Magazines in the New Millenium

I can still remember how much I loved glossy magazines with captivating pictures since I was a child.  Our school subscribed to TIME, Newsweek and National Geographic, which we consulted regularly for assignments and projects, and my mom bought Woman’s Own.  As a teenager, I bought Seventeen magazine Seventeen and Tiger Beat, and my friends and I often lent each other magazines.  As a young woman, I read Cosmopolitan.  I looked forward to smelling the new perfumes; getting new recipes, tips on dating, fashion, and skin care; magazines engaged all my senses save sound.  In 2010, the number of magazines available to readers exceeded 19,000 and fall into 3 broad types: trade, professional and business; industrial, company and sponsored magazines and consumer magazines (Baran, 2010, p. 125).

There is a magazine for everyone – celebrity and entertainment magazines, home and garden, men’s women’s – youth, sports, and while, magazine sales may have declined, e-magazines are certainly on the rise.  MagazinesTime Inc. CEO, Joe Ripp, observes that while magazines are displayed less on stands and people are more engaged with their smartphones and tablets, “They aren’t reading less of our content, however. They are just consuming it in different places” (Trachtenberg, 2015).  Magazine sales in Trinidad and Tobago have certainly declined as many people have skyboxes and subscribe through Amazon.  I am a big fan of Oprah Winfrey and by extension O Magazine, which I subscribe to and read on my iPad and Kindle because it is much more cost effective for me at $20 US a year. “Most magazines now produce online editions that offer special interactive features [like video] not available to their hard-copy readers” (Baran, 2010, p. 130). E-magazines “They are the medium that first made specialization a virtue, and they prosper today by speaking to even more narrowly defined groups of readers” (Baran, 2010, p. 117).

Due to convergence with the internet, magazines, radio, television and newspapers fulfil the demand of audiences to meet them where they are.  People no longer go in search of news, information and entertainment; it comes to them thanks to mobile technology and social media.  Today mass media competes with social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, to get their messages heard.  Consequently, media CEOs like Joe Ripp are concerned with “growing [their] digital properties and digital operations” (Trachtenberg, 2015).

References

Baran, S.  (2010). Mass Communication:  Media literacy and culture (6th Ed.)  New York, New York: McGraw Hill

Trachtenberg, J.  (2015, February, 22).  Is People Magazine Relevant in a Digital Age?  Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/is-people-magazine-relevant-in-a-digital-age-1424664618

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Radio Reinvents Itself

Pre-television radio ruled the roost.  It was “nationally oriented, broadcasting an array of recognizable entertainment program formats, populated by well-known stars and personalities, and consumed primarily in the home, typically with people sitting around the set” (Baran, 2010, p. 181).  family-radioNamed after a character in a radio soap opera that my mother listened to, I understand fully well the prominence that radio held in the lives of people prior to television.  As a child, I awoke to the sound of the BBC news at 7:00 am coming from a huge radio affixed to a wall.  A true colonial, my father set his watch by the BBC and considered it the only newscast worth listening to.  In those days there were only two radio stations on the AM band, 6.10 and 7.30 that provided a mix of music, news, sports, weather and talk shows.

However, “post television radio is local, fragmented, specialized, personal and mobile” (Baran, 2010, p. 181).  As a teenager, I looked forward to listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem every weekend religiously, and I would make mixed tapes of my favourite songs. download (2)  Today in Trinidad and Tobago, a small island in the Caribbean with a population of 1.3 million, there are over 32 radio stations each specializing in different genres. There is talk radio, urban, gospel, pop, jazz, soca and East Indian music (Radio Station World, 2015).  In the U.S., the “number of news/talk/information radio stations fluctuates between 1,900 and 2,000” (Vogt, 2015).  There is a station for everyone.

While people do not sit and listen to the radio at home any longer due to “the availability of online music and listener dissatisfaction with unimaginative programming and hypercommercialization – on average about 12 commercials an hour for a typical radio station” (Baran, 2010, p. 181), many are tuned on online and in their cars.  “More than half of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to online radio in the past month, according to 2015 survey data from Edison Research” (Vogt, 2015).  Interestingly, “Traditional AM/FM radio, meanwhile, continues to reach the overwhelming majority of the American public – 91% of Americans ages 12 and older had listened in the week before they were surveyed in 2014” (Vogt, 2015).  This percentage I believe, largely listens in their cars.

Since the 1960’s cars have moved from having eight tracks to cassettes to CD players.  However, today

“Those CD players are now disappearing as consumers prefer Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI) satellite radio and integration with their Apple AAPL +1.75% iPhone, Android powered smartphone or in some cases a Blackberry (BBRY) smartphone as the preferred way to listen to music, talk radio, podcasts and even books while driving” (Versace, 2015). download (3)

But what is most surprising is that despite all these technological advancements, people still want AM/FM in their cars.  A thousand people were sampled and “84% of respondents listen to AM/FM radio while relatively new systems like Sirius/XM, Pandora and Spotify came in at 22%, 18% and 7%, respectively” (Versace, 2015).  How we listen to the radio has changed, in that many of us listen to it online on our smartphones when we are not in our cars, but clearly radio still has an audience because it caters to specific niche markets.

References

Baran, S.  (2010). Mass Communication:  Media literacy and culture (6th Ed.)  New York, New York: McGraw Hill

Radio Station World.  (2015).  Retrieved from http://radiostationworld.com/locations/trinidad_and_tobago/radio_websites.asp

Versace, C.  (2015, April 28).  Consumers Still Want AM/FM Radios In Their Cars.  Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisversace/2015/04/08/consumers-still-want-amfm-radios-in-their-cars/

Vogt., N.  (2015, April 29).  Audio: Fact sheet.  Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2015/04/29/audio-fact-sheet/

Technology’s advancement in television

The first black and white television transmission in Trinidad and Tobago started at the time of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence from Britain in August 31, 1962  (Berkley, 2006).  As a child growing up, I clearly remember having only one television station ttt, Trinidad and Tobago Television, and television shows were broadcast long after they had already aired in the US.  I was a great fan of I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Bonanza, Brady Bunch,  Land of the Giants and Lost in Space51J8CRPN8QL

In 1996 another local channel emerged, CCN TV6.  Today there are 8 local networks that viewers can choose from, Direct TV and cable TV providers such as FLOW, Blink and Digicel from whom people can subscribe.    The choice is vast and there is also streaming, as Netflix is available in the Caribbean, so many locals subscribe.  In addition, sites such as Unblockus.com allow users to access streaming sites in the US that we otherwise would not be able to.

As a result of these technological developments,

“Now, viewers pick and choose exactly which shows they would like to watch. This has led to the development of custom phenomena, such as Tivo, DVR, Hulu and other on-demand services that have given fans the ability to watch what they want, when they want – often without commercials” (Okoye, 2013).

Gone are the days when the television schedule controlled the viewers’ lives, now viewers demand accessibility that fits with their demanding and fast paced lives.  As a result most major networks,  such as HBO and ABC, provide on demand TV .  Therefore programs are available at the viewers’ convenience.

No longer do we just sit and watch the news, sports or program.  Now the television audience gets involved via social media and discuss the shows or news in real time.  When I am tuned into TGIT, I also enjoy reading the comments of the viewers and stars that tweet during the show.  Voting for the dancers on Dancing with the Stars or the singers on American Idol is a great opportunity that engages the viewing audience.

For those who fancy being on television but have not had a break, there is YouTube which allows users to post videos of themselves.  There are many YouTube sensations that have many fans and have earned lots of money from having posted videos online.  Take for instance the British video sensation, “Charlie Bit Me”, which has been viewed 815 million times on YouTube.  The boys’ parents have garnered thousands of pounds in advertising and sponsorship (Mulshine, 2015).  Nonetheless many viewers also enjoy watching the array of entertainment on YouTube.

Television has been changed irrevocably by technology and so have our expectations of it.  We the viewers can choose what we want to watch, when and where.  We can even watch television on our smart phones and tablets.  Today, Wednesday 8th September, 2015, as the new Prime Minister of our Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, was being sworn in, I watched it on my laptop from a local channel that streams online and my colleague watched on his iPhone.  We did not need to leave our desks to watch it on the television in our lobby downstairs.  Technology has both empowered and liberated television viewers.

References

Berkley, O.  (2006, January 15).  A historical day for Trinidad and Tobago.  Retrieved from http://tttpioneers.org/archives/16

Mulshine, M.  (2015, April 24).  The babies who went viral in the 2007 ‘Charlie bit my finger’ video just filmed a remake.  Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/where-the-charlie-bit-me-stars-are-now-2015-4

Okoye, J.  (2013, August 5). 7 Ways Technology Has Changed Television.  Retrieved from https://www.techopedia.com/2/29509/technology-trends/7-ways-technology-has-changed-television

The skills employers are looking for in journalists now

Two years ago, the Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training decided to launch an on the job training program in media.  In preparation for the venture, my College’s School of Journalism and Communication Studies worked in collaboration with the ministry and the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago and assembled a focus group with media owners to discuss their expectations of journalists.  Darren Lee-Sing, the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers Association (TTPBA),  simply said that they need a generalist.  Whether a journalist is fresh out of high school or College, employers want someone with multiple skills.

download (1)Anyone  who wants to be a journalist, regardless of the ubiquity of social media news, must still be a good writer.  Excellent writing skills are just as important today for the contemporary journalist, as they were for journalists of yesteryear. “Journalists today still need to be able to gather information and tell a story. Most importantly, they need to be able to think” (Cubreporter, 2010).

In this era of new technology  “Skills like … ethics, news judgment, investigation and verification will always be important, Buttry from Gazette Communications said. ”  (Lavurisk, 2009). With these traditional skills, the quality of news reports would be continuously improving.

Another essential skill that modern journalists should posses is multimedia competence.  However, research conducted by the Poynter Institute reveals that “professional journalists lag behind educators and others in rating the importance of multimedia and other digital storytelling skills” (Fineberg, 2014).  On average 75% of the educators and 50% of the professionals surveyed agreed that the ability “to record and edit audio; shoot and edit video; shoot and edit photos and tell stories with design and visuals” was important (Fineberg, 2014).    cropped-03-social-media-management87773

Finally, the capacity to multitask is the hallmark of any good journalist.  Gathering information, interviewing, and monitoring incoming email, while live tweeting or posting on Facebook are the multiple activities that engage the journalist’s attention (Geiser, 2014).  Without this skill, the journalist would perish in the fast paced world of news production.

Good clear writing, critical thinking, multitasking and being tech savvy are essential skills that employers would require of anyone pursuing a career in journalism.  These skills will assist them with capturing the attention and interest of the audience, who has many options for news from which to choose.

Cubreporter.  (2010).  Becoming a journalist in the digital age.  Retrieved from http://cubreporters.org/journalism_careers.html

Fineberg, H.  (2014, April 9).  Journalism needs the right skills to survive.  Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/journalism-education/246563/journalism-needs-the-right-skills-to-survive/

Geiser, J.  (2014, November 25).  8 essential skills for anchorshttp://www.poynter.org/how-tos/writing/118945/8-essential-skills-for-anchors-any-journalist-covering-breaking-news

Lavursik, V.  (2009, Dec 9).  8 Must have traits of tomorrow’s journalist.  Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/12/09/future-journalist/#W.WEacb_qukG

Tasks in journalism that are done differently due to new technology

The days of journalists writing for print or broadcast exclusively are long gone.  With convergence journalism, journalists are required to produce news for multiple platforms, including new media. Earlier this year, our College’s School of Journalism and Communication Studies hosted a symposium in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day and we invited Alison Bethel-McKenzie, the former executive director of the International Press Institute to be our feature speaker.  In conversations with the faculty and school’s administration, she shared that if she were still in the 4 Evans pjr_cvr_v13_1 technology
newsroom and was required to produce news for various platforms by employing multiple tools, she would struggle.

Nonetheless, the fundamental role of the journalist has not changed.  According to the Society for Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, the task of the journalist is to “seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent” (2014).  Journalist Kathy Cowan notes that “The role of telling stories remains the same. Journalism is still about observing, interpreting and informing” (2012).  However, these tasks have changed with new technology.

“Emily Bell, director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and former editor of Guardian.co.uk” credits the coverage of 911 as the catalyst that changed how news is reported.  “Linear TV was not enough”, people went online to share what they knew on message boards and chat forums (Krotoski, 2011). Today, “Journalists are now increasingly involved with their audience. The web and its less passive nature has meant that journalists now have to engage with their readers, and they have to listen” (Cowan, 2012).

In addition, the media audience demands fast and immediate news, so journalists often rely on new technology such as Facebook and Twitter to gather information from members of the public who willingly share their experiences with others. These firsthand witness accounts “offer analytical perspectives from the ground faster than print or television can provide” (Krotoski, 2011).

Sources_photo_Danielle_Pope_original_originalExtensive contacts and sources are key to credible story telling.  Consequently, journalists must have sufficient contacts to keep them informed.  In this regard, “Social media  broadens the average journalist’s pool of contacts and connections, putting them in touch with people and organisations they might never have known about through traditional research sources” (DiGiorgio, 2010).

Equipped with a smart phone, a journalist can produce a news story.  A journalist can take a picture, record video and audio clips, facilitate live remote reporting via Skype, write a story and meet the newsroom’s deadline all with a smart phone .  Therefore, she is always prepared to capture a story as it happens (Belmaker, 2014).

New technology has made the journalist’s job easier in some regards due to the ready source of information and contacts, and the versatility of the smart phone.  However, the veracity of what is on social media needs to be established and journalists should still verify the credibility of their sources.

References

Belmaker, G.  (2014, November 25).  5 ways journalists can use smart phones for reporting.  Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/news/media-innovation/200418/5-ways-journalists-can-use-smartphone-apps-for-reporting/

Cowan, K.  (2012, August 13).  How has the digital era changed journalism?  Retrieved from https://www.boomerangpr.com/blog/how-has-the-digital-era-changed-journalism/

DiGiorgio, G.  (2010, November 18).  Social media: a journalist’s friend or foe? Retrieved from http://www.upstart.net.au/2010/11/18/social-media-a-journalists-friend-or-foe/

Krotoski, J. (2011 February 20). What effects has the internet had on journalism? Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/feb/20/what-effect-internet-on-journalism

Society for Professional Journalists.  (2014, September 6)  SPJ Code of Ethics, retrieved from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

How technology has changed journalism

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”  This was the familiar marketing spiel of the iconic little boy, with cap on head and suspenders, selling newspapers, hot off the press in old school movies. newspaper_boy1 In days of old, the reporter with a notepad, pencil or pen went in search of the story and wrote it all on a typewriter.  Then, with the invention of the radio at the start of the twentieth century and television in the 1950’s, journalism went from exclusively print to broadcast too, and despite rumors of the demise of the newspaper, all three co-existed and found their respective niches.   However, technology has changed journalism significantly in the 21st century.

smartphone

Convergence Journalism

Firstly people no longer go in search of the news, they expect the news to come to them. “Remember those days… [when] the news cycle in the publishing game was 24 hours… now the news is constant, available anywhere at any time. All the time” on our laptops, tablets, smartphones and watches (Charalambous, 2013).

The accessibility of news is largely due to “Social media … [which] has become influential as a communication and news-breaking tool. In June 2009, the U.S. State Department asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance on the service because it was being used by protesters angered by the results of Iran’s disputed presidential election” (Alejandro, 2010).

Technology has also resulted in the rise of the citizen journalist. “When users post news and videos to social media sites, other users interact (both positively and negatively) to the information being shared” (DeMers, 2013).  As a result, traditional journalists, who also produce stories for online, must ensure the accuracy of their articles, in an effort to save the credibility and integrity of the traditional news agencies.

In addition, “at the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers” (Mitchell, 2015).  People access news on the go.  I, like many others, access my Twitter account on my smart phone intermittently throughout the day to keep abreast with local and international news.  While Twitter is my platform of choice for news, “2014 research revealed that nearly half of Web-using adults report getting news about politics and government on Facebook” (Mitchell, 2015).

Media consumers, young people especially, are still interested in the news, maybe even more so since they can readily access it on multiple devices.  However, audiences today, unlike audiences of the twentieth century, no longer want to be just recipients of news but participants in the storytelling. They want to comment on and share what they see, read, watch and hear.  Journalism has changed forever.

References

Alejandro, J.  (2010).  Journalism in the age of social media.  Retrieved from https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Journalism%20in%20the%20Age%20of%20Social%20Media.pdf

Charalambous, S. (2013, October 2).  5 ways tech is changing the face of journalism (but not the internal organs).  Retrieved from http://memeburn.com/2013/10/5-ways-tech-is-changing-the-face-of-journalism-but-not-the-internal-organs/

DeMers, J.  (2013, May 8).  How social media is supporting a fundamental shift in journalism.  Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/how-social-media-is-suppo_b_3239076.html

Mitchell, A.  (2015, April, 29).  State of the news media 2015.  Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2015/04/29/state-of-the-news-media-2015/

Media effects and literacy

Marcia Henville

Marcia Henville

I hold firm to my original position that the media has limited power to shape my beliefs. As Dr. Anthony Curtis (2012) highlights in his article, I, like many others, ‘trust the media as an authority for news, information, education, and entertainment’. Consequently, I continue to follow local and international newspapers and television channels such as the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, Express and Newsday, New York Times, TV6, CNC3, CNMG, BBC, CNN and ABC, along with a few local journalists on Twitter where I get breaking news.  However, I continue to watch local and international news on the television and read newspapers to get more details and confirmation of news stories. On the morning of Saturday 24 January, 2015, a well regarded local journalist, Marcia Henville, was murdered by a relative in a domestic violence incident, and I did not know about it until a friend informed me later that evening.  I had not checked Twitter or local news because I was busy that day.  I was in such disbelief that I had to see it in the newspapers to believe that it was true.

Nevertheless, I reiterate that media in all its forms do have the power to shape my beliefs, but the power is limited, not absolute.  Many other factors continue to shape my beliefs; for example family, friends, religion, education and life experiences.  For example, advertisements alone do not sway me to make purchases.  I switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone because of recommendations from friends and observing firsthand its advantages.  I seldom buy based on the persuasion of an advertisement.  However, I concur with the Media Literacy Project’s view that while few people believe everything that they see or hear in the media, and are influenced by advertisements to go out to make purchases instantly, the influence of the media is subtle and we all need to safeguard ourselves against the persuasive powers of writers.

E.B_edited-1

E.B. White

E.B. White in a 1969 interview outlines very clearly the role of a writer, which I wholeheartedly believe “A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life” (Popova, 2012). The role of writers is indeed multifaceted and significant, whether in traditional or new media.  White, like many theorists and researchers, believe that writers could influence and shape life for better or worse.  Therefore it is essential for them to act ethically.   In earlier years, writers were controlled by editors and the news agencies for which they wrote, but with the advent of new media and the dawn of citizen journalists, checks and balances have diminished and everyone is more concerned with being the first to break the news rather than being accurate.  Consequently, writers do not double and triple check sources before publishing, broadcasting, tweeting or posting, and as a result many people have suffered due to erroneous reporting.

Nikki Haley and parents

Governor Nikki Haley and parents

The society of professional journalists warns writers to minimize harm, yet we have numerous examples of writers disregarding that guideline and not seeking the truth.  When writers do not act ethically the public is in danger.  An example of this is blogger, Ian Smith, posting on March 29, 2012, that South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, was about to be indicted on tax fraud charges.  This was untrue and a defamation lawsuit was filed against Smith.  Nonetheless, Smith’s slanderous post tarnished the reputations of Haley, her parents and their place of worship (Hall, 2013).  An apology more than a year later was simply useless.  Smith aptly exemplifies Ward’s view that “many online journalists see themselves as partisans or activists for causes or political movements, and reject the idea of objective or neutral analysis”.  As a result they abuse freedom of speech and act irresponsibly and recklessly.  National elections in Trinidad and Tobago are due this year, 2015, and no doubt, we will endure similar folly at the hands of our journalists, both traditional and new media.

Ironically, instead of setting the example as far as ethical reporting, traditional journalists often fail to double check their sources too and have reported erroneously.  In 2013 when an Asiana Airlines flight went down, the television anchors for KTVU broadcast racist and inaccurate names, for the pilots and crew on the missing airline‘Captain Sum Ting Wong and Wi Tu Lo”.  Their defense was that they got these derogatory names from the National Transportation Safety Board who in turn said that a summer intern had confirmed the names (Daniel & Davies, 2013).  How could so many people be so easily duped, when clearly the names were false? Despite immediate apologies, the damage and insult to the Asian community were already done.  The code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists seems simple enough: ‘seek truth and report it; minimize harm; act independently and be accountable and transparent’ (SPJ, 2015), yet so many writers find it difficult or refuse to adhere to these guidelines.

Due to these challenges, it is imperative that content consumers become media literate, so that we can reduce the potential to be influenced.  However, because we are so bombarded by media every waking moment, it is impossible to eliminate its influence completely.  By following Kovach and Rosensteil’s classifications, I am better able to differentiate among journalism of verification, affirmation, assertion and interest group journalism (2011).  On the other hand, since we have our own biases and preferences, we ourselves are sometimes blind to the subtle persuasion inherent in various media, or consciously give in to it. As media literate people the onus is on us to determine whether or not the entire story is being told, to analyse the text and subtext of the story and the writers intended audience.  Being aware and following the aforementioned guidelines from the Media Literacy Project would certainly help us to form our own opinions and make decisions independently, rather than succumb to agenda setting media, which some theorists purport, tell us what to think about (Baran, 2010).

References

Baran, S. (2010). Introduction to mass communication: Media literacy and culture (6th Edition). New York, New York: McGraw Hill

Curtis, A. (2012, June 23).  Mass media influence on society. University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Daniel, J & Davies K. (2013, July 13). ‘Oh ****’: Moment TV producer realized bungling reporters had been duped into reporting false and racist names for the Asiana crash pilots. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362598/KTVU-pilot-names-prank–TV-Producer-tweets-moment-realises-error.html

Hall, R. (2013, November 14). Idiot’ Blogger Finally Apologizes for False Report He Posted During 2012 Election.  Retrieved from http://newsbusters.org/blogs/randy-hall/2013/11/13/idiot-blogger-finally-apologizes-false-report-he-posted-during-2012-elec

Media Literacy Project.  Introduction to media literacy.  Retrieved from https://medialiteracyproject.org/sites/default/files/resources/Intro_to_Media_Literacy.pdf

Multimedia Desk. (2015, January 30). Goodbye Marcia: Funeral held today for television personality.  Retrieved from http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Goodbye-Marcia-290321031.html

Popova, M. (2012, April 17). E.B. White on the Responsibility and Role of the Writer. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/eb-white-on-the-responsibility-and-role-of-the-writer/256005/

Society of Professional Journalists. (2015). SPJ Code of ethics. Retrieved from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Ward, S.  Digital media ethics.  Retrieved on January 31, 2015 from  http://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/digital-media-ethics/

Pictures and video

E.B. White’s picture. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/eb-white-on-the-responsibility-and-role-of-the-writer/256005/

FULL Asiana Flight Prank Viral Video and KTVU Apology.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmFA7jDnk_w

Macria Henville’s picture. Retrieved from http://looptt.com/2015/01/24/marcia-henville-perishes-house-fire/

Multimedia Enhances Messaging

8-2 Multimedia Blog Posts

How does multimedia enhance our messaging?Multi-Media-512x-1

Multimedia appeals fully to our senses of sight and sound.  Because we live in an age of new media, reading large chunks of plain text is unappealing to the average person.  Sometimes a picture captures what text cannot and video creates an immediacy that only excellent writers can capture through text.  Multimedia is used with all aspects of new media.  I have a Twitter account and I enjoy the many pictures that most users post with their tweets.  At present, it is the Carnival season in Trinidad and one of the soca artistes, Machel Montano, has released new music using audio files on Twitter to which I enjoy listening.   Multimedia has bi-sensory appeal and this aids in grabbing and maintaining the audience’s attention.

Are certain multimedia techniques more effective than others?

According to Sundar (2000), research conducted by scholars using the ‘separate streams’ concept shows that auditory information is more effective than visual information.  Nonetheless, written messages can be reread for clarification and recollection.  On the other hand, research exploring ‘redundancy’ supports the view that information presented in multiple modalities has a greater chance of reaching its intended audience than a message conveyed in a single modality (Sundar, 2000).

Research into the efficiency of multimedia is contradictory, as some believe it aids with the effectiveness of the message, while others believe that it retards recollection and results in sensory overload (Sundar, 2000).  However, I agree with the view that multimedia in messages on the World Wide Web provides users with multiple options to access information and allows them to do so based on their particular learning styles.  Though I enjoy multimedia, when I am learning I welcome text that I can reread and highlight.  However, when using video and audio, I take notes by pausing, rewinding and noting important details.  Some people are auditory, others visual, while some require both.  Multimedia provides choice.

To support your argument, provide examples of at least 2 sites (link to them) that use multimedia elements and explain why they are/aren’t effective.

182px-Time_Magazine_logo.svgSince I began doing this degree I have enjoyed going to the TIME website for research as it employs video, lots of pictures and is well organised. In the lead article on the site today ‘Why the Supreme Court is Set to Make History on Gay Marriage’ by David Von Drehle, there are links to related articles, many pictures and videos.  The reader can choose to read extensively on the topic, watch video or just read the basic story.  The site’s users have a choice on how they access the message.

The local newspaper that I often read online is the Trinidad Express.  In order to access the full newspaper, readers pay a subscripExpress Ltion fee.  Nonetheless, what is accessible to the average reader is basic. Each story has text and a picture but there are no links to related stories in the text, nor is there videos embedded from the TV6 television station, which is part of the One Caribbean Media Corporation with which they are both affiliated.  The lead story on January 17, 2014 ‘COURT MIX-UP: Only AG and his attorney were informed’ by Ria Taitt Political Editor, only has text and a picture of an email.  The picture itself is not very engaging.  In addition, there are advertisements on both side margins and at the top of the page that are very distracting.

While the TIME site employs multimedia much more effectively, by including pictures the Trinidad Express makes some effort at bi-sensory appeal.

References

Sundar, S. 2000. Multimedia effects on processing and perception of online news: A study of picture, video and audio downloads.  Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly; Autumn 2000; 77, 3; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 480.  Retrieved from http://www.journalism.wisc.edu/~dshah/blog-club/site/Sundar.pdf

Taitt, R. 2015, January 17.  COURT MIX-UP: Only AG and his attorney were informed. Retrieved from http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/COURT-MIX-UP-288889891.html

Von Drehle, D. 2015, January 17. Why the Supreme Court is set to make history on gay marriage.   http://time.com/3672582/supreme-court-gay-marriage-ruling/

Pictures

Express Logo. Retrieved on January 17, 2015 from http://trinimansblog.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/businessman-robbed-beaten-to-death-in.html

Multimedia icon.  Retrieved on January 17, 2015 from http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin/mboard/graphics/thread.cgi?175,last

TIME logo.  Retrieved on January 17, 2015 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Time_Magazine_logo.svg

Blog Best Practices

Having read articles on effective blogging by Daren Rowse, Ilias Chelidonis and DM Best Practices, the following are what I consider some of the best practices:

  • Ensure a title that is catchy and relevant to its content, like a newspaper headline
  • Employ journalistic style writing that answers the questions who, what, when, and where in the introduction and the details of how and why in the body
  • Try to make the content scannable and easily retrievable
  • Use google analytics to track the performance of the web
  • Write short paragraphs and stay away from long sentences, as this style is preferable to web readers
  • The design of the blog is important and should be user friendly, not cluttered
  • Use headlines and headings
  • Avoid verbosity
  • Create content that informs, entertains, inspires and or interacts
  • Blog passionately
  • Be honest and fair

The blog that I have chosen to analyse is Trinidad Carnival Diary, written by an anonymous Trinidadian blogger whose nom de plume is Saucy Trini.  She focuses her content on Trinidad carnival 365 days a year, and 366 in a leap year.  http://www.trinidadcarnivaldiary.com/

The content of this blog informs readers about all things carnival from parties, band launches to playing carnival; entertains with witty anecdotes of carnival experiences and inspires readers to join the revelry on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.   The title of the blog is relevant to its content and catchy.  In addition, there are many pictures, short paragraphs and links to other interesting articles, so it is reader friendly.

In one blog post, ‘Drunk Drivers Safe Feters’, the blogger praises and recommends a safe and reliable taxi service for party goers who plan to drink alcohol.  However, she writes, “In full disclosure I would like to say that I have met and know of the Founder of Drunk Drivers prior to the start of this business venture” (Saucy Trini (2), 2015).  This certainly adds to her credibility.  There are also links on the page to Facebook and Instagram, widgets and opportunities for readers to interact.  I find this blog very engaging.  The writer knows her audience, who are fellow carnival lovers, and she caters to their needs.

There are certainly many elements in my own blog that I can enhance.  At present, it is very basic.  The title ‘Trini Voice in a Global Village’ is very broad and does not necessarily target a niche market.  I also need to include more Trini examples and references in my writing so that it is relevant to the title.  The blog comprises of assignments for class.  I need to write shorter paragraphs, include multimedia and provide links to social media. In short, my blog is more like academic short papers posted to a blog, so it is not as engaging as it could be for web readers.  It would also improve greatly if I were to adopt the journalistic inverted pyramid style of writing.

I think the strengths of my blog are that it is grammatically sound and I make every effort to research my topics well.

As a novice blogger, I would certainly read an official Blogger’s Code of Conduct and I would find it useful.  I always find guidelines helpful when embarking on any new undertaking.  Having said that, I think that there are certain life hacks that run true regardless of what you are doing and for me the basis of it all is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The spirit of this is encapsulated in the standards of the Food Blog Code of Ethics (Greenstein & Burton, 2011) and the SPJ Code of Ethics (2014): Do no harm, seek the truth and be accountable.

References

Chelidonis, I.   .  12 Steps to Launch a Successful Blog.  Retrieved from http://www.dailyblogtips.com/steps-to-successful-blog/

D M Best Practices.    Writing for the web. Retrieved from http://www.uakron.edu/webteam/docs/dm_webwriting.pdf

Greenstein, L and Burton, B. 2011, August 28. Food Blog Code of Ethics 2.0. Retrieved from https://foodethics.wordpress.com/

Rowse, D. 2014 March 5. Beginner Week: My 43 DOs and 25 DON’Ts of Blogging.  Retrieved from http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/03/05/beginner-week-my-43-dos-and-25-donts-of-blogging/

Saucy Trini. 2015. Trinidad Carnival Diary. Retrieved from http://www.trinidadcarnivaldiary.com/

Saucy Trini (2). 2015 January 6. Drunk Drivers, Safe Feters. Retrieved from http://www.trinidadcarnivaldiary.com/?p=10133

Society of Professional Journalists. 2014, September 6. SPJ Code of Ethics.  Retrieved from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

The challenges of using new media tools

This exercise has confirmed for me that I have social media phobia.  I am on Twitter but tend to post primarily work related issues sporadically, and inactive on Google+.  I text regularly using WhatsApp and to a lesser degree BBM, but I do not frequently change my profile picture or update my status.  I fear loss of privacy and confidentiality.  I was shocked when I ‘googled’ my name recently and saw every tweet I have ever written available for all to see.  Therefore it is with a great deal of trepidation that I embarked on this exercise.  The three new media tools that I tried are widgets, podcasts and Facebook.

Having created a blog on WordPress.com for the COMM 510 course, I decided that I would try to improve the blog’s content and appearance by adding a widget.  Aside from posting blog entries, I must admit that I am still having difficulty navigating and using the features on the site.  I elected to create an About Me widget which now appears on my page.  I think that it can be very helpful in providing additional information and varied content.  According to Aids.Gov the ‘common content of widgets are photo and video viewers, polls, fundraising, or RSS feeds (e.g. Twitter, news headlines on a particular subject)’.  I took a while writing what I wanted to share about myself on the widget but was happy when it appeared on my page.  Please see my effort on About Me.  It is also at the end of this page on WordPress.

I am not a great fan of creating videos that include me, so I elected to produce an audio podcast as a good alternative to text since an audience can listen to it on the go.  I purchased a Mobile Podcaster App from the app store because it would allow me to record and publish audio recordings and upload them directly to my WordPress site.  Perfect, I thought; so I wrote a brief script on Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, recorded and uploaded it to WordPress.  However, I cannot find the podcast, only the accompanying picture.  I have to upgrade in order to upload it or provide a link to it but at present it is only on my phone.  Having bought the podcaster app I have no desire at present to pay for a WordPress upgrade too.  According to Aids.Gov ‘31% of people [polled] reported to listening to audio’ so there is an audience, especially for people who have long commutes daily.

Lastly, I joined Facebook after resisting for many years.  The decision was a difficult one but the process was easiest.  Immediately a list of potential friends appeared but I have added very few friends, as I have heard so many horror stories about Facebook.  It seems quite user friendly though and is designed to guide users easily through the process of connecting with others.  The audience is certainly extensive.  According to the Facebook Newsroom there were ‘864 million daily active users on average for September 2014’.  Those figures are impressive and certainly reflect a global audience. My Facebook page

I have a lot to learn about new media.  The content in widgets and podcasts would appeal to niche audiences based on their interests, but if they are embedded on an active Facebook page that has many friends or a Twitter account with many followers, the message would reach wider audiences and they would certainly have greater appeal and use.  As the Dragonfly Effect model clearly states users of new media tools must Focus, Grab Attention, Engage and Take Action.  If these guidelines are followed any new media tool can be successful and reach a wide audience.

References

Aids.Gov. 2015. New Media Tools.  Retrieved from https://www.aids.gov/using-new-media/tools/index.html#tool-bookmarkingNew

Facebook.  Facebook Newsroom. 2015. Retrieved from http://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/