Friday, December 19, 2008

Final Exam - Book Review: Comparing Journalism 2.0 and The Principles of Convergent Journalism

Reading the chapter 5 and chapter 6 of Journalism 2.0, this book provides me some insights of the new trend of journalism field for journalism students. The book ambitiously thrives to fulfill the purpose of telling “how to survive and thrive”, however, it pathetically fails. Inspired by the term Web 2.0, the journalism 2.0 focuses a handful of details on topics such as how to blog and how to write for the web, but sometimes it focuses too much on those web-related topics, like Web 2.0 and FTB, MB, RSS, oh My!, but neglects the "journalism" aspect of it. It definitely looks more like an information technology guidebook to me.

Compared to the Principles of Convergent Journalism, again, Journalism 2.0 fails to look into the bigger picture. The PCM successfully explains the journalism transformation from other media to new media, such as from print to internet or from broadcast to internet. These guidelines are tremendously useful for a journalism student as he or she can easily figure out what this transformation means at all. And also, looking as a whole, the information in the book is definitely more manageable, digestible and understandable. Imagine a plain world map comparing to a google map which tells you the direction, the distance and the way to get there. You get the idea.

To be fair to Journalism 2.0, its own strength is to be able to tell a great deal of information, especially the new technical terms, in a very short and simple way that students can easily grab the materials. The chapters include interviews with experts in journalism field and some inspiring quotes that are trendy and practical enough. Readers are thankful for simple and useful bullet points and no unnecessarily fancy and distracting graphics that are just simply too much for a book like this. Overall, Journalism 2.0 is successful as a friendly guidebook for faculty, students and journalists.

The Principles of Convergent Journalism is highly recommended for anyone who is eager to see what convergent journalism is about. Inside the book, stories on how and why the convergent journalism is formed, how journalists deal with it and the real stories of this seemingly unreal title are there for people to see the world outside the classroom. A very good point for this book is that a tremendous amount of examples like the website of WTKR-TV or a blog for The Herald of Rock Hill are provided for the readers to see vividly what exactly happens in the newsroom.

Otherwise, unlike Journalism 2.0, the PCM smoothly moves around among different platforms, from print to broadcast, from news to blog, capturing the most practical techniques, knowledge and advices for the journalists these days. Its way of arranging the topics is not only a flat one-way but multi-dimensional and bidirectional. For example, the book explaining how to perform a repurposing content of a newspaper story for an online article is an important lecture the student and journalists want to and need to know. They are just very practical. On top of that, the book even gives issues like scannability and linkability of a website that are some impactful advices that Journalism 2.0 fails to provide.

Last but not last, the last chapter of the book discussing the future in convergent journalism is the beacon of future in journalism that a MCOM 407 cannot afford to miss.

(To Dr. Spaulding, this is the edited version. Sorry for some spelling and grammatical mistakes on the paper I submitted earlier.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's Happening to the News?

What inspires me the most in "Frontline"'s episode of "What's Happening to the News" is the story about the embattled newsroom.

Consolidation is the word. Everyone is talking about it. We have been hearing about it for several years indeed. Smaller companies consolidate to become a big giant media group but the industry is shrinking on the way too. Who are behind all these and who are the ones to blame?

The episode tells the story about that the Los Angeles Times, one of the few only papers still covering major national issues, was told to lay off more reporters. Those big companies who own the papers care only about money, something totally evil and conflict with the original purpose of media to serve the public. Under this kind of pressure, bet who will still be holding the firm stance on the qualities of being an honorable, decent, professional journalist? And who will still be there to uphold the values, ethics and principles of our journalism? In the story, managing editor Dean Baquet of L.A. times was definitely qualified to be such one but the result of his decision not to fire anyone was he himself getting fired indeed.

Definitely, things learned under the tower of ivory are not applicable in a real-world newsroom. Something sounds ridiculous but true.

It is a domino effect. Fewer people equal to lower quality news. And news organizations who choose not to produce any content (websites like google news) are only recycling what has already been published. This leads to fewer news gatekeepers and fewer different points of views. Like we used to expect so much from the digital boom that it would bring more different voices against the mainstream did actually cause marginalization of voices of small papers, radio stations or even local broadcasters. How ironic.

We need a profession. Bloggers may tell us some truth (in some cases) but they are not the people who are going out and knocking on doors and rummaging through records and covering events and so on. They are not trained to do so. Yes, a 12-year-old can put up a video on youtube but that is a media product, not journalism. Journalism is the witnesses of the event and the first draft of history. That is something gained not only by education but experiences throughout years and years of practice.

However, the least respected profession has become even more undervalued these days.

And all they need are just some respects.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Defining Multimedia

The concept of mulitmedia is the most important concept for me in these chapters.

Multimedia is often used to be defined as using various forms and combinations of media - sound, text, video, animations - and presenting them to users/consumers of that content. Web site tools and technology enable news organizations to gather and present story accounts of events - as well as images, sounds, and even analysis of the events - as never before.

But here is the question - so what?

When we are given "multiple" choices to decide in what way we can present our story, journalists are obligated to transform seemingly mundane events into something meaningful. Through multimedia, the media organizations can provide a sense of depth, togetherness, interaction or even localism, depending on how the content can be created and presented. And they have to be creative, if not, the function of multimedia will not be fully utilized and pitifully wasted.

A one-way road becomes two-way.

The limitless permutations of content and delivery can be involved but the goal of the multimedia story telling is to serve to inspire both the writer and the readers to become involved and make a difference in the community and to break down the barriers between the consumer of news and journalist.

There are these key points often convergent journalists need to keep in mind:
- The active nature of Web consumption means users are less likely to simply sit and watch television on the computer.
- Convergence means rich content can now be produced and presented in multiple forms on the Web. In many cases, text remains the glue that sticks the content together. All segments of rich media must be adequately labeled and described.
- Slug, or brief description, any media content to be experienced in real time should include the total time so the user can decide whether it is worth the time to experience what has been provided.
- Text is the foundation, but nontext material is also common and popular, especially images, sound, moving images, animations and graphics, interactives, and combinations thereof.

But the most important to remember is that although the tools constantly change, the basic function - telling the story in the best way - will always remain. Everyone wants to hear a good story that brings out the best of the human condition. It is rare for an individual to become expert using all of these tools, it is imperative to find the ones that seem to work best with and practice the craft.

There are no shortcuts.

Each of the authors learned by reading the principles first and then going out and doing them. The best and only way to do best is to do it. Practice makes perfect.

All roads lead to Rome.

You can choose the best way to achieve the point you want but Rome won't come to you even if the car is not started.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Video Story Telling - Nov. 4th

Repurposed broadcast script published on the web

It is taking what has been produced for one medium and tailoring it for another. This means not only streaming the newscast online but placing story text versions online or even raw, unedited video of an event.

A "new type of content" used by a broadcast news operation

- Material relating to news events.
- Material reflecting the reporter's or individual's opinion, view, critique, or analysis of an issue or topic.
- Material primarily geared toward promoting the organization "brand" or any of the people working there ("personalities").
- Material designed to involve the public in the news gathering and editing process, such as allowing people to post their own photos during the game.

A VO/SOT, package or live report

- Stress the visual - Television is a visual medium, and regardless of what the reporter wants to emphasize, the pictures generally dominate.
- Stress the moment - The strength of broadcast news has always been the timeliness element - the notion "this just happened."
- Stress the simple - The viewer can only process the information only in the way we present it. The linear presentation has good points but also some constraints. It forces the writer to tell the story as simply as possible.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Introduction to Convergent Journalism

What is a multiskilled journalist?

The term multiskilled journalist describes reporters skilled at two or more of these tasks: interviewing; collecting audio, video, and still images; editing those images; producing interactive elements (such as graphics and online-accessible databases); and writing stories for delivery across multiple media.

A multiskilled journalist should know writing and editing across media, interviewing, photography, video creation and editing, public speaking, creating simple graphics, and creating interactive elements and should have some technical knowledge of how to use wired or wireless networking to port or send material remotely.

However, the most important role of the journalist in a converged environment is still to be able to look at a situation and determine what elements are needed for the various ways that media might be used to disseminate the story.

The perspective of the multiskilled journalist is vital for being able to look at all the possible forms a story may take and how each would best be disseminated. In practice, that means the ability to identify all of the elements of a story , including interview sources, photographic subjects, video or audio opportunities, documentary sources, etc.

The next skill is the ability to tell the story in the appropriate format, ranging from an inverted pyramid for newspapers or Web text to a linear broadcast narrative. Writing across media may be one of the most difficult skills to master, but the task is made easier by the presence of story builders, editors, and others who can help refine the story for presentation.

Multiskilled journalists must also have the skills to capture still and video images as well as sound. Each reporter need not be an authority on photography and other technical skills, but in the absence of a photographer, videographer, or audio engineer, the multiskilled journalist must be capable of capturing the images and sounds that will help tell the story.

Jack of all trades, master of none.

Very few journalists are considered masters of all, but each person has a set of skills he or she is better at than others. But journalists need to make sure to practice each of the skills discussed to be able to do the job comfortably.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chapter 4, Sept. 30

My future portfoliao is hugely inspired by Poh Si Teng - using pictures and videos to tell the story.

- The homepage may have all my projects posted, using large amount of pictures and outstanding graphics. The background should be all black, blue font, less words.
- Few lines of lede on the homepage
- There is a navigation bar below
- Has resume and biography
- Definitely, a contact page
- May include a blogroll for all the blogs I have done
- It must also have a page of my news collection, recording a movement of something: like political progress in Malaysia

The homepage so far done. And this is my dez profile

Thanks =)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Project Idea

I have been thinking a lot about the project idea for the Writing for New Media class. It constantly kept changing. But finally I came out with the topic called "The Face of Baltimore".

Last weekened, when I paid a visit to the sushi bar I used to go frequently, the very nice Taiwanese restaurant owner had a very nice chat with me. I asked him why there are so many sushi restaurants on York Road and he answered, "Don't you know? When something is selling like hot cakes, people follow the trend." And he also explained it to me that because common Americans do not really know what good sushis are, so it doesn't matter if they are good and if they are originally Japanese enough."

Interestingly, again, the next day, I visited an Asian grocery owned by a Shanghainese couple near Towson here. That's the place I was so amazed that the store sold so many different kinds of Asian food. They are Chinese, Hongkie, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Burmese and etc. Asians from different countries came here to do grocery shopping, or rather, they were forced to come here, because probably that was the one and only Asian market near the neighborhood. Amazingly, there were some Latinos as well.

So, I am thinking, stereotypes happen everywhere. People cannot tell the feature differences between Africans and African Americans. Some thought Koreans eat sushis . When we are not sure with things, we tend to categorize all of them together.

I remember a Neewsweek magazine cover story "The new face of Japan" in which there are these three guys - orignally American, African and Indian - holding a Japanese passport. The main theme is talking about how globalization changes the face of every country. You might think he is an Indian but he turns out to be of Japan.

Combining all these, the idea of checking out the immigrants' society in Baltimore struck me out of sudden. I have been hearing a lot about the significant amount of Latinos in downtown but I do not want to focus on one society only. Because a lot of people have done so before. Then why not swift the telescope onto a place instead?

In my project, I want to write on the three largest minority immigrants groups - the Asians, Africans and Latinos. There will be statistics, culture, lifestyle, political and future aspects of each group in the project. What do they think about the country? Do they still want to go back home if given the chance? I hope I can make the story complete enough by researching different faces of them, not those quintessentially traditional culture and stuff.

So I hit up the streets. In downtown Baltimore, a lot of the Latino teenagers were wandering around on the street. They immersed themselves, in soccer, singing, any kind. It seemed to me that they knew how to enjoy their life.

I do not deny that people would mistakenly think they are lazy and do not work but just wander around on streets. I did not know until I talked to a middle-age lady. It was no such official interview but we did have some nice chatting. She talked with a strong accent that I could hardly understand. So she talked slow and soft. She looked depressed when talking about her son. She was worried about her son. And maybe she thought that staying with a cleaner job forever was not a long road for them in the future.

As suggested by Dr. Spaulding, I looked it up the The data told me that a lot of Latinos in Baltimore are not certain of what race they are of. Some might not know from where they came from, either they are Mexican or Cuban. They are Baltimore people. Some belong to here. Others think they are stuck here. But where is their road ahead?

Due to time constraints, these are so far what I have done. Certainly, there are more stories to tell in this project. Be prepared.