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Archive for the ‘Mass Media & Public Opinion’ Category

Molly Noesen
Intro to Mass Communications
04/06/2010
(Revised copy)
Response #3

The New Precision Journalism: Privacy Concerns
In the text The New Precision Journalism written by Meyer, touches base on the complexities and advancements of Journalism. Precision journalism is a faster paced way for journalists to get their work done; they are looking for speed and accuracy. However, that are conflicts that Meyer touches base on different aspects that are vital to critical thinking about the future of journalism: privacy concerns, defining public opinion, elections, tactical voting, and uneasiness in the media. All of these apply to the “new precision of journalism”.
Gaweiser and Witt in A Journalist’s Guide to Public Opinion Polls, quickly touch on the idea that journalist’s were trying to discover new ways to collect data, analyze it and report back with accurate results. This quickly caught on because of our technological advancements; we have the privilege of using computers for speed purposes. Over the years, you see the development of precision journalism and finally in the 1990’s polling was referred to database journalism.
The idea of precision journalism is obviously effective and with any new methods there are always going to be consequences. I think it is safe to assume that Journalists like the development of precision journalism. However, Meyer touched on a topic that I found slightly disturbing, especially from a writers perspective. The privacy issue that has risen because of precision journalism is a little alarming.
“The codes of some of the major professional associations in journalism recognize a duty to provide protection of privacy. In the utilitarian ethical systems used, consciously or not, by most journalists, the right to privacy is easily overridden by a more pressing concern for the public’s right to know. The question for precision journalism is whether the power of its methods adds a moral burden that did not exist for less powerful methods.” (Meyer, New Precision Journalism).
It is sad to see that morals have to be put behind us because journalists may obtain certain information that they have to decide whether or not the public should know about it. However, journalists do not have the luxury of making this decision, if there is “vital” information for the public to know even if it’s against their morals, it is highly likely that they would have to share this knowledge. I’m not against the idea of precision journalism, but I did not see this becoming an issue.
An example of how a poll shows information that is questionable to whether or not it should have been given to the public is from the New York Times. October 15, 2009 New Jersey Residents are afraid of the future of their economy. The poll that was conducted showed that the democratic candidate sides with Obama and is convincing the public that the republican opponent is going to help the rich stay rich. However, the public does not like either of the candidates
I think this poll could have been left alone, in my opinion any of this knowledge is creating fear in the public. I believe that some journalists would have looked at this poll would think that sharing this information would go against their morals. All it is doing is expressing fear.

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Jordan Taylor
4/13/10

Citizen Journalism Movement

“The Future of Media Politics” by David Ryfe was the first reading that I read. This reading discusses how newspapers especially large urban dailies have been spiraling downward because of the decline in revenues, declining circulation, and reactions in news staff. They explain that young people particularly seem to have abandoned the news, and 18-24 year olds are getting their news from The Daily Show rather than from mainstream news outlets. The reading also talks about Tunstall, and his thesis on the global media system and the dominance of the system and the emergence of these systems in countries like India and China. He also says that media is American because three key American ideas have been embedded into the international media system but he also states that the rest of the world no longer looks at the United States as its model of what news is or ought to be and that is the ultimate root of American medias global decline. The last point that was touched on in this piece is that Blogs are the most significant revolution since television. The people that use blogs are generally very interested in the news and come with fairly fixed political views.

The second reading called “The New Wave of Citizen Journalism” discusses local bloggers and how they can influence and help their communities. In the reading one example that is used was a blog called “Locally Grown” and it is used for local bloggers and citizen journalists to write about and advocate for their communities in organized ways on the Internet. The reading goes on to explain how community blogs are having a big impact on traditional journalism and many serve as a watchdog function. The point they are trying to make with these local blogs is to show the city leaders that they have to communicate in the new world. Another use for the blogs they talk about in this reading is that organizations that promote civic engagements have begun helping communities use them to record work, document success, and attract new participants.

The third reading called “Citizen Journalism is Here to Stay” discusses how journalistic skills are not entirely whipped out in an online world, but they are diminishing and can not be confined any further to an exclusive elite group. As a result of this, the media companies in the future will use a smaller staff and their job will be to process materials from bloggers. The reading basically states that no more investigative journalism will go on anymore.

The next reading I read called “When the Audience Does the Reporting” starts off discussing how the old-line medias embrace of the Internet may be the logical extension of the “civic journalism” movement. This leads into them talking about how we have gone from flirting with civic journalism to celebrating “citizen journalism, and it can only diminish the traditional medias voice of authority or allow the media to become less aggressive and more passive. Given this newspapers still seem to be redesigning themselves for people who don’t read newspapers and reporters are encouraged to be avid bloggers. The reading ends by saying the only way the old media can hope to compete is by maintaining credibility and authoritative voice.

The last reading I read was called “Citizen Journalism and the BBC.” This reading discusses how when terrorist bombs exploded in London tons of text messages, emails, and pictures from phones from the public were received and these became an integral part of how the BBC reported the day’s events. People were participating in their coverage in a way they had never seen before. The article then goes on to say that the reporting on the story was a genuine collaboration enabled by consumer technology and supported by trust between broadcaster and audience. From this they now know that when major events occur, the public can offer us as much new information as they are able to broadcast to them, and from now on news coverage is a partnership.

I totally agree with the fact that news coverage is now a partnership and that collaboration is necessary. In the past few months especially, when waiting the news it is very evident that the videos and clips that are used most of the time are not professionally done, meaning that the public is definitely contributing to the news coverage. I think that this is a good thing for the news simply because when events occur like the terrorist attack in London, the news casters and journalists are not always the first ones on scene and are not always there to capture something right as it happens where the public can easily pull out a cell phone and record a video that may report the event that occurred far better then anything the news or media could capture. So in the end it benefits every one and the coverage on the even is far better then it might have been if citizen journalism was not on the up rise. A poll story that touches on the issues discussed in the readings has to deal with young people not filling out the census. The poll shows that younger people are not as involved in he news just like they discussed in the readings and that is the main reason they are holding out on the census.

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1538/young-people-make-up-large-proportion-census-hold-outs

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Christopher Kotars
Introductory Topics in Mass Communication
Reaction Paper #2
04/13/2010

Community Blogging and the Decline of the Traditional Journalist

The New Wave of Citizen Journalism, an article written by Julie Fanselow, describes the rise of a very dynamic, new form of journalism called community blogging. The term community blogging refers to the use of the internet to encourage citizen involvement in important local issues and concerns. Generally, the journalists covering local media do not have formal journalism backgrounds – they are simply advocating for their communities as a “labor of love.” The trend is becoming increasingly popular, as locally-run community blog sites have reported instances of dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of citizens who regularly use the site to comment and gain knowledge of their area’s issues.
The article focuses on a community blog created by Griff Wigley, based out of Northfield, Minnesota, entitled Locally Grown Northfield. The community of Northfield has witnessed first-hand the effects of an effective community blog – when the area noticed a growing concern regarding methamphetamine and heroin use amongst teenagers, Locally Grown began posting over a dozen articles on their website, encouraging citizen involvement in the issue. As a result, curriculum was updated at local high schools, increased local treatment options became available, and many citizens began blogging freely conversing of the dangers of substance abuse.
The substance abuse articles do not represent the only instance of visible change due to community blogging. In fact, a number of additional examples are included in the article. For instance, in 2007, the city of Northfield cut down a dozen trees in the area without any notice. Locally Grown responded by taking pictures and putting up a blog post. Residents who were upset vented their frustrations online, and the city has since than not cut down trees without notice. Another instance occurred when the blog questioned the city’s practice of burning tree waste at a city lot. The result included a city commission vote to use wood chipping as opposed to burning. Clearly, the community blog can be very effective in handling local issues and encouraging citizen involvement. As more citizens become involved in the sites, popularity will grow and the blogs will become increasingly useful.
An article written by David Leigh describes the negative effect that citizen journalism is having upon traditional, professional journalism. The article was published in the Nieman Reports in 2008, and is entitled, Are Reporters Doomed? Leigh takes an interesting approach, advocating for the traditional reporter by arguing that there is a high amount of value in journalistic discrimination – essentially, this is the principle belief that “some voices are more credible than others, that a named source is better than an anonymous pamphleteer.” He may have a very strong point. Currently, news organizations all over the United States are undergoing staff cuts. At the same time, millionaire donors are being courted to fund online reporting operations. As a result, the traditional reporter is finding it increasingly difficult to receive adequate funding to make a decent living.
Leigh’s major concern is that Americans are losing their respect for the knowledgeable journalist – a respect that he feels is necessary in order to keep citizens properly and adequately informed. Media owners have responded to interrogations regarding staff cuts, stating, “You’re not needed – we just want people’s opinions about what happened, not the facts.” Leigh worries that the overabundance of blogging and interactivity may become more a form of “cheap massage,” as opposed to an information service. He states that when using blogs, citizens “…enjoy the sound of their own voices and confirm their own prejudices through the delicious experience of self-publishing.” As the media revolution continues to grow, the power and respect of major news providers will be lost. The media fragment will become an array of thousands of websites and digital channels, and as a result, the knowledgeable journalist will be lost. As Leigh states, “The reporter will struggle to be heard over the cacophony of a thousand other voices.”
Personally, I see the benefits and downfalls of each form of modern journalism. While I feel that community blog sites are a revolutionary, interactive platform encouraging higher citizen participation in local politics, I also feel that too much reliance upon blogging will tarnish the availability of professional, independent, reputable journalists who diligently assemble facts and discover truths. I recently went visited Iowa City’s community blog, a site entitled theiowacityblog.com. The site is very interactive and easy to use. Bloggers are able to choose between several topics using a scroll bar, including current events, restaurant reviews, arts and entertainment, etc. I read a blog describing a new product on the market, the iPad. The review was very useful, as Apple has been very careful in keeping the device a secret. The blogger stated the product was an exceptional device, exceeding even her most optimistic expectations.
A recent poll was taken, asking the members of popular blog site blogster.com whether or not they went to public school. The results indicated that 89% of bloggers went to public school, while 11% were enrolled in private schooling (high school). This poll provides some interesting data. It allows the reader to gain a better understanding of the type of individuals that are on the blogging sites.

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Ben Schuff
Dr. Yao
Reaction Paper
April 13th, 2010
Citizen Journalism
As a journalism major, I’ve come to college, and Iowa in particular, at a very interesting time. Gone are the days when the majority of the public would get their news from a national or local newspaper. A phrase I’ve heard numerous times, both before I arrived at Iowa and now while I’m taking classes, is ‘journalism is changing.’ The average citizen is now getting his or her news information from a number of different media forums. And not only are people getting their information from different forums, but they are also starting to create their own flow of information with blogs. The five readings for today talk about citizen journalism and the roll that both traditional media and citizen journalists play in today’s society.
There are a couple of key points the reader should remember from the first reading by David Ryfe. The first is Ryfe’s discussion on American media’s role in the world. He argues that American media forms still have global importance, despite the claims of author Jeremy Tunstall. Part of Ryfe’s reasoning is because many foreign media rely on advertising and commercialism, much like American media outlets. His second point, and the majority of his article, was about blogging. While blogging has certainly grown in popularity, Ryfe argues that it is not and will not replace traditional forms of media. He points out that many blogs rely on established forms of media for basic information. Ryfe ends his writing by looking at Gary Woodward’s work that criticizes conventional journalism.
Julie Fanselow writes how communities can benefit from community based blogs in “The New Wave of Citizen Journalism.” Fanselow cites numerous examples of average citizens (in some cases, trained journalists) blogging about a particular topic of interest or concern in a specific community. In many of the cases, something was done about the problem that was blogged about.
David Leigh sees things in a different light. In his blog post from 2007, he discussed the dangers that blogging and other new types of journalism or media forums are presenting to more traditional types. Specifically, Leigh talks about the role of the reporter. He sees these new forms like blogs have the most impact on reporters and investigative journalism. Ultimately, he fears that new media forms will result in smaller fragments of what we have now, thus resulting in the amount of power that individual media outlets have.
In a short article titled, “When the audience does the reporting,” the author argues that with the rise of new media forums such as blogs, traditional forms are losing their “voice of authority.” The author of this piece simply argues that people in today’s world that is “lost,” people need that voice of authority to come from more traditional forms of media, not independent bloggers.
Lastly, Richard Sambrook talks about the BBC’s use of video, photos, etc from the public in their news reporting. He describes news gathering as a “partnership” between real journalists and the common people. This article talks about projects that the BBC have undertaken such as Digital Storytelling, Island Blogging (people were given lap tops and wrote about issues that concerned their individual lives and communities), and the BBC’s Action Network, which helps people get more involved in their community.
Out of all the various viewpoints that were described and talked about in these five readings, the one from Ryfe’s article was most interesting to me. I’ve never really been sure what to make of the recent ‘blog-craze.’ Is it something that is here to stay or simple the latest fad? I never really thought of the point that Ryfe made about traditional media outlets being the source of information for blogs. Sure there are a lot of blogs out there, but just how often are they read. I found a small poll of just over 400 people done by WDBJ, a TV station in Virginia. Despite the fact that 55% of respondents said they regularly use computers, only 8% said they regularly read blogs. Furthermore, 64% said they never read blogs. This tells me that rather than newspapers truly losing their audience to blogs, people are just using the computer to read their news instead of physically holding a paper in their hands and reading it.

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Citizen journalism is becoming more and more popular throughout the world with the growing technology. The Internet has made it possible for anyone to write and report stories, and with such access, any one can read or follow them. Sites like Twitter, Tumblr, or any other blog site, have some concerned that citizen journalism is threatening professional journalism. And with the way things are going now with the economy, citizen journalism is more accessible and cheaper.
In the article “Citizen Journalism Here to Stay: When the Audience Does the Reporting” by David Leigh, he makes the point that it is not all about what the journalist wants to write, calling it a top-down “fascist” way of viewing things. The journalists are writing for the audience, while also choosing what the public should know. There is a fine line between entertainment, propaganda, and real reporting.
On the other hand, the article “When the audience does the reporting,” states that “The great hope of civic journalism is that the reader forums and agenda-setting, writing from the point of view of the ordinary citizen, would enhance self-government by an informed electorate and, not coincidentally, restore the high level of influence the media once enjoyed.” This would put more responsibility in the citizen to stay informed about local, national, and global issues, therefore being a more informed nation, and, America being a democracy, making more informed decisions, whether it is voting on issues, or voting for politicians.
I think it is very important that we have an equal balance of professional journalists and citizen journalists. Having free speech is what being an American is all about, and who is to say that we can’t take advantage of it. I do not believe that citizen journalists will take over professional journalist’s jobs at all any time soon. But I do believe that there is a very important use for citizen journalists.
Today, it is becoming harder and harder for journalists to write about what they think that the public should know. It is all about ratings and the pressures put on them by their editors or the owner’s of the company. They are holding back information to put a spin on stories, and sometimes the stories lack balance.
News stations like Fox or MSNBC are clearly biased towards the left side or the right side politically. Two of the best sources for news are said to be the BBC and NPR because they are the least biased and most accurate. It is important for citizens to get their news from reliable sources, and not just from sources that they most agree with. Therefore, it is important to hear the sides of people who are directly affected by certain issues. Politicians can talk all day about a certain issue even though they have never been affected directly by it or had any personal experience in it. All they can do is cite polls or recite stories that they have “heard” from their travels.
Citizen journalism is something that will not be going away any time soon. In my opinion, it will keep professional journalists on their toes. It also gives our policy makers more incite to the problems facing Americans on a day-to-day basis.

Rosalind Sixbey

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Melissa Payne

019:169: SCA

13 April 2010

Reaction Paper: Citizen (Participatory) Journalism Movement

The article “Project Muse: Scholarly journals online,” provides a compilation of essay reviews regarding the future of media politics. The essays discuss the course that conventional journalism is expected to take and the roll that Blogs are playing in mainstream media. In the book, The Media Were American, Jeremy Tunstall argues that American Media are no longer playing acting as a blueprint for international media. He notes that the largest change in the contemporary international media system is that American journalism is viewed by other countries as “too conservative, too self-satisfied, too monopolistic, and too cautions” (105).  Tunstall argues that this is because American journalists are greatly concerned with providing “objective” information, have been caught fabricating stories, and are becoming less independent. The essay also discusses media politics through Stephen D. Cooper’s book Watching the Watchdog. Cooper discusses the role that blogs are playing in mainstream media, and he argues that they are not competing with traditional news sources, but rather depend on them. The essay acknowledges three points he makes about bloggers, including “blogs heavily depend on mainstream media, […] typical blogger is a news junkie, […] and blogs are symbiotically connected to mainstream news.” The essay discusses the fact that one of the main differences between blogs and mainstream media, is the fact that blogs are much more expressive than objective, providing personal opinions often formatted as an online journal.

According to the essay, traditional or mainstream media will most likely remain unchanged due to the fact that it is deeply engrained into the American cultural. While blogs are a step towards a participatory journalism movement, the article believes that the media politics are “resistant to fundamental change.”

While the previous article argues that media politics are resistant to change, the article “Community Blogging: The New Wave of Citizen Journalism,” by Julie Fanelow outlines the benefits and successes of citizen journalism. She discusses the impact that blogs are having on communities, as a way for local citizens to raise questions and discuss issues. Fanelow acknowledges the fact that many citizen bloggers do not have a background in journalism, but rather are active members of the community who are trying to make a difference.

In the article “Are Reporters Doomed?” author David Leigh stresses the importance of investigative journalism and the professional reporter. Leigh compares journalism to fast food, in that one can get fast, junk food pretty much anywhere they go. This is the same, he argues as, “fast” or “junk” journalism. With the recent increase in bloggers and citizen journalists, Leigh believes that in this case, more is less because the quality of journalism will decrease. He encourages the reader to embrace the future and to realize the importance of quality, professional investigative journalism. The author of “When the Audience does the Reporting,” holds a similar stance on citizen journalism. He argues that if mainstream media allows citizens to have power over their news, they will become less credible and more passive. He states, “The only way old media can hope to compete is by maintaining credibility and an authoritative voice.” In order to do this, the author believes that newspapers must maintain their independence from citizen journalists.

While the authors of these articles see citizen journalism as a threat to mainstream journalism, Richard Sambrook provides a different view of the issue in his article “Citizen Journalism and the BBC.” According to Sambrook, citizen journalism allows for more information to be collected and dispersed during major events. He sees audiences as being involved in distributing news and believes there is a partnership to be formed between the BBC and citizen journalists.

In my opinion, this weeks articles were very interesting and raised a lot of questions about the future of media. I especially enjoyed these articles because I have been learning about blogs and other forms of online media in my journalism classes. I recently took a class where I was required to create a blog and I was amazed at the amount of blog sites there are to choose from. While I have still had very little experience with blog, I have found that many of my friends who are studying abroad have used them to inform friends and family at home. In this case, I believe that they are a great way to relay information but as was discussed in one of the articles, it is more of a personal expression than an objective, informative coverage of an issue. It is because of this that I do not believe that citizen journalism poses a threat to mainstream journalism but rather could been seen as a partnership. According to a recent Synovate study, 15% of Americans read blogs daily and an estimated 40% of Americans visit a blog site monthly. The study also suggests that the 15% of Americans who are reading blogs daily also believe that they are an accurate source of news.



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Reaction Paper #2 by Allison Miller

In the first reading by David Ryfe, it is mentioned that, “more young people aged 18-24 are getting their news from The Daily Show than from mainstream news outlets” (Cable 2004). This reading mostly talks about citizen journalism, which is journalism that consists of a group of people that did not abandon the news and choose to produce the news themselves. Books on blogging, media framing, and political rhetoric are discussed in terms of their use in the news. Jeremy Tunstall, whose book is in review in this article, has a message about media and how America has declined in the global media market. America’s performance in Iraq is used as a reason why America has lost media superiority. On another note, Sullivan, another author, believes blogging is, “the most significant media revolution since the arrival of television” (Sullivan 2002). There are many mentions of issues with people finding out information that may be untrue, especially during important elections. A lot of people take what bloggers say as the truth. What I retained from this article is that media is highly influenced by younger people and their newly formed habits. We have lost a lot of power in American news because of new inventions that make finding out news much simpler.
In Fanselow’s article, she talks about a heroin network among high school students in Minnesota. A local man found out about the network and began blogging about the problem. His blog, Locally Grown, became widely used as a community tool. He began to advocate for his community and give tips to the locals to keep things like these from happening in the future. Engaging in blogs has grown immensely due to its use as a online tool. This article’s main point is that blogs can be a huge help when it comes to local issues (these types of bloggers are called place bloggers) and also has a huge impact on traditional types of journalism.
David Leigh wrote an article called, Are Reporters Doomed? This article is based on the assumption that all traditional journalism is going out the window as the future nears. There is much worry about honesty in journalism and they way the media convey information. Reporting staffs across the country are being cut because opinions are now more important than the real facts. In the future, many media outlets will resort to poorly funded internet sites to get their information out. We will have to embrace the decline in power of most media outlets and find the facts elsewhere.
The next article on audiences reporting their own opinions could be adamant to saving traditional journalism. It is explained that civic journalism is, “an attempt to engage the public in the affairs of its community” (“When the Audience” 1). The article says that the mainstream media thinks they should speak directly to the audience rather than lecturing, as they have done in the past. It is believed that having a conversation with the audience will, “diminish the traditional media’s voice of authority” (“When the Audience” 1). The media are only interested in what will get them viewers again. As long as the old media keeps its credibility and “authoritative voice” (“When the Audience” 1) they should be able to keep up with the new media.
The last article begins talking about the bombings of London subways and bus systems. The public submitted videos, emails, texts, and pictures to the BBC and the videos were used for their main news broadcast. It is explained that the news is now a partnership between the viewers and the station. This took away the “novelty” of the coverage and this was mainly because of consumer technology, such as the camera phone. Sambrook, the author of this article, describes his opinion of the contributions. He states, “I believe that truth, accuracy, impartiality and diversity of opinion are strengthened by being open to a wider range of opinion and perspective” (Sambrook 4). It is discussed that the new role of a journalist is to concentrate on where value can be added to a story and depending on what the public brings to our attention with confidence.
My personal opinion on the matter of civic or participatory journalism is that it helps to understand the news better. I do not pay attention much to the news solely because it is hard to understand the way the explain things. It is much easier to hear it talked about on shows such as The Daily Show, as mentioned earlier. The internet also makes information more available and you can get the information in terms you can understand. Our society today is so lazy and opinionated that it is almost a better idea to let the public intervene once in awhile. I would rather read about entertainment news than listen to people talk on and on about politics. It is hard to follow so many “lecturing” experts on new stations such as Fox News and CNN. I would rather listen to someone summarize their thoughts in a way everyone in the community and my age group would be able to perceive.
In a poll found on people-press.org, it has been found that 62% of people think journalism is going the wrong way. 55% were found to believe that rising economic issues are the reason for the decline in interest. Next to this, it is cited that, “22% mention the quality of coverage as the biggest problem facing the profession, down from 41% in 2004” (Rosenstiel and Mitchell 2). This information, contrary to what had been said about the content suffering earlier, leads me to believe that the coverage on topics in the media is not as large of an issue as economic struggle. Although, the information in the above articles is very believable, I may believe these polls over such stories. The polls are submitted by journalists who are submerged in the occupation daily.

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