Saturday, October 25, 2008

Multimedia journalist

I think Steve Garfield’s visit was really illuminating. He’s the proof of what an entrepreneur journalist can accomplish by self promoting himself and taking full advantage of technology.

Until his visit I wondered why no one had come up with a tool that allows transmitting live footage to the web. Now I know it has been out there for almost a year and it is called “Qik”. I’m sure it won’t be long until it is used for some television formats too. I think this tool will end up forcing traditional media to do what it has been trying to avoid so far: to become new media with a different perspective on how media industry will have to work from now on. How will it have to work? I don’t think anybody knows for sure, but it is most likely that future journalism will not resemble what has been done up until the last 10 years.

Garfield also raised an important question with one of his videos , the risks that this great technology could carry with it, such as ethical issues. Citizen journalists will soon be familiarized with this tool and start using it as a common way of transmitting information. Garfield himself mentioned that his video brought up a debate among his audience: in the video a woman that seems to have some kind of speech impairment, interrupts an interview and speaks to the camera in a way that could be considered funny or weird. “Why did you show her?” he told to the class many people asked him, and frankly I thought the exact same thing. That is a debate for another blog, but the point is that it will be very difficult to control and filter what is being shown in the web when it is transmitted live and if one begins thinking about the bad things that could be shown it is a worrying scenario.

At the same time it raises another topic. If a lot of people gain access to generate newsworthy material and send it for free to networks and other media, how could that affect journalists with a steady paid position? How will it affect them when a citizen journalist sends breaking news material to the station before they can even get up to go look for it? .

I guess the comforting answer we will continue giving ourselves is that a professional will always have more skills than a citizen journalist to do a better job. Let’s hope this remains a fact a few years from now, in the meantime let’s get to work to learn everything we can about multimedia journalism!

But does all this make Qik a bad tool? Absolutely not. It is a great advance of technology and it can help enhance journalism as well.

I think Garfield is a great example of what a journalist that combines creativity, knowledge and a camera can achieve. In his website you’ll find many things besides the work he’s doing with Qik.
For instance, if you are interested in video blogging not only you can watch Garfield doing it, but he also shares his knowledge by explaining you how to video blog here.

One can also learn about blogtalkradio, an amazing tool that allows anyone in the planet to have their own radio show. I’m a radio fan myself, so I will sure enjoy Garfield’s radio show.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An adventure to Montreal

Northeastern university’s Ruggles station was crowded last Saturday early in the morning. After months of expectation the date finally arrived: international students were going to know for the first time the city of Montreal in Canada.

The International Students and Scholar Institute of Northeastern University has a full agenda for the international students this semester. As part of the international orientation activities, ISSI organizes trips to many destinations within the geographical limits of U.S. But the trip students had hoped for a few months was the trip to Montreal and it was finally taking place.

The group of 30 students from more than 15 different countries, departed at 6 a.m. from Ruggles station in a bus and arrived to Montreal at 12 p.m.

The first destination was Mont Royale, a mountain which serves as the most significant green area of the city, although green was replaced by red, yellow and orange, the colors that take over the mountain during fall. Students went to the top of the mountain where they enjoyed the amazing sight of the city.

The group was guided by Scott Quint, Director of the ISSI. He explained some facts that characterize the “union between Europe and North America” essence of Montreal. Quint said that “People from the province of Quebec are very proud of their roots, just like French people. They implemented a law in Quebec, through which people are obligated to speak first in French. They used to have signs in both languages, but they decided to eliminate the signs in English and now they only have signs in French”.

And during their stay in Montreal, students verified this: every sign is in French, people will always say first “Bonjour” and many people can hardly speak English, which could be considered strange since they are Canadians.

The hotel was located in Old Montreal, one of the most visited areas by tourists. Old Montreal’s architecture is mainly antique; many of the buildings are from the 18th century. One of their most renowned places is the Notre Dame Basilica. Its construction began in 1842 and it was not until five years later that it was complete.

The second day in Montreal the international students got to know another fascinating building representing a different style of Montreal’s architecture: the Olympic stadium. The stadium is located in downtown Montreal, almost half an hour away from Old Montreal. It has the biggest inclined tower in the world and has an observatory which hosts thousands of visitors every day.

Even though students were enjoying the view of the city in a beautiful sunny day and had more activities planned for the rest of the day, they decided to head back to Boston. There was something more important than learning about a different culture: The Red Sox’s game was on that night and even international students can’t avoid becoming a Red Sox fan in Boston.
And although the Red Sox lost the game latter that night, Rauno Peet , one of the international students from Estonia said “Coming back to see the Red Sox was definitely worth it”.

If you want to see this picture, click here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Online radio Vs. On Air Radio

I think WBUR is definitely taking the right direction shifting its focus to online radio as component of aired radio instead of as a parallel project. As Robin Lubbock mentioned in class, we should look at it not as “multimedia” anymore, but as “unimedia”. All the new technological tools work together and we should use all of them to get to the audience.

As previously mentioned by Prof. Kennedy, it is important to notice that radio has an advantage over other media, and that is that unless someone comes up with the marvelous creation of an instant transportation machine, we will still need to take a few precious minutes of our lives to get to places by walking, driving, etc., and it is likely that in the meantime people will like to listen to something, as radio station. That doesn’t mean radios should not worry about online competitors as print and TV do, but will get to that point further down.

Another aspect that might worry local radio stations such as WBUR is that technological advances will soon allow NPR to reach directly to listeners through satellite radio and there will be no need for smaller radio stations. That does not seem likely because of the same principle we think print media will never disappear. First of all, there is always need for local news, so WBUR is more likely to grow in this sense rather than decrease. Also in terms of revenues and sponsors, it is more likely that local institutions will sponsor local radio stations rather than national wide stations.

But even though apparently WBUR should not worry about a future extinction menace, the fact that they use many technological tools to help make the station be as interactive as possible, can only be positive for them. It offers extra services to their listeners: someone who always listens to the station will probably like to receive their station’s website news updates. And they will probably be interested in cheking out what the rest of listeners have to say or comment. And if there are photos to share and people to meet even better.

I worked in two radio stations for over 5 years, and the possibility of having another way to interact with the audience is really important. We only had the chance to receive emails and had a few chat rooms, until we found out about a tool named Orkut, which works similarly as Facebook and we had a great reaction from our listeners: they formed communities and made it work by themselves, proposing themes and possible discussion items for the show.

So using Twitter, Flickr and Youtube? Definitely Yes. It might not attract new listeners (it would be interesting to get some figures about the online ratings), but not using those available tools today is not an option.

A good example of how important online interaction can be for a radio station is Boston's Kiss Fm. Their teen audience spends a lot of time uploading photos, blogging and even reading their political news update. They concentrate all their interactive tools in their website, unlike WBUR that links to programs that might take you out of their web. (which I don’t think is a bad thing to do).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Learning in Wired Journalists

I think Wired Journalists is a great social network for journalists and I like the fact that it is prepared for all kinds of journalists such as students like us, who still need to learn a lot. Browsing it is easy and uploading the photographs a piece of cake.

I chose this picture because it captures part of the great skills of this dancer on the street.

You can see my other two pictures in my profile in Wired Journalists.

I think Wired Journalists should be more exploited and used by journalists. Maybe we need to “spread the word” so more journalists will join it and we’ll have even more people to learn from because it is really good.

The group I joined in Wired Journalists is “New multimedia.” In it I found “Live reporting the written news!” which presents a new tool for bloggers. The program is called coveritlive and it is a great program I’ve never heard of before joining this group. The program makes possible that while the blogger is writing in his or her blog, the readers can actually see what the person is typing in real time.

Thus if you are not near your computer but you have a blackberry or an Iphone, you’ll be able to report from your cell phone immediately to your blog and your readers will be able to watch while you are doing it.

It’s ideal for politics and sports bloggers. For instance yesterday’s presidential debate was an ideal event for bloggers to use this tool: after the debate a lot of people turn to blogs to see what the comments are and being able to watch as political analysts write about it must be really exiting and it gives blogging a new dimension. But most of all, since we have been talking about the importance of blogs and the advantage of interaction it has over other media, this makes blogs even more interactive and will make readers feel like they are real part of the process of blogging.

I think this could be applied for practically all types of blogs(besides journalist’s blogs), for instance an artist’s blog: every time they post something his or her fans have the opportunity to be there in real time while he or she is writing it.

I haven’t tried it yet though, I hope it’s easy to use!.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

About link journalism

I realized it is not easy to find topics that interest Boston blogger’s enough to make them write a blog about it. When I found out the goal today was to look for blogs that gave opinions about recent news, I thought that an obvious subject would be the Palin-Biden debate. What a surprise when I realized there were not that many blogs about it. Actually, I could not find 5 blogs about it. Weird, huh?
So I kept looking. Bailout? No luck either. So I looked to the obvious issues: MBTA complaints? Not that many. Another one I thought would be for sure in blogs is the Big Dig. There are many about that topic, the problem is there are no news about it, there are mostly old blogs.
So I decided to go one issue I’m sure everyone in the United States talked about: Sara Palin’s pregnant daughter. And since I’m not a sport’s fan (the Red Sox are the exception of the short amount of blogs created by people from Boston) I finally decided to go for it, even though incredibly there are not that many blogs about that issue either.
In Prof. Dan Kennedy’s blog Media Nation (Technorati authority: 178) , there is a statement about John Marshalls argument regarding the roll of Sara Palin’s daughter in the McCains campaign.
While McCain Campaign argues that children of candidates should not “become topics of the campaigns debate”, Mccain campaign is the one that exploits Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, says John Marshall.
Prof. Dan Kennedy says it is not as black and white as Marshall is saying, because the media is also playing an important role in going over this information and digging in it as much as possible.
I believe this was a great opportunity for the press to make of this election an interesting, thus profitable one for them: it was almost boring until the “pregnancy” was announced and in the future there is no doubt this event will be one of the most remembered things in this election. I really don't know how the McCain campaign also promoted this, so I rather not express an opinion about it.

Another blog I found had an interesting view about this issue to debate and post comments in is BunkoSquad, Building yesterday's tomorrow, today (Technorati authority: 11). It is stated there that Bristol Palin never had a choice to not have her baby, since her mother (being an official figure in the government) would have never allowed her to make another choice. It also states that to understand Sara Palin's "supposedly admiration" for her daughter’s decision (considering according the blog that she never made the decision herself) one has to be from the right wing. My question is, if a person wants to have an abortion, isn't that private information in United States? Couldn't she go through it without everybody finding out about it three months ago (before Sara Palin was elected as vice president candidate) or is that impossible? Because in that case, I think it was her choice, probably with her parents support. I just can't imagine in the 21st century having your mother forbid you to make a decision like that, even if she is Sara Palin. And besides, who are we to say that we know what Sara Palin orders her daughter to do? And what does that have to do with being from the right wing? Even though I'm a non partisan person, I think this blog is too biased towards the left wing, and has no argument to sustain anything in it.

I found another post with interesting arguments but still easy to contradict in Cheapthrills (Technorati authority: 61) also posted in Universalhub (Technorati authority:296) In the blog, two hypothetical situations are presented: seven years from now Barak Obama’s daughter Malia is pregnant an unwed. The comment in the blog is that there is no way she would be labeled as a courageous young woman with strong family values like Palin’s daughter is labeled nowadays by some people. It also says that evangelicals would not rally behind her as they do behind Sara Palin.

I assume that the first comparison is referred to the fact that Obama’s daughter is African American, and that would make a difference in the context and the acceptance she’ll get. I don’t think so. The real issue here is that Bristol is Sara Palin’s daughter; it is obvious that people that support her and McCain will say this is the best thing that could had ever happen. On the other hand the fact that she has the evangelical’s support is because she is from the Pentecostal church which is also part of their religious movement. Would Obama’s daughter receive the same support is she was from their religion? I’m sure she would. Let’s look at big picture here and not try to see things where there aren’t.