It’s your Internet, use it without limits


The creation and development of the Internet has made many people’s lives so much easier. You can find literally anything that you are looking for, with the exception of some private documents held by the individuals or the government. Businesses, organizations and people alone use it for everything.

On Feb. 26, 2015, there will be a debate as to how fast the Internet can be for certain Web sites. It’s kind of like how a cellphone company promises you unlimited data but slows down after you have used a certain amount of LTE, or long term evolution. It basically determines the speed of how fast your phone processes information. Same goes for certain Web sites.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will meet to discuss whether the Internet will remain open, or net neutral, and continue to give all Web sites the same speed, or give the Internet providers the right to determine which Web sites are their priorities.

Some members of the FCC will be fighting for net neutrality, which is the open-ended Internet that we all now use and love. The others, including Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, will be arguing for an Internet that is overseen by the government. He wants an Internet that prioritizes Web sites. In other words, Web sites that are used by a lot of people will get the higher speed while others will be slowed down or won’t be able to be used at all.

This change could cause havoc for people around the world. The Internet is not only for business but also for entertainment. Let’s hope for the best and keep the Internet in the hands of the people.

What she wrote here might surprise you


For modern-day Internet surfers, the above headline structure probably looks very familiar. And as a fellow Internet surfer … I’m so sorry that is the case. These days, we all seem to be inundated with what the Internet wizards have dubbed “clickbait” — and from sources that might surprise you.

Oops, I did it again.

Clickbait is exactly what it sounds like: material that baits people to click it. Because every click gives a website ad revenue, the sole goal of clickbait is money. Perhaps I’m giving it a hard time, and maybe the issue is not so plain and simple. But when websites begin sacrificing content for an abundance of catchy headlines—as websites like BuzzFeed have been increasingly known to do — that’s when these websites have fewer defenses.

Publishing material with a focus on making money is not deplorable in itself. Everything is a business; even the most respectable publication needs to make money. And whether for money or not, every publication desires to increase its readership.

Historically, publications have tried doing so through jaw-dropping headlines and rumor circulation, for just two examples of many, and so clickbait is just a modern version of what has been going on for years. But clickbait is tailored toward the Internet, an expanding market, which actually makes clickbaiters pretty smart. Looking at it from this angle, the intentions and strategies of clickbaiting should not necessarily be condemned.

However, the issue arises when the business side of publishing completely eclipses content value. When money and clickbaiting and page views are the ultimate goal of a publication and other goals become secondary or even nonexistent, we have a problem.

When these things are the sole objective of a publication instead of a side strategy to help bring content to readers, then publications are losing sight of their mission. The very Constitution of the United States protects the existence of these publications because they have a purpose and duty. If they were merely another form of business, then they would not receive special protections under the law, above what normal businesses receive.

Not convinced that things are getting a bit out of hand? Well, when Gawker writes an article called “The ISIS Babies Are Freaking Adorable,” in my humble opinion, someone is violating something.

As for what can be done about this epidemic of catchy headliners and lacking content, I wouldn’t claim to have the wisdom to say. But I can hypothesize that business should dictate the future of clickbait naturally, and it seems the tide is already turning. As people get more annoyed by clickbait’s empty promises, companies like Facebook are already responding for the sake of business. So the force that gave birth to clickbait in the first place—business—will hopefully be the same force that finally puts it to rest.

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.

#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.

Virality and sourcing online news


After the National Report, a fake news site, published a report about the arrest of Banksy and the reveal of his identity as Paul Horner, the Internet flew into a frenzy.

After the article was read more than five million times and shared approximately three million times, reputable news sites started publishing stories about the National Report’s hoax.

At this point, however, it was a little late for the news sites and blogs who did not take the time to confirm the story and banked on its virality being a sign of its veracity.

The National Report is a satire site from front page to obscure post, but its design unfortunately lends itself more gravitas than it should. It’s not obvious that the site is loaded with fake news and parody and, for the average reader, this can become incredibly confusing.

However, where the average reader ends and the journalist begins is where the excusability also ends in being hoodwinked by a satire website.

After the release of the report and the subsequent swell in attention, the many low and mid-tier news writers that neglected to fact check the story ended up with egg on their faces. The new way news is being disseminated hinges on independent journalists and their ability to break a story quickly and accurately. Often times independent news outlets from blogs to slightly more established networks, lack the hoops and chain of editors to stringently check each story for accuracy.

The reduced structure means that stories get churned out faster, but often at the risk of accuracy.

As journalism evolves, it will become even more crucial to hold ourselves to stringent reporting standards. It’s up to an individual reporter to maintain a high quality of work but without the help of an entire copy editing department it’s essential that the reporter stay cognizant of the basics of reporting and not get lazy, namely beginning a news report with facts not rumors or false information.

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.

Twitter: The ultimate news source?


The Internet has revolutionized the way people communicate with one another. This is an undisputed and well-known fact.

But I’d like to argue that social media, and more specifically Twitter, has begun to revolutionize the field of journalism.

Since its beginnings in 2006, Twitter has taken the digital world by storm. In spite of the skeptics, it grew in popularity at a record pace and has even been accredited with “launching what has been referred to as the “microblogging” phenomenon.”

Backing up a bit for my less tech-savvy readers, Twitter is a social media site through which people can create a profile for free and post messages of 140 characters or less about things going on in their lives. These messages are called “tweets.” People can “follow” their friends, family, favorite companies/brands, and news organizations to keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

Now, I say that Twitter is quite possibly becoming the ultimate news source for a number of reasons.

First, the obvious reason being that people no longer have to tune in to their local news station on the radio or television for the news. They also don’t have to wait for the newspaper to come the next morning. They can simply go their favorite news station’s Twitter account to keep up with what’s going on.

Not only is this a more effective way of distributing news, since it is reaching a mass of people at once; but it also is efficient because people can find out about news almost as soon as it happens.

But Twitter also acts as a news source for journalists and reporters.

By scrolling through their timeline, journalists can see what people are talking about and what the big news stories are at the moment. If there is a big event or big story occurring somewhere across the country, news companies can simply send out their people to go get the story instead of waiting to hear about it via another outlet.

In my opinion, these are all huge signs alluding to the fact that Twitter and other social media outlets are going to begin dominating the field of journalism and playing a larger role sooner than we think.