Monday, April 17, 2006

2nd RCADE Lecture



Photoshop...

I have never been very successful with photoshop. When I found out that a class was being offered through the RCADE at Fairfield University Media Center, I decided that it would be in my best interest to learn how to use the software.

Peter Sarawit is a great teacher, but despite that I still came out of the class with my head buzzing a little. I decided not to go to the second workshop, Advanced Photoshop, because I thought that I would fall behind the rest of the class. The first class had moved a little too fast for my taste. It would have been better if Sarawit has stopped a few times and asked if everyone was following around. I know that a few of my neighbors were having trouble too.

However, I did put what I learned to good use. When I was co-hosting a birthday party for one of my friends, I sent out Facebook event invitation using a photo that I had played around with in photoshop (Invitation pictured above). It is definitely something that I would not have done before this class. I give the Photoshop Lecture a B for an overall grade.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

RCADE Lecture

I did not know quite what to expect when I went to a "Shooting Video" RCADE lecture on March 28th, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. John Thomas, with the media department, was helpful in teaching students how to shoot video using mini dvd recorders.

I was the only ENW350 student in the class, the other 8 were biology students. They were taking the class because of a final project requirement, where they would film animals at a zoo for twenty minutes. Their teacher was also present and it took a few minutes to explain that, yes, I had signed up for the class, even though I was not in her biology class.

Fairfield offers students the ability to sign out audio visual equipment for projects or even just for fun. But there are rules, Thomas explained that equipment must first be reserved a day before it is borrowed, and it must be returned on time, or a student will be fined. And be careful, students who break cameras and other equipment will have to replace it. Some of the smaller cameras cost up to $2,000. So do not lose it, break it, or have it stolen. The media department is strict, your grades will be held until you pay up.

All in all, I came out of the lecture with the ability to shoot video and with the knowledge of how to use the new mini dvd cameras and having gained some new friends who are biology majors. Thank you John Thomas.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jeff Gralnick


News Veteran

Jeff Gralnick is NBC's Special Consultant for Internet and New Technology matters. A graduate of New York University, he has over 47 years of experience in several journalistic fields, including broadcast, print, and online media. Gralnick has reported on presidential elections, space flights, the Gulf War, and many other important events. He has won five National Emmy Awards for his work. Gralnick is considered an expert on online news reporting (Gralnick is pictured above).

Question: What are the next developments in online news reporting? Will users be more likely to have to subscribe and pay for their online news in the future?

This is important because online news websites are becoming more and more acceptable and successful on the web. People no longer expect all information from the web to be free. If online news starts to edge out traditional news media, companies can capitalize on the web.

Question: What are the best traits a journalist needs to become successful on the web and in other news media?

Gralnick has worked in all different journalistic fields. Online journalists seem to need to have a different background than other types of journalists. The internet offers a call for different types of writing as well as a need for a more interactive presentation style.

Wikis on the Web

Wiki Wiki Wiki Wiki

Wikis have become very popular on the web as people find that these databases are both fun and useful. Because these sites are constantly edited by any user they contain highly accurate information. Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that has one million articles, that are never finished. There are many wikis on the web and many are worth a visit.

Wikitravel is a wiki that allows its users to view and create a world travel guide. They can write about their town or other places that they have traveled: what places are the best to visit, good restaurants, activities, and the like. A user can also search for descriptions for where they would like to visit.

I played in the Wikipedia sandbox to practice some of my own wiki editing. Before I could edit, even in the sandbox, I needed to create my own account on wikipedia. I followed the simple instructions and found that editing in the sandbox was easy and not complicated. I wrote a simple test message and after, I searched the site to find if there were any glaring errors that needed to be fixed immediately. I did not find any, so Wikipedia is safe from my intervention for a little while longer.

Stovall Finito


Last section of Chapter highlights for James Glen Stovall's book Journalism on the Web. Overall, I believe that Stovall is a good read for students and others who want to learn more about writing on the web and how it differs from traditional journalistic medias.

Chapter 12: Stovall writes that people need to become aware that they are responsible for what they put online. Federal Regulations apply to the Web, similarly to how they apply to other forms of media.

Privacy has always been an issue on the web because there are very few laws governing what can be shared with the world wide web. Users need to be wary of what information that they give to collectors, because even individual information can be transmitted around the internet.

Illegal music downloads are occuring in record numbers on the internet. Even though the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) forbids such use, downloading remains popular and a problem that threatens record companies.

Chapter 14: Newspapers are immediate, but the web offers news even faster, rivaling television and other broadcast media.

Journalists can become masters at more than one type of reporting, but is it reasonable to expect them to become experts at all of the types of media necessary for good web journalism.

As the web continues to grow, it also evolves. People need to stay up to date not only with news reporting, but also with trends and new information and technologies.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stovall Revisited

Further Highlights from James Glen Stovall's book Journalism on the Web


Chapter 5: Writing is the focus of all forms of journalism, including what is found on the web. Stovall urges journalists to write clearly, precisely, accurately and efficiently in order to be successful at writing for any journalistic medium.

Many of the traditional elements of print based media, can be utilized in presenting news online. Newspapers use sub heads, labels, summaries, and lead paragraphs successfully, which can be translated into similar uses online. However, when newspapers believe that no changes are needed in placing materials online that they can run into presentation and content problems.

For a news site to be successful it cannot only report the same news found in the newspaper. It needs to have more information, new stories, and be updated more often than a traditional paper. While newspapers are hampered by deadlines, there are no deadlines for online publications. Therefore, during breaking news stories, online publications are under more pressure to update and report news as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Chapter Six: Editors should make sure that journalists use fresh, but analytical language, interesting enough to draw the reader into the story without being offensive or distasteful.

The preservation of a website is more difficult than maintaining traditional newspaper archives. Links must remain current, archives must be kept up to date and remain available through the site.

The main site must also be constantly updated with new information that is balanced with a united style of presentation and design in order for the viewer to find consistency on a site.

Chapter Ten: While many websites feature a visual display designed to draw the eye, the news must remain a main concern. On certain occassions, it may be necessary to remove these design elements to allow more people to view the site during a breaking news' story.

Web designers should know how to engage the viewer using a balance of visual logic, creating balance, simplicity and variety.

A website should have a specific and understandable purpose. Without one, a site cannot be utilized to its full potential.

Chapter Eleven: Web journalism's interactivity allows editors to track how popular a story is, online. Web pages, in general, keep track of what people are doing online. This provides valuable information into the interests of the public.

A question that is central to Stovall's book is 'Will this technology encourage journalists to tell the audience what they need to know or give them only what they want?'

Should information on the web be free? As the web first entered into picture and up to its current point, many news sites that are not developed from a parent company, have failed to make a profit. However, in the future many sites may charge for utilizing their information if the internet evenually renders other forms of broadcast media obsolete.

Stovall's Web Journalism


James Glen Stovall's book Web Journalism, Practice and Promise of a New Medium is helpful for people who want to learn about writing for the web. No longer are traditional print or broadcast media the only means of reporting the news. Web Journalism with all of its advantages and disadvantages have entered the foray of news reporting to the despair of some and the delight of others (Stovall pictured at left).

Some chapter highlights:
Chapter One
: The description of the game developed by Slate magazine as a reaction to the Enron scandal. The online board game contained pictures of Enron officials. When a viewer clicked on their pictures, who they were blaming for the fall of the company would pop up.

The connection of computer networks, the internet, developed in part from fears that the U.S. government held after WWII. Agencies feared that the current ability to distribute information could be compromised easily. It is due to the Advanced Research Project Agency (APRA) that protocol for email and other tools for the transfer of information was developed.

It is estimated that as of 2004, 75% of the United States population is using the Internet is some way. The internet combines visuals, words, pictures, video and graphics as well as audio in a capacity that allows for immediacy, flexibility, interactivity, and permanence.

Chapter Two: It is not easy for traditional news organizations to develop quality websites. Many tend to shovel content from its original print or broadcast medium without structuring them for the web. Others are not immediate with their updating, leading to sites that are not utilizing the full potential of the web.

Original Content sites are websites that use the web to a higher degree of potential. They structure stories that will be viewed best online. They work with appropriate software and often have an experienced staff devoted to reporting news on the web.

News websites have a greater chance of becoming popular if they are paired with a brand name of a respected print or broadcast news organization (i.e. the NYtimes.com)

(I also appreciate the Harry Potter analogy on p. 23)

Chapter Three:
Stovall suggests four ways for journalists to make their websites more user friendly and to increase interactivity: email; online polls; bulletin boards, forums and discussion groups; online chats with reporters or newsmakers.

Personalized web services offer websites a way to market specifically to target audiences. It illustrates the subtle shift to user rather than journalistic control of the news.

Journalism- even if it does not vanish completely in the future, it has been undoubtably changed due to the emergence of the Web as a strong force in reporting the news.

Chapter Four: The most successful websites are those that layer the information that they are distributing. Similar to traditional print and broadcast media, information needs to be divided and organized on websites. The web offers unique opportunities for journalists to structure information in both useful and creative ways.

The Web forces journalists to look beyond their usual audience and to write for an audience that is in fact world wide.

Web journalists need to be skilled in more areas than a traditional journalist. They are responsible for taking digital pictures, recording audio, learning software, and many other things that was not necessary for a print or broadcast reporter in the past.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"That Which We Call A Blog"

Dan Mitchell's article "That Which We Call A Blog" (New York Times online, February 18, 2006) discusses how the lines distinguishing blogs from mainstream media, such as web sites, have blurred. It is now difficult to label all blogs as merely personal web diaries, as some have started reported the news. Some blogs even have professional journalists working for them. Many main media sites now even offer blogs, written by professional writers, as part of their user's web experience.

According to David L. Sifrey's (the founder of Technorati, a blog search engine) "The State of the Blogosphere" report lists evidence that states that blogs are not a threat to the traditional mainmedia. Main media websites continue to be more popular than blogs. Mitchell writes,
According to Mr. Sifry's data, mainstream media sites, as measured by the number of blogs linking to them, are trouncing news-oriented blogs by a growing margin. Bloggers link to The New York Times Web site about three times as often as they link to the technology-orientedBoingboing.net. Only four blogs show up in the top 33 sites.
While blogs may not be able to compete with most main media site, according to Sifrey and Mitchell, they do threaten certain niche publications because hobby blogs and blogs about specific topics often receive particular attention from a regular and attentive audience.

What continues to remain important for both blogs and main media sites is the reliability of and the validity of the information published.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cory Maye

Innocent or Guilty...

Whether or not Cory Maye, a Mississippi man on death row, is innocent or guilty, he still deserves a fair trial. Did he get one? probably not. When you shoot the son of the chief of police, you better be rich, white, and have an unbelievable attorney to even have the semblance of a fair trial. Maye is a poor black man with an attorney that has no formal training. The police behaved questionably in many aspects of this case. They entered Maye's side of a duplex without a warrent for Maye, but only with one for the resident of the other side of the duplex. It is also uncertain whether or not they declared themselves police officers before they entered.

What would you do if someone broke down your door in the middle of the night? If you lived in a bad neighborhood and you were scared someone was trying to hurt you or your infant? Would you shoot and ask questions later? Or would you wait to see if they killed you and your baby first. Cory Maye has no criminal record, no history of violence. The officer he killed was probably not following procedure and Maye is paying for it.

The reason that Maye's situation was brought to my attention was due to a letter sent out by a college professor, and fellow blogger. Other bloggers, including Radley Balko, are trying to bring this story to the attention of the mainstream media. The more attention Cory Maye's case receives on blogs will prevent his story from being forgotten.

Cory Maye not be a popular news story, but he deserves a fair chance. Keep his case in the blogosphere.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Case and Molly Revisited

True Love or Just a Ploy

In William Gibson's science fiction novel Neuromancer, the romance of the two main characters is often questionable. Was it real? or like everything else in the ultra simulated version of reality, was it created? Case and Molly are two highly conflicted and messed up characters. Do they deserve happiness?

In the science fiction genre, who doesn't love it when the geek finally gets the girl? And one who can really kick ass at that. Molly seems to represent everything that Case does not have, but wants despite his own failings. But their relationship does not seem to be anything more than two people who are at the same place at the same time.

Molly is not someone that can easily be described, but at the same time she is predictable. She will not stay with Case at the end of the novel. She is too messed up to want to be happy. But what about the future? Do Case and Molly have a future?

I want them too.

Jill Walker


Hey you...Yeah, I'm talking to you, Watch out-You're being played

Jill Walker's article "Do You Think You're Part Of This? Digital Texts And The Second Person Adress" discusses the role of identification many people have with digital media. While other forms of print media have a less direct connection to the person, a book may draw in the reader, but it remains tied to a physical relationship. You can open and close it, but you cannot change the story. Digital media has the ability to create a world where the "you" is difficult to separate from a text or a game. Not only are you the player, but also the creator, the writer, and the producer (Jill Walker pictured above left).

Walker questions, "why we play games? Do you enjoy submitting to the code?" People like to be drawn into games for many different reasons. For me it is a method of escape. I may not be able to kill dragons in real life, but I certainly can on a computer game. The graphics allow me to feel like I am part of this magical world. But why is it so possible to be drawn into a game or into another form of digital media? Many are repetitive, but the quest to dominate and win becomes all consuming.

Walker postulates that the reason that people are so pulled into the world of digital text is that they are specifically marketed at creating this bond between the user and the "game". The direct line of separation between user and what is being used is lessened by the use of a simple word, "you". This method of using the second person address catches the attention of the user and creates an illusion of a relationship.

Instead of you playing the game, the game is really playing you. Companies know the way to market their products is through the consumer. As Walker says, it is all about maintaining that sense of connectedness, the routine that everyone knows that they are part of that is hard to break. Walker sets out to make people uncomfortable in her essay. Instead of following the usual formula of an academic essay, she writes in a less formal manner. She directly addresses the reader and pulls into question the authority of her own writing. She is attempting to show how easy it is to manipulate the emotions and ideas of the reader.

In my opinion, Walker was successful in her attempts to illustrate how easily we are manipulated by different medias. Her own use of the word "you" and the constant address to the reader bothered my sense of self as a reader. We do not like to consider ourselves stupid, but this is really how the corporate world sees us. Obviously we must be told which bottle of shampoo is really the best and which conditioner works the hardest. How do we know anything when we are constantly bombarded by information? What do you think?