Scouring the Media

Archive for the ‘Entries’ Category

In the eras before Google’s founding, journalists had to go out and search for information. It took time to gather information on a person’s occupation, hobbies and interests. Since the invention of Google, journalists have had access to a tool that streamlines their research.

However, while Google has helped journalists, many critics speculate that its power of immediately gathering information overrunning journalism. The iPod industry, built on the stilts of Apple, is also seen as a threat to journalism–especially with reports that Rupert Murdoch is starting a newspaper exclusively for the iPad.

But Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, spoke recently, and said he refused to allow his empire to take over journalism.

“One of my beliefs, very strongly, is that any democracy depends on a free, healthy press,” Jobs said in an interview earlier this year. “Anything that we can do to help the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal find new ways of expression so they can afford to get paid, so they can afford to keep their editorial operations intact, I’m all for it.”

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, forecasted the future of journalism himself in an interview with The Atlantic reporter James Fallows.

“It’s obvious that in five or 10 years, most news will be consumed on an electronic device of some sort,” Schmidt said. “Something that is mobile and personal, with a nice color screen. Imagine an iPod or Kindle smart enough to show you stories that are incremental to a story it showed you yesterday, rather than just repetitive. And it knows who your friends are and what they’re reading and think is hot.”

Jobs believes it’s Apple’s responsibility to give journalism the room to succeed that it deserves, saying, “I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers myself. We need editorial more than ever right now.”

Google offers a News Archive Search, which, according to Google, “provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. In addition to helping you search, News archive search can automatically create timelines which show selected results from relevant time periods.”

Ultimately, newspapers will have to adapt to the environment around them. With technology booming and Google and Apple showing no signs of stopping, newspapers will simply have to find new ways to engage their audiences.


Mobile journalism, or “mojo,” should be an idea all journalism students understand and apply. Journalists must be prepared for news no matter where they are–journalists should know that news never stops. Here are two things that many journalists could use in order to find a lead and work from there.

Mashable writer Greg Ferenstein wrote an article and recommended a list of tools crucial for mobile journalism. Number one on that list: voice recorders.

One of the key elements of mojo, as Ferenstein noted, is a voice recorder. Voice recorders are important for journalists to have because, without them, a journalist’s story or quotes may not be 100 percent accurate. Many smartphones come with a recording application, or are able to download a recording application from the internet. Using a cell phone as a recorder also has an upside: they’re also familiar to people–as Ferenstein wrote, “cell phones are so ubiquitous that they seem less intrusive than bulky recording equipment”–and therefore not as frightening as typical recorders to the person or people being interviewed.

Mashable interviewed Frank Barth Nilsen of, who said he finds cell phones to be less menacing. “It’s not so frightening to be interviewed by a man or woman with only a cell phone,” Nilsen said. “It’s small and most people are used to being photographed by a cell phone.”

Not only is a recording device good for accuracy, but it’s also perfect for initial reactions. At the scene of the story, journalists with recorders can gather information, interview witnesses, and describe the surroundings immediately instead of waiting to write it all down. also suggested an iPhone app for all journalists called SpotCrime.

“Users enter an address and the app plots recent crimes, including burglary, theft, assault, on a Google map,” the article reads.

SpotCrime's map feature.

With SpotCrime, journalists know where crime is happening as it happens. Although professional journalists covering the police beat have police frequencies buzzing at them all day, SpotCrime is better for amateur journalists who want to know where to be and when to be there.

By using a recorder and SpotCrime, journalists can have the upper hand in knowing where something’s happening and by being prepared with a recorder to have a record of what happens next. Although there are many other tools crucial to being successful with mojo, a recorder and a map of crime in any city can give journalists an upper hand in getting any lead they seek out.

NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep explained yesterday that the iPad may be the host of the next big thing in journalism.

“…Coming early next year, billionaire Rupert Murdoch plans to launch his own iPad-only daily newspaper.”

Cnet news reported that the name of this newspaper will be, simply enough, “The Daily” and that it will be sold on the iPad for 99 cents per week.

Now that the masses will have access to a newspaper with moving ads and images, much like newspapers of the future as seen in science fiction movies, it’s up to the audience to decide if the digital newspaper passes or fails. Although science fiction movies have been making newspapers of the future look enchanting for years, many journalists don’t think The Daily will make it. In the age of sharing, this new project’s reluctance to link to the internet for unoriginal content is disappointing to some and a sign of future failure to many.

“The conception of the daily, as it is called, is mostly original content,” said David Carr, media columnist for The New York Times in an interview with Steve Inskeep. “But it doesn’t have any inbound links from the Web, no outbound links, so it’s not really part of what we think of as the news ecosystem.”

According to Carr’s column in The New York Times, an investment has been made and a staff has been chosen.

“With an investment of $30 million and a staff of around 100, The Daily will be the first of a kind — a ‘newspaper’ with rich media and photography built especially for the iPad,” wrote Carr in his column.

Carr continued to write about the digital newspaper’s new staff.

“The enterprise has made some surprising hires from the ranks of the mainstream — Sasha Frere-Jones, the music critic of The New Yorker; Steve Alperin, a high-profile television producer; and Richard Johnson, the former king of Page Six,” he wrote. “The Daily will incorporate some material from the rest of the News Corporation — Fox Sports will provide some video, according to people putting together the prototype — but the plan is that a vast majority of the content will be original.”

In an article titled “Why the iPad Newspaper is Doomed,” Gawker writer Ryan Tate explained that the newspaper needed to focus on content in order to succeed.

“There will be people writing about politics, crime and society. Quaintly, there will even be an a dedicated opinion section,” Tate wrote. “That broad scope might be workable for 100 journalists if there were some aggregation going on — some borrowing and sharing work done by others — but the vast majority of The Daily’s content is supposed to be original.”

Finally The Guardian also published information about the new project:

“According to reports, there will be no ‘print edition’ or ‘web edition’; the central innovation, developed with assistance from Apple engineers, will be to dispatch the publication automatically to an iPad or any of the growing number of similar devices.”

With so many questions for the new newspaper application, its launch may create even more questions. It will simply take time to see, however. Despite being a major milestone as the first iPad only newspaper, this experiment will definitely test the waters for new newspaper territory.

Twitter is recommended to journalists as a way to manage information on the go. From the scene of breaking news, Twitter updates, or “tweets,” are important pieces of information that give an account’s followers a description of events as they happen. Many news outlets already have accounts, like the New York Times, Bay News 9, and the St. Petersburg Times.

In a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, statistics show that 76 percent of Twitter users read newspapers offered online.

Another reason Twitter is important is the value of each major newspaper having a Twitter account. Not only does Twitter link a newspaper’s followers to its articles quickly and easily, but Twitter accounts give a face to big newspapers that are sometimes seen as impersonal media machines.’s Tauhid Chappell wrote in his article “Why You Should Join Twitter” about words offered by Dr. Leslie-Jean Thornton, a professor from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

“To quote Dr. Leslie-Jean Thornton (@ljthornton) when she spoke at the VPA/AP Conference in Roanoke, ‘[These tweets] show how an institution can speak with a personal voice rather than an institutional voice. It’s not just pushing out headlines. It’s not just a machine.'”

Twitter is also great to join because it’s built around a user’s interest. If a user wants to follow different newspapers, sports teams, bands or local news stations, it’s as easy as clicking “follow.” Users can even receive real-time text updates from their favorite users. Even with a 140 character limit, companies have flourished on the social networking site.’s Marshall Kirkpatrick described one of the reasons journalists enjoy twitter–with the informality of the site, journalists can get out information quickly without having to write a length feature article first.

“We discover tech news tips on Twitter first on a regular basis. When Google bought Twitter competitor Jaiku, for example, we learned about it on Twitter,” Kirkpatrick wrote. “That early news tip lead to our covering the news before any one else and getting our story on the front page of Digg – good in this case for tens of thousands of pageviews.”

Not only are journalists successful in releasing breaking news stories over the site, but followers can also interact with newspapers and journalists by submitting replies or comments as new tweets. Kirkpatrick wrote that followers of his twitter account were eager to offer potential interview questions for Kirckpatrick’s interview with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

“If was quickly evident that many people wanted to read his thoughts about data portability, but we got some other good question suggestions as well,” he wrote. “That’s becoming an increasingly common tactic for us and other writers, as it’s so easy to supplement our own questions with those of a larger network.”

So while Twitter may seem unnecessary for people to use as a minute by minute diary, by using Twitter journalists gain the advantage. Once a journalist builds a small base of followers, they can crowdsource for information as needed. Journalists can also use Twitter to give a play-by-play of potentially explosive breaking news. Although it’s not required to be a good journalist, Twitter is a great tool for journalists around the world.

Journalists have started to use Facebook as a valuable resource, and they’re right in doing so. Because millions of people using the social networking site, millions of personal statuses and great amounts of information are available for the public’s digestion. For journalists, the idea of someone in the news having a Facebook is exciting. Facebook measured 500 active users in July of 2010, so chances are, if there’s a suspect in any journalist’s story, they have a Facebook. This public diary of statuses and moods is often put on display by journalists to give audiences an idea of who the suspect was and what he or she was interested in.

Not only is Facebook invaluable for leads, but it’s also a great place for networking. Groups like Help a Reporter, or HARO, have made the process of finding sources easier said Mashable’s Leah Betancourt, who described the Facebook group in her article “The Journalist’s Guide to Facebook.” According to the group’s Facebook page, its is “[to] heal the rift between journalists and publicists, to allow journalists to find the sources they need, while allowing sources to reach journalists in a SPAM-free, socially connected way.”

Help a Reporter, or HARO, started on Facebook in 2008.

Jane E. Kirtley, Professor of Media Ethics and Law and director of the Silha Center at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota offered some advice through an email interview with Betancourt.

“Verify, verify, verify. Facebook is a great source for story ideas, but no news story should be solely-sourced through social media,” Kirtley wrote to Betancourt. “Seek corroboration. And if at all possible, interview the person either by phone or face-to-face. It is so easy to lie on the Internet, and to misrepresent oneself. No journalist wants to spread falsehoods or be taken in by a hoax.”

Elizabeth Losh, a director of academic programs at the University of California, San Diego, wrote in her blog about the trouble with using Facebook as a source of information for articles, “in which newspapers cobble together accounts, particularly involving crime stories, from data contained on the parties’ profiles on social networking sites,” she wrote.

“My own Los Angeles Times, to which I have a strong sentimental attachment as a local, has become increasingly reliant on this practice, perhaps as a response to cost-cutting measures or perhaps as a salacious tactic to seem to be sharing hidden knowledge with nonmembers from exclusive communities involved with new digital practices. Many of these articles are the journalistic equivalent of the papers I see from unmotivated students that are mostly made up of Wikipedia entries. ”

Facebook is still gaining popularity, and while it may be an ethical issue for journalists to go combing through the social site for leads, it’s each journalist’s choice to make. Facebook is a powerful tool that offers some story leads as well as other opportunities to personally network with other professionals in the industry. But with the potential of fake accounts, falsehoods or hoaxes, journalists take a risk in using Facebook as a reliable source.

Writing for an online audience may not come naturally to some journalists, especially those who have grown complacent after years of successful stories using the same newspaper story format. writer Jonathan Dube published a list of tips for online writing.

Although there are 12 tips, some tips are more important than others. The first tip recommended that journalists remain familiar with their audience.

“Think about your target audience. Because your readers are getting their news online, chances are they are more interested in Internet-related stories than TV viewers or newspaper readers, so it may make sense to put greater emphasis on such stories,” wrote Dube. “Also, your site potentially has a global reach, so consider whether you want to make it understandable to a local, national or international audience, and write and edit with that in mind.”

Tip four? Write lively and tight.

“Writing for the Web should be a cross between broadcast and print; tighter and punchier than print, but more literate and detailed than broadcast writing,” wrote Dube. “Write actively, not passively.”

Dube continued on and explained how “piles” of story developments should not drown any news story’s webpage, no matter how many breaking developments there are.

“A common problem with online writing occurs in breaking news stories. In an effort to seem as current as possible, sites will often put the latest development in a story at the top no matter how incremental the development. Then, they’ll pile the next development on the top, and then the next, creating an ugly mish-mash of a story that makes sense only to someone who has been following the story closely all day,” Dube wrote. “Unfortunately, the only people who are usually doing so are the journalists. Few readers visit a site more than once a day. Remember this when updating stories, and always keep the most important news in the lead.”

Joe Marren from suggested more on how the internet medium could be used effectively in one of his articles.

“Have informative subheads. Use bold type on proper nouns or important points,” Marren wrote. “Use bulleted lists. Keep paragraphs short (one idea). Have pictures or graphics.”

He also suggested interactive photos, surveys and slideshows for to add muscle to any content.

The internet is different from newspapers. When it comes to getting creative, the internet is much more user-friendly. The internet also offers more space for journalists to get creative. Although newspapers are still successful, when people want the whole story–photos, audio, video and text–the internet is the most important tool a journalist could learn to master.

The newspaper industry has been the target of a lot of pressure.

More and more people are openly commenting on how newspapers are going out of date, and how blogs, web columns and web sites are quickly growing to be the most rapid ways to share information. While it is easier to make information accessible by posting it online where anyone can see it at any time of the day, newspapers are still important to our country.

The most important thing for the staff of every newspaper to do is to pinpoint the reason why they feel that they are in such a bad position. Is it because they’re not advertising their paper well enough, or because they are not covering the stories people want covered? Newspapers are reliable and accepted sources of information; the internet is full of falsehoods and news channels often carry a significant political bias. Since there are only a handful of national news stations, it is not easy to find a story without some form of spin. Unlike television’s large media outlets, newspapers are known for generally unbiased reporting. Many people prefer to read newspapers because reporters cover all sides of the story. Unlike a standard two-minute television report, it’s a journalist’s duty to research a story thoroughly and present it as it stands without any commercial interruptions or time limits.

The idea that newspapers have been slowly drowning in the last decade may be a legitimate concern. The rise of mobile journalism has not gone without a toll on the newspaper industry. Clayton Christensen of wrote that newspapers are still worthy of attention.

“Newspaper companies do, however, have real assets to bring to the table,” said Christensen. “Despite declining circulation, the daily paper still produces cash flow that many other industries eye with envy. The core content produced by newspapers is the basis for many of the industry’s disruptors. Without newspaper content, there isn’t much news for television to report, bloggers would have less to blog about, and Yahoo! News and Google News would be blank pages. Furthermore, newspapers have strong brands and highly skilled employees.”

What matters now is how newspapers react. Will newspaper staffs accept the challenge or will they struggle and fail? Unfortunately many newspapers may fear any change, even if that change would ultimately keep papers afloat. As Michael Kinsley of Time Magazine put it,
“Some [newspaper staffs] are going to find the answers. And some are going to fritter away the years quarreling about staff cuts.”