The new social media journalism


Social media have become so powerful that it seems information travels faster than light.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many other major networking platforms have made their users active journalists.

Nowadays, people comment and publish pictures of events as they are happening worldwide and sometimes this helps news organizations to gather information and even law enforcement organizations to solve crimes.

A real example of the roll of the “new social media journalists” was the explosions during the Marathon in Boston last April. In the efforts to capture the suspects, people were asked to send their pictures and videos of the finish line area where the two bombs exploded in order to see if the suspect could be identified.

Along with law enforcement and the pictures and videos sent, the suspect was successfully identified.

Not only was the role of the “new social media journalists” helpful to find the suspects, but it also helped news organizations to gather their information during that hectic afternoon and evening.

In moments of panic, when different bombs exploded killing and injuring several individuals at a major event like the Boston Marathon or the more recent Washington, D.C. Navy Yard mass shooting, it gets really difficult for news media to get as close as desired to report what is happening. Also it’s almost impossible to gather accurate information when nobody knows what is happening.

In this case, journalists rely on the pictures and information that only the quickness of social media from persons and witnesses already at the scene can provide.

Even though social media should be a place to begin the news gathering of any story, in moments when time is gold, its acceptable to use it in the most accurate way to provide the audiences the right information as fast as possible.

Since social media offers public information, journalists use it more and more.

In traditional journalism, social media wouldn’t have had a role because it’s really hard to confirm the information. However, the fast, modern lifestyle that people have also requires instant information that social media offers, despite its flaws.

Social media affect all kinds of public figures and events. Now news organizations cite tweets from Twitter, video from YouTube, and posts on Facebook. Media even use pictures that might be published on these networks. Now a tweet is sufficient evidence to start a controversy.

Because social media is really powerful, it must be use really carefully. All the information found in this medium must be confirmed and used accurately without disregarding the truth.

The rapid decline of the photojournalist


As time goes on, it is becoming evident that there is a decline in professional photojournalism. Even more recently, there has been a shift in the videographer field as well.

Because of technology and the rapid pace at which it is created, there are many more commonly named “citizen journalists.” These are people who capture newsworthy photos and/or videos on the street and send them to news organizations.

Another problem for photojournalists/videographers is that the people who are submitting images and videos don’t necessarily have the initiative to get paid. For any news company, this is a gold mine because, in contrast, a photojournalist would be paid for his or her services. So the potential of free services of these citizen journalists is highly desirable.

News organizations are not doing as well as they once did. Staffs are much smaller now and saving money is key for managers. Why hire a photojournalist when they can just get one of the reporters to take their own pictures or when they can get submissions from these citizen journalists?

This is a huge blow for someone like me because I am currently studying photojournalism. Recently, I discovered that my major has been taken out of my school and has been merged with the journalism major. This is so that writers and reporters will learn the craft as well. This drastic change is a reflection of how the business is changing and that the need for photojournalists is declining.

One of only things that can keep some of these citizen journalists from being too popular in the news industry is validity. How can a newspaper or news channel be completely certain that the submissions they are receiving are real? This is one of the reasons why I argue that there is still a need for photojournalists. I also argue that great feature photography is something that amateurs will never be able to recreate. A photojournalist is taught to have a certain eye for capturing images. It is a learned skill whereas citizen journalists may have just been at the right place at the right time.

Getting a job in the future is definitely going to be a challenge for people like me. The jobs in photojournalism may be dwindling but I feel that photojournalism will always be extremely important.

Murder cases a challenge for media


As some of you may know, last Saturday morning the body of 18-year-old Tiffany Cabreja, was found at a construction site in the 28200 block of SW 144th Avenue in Homestead.

This is a typical local story, a homicide, that the news media would want to cover. Of course, the first clue that popped up was a surveillance video that showed a work truck passing by the scene where the body was dumped.

There were many questions that needed to be answered. However, how would a news reporter approach a victim’s family member in a case like this?

This scenario sounds a little bit disturbing for anyone and especially for reporters. Journalists need to find sensibility, humanity, respect and understanding deep inside, to seek the right way to interview someone who has very recently lost a loved one.

But why is it so hard to ask questions if you are a reporter, a professional who asks people questions every day?

As journalists, we must show compassion for those that might be affected adversely by any type of news coverage. In other words, step on that person’s shoes and think for one second about their sorrow.

Wednesday morning, Miguel Infante and Raquel Delgado, made headlines around South Florida. According to police, they were the main suspects in the murder of the teenage girl.

Investigators questioned the couple for hours, but ended up releasing both due to lack of evidence against them.

This is where the sense of sensibility comes back again; reporters must have to get a hold on any family member of the victim. In this case, the father who had already been interviewed by all local TV stations in Miami.

Would you really ask a father how he feels when what it seemed to be a final clue wasn’t it?

I don’t think we all have the nerve to step up and do it; it takes a lot more than courage. It takes caring and passion for what you love to report these types of stories.

What if the killer is located and this time it is the right person?

Friday was the day everyone was waiting for. 20-year-old Fernando Granados was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the Homestead girl’s death.

In his confession, Granados stated that he and an unidentified man went with the teen to a park where they smoked crack. Later, they ended up in a construction site where the two men strangled Cabreja.

Despite the fact that the pieces of this puzzle might be difficult to put together, a long investigation is still underway.

The media in this case should follow the story until it’s finished, sending sensitive human beings to obtain needed information gathered in a sensible manner.

When does it go too far?


We are in a point in time where the distinction between too far and not far enough is dangerous.

As a news reporter, it’s tough to walk the line of right and wrong. One too many details and your morals and ethics will be questioned. Leave out too much and suddenly your journalistic integrity is being questioned. I’ve struggled at times with this when cutting details out of stories, not only to make the story shorter, but also to not cross the invisible, ethical line.

This type of dilemma applies to all types of media.

For instance, the most recent noticeable issue with going too far comes by way of television host Jimmy Kimmel. The late-night talk show host parodied a recent interview that hip-hop artist Kanye West gave the BBC, using a little kid to portray West drinking a milkshake and giving ludicrous answers.

Mr. West didn’t take the parody so lightly, responding to Kimmel on Twitter. He angrily tweeted that the interview he did was “the first piece of honest media in years.”

“You don’t have scumbags hopping over fences trying to take pictures of your daughter,” also directed at Kimmel. “You can’t put yourself in my shoes.”

Kanye hasn’t exactly given himself the benefit of the doubt as he’s been the epitome of controversy over the last few years. Even a couple of months ago, West was at the center of it all when he assaulted a paparazzi.

As biased as I may be as a Kanye West fan, sometimes the media just go over the border. It’s happened numerous times with West and it’s probably happening at the moment. He’s constantly swarmed by media members taking his picture or shooting video from point-blank range, asking questions about his personal life. Do those people think about what it would be like if they were in his position?

They probably don’t and Kimmel probably didn’t either when he flat out made fun of him. Kimmel doesn’t care because that’s who he is as a person. I wonder if journalists care about the lines they cross.

I know it goes into consideration for me. Whether it does for others is of interest to me.

Celebrity spotlight can be bright


Many saw Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odem as a great television couple. They were entertaining and had a clear adoration for one another, but this quickly changed.

About a month ago, Lamar Odem was pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence. In a matter of days, magazine headlines read “cheating scandals” and “divorce” making many fans worry that this celeb couple was falling apart.

The rumors continued to spread viciously after Lamar was accused of being a drug dealer, intouchkhloedivorcecovercheater, and horrible husband. Of course these are simply rumors, said Khloe. Despite this, Lamar recently tweeted that he is going through a dark time and that Khloe and her family have been there to support him along the way.

Lamar’s father also took to social media and then accused Khloe of being a “phony” who does not have Lamar’s best interest in mind. Once again, Lamar took to twitter and wrote, “Won’t continue 2 speak on this but I have got 2 let this out real quick. I have let this man and many others get away with a lot of sh*t. He wasn’t there 2 raise me,” Lamar vented. “He was absent ALL of my life due to his own demons. My mother and grandmother raised me. Queens raised me (”

It is clear that social media is making Lamar’s situation much more difficult than it should be. Despite his celebrity status he is human, will naturally make mistakes, and needs support from his loved ones and fans.

We can only hope that he will be on the road to recovery soon and that he will mend the relationships that have been strained by these series of unfortunate events.

Violence against journalists in Mexico


Reporting can be a dangerous job.

Ask any reporter who has reported from Mexico recently and they will tell you the same thing.

Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters. Last year, there were at least 172 confirmed attacks on the media in Mexico.  Press Freedom Group Article 19 claims that public officials are responsible for more than half of the attacks. Most, if not all of the attacks, have involved journalists reporting on the Mexican drug cartel.

These attacks have involved death threats to journalists, kidnappings, and even deaths.

Even though Mexico has recently passed a law making it a federal crime to attack reporters, violence often goes unpunished and murders are often not investigated. Now, there are very few crime reporters in Mexico and those who do choose to report crimes are forced to use pseudonyms or use social media.

This is a prime example of how  corrupt government can create a chilling effect for reporters. Nobody wants to report from Mexico because nobody wants to get killed for doing their job. Many reporters who received death threats didn’t take them seriously and then wound up dead. When almost every reporter shows up dead or goes missing, That’s enough to send the rest of the reporters out of the country.

As much as I would like to report on the Mexican drug cartels and be the one to uncover the truth, I don’t think I would be willing to lose my life over it. That goes back to how much a reporter is willing to sacrifice in order to tell a story. Clearly, when choosing to cover a story that ultimately results in death, you become a lot less likely to cover that story.

Citations, accuracy, and credibility


Expert witness William Gulya talks about citations and credibility in journalism on the website at

Gulya defines citations as an “abbreviated alphanumeric expression embedded in the body of an intellectual work that denotes an entry in the bibliographic references section of the work for the purpose of acknowledging the relevance of the works of others to the topic of discussion at the spot where the citation appears.”

And citations, of course, are at the heart of sourcing for journalists. We call it attribution. Gulya explains the important of accuracy in the stories we write, since our words should always be completely truthful, supported by sources and by the right evidence.

“Whether you have been an expert witness for years or are just starting out, accurate research, proper formatting of citations and clarity will make your written report accurate, impressive and, most of all, credible,” Gulya wrote, also explaining that making improper citations is a “critical error” which can lead to future complications.

Writing unreliable stories will provoke a loss of credibility from the audience. This is something we as journalists want to avoid, because losing credibility means what we write is not going to be taken seriously; not now, or in a close future.

Gulya also talks about stating facts and opinions, explaining that facts are objective, they are statements which can be proven. He also defines them as “something that can be verified and backed up with evidence.”

On the other hand he says opinions are subjective statements which express a certain preference or bias, and that they are basically based on a certain belief or point of view. He says opinions, on the contrary of facts,  are “not based on evidence that can be verified.” His advice is to always revise, check and cite your reference and source correctly when stating a fact or opinion.

I believe all of this information has to be taken seriously into account and we should definitely take notes from it, because what makes a journalist a good one is being able to present the information as clear as possible to his or her readers, using honesty as the first principle.

Timing, impact, prominence, proximity, human interest and novelty, all are part of the main factors that make a story newsworthy. But the element that will complete the story will always be good evidence and reliable sources to support the words written, in other words, to provide honesty to the story.

Journalism will survive the Digital Age


As the world constantly changes, as do technology and society, and the press has had to adapt to these changes that have taken place throughout history.

Whether it was the invention of the telegraph or advanced presses, environmental upheaval such as war, or governmental and societal pressures, history has illustrated the world’s constant state of change. The media has always played a prevalent role in all parts of society, and these changes have affected it. But rather than die out or become extinct, the craft of journalism has altered and modified itself to fit the fluctuating times.

And the future holds no exception.

Whenever I tell others that I’m a journalism major, a look of concern and pity washes over their faces.

“Are you sure about that sweetie?” they say. “You know, journalism is a dying career nowadays.”

Those who make these comments view journalism through a keyhole. They see journalism as strictly meaning the production of newspapers and – who reads the news anymore? Everything’s online, right?

Right! But you shouldn’t have doubted journalism’s ability to mold and change and grow alongside a society that is becoming increasingly digital.

George Brock, former managing editor of The Times and current head of the Department of Journalism at City University in London, wrote a book (officially published Sept. 28 of this year) titled Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age. 

In it, he says that “journalism is being adapted, rethought and reconstructed in thousands of ways….”

And he lists reasons journalism will adapt to survive in the Digital Age.

One is the natural fact that people like to read words from paper. And luckily, the Internet harbors potential business models for all readable platforms — magazines, newspapers, and books.  Daily newspapers have been affected because the Internet produces information in real-time, but magazines and books still remain a valued source to readers.

Which leads to the second reason — humans are creatures of habit. Those who read the news will still read the news. Newspapers have lost prevalence and may still continue to lose it but complete extinction seems rare. Avid newspaper readers will be more likely to choose website and apps that best mimic the newspaper layout, and it turns out that newspaper readers are also enthusiastic about the newspapers’ online versions.

Brock explains, “The DNA of printed journalism will altar over time, but at a slow and evolutionary pace…. News publishers must adapt their strategies to the temperament of the audience they have or they want, because members of their audience can switch so easily.”

Another reason is the fact that yes, the Internet is quick to post and comment, but newspapers – whether printed or online – know where the story is. They specialize in catering to specific interests and pointing out different details that gets the public listening.

Also catering to readers is journalism’s ability to sift through the heavy flow of information that pours out from online and organizing it in a way that is easy and accessible.

“The world’s information flow creates a demand: it is up to journalism to supply it,” writes Brock.

Perhaps Brock’s most exemplary reason that journalism will survive and evolve is its many existing precedents of already doing so, as I spoke of earlier. Journalism has renewed itself countless times, and Brock asserts that “journalism cannot survive without adapting again.”

As long as publishers and journalists understand that their work can be redesigned and modified, journalism will continue to change along with our ever-changing world.

This information from George Brock was taken from an article on, which excerpted Brock’s book.

To read the full article visit or pick up Brock’s book, Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism, and the Business of News in the Digital Age.

Hashtags: Not just source of comic relief


Multiple people have shared the following video on my Facebook news feed:  In it, entertainers Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake verbally imitate the way some people haphazardly use hashtags on social media.

HOW ANNOYING. That’s directed to my few Facebook friends who post pictures (every minute, too) with captions in which *every* one of 30 words #has #its #own #individual #hashtag. I’m not sure if they’re doing this to maximize the number of likes their photos will get, if they genuinely think people are searching for pronouns like “I” or phrases like “realwomenlikeracecars,” or if they’ve gone altogether crazy.

People like that are taking hashtags too far.  They are giving hashtags a bad rap.

I wouldn’t be so quick to cast the hashtag aside, though.  It does have its merits.  The idea behind hashtags is that social media users can search for them or click through to them in order to find related material containing the same hashtag.

This can be useful if one day you really feel like seeing posts about a certain topic, such as #cute pictures of #dogs.  This isn’t their only function: hashtags can be useful on a deeper level, too.  When news is breaking, you can click on a trending topic and view all posts with the same tag, which can help you piece together information. The posts will be from a variety of sources that can include both professional news sources and citizen journalists.  This allows you to get multiple perspectives and you can judge for yourself whether or not the posts are reliable or enlightening.

Hashtags can also benefit journalists or companies by popularizing stories or products.  This often happens with TV shows, which may present viewers with a hashtag suggestion on the bottom of their screens.  When many people use the same hashtag at the same time, the hashtag can appear under “Trends” on Twitter.

This can start conversations with people who have used the same hashtags and therefore have similar interests, like watching the same show. It may spark the curiosity of other Twitter users, who might be interested in shows or products they see on the website and decide to find out more about them. If a journalist is lucky or is good at promoting, his or her story can become a trending topic as well.

Trending topics are a good way to find out what is going on in general.  Once you get the gist of a piece of news, you can choose to pursue the rest of the story.

Even though I didn’t click on a hashtag, I came across the above video via another form of trending, as it has gone viral on social media. This just reinforces the utility of hashtags, regardless of how easy they might be to satirize.

The line between right and wrong


A few weeks ago, United States commemorated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Every year, the minds of the world remember that day as one of the most horrible tragedies that happened to this country.

The job of a journalist is to communicate accurately the major events that impact society on one way or another. No matter what is the story, a journalist must find the most effective and objective way to report it.

In an utopian world, people won’t have to deal with the sour moments of life. However, this is impossible and mankind must be prepared to face difficult moments.

Usually, in the moments of a collective tragedy two things can happen. A country breaks apart and doesn’t recover from it or people form an union to overcome the situation.

In the case of the 9/11, the whole country briefly shut down and the people formed a union to overcome the tragedy.

Because of this, journalists must be prepared to deal with tragedies and know how to transmit the real facts, without causing more tension in moments of panic. We saw the need for this again in Washington, D.C., and in Nairobi, Kenya, in recent days.

Media have such power that it can harm an individual or an entire society just by publishing the wrong picture.

In addition, information travels so fast that it seems a phenomenon of ubiquity.  Now information is everywhere.

This is a demonstration of the enormous responsibility that the news media carry on their shoulders.

In a world of diversity, the ethics have created a path that journalists can use to guide themselves in the decision of publishing graphic pictures or even strong language.

Each news organization has its own journalistic values and it will have different reasons to decide whether to publish a graphic picture or not. And the profession itself has set its standards through codes of professional standards and ethics.

The Miami Herald will have a different perspective on a graphic picture than the Sun Sentinel.

It is also important to evaluate the news value of a picture, because people depend on what journalist report and how they document reality.

Journalists are also human beings and they act differently under varying influences. However, when it comes the time to decide whether to publish a picture of a person, for example, falling from the World Trade Center, the decision must be based on the person’s own guidelines as well as our professional values and the decision should be free from outside influences.

In contrast, it could be argued that a strong graphic picture might attract a great quantity of viewers. However, ethically speaking, journalists should minimize harm at all cost.

Some of the things that get published can have a negative effect on some individuals. People can be harmed by what they see, even more when they deal with death, pain and traumas.

This is an endless topic. Communication is a human act, and therefore it cannot admit perfection. This means that the most thoughtful story will be submitted under the judgment of the masses. For obvious reasons, the judgment can’t be unanimous.

Some people will acclaim a publication, and there will be others who will critically disapprove the same exact publication.

Only one thing is for sure, you can’t please everyone. Act responsibly and thoughtfully.

Does unbiased journalism exist?


Americans have argued for decades that the news has liberal bias, and for decades, news organizations have denied such allegations. Journalism is, by nature and definition, free of bias. It strives for objectivity. But among all of these allegations must lay a grain of truth. Could the reporting of facts be a lost art?

Groups like the Media Research Center in Reston, Va., exists to “neutralize” the alleged bias in national news media.

Its mission statement says “The Media Research Center’s unwavering commitment to neutralizing left-wing bias in the news media and popular culture has influenced how millions of Americans perceive so-called objective reporting.”

In recent news, unsupportive reports followed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s faux-filibuster against ObamaCare Wednesday. While journalists did not generally praise the actions of Cruz, the filibuster by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis on abortion in June, was nearly applauded. Why?

The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney offered an explanation. “The media generally supports legalized abortion, while the media generally likes ObamaCare.”

Although this honest explanation generally makes sense, it serves as no excuse to insert opinions into reporting, because biased reporting cannot be classified as news.

However, it seems Americans are disenchanted with the honest reporting of facts, because poor explanations like the Washington Examiner’s lead the public to believe that the news should tell them what they want to hear – and if it doesn’t, they’ll turn to a source that will, the Internet.

Perhaps this alleged left-leaning media is in response to the increase of Americans getting their news information online. In a study reported by Right Side News, it is said that an estimated 84 percent of Americans get their news information online. This number has reportedly nearly doubled in the past five years.

How can a traditional, rule-following news channel keep up with the cunning and expeditious Internet?

Perhaps with bias, it can.

What Francis says, what media perceives


Decades of popes have consistently been well spoken and have paid special attention on emphasizing the pastoral care of the Catholic Church. The current church leader, Pope Francis, does not differ from previous popes in his way off addressing his people. He is careful and has a very selective choice of words.

What the pope says is not always perceived the way it is meant to be by journalists and is released into the press with false statements that the pope did not actually say or mean.

Former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio picked his words carefully as an Argentine priest and then prelate of Buenos Aires. He was impeccable in his word choice, especially with the politics that attacked Argentina for many years.

Journalists are very interested in what the pope has to say, knowing it could potentially make international headlines. With this, the problem of journalists misunderstanding and misdirecting the media was noticed last spring after Pope Francis’s installation. There was a report in USA Today, for example, about the pontiff’s supposed “obsession with Satan,” of which many Protestants, Catholics and other Bible readers were skeptical.

The newspaper stated that the pope “mentioned the devil on a handful of occasions.” The reporter took an incident where Pope Francis gave a blessing to a handicapped man and speculated the idea the Jesuit pontiff was an exorcist, or from the film “The Exorcist.” The Vatican then went further to tell the international press that no priest performs “ad hoc exorcisms” and the popes usually pray with and bless’ victims.

Any reporter covering this story could have flipped through canon law, the Bible or Catholic catechism, which are available to the public.

A couple of days later, reports came out that Francis declared that atheists would go to heaven as long as they did good deeds. The media took his words out of context when really Francis spoke of “ecumenical communion between believers and good-hearted atheists.” Nothing Francis said had contradicted the belief that work for the poor and downtrodden people would provide a meeting place in people’s hearts.

Two months following this false media report, the media then again reported something out of context. They claimed that Francis declared that the church would no longer “judge” homosexuality. What he actually said was “Who am I to judge” in response to a question about the “gay lobby” and focused on “lobbies” of all kinds focused on the segment of society destroying Christian unity and brotherhood.

Last week, a lengthy interview with American Magazine took place with Francis, which was published by and for the Jesuit Society in America. What the media got from this interview was that the pope was going to change the doctrine — or at least soften it up a lot.

ABC then went on to report this as the pope scolding the Catholic Church over “divisive rules.” A European wire service reported that the “pope seeks easing of rigid Catholic doctrine,” which references other media sources that states he was “pushing a shift” in the Catholic Church. The abortion rights group, NARAL, went on with this false information and published a thank-you note to the pope, only to find him excoriate abortion a few days after.

Continued media failure upsets Catholics who truly understand Francis’s true message. This brings up the question of media credibility on religious matters and even more broadly than that. Catholic documents are easily obtainable and yet the media doesn’t appear to be checking facts before publishing news stories that change the words of Francis and the Catholic Church.

To read more:

Be a reporter, be a friend, or be both?

Posted September 24, 2013


Last Saturday, Sept. 21, reporter Jason Straziuso had to choose what was more important to him … being a friend or being a reporter.

Jason Straziuso was in Nairobi, Kenya, when he got a frantic phone call from a close friend that was staying the weekend with his family. She was inside Nairobi’s most upscale mall and could hear gunshots. Her husband and 2-year-old daughter were inside, too, but she didn’t know where. Where should she go?

“Over the next several hours, my role as a reporter collided with my concern for close friends in mortal danger,” said Straziuso.

Reporters must separate their emotions from scenes of horror, but that’s a near-impossible task when your friends are facing attackers lobbing grenades and firing bullets.

At first, his friend, Lyndsay, had no idea what was going on, but as soon as he rushed over to the mall, he realized that everyone there was under attack by al-Shabab terrorists.

Lyndsay’s husband, Nick, was with their daughter, Julia, in the downstairs cafe that appeared to be the initial attack point. He scooped up his toddler and ran. They ended up being pushed into a department store storage area and would stay there the next three hours.

“Lyndsay was in a third-floor movie theater when she called me again. If gunmen found her and others, there was no escape, she told me,” said Straziuso.

After Straziuso told the police everything he knew about what was going on inside the mall, he returned to his own work as a reporter. Suppressing his fears that his friends could be killed. He snapped photos, took video, and interviewed a Dutch couple who had been close to the grenade blast.

About an hour later, Straziuso got a call from Lyndsay that she was on the roof and he got some police officers to help her and the roof hostages escape, but husband Nick and daughter Julia were still inside. Eventually, police offers were able to help more hostages escape, Nick and Julia being two of them.

“We were so scared,” Nick said later,”I was just finding any way I could to get out.”

Fortunately, Straziuso was able to help out his friends and, at the same time, get his job done as a reporter. He was so thankful that he was able to accomplish both.
As a reporter, he knew that not everyone’s day ended so well.

Grand Theft Auto is a media rockstar


Journalists, and some social media users fear the impact of the new Grand Theft Auto V’s video gaming experience upon other people, particularly the youth.  However, talk about the violence, vulgarity and mature content does not scare the consumers away, it seems to promote interest.

Grand Theft Auto V was released Sept. 17 and the game has generated more sales than any game in history and with such controversial subject matter, it’s no wonder why this game is all over social media.  The game raked in a shocking $800 million its first day according to Take Two Interactive, who is the primary developer and publisher of Rockstar Games.

With 200,000 Facebook users chatting about the game at one time, it is apparent that social media is to credit for putting the game in the spotlight. Even with the knocking of the game, all attention becomes beneficial for the sales of the game.

TMZ’s Facebook page posted the article to Facebook pertaining to a boycott of the game. However, the dispute is not related to the gang promotion or gun violence, it is a protest by animal activists saying Rockstar Games is “capitalizing off animal torture.”

Jack Carone, from In Defense of Animals said, “the makers of this game have traded decency for money” and added “Encouraging the darkest impulses of young people is not an admirable pursuit.”

Perhaps the game is not suited for children, but the aspect of animal violence in the game is not the promotion of our youth’s “darkest impulses.” Practically all responses to the boycott post were bashing the animal activists for being overly sensitive.

Some responses just state how it is simply a video game, but the best argument is from fans like Paul Nweke who questioned, “it’s okay to kill human beings in a video game, but it’s not with animals?” In terms of fighting a multi billion-dollar project, picking this battle will not stop many from buying the game.

Fans feel strongly about the game and all the disputes about it only raise more interest for those who have not experienced the game yet. By way of social media, the game is promoting itself by giving the people such interesting topics to debate. It is a juicy subject, which is what our social media world thrives upon.

When will NBA stay out of Its own way?


There are rumblings that the National Basketball Association is trying to have NBA players from the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets wear jerseys with their preferred nicknames on the back of their jerseys.

I am not making this up.

Instead of the traditional way, in which every single player has his last name on the back of the jersey, players will be able to choose which nicknames they want on their jerseys. For instance, LeBron James will most likely use “King James” or “LeBron.” Ray Allen might use “Jesus Shuttlesworth,” a character he played in the hit movie “He Got Game.”

“”Fans will like it and so will a lot of the players,” Allen said. ”Guys will get a good kick out of it.”

Though Allen and a couple of other players might like the idea, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon. Neither is Heat forward Shane Battier, although he’ll obviously comply with the league should it happen.

The NBA just loves the attention, because with it comes, of course, the money. But this is as cheesy as anything any major sports league has done. And it isn’t the first time that the NBA is making headline news for something they shouldn’t be doing.

In 2011, all-star point guard Chris Paul was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. But Commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade, stating the trade was not in the best interest of the Hornets and of the league. He cited “basketball reasons” as his rationale. Paul was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade that the NBA didn’t deem too bad for them.

It’s always about them and this latest publicity stunt shows their selfishness and a lack of professionalism.

For more on this story, click here.

Blackberry struggles to keep up


Is anybody buying Blackberries anymore? Are there any new models coming out soon? Why is it is hard to see them around?

Well, I believe that those are questions that everybody wants to find the right answer.  However, in reality it is true that the phone maker is going through a hard moment in its history.

“It’s just too good to only keep it to us,” Thorsten Heins, Blackberry CEO, said of its once famous messenger service BBM.

The mobile company’s decision to release its messenger app to other mobile platforms looks to many like a strategy to save the company from an expected bankruptcy.  The service features BBM Chat for instant messaging with other users. Additionally, each user has a unique PIN, so you don’t have to give out your phone number to use the service mostly a privacy feature.

I think this should be something positive for the phone maker that seems to be struggling to bring revenue to its stock share.

The Canadian company that once was at the top of the list of the most-sold mobile devices in the United States, announced this week that they would eliminate of 4,500 positions.  In other words, that means 40 percent of its current work force.

In fact, things like these seem to predict the end of the Blackberry era.

Many experts believe that the company’s biggest loss comes from phones that were not sold because of competition from other smartphones, such as the iPhone, in the last couple of years.

A little bit more than four years ago, Blackberry controlled 51 percent of the mobile global market. Today it stands at three percent.

When the iPhone came out, cell phone history changed.  Apple released a new device that revolutionized the way many people talk to each other. It created a touch screen smartphone that was capable of running a variety of apps.

Alongside the iPhone came the Android operating system that rapidly became iPhone’s biggest competition.

Are Blackberry’s final hours are here? Will the company be able to rise from this fall?  Well, we don’t know those answers yet but if it does fall or rise, it’ll certainly be a top story.

Asking questions can result in trouble


A reporter’s job is to ask questions.

But what happens when you’re in a different country and you ask too many questions? Or questions about issues nobody wants to talk about or admit? What happens when asking questions leads to incarceration and interrogation by government officials?

Thats what happened to journalist Leah McGrath Goodman (along with MANY other investigative reporters).

Goodman was locked up and interrogated for more than 12 hours by British authorities before being thrown out of the country after disclosing the subject of her work in 2011.

Her work focused on the island of Jersey, a cosseted tax shelter in the Channel Islands controlled by the British Crown, whose government repeatedly ignored the atrocities of nearly 200 children since 2008 who were abused by the hands of government officials.

Upon arriving at Heathrow  Airport near London, Goodman walked through passport control and was asked to answer a few questions. She was then escorted to a windowless room in the basement of the airport. At no point was she told why she was being taken into custody.

Officials treated her like a common criminal. She said they gave her no information as to what was happening and locked her in a room for hours. Officials rummaged through her belongings and she was not allowed to speak to a lawyer. She described the interrogation process as being “demoralizing and hostile.”

Once the officials were done rummaging her things, she was banned from the country for two years and given no precise reason as to why.

Her crime was researching a topic that the British authorities preferred she didn’t.

You don’t hear about it too often, but many journalists are being wrongfully held in other countries and interrogated. It seems, today, that many issues needing light are being covered up and silenced.

There are certain stories that once they get out can destroy an entire nation. I idolize the journalists that actually go out and try to investigate such stories. I believe more people need to go out and uncover such dark truths, however, the problem lies with how much a journalist (and his/her employer) is willing to sacrifice in order to tell a story? Are they willing to sacrifice their rights? Their credibility? And even themselves?

I’ve often asked myself why certain things don’t get covered. Why do we hear so little about global genocide happening all over the world? Why is Miley Cyrus news? Instead of covering celebrities and intruding on their lives, why don’t we report on all the evil and wrongdoings going on elsewhere in the world and why don’t we spend our resources trying to fix them?  Instead of worrying about chemical weapons in Syria, why can’t our government worry about feeding the hungry or sheltering them? Or at least just reporting about it!

For the longest time, I just figured nobody cared. Now, however, I realize authorities are just silencing the people trying to uncover the truth, which in itself is a great atrocity to journalism.

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Media fuel craze over new iPhones


The IPhone 5s came out this past week, but that is old news to most college students around the United States and the world.

The craze for Apple technology is still going strong as people stand in lines for hours to get their hands on the newest IPhone, IPad and MacBook.

It is hard to believe that a major headline this week was titled “Gold IPhone 5s won’t ship until October.” This begs the question; is this truly newsworthy? Or have we gone overboard with our obsession of material objects.

That wasn’t the only surprising article floating around the Internet about IPhones. Other headlines and articles read ‘Can IPhone addiction wreck your marriage?’ and ‘Psychologists Concerned about IPhone Obsession.’

The new IPhone 5s is said to have an application that disables the possibility of anyone other than the owner of said phone to unlock the lock screen. This new addition may discourage others who may try to steal these IPhones and sell them, as it is said to be nearly impossible to hack into these new devices.

Although, in a matter of minutes, multiple articles and videos surfaced online with tutorials that taught the art of hacking into this new IPhone 5s making the application useless.

Students have already taken to Twitter and Facebook with information about the new IPhone along with iOS7, which is newest operating system for Apple cell phone and tablet products. Many complain about the new look, despite waiting long hours on line and spending a decent about of money.

In only 10 minutes, the shipping date for this new gadget went from two business days; to 10 and this back order issue will continue for quite some time as it has in the past.

With this new information floating around the media, we have to consider that all new technologies are usually flawed and the small differences such as an anti-hacking application or a gold colored IPhone are not necessarily worth the anticipation and money.

Genuine human interaction is becoming a thing of the past due to the obsession with social media and networking that these phones allow one to have at all times. Whether it is through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or simply texting, the need to be connected at all times is proving to be a serious issue.

Crossing the line when posting


The National Rifle Association is attempting to get a journalism professor dismissed for tweeting that the navy yard shooting was their fault.

David Guth, a professor at the University of Kansas, tweeted “#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

David Guth's tweets after the Navy Yard Shooting.

David Guth’s tweets after the Navy Yard shooting (Screen capture by Shai Fox Savariau).

Kansas State Rifle Association’s President Patricia Stoneking said that Guth should not be allowed to teach.

Stoneking said “The KSRA will do everything possible to see to the removal of this man. He should be fired immediately. His statements are outrageous,”

“Any person with such a vile and contemptuous attitude who has influence over our children as a professor does should be immediately fired.”

Officials at the University said that Guth’s tweets do not reflect the views of the university.

In later blog posts, Guth wrote that he did not regret writing these things and that he is prepared to be criticized by others.

I don’t fully agree with how Guth expressed his feelings via Twitter. I am a strong advocate of freedom of speech, but speaking out about how the NRA’s sons and daughters should be hurt next time there is a mass shooting is not the way to get your point across.

As a journalism professor, I believe Guth does have a duty of showing that he can express his opinion in a way that’s not attacking another group of people. Speaking out and inciting violence on the Internet, which is not a private place, is not the civil way of expressing yourself.

I think that as journalists, we have to carry ourselves in a certain way. A big thing for a journalist is to report news without including bias. Yes, Guth’s tweets and other blog posts were just him expressing himself about the navy yard shooting. But, he could have written his distaste for the NRA in a way that wasn’t so gruesome, in my opinion. Even outside of work, Guth has that duty to carry himself with poise towards any breaking news situation. Even on the Internet.

Guth is also a professor at a university. Being that I am a college student myself in a journalism program, I can relate to this situation. I would not appreciate knowing that a professor of mine was writing such harsh things on the Internet.

Teachers of any kind need to be very careful of what they post on any type of social media. It can be seen by anyone and since teachers are responsible for the shaping of younger minds, it is important that they don’t encourage these types of violent responses from their students, especially journalism students.

Guth’s students will be on a job hunt very soon and if they are exhibiting the type of behavior that he showed on Twitter, then it may be a challenge for them to find a position.

Social media can be a very powerful tool but it must be used in a way that won’t offend others.

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With fame, comes loss of privacy


Innocently walking down the streets of New York, actress Nicole Kidman was knocked to the ground by a paparazzo on wheels last week, according to the Associated Press. The actress was reportedly shaken but is now ‘OK.’

However, Nicole Kidman isn’t as innocent as she seems in this situation by walking down a public street in New York City, the ultimate site to be spotted. Although she was not deserving of the danger that occurred, she could not have rightly thought that such a scene would not ensue.

Theoretically, Kidman signed up for this kind of attention in 1983, the year she starred in her first film. Upon signing that first contract, she signed away a chunk of her privacy rights to the media, because fame comes only after giving up a certain level of privacy.

After all, would an actress really be a celebrity if she were solely known for her on-screen performance?

If America doesn’t know who they’re dating, what diet they’re on, and what brand they are wearing, they are just an actor – not a celebrity.

Perhaps that is the very thing that makes reality television so interesting.

Do you know what Jonathan Groff has been up to lately? That’s because he is an actor, not a celebrity. He is a Tony award nominee and has starred on Broadway and hit TV show “Glee.”

Although he is arguably more talented than, say Jennifer Anniston, for the time being, he refuses to hand over his confidentiality. America doesn’t know him and therefore, he lives freely to walk down the streets of New York without fear of stampede.

Groff would not be the star of a news story but Anniston is all over the place. We know her every move, because she’s a celebrity and not just an actress.

Whether she’s Nicole Kidman or Jenifer Anniston, these starlets knew what they were signing up for upon signing away their right to privacy and simultaneously gaining a ticket to fame.