenstein, L. (2011) Food Blog Code of Ethics Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from https://foodethics.wordpress.com/

Chelidonis, I. (2011) 12 Steps to Writing a Successful Blog Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from http://www.dailyblogtips.com/steps-to-successful-blog/

DM Consulting (2016) Writing for the Web Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from http://www.uakron.edu/webteam/docs/dm_webwriting.pdf

Gentry, S. and Woonten, P. (2016) Lifestyle Pets Retrieved on February 2, 2016 from http://www.lifestylepets.org/

Rowse, D. (2014) Beginner Week: My 43 Do’s and 23 Don’ts of Blogging Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/03/05/beginner-week-my-43-dos-and-25-donts-of-blogging/

Social Media Tools

  

Social Media Tools

                        There are a variety of impactful social media tools available for media creators. Many of the tools are resources that people use daily such as blogs, texting and photo sharing websites. A media creator needs to have an understanding of how all the tools work, who the tools may target, and what type of content needs to be created for the tools in order to leverage the goals and gain a maximum impact.

The first tool to be examined is an RSS feed. An RSS feed stands for Real Simple Syndication (Aids.org, 2016). In this tool, one subscribes to a website and receives updates from that website, typically via email. The Aids.gov website suggests several websites to both gather RSS feeds and a tool that will allow one to receive RSS feeds via email from a given website.

NetVibes was one RSS feeder examined (NetVibes, 2016).   This is a website that is useful to collate feeds. When first examined, this resource was not user friendly and navigation was not innate. A secondary source was found to explain how to use NetVibes and why to use NetVibes ( Esegulov, 2006). Esegulov’s article explains how one can make one start up page on NetVibes that contains all the news feeds from your favorite websites so one does not have to visit each website individually. After reading this article, it is apparent how this tool can be used to collate current feeds from multiple sites that may relate to a given topic on one page. Below is a screenshot from the homepage for NetVibes.

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Another type of RSS tool that will be even more useful for an individual creating their own website is feedblitz (feedblitz.com, 2016).   This is a tool that one can create an RSS feed to be pushed out from your website to emails. This is a paid resource, but for a creator that wants to get news stories out to consumer frequently, it would be a worthwhile spend. If one ones to leverage an RSS feed they need to be willing to have meaningful news items frequently to push to the public.

QR codes are another useful tool for media creators. The QR is a barcode that one can scan with a smartphone and will direct the user to a website, phone number or email (Aids.org, 2016). These QR codes can be useful to create a link to information on a poster, business card or on anther website.   It is important to make sure this code links the user to a beneficial, actionable piece of information. An example would be a poster for web resource displayed at a conference with a QR code to link the conference attendee directly to the resource.

An example of a website where one can create free QR codes is Kywa (Kaywa.com, 2016). Below is a screenshot of this website. It is very easy to use and free to create a static code. For example, if one wants a QR code with a static link to a website, they simply enter in the desired website as noted below and this website creates a QR code with a link to the website. This website does charge to create other types of QR codes for items such as contact information and coupons.

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A mashup is a third useful tool. A mashup combines data from more than one source into a single tool (Aids.gov). This resource is very beneficial is one has a website and they want to have a map embedded on their website. For example, if one creates a website for a store that has multiple locations, one can use a mashup tool to create a map on their website with all their store locations.

An example of a website that will help with the mashup, is Zeemaps 9zeemaps.com, 2016). This website is straightforward and one can manually add addresses, as in the screenshot below, or if there are many addresses to be listed, a spreadsheet with the addresses can be uploaded.

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A creator of media that wants to get out important messages needs to be savvy and leverage all the resources available to them to get out messaging in the appropriate way to the appropriate people. People tend to rely too heavily on tools they are familiar with such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook but other tools can be useful to get different types of messages out tin unique formats.

 

Resources

 

Aids.org, (2016) New Media Resources Retrieved January 25, 2016 from https://www.aids.gov/using-new-media/tools/index.html

Esengulov, A. (2006) What Is NetVibes? Retrieved on January 26, 2016 from  http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/netvibes-where-have-you-been-before/

Feedblitz (2016) Retrieved on January 25, 2016 http://www.feedblitz.com/build-better-blog-feedblitz-for-bloggers/

Mashable (2016) Retrieved on January 27, 2016 from http://mashable.com/2010/08/23/how-to-create-qr-codes/

NetVibes (2016) Retrieved on January 26, 2016 from http://www.netvibes.com/privatepage/1#News

Zeemaps (2016) Retrieved on January 26, 2016 from https://www.zeemaps.com/map?group=1823933&location=philadelphia%2C%20pa&add=1

 

Comm 510: Oconee County

Oconee County Observations

                        On-line blogs can serve as an source of information. Often a bloggers can supply advice, reviews, opinions, information or news. When utilizing a blog as a source of news or information, one needs to view the blog with critical eye to determine a basis and assess its accuracy. One trend in digital media is citizen journalists frequently contribute to blogs. A citizen journalist can write very good, accurate stories, but they can also write stories that may not hold up to current ethical standards.

An example website to asses is the Oconee County Observations website (Becker, 2016). This is a blog created by Lee Becker. Lee Becker has a PhD in mass communications. He is a professor of journalism at University of Georgia. He has won several awards and has published multiple papers (Cox International, 2016). Based on these credentials he should be considered a professional journalist instead of a citizen journalist. It is interesting to note his area of interest is how media can affect labor forces.

Dr Becker’s blog, the Oconee County Observations, is a news blog about the county he lives in, Oconee county. Much of the content is reporting news about land grants, local government actions and votes in the local commission. Interestingly, the titles of the blogs do reflect some of Dr Becker’s opinions. These include titles such as “funding Unclear”, and Plan Uncertain”.

It is apparent that Dr Becker may not agree with what his county commissioners are doing. He is very clear on his information about the blog that this website is his opinions, but he does strive to be accurate. He does post responses to his blogs from officials. In many ways, he does strive to be accurate on this blog. The one issue is that he may have a conflict of interest in his reporting (SPJ, 2014). He has a personal stake in what happens in the county where he lives, so it may be difficult to be unbiased when he does not agree with the commissioners.

Most people would hold Dr Becker up to higher standard since he is a professor. They may not look as his blog with quite as a critical an eye as they would if he were a citizen journalist. This opens up issue that a citizen journalist probably needs to be more vigilant about details and facts to be held in the same regard as a blogger who is a professional.

The rise of blogs written by both citizen journalists and professional journalists has led to a new rapidly evolving resource for people. As media consumers, the message needs to be “buyer beware” when assessing blogs from both sources.

 

References

 

Becker, L. (2016) Oconee County Observations Retrieved on January 18, 2016 from http://www.oconeecountyobservations.org/

Cox International (2016) Dr Lee B. Becker retrieved on January 18, 2016 from http://www.grady.uga.edu/coxcenter/Administration/Lee_B_Becker/Lee_Director.php

SPJ (2014) SPJ Code of Ethics Retrieved on January 18, 2016 from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Comm 510: News, Mistakes and Errors

Mistakes, False News and Errors

                        When an important news story is breaking, everybody either goes on-line or turns on the T.V. news to see what is happening. People want to know what is going on, if they are safe, and what is coming next. They do not want to wait and hear all the details tomorrow morning. In today’s world, there are multiple 24 hour news stations and they need news to report all the time due to consumer demand.

Sadly, this culture has led to press reporting false information in important news stories. One example is the Boston bombing. At one point, news sources reported an arrest had occurred, and this was not true. This led to the FBI criticizing the press (Carter, 2013). This is an example of the “report now, apologize later” trend in the media. Even though this trend has become common, one needs to consider if it is ethical.

The first thing listed in the SPJ Code of Ethics is that journalists should take responsibility for the accuracy of their work and verify it (SPJ, 2014). Reporting false information, such as in the Boston bombing example, is not having their work verified. The Code also says that speed should not replace accuracy (SPJ, 2014). So, again, in the 24 hour news culture, items still need to be verified. Just by reviewing false news reports in the past several years, then looking at the Code of Ethics, it is easy to come to a quick conclusion that these practices are not ethical.

Further research into this “report now, apologize later’, culture may lead to a much murkier conclusion. The consumers of news are demanding to have answers, and have them now. Most viewers will change the channel if news outlets are just reporting nothing when an important story is breaking. They will turn on one that is releasing new facts. Based on this consumer pressure for news 24 hours a day, one needs to consider if there needs to be a new Code of Ethics. Perhaps, a new Code of Ethics needs to be created to reflect changes in social media (Buttry, 2010). In this updated code, journalists can report things seen or reported on social media, but with clauses such as “unconfirmed reports” , “social media is saying” and other qualifiers so the consumers knows these may not be verified facts.

In this new media culture, the responsibility to confirm what they are seeing is a fact, is on the consumer. Certainly, journalists, need to do their due diligence, but the burden has changed. Children in schools should be taught how to critically evaluate things they see on news and social media. The public needs to look for “qualifier” in press stories and consider the stories. This burden of checking is now on the consumer due to changes in reporting that have been driven by consumers. The need for instant, 24 hour news has pushed the media into a new world.

References

Carter, B. (2013) The FBI Criticizes News Media After Several Mistaken Reports or Arrest Retrieved on January 10, 2016 form http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/business/media/fbi-criticizes-false-reports-of-a-bombing-arrest.html?_r=1

Buttry, S. (2010) Journalists Code of Ethics: Time for an Update? Retrieved on January 10, 2016 from https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/journalists-code-of-ethics-time-for-an-update/

SPJ (2014) SPJ Code of Ethics. Retrieved on January 10, 2016 from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp