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Archive for January 25th, 2007

QOTD: There is more to be seen…

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

“There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen / More to do than can ever be done.”
— ‘Circle of Life‘ from the ‘Lion King’

When MySpace is front page news

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I once had a detailed conversation with a reporter and the now former public editor of the Beacon Journal about why Facebook wasn’t front page news. At least, I didn’t think it was. I talked it through and came away realizing, well, OK, maybe old(er?) people are just slow on the uptake.

So, is MySpace front page news? It is today at the Beacon.

And you know what? I think that it’s a fine place for that story. (And not just because my own loathing of MySpace.) That is a story that needs to be told.

I suspect that the Beacon had more teenage readers today online and in print than any time in the last century. Why? Well, partially for the glory. (Did my friends get a plug? I wonder if I can deduce whose profile he points out. Hey that’s my bondage bear he’s knocking! and so on.) And partially for the “pissed off” factor. I imagine they raced home to post in their MySpace blogs little messages about how now their parents are breathing down their necks, and to sum up the point of the story in the words I suspect will be used most frequently: “F— the Beacon Journal.”

Akron teens, you have a lot of explaining to do.

The thing is, these kids are not stupid. They should know better. Anyone who posts anything on the Internet, whether it’s photos of them passed out with beer bottles beside them or attacks on fellow classmates or coworkers, should assume it’s publicly available. It’s part of the new world order.

I particularly liked this article. I have read what seems like a million stories about the horrors of MySpace and Facebook. This one was different. Why?

It doesn’t preach. It doesn’t make any pretenses or tell parents or teens how horrible they are letting these pages exist. Nope. It just lays it out there. It says this is what I found when I was surfing MySpace. I wasn’t a college admissions clerk. I wasn’t an employer. I wasn’t a pervert. I was just looking to see what was out there. Here’s what Akron teens have to say about life.

And by letting teens incriminate themselves, it is a far more effective story than any I’ve seen on the topic in the past.

Pres. Bush is not the ‘American Idol’

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I admit it. I love American Idol.

Well, I love the preliminary rounds of American Idol. I don’t sit around every Tuesday (is it on Tuesdays? I haven’t watched TV regularly in so long.) and root for my favorite. *cough* Well, I mean there was that one season. (Ruben was so adorable.)

Anyway, the point is, I’m not alone. Apparently, according to TV Week, this week’s American Idol show garnered a larger audience than President Bush’s State of the Union on all of the four major networks — combined.

Now that’s a very sad testament to our priorities. I would say the off priorities of my generation, but I know quite a few people my age who watch the State of the Union each year for one reason: it’s a drinking game. I guess if that’s what it takes to get them interested in politics…

Learning from each other

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Today, someone asked me if I used to be in broadcast.

Now anyone who’s ever seen me could probably tell in an instant that I don’t have a broadcast look. Not to mention, I say like and um entirely too much. (It’s a habit I work on every day, and one I’ve come a long way with since freshman year thanks in large part to the daily lectures by a certain law professor. I’m also sensing it’s one of my new editor’s pet peeves, so I really need to drop it quick.)

It wasn’t my look or my speech that made the photographer I was with today ask me that. I think it was probably how I approached the story.

My paper isn’t necessarily cutting edge in terms of online journalism. I knew that coming in, and in fact that was part of the reason I came here. I could contribute and bring a lot to the table. (I will give them one thing, there is definitely a huge push for reader interaction, both online and in print. They do that very well. There are also a ton of breaking news and story updates throughout the day; well not a ton, but a respectable number. There is definitely the get the news up on the Web as soon as possible and then update vibe.)

The paper is only just beginning to do video and sound slides, and several of the staffers went to videography training recently. So it’s still in the early stages. I was glad today to see that when I was sent to cover a fire, without a second thought they sent a photographer and then another photographer to shoot video.

So, when I was out there interviewing people and he was shooting the fire fighters/B-roll, I would tip him off on who he should get comments from on video and why. From the fire chief to the business owner to the employee who first spotted the flames. I mean, you can only tell so much from words in print. The emotion doesn’t always come through, hence the appeal of video. (On the way back I even teased that if he was quick enough with his editing he could beat TV. We’re not quite there yet, but I say give it time. Plus, the story and photos beat TV by a long shot, so that counts.)

And it occured to me that while I am definitely still learning and even relatively routine things like covering a fire are still novel enough to hold my interest, I am not the only person learning new things. There’s a lot I can and intend to learn from my editors and other reporters and photographers, but there are also skills and a mindset I have that I can pass the other way. I can show them to think for Web in the way I do, not even as second nature so much as an expected part of the package. We can learn from each other.