Thursday, December 6, 2007

Life after blogging

Since Newspaper production is almost over, this will probably be one of my last posts in this blog. Unless, of course I decide to keeping blogging about Student Media. But I think I'd like to move on to a broader subject either way.
I just wanted to say Bravo to the Breeze though. I know I gave them some crap earlier about their editing, but I was happy to see that they were adding a blogging section to their online paper. Good for them. I think it was a positive move for The Breeze since media is heading towards a multimedia trend.
But then again....I was upset at The Breeze today. Front page....main picture...huge mistake. The caption for the photo spells Harrisonburg's mayor Rodney Eagle as Rodney Egle. Oh Breeze. And the cutline also didn't say what position all those important people held. Some people might not know who the mayor is. Oh well, guess it happens.
Anyways....back to blogging. I have one other blog about me and's kind of a wedding blog for everyone who's coming to the wedding. We update it when we have a date, location, blah blah blah. Stuff like that. Buuuuut writing in it definitely doesn't make me think. So I think I'd like to start a new blog. I never thought I would everrrrrr want to start a blog before this class. Blogs are lame. Rather, blogs were lame. But now I'm trying to think of a new topic to start writing keep my brain working over Christmas break.

Any ideas for new topics would be greatly appriciatedddd!
I'll miss you Student Media blog :(

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fellow Newspaper Production people...

I wanted to go ahead and create a poll about our class. You all know it's anonymous, but I wanted to see how people thought about journalisms trend toward multimedia after taking this class. If you have time please take it! I'd really appriciate it!

Our Story....

Here's a story written by Helen Stackhouse about our wonderful Newspaper Production class. If you're in the class, you've probably already seen this, but for those of you who aren't familiar with on and enjoy!!!

By Helen StackhousePosted by SMAD
SouthMainOnline Explores the Future Journalism

Harrisonburg, VA- The future of journalism is rapidly progressing towards the web. In the past few years, large news sources have added more advanced online features to their websites providing readers not only with stories, but ways for readers to contribute to the stories. The increase of blogs, RSS feeds, discussion forums, and video stories are a part of almost ever major news site, CNN, USA Today, Washington Post, and etc.Toni Mehling, professor and director of communications, has brought some of this new technology to the SMAD 210 class. The class has created an online publication called, which is run every semester by students of the class. SouthMain originally began as a print tabloid publication for the magazine course taught by Dr. Wendelken. As the journalism industry continued to grow technologically, Mehling and Wendelken together transformed the publication to an online source.The purpose of the website is for students to learn and utilize the tools of online journalism. To create the online video stories, the students are currently using consumer-grade video equipment and audio equipment, and also software to create slideshows and audio bites. The course will be constantly changing as online journalism technology is also continuously changing. This semester, southmainonline has added student blogs, RSS feeds, and they are now exploring the online medium of podcasting. “I have a group of students who have really grasped this idea of taking the same journalistic skills they have been learning and turned them toward new media. They are still telling stories, but they are telling these stories with visual mediums in addition to print,” says Toni Mehling.In previous semesters the site was run by a web class or a web administrator, however for the first time the students of the class are posting their own materials to the site. The students are now learning the basics of accessing server content and posting blogs, online articles, photos, and video and audio clips. The topics of the student blogs range from environmental awareness to insight on politics. “College Morals” is an example of a blog discussing the ethics and morals involved with college life and students. The blog is updated frequently with posts about college social life, co-ed living, or simply thought-provoking questions.Journalism today has taken the course of online technology the SMAD journalism department has adapted to the new medium of communication. “The reality is that media is changing. This past year I conducted research in which I surveyed managing editors at newspapers around the country asking them what skills they require of reporters they are hiring today. Almost without exception, they are looking for journalists who have some knowledge of technology; the more, the better…Today, you can't be just a print journalist with no technology skills and expect to be marketable,” states Mehling.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More on Fox News

Continuing with what I said in my earlier post about Fox News, I found a pretty neat list of things called the "Fox Network Spin". This list includes a number of ways that Fox manipulates their news. Enjoy!

When presenting hard news stories, the Fox News Channel always includes the network spin. The network uses a number of techniques to mutate reality. Here are just a few:

Method #1: Non-reporting. A news story about rising gas prices blames regional environmental clean air standards. According to Fox News, "some officials say environmental regulations are driving up prices by forcing fuel refiners to develop different blends." This is only partially true. The reporter does not mention other factors including the lack of refining capacity in the United States; OPEC holding back production; the simple economics of high-demand in the U.S.; poor fuel efficiency of U.S. vehicles; and the fact that even with price increases, the U.S. STILL has the lowest cost per gallon of gas in the world. The Fox News spin is that the only reason gas prices rise is because of those liberal environmental laws. (June 3, 2004)
Method #2: Conceptual Name Calling. A news story about global warming is titled "Junk Science." The first line of the newscast says: "The global warming treaty known as the Kyoto protocol is politically dead in the U.S. But the treaty's left-leaning environmental extremist supporters haven't given up their fantasy of creating a socialist global economy through controls on energy use." This report includes no scientific evidence of global warming and ends with the comment that "the junk science-fueled Kyoto protocol would be an economic suicide capsule." (June 4, 2004)
Method #3: Political Name Calling. The Fox News Channel makes a sharp distinction between Democrat and Republican and liberal and conservative. Network news always identifies political party affiliations. For example, a report on Congressional hearings involving Bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft said Democrats "accuse John Ashcroft" and "Democrats kept focus on a series of memos" which lead to a "frustrated Attorney General" who did his best to stay on topic. The newscast portrayed the Democrats attacking Ashcroft who was only trying to protect the U.S. from terrorism. (June 9, 2004)
Method #4: Warped Reporter Analysis. In a report about Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry, reporter Carl Cameron's voice-over identified the public's "lagging perception in the polls that he can protect the country from bioterrorism" and the "Massachusetts Democrat as usual slammed the President for not doing enough to protect the homeland." Cameron then goes on to explain how George Bush increased the defense budget. The report then shows a poll map of states the candidates will focus on, with it clearly showing that Bush already won the election (see image to the right). Cameron ends the report with Vice President Dick Cheney attacking Kerry. Cameron says "Cheney slams Kerry" and "Cheney focused on Kerry's various positions on the Patriot Act." The report then shows a video of Cheney saying that Kerry takes "both sides" of important issues. (June 3, 2004)
Method #5: Skewed Statistics. Fox News' anchor Brit Hume said in a report that "Two hundred seventy-seven U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq, which means that statistically speaking U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying from all causes in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California, which is roughly the same geographical size. The most recent statistics indicate California has more than 2300 homicides each year, which means about 6.6 murders each day. Meanwhile, U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 160 days, which means they're incurring about 1.7 deaths, including illness and accidents each day." Not only is this report silly and illogical, but does not take into account the populations of California versus U.S. soldiers in Iraq. On a per capita basis, these statistics make no sense. (August 27, 2003)
Method #6: Unflattering Images. When choosing pictures and video, Fox News chooses ones to serve its needs. For example, to the right are images the network used to identify political differences between John Kerry and George Bush. Clearly, the network choose a pretty bad picture of Kerry. Video clips also show lowlights of Democrats and highlights of Republicans.

Fox News as an Industry Joke

"We paid $3 billion for these television stations. We will decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is!"-- alleged comment by David Boylan, station manager for Fox Tampa Bay (WTVT Ch 13) to two reporters who are currently suing the network for firing them and censoring a story about the use of bovine growth hormone in Florida cows"
Good ole' Fox news. There are plenty of articles and documentaries done about them. They're biased. They're profit-hungry. And they're telling you what the news is. Pretty scary huh?
According to an article written by Ron Kaufman, "Relying on the Fox News Channel as your only source of news is like using MAD Magazine as a legitimate source of news. The Fox News Channel's reporting style is so biased and skewed that trying to obtain any real information from a news report is quite challenging. Fox News is a joke because it provides info-tainment rather than reality-based news coverage. Fox News Channel is a "news channel" in name only."
Most news stations are sensationalists that do have a motive to get profit. Yet, I agree that Fox news takes it too far. Fox doesn't tell the news, they comment on it. Their reporters are so biased and overwhelming that other opinions don't stand a chance. Fox news has gotten a steady increase in viewers, although, I credit that to the fact that they are entertainment news rather than truth telling, hard news.
So why is Fox news so popular? According to Ron, "Basically, it's entertaining. The Fox News Channel is colorful, positive and engaging with good-looking anchors and an up-beat style. The network uses flashy graphics and triumphant music to punctuate its programs. " And I have to agree. Watch Fox news anytime this week and you'll see the same thing. Flashy graphics of the American Flag and energetic anchors.
And then there's Murdoch, head of News Corp. He's created a worldwide empire. But Murdoch understands that controlling much of media is centered upon money and power. If you have the viewers, then you the ability to show whatever you want. So are people being manipulated to watch what they think is news? Are people being informed so that they candebate and make decisions? It all goes back to the idea that America is a democratic nation and is so becuase people are able to think for themselves.
Los Angeles Times Editor John S. Carroll says that "Fox News is that it is situated somewhere between journalism and propaganda -- but leans closer to straight ahead attack politics. The perversion of the Fox News Channel is that it is nothing more than a pulpit for the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party. The Fox News Channel presents sprinkles of news punctuated with interviews and commentary which promotes its own viewpoint."
"The problem with the Fox News Channel is NOT that it supports the Republican Party or conservative views. The problem is that Fox News distorts the news to serve its purpose so much, that fact and reality are lost in a sea of half-truths and innuendo."
-Ron Kaufman-

Professional Vs Personal

We all know that the media's first loyalty is to its citizens. The media should always tell the truth in order to inform Americans about important and substansive issues. But sometimes professional values conflict with personal values. What happens then?
I'll take the case of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing as an example. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Westboro Baptist Church is an independent, controversial church that is not affiliated with any known Baptist associations and is led by a man named Fred Phelps. Listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Westboro Baptist Church is known for preaching the condemnation of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people as well as Jews, Muslims, and Roman Catholics The organization is well-known for picketing gay funerals and gay pride events—along with funerals of soldiers who have fallen in Iraq, victims of the VT shootings and victims of 9/11.Though the Westboro Baptist Church is able to protest, picket, and say such hateful things because of their freedom of speech, they also receive attention from major media organizations. An ethical question is whether the news media should cover the story of the Westboro Baptist Church...
I won't go into the whole potter box to figure out a loyalty, but I do want to talk about the personal and professional values involved. First, the professional. Truth telling. The media is responsible for covering local and nation stories, and withholding or concealing information about an even from the public is untruthful. Another professional value consists of generating profit through sales. Whether it be through the number of copies of a newspaper sold, or the ratings of a news broadcast on television, the media has a responsibility to make a profit, and covering the radical behavoir of the Westboro Baptist Church provides the media with a newsworthy and interesting subject. The media also has a duty to itself to maintain its journalistic credibility and independence.
Now, the personal. The media has a responsibility to respect the public. Many of the signs and slogans that the Westboro Baptist Church may be inappropriate for certain audiences, and once they are broadcasted by the news media or printed in a newspaper, there is no guarantee that inappropriate messages will not reach the wrong audience. There is also a need to find a balance between the public's need to know and having respect for an individual's right to privacy.
How important is revealing the information to the public? Does the public need to know or just want to know? And perhaps most importantly, how much damage will be done by revealing the information?
I know some of you might not be familier with the potter box of reasoning or the principles of Aristotle, Mills, Kant and Rawl, but after reading about the different values you should be able to see where the conflict lies?
So where do your loyalties lie?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh Boy....

Oh Conan....oh John Stewart....oh Stephen Colbert. I love them...I think a lot of people do. They're hilarious. They're intelligent. And they're giving us the news. Right?
It's amazing to me how many people get their news through comedy shows like these....can't complain though....I'm one of them. But at the same time, I also read magazines and newspapers to get my news. But how scary would it be to think that some people depend on these comedians to get their news?
It's also kind of scary to think how influential they are to their watchers. I mean, I think that it's good that they talk about important issues and are able to get people involved with things such as presidential elections (Stephen Colbert especially ha). But just watch Colbert publicize his presidential campaign through his own show. It's hilarious yes, but it's also kind of dumbing down our nation if you ask me. He makes fun of his presidential campaign. I honestly think that I would think so much less about our nation if Colbert was to become president. He's a funny guy, no doubt, but come on people....
Some people even use these comedians to voice their opinions about certain political situations or candidates. Not sure if you watch Conan, but some people are fully aware of the situation with Alec Baldwin jumping up on his chair. Not saying that using the media isn't smart of these celebrities, but I think it could get dangerous. Some people are just very influential...especially when it comes to guys like Conan and Stewart who are liked so much.
So if anyone watches any of these guys on a regular basis I would love to hear how influential they are to you.

Guest Speaker

Earlier in the semester, we had a speaker during our Newspaper Production class named Chris Graham. He’s currently a print journalist attempting to make the transition from print towards new media.
His journalism career started in 1995 and his workplace only had one internet terminal; he had no idea how to use the internet. He didn’t even study journalism in college, yet began his career in print journalism.
According to Chris, "Youre gonna need that skillset of knowing how to do audio and its going to change the way you look at journalism..."
"Whether you want to or not you might all be in broadcast sometime soon..."

Chris also said that "in the next 10 or 20 years, I don’t know maybe 5, you're gonna start seeing every newspaper on the web..."

Although personally, I think it will be sooner.

You can check out his websites here:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Internet Addiction I found a website for the Center for Online Addiction. They had an internet addiction test. They definitely had a separate site for Internet addiction recovery. And I couldn't help but laugh. I felt bad, but it just seemed like a joke. Until I took the test....
My score wasn't bad. I was an average online user. But reading some of those questions was kind of scary. Some were really crazy and I did laugh about it, but then i had to answer frequently for a couple.
It just seems insane to me that the internet really hasn't been around for that long and people already have horrible addictions.
You can find the test here

After you've answered all the questions, add the numbers you selected for each response to obtain a final score. The higher your score, the greater your level of addiction and the problems your Internet usage causes. Here's a general scale to help measure your score:

20 - 49 points: You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.

50 -79 points: You are experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of the Internet. You should consider their full impact on your life.

80 - 100 points: Your Internet usage is causing significant problems in your life. You should evaluate the impact of the Internet on your life and address the problems directly caused by your Internet usage.

After you have identified the category that fits your total score, look back at those questions for which your scored a 4 or 5. Did you realize this was a significant problem for you? For example, if you answered 4 (often) to Question #2 regarding your neglect of household chores, were you aware of just how often your dirty laundry piles up or how empty the refrigerator gets?

Say you answered 5 (always) to Question #14 about lost sleep due to late-night log-ins. Have you ever stopped to think about how hard it has become to drag yourself out of bed every morning? Do you feel exhausted at work? Has this pattern begun to take its toll on your body and your overall health?

For immediate help, visit our counseling services which provides affordable and confidential counseling.

yea. they have counseling services.....

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Put your MySpace to good use...

I'm personally not a fan of MySpace. I think it's a cool application to have when you're 15...or if you're a child molester. But I actually found a good use for MySpace. Presidential elections are coming up and now is the vital time to catch up on the important issues of candidates.
Well, MySpace and MTV have joined together to finally produce something worth taking a look at. You can find it here
MySpace and MTV have created a Presidential Dialogue. Together they have created a way that lets you, the citizens, ask questions directly to top presidential candidates and respond to their answers in real-time. On September 27th, John Edwards voiced some of his main concerns and issues and more recently, the Presidential Dialogue featured Barack Obama on October 29th. Future participants include Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul and many others. Each participant has a bio and a MySpace page that can be found through the webpage.
It's about time that MySpace and MTV do something useful and interesting.
But then again....who is this benefiting?
Of course it's obvious that the public is benefiting because they are getting informed of important issues and being able to be part of the debate. But who else benefits?
Presidential candidates would be smart to use this feature. What an easy way to get your name out to over a million people. Granted, not everyone will see the page and many MySpace users are not able to vote, but the extra publicity cant hurt. And maybe I'm completely wrong, but I've found that a lot of people who vote are not fully aware of what a candidate offers. They hear a name, like them, and vote for them. I'm sure there are plenty of easily manipulated people who will come across the webpage.
Another important thing to consider is who the audience is and who the sponsors are....MTV, MySpace.....young adults. How do you think MTV could manipulate the dialogues and which candidates do you think will be given the most publicity? I personally think it's an easy question, but it would be interesting to see what other people are thinking....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wikity wikity whack...

Ha sorry...had to do it for my title. I don't really think that wikispaces are whack. I actually really like them. This is my first semester using a wiki so it's been interesting trying to figure everything out about it. I kind of hated it at first, but now that I'm starting to find my way around our wikispace I'm pretty impressed.And after looking through Amy's blog some more I found out another really cool feature of wikis. Apparently she was able to do a presentation using her wikispace...and guess was a hit. According to Amy, "One advantage of this approach is that the participants were in a more conversational mindset. They were very engaged in the discussion, and they weren’t just passively taking notes. In effect, I was taking notes for them while leading the discussion. That seemed to free them up mentally to engage more fully with the action."
I hate public speaking and getting in front of a class to give a speech is the last thing I ever want to do. So later this semester I'm going to have to give a presentation in Media Ethics on a case study and think of engaging questions to spark conversation. After reading some of Amy's blog maybe I'll go ahead and try her approach. I suggest taking a look at her wiki.
Let me know what you think of the idea or if you've ever used a wiki as a presentation tool.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oh Facebook...

Facebook has nearly 40 million viewers, it is currently the 7th most visited website in the world and as a nation we are spending 233 million hours searching through the site every month.
We all have it. At least most of us anyway. People join Facebook in order to connect with people, to talk about common ideas through groups and the all too famous 'Stalkerbook' is still being talked about. But what's in it for journalists? Or how can the campus newspapers use Facebook to their advantage?
It seems like larger news organizations are joining Facebook and benefiting from it. The BBC's Newsnight program has created two Facebook groups to gather contacts for reporters and to build closer viewer relations. And according to Magda, news organizations are working together to use social networking to better distribute news content.
Either way, Facebook just keeps getting bigger and bigger and keeps adding more and more applications and features. With all of these updates what can college medias, particularly The Breeze, do to improve?
I hear a lot of students say that The Breeze does not cover important events and issues around the JMU campus. Maybe to help improve student satisfaction with The Breeze, the newspaper could start a Facebook group that allows people to join and post comments on different topics that they would like covered. This gives students an opportunity to work directly with The Breeze and to feel more connected with their school newspaper. Each section of the newspaper, such as News or Arts and Entertainment, could have a different group and students can voice their concerns or their opinions.
How do you think student media could make use of Facebook and other social networks?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blogging...credible or not?

Alright, let’s be honest. I really don’t know what to think about journalism and blogging. After doing a little research and now that I blog on my own I’m starting to understand the main difference between blogging and journalism. First off, I do think that journalists should stand for certain issues. Everyone does it, so we might as well be up front about it. It’s healthier that way.
Buuuut….even when journalists are biased they have rules that they have to follow. A journalist needs to have their facts checked, they can’t take bribes, they ask questions and care about telling the truth. Basically, journalists care about ethics. And this is what gives journalism its credibility.
Blogging on the other hand leaves room for fraud and inaccuracy. Many people don’t blog in order to truthfully inform people about burning issues…instead many journalists use it for marketing purposes. Someone once said that’s why journalists blog. “Not because the established media does not permit free speech, but because they’re high on themselves.” Blogging in its nature has become inaccurate and has led people to undermine the credibility of the blogosphere. Reporters have to at least try to not include their personal opinions and be as objective as possible. Bloggers on the other hand don’t even try to hide their opinions and therefore, everything you read from a blogger is skewed in some way.
On the other hand blogging could be even more credible because it isn’t filtered. People are able to say what they want without being worried about what their supporters will say. It’s enormously informing and revealing to read a blogger’s post.
Blogging and journalism are both important and like I said earlier, need each other. There’s a place for both and I don’t think either one will ever replace the other.
What do you think?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blogging Versus Journalism

I was able to find a blog written by Jay Rosen that I thought was pretty appropriate for Print Journalism. In this blog Rosen assembled a list of differences between journalism and blogging.

1.) The weblog comes out of the gift economy, whereas most (not all) of today’s journalism comes out of the market economy.
2.) Journalism had become the domain of professionals, and amateurs were sometimes welcomed into it— as with the op-ed page. Whereas the weblog is the domain of amateurs and professionals are the ones being welcomed to it.
3.) In journalism since the mid-nineteenth century, barriers to entry have been high. With the weblog, barriers to entry are low: a computer, a Net connection, and a software program like Blogger or Movable Type gets you there. Most of the capital costs required for the weblog to “work” have been sunk into the Internet itself, the largest machine in the world (with the possible exception of the international phone system.)
4.) In the weblog world every reader is actually a writer, and you write not so much for “the reader” but for other writers. So every reader is a writer, yes, but every writer is also a reader of other weblog writers—or better be.
5.) Whereas an item of news in a newspaper or broadcast seeks to add itself to the public record, an entry posted in a weblog engages the public record, because it pulls bits and pieces from it through the device of linking. In journalism the regular way, we imagine the public record accumulating with each day’s news— becoming longer. In journalism the weblog way, we imagine the public record “tightening,” its web becoming stronger, as links promotes linking, which produces more links.
6.) A weblog can “work” journalistically—it can be sustainable, enjoyable, meaningful, valuable, worth doing, and worth it to other people —if it reaches 50 or 100 souls who like it, use it, and communicate through it. Whereas in journalism the traditional way, such a small response would be seen as a failure, in journalism the weblog way the intensity of a small response can spell success.
7.) A weblog is like a column in a newspaper or magazine, sort of, but whereas a column written by twelve people makes little sense and wouldn’t work, a weblog written by twelve people makes perfect sense and does work.
8.) In journalism prior to the weblog, the journalist had an editor and the editor represented the reader. In journalism after the weblog, the journalists has (writerly) readers, and the readers represent an editor.
9.) In journalism classically understood, information flows from the press to the public. In the weblog world as it is coming to be understood, information flows from the public to the press.
10.) Journalism traditionally assumes that democracy is what we have, information is what we seek. Whereas in the weblog world, information is what we have—it’s all around us—and democracy is what we seek.

Personally I think this list is very strong and helps sort out a lot of ethical issues that arise from blogging and journalism. For example, if journalism focuses more on the relationship between writer and reader what might that suggest about the principles guiding the journalist?

Either way, I think that journalism needs a blogging. According to Rosen it is because of journalism’s “lost point of view, vigor and perspective, in the name of objectivity, to the point of being irrelevant and boring for many people.”
Blogs are meant to give a perspective and point of view, where journalism is meant to give information and credibility. Blogs and journalism need each other and readers who aren’t writers will be able to stay interested and knowledgeable by having access to both.

New Media Meets Campus Media

I was searching through the Internet for some new blog topics and I came across an article about the new types of media on college campuses. The article talked about how college journalism classes are lagging behind on the industry in embracing new types of media. Ten years ago students may not have needed to know about multimedia approaches to journalism, but today the world wide web and online newspapers are becoming more and more prominent. Therefore, students are needing to know more and be equipped with knowledge of different typed of medias to enter a competitive workplace.
In the article there was a survey done by....surprise surprise....David Wendelken and Toni B. Mehling, of James Madison University. According to the survey even the smallest commercial newspapers, with 10,000 readers or fewer, are looking for reporting candidates with experience writing for the Web and uploading stories to the Internet. Of nine respondents in the "large daily newspaper" category (those with a circulation of 44,000 and above), eight required reporters to have skills in capturing audio while four required audio editing skills. Five required reporters to have skills in capturing video, while one required video editing expertise. According to Wendelken, many newspapers are are looking at reporters to do these things from the start.
So it's no surprise that this semester our newspaper production class has moved towards a multimedia approach. I personally believe that all SMAD classes should be begin to include multimedia elements in order to better prepare students for the competitive workplace. As a print journalist student I still want to learn about audio and video editing works and how I'm going to put my work onto the Internet. Some students may cringe and complain about the work load...or say that including a lot more multimedia elements is not what a newspaper production class is about...but personally I think we'll all be thanking our teachers who are pushing us to have these skills when it comes time to apply for jobs. It's the students who have the extra knowledge that will have that competitive edge that so many print journalism students lack.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Ok, so maybe it's just me but I absolutely love reading magazines. Maybe it' because they have the pretty glossy finish and don't come out almost everyday like a newspaper does, that I find them so attractive. Or maybe it's because a lot of the JMU magazines aren't so much hard news as they are feature and thats ultimately what I want to write. Either way, I'm attracted to magazines and I can't help it.
I know that JMU has a good amount of publications, from Madison to the Alumni, but for some reason I don't see them getting as much credit as The Breeze. Even as a magazine lover I don't find myself reading them as much as a newspaper and It's probably because they aren't as convenient to find than a Breeze.
Basically I want more magazine publications. I'll write more later....

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Listen up future journalists

So you wanna be a journalist, right? Whether you want to write for a newspaper, magazine or online I’m sure most of you are aspiring to be well known journalists and want to do anything you can to improve yourself. I was searching online and came across a really good blog by Paul Bradshaw for anybody that is aspiring to become a journalist. Although many things on the list seem like common sense you would be surprised at how many journalism students don’t follow these suggestions…
  • Read the news
  • Forget you have an opinion
  • Know the difference between news and features
  • Get a life
  • Don't sit around waiting for phonecalls
  • Make contacts
  • Learn how to spell
  • Be open to new experiences
  • Know what the rules are so you can break them
  • Know what you want to get out of this-and chase it

I also came up with a few suggestions of my own and if you have any other additions I would love to hear them.

  • Keep a journal
  • Engage in conversation
  • Discover the web
  • Always ask questions
  • Start a blog- We all have a good start with this one!

I think everyone will find Paul's blog not only helpful, but aspiring. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Journalism in a Free Market

I believe that democracy needs journalism. Just as journalism needs democracy. Yet today our media has become an anti-democratic force in the US because conglomerations and concentration has led to the creation of a handful of massive conglomerates that control virtually all of the US entertainment and news media. In a perfect free market, new business would raise competition, lower prices and increase the quality of goods and services, but unfortunately that isn't happening. Instead, about 5 major oligopolies are dominating the market making it virtually impossible for any other company to enter. And these 5 corporations have only one make money.

A journalists first loyalty should be to the citezens. But what kind of integrity can the news have if it can be bought and sold-like advertising? With the focus turning from public service to profit there is less emphasis on expensively produced news and a new focus on cheap news. The media now serves the needs and concerns of a handful of enormous and powerful companies instead of the people. The major players of the so-called information age are either advertisors, wealthy stockholders or a handful of enormous media corporations. And because most of the news coverage comes from only 5 sources (remember, all with the goal of making money) viewers have no other choices and are forced to watch and depend on what they see. Unfortunately I think there is no democracy when 5 companies own all of the media.

As we discussed in media ethics class..."Because Americans are not informed about substansive and important issues, they are not debating. Because they are not debating, they can't form independent ideas and participate effectively in democracy. Because they don't participate in democracy, they are easily manipulated and controlled..."

Again, good thing student newspapers are defying the trend. Although I understand that advertisment placement probably has an effect on The Breeze, I highly doubt the editors are all money-hungy individuals trying to take over every aspect of the media. At least not yet...

Friday, September 21, 2007

I won't be my blog's only audience anymore...

I find it only fitting to make my next post about my blog...besides, it is a way that our class is getting new information now. Anyways...I started to actually enjoy doing this blog, but of course I got discouraged knowing that the only person who would be reading my blog is Toni (not that I don't absolutely loooove her reading it).
So I was looking around on Amy Gahran's blog and found a really good post that she did in April of 2006. In this blog she wrote about how to reach a new audience by viewing your blog as part of a public conversation. Since a lot of people in our class are new at blogging (including myself) we're all probably a little discouraged that our blog gets about two views a day...and we all know that one of those views is when we preview our blog after a new post. That's sad. But here's one solution to get more readers and I encourage everyone in our class to try this.....
It's called "strategic commenting"
Basically the whole idea of strategic commenting is to build more readers by taking the initiative to comment on a more experienced blog. You should find a couple different bloggers who shares the same interest as you and read their blogs regularly, paying close attention to the comments left. Once you've gotten familiar with these blogs, you should watch for a new post that inspires you to write a new post of your own. Once you find one... immediately write a post in response to the one you just read and create a link to their post. Once you do that you should go to the posting that inspired you and leave a flattering comment that also links back to your post. Voila. You have a new reader. And probably more depending on what other bloggers read your comment on their blog and check out your link.
I'll go ahead and be the guinea pig. Since I got this idea from Amy's blog I'll wait until I see the next idea that inspires me and I'll immediately write my post as if I'm having a conversation with hers. Then I'll try to be the first to comment on the post that inspired me with a link back to mine.
It's that simple.
I dare everyone in our class to do it.
Let me know what you think and how it worked for you!
You guys should reallllly check this out!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Continuing with The Breeze

I might as well go ahead and get this out of the's inevitable. I have to take up a post and rant about The Breeze. It was bound to happen.
So ever since I was a freshman I always read The Breeze. I couldn't wait to write stories for it and thought it was the best thing in the world. Then this semester I started to write for them and I realized something...they mess up...A LOT. And I'm not just talking about little a mispelled word here and a grammar mistake there, but huge things that anybody should be able to catch. And maybe I wouldn't care so much except I'm kinda counting on these articles that I have in the newspaper to go towards my portfolio.
I'll go ahead and give you an example.
This morning I was all excited to get my copy of The Breeze and look at my article about the dangers of smoking hookah. I was reading along, happy with the results when suddenly...oh my gosh...i mispelled a name. And this was an obvious mess-up. This name was Kristin and in the newspaper it was spelled krsitin. Huge Mistake. How could I do that!?
Then I went ahead and looked at my copy of the story that I sent into The Breeze and realized something important...I actually spelled the name correctly. But when The Breeze tried to format my story into their layout they must have cut off part of my sentence then re-typed it....spelling the name wrong. I was pissed (can I say that?).
Not only can I not use this story for my portfolio, which I was really excited about, but now this discredits me as a writer and reporter. And i know every newspaper and publication has their mistakes, but there have been mistakes made by The Breeze, and not myself, on about 75% of my articles. This does not make me happy.
Sorry, but I had to rant about this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Breeze

Ok, so I was sitting in feature writing today and our teacher decided to pull out The Breeze to look at relevant quotes. But as we were reading different stories, the class started talking about how bad our school newspaper really is. One girl went as far to say that she "couldn't get herself to read the SGA story." When out teacher asked her why she went on to say how she is friend with Eickel and a lot of other people in SGA.
On a sidenote...if you have no idea what issue I'm talking about with Brandon and the SGA then you really need to pick up a paper and get with JMU campus news.
Anyways. So she goes on to say how the entire article about Brandon resigning is basically total crap and that The Breeze has completely turned around all the information that they have researched dealing with Brandon and his plagiarisms. This really got me thinking how accurate our school newspaper really is. I mean, how can the news editor, of all people, get information wrong and twist the story. Even as a writer for The Breeze I had no idea that so much information in the article was wrong and inaccurate. This got me wondering how much large publications such as the Times may skew the information that they get to have a better story.
It's actually really scary to think that one of the only ways that students at JMU get their campus and local news is through The Breeze and that it turns out that The Breeze isn't really all that accurate with takes on one of the biggest stories. I haven't really had many issues with stories in The Breeze twisting information or being inaccurate, but according to my feature writing class it happens a lot. So why do you think a campus newspaper would twist information on a huge story and have you noticed this a lot in The Breeze?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Campus Newspapers

I serve as a witness that newspapers are losing the attention of youger readers. Now with the internet and television, getting the news is so much easier than trying to navigate yourself around an actual newspaper. But there's one outlet for news that is defying the trend altogether; college newspapers.
Think of what almost all of your classmates are doing 5 minutes before classes start on Monday and Thursday mornings. That's right; they're reading The Breeze. And if you don't happen to get a copy before noon the day they come out then you're forced to share or get lucky and find one of the leftovers from a table nearby. Either way, campus newspapers are actually gaining popularity with students and faculty both reading them.
I mean, look at the opinion section of The Breeze. Every week students write into the newspaper with articles and the oh-so-famous "Darts and Pats" that everyone loves. The truth of the matter is that students will always want a way to get their local and campus news and campus newspapers provide that. It's a way for students to feel as if they are a deeper part of something that only the JMU population can be part of.
As a writer for The Breeze I take notice of how many people are reading the newspaper on Mondays and Thursdays. It's exciting to know that people are reading and using your articles to get their information. It's astonishing to see the number of students that depend on the campus newspaper to get their news.
But most importantly; it's always rewarding to hear a teacher tell the students "Alright, put away you're Breeze" because the students just couldn't get enough of the campus newspaper.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Welcome to JameSMADison Media

Ok. First things first. My name is Kristina and I am finally a senior at James Madison University. I am currently taking classes in the School of Media Arts and Design ( we’ll call it SMAD) with a concentration in Print Journalism (the profession that’s still very much alive no matter what anyone says). I guess when I graduate I would like to work with either a local magazine or a local newspaper. I never had the aspiration or want to work with The New York Times or any other huge publication. I obviously love writing no matter how much I stress about it or else I wouldn’t be making a career out of it. In other words, I definitely did not pick journalism for the money.
So because I am a media arts and design major, I figured it’s only fitting for me to focus on the student media. According to the encyclopedia media can be “Any form of information, including music and movies. This may also refer to CDs, DVDs, videotapes and other prerecorded material. Or the trade press.” The trade press would include newspapers and magazines. From a student’s perspective, my most widely used type of media would have to be either newspapers or the internet. I use mostly newspapers for school news and the internet for world news. I find that a newspaper will always be useful when it comes to local news. I also like actually having something in my hands when I’m reading, so I could be biased. No matter what kind of media is being used, whether it’s multi-media or the trade press, students are always going to need an outlet to express their opinions, ideas, or the news. Even if it’s through a blog.