Blog Essay Class 6

Re: Shoemaker & Reese’s piece about hierarchy of influences says that “Routines in which starting times and deadlines are followed also tend to create gaps in what news is covered, according to research. It would be interesting to see how 24-7 online news has affected this.” How do you think the constant interconnectivity and need to stay apprised on the latest happenings coupled with our American desire for instant gratification fuels 24/7 news sources? It’s a common journalism anecdote—the one the author described about being in a meeting and copying/adhering to (or at the very least, following) the NYT agenda. This happens a lot. But I worry that the pitfall with this is that news just becomes recycled and monotonous, and there’s nothing beyond the tiny scope of our locale, region, city, state, town, community, state, and nation. That is why “global” news sources are important—like Al Jazeera and BBC. No news source is perfect, but we should definitely be aware of what goes on beyond the limits and confines of our own immediate community. How can we get people to be more interested in “global” news outlets like BBC and Al Jazeera? What do you think are the pros and cons associated with “global” news sources like those?

Re: Keith’s “Shifting Circles” article – It says, “among online news media outlets, for example, there is no standard staffing or process for preparing news for the Web. Even within individual newsrooms, routines have changed so often that dozens of routines for producing, editing, posting, and overseeing Web content may have been used and abandoned since the mid-1990s. That very tumult around online content production, however, suggests that a topic that has received some scrutiny deserves more.” What difference do you think it would make if online media outlets developed a standardized way of creating, editing, disseminating and updating their sites? Do you think this is desirable, feasible, etc.? If so, how do you imagine it would work? It might be a good idea because it would give us some sense of security as readers that our news sources follow some sort of protocol at least.

The anecdote about “Mr. Gates” to illustrate gatekeeping theory is still so true today. Editors have their own inherent experiences, opinions, views and biases – and even though they try to conceal or put aside those things, that doesn’t always work. After all, we saw that fact exemplified by something we read last class which said that despite NYT editor Jill Abramson being a female, men are still quoted a vast majority of the time in articles, especially about “female” issues like reproductive rights, pregnancy, contraception, abortion, etc. So she obviously has some biases and corporate influence that prevents her from publishing some things, and encourages her to publish some other things. Which leads me to my next question…. What is another way around the editor bias? Or is there even a solution to this? Wanting to know more about her as an editor (admittedly I didn’t know much), I began researching. Edward Bernays doesn’t begin any project without researching and so do I! J I found this pretty recent piece on her which I enjoyed reading – http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/new-york-times-turbulence-90544_Page3.html. The article indicates that Abramson is uncaring and cold. On other days, Abramson seems disengaged from the newsroom. “When Jill is engaged, no one was better. She’s an incredible journalist,” one former staffer said. “But as often as not, she can be totally absent. There are days when she acts like she just doesn’t care.” I wonder how her attitude and lack of support and morale for her employees influences the content of the articles? I wonder what it would be like to work in such an environment. I am no stranger to having both good and bad editors, and it definitely makes a world of difference in terms of content, speed, accuracy, ethics, turnaround rate, and overall happiness or dissatisfaction level in the newsroom. It can influence your growth and training as a writer, too—especially if you’re relatively inexperienced. For many writers, journalism isn’t formalized in its protocol and process—it’s an exercise in heuristics. Learning habits from a good or bad editor can set up your outlook and opinions for many years to come, that’s why it’s so important to have a quality editor in your newsroom organization. What qualities do you think make up a “good” editor?

Re: Ch. 9 from the book – I found the crux of Schudson’s discussion about “who makes the news?” to be very interesting. Dr. Rodgers loves a good metaphor, and I thought the author’s metaphor about Michelangelo, David and marble to be a great analogy for expressing the power and influence journalists have—and differentiating between *real* and *perceived* influence. “It is common for social scientists who study news to speak of how journalists ‘construct the news’, ‘make news’ or ‘socially construct reality’ (p. 165). This point was a good counter to the claims made in the previous articles, especially the one by Shoemaker & Reese. Yes, there is a gatekeeper, but he (or she) is not as powerful and omniscient as we think. Referring to journalism as a tangible thing was a new concept for me, and I am sure it was for some of my classmates too. We are almost indoctrinated to view journalism as an abstract result of a particular situation—i.e., there was an earthquake and now this is a video clip/documentary/article/radio piece about that incident. It seems purely episodic to me. Schudson and Tuchman introduced a foreign concept to me in this chapter—that news can be a ‘depletable consumer product that must be made fresh daily’ (p. 165). Viewing it from that perspective made me more sympathetic toward news organizations and media outlets. They are competing like the rest of us—individually and as a group. Individual journalists are trying to get ahead, make a name for him/herself and establish social capital in the workplace. On a larger scale, the organization for which they work is also trying to do the same thing, while also competing with other rivals and corporate interests. It’s a delicate balance, and I honestly don’t think we give enough credit (or any, for that matter) to news organizations. Instead, we are so quick to villanize and blame them. Indeed, it’s also important to note the facts, that “there is no consistent support for the belief that independent news outlets offer more diverse content than those run by corporate conglomerates or that locally owned media are better for diversity than national chains” (p. 166). However, I really believe that piece of information would come as a huge shock to many people. It’s easy to criticize the media, and not so easy to think of ways to reform it. In that way, it is very similar to politics. According to the author, “it is the absence of commercial organizations, or their total domination by the state, that is the worst case scenario” (p. 166). In other words, censorship or total absence of autonomy is worse than corporate control of the media. I would agree with that. Many countries don’t enjoy the same level of “freedom” as we do (I put freedom in quotes because that’s a loaded term that means very different things to different people). But we have the First Amendment in this country—like it or not. It’s better to have a variety of news (level of quality is up for debate), but be awarded the choice to sift through information that is readily available and draw your own conclusions. Dr. Rodgers has a link on his blog to the most censored countries in the world, which is appropriate given the aforementioned topic: http://cpj.org/reports/2012/05/10-most-censored-countries.php. The country where my parents were born, Iran, ranks number four on this list. I already knew this, as I had the opportunity to interview Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. In her speech, she discussed censorship and the need for democracy in Iran (picture below).

IMG_2893

Re: the YouTube video interview with Dr. Schiller was interesting. His original background is in economics, but he shifted to communications after finding economics to be “too restrictive” in practice, teaching and how it is written. How do you think communications and economics are related? Different? I think that the corporate nature of both fields is important to be aware of. Schiller discusses this about 13 minutes into the video clip, calling it a “media monopoly.” Thus, it can be said that capitalism is not just the basis of our country’s economic system, but also infiltrates other fields such as communications and media. The interconnectivity cannot be overlooked.

DQs:

–       How do you think the constant interconnectivity and need to stay apprised on the latest happenings coupled with our American desire for instant gratification fuels 24/7 news sources?

–       How can we get people to be more interested in “global” news outlets like BBC and Al Jazeera? What do you think are the pros and cons associated with “global” news sources like those?

–       What difference do you think it would make if online media outlets developed a standardized way of creating, editing, disseminating and updating their sites? Do you think this is desirable, feasible, etc.? If so, how do you imagine it would work?

–       What is another way around the editor bias? Or is there even a solution to this?

–       What qualities do you think make up a “good” editor?

–       How do you think communications and economics are related? Different?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

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4 thoughts on “Blog Essay Class 6

  1. littleredmermaid

    As I discussed in my comment on Suzette’s most recent essay, a news outlet (I believe it was CNN but from what I Googled, all traces of this blunder have been erased from CNN’s website) released information about suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing that was false information. The consequence of our need for instant gratification in this fast-paced, wifi world we live in is a mistake-prone media culture. When print journalism was at its peaked and relied on for everyday information, the journalists and editors may have needed to be quick to get the job done but it seems to me that there was enough time to get it right. The old fable of the tortoise and the hare comes to mind when I think of the race to get the story out there first…

    Although quicker may make more people happy in the moment, I believe it is important to get the information right before it is released for public consumption.
    It is difficult to raise interest and awareness about “global” news outlets when the market of competition in our national media culture is so fierce. The best way that I can think of to get more people to engage in an international news outlet would be through word-of-mouth from peers through social media or in day-to-day conversation. I think being aware of what is going on in the world in more of a global sense is important in order to achieve better understanding of different situations and cultures; however, I think, as citizens of one particular country, it is important to know what is going on in our own backyards. It bothers me that we concern ourselves with “world hunger” and think of children in Africa before children in the United States that go to bed without dinner every night.

    I love the idea of regulating how information is presented online but I don’t think it would work. First of all, those who are presenting information online might not be paid to do so and those individuals are not likely to adhere to a code (we can’t even get print journalists and telecommunication journalists to follow a short code of ethics).

    As far as editor bias goes, I’ve thought about this aspect before. I think the only way to insure that media bias stays out of media is to have it proofread by another media outlet or editor that has a reputation for being more to the right or to the left of the first outlet/editor. This system works sort of like our government system: a system of checks and balances. Although it seems like a good idea, I doubt media outlets would be willing to do so. I think the only way we can prevent media bias from affecting recipients is to make sure recipients understand the information they are reading and have a background in the media outlet they choose to acquire information from.

    Reply
  2. jessielynnking

    – How can we get people to be more interested in “global” news outlets like BBC and Al Jazeera? What do you think are the pros and cons associated with “global” news sources like those?
    With the standard television packages of today, people are hooked to the standard channels. I doubt the likelihood of any of these sources being made available on a station such as ABC. Perhaps celebrity endorsement via twitter or another medium could spread the word? Pros include a more rounded perspective. Also, perhaps a more honest and truthful take? Cons would be perhaps less concern about what is happening in the immediate community. The local community is the one we most have the power to influence and change. However, I think the further localized we go the more influenced the news may be.
    – What difference do you think it would make if online media outlets developed a standardized way of creating, editing, disseminating and updating their sites? Do you think this is desirable, feasible, etc.? If so, how do you imagine it would work?
    On first thought, and in general, I think standardization is good. It would likely lead to greater readability and likely higher levels of work. However, I imagine this would also take more time. The extra steps involved would keep us from getting our news immediately. I regularly see complaints about the typos – both spelling and grammar errors – in online news pieces. While standardization would likely reduce this, would people rather have immediate news or a perfect spelling and grammar? Perhaps a more efficient and quick method could be through development of a computer software that could serve as a way to edit and disseminate in a standardized format. While I am all for human jobs, I think the computer format may allow for more immediate processing and delivery of information.

    Jessie King
    jessking@ufl.edu

    Reply

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