Keeping connected through news


Through the course of this blogging assignment this semester, one particular aspect of news reporting has stood out for me. News keeps us connected.

Whether it be to what is happening in our local town, city, country and even on a global scale, the news provides a way of staying informed about what is going on around us and often is the main force that maintains our connection to place.

The Internet in particular has enabled the news to transcend physical boundaries thus facilitating individuals to stay connected to their homes when abroad. Most people have their main preference for their news source however, when they are in a different city or overseas, their choice of news outlet changes in order to remain up to date with the local happenings of their current location.

Despite this, continuing to check our news source from home is what creates a connection for individuals who are so far from their local environment. Even though this news is not relevant to their current location, often it is valued more highly by readers as it enables them to feel part of the community that they are from.

This notion has been evidenced in my experience being on exchange in Miami. While I realize the importance of following the news published by American sources and I have actively integrated these publications into my daily news routine, I am often more interested in reading the Australian news. This is not only to keep in touch with what is occurring back home. Rather my familiarity with the news structure and the layout of the publications and websites that I normally frequent means that I prefer to use these sources to obtain my daily dose of international news as well.

Perhaps what is most important to note is that no matter what reputable source of news is predominately used, frequenting multiple news sources enables individuals to gain a comprehensive picture of news events from around the world.

Reporting on UM special events


This week marks the all-important and long-awaited rivalry football game where UM will take on FSU. It is no surprise that all the major campus news publications are focusing on this story. However, it’s interesting to see how news principles are impacted by the focus on this story.

In particular, from reading the news publications such as The Miami Hurricane, one would be led to believe that the only thing occurring this week on campus is the football game. In maintaining this focus, the paper fails to recognize that there are students and faculty members who are not wholeheartedly interested in the game. Therefore the lack of reporting on a wide range of news topics this week, has compromised the ability for these people to gain news information about other events on campus.

Additionally, while in general an important news principle is the removal of bias from reporting, this event poses an instance where bias is actively integrated into stories. It is an intrinsic part of creating excitement for the event through stories and building suspense for the campus population.

However by favoring one side, due to the publication’s affiliation with UM as the major campus news publication, the newspaper is ignoring its responsibility to remain objective throughout their news reporting practice. Yet, this may not be such a terrible thing and perhaps it is even something that is called for in this circumstance.

One thing is for sure, it is interesting to see how the reporters develop fresh and unique perspectives on this topic. Despite the repetitive topic, the articles vary in their focus in order to provide students with a wide range of information on the game. From safety precautions to team preparations and even the history of the rivalry, these articles don’t fail to provide intriguing insights into an event that can most definitely be called the highlight of the semester.

The changing face of online news


With the transformation of news reporting to an online medium, traditional forms of breaking the news have been replaced by new, constantly updated platforms. The pervasiveness of these platforms is enhanced by their interactivity.

However, while in the past the online news environment was dominated by the same news corporations that controlled print news journalism, recently the online shift has enabled new forms of news websites to emerge.

One particular website that has infiltrated the online news arena and is fighting to claim its place in the list of reputable news sources is Buzzfeed. Originally, Buzzfeed’s main purpose was providing information that already existed on the Internet in an entertaining and engaging format. However, after establishing Buzzfeed News, the website has transitioned into breaking news in a similar manner to other online news sources.

Buzzfeed appeals to a younger audience through its informal format. The high use of images, videos and gifs presents human interest news stories in an compelling way. This is furthered by the ability for users to comment on the stories, often leading to incredibly high levels of shares for many news articles.

This highlights the main attribute that sets Buzzfeed apart from its competitors, the way that it capitalizes on the blurred boundary between print and online media that has been created by social media.

However, while this format has gained popularity with the younger generation, which consists of heavy social media users who favor interactive articles, the lack of a traditional news format can force readers to question the credibility of the news reported.

Breaking news and privacy issues


The way that news reporters handle sensitive issues is a strong point of discussion in the news industry. Over the weekend, I became engrossed with following the updates of a national news story in Australia that hit home for me as it affected my community and dealt with a sensitive issue.

The story covered the disappearance and search for an 11-year-old girl that was declared missing after running away from home on Saturday evening. The search began for the girl when she hadn’t returned home since she left after an argument. Fortunately, she was found after a desperate two-day search conducted by more than 1,000 volunteers and the police.

The positive attributes of the news industry were highlighted through their assistance in the search for the girl as multiple news outlets broadcast the story on the television, print newspapers and online. This aided the search by increasing awareness and, ultimately, the cohesion of the news outlets with the family was what led to the girl being found safe so quickly.

However, following the girl being found and returned to her family, I found certain aspects of the news coverage of the story rather invasive and potentially detrimental to her recovery and her future. In particular, when the parents of the girl went to fetch her, they were bombarded by news reporters standing outside their house and following them with cameras and recording devices. This invaded their privacy during an incredibly difficult time. Additionally, the girl’s father then became the subject of some news articles as they delved into the family history to discover that he was due to attend court on a separate manner.

In covering this sensitive issue, reporters need to remember the potential future impact that their reports can have on the girl’s life. Not only will she need to recover from the ordeal, but she also has to deal with life in the spotlight until the news coverage dies down. This is incredibly difficult for a girl of her young age to have to deal with and the reports will forever follow her due to the everlasting nature of the Internet and the ability to find information with a simple Google search. This demonstrates how it is important for news reporters to remain mindful of both their obligation to report the news but also to respect the privacy of the people involved in their stories.

More information about the story can be found here.

The latest Internet news hoax


Over the weekend, news reports surfaced detailing the arrest of the renowned graffiti artist, Banksy. The online news reports were very detailed, referencing sources and being displayed on reputable news websites. In order to cement their credibility and the authenticity of articles, news reporters utilized multiple sources and a traditional news layout to provide information to readers. Thus, I was not prompted to question the authenticity of the article that was published on the U.S. website National Report.

The article gained heightened traction as it spread through social media over the weekend. The prank managed to convince thousands of social media users, with his name trending on both Twitter and Facebook. The reports claimed that the pseudonymous British street artist, whose graffiti artworks have appeared around the world and often have an underlying political motive, was charged by London’s Metropolitan Police for vandalism and his identity was revealed. However, these reports were falsified on Monday morning when the artist’s publicist, Jo Brooks, confirmed that the arrest was a hoax.

This story conjures a number of critical issues that currently plague the news industry, particularly in relation to the online nature through which many individuals now receive their news. It brings forward the question of the role of social media in spreading the news in a truthful manner. With many people relying on social media and the Internet as a source of news information, it is increasingly frightening for society the more that these types of fake articles emerge.

As more reports have developed that reinforce that the original article was a hoax, the increasing difficulty for readers in determining which sources they can trust is ever-present. Is it the readers’ responsibility to check the sources quoted in articles? It appears that this is the only way to ensure that the news we are reading is accurate, yet this is impossible for every reader to execute. Instead we will continue to trust the news outlets that provide us with the latest information on activities around the world.

Perhaps we just need to remain aware and look out for any possible fabrications before wholeheartedly believing what we read.

Infographics help tell the story


News reporting does not just mean providing the facts.

News reporters are responsible for providing factual information about events occurring in the world in an easily comprehensible manner. All too often, news reports complicate the matter further, distorting the public’s perception of the issue at hand.

A particularly relevant example of this is the reporting on the spread of the Ebola virus, that has been covered by the media during the past month. Updates about the disease are continually reported, however, instead of providing information about the disease, many of the articles are written in a way that increases fear in the public about the disease and how it can affect them.

However, a recent notable exception was the The New York Times article that provided more in depth information about the disease, particularly through the use of infographics. Aptly titled, Q & A, the article refutes rumors about the scale of the outbreak of Ebola around the world by using a question and answer format.

The graphic answers the most common questions that are currently being asked about Ebola and provides simplified explanations about the science behind the disease. This format demonstrates the fundamental principle of news reporting in informing the public, rather than providing misleading information that complicates the situation through the use of scientific jargon.

Answers to the questions are further enhanced through the use of graphs, tables, timelines and diagrams, which clarify the situation for the reader. By presenting the facts in this way, The New York Times illustrates the situation in a more clear and concise manner and ensures that readers are informed.

While creating these visual representations of the facts and figures is time consuming, it ultimately provides a more valuable news report for the public while simultaneously foregrounding the publication’s position as a reputable source of information.

Capturing the attention of the public


How often do you listen to the news while you’re in the car? Does the evening broadcast play in the background while you are eating dinner? Do you scroll through the news headlines on your mobile on the way to work without clicking through the full articles?

More and more, reading the news has become something that is done quickly and often when we are not fully engaged in what we are reading. This poses a threat to the news reporting industry as journalists are forgoing writing deeply researched stories in favor of those with catchy headlines in order to increase page views. This has also increased the pressure on journalists to write succinctly and convey the news in an efficient manner.

Gone are the days where reading the newspaper was a relaxed activity that was granted a specially carved out of period of time in the daily schedule. Now people are always multitasking and have the news on in the background.

Many news outlets have recognized the decrease in the attention spans of readers and have adopted video broadcasts to appeal to the more tech-savvy, younger audience. However, the use of these videos has an ulterior motive. With advertisers closely monitoring the time readers spend on webpages, watching videos captures the audience’s attention for longer than general articles and thus secures more advertising dollars for news websites.

This highlights the change in perspective of news conglomerates from providing news to gaining more advertising. In a sense, the public is losing in this instance as our attention is transformed into a commodity that these firms want to secure in order for them to draw in the maximum advertising dollars.

Another issue in response to the increased lack of attention of the public in reading long news articles is the emergence of newsgathering services such as The Skimm and The Daily Beast. These services provide a daily email newsletter that summarizes the top news stories for the day and can be personalized based on reader tastes and preferences. The Skimm founders noticed the lack of attention paid to the news media and summarized their reason for starting their daily summaries by stating:

“We soon realized three things: Reading the news is time consuming; Wanting to read the news is a hobby; lastly, not everyone has the time or interest.”

However, these services violate the principle of bias as their opinions about what is the most important news of the day imposes an implicit bias onto what news is fed to their readers. While these services ensure that people received their daily dose of news, people who rely on them are often led astray and can often miss crucial news items that might be highly relevant to them.

Ultimately, the way in which individuals absorb the news is based on personal preference. Whether one chooses to read the print newspapers, online websites or receive e-mail updates, it is important to remain aware of the potential biases that may be clouding the objectivity of many news outlets.

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.

The role of today’s fashion reporters


As the fashion world moves into its second week of frenzy, designers, bloggers, buyers and models are out on show with photographers and reporters scrambling to document their every move and be the first to report on the latest fashion news.

With London and New York fashion weeks having concluded, the fashion pack continued its jet setting by landing in Milan this week. For the majority of society who aren’t part of the fashion elite, the news media reports are our only source of insight into what goes on at these exclusive events.

The exclusivity of this industry results in fashion news presenting many points of discussion in terms of the role that reporters play in providing to-the-minute updates about the events and trends.

However, through the increased use of the Internet and social media, it can be argued that the role of the reporters is becoming less relevant. With bloggers and celebrities posting immediate updates throughout fashion shows, the general public is fed snippets of information through Instagram snaps and Twitter posts.

The issue this presents is that these people provide limited viewpoints. They do not follow general reporting principles and their reporting reflects their opinions and personal judgment.

Additionally, of late, fashion reporting has been infiltrated by a multitude of young amateur bloggers, many of whom have racked up thousands of followers based on their social media accounts. With many people trusting these bloggers as the source of fashion news, there is less reliance on the reporting by professional fashion reporters.

Ultimately, in order to gain an accurate report of the fashion events of the season, multiple sources may need to be consulted. With many fashion experts shunning the new flock of bloggers for their lack of professionalism and experience, is will be interesting to watch if their access to these intimate shows is revoked or increased in the future.

Additionally, the fashion industry faces constant ridicule by reporters in other industries and is often not taken seriously. As reporters compete in the race to discover the latest “it” items, less care is taken in regards to reporting accuracy.

This was highlighted by a prank experiment staged by a blogger to see if photographers and reporters believed that she was part of the fashion elite based on her alternative clothing. Her results highlighted that fashion is all about perception, often the truth isn’t relevant at all. I find this concept interesting yet contradictory as it undermines the fundamental principles of news reporting which should apply to all reporting industries.

Role of reporters in the Pistorius case


Today, South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013.

Since the trial began on March 3, 2014, it has captivated audiences in South Africa and around the world. However, the way in which the coverage of the trial has unfolded in the media is an issue that opens a wider discussion into the nature of news reporting on court trials.

Reporters are required to remove any personal judgment from their writing, as their coverage is the single method through which the public is delivered the information about the case. They need to be aware of the potential the media has to influence public perception of the parties involved in the case.

In this case, the judge recognized this influence of the media, suggesting that witness accounts drawn upon by the defense in the court were not sufficient evidence. This is a result of multiple interpretations of the situation being reported and thus the witnesses’ opinions were transformed by public opinion.

This influence was aided by the presence of social media in the coverage of the story. In particular, multiple newspapers and reporters provided continual updates as the case progressed through Twitter. The judgment was turned into a global spectacle with news websites delivering information through livestreams of the courtroom. The live streaming of the ruling provided a new dimension of insight for the public. Furthermore, social media enabled the public to comment on the case as it progressed.

The question that needs to be raised in relation to this is whether it is acceptable to invade these spaces and release this information to the public. While the public has the right to the information, perhaps the live streaming adds an unnecessary dimension to the reporting.

While Pistorius remains accountable for his actions and the associated consequences, the situation has been exacerbated by the media’s coverage of the event, which has transformed him into a celebrity for all the wrong reasons. When writing these types of news stories, reporters have to use their own moral compass to determine where to draw the line between invading privacy and providing information.

In the same way that Pistorious is accountable for his actions, reporters need to be aware of the impacts of their words when covering these sensitive issues. They have the potential to irreversibly alter the way in which the public perceives situations.

In this case, the work of news reporters has ensured that Pistorius’ achievements and success as the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics, will be forever overshadowed by this event.