I Tube, YouTube

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

YouTube.com has provided a platform for anyone to share their video with the world.  Free and user-friendly interface, YouTube allow amateurs and professionals alike to host video, embed video and stream it through any web site.  This has permitted many small news organizations a way to put video feeds on their own sites without using up bandwidth as YouTube takes care of the media delivery.  Large agencies also use YouTube, which is owned by Google, to host their video so that it may reach a wider audience.  Even legacy news companies, such as the New York Times have a YouTube channel so that they can broadcast  to a potential new audience as well as finding a new revenue stream.

Democratizing video distribution like no other web site, YouTube has become the world’s reservoir for moving pictures.

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About Facebook

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Facebook has been the most widely adopted social media web site in the world.  With over 500,000,000 members, Facebook has become a collection of communities that transcend geography.   Consequently, Facebook has been a popular way for news stories to spread, and a way for news organizations to stay in touch with their audience.  Last summer internet news site Texas Tribune reported that referrals to its stories came from Facebook more than any place else.  One community news site, Rockville Central, has moved all of its publishing to Facebook only.  Whether this experiment in Facebook only news will work in the long-run remains to be seen.

From helping to spur the Egyptian Revolution, to allowing journalists to connect directly with their readers, the magazine Mashable reports that “we’re only just beginning to see what’s possible with social journalism…the possibilities are endless.”

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Twitter Away the Time

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Founded in 2006, Twitter is a microblogging service that allows uses to send messages of 140 characters or less.  While many people use Twitter conversationally, the service is often used to transmit hypertext links to longer articles.  In times of crisis or upheaval, people have used Twitter to great effect in getting information out that journalists have not been able to cover.  In such situations, each tweet on its own is of small use, but the synthesis of thousands of such messages can paint first-hand accounts of extreme journalistic value.

Twitter, along with Facebook have been credited as being essential tools for providing communication among revolutionaries in the Middle East. All over the world, Twitter feeds have provided first-hand accounts of important events, long before journalists have arrived on the scene.  The sheer magnitude of information generated by these tweets is daunting.  One Portland, Oregon complany, Nozzl.com, is working to help makes sense of the topics flowing through the social media conduits.  The old saying is that journalists write the first draft of history.  Nozzl says that Twitter is the first draft of journalism.

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Is Media Social?

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

As communication becomes more about being interconnected, social media has connected people all over the world.  This ability to provide instant broadcast immediately what one has witnessed has created a new source of journalism.  This type of citizen reporting can be of varying levels of value.  Professional news agencies are just now beginning to tap this vast resource.

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Text is Text unless it’s Hypertext

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

First coined in 1965, the word “hypertext” refers to text that can be selected with a pointing device (i.e. computer mouse) that will then bring up new information onto the compute screen.  In 1991 hypertext was implemented on a world-wide scale across the internet with the hypertext protocol that would link documents via the internet in what would become the World Wide Web.  For example, clicking on this will direct the browser window to display an article about the history of hypertext.   The hypertext is generally distinctive by being a different color or underlined such as is the case here.

Hypertext can act like an instant footnote, allowing a reader to check an author’s sources with an immediacy never before imagined.  It can also permit an author to weave ideas and outcomes in a nonlinear way.  Hypertext can be used to augment a writer’s point and permits written constructions unlike those that would be easily executed on paper.  Such an example can be seen here in Nancy Kaplan’s hypertext writing about hypertext.

As the World Wide Web gained in popularity during the 1990’s, it became most people’s first exposure to hypertext as a medium.  People creatively pursued ways to make to most out of this tool, both as reference device (which is primarily how it is used today) and as a means of artistic expression.

Hypertext fiction writers tried to show how the narratives could be constructed in non-linear ways.  The genre never really caught on and today an internet search of “hypertext fiction” finds mostly web pages that have sat dormant since before the turn of the century.

One commercial site still active is Eastgate which bills itself as the primary source of “serious hypertext fiction.”  On the site one can purchase hypertext novels for $25.00.  It is unclear how many authors are able to earn a living writing in this genre.

Hyperlife.com seems to be one of very few sites left that links to live examples of hypertext writing, both fiction and nonfiction as well as poetry.  Looking through some of the fiction examples, it’s easy to see why this kind of storytelling has not developed a large following.  It would seem that if there was a true apetite for non-linear fiction, it could have been created in printed books using tabs or the like to choose different page sequences.

The most impressive use of hypertext in a purely reference-centered environment certainly must be Wikipedia which has gained the status of the world’s larges encyclopedia.  The use of hypertext allows a reader to very quickly jump from one topic to another via the most tenuous of connections.  Any subject that has an article will be linked to from every other article that mentions it.  In this way, Wikipedia creates a web all of its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Text is Text

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Traditionally, text has been a static documentation of words and meaning.  One on a piece of paper or microfilm, the text would be the same so long as the media was preserved.  Online, text can always be edited.  What a web page says today maybe very different from what it said yesterday.  Though, reputable publications are trusted to document their changes.

Archived scans of old printed media can also be found online.  While it would be possible to rewrite history, hopefully, the diffused nature of information on the internet will contain enough redundancy to guard against this type of fraud.

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Text

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

For Hundreds of years, printed text served as an economical, visual representation of language, readily held by paper and easily duplicated.  Now, many traditional print publications are migrating their content to web-based platforms.  This means that they are accessible by an unlimited audience and can be subject to unlimited distribution with minimal use of resources.

While images, sound and video take up the bulk of internet bandwidth (due to the large amounts of data required to store them), written text is still widely published. Stories are still “written” and writers still spend years honing their craft to make the best use of language.  The internet adds the new dimension interconnectedness which allows quick referencing to other topics or sites via hypertext.

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Data is as Data Does

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Perhaps one of the most potentially useful and interactive innovations of web-based journalism is the use of data visualization.  While the simplest pie-chart qualifies, computers have added new dimensions as well as the ability to create visualizations from reams of data very quickly.  Data visualization allows journalists to make the information supporting their stories more tangible by using it as a basis for these computer-generated visual representations.  An excellent documentary from Standford University well described but the potential and pit-falls of this method of reporting, and what it means to the field of journalism on the whole.

The Texas Tribune, the web-based non-profit news agency based in Austin, has a main section of it site devoted to data analysis and visualization.

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Not for Profit, No Print Edition

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Around the country some new news agencies have been cropping up, born on and built expressly for the internet.  Conceived on a non-profit model, they are beholden to no advertisers, and do not need to charge for their content.  Journalistically, some have seen high levels of success, such as Pro Publica which has received two Pulitzer Prizes over its short three-year life.  Other successful enterprises include The Texas Tribune, Minn Post and the Voice of San Diego. While these organizations are not beholden to advertisers, so far that are generally dependent on a select few angel supporters.  This is especially true of Pro Publica (the only nation wide agency) who is almost entirely funded by a 10 million dollar a year committement from the Sandler Foundation which also founded it.  So far none of these organizations have been around long enough to prove if they will be able to generate sustaining donations in the long run or not.

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New Ideas for Profit right now come from cutting costs.

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

As ad revenues decline for print advertising (due to reductions in circulation), for-profit news agencies are seeking income from new sources.  While these sources are located, they are trying to maintain profitability mostly by cutting costs, often by way of smaller newsrooms such as the case with The Oregonian.    As The Oregonian’s print addition has become thinner, they have been attempting to expand their online coverage, especially on a hyper-local level.  Currently, The Oregonian is involved in a project to partner with local blogs to expand news coverage for areas and topics which the newspaper no longer has the staff to cover on its own.  The Seattle Times has something of a similar program.

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