Fear mongering in news out of control


These days the news seems to be consistently telling us that we should all be afraid for our lives. I’m surprised that people aren’t running around and panicking in the streets due to the reports of all the things that can (and according to the news, will) kill you.

Fear mongering has gotten out of control. The most recent example is that of the Ebola virus. Every day a new story emerges about a new person who is sick or a new area that is a hub for infection. Meanwhile, the most amazing aspect of the entire “outbreak” is being entirely ignored. Both Americans who were infected and brought back to the United States for treatment were given some substance that entirely cured them of this formerly incurable disease.

No one is talking about this story because healthy people aren’t interesting or newsworthy to our society. Fear keeps eyes on the screen. It almost seems like the news is trying to scare people into staying in their homes where they can be “safe” so they will watch more news.

The other nasty pitfall that comes from fear mongering is that people won’t actually realize when a major issue emerges. If everything is an emergency, nothing is. When a real crisis arises, people may ignore it and then unknowingly put themselves in danger.

I hope that this trend comes to a halt, but as along as people keep watching the news as it is currently, there will be no reason for the networks to change.

Using social media as news sources


The escalation of news reporting is heightened through the use of social media, which increases the involvement of the public in leading news issues. This week, the world watched as Hollywood actress Emma Watson spoke at the United Nations about feminism.

While the brave act taken by this actress was covered in news media, this positive coverage was overshadowed by the ensuing public reaction, which involved threats against her safety and privacy.

Multiple news outlets reported on Watson’s moving speech, which addressed the issue of gender equality, and her bravery was highly praised. However, the fast moving pace of the Internet enabled the public to share their own opinion and quickly created negative trending Twitter hashtags.

She was publicly targeted by hackers who threatened to expose nude photographs of her. While social media can be used positively to increase awareness and action for social causes, in this instance, people who disagreed with her views abused the mask of anonymity provided by social media to comment in a vicious manner.

As more and more individuals look to social media as a source of news, it begs the question of how trusting we can be of the information it presents, as it is often heavily clouded by personal biases.

EmmaWatsondeathhoaxBut what is more shocking is the way that this was reported in the media and the number of inaccuracies that were released about the situation.

One of the most disturbing aspects for me was the fact that USA Today, a newspaper Web site that I frequently visit, reported on the death of the actress, which was a hoax.

This exposes the pervasiveness of the issue of fact checking for news reporters.

When a source assumed to be extremely reputable reports on issues like this, it brings into question the credibility of the whole reporting entity and can change the perspective of readers in their trust of the source. This further highlights the increased influence that social media is having on news reporting.

Not only are reporters writing about what is occurring on social media, the reporters are beginning to trust social media as fact. This idea is frightening for the news reporting industry and society at large due to the fact that social media is heavily clouded by personal bias.

Groundhog Day incident haunts mayor


On Thursday night a story came out about the death of Charlotte, the groundhog at Staten Island Zoo. This particular groundhog is the same one that New York City mayor Bill de Blasio dropped in February of this year at a Groundhog Day event.

Even though this accident with the mayor happened seven months ago, many news source were blatantly suggesting that the groundhog’s death was a direct result of her injury following the mayor’s mistake. These stories also seemed to take the incident very seriously, which at times seemed ironic since it involves the death of a rodent, not a human.

Other stories worked to dismiss this claim by quoting a spokesman for the zoo as saying, “It appears unlikely that the animal’s death is related to the events on Groundhog Day.”

Although this story may seem like a very minor incident among major news events, it is a perfect example of the dangers of drawing unwarranted conclusions.

As journalists, it’s important to never assign blame to anyone involved in a story and to not insinuate any causes or connections that we do not know to be true. It is up to the journalist to present all relevant and accurate information to the audience in an unbiased manor.

Diction and bias in Ebola news


The tendency for Western reporters to frame news within a Western perspective is completely expected, but presents a problem in terms of bias. When the lens that a person views the world through is so intuitive and as instinctual as breathing, it is difficult to separate facts from perceived truths. Perceived truths, in this instance, are what people fundamentally believe is real and true despite any lack of pure factual evidence.

A pressing example of this problem has emerged in the Ebola news circulation. Whatever the medium from newspapers to five-minute YouTube clips, nearly every report frames the Ebola outbreak and the handful of American and European cases as the fault of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including several news outlets that have also conflated the area into “West Africa.”

This overwhelming pattern is dangerous especially in the case of Africa, a continent that has long been subjected to Western prejudices and is still working towards elevating its status in the world. The average person in the U.S. often lenses Africa as a place of terrible poverty, war and chaos and this perspective is highly toxic. It permeates every facet of life and in particular news. The curious thing about presenting Ebola news in the U.S. is that everything comes back to vaguely racial tones, despite the fact that Ebola affects most humans the same way. Regardless of physical location, importance or appearance pretty much every human will die the same way if he or she contracts Ebola, making every news report that hints at American invincibility almost funny.

There are no reasonable solutions to this problem, at least not ones that wouldn’t take years to see through, and as such this entire issue become food for thought, specifically concerning how subtle word choices can affect the direction of a piece.

Journalism always has a vaguely emotional tone because humans are emotional by nature and all biases, despite striving to keep them covered, show through.

Is the iPhone 6 Plus bendable?


It appears to be that iPhone 6 Plus users are complaining about their new phone being bent after keeping it in the pockets of their pants for a while, especially if you are wearing tight pants. Apple has not responded to this issue, according to CNNMoney.

People all over the world are posting pictures and comments in regard to this in the hashtag #BendGate. However, many of these images seem to be Photoshopped and last year, there were some reports of the 5s having the same problem, so this is nothing new to Apple.

Now the question is, if you have a $750 phone, why would you sit on it while it is in your pocket? Or should the phone be extremely durable (almost invincible) if that is the retail price?

I think it goes both ways. If I paid that much for a phone, I would take much better care of it and keep it in my purse, rather than in my tight jeans where it can easily slip out of my pocket (considering how big it is) or sit on it.

Meanwhile, for a phone that expensive, it shouldn’t be so sensitive to the point where one can easily bend it with one’s own two hands. But iPhone 6 Plus owners should take into consideration that this phone is made up of aluminum; a material that is rather flexible.

There was a video posted on YouTube by Unbox Therapy where it shows a man trying to bend the iPhone with his bare hands. The man on the video said that being able to bend the phone with your hands is a matter of strength, but definitely possible. In an email to CNNMoney he said, “Grab it in the middle with the glass facing out and give it everything you have, it’ll bend.”

White House tries to control watchdogs


Earlier this week, Paul Farhi with The Washington Post reported cases of the White House demanding that members of its press-pool change their reports.

The White House functions on a system whereby a small group of journalists known as pool reporters receive exclusive access to presidential events. The reports of these journalists are e-mailed to a database, including news outlets, for them to use in stories nationwide.

The pool reporters share their reports with the White House press office, which is responsible for distributing them to the members of the database. Reporters say this office has forced changes in reports before their release to media outlets. Essentially, the White House is trying to control which information is circulated and allowing only the coverage it sees as favorable.

The press, commonly referred to as the fourth branch of government, is supposed to be a check on government. How can journalists be watchdogs if their content is being reviewed?

In the majority of cases, a journalist should not allow his/her sources to review an article prior to publication, as this would give the source undue power over the journalist. It is the journalist’s responsibility to report as accurately as possible that occasionally provides an exception to this rule.

Such an example would be when writing an article concerning a complex subject, such as astrophysics. Since the journalist is not an astrophysicist, he may need to verify the accuracy of his report with the expert source.

The changes being demanded by the White House press office are not complex matters. In fact, they are oftentimes quite trivial, such as a statement that an intern fainted during a press briefing. It is the principle of government infringement on freedom of the press under fire here.

Should we download music for free?


U2’s new album has been posted on the iTunes store for free download. The new album “Sounds of Innocence” is free to the more than 500 million iTunes customers in 119 countries.

U2's new album (source: from pitchfork)

U2’s new album (Source: from Pitchfork)

Maybe it is surprising, but more people are willing to buy the new edition CD after downloading the new album online.

At the beginning, iTunes was free to download music. Then musicians begin to sue Apple, saying that people are freely downloading the music and no one is willing to buy their edition or even deluxe edition CD.

However, given the situation with U2’s new album, artists should reconsider the methods of selling albums. People realized that the free download music and the edition CD are different. The latter one possesses the possibility of increasing in value and has collection value.

Moreover, the deluxe edition CD’s acoustic quality is much better. Music we are able to  download for free possesses poorer acoustic quality. It is like a sales strategy to encourage consumers to listen to better quality music.

The free download music is also a sale strategy that can help more people get to know the band. Taking U2 as an example, U2 is a famous band around America and Europe. Nonetheless, this iTunes free download experience enable more Asian know this band.

Listen to the U2’s new album at http://www.apple.com/U2/.

Does Hope Solo have female privilege?


The tables have turned and people are outraged. But do they have a right to be?

Hope Solo, 33-year-old goal keeper for the USA women’s soccer team, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence against her sister and 17-year-old cousin.

Within the past month, an uncanny amount of domestic violence charges have been released among male athletes and have caused much controversial discussion. People asked why the athletes were suspended (with pay) because of a “private matter” that we, the public, has no right to know or get involved in.

Now this female soccer player has a domestic violence charge over her head, the media seems to have backed away from the story, and she is still playing for the team with no suspension.

People, especially men, are upset. But should they be?

Many are saying that it is unfair that Solo faces the same charges as NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson but is still being allowed to play for her team. People think that Solo is receiving special privileges simply because she is a woman, and since she is a huge role model for many girls around the world, the media and the National Women’s Soccer League do not want to taint her image.

But are the media not blowing up this story simply because it is not as “scandalous” as a man knocking out his wife or beating his son? Maybe the media does not want to cover a story of a woman who had a family brawl.

Family brawls, unless you are Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Solange in an elevator, are not very newsworthy and are not as controversial as the domestic violence situations that Rice and Peterson found themselves in. And the National Women’s Soccer League seems to think the same thing.

Should the NWSL punish Solo for her actions just as the NFL has punished athletes for theirs?

Why do we report celebrity gossip?


All over Internet news sources and on TV broadcasts today, you’ll probably hear something about “Celebrity Phone Hackings! Nude Photos Leaked!” If you stay up to date with current events, there is really no way you did not hear about this. It’s posted everywhere.

Why should we care that Jennifer Lawrence’s phone was hacked, or that Kate Middleton is pregnant, or that Kris and Bruce Jenner are getting a divorce?

There are people who have built their whole career around reporting celebrity gossip (hello, Perez Hilton.) Yet bloggers, gossip columns, and E! News aren’t the only ones talking about celebrities. The story of Kate Middleton’s second pregnancy was featured on ABC’s World News.

It’s a journalist’s job to help inform people about what’s going on in the world and what the public should generally know. Still, journalists also report what they know people want to hear. Most TV news broadcasts will have some type of human interest piece thrown in, and giving people the low down on what’s happening in Hollywood is an easy way to fill that.

If it’s possible to have a whole station like E! News devoted just to stirring up the celebrity rumor mill, clearly enough people want to know what’s happening in celebrities’ lives. But why?

It’s nice to know that celebrities are people, too. They get divorced, they have their phones hacked, they’re caught with drugs and have to go to court. They’re not untouchable.

Not only that, but everyone knows who these celebrities are, and it’s easy to talk about someone you know. The general public probably isn’t going to care if your cousin is being shipped off to rehab (unless there was some weird twist to thicken the plot of the story,) because they don’t know your cousin. It’s sometimes easy to feel like you actually know someone just because you have seen all of their movies, or watched a few of their interviews on daytime television.

As long as people are still tuning in to hear about celebrity news, reporters are still going to talk about it.

Inside the CNN studio tour


One place certainly every aspiring journalist should visit is Atlanta. The capital of, and the most populous city, in Georgia is home to massive media operations and newsrooms power houses recognized worldwide.

It was in this city were the legendary Ted Turner would begin the Turner Broadcasting System and  establish the headquarters of the infamous “Cable News Network”; better recognized today by the simple acronym of CNN .

These days, the CNN Center is adjacent to the Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta and is open to anyone who is down for a taste of what real world journalists undergo on a day-to-day basis. It allows visitors to get a feel for what goes on behind the scenes during news gathering and broadcasting as well as an insight into the various CNN networks. Notably, the center is responsible for instructing the ordinary citizen on how dignifying the world of news coverage and reporting can be.


CNN center: home to the world’s largest freestanding escalator

Along the approximately 55-minute guided walking tour; one is able to peek into the newsroom, control room, studios and headquarters main hallways.

The tour begins on a long ride up the world’s largest freestanding escalator as recognized by Guinness World Records. The 196-feet long and eight stories high escalator used to take visitors up to “The World of Sid and Marty Krofft,” an indoor amusement park, but is now CNN’s main newsroom.

You’ll find a replica of a CNN newsroom studio set when landing on the base after that long flight up. While you are waiting for the tour to begin, you’ll be able to videotape or photograph yourself broadcasting breaking news stories as an anchor.

As the tour begins, you’ll access a control room replica of the headquarters’ cable-TV news service, which is actually located on the same spot three stories below. Guests are instructed on the main concepts and activities that take place under this technical hub, allowing them to experience the behind-the-scenes elements of a news broadcast.

10441958_10152751416883134_8403776665373654303_nNext, you’ll visit one of the many CNN spin-off cable news channel studios, HLN’s (“Headline News”) Studio 7E.

This special-effects studio demonstrates visitors the technology that goes into the production of news. For example, the use of a teleprompter, on-air graphics with the aid of a green screen and high-tech touch screen are explained.

Although the tour will involve traveling down many levels of stairs, the following station is totally worthy to get to. A glass-wall on the building’s main hallway will allow you to catch a panoramic view of the main CNN studio, Studio 7. Actually, this is the largest studio CNN has ever built anywhere in the world and, if you are lucky enough you might even catch someone working on air.

10665667_10152751416843134_638452646018851032_nAfter touring the on-camera presence sites you’ll be redirected to the equivalent of a “chem-lab” for a journalist; the newsroom.

Here you are able to take a bird’s-eye view of both the main CNN and HNL newsroom as people downstairs are on working-mode. This is actually were the magic happens, because it is here were writers compose the news scripts after long processes of gathering and verifying information. In other words they are the responsible for the accuracy and relevance of the facts that households will eventually receive.

Exiting through another of the building hallways you will soon find yourself in front of other of the CNN en Espanol and HNL’s studios were, again if lucky, you might be able to catch an anchor and support crew on duty.

Soon after, you are dismissed, but not after being thanked for your visit. Of course, then you are redirected to the souvenir store where you are able to find amazing merchandise all encrypted on one way or another with the iconic reddish acronym.

Although such tour might sound as fun, it is really just the simplest of the bunch the place has to offer.  If you prefer a more extensive (and therefore expensive) VIP tour, you would actually get the chance to step out onto the main CNN newsroom floor and explore production areas that are not normally accessible to the public.

There’s also the possibility for you to go behind the scenes of HLN’s popular morning show, “Morning Express with Robin Meade” on another of the packages.

10609530_10152751415863134_9059171804339138202_nNo matter your choice, visiting this news landmark will definitely add to your knowledge and experience.

If you are not news savvy, you’ll learn the basics and, if an aspiring journalist, it will complement your understandings and light a beacon of persistence and perseverance to get a job on the spot (because it sure did in me!).

Getting to go inside Atlanta’s CNN headquarters is certainly an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not to mention a game changer.

Obama’s ‘latte salute’ and social media


On Tuesday President Obama departed his presidential helicopter, Marine One, in New York City with a coffee cup in hand. Following a tradition started by Ronald Reagan, Obama saluted the Marines standing guard on the ground … while holding his latte.

Immediately the “scandal,” which was caught on camera, went viral and Obama was attacked for what people called, “disrespectful actions.”

Without commenting on the ethics of the latte salute, it’s interesting to note social media’s role in the situation. First, the video was posted on social media via Instagram (by the White House nonetheless) with the caption “President Obama just landed in New York for #UNGA2014.”

The White House intended to promote his speech on climate change at the UN assembly and they even joined in on the social media lingo by using a hashtag (which stands for United National General Assembly). But that caption was most likely ignored by viewers who gravitated toward the cup in Obama’s hand … and then took to Twitter. The hashtag #lattesalute started trending on Twitter with journalists, politicians and the general public voicing their opinions in 140 characters or less.

No longer are we writing letters to the editor or calling news stations to comment. We are tweeting about it. We are including hashtags and text lingo like “u” and “nvr” in order to fit in more words. We are taking things for face value without doing any research. We are impulsively commenting on everything.

If a newspaper reporter needed to write a story on this scandal, he or she could easily just go to Twitter without doing any reporting.

But would that the best method? Should we take what people tweet and post literally? Even if journalists asked follow-up comments to people via Twitter, would their responses be skewed because they have the ability to hide behind a computer?

I wonder how many of those people truly have the passion behind their harsh statements or were just reacting spontaneously. Then again, maybe the spontaneous reactions are the most truthful.

If only Twitter was around when President Bush was criticized for saluting while holding his dog. It would have been interesting to see the difference, or lack of, in the public’s response.

The news media: Are we hypocrites?


An article published by The American Spectator on Sept. 23 raises an interesting point: Journalists are just as at fault in domestic violence cases as the NFL players they have been recently criticizing.

During the month of September, the news media have had a frenzy with all of the domestic violence and child abuse cases surrounding the NFL. With the release of the second Ray Rice surveillance tape, Adrian Peterson’s child abuse scandal, combined with notable cases against Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer, and Ray McDonald, media during the month of September have put the NFL on blast for all of these domestic violence issues.

The article by The American Spectator, however, asks the question: Are the media skewing these problems out of proportion, just because the NFL is a high-profile, very exposed institution?

It is possible that the NFL does not have more domestic violence cases in ratio than the rest of the country. Actually, in studies, it is found that the NFL actually has lower crime rates than the rest of the general population of the same age group. The difference is the media puts more of a spotlight on professional athletes’ faults, rather than the average Joe. Not saying this makes the NFL violence cases okay, but it is fair to point out that it may be overemphasized by the media.

While the media have been constantly criticizing the league and painting it as “a veritable athletic Evil Empire of domestic abuse,” according to the article, The American Spectator points the finger back at those same journalists, who are not in positions to be putting the blame on others.

Five NFL cases, as mentioned before, have put the pressure on the NFL to better itself from the violence-ridden entity it appears to be now. As the article points out, however, ten cases can be found within the media recently. This is twice as many as the NFL.

These cases range from ESPN to ABC, CBS, NBC, and The New York Times. The difference between these cases and those of the NFL? Domestic violence cases by the media aren’t lumped together for the public to over-scrutinize and cast a shadow over all of the media.

I’m not saying at all that the NFL shouldn’t be concerned about its role with domestic violence. It should be. Domestic violence is never okay, and with so many fans looking to the NFL, it should make a good example of these cases, taking measures to punish the offenders.

However, maybe the media should do the same and take a second look to try to better itself, before pointing fingers at others.

You can read The American Spectator article mentioned here: http://spectator.org/articles/60468/when-journalists-commit-domestic-violence.

Earning money from a six-second video


Vine is a video-sharing website, owned by Twitter, where you can share videos that are up to six seconds long. You may ask yourself how such short videos can attract people to use this app? Well, the answer is that the limit of time on its clips is appealing to people.

People that make videos on Vine are called “viners.” Believe it or not, viners can tell a whole story in six seconds and these viral videos can result in big earnings. This app lets people “revine” videos, which is like retweet on Twitter, and like videos as well.

With Vine, you can become an Internet celebrity or make your product famous. Viners are mostly teenagers and some of them are earning big amounts of money as a result of their posts on this website.

For a teenager that has funny videos and lots of followers on Vine, $1,000 isn’t hard to come by.

With 9.5 million followers, 16-year old Nash Grier has earned one of the top places of famous people in this website. Incredibly, he is ahead of famous people such as Snoop Dogg and even Justin Bieber on Vine. Besides the money he is paid for his vines, this Vine star can receive $25,000 to $100,000 for advertising a major brand product in a six-second video and sharing it with his Vine followers.

Locally, we have many college and high-school viners that are becoming famous with this website and also that are benefiting economically from their vines.

Marcus Johns, a 21-year-old junior at Florida State University, is making lots of money by doing vines. He has considered dropping out of school because he makes so much money on Vine.

Marcus’s brother, Cody Johns was an aspiring actor and by doing vines, he got his college tuition paid.

Here in Miami, we have Lele Pons, which is another celebrity on Vine. She is known in Miami and throughout the world as a crazy, hyperactive and also one of the most popular viners. She is the first person on Vine to reach over a billion loops.

Advertisers are also on Vine. Companies such as Urban Outfitters, Trident and Dunkin’ Donuts have promoted their products by making mini ads in a six-second vine. Additionally, other companies have used Vine to promote events, such as Burberry promoted its shows in the New York fashion week. If you have a lot of followers, and you revine posts to share a sponsored brand, you’ll probably earn money from an advertiser.

There may even be news potential in the site, particularly for broadcasters and Web sites looking for clips to turn into feature stories or video from breaking news events.

Since Vine was released in January 2013, many people have made good living from Vine alone.

So, if you have good vines, receive many revines and likes and become famous on Vine, you won’t even need to worry about getting a job. Just “Do it for the Vine!”





Focus on the news, not on yourself


As anyone who has been following the news recently knows, the Islamic terrorist group ISIS has been a major focus for the United States. Recently, the U.S. began bombing ISIS and has received help from many other countries including Iran. With all of the commotion surrounding this terrorist group, the common thought should be “what else do we need to do as a country?” Unfortunately, this is not the case.

News organizations from both the right and the left have shifted focus almost entirely on President Obama. It seems that the news has become 10 percent “here is what is happening” and 90 percent “here is how I personally feel about it.”

Of course, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional opinions and expert analysis, but it is ludicrous to have a panel of news anchors that seem to know everything about everything. Too many talking heads simply creates noise and confusion, especially when it is essentially professional complaining.

For situations like this, no abstract examples are needed. No one needs to ask: “Well, what if ISIS somehow found a way to infiltrate the United States and take over the Capitol?” That is thinking infinitely far ahead about an improbable situation.

However, this is not to say that some journalistic opinions can be beneficial. They simply have to have enough respect. In the most famous example, Walter Cronkite stated a negative opinion about the war in Vietnam and changed public opinion about the conflict almost overnight.

Unfortunately, the days of journalists with the respect Cronkite garnered are all but over. If the news is ever going to return to its former glory, the noise needs to be cancelled out. Sensationalism needs to disappear and facts need to once again reign supreme. Until that point, speculation and biased opinion will rule the news.

War without the difficult photos


Come the mid-19th century in America, among all of the social changes, political shifts, and uproars, the first footage of war was recorded. It was the Civil War and the photographs taken began to break down the glorification of all war had been played out to be.

Nowadays, the photo on the front cover of a newspaper can make or break the story during wartime. The American public is a sensitive one and, in turn, the American media is very strict in what it publishes and what it does not.

So, in a war zone where there are almost no limitations to what one can capture, I ask: When is an image considered too gory, insensitive and, to an extent, a breach of privacy? Does holding back this kind of photography blind the American public from the tragedies of war? And is it hard to calculate the photographer’s absence during war?

On Feb. 28, 1991, American photojournalist Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of a horrid sight: a charred man who had been engulfed in flames, trying to escape his vehicle. He snapped the shot. The man was an Iraqi soldier and had fought for Saddam Hussein’s army during the Gulf War when Kuwait was annexed. Time Magazine and The Associated Press dismissed the hypnotizing image, saving Americans from confronting the excruciating brutality of war and ultimately, spitting up their morning coffee.

For Jarecke, who had taken the photo in the midst of endless ceasefire, who had put his life on the line, who had captured the ugly to captivate those sitting pretty, he was left confused. In an interview with The Atlantic, he said: “When you have an image that disproves the myth (of a clean, uncomplicated war), then you think it’s going to be widely published.”

These photos that Jarecke and countless others in countless other wars have taken not only serve the media to inform and to shock, but serve history as a sort of reminder and lesson. And what good is a lesson when you can’t learn from it?

At the same time, however, does the photojournalist go too far sometimes? In this world where tragedies occur in the blink of a second and photographs can be captured in the blink of a millisecond, Jarecke and his contemporaries must grapple with the moral dilemma of: “do I take the picture?” Because to the photojournalist, the moment of hesitation is not due so much to the fact that they’ll worry how the media or audience will react, but instead, due to the fact that they’ll worry how those they are capturing will react. The photojournalist has much at stake here: his reputation, his humanity, his decency, his values, his sanity.

Later, in American Photo magazine, Jarecke wrote: “I wasn’t thinking at all about what was there; if I had thought about how horrific the guy looked I wouldn’t have been able to make the picture.”

To take the photographer out of the battle would surely tell a different story about it. And I can only hope that, one day, the power of photos will stump the power of war.

If your curiosity was piqued, here is the photo that inspired this blog:


Twitter gives stars platform to fight back


For the past few years, Twitter has been a main source of news for young people. They find out about breaking stories and everything relevant in current events. In a way, Twitter could be viewed as a young person’s newspaper.

However, with the rise of Twitter, celebrities have been given an easy platform to get their thoughts and opinions across, no matter how offending, or if it makes a major brand look bad. Twitter cuts out the middleman, and lets celebrities interact with fans directly.

This new direct contact between celebrities and fans can be problematic, however. In the recent case of Cee Lo Green, one stupid comment can ruin a celebrity’s whole image and, in the recent cases of Shonda Rhimes and Rihanna, uncensored criticisms can ruin the image of a major company.

Earlier this month, Cee Lo Green tweeted controversial statements about rape, one of which claimed rape isn’t “real” unless the victim remembers it. This moment of ignorance on the famous singer’s part cost him a huge loss in fan base, even after deleting the tweets and making a public apology.

In the case of Green, we can see how easily it is for public figures to reach their fans and how quickly a public image can change.

This also happened in the case of Shonda Rhimes and Rihanna. Although they didn’t ruin their own images, they used Twitter as a platform to fight back against attacks from big corporations and voice their own opinions.

Shonda Rhimes is the creator of many shows, like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Recently, she was described as an “angry black woman” in a New York Times feature, after which, she took to Twitter to give her own thoughts. After voicing her displeasure, other figures such as Kerry Washington criticized the Times writer too. The Twitter backlash proves that the growing popularity of Twitter certainly changes the way the media can criticize celebrities – because they will not get away with it anymore without a fight.

A similar case happened recently with singer Rihanna, after CBS pulled her song from “Thursday Night Football” following the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. Initially, CBS pulled the song the week immediately following the release of the second Rice video, because they felt Rihanna, a famous victim of domestic abuse from Chris Brown, would give the wrong message.

Rihanna reacted through Twitter, writing, “CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? NO, Fuck you! Y’all are sad for penalizing me for this.” CBS then had to deal with the disapproval of many Rihanna fans, which ultimately led them to pull her song for good.

These recent events involving celebrities shows just how impacting social media can be, especially as Twitter gives stars a chance to bite back at the media.

Social media changes what makes news


The news cycle often decides what’s important based on the tenets of “newsworthiness” – a water is wet definition to describe topics and information that easily engage people and that are easily talked about.

Before the dawn of social media, news outlets often dictated what people should know, and, depending on the publication or network, explained how some events were more important than others, communicated by placement in a newspaper or story length in a broadcast.

Now that social media has become second nature to growing parts of the population, the news landscape is saturated with different stories, points of view and information. People have many more options from which to gather their knowledge and stay up to date with current events and this increase in supply has flipped the news narrative.

Now, instead of people picking up a paper to learn something completely new as they did before, news organizations are pulling from the mass of voices and cleaning up viral content.

The democratic nature of news has not completely dominated the pattern of dissemination but the symbiotic relationship between social media and journalism has allowed for a number of topics that previously would not have been newsworthy to blow up to viral status.

The many benefits of social media from simply keeping people informed to passing on a powerful message quickly are affected by what seem to be changing priorities. Thinking back as far as the late 1990s fewer stories of “importance” had to do with small town events and more to do with national issues.

The obvious conclusion is that social media didn’t exist in that decade and so no one could hear the story of a young boy saving his sister from a burning car and, because they never heard, they wouldn’t care.

The above mentioned example is indicative of the rise of more emotional stories; the kind of narratives that tug at heart strings. Since most people can connect easily with these stories they tend to spread like wildfire and news organizations have begun to spend more resources on combing the internet to find stories that have this viral value.

However, it’s rare that a news organization finds a story that web culture hasn’t already latched onto and pushed into the general consciousness. The increasing dependence of journalism on democratic dissemination is almost funny because the news is trying to find, rather than dictate, “the news.”

CNN strives for neutral in Scotland vote


One of the biggest stories in world news this week is the Scottish independence referendum results. In the months leading up to the vote, many news sources were covering the politicians speeches and polling public opinion.

imageI’ve been watching a lot of CNN’s coverage of the story, and I’ve noticed that there is an obvious effort to stay neutral.

For example, there was an open mic video that consisted of clips of Scottish voters expressing their views on the referendum and freedom from the UK. Although it was not blatantly alternating between yes and no voters, the video made sure to have an equal amount of people both opposed and supportive of the referendum.

The BBC focused more on how an independent Scotland might influence the economy. Much of the coverage focused on fluctuating share prices and volatility in the weeks leading up to the vote. The coverage also stressed the uncertainty of which currency an independent Scotland would adopt.

By attempting to foresee the possible economic changes that an independent Scotland would bring about, the BBC’s coverage of the story tended to focus on predictions and polling to see where the public stands. Finally, the referendum did not pass, with a slight majority of “no” votes.

BBC worked to avoid misrepresentation


With Scotland’s independence on the line, the historic referendum permeated newsrooms around the world this week.

News organizations reported as usual, interviewing voters who expressed their reasons for voting “Yes” or “No” for Scottish independence. Such reporting came to a halt at 6 a.m. on voting day for several news organizations.

On Sept. 18, BBC News was entirely devoid of opinion on the subject of Scottish independence. Following its code of practice, the BBC reported only uncontroversial factual accounts such as the number of polling stations, the percentage of the electorate registered to vote, and even the weather in a “commitment to impartiality and fairness.”

These sorts of practices are vital to avoid misrepresentation and to ensure that the outcome of an election truly reflects the population’s beliefs as a whole. If an election is predicted to be neck and neck, it is likely that more people will go to the polls. If, on the other hand, reported polling suggests a landslide victory, supporters of the minority party may feel that there is no hope so why bother voting? Or quite the opposite, if the popular candidate is “sure to win,” people may feel that it’s okay not to make it to the polls because so many other people will vote in favor of their cause. If enough people have that mentality, the minority opinion might win after all!

Having said that, as journalists, we must ensure that proper polling techniques were used, such as obtaining a representative sample, before reporting results. We certainly don’t want another case of the 1936 Literary Digest blunder. This applies even when sharing the results of a poll conducted by another organization. The information given to the public may bias their actions and we as journalists don’t want to be responsible for changing the course of history against true public opinion.

After arrest, Kevin Olsen departs UM


The University of Miami’s third string quarterback Kevin Olsen started off the season rocky by being suspended from the season opener game because of a failed drug test. He is now suspended from the team and is no longer a student at the university as a result to a DUI and a stolen or fake license arrest that occurred early Monday morning. To make matters worse, this is his second DUI charge. Olsen’s first came when he was in high school.

Monday morning he was caught with six licenses. One belonged to teammate Ronald Regula, another was a fake license from Maryland, and the others were from four different states. Olsen refused to take a urine test and failed a breathalyzer test by registering a .04. He was released on a $6,000 bond that same day.

Al Golden released a statement Monday night on Olsen’s departure.

“Right now, this is about Kevin and his family and we need to respect that,’’ Golden said. “He needs this time to look at himself and move forward, and I have no doubt that with the support of his family, his brothers, his mom and dad, and obviously those of us that know him really well, there’s no question that he’s going to have the right ending.… He’s going to win in the end.’’

Olsen had an opportunity at being Miami’s starting quarterback when Ryan Williams tore his ACL this past spring. Olsen’s scholarship can now be given to someone that will make the most out of the opportunity of not only playing for “The U,” but also being a student here.