Bitcoin surpasses expectations


On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Bitcoin, a virtual currency, surpassed the $11,000 mark for the first time. Hours later, the value of Bitcoin dropped by nearly $2,000.

Although the current valuation is nearly $10,000 for each Bitcoin, this shows a hefty return of more than 1,000 percent this year alone. This rise and fall shows not only the power of virtual data, but also the extreme volatility of it as well.

Today’s mass media represents a marketplace where all consumers want to feel represented and connected. This has opened a paradigm where people want to be involved in all things trendy – adjusting diets to be trendy, adjusting products used because they are trendy and adjusting lifestyles based on trendy material seen online.

This virtual paradigm causes a new level on inflation and growth that hasn’t been experienced in the past. Even 10 years ago, a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin would not have been successful, let alone making new millionaires.

The news media love to follow things that are relevant and Bitcoin has been no exception. All business journals and mainstay news networks alike have covered the swift rise in Bitcoin popularity and value.

Although not everyone is an expert on currency trading or this new category of currency, it is a trend that has been supported as such. News media coverage and influence has led to the rise and popularity, but with the uncertainty of all trends, Bitcoin may not be on the rise forever.

Hurricanes rise in ranks, media attention


On Saturday, Nov. 11, ESPN’s “College GameDay” came to UM’s Coral Gables campus for the first time in the show’s history – following one of the strongest football seasons in recent Hurricanes’ history.

The event not only sparked school spirit and excitement around UM’s football program, but it also brought to light who are true Hurricane fans and who are just hopping on the bandwagon. Starting on Wednesday, Nov. 8, ESPN crews began flooding campus, setting up all of the equipment and activities associated with “College GameDay.”

Although exciting for many, one thing became very clear – the news media will follow stories that are relevant and cater their opinions based off that relevancy. ESPN led into and opened the show with suggestions that the Miami Hurricanes just “got lucky” during the rest of the season and that they have finally met their match against Notre Dame – a team ranked higher than the Hurricanes before the match up.

Almost everyone other than die-hard Miami fans thought there was no possibility of the home team securing a win and rising in the polls. But then it happened. Following the Hurricanes’ monumental win, news media outlets such as ESPN immediately began to change their position on the game, saying “The U is back baby!”

In the era of “fake news,” biased reporting only gives fuel to the pandemic of labeling any story as “fake news” simply because one disagrees with the points and facts presented. Although ESPN’s “College GameDay” is a program that is heavily based off predictions and opinions surrounding each team playing on any given weekend, it brings a larger problem to light.

People across social media and other news outlets – both local and national – began changing their views and the way they reported their stories following the win. Sports are a difficult topic because everyone has their favorite teams and everyone wants to be a part of the winning spirit, even if that means ‘bandwagoning’ and following a team based on its success.

Although this is a common practice in sports, it gives people a new paradigm for opinionated and biased reporting. Changing a position on a story solely to gain more engagement and relevancy in the marketplace not only questions journalistic ethics, but also forces the journalism industry as a whole to conform to a new level of competition that hinders on the basis of the industry.

Long-term efforts aren’t supported


This week, storm-ravaged Puerto Rico faced another widespread power outage. A little more than a month ago, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria – one of the most powerful storms to hit the island in modern history.

Following Maria, the entire island of Puerto Rico was without power, there was widespread flooding, extensive damage and a significant lack of resources for recovery. The 2017 hurricane season has been one of the most active with many large, named storms making landfall in the Caribbean and the United States.

And the response was initially unparalleled. Celebrities, public figures, politicians and everyone in between reached out to help those impacted by storms with an outpouring of monetary donations, volunteering on-site and organizing events around the country to gather supplies to donate to the impacted areas.

This response was possible because of continued coverage on major news outlets and social media. In times of disaster people come together, but sometimes that isn’t always the case for people who aren’t directly impacted. This year, this was not the case. Almost everyone showed their support for storm victims in any way that they could, but something else came to light as a result.

It seems that storm relief is not sustained long-term. In today’s business and social climate, it is understanding that news organizations can only cover a story for so long without any new information. But, social media and the internet are new tools for people to connect, engage and support other groups of people that they may not have had access to otherwise.

This can also be a powerful tool for the opposite impact. In order for countries like Puerto Rico to not only rebuild, but repair its infrastructure to reduce the number of power outages, citizens need help. While initially an overwhelming support, much of the world, and media, has moved on to other stories.

Media help spread incitement of terror


This week, another vehicular terror attack occurred in New York City, killing eight people. The suspect, identified as an Uzbekistan native, claimed allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic terrorist group that has lost some of its reign over the past few months.

Following any major attack in which people are intentionally killed, ISIS almost always claims responsibility, whether the attacker was really acting on behalf of ISIS or not. But the terror attack that occurred on Oct. 31 may have been different.

Law enforcement and investigators are claiming that they have found hundreds of pictures and material linked to ISIS on the suspect’s cellphone. This comes after ISIS released statements encouraging its supporters to carry out local attacks such as this one.

So, why are these types of attacks on the rise? Well, in short, the increased accessibility to ISIS and other terror inciting materials on the internet and mass media. People can now see and interact with terror inciting materials on a more regular basis and, as a result, can sometimes become desensitized to the to the scale of these horrific attacks.

The media have been covering this story with constant updates since ever since the initial reports of the attacks. Some news outlets continue to share images of the suspect, while others share pictures of the truck in which he carried out the attack and maps of where the attack happened.

This is not a story that is going away any time soon. Unfortunately, news outlets have had to continue to cover stories such as these, including a mass shooting in Las Vegas last month and the multiple vehicular attacks that have been carried out in London.

The accessibility to mass media has bridged the gap of reach for terrorist organizations, and as a result, the frequency of attacks has been on a steady rise.

Trump releases JFK documents


After numerous tweets and pushback in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26, President Donald Trump released approximately 2,800 records on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.

Today, people are in a unique position that allows them to care about this information more than some may have in the past. Because of the widespread use of the internet, almost everyone now has access to these documents. These documents can help solve some mysteries for Americans concerning the death of JFK, and students alike to help them learn more about the history and outcome of the assassination.

But, JFK was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, which raises the question: after nearly 54 years, why do we care to learn more? The answer can be quite simple – accessibility.

Until recently, people would only have access to the information that was provided to them on traditional TV news, radio, magazines and newspapers. As a result, people could only follow a story as long as a predominant news outlet was continuing to cover the story. Today, however, that is no longer the case.

People have more access to information as a result of the mass use of the internet and data sharing.

President Trump has remained as unconventional as promised during his 2016 campaign trail. And while this case is no exception, it marks a new shift in data sharing that hasn’t been seen before.

Throughout modern history, the JFK assassination documents were held confidential within the federal government for a variety of reasons, most notably, for national security. As a result, none of these classified documents were either shared, nor discussed with the general public.

Trump broke this boundary, but he did something more – he allowed the news media to open a new dialogue and new platform for research. Because of the internet, people can not only engage and view these documents, but they can simultaneously conduct outside research from the comfort of their own laptop computers.

The release of these documents came as a surprise to many, but it showed how, as an online culture, people have shifted, and allowed themselves to be interested in topics that aren’t just breaking news stories or stories which only directly impact them.

In today’s news reporting, most people view these stories online. Through this new medium of sharing content, news organizations are able to include different types of news media such as videos, interactive photos and hyperlinks to outside sources – none of which are able to be included in traditional print publications.

When reading the news about the JFK documents, readers are able to click on a link leading them directly to the documents. This is something that, even 10 years ago, was not widely available or used.

UF hosts Richard Spencer appearance


On Oct. 19, the University of Florida Gainesville campus hosted self-proclaimed alt-right white nationalist, Richard Spencer – the first college appearance for Spencer since the violent events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va., in August.

This comes after the university originally tried to block Spencer from speaking on its campus but the decision was later appealed because UF is a public institution. Therefore, the university could not prevent someone from speaking because of his or her specific topic or beliefs.

The decision, however, was not met without great controversy. In the days leading to the event, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency for the county where UF’s main campus is located. Law enforcement officials from across the state have been on high-alert since Monday, Oct. 16 and Scott said he was also going to have the National Guard on standby for the event.

Once Spencer arrived on campus, there was almost immediate protest among the UF community, with many students showing their opposition to the infamous speaker. During his speech, many students stood and began shouting “black lives matter,” and “go home Spencer.”

This story received a lot of news media attention throughout the day, but some of the best coverage came from students who were right in the middle of the protests. Students began sharing short videos and photos on social media and news outlets such as CNN began sharing similar content.

For many college students, Twitter is a great tool for news coverage and this situation was no exception. Social media give people the opportunity to connect with other like-minded people, along with getting more diverse information in a timely matter.

But social media are not the only platform that was able to cover this story with a relatable point-of-view. In today’s social environment, people are quick to share their opinions, even in the news media.

Thankfully, this has paved the way for more “relatable” platforms and reporting for many. During the coverage of Spencer’s speech, the conversation in the news and online began to discuss the larger issues at hand than just Spencer’s speech, and the groups he represents.

Modern news media coverage has lead to a new dialogue for reporting and has allowed many to feel a personal connection to any given story – starting the conversation and sometimes leading to new inspirations for change.

Power comes from many voices


Hollywood scandals are nothing new. In today’s society, the attitude of people quickly calling anything “corrupt” is on the rise, and Hollywood has been the subject for conversation about corruption for years.

It seems that every few weeks, a new case of an alleged sexual harassment by news media executives seems to surface. As these stories develop, more people come forward to speak out about their alleged abusers – sometimes exposing misconduct from years in the past.

This has never been more relevant than recently. As seen through the Harvey Weinstein allegations, new platforms allow people to come forward without fear.

The news media have been following the Harvey Weinstein story almost nonstop since the initial announcement. Since the original claim of misconduct by the Hollywood film mogul, many people have come forward describing how they were abused by Weinstein, and many have condemned his actions.

But the media has done something else that wasn’t possible in the past that helps victims expose their abusers and hold them accountable – everyone is able to join the conversation. This open coverage gives people from all backgrounds, everyone from Hollywood A-listers to interns, the ability to enter a “safe-space” online and on-air to share their experiences and have a community to help them through their situation.

The news media have helped victims tell their stories and connect appropriate people to condemn abusers’ actions. A few major actions have influenced this change: social media, more focus on entertainment and opinion TV and the openness of society to engage with strangers.

This engagement can range anywhere from random arguments to a complete support system by a set of strangers. Because of this type of new media and focuses within the media, there are more opportunities to share and expose stories that may have traditionally been kept “behind closed doors.”

Las Vegas video raises questions


Competition in news is cut-throat with the increase of social media and electronic reporting. To compensate, news corporations across the globe have started incorporating multimedia to stories to engage a wider audience.

But one common question has blurred over the years, as organizations push to share the most newsworthy, unique and engaging content – what should be edited and how far is too far? The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has showed that this line is blurring even further, and news media companies will go to great lengths to gain business.

In the days following the shooting in Las Vegas, the largest in modern American history, photos and videos began emerging from the incident. Among them were point-of-view videos from people in the crowd sounding the shots raining down on the crowd, police response to the scene and the initial investigation of the shooter’s room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

But something not seen until recently stood out. Major news organizations began sharing gruesome photos of the shooter’s hotel room, including images of the weapons and ammunition the shooter had in the room, along with an image of his blood-covered body from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Before now, this type of content was not widely shared. Editing of content in mainstream news media previously protected viewers from this type of content, and if anyone wanted to view it, it would take a lot of digging around the Internet to find a not-so-reputable online source leaking the information.

So what has changed over the years? In short, social media.

Today, it is so easy for anyone to share content to a mass audience with very little regulation. The constant pressure felt by large news organizations to stay ahead and get the most viewers to their sites, requires content to be well-developed and have more stopping power on social media feeds than any other person or organization sharing the same information.

More often than not, that comes by pushing the envelope and sharing content that may not always have been widely acceptable in society. Modern news media and the use of raw, point-of-view video are some of the most important components of a story to engage users. Has this push to stay current desensitized Americans by experiencing more long-term exposure to difficult topics? The response to the Las Vegas shooting has proven that censorship is not what it used to be.

Celebrity deaths: Successes dominate


On Wednesday, the estate of Hugh Hefner released a statement that the Playboy founder passed away, age 91, in his infamous Playboy Mansion. Known for many things, Hefner was most recognized for his lifestyle that encompassed his Playboy brand.

But through the years, Hefner was in the spotlight for some negative things, including loss of some of his fortune, how he treated his beloved “Playmates” and scrutiny for his sometimes “dangerous” lifestyle. As referred to by many of those close to him, “Hef” was so focused on his Playboy image that as he aged, he retreated from the spotlight in his final years.

Until the sale of his popular LA home for $100 million in 2016, Hefner was shying away from public appearances, hosted fewer Playboy parties and was not featured in the news.

But following his death, the world has been pouring out their memories and reflections on the late Playboy founder. Every news station, every newspaper and every social media site is covering his death nonstop. More than just a magazine publisher, Hefner started a new revolution of sexual acceptance and extravagant living – shifting the Playboy brand from just a magazine to a brand and lifestyle.

All news outlets, celebrities and everyone in between has been sharing kind words and remembrances of Hefner, and a total disregard for the criticisms that many shared in recent times.

Hefner is not the first celebrity to experience this kind of coverage post-mortem. Before his death in 2009, Michael Jackson was in the news media for scandal after scandal and legal and personal problems. Immediately following his death, the world came together to remember his profound impact on the music industry, and nothing else.

It seems that, especially with the era of “fake news” and social media, scandals and rumors overshadow some celebrities’ work and careers until they are dead. With so much competition, all media outlets need to stay current, and get viewers and readers engaged, so, sometimes coverage of trivial celebrity drama is the best thing to achieve this.

Once celebrities die, it is newsworthy in itself, so media outlets have the time and flexibility to dig deeper into their lives and appreciate what made them famous. The coverage of Hugh Hefner shows that media is on this path, and doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

Harvey: Social media have driven relief


Hurricane Harvey: a true American tragedy. This damage has not been seen in the United States since Hurricane Katrina, which left the city of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana battered. Taking years to rebuild, the city of Houston will now face a similar fate.

But one thing in particular monumentally separates these two disasters – the use of social media as a mass media news, reporting and fundraising tool. Through social media, we have been able to get up-to-date recounts of Harvey, including from residents trapped inside their homes as a result of the flooding.

Following a disaster, a few major things are needed. Those include basic supplies such as food and water, first responders and volunteers to help people who may be trapped and clear debris, and monetary donations. More money means more help.

For many, hearing about natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Harvey can be heartbreaking. But, until recently, people have not always had access to up-to-date information or ways to help other than what was broadcast on TV and radio. Today, that is no longer the case.

A-list celebrities such as Kevin Hart, the Kardashian family, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus and Leonardo Di’Caprio, have pledged millions of dollars to aid in the relief of those affected by Hurricane Harvey’s damage.

And how was this money raised? It all began when comedian Kevin Hart posted a video to social media challenging other celebrities and public figures to donate a minimum of $25,000. Since that video, similar videos of celebrities pledging larger and larger amounts have gone viral. On every news station, website or social media platform, you will find another donation in the thousands, even millions of dollars.

This is something that was not parallel to the response of Hurricane Katrina. As a result of these famous donations, people all over the country have been encouraged to help in any way they can – being able to give donations to organizations like the Red Cross right from their cellphones.

The response to Harvey shows the true power and reach of social media. Today, in times of disaster, everyone can come together and help in any way possible, regardless of where they are located. In a setting as casual as a social media feed, seeing any and everyone join a movement influences and encourages people to do the same.