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NABJ Convention 2010: Hot Topics

July 25, 2010

So much has happened in the first six months of 2010 that it will be difficult focusing on a single topic. Everything from natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake (and unnatural disaster coverage, i.e. BP Gulf Spill) to newer ones like the recent and ongoing issue of media coverage and former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod.

For purely selfish reasons, most commentary on Shirley Sherrod seems to be the most attention grabbing right now. No one current event is more important than the other, or even comparable really, but Sherrod’s seemed to add fuel to the debate of whether or not newer forms of media should be welcomed in the traditional world. Old vs. New. My answer is a resounding yes, of course it should be, but until I head to San Diego I won’t be able to hear all perspectives on this.

Another, yet not-so-hot topic is ESPN’s coverage of LeBron’s James departure from professional basketball team the Cleveland Cavaliers. While “The Decision” itself adds to the not-so-hot moniker, viewpoints on the matter will definitely be dynamic. Besides being an avid basketball fan and native Clevelander, it’ll be interesting to hear what people think about how ESPN handled it. I’m especially interesting in hearing the significance of it from a network’s end. The ESPN ombudsman has already openly criticized “The Decision” coverage, lending an introduction to the conversation. Overall, I just hope I don’t hear any Mistake on the Lake jokes!

Lastly, another hot topic is the organization itself. On the NABJ listserve it was found that other professional journalism organizations are looking into the possibility of joining forces and collaborating on annual conventions to save money. There’s nothing awry about being financially responsible, so this addition lends itself more so to the curiosity aspect of what conventions will look like in the future.

Of course, more hot topics are to come. When the student projects information becomes available I’ll be sure to post it here, along with general information and other happenings going on around this year’s convention.

The Digital Journalist’s Survival Guide

July 24, 2010

While looking around I found Jennifer 8. Lee and Hacks/Hackers joined forces to create a concordance of sorts of terms relating to digital journalism. The list is evolving all the time and the latest version can be found here. The great thing about this list isn’t so much the terms, but the definitions too: it’s difficult to dive into the list without looking up what something is or something related as well.

Such a list could also encourage some to begin seriously trying to understand what the web really is. This isn’t to say anyone’s clueless per se, but Hacks/Hackers mission is to do just that. Now, they believe journalists should a clue as to what goes on with computer programming as well (yikes), but the message is clear. Fortunately web basics aren’t all that difficult to understand once you get the hang of it. The gibberish known as HTML can be deciphered if given the chance.

Here are some of the terms that stood out, and why they were chosen:

algorithm — A set of instructions or procedures used in order to accomplish a task, such as creating search results in Google. In the context of search, algorithms are used to provide the most relevant results first based on those instructions.

Algorithms are the prime reason why SEO is so important. Facebook and other sites that heavily rely on searching and gaining information to operate use algorithms as well.

data visualization — A growing area of content creation in which information is represented graphically and often interactively. This can be used for subjects as diverse as an analysis of a speech by the president and the popularity of baby names over time. While it has deep roots in academia, data visualization has begun to emerge on content sites as a way to handle the masses of data that are being made public, often by government. There are many tools for data visualizations, including Seattle-based Tableau and IBM’s Many Eyes. Data visualization should 1) tell a story, 2) allow users to ask their own questions and 3) start conversations.

Simply put: Why explain away when visuals can do it for you? This isn’t to say explaining isn’t important, but when something such as, say, the national debt keeps rising, seeing what a trillion of dollars actually looks like is more thought provoking. The U.S. currently owes about $13 trillion and is steadily accruing more.

ontology — A classification system with nodes or entities, that allows non-hierarchical relationships, in contrast to a taxonomy, which is hierarchical. Taxonomies and ontologies are important in content to help related articles or topics pages. (Also see taxonomy)

An ontology breaks away from the manner in which most web developers have worked on navigation for websites in the last decade. In fact it can a bit difficult to imagine creating navigation that doesn’t use taxonomy, but it can also make a website much more interesting and fun to navigate. It seems as though blogs may have helped this become popular via navigation tools such as tag/word clouds.

These are only a few of quite a few entries, of course. One doesn’t have to me in the digital/new media realm to find any of these useful, and can actually help distance any journalist from shovelware or simply make their web content a tad bit more interesting.

The list will likely look a lot different in coming months and I look forward to what Hacks/Hackers come up with next.

Check this out: NABJ Digital

February 10, 2010

Take a gander at NABJ Digital’s blog. I occasionally write for it, and have neglected to say so. *Sigh* So scatterbrained right now, lol.



January 24, 2010

Soooo, I’m trying to do this thing called a documentary. It’ll be about the U.S. Census, specifically, the changing face of America. People of color are barely a minority any more.

The project is driving me crazy, at least the planning part of it.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, since the last census actually, which would mean I wanted to make this since I was about 12. I’ll definitely get it done though. Right now I have the necessary means to do it (editing suites at my disposal, and a host of other stuff) so I pretty much have to get it squared away before I leave. For good. I’m outta here in May🙂. Really though, I need to get this thing started. Hopefully I can get some filming in this week!



January 24, 2010

I’m at a point where I use my phone and computer to access the internet nearly equally.

Once upon a time saying you were using the computer was synonymous with using the internet. It still kind of is, but it now I actually stop and think about what someone actually meant when they say something along those lines. <– mouthful, lol.

This isn’t a new phenomenon or anything, I just randomly found it interesting again after following @ShaunKing on Twitter for the last week and a half. He’s orchestrating aid for Haiti through his Twitter account (also via mobile apps) just as much as other means of communication. He also mentions the concept of red tape a lot, which probably has a lot to do with the evolution from a computer-centric internet. He was able to communicate with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN) and get five neurosurgeons to Haiti, and all via Twitter. Try that in “real life” and he would likely still be trying to get a hold of him.

I admitted Twitter did indeed make itself useful a while back, but I do have doubts about it as a professional medium for most individuals. Even though I use my own to talk about news and journalism, I also just made mention of my cafeteria mac and cheese being crunchy. I actually see this as a good thing though.

– Bliss

The Media and Natural Disasters

January 22, 2010

With the quake in Haiti still fresh, the prime source of news and updates are coming from media outlets and people on the ground with access to communications.

Having such a narrow pool of options to get information from (not to mention little word from the Haitian government), there are three things the media seems to be focused on:

1.) Haiti as a country before the earthquake.

2.) The Haitian people before and after the earthquake.

3.) Medical and social attention needed in Haiti, both in relation to earthquake injuries and existing ones (reports of people needing medical attention for diseases and medial problems they already have).

Simply put, there is little about the earthquake itself but more so on the state and condition of Haiti as a whole. Being familiar with the troubles of Haiti and the Haitian government, it would actually be easy to think some of the issues going on are new. This isn’t to downplay what the country needs right now, but the tragedy that is how without a disaster the three points above would still be an issue. I found an article about how the media covers natural disasters. Nothing about it is too surprising, but does point (especially in terms of broadcast media) to the newsworthiness of the issues of people themselves. This is a good thing, of course, but again leaves the question of how those three points above could be dealt with without a disaster.

Overall it points to the media as being an important voice when a natural disaster occurs (an obvious point, they provide information). What about, however, when the attention surrounding a disaster wanes? The six month and year updates of the earthquake’s aftermath will be interesting indeed. It’s impossible to fully write about the media and how it deals with natural disasters without time itself really. Having control over even the slightest bit of information isn’t necessarily a good thing 100 percent of the time, so it will be interesting seeing what will become of this latest disaster in six months and, later, a year out.

Whut Oh/School.

September 13, 2009

Starting with school, I’m referring to Rogers High.😀

I start teaching again this week. I have a mind to ask the class what it is they actually want to learn besides writing, which they have to do anyway🙂 . I would love for them to start a web version of their paper, but that would require extra time to actually show them how to navigate that sort of thing. Hmmmm.


As for the whut oh (haha) my school is actually beginning to listen to me about the web thing. I’ve started teaching people HTML/CSS and brought it to the newsroom as well. I’m not sure what’s going to happen exactly, but I’m kind of jealous of everyone who entered the program before me, lol. It seems as though all the helpful stuff finds the limelight when I leave somewhere! Anyway, they’ve asked me to be on some sort of advisory board as a student representative; it’ll be interesting to see how that goes.