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.