Journalists and using social media


I want to preface this by saying this person is a college student and not a paid reporter and, according to a comment from ESPNU in a Washington Post article, has a “very loose affiliation” with the network.

A student reporter at the University of Alabama made a name for herself Thursday morning, but not for any good reason. Marisa Martin, a ESPNU Campus Connection reporter, took to social media to express her opinions regarding the Florida State University campus shooting that occurred just after midnight Thursday morning.

Martin tweeted, “reported gunman on the FSU campus. Maybe he is heading for Jameis” in reference to the FSU quarterback who has been in the spotlight for both on-field and off-field action. Immediately she received criticism from followers and responded with: “Since apparently I cant make a joke in all seriousness I hope everyone at FSU is safe & that the gunman is found. But I stand by my opinions.”

She has since deleted the tweets and is claiming her account was hacked.

Whether in college or not, Martin’s actions should concern all journalists. Are our future journalists too comfortable with social media? Is social media enabling hasty and opinionated reporting?

Given the context of the situation, it would have been inappropriate for anyone to tweet something even semi-offensive, let alone an aspiring reporter working for one of the most prominent news outlets. Joking or not, college students, especially those entering the journalism field need to think twice before posting on social media.

Make that three times, just for good measure.

#BreaktheInternet supported by media


If you’ve checked Twitter lately (or opened up the Internet for that matter) you will know that Kim Kardashian is trying to “break the Internet.”

Ground-breaking news, right?

Kardashian took very tasteless (read: nude) photos for an issue of Paper Magazine, which was released earlier this week. The “goal” was to get the magazine and Kardashian trending on social media so much that the Internet would crash, at least I think that was the point.

Regardless, it’s been a topic of discussion.

Using social media to promote the cover is one thing, but when journalists start reporting reporting on it? Simply absurd. This “story” does not deserve the attention it’s gotten but unfortunately, sex, entertainment and controversy sells. Readers and viewers hone in on stories like this that are pop-culture focused with recognizable names probably more than an international or finance story.

What’s funny is that in all of the #breaktheinternet coverage, the reporters discussing the topic bash Kardashian and the hashtag trend. I’ve heard things like “Horrific! She is famous for nothing,” “I can’t believe people are following this trend,” and “why are we talking about this?”

Yes, why are you talking about it? If you don’t find it valuable information to report to the public, use some judgement and shut your mouth.

When media creates the drama


I’ll admit that I over exaggerate in regular conversation, and in that context it’s a little more accepted. But if I were reporting a news story, regardless of the topic (sports, national, local), I would be sure to reign in my drama-like tendencies. But it seems that some journalists do the opposite. Not only the entertainment and gossip journalists, but sports and news journalists too.

The saying “no news is good news” is not necessarily true for media outlets. Drama and disputes appeal to viewers/readers. Plain and simple. So what’s a journalist to do when there isn’t any drama one day? They create it…and audiences soak it up.

By asking inciting and provoking questions to subjects, journalists can create a story out of nothing. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 1-3, and for the last 20 minutes on Sports Center reporters have been discussing “what’s going wrong.” They brought up possible behind-the-scenes feuds and egos. But is anything really wrong? Maybe if they had a severe losing record halfway through the season, but they’ve only played 4 games. Like LeBron, and before him Aaron Rodgers said, “r-e-l-a-x.”

Even in non-sports journalism, like the news surrounding the Ebola crisis, reporters can cause a stir over, well, nothing. I understand that Ebola is a very serious, life-threatening issue, but we need to reign in the drama. If we listened to the doctors and not solely the reporters “interpreting” the doctors, we would know just how difficult it is to catch Ebola and that the chances of getting it in America are less than being struck by lightning.

The next time there’s a slow news day, journalists should embrace the downtime and not create trouble for the public and more work for themselves.


‘Surviving’ as a female sports journalist


As a female, an avid sports lover and maybe a future journalist, lately, I’ve been discouraged. Sports and journalism are individually hard enough to break into, but when fellow journalists and media members do very little to accept female’s sports reporters as “one of their own,” it becomes almost impossible to succeed.

More so, when the media equates appearance with talent, it only hinders the opportunities for women in this field.

I read an article in Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago about Rachel Nichols, a former ESPN reporter turned CNN reporter and talk-show host. It discussed how Nichols has become an impactful sports journalist and how she transitioned to CNN. But since then, Nichols’ CNN show was cancelled, proving that it’s very hard for women to actually succeed in this industry.

Just weeks prior Nichols was praised on social media when she asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell more “aggressive questions.” She didn’t skirt around the issue like other reporters (male or female) did. Despite her approval from social media and fans all around, she didn’t garner enough “support” to maintain her CNN show.

Also, not counting TV personality Erin Andrews (because I think she is more of a personality than reporter anyway), how many other female sports journalists could you name? That just goes to show that while women may be succeeding in other journalism fields, sports is not yet one of them. Speaking of Erin Andrews, this football season is her first on the sidelines with the leading Fox Sports crew. She replaced long time veteran Pam Oliver who felt she was demoted because she wasn’t as “young or blonde” as Andrews.

Would this matter for a male reporter who may not be “the best looking”? Most likely not. It’s just that women are inherently judged by their appearance, and media entities assume that a good appearance = good ratings. But until fellow journalists and those media entities get into the 21st century and start not only accepting but promoting female sports reporters, we have a very tough road to success.

Risking our safety to gather news


Journalists have been known to go to great lengths to report breaking news. From standing on the front lines of war to sustaining a hurricane, journalists don’t back down from challenges.

With that being said, when is it enough? Where is the line that can protect them from serious harm?

The recent health crisis of Ebola has once again brought the issue of journalism safety to the forefront. Unfortunately (and ironically) NBC journalists went from just reporting the story to being the story.

Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance photographer for NBC News, was infected with Ebola while working in Liberia with a team of reporters. He was transported back to the U.S. and is thankfully okay, but there are thousands of people who have not been so lucky (predominately in West Africa).

After being pronounced “Ebola free,” Mukpo tweeted “I don’t regret going to Liberia to cover the crisis. That country was a second home to me and I had to help raise the alarm.”

His selflessness and dedication can be seen as honorable or crazy to some. Some people don’t want to put their lives on the line for the news. But others, like Mukpo, find a deeper story. They don’t just want to report, they want to help people.

I’m torn between fully supporting their desires and insisting they see a professional. Yet maybe I’m not at the point in my life or career where I understand their actions. In fact, I one day hope to be so passionate about something that I would “die” for it. Most likely that passion won’t be reporting, but instead my future family. Nevertheless I commend those who want to report on and raise awareness for issues throughout the world.

Should we be watching news or fluff?


While watching the 6 a.m. news today, I noticed how much of the newscasts, particularly local newscasts, are filled with edited packaged stories. These are stories that are prepared in advance and are not time sensitive, including interviews, event features and pieces that require less in-depth journalism.

Essentially, they could air any time that week probably.

While these are nice additions to news shows and can lighten up a hard news day, should they actually be classified as “news”? At 6 a.m. I saw a story about the new Trader Joe’s opening and one about a new store at Disney where children can go for “Frozen” makeovers (like the characters from the movie “Frozen”).

Not only are these features very “fluffy,” but they seem to take up more time in a 30-minute newscast than hard news or breaking news stories. I understand and accept that the morning news shows (“Today,” “Good Morning America,” and so forth) are usually a combination of feature and hard news, but now that local news is following that path, I think enough is enough.

Some people only have 30 minutes in the morning to watch the news and I don’t think hearing about the new Trader Joe’s is at the top of their lists of concerns.

theSkimm: News in the 21st century


Have you heard of theSkimm? Are you a Skimmer? If not, get with the 21st century … if reading the news is not your thing.

A daily e-mail subscription started by two friends and former journalists, theSkimm brings the top stories of the day to you via email. But the news is “unique” per se because as their website says, theSkimm is a “filter.” It analyzes the top stories of the day and “breaks it down” in an easy to understand manner. They give pop culture comparisons, include sarcastic comments and write for their target audience: the 20-something woman.

I see the benefits and drawbacks of theSkimm. As a subscriber who wakes up to the e-mails first thing in the morning (you can pick what time of the day to receive emails), I really enjoy the service. But I’m also the type of person who reads/watches the news on my own time. Even after reading theSkimm in the morning I’ll turn on the Today Show or local news because that’s just something I like doing. I don’t rely on it as my only source of information, but more as additional support.

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An article from theSkimm on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

For those who don’t read or understand the news, especially international news, theSkimm can make you sound like a Harvard graduate instead of a high schooler. (Exaggeration, but you get the point).

Instead of raising your eyebrows in confusion when a colleague asks if you’ve heard about riots in Hong Kong, you would be able to respond. However, if you wanted to really contribute to that conversation and form a strong opinion, you should probably do further research and reading.

I can see how traditional news-followers and devoted newspaper subscribers would have a fit over theSkimm, but I think it’s really a great service for modern young adults. Particularly college students who are just transitioning out of the “all-about-me-world” to the “real world.” It’s a good stepping stone from relying on just Twitter for the news.

Who knows what the future holds for theSkimm, or print journalism for that matter. But as of right now, it looks like both are here to stay.

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.

News under the radar


After analyzing the news this week, I found that the overwhelming majority of stories focused on sports (particularly the NFL domestic abuse scandal) and ISIS.

While I personally have an interest in sports and have been keeping up with the ISIS crisis, I’ve also read many other stories that I consider very important. What concerns me is that these stories are very under-the-radar and I’ve seen them get pushed to the end of the news segment. That, or they don’t have the amount of coverage I think they deserve.

For example, this week President Obama announced that the U.S. will be sending troops to West Africa and investing $88 million to help fight the Ebola virus. Also, I’m sure you’ve heard about the wild weather on the West Coast, but did you know just how severe the flooding has been? How about the wildfires in California?

These are just a few examples of recent headlines. Now I don’t blame the journalists or reporters who cover these “smaller” stories because I actually think the American public is generally to blame for what makes the top headlines. The journalists are just giving the public what it wants: drama. 

Americans gravitate to stories involving drama. The NFL scandal and ISIS crisis are both very pressing and important issues, but they just so happen to have a rollercoaster of events. Not one domestic abuse case but several. Not one beheading but more. These topics would make headlines regardless of the public interest (because they are important!), but it’s the every minute coverage that detracts from the other news.

Maybe if Americans showed interest in and concern for other topics, the news headlines would follow. I don’t know if this is a problem or just over-analysis, but nevertheless, the top news stories all do an oddly good job at maintaining drama.

The real problem in the Ray Rice scandal


On Monday, the National Football League announced the indefinite suspension of Baltimore Raven’s running back Ray Rice after new video footage surfaced of Rice punching his then-fiancée in an elevator.

But more than just the NFL’s disciplinary action against Rice, the media coverage of late has been focused on one person: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. From opinion articles, to interviews and tweets, many people are calling for the resignation of Goodell because of how he handled the domestic violence situation.

While I think the NFL did an awful job at initially reprimanding Rice by ordering only a two game suspension, I don’t necessarily think Goodell is the one at which the public should be mad. Yes, I personally think the first video was more than enough evidence to penalize Rice more severely and send a strong message against domestic abuse, but many people are forgetting that Goodell wasn’t the one who beat his wife.

He is not the problem. Ray Rice and the thousands of other domestic abusers are the problem.

Goodell may not have done a good job the first time at implementing punishment, but he and the NFL at least admitted to their wrongdoing. Unless more evidence surfaces that shows they definitely had more inside knowledge of Rice’s actions, then that may change the situation. But the continual discussion of Goodell’s handlings is overshadowing the main issue here: domestic abuse. I hope that, as this story develops, the public attention moves toward combating the issue of domestic violence because it is not just the NFL’s problem, it’s society’s.