Then and Now — Do History and Journalism repeat themselves?

At a first glance, it might be hard to see how World War II and the War on Terror have much in common politically, on the home front, or in the field of journalism. Looking at those differences more closely can help show how technology has changed the way Americans receive and participate in journalism in times of war, and how that can have a political, historical impact on the world.

Take, for example, comparable big moments, big stories that seem sure to warrant huge, bold headlines. Both wars start (for the United States) with a sudden act of violence against unsuspecting Americans – Pearl Harbor and the 9/11. While troubles may have been raging throughout the rest of the world all along, it suddenly became personal and impossible to ignore once it came to American turf.

Juliana Smith, blogs.ancestry.com

What is striking is how different the initial response was for each. For Pearl Harbor, at a time with less preparedness and protocol for handling war news, naval officials declared a news black out, seizing all forms of communication between the Hawaiian islands and the mainland. One United Press report slipped out before the censors blocked it though:

HONOLULU, Dec. 7 (UP) – War broke with lightning suddenness in the Pacific today, when waves of Japanese bombers assailed Hawaii and the United States Fleet struck back with a thunder of big naval rifles.

The story came to Americans from Washington and the White House, and FDR’s administration controlled how much Americans knew, acknowledging the surprise attack but claiming only one old battleship was sunk and that heavy causalities were inflicted on the Japanese. The White House could manipulate what people knew to manipulate how they felt about it, taking years and investigations letter for the full story to come out.

Compare this to the first time you heard about the Twin Towers on 9/11. Perhaps it was told through another person, but where did they find out? Maybe word of mouth, maybe they were in the car and on the radio, but what everyone remembers and has burned into their visual memory is what they saw on TV: live video of the Towers burning, the second plane crashing, and seeing them fall.

Even the huge headlines in the many days that followed the attack and the accompanying pictures on a front page cannot compare to those videos, whether they were seen live or not. The broadcast journalism was not well crafted as the event happened and as the new broadcasts learned more information, but Americans across the country were glued to the coverage none the less. Why the drastic differences?

Location: At the time of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was not yet a state. Even more, it was an island far isolated from the mainland, and though unsuspecting, was a military facility. 9/11 was an attack that wanted to be seen– in the most populous city in America, at some of the tallest buildings in the world, on unarmed civilians. Even without journalistic communications, one had a much greater impact as far as eye witnesses who lived to tell the tale.

Technology: No matter where the attacked happened, television news could bring the event into your house or onto your computer instantly. You saw it and responded to it in a way that cannot be manipulated the same way words or radio prepared in advance can. Live video from the source versus the time it takes to craft text was more instant and less filtered.

Furthermore, New Yorkers with cameras or camera phones could upload footage to the internet or send it to news channels. Even if the collective media or the government had wanted to cover up the significance, it was no longer so easily in their hands. The scale needed to block all communications would be more extensive and would likely have been treated as more outrageous.

fineartamerica.com

fineartamerica.com

The wars that followed these sparks are worth looking at as far as journalistic freedom and American response/participation – while WWII is famous for its propaganda encouraging Americans to help in the effort (“Loose Lips Sink Ships” or Rosie the Riveter’s “We can do it!”), what they didn’t know certainly changed how they felt about it and their level of support.

Today it seems outrageous to hear of the level of censorship about the war with pictures, videos and newscasts being sent to quickly and easily through television and the internet. Bias and filtering still exists, but the internet also allows Americans to participate in their opinions by contributing their opinions in different ways (blogs, social media conversations, websites, etc.)

blogsforbush.com

war_is_terrorism_with_a_bigger_budget

q8jerky.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Mind the Gap — 6 Reasons why the Tube is far superior to the Subway

In the past year I’ve courted two of the world’s most famous, internationally known cities: London, the sprawling city of history, arts, and literature; and New York City, the rigid grid of shiny skyscrapers, flashing lights, and capitalism. Both I love for their vast size, diversity of attractions, and –perhaps most importantly as a non-car-owner/non-drivers-license-holder — are the extensive underground systems that can get you to any part of the city. Below the colorful, blinding lights of Times Square and the flurry of Piccadilly Circus are my fast track to anywhere else in the city for a couple of dollars/pounds.

DSCN1793

But as I wandered around NYC last week, I came very quickly to an important realization: The Tube kicks the Subway’s ass. It’s not even close.

DISCLAIMER: When I said I had courted both cities, I was fudging the truth a little. I was in a committed relationship with London for months. I had a huge crush, it got pretty serious, I even moved in. We were totally into each other and had the greatest relationship ever and circumstances tore us apart. (And the long distance thing was just not working) Sometimes I drunk call London sobbing about how much I miss it and how I shouldn’t have taken it for granted and to please please take me back.

 Me and London having a great time   252335_3508181180340_1087124828_n

New York on the other hand, is the new crush, the new interest, and there’s definitely some spark there. I’ve got to move on from London after all, and what better way than to find some new city to hang out with? But as I was getting down and dirty with NYC (riding the Subway of course) I couldn’t help but compare it to London, and it couldn’t even pretend to keep up with my beloved Tube.

Before I completely rip the Subway, I’ll say the one thing that’s better about it than the Tube: it can go all night. The Subway runs 24/7, while the Tube calls it quits at midnight and gets 5 or 6 hours of sleep. New York never sleeps.

DSCN7081

And now, Sparknotes version for those with short attention spans or who are lovers of lists:

1) Cleaner, nicer, more artistic
2) More regular service
3) Easier to figure out
4) Easier to find
5) Easier to use
6) Safety

1) Cleaner, nicer, more artistic

You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but the Tube is way sexier than the Subway. You can expect a clean, newer look out of every Tube station and train. The Subway has a very dirty, claustrophobic underground feel. The Tube trains have shiny, colorful, uptech vibe. The Subway has a very metallic, train feel with a tragically ugly orange on the seats. The Tube trains, though more narrow, have bright, shiny seats and a cozier feel. The Subway stations are dirty, moldy, raw exposed concrete with some advertisements thrown up here and there.

DSCN7109

Many of the tube stations walls are art unique to that station, giving each more of an identity and significance. Along all the escalators are colorful, electronic ads that go all the way up the ride, and the huge colorful advertisements are like art too. Some Subway stations have art, but it’s overshadowed by the grimy feel, and any attempt at art is the same in every station (the small tile, mosaic look). Which is hard to appreciate when you’re watching rats fight over trash on the tracks (this really happened)

While some Subway stations are more uptech and have electronic signs indicating when the next train is or what the next stop is, only a few do. And while there are of course more or less uptech lines in the Tube, once you’ve seen one, you know what to expect out of any of them as far as cleanliness, technology, and art.

1-charing-cross-tube-station-alistair-laming

2) More regular service

On the Tube, I never remembered waiting for more than 3 or 4 minutes max for the next train in the center of the city (some outlying stops or occasionally a later night train before it closed would be more spread out). Many stations had a sign that said which trains were coming next, and in how many minutes.
On the Subway, I’d wait 5-7 minutes on a popular Manhattan stop like Times Square waiting on a train (during rush hour), not knowing how much longer I’d have to wait on a train, or if the next one would even be the one I wanted. In some of the less popular lines in Brooklyn, a train would sit in the station for 10 minutes before going, waiting for more people to come and fill it up. Economically practical? Yes. Tragic for when you’re running late for a flight? Hell yes. (A story for a later time)

3) Easier to figure out

Ironically, NYC, which is a grid of streets, has a messy tangle of curving lines on its Subway map. Then London, which is a curving sprawling map of streets, has a simplified, organized underground map.
In London, there are huge maps of the line you’re at by any platform. Just as you think you don’t know where you’re going, you walk across a huge 5 foot tall map of the line. Once you got in the train, as soon as you looked up you saw the list of stops on the line.

TFL's Tube Map

TFL’s Tube Map

In New York, good luck trying to find a map, except maybe one down by the platform if you’re lucky. Don’t expect to figure much out on the train too, except for the one map that someone is sitting in front of, or the one map of the lines are one side of the car that you have to walk right up to to read. New York lines are also somewhat confusingly named with letters and numbers, as some letters go to the same places, but are labeled with different letters because they branch off to different places at some point.

MTA's Subway map

MTA’s Subway map

On the Tube, an recording (in a pleasant, British woman’s voice) announces what stop you’re and what stop is next. Some Subway stations do, sometimes the conductor mutters something inaudible through the Subway system, and sometimes there’s nothing at all. Which is a bummer, because many stops aren’t largely and frequently enough labeled in a way that can be seen from inside the train. Tube stations are very consistently, obviously labeled.

4) Easier to find

With exceptions like the entrances to the Times Square Subway stops (that are giant sparkling light up signs), Subway stops are usually just stairways down into the ground. It is marked, but not easy to see from a distance. To make matters more confusing, there are too often multiple exits from a station or multiple stations with the same name (or in the same place, that are different lines…), making it hard to get directions somewhere when you’re not sure what exit you came out of. The Tube stations are marked by the iconic light up signs that can be seen from further and are impossible to mistake.

Underground

Underground

5) Easier to use

If you’re hauling luggage or in a wheelchair in the Subway, sucks to be you. Most ways in and out of the Subway and to other lines are stairs, with some elevators in certain places. The Tube has a lot more wheelchair accessible stops and more escalators than NYC’s Subway.

The Subway will also have the entrances to a certain line be on opposite sides of the road, so that if you want to take the train going in the opposite direction, you have to go upstairs and around, then back down (and by then you’ve probably missed it, and possibly had to swipe in again and spend another $2.25) On the Tube, the platform is in the middle of the two trains, so you can simply turn around and walk up to the train to go the other way. Stops with multiple lines tend to be a mess of a lot of different entrances and stairways.

image_xlimage_2010_03_R485_116th_Street_and_Broadway_Subway_NEW

6) Safety

To be fair to my new romantic interest, the Subway is not as scary or dangerous as people say at all. But considering it runs all night with far more spread out stops, there’s definitely more worry for crime. The above ground stops (which are often in less desirable areas of town) are more worrisome. And while the Tube does have above ground stops in the outskirts of the city, there are also a lot more TFL employees around to help with a problem and likely CCTV, as London is a big fan of that in public places (different issue).

The Tube also just cares more about you : some stations even have a voice declaring the famous phrase “mind the gap” when the train doors open, in addition to the words printed on the edge of the platform, and other signs regarding safety. New York you’re more on your own.

mind-the-gap

Don’t get me wrong — I think New York City and I will have a meaningful and rewarding relationship that will make us both happy. But sometimes, no matter how hard I try not to, I’ll think about the Tube while riding the Subway. And would possibly dump NYC like last season’s shoes if London wanted me back…

New Ducks Fly Into New Roles

When Ashley and Megan found out who their freshman roommates would be last summer, they were surprised to find that they were already Facebook friends with each other. Considering roommates are assigned randomly freshman year, it was unique enough that both girls were from the same small state.

Ashley Henry and Megan McGarel, freshmen in Howard Hall and both from Tennessee, now have even more in common:  they were both recently elected as representatives for Howard next year. Henry will be Howard’s Student Union Board Representative and McGarel will be Howard’s Senate Representative, and both are excited to get more involved and to meet new people through their new roles in the dorm.

Henry explained that she and McGarel knew each other from the Girl State program in Tennessee.

“It’s your own little government that’s only girls, you vote for governors and stuff like that,” Henry said. “You have cities within that , and we knew of each other because we were in the same city.”

As far as both roommates running for a position in the election, McGarel said they talked about it a little bit beforehand, but it wasn’t a huge issue.

“We both really wanted the position, but nothing that became a stressful thing,” said McGarel. “With midterms coming up there’s other things to stress about. But we were both really anxious before the results came out and kept asking each other ‘Have you gotten an email yet?’”

These roommates are not the only girls in the hall looking forward to a new role in Howard: Bridget Doyle and Kerry Walsh, also freshmen, ran unopposed as Howard Hall presidents. Doyle and Walsh met during Freshman Orientation at the beginning of the year and had a math class together. They decided to run together due to their shared love for Howard and their pride in the dorm.

“As presidents, Bridget and I hope most importantly to foster community and spirit around Howard,” said Walsh. “By encouraging the spirit of Howard, we hope to increase participation in hall-wide events, especially service opportunities. Personally, we are both very excited to connect with the residents of Howard. We can’t wait to get to know everyone in Howard-especially the incoming freshman!”

The current presidents of the hall, Bridget Callaghan and Charitha Isanaka, are sad to be stepping down, but have plans for the last few months in the position.

“The simplest way to describe our role in the dorm is to serve as a liaison between Howard and outside of Howard,” said Isanaka. “We do this by having routine meetings, informing the dorm of events, motivating them to do things outside of Howard, and eventually building community and making this place home. We want to end our term with a bang! So we’re having a campus wide golf tournament and the Tunnel of Love coming up.”

Callaghan also wishes well for the upcoming freshmen who will replace her next year.

“I am really excited for the new presidents and commissioners because I hope that they bring new energy to the dorm, said Callaghan. “This experience has made my overall college experience so much more than I expected. I really enjoyed it and it changed my perspective of ND and Howard. I would say this has been the highlight of my ND career thus far.”

Trust Issues

Yesterday Poynter.org posted an article with data from an Ipsos MORI poll that says only 21% of British adults trust journalists to tell the truth, and 40% of Americans trust media to report the news full, accurately, and fairly, which is a new record low. There are a lot of interesting and troubling ideas about this lack of trust from the people journalism is — idealistically — meant to serve and inform.

wallpapers.windowsace.com

wallpapers.windowsace.com

Differences & Problems

First of all, I think there is a pretty big difference between “trusting journalists to tell the truth” and “trusting the media to report fairly, fully, and accurately.” Were the British and the Americans in the poll posed different questions, or perhaps a series of different questions? Did Americans trust individual journalists to tell the truth? Would the data be different under that question?

The article does mention that journalists in particular fared better than people who sell insurance and cars as far as honesty and ethics go — which isn’t saying much as I imagine people consider the role of a salesman of things like cars and insurance more focused on making a sale (even if it means taking advantage of a customer’s lack of knowledge on the issue), so at least American don’t seem to think journalists will do anything to sell a paper. There were multiple aspects of the poll I think Poynter could have explained better or elaborated on, as the short article brought up a lot more questions than it answered as far as what this data means, and I will bring up these questions as I find them.

British Cynicism

Before hitting home about American journalists, I was shocked by the low number of Britons who trust journalists to even tell the truth. Does that mean the vast majority of Britons think journalists are actually lying to them, on purpose? Having studied some of the differences between American and British journalism, I wonder if who Britons consider ‘journalists’ differs than the American idea. After all, the article goes on to mention TV anchors or “news readers” had 69% trusting them to be truthful.

Why the huge difference? Do the British consider news readers’ role to do just that — simply read the news — and not create it? Or do they think more highly of those types of journalists versus print/online journalists? (I cannot help but remember a line from V for Vendetta: “Our job is to report the news, not fabricate it. That’s the government’s job.”)

/viridislumen.blogspot.com

/viridislumen.blogspot.com

Part of what might explain this are two forms of news that exist in the UK that are rather different than what we have in the US. One is the tabloids, which seem to look like newspapers, but employ the practices of constant huge, bold, underlined headlines with huge pictures and very little content, making People Magazine (in my opinion) look professional in comparison. The Sun has even featured a profile of a woman on page three (who by the way, in the picture is always topless, except perhaps on Sundays). It would not surprise me if Britons did not trust that kind of journalist. On the other hand, there are government run news organizations like the BBC — a concept I think Americans would have a hard time swallowing in the US — that seem well respected, trusted, and legitimate. I would not be surprised if Britons simply trusted broadcast journalists more because the greater quality of journalism they experience from broadcast, while print (although having better sources like The Guardian) includes tabloids who have faced problems like the phone hacking scandal.

In the States: “the media” vs. journalists

If the British have the phone hacking scandal in recent memory to lower their trust in journalists, Americans have the recent election as a reminder of the bipartisanship reflected in the media that would lower their trust in fair, accurate, complete reporting. With the rising popularity of obviously slanted news organizations like Fox News and MSNBC (whether or not they admit to be so), Americans might trust the media to give niche audiences what they want and spin the facts and the truth in a way that is incomplete and unfair. It makes sense that even if that is a capitalist view, it’s at least better than car and insurance salespeople — there is some value in having both sides of the story told, even if it’s by competing or different news sources. But that doesn’t mean American expect any given news source in the big concept of “the media” is going to be telling them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God.

What the Poynter article also fails to mention is what Americans thought of their “news readers,” those broadcast anchors, who are often also reporters. Do Americans put greater trust in certain forms of journalism than others? (It is impossible to go through journalism or television classes without hearing that Walter Cronkite was once “the most trusted man in America.”) Not trusting to get the fair, accurate, complete truth from “the media” seems to paint a general skepticism of news sources across the board, but is different faith put into The New York Times versus CNN? What about print versus online articles? In reference to the British skepticism, Poynter uses the following quote:

kcet.org

kcet.org

“Media-watchers believe, however, that in an era of rapid technological change, the trust issue goes wider than the morally dubious practices of some of the red-top newspapers in Britain.”

But what do the rapid technological changes mean for media consumption and trust of the truth of the reporting? The article doesn’t elaborate. Some context to other similar articles is given by links at the bottom, including Pew: 75% of Americans say journalists can’t get their facts straightGallup: Americans mistrust media more than ever, and 24% of the public gives journalists ‘high’ ethics rating, which can give more context and light on the subject of America’s ongoing trust/mistrust of the media.

Solution

Is there one? Can the strength of any individual journalist, news organization, or even a change for the better in the entire industry of “the media” undo the mistrust instilled in Americans (and Britons)? If the audience we as journalists cater to don’t trust what we say is true, how effective or worthwhile is our work for those of us who consider journalism to be an enlightening and informative force in society?

5 Reasons to Like the Social Network for News

facebook.com

facebook.com

While Twitter has become a platform for news organizations to posts bursts of breaking news, Facebook, founded only a few years earlier, has become a place for every celebrity, interest, and business to have a place to advertize directly to the people. News organizations are no different. What works about Facebook over Twitter, a website, or a blog?

The Platform Itself

Facebook has a place for a lot of different types of engagement. Text or links on statuses and notes; a page for background information, history, biography, mission statement; a place for photos and videos; creating events; the ability to set other subsections on the home page. The uniform layout of Facebook gives a clean, more professional look to every page than the vast creative possibilities of simply blog sites.

facebook.com/southbendtribune

facebook.com/southbendtribune

Direct Connection to Readers/Customers

If an individual likes or befriends your page, your post will show up on their newsfeed, which allows you to insert yourself into their social experience daily, between a friend’s status about her day at work and a sister’s baby photos. They don’t have to make a special effort to come to your page or website; as long as they don’t choose to hide your posts, it takes some effort to be able to separate your news from the social, interpersonal posts in their news feed. It’s an easy place to give them new information and self promotion.

Ease of Getting Reaction

Unlike a website or blog where you might have to sign in or create an account to comment, on Facebook, readers are already signed into that account as themselves, and below the post is that open box they just have to click on (it even says “write a comment” in the box). Even if readers had something to say on another blog or website, they may not consider it as common or appropriate to comment on it as they would on Facebook – after all Facebook encourages the social interaction. You can easily see what people’s reactions are by reading their comments.

facebook.com/southbendtribune

facebook.com/southbendtribune

Knowledge of Viewership

Similar to recording hits on a blog or webpage, the size of your audience can be more easily guessed by noting the number of “like” or “friends” to the page. You can also tell what articles more people might have bothered to read or enjoy by the numbers of likes to the post or number of comments on it. If you create an event, you can see how many people are, are not, are maybe attending the event.

facebook.com/southbendtribune/likes

facebook.com/southbendtribune/likes

Engagement

Lastly, but most importantly, using Facebook makes it very easy to have readers engage and participate in news, rather than passively receive it. They can read and then comment on it alongside their friends and neighbors. They which of their friends have liked the page or liked a post. They can start an argument with someone over what they believe about an issue or event. You can make readers feel like they are a part of what you are posting about and make them feel as though their knowledge and comments are important to the events you are telling the about.

facebook.com/southbendtribune

facebook.com/southbendtribune

For more reading on effectively using Facebook as a news source, go to http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/14-tips-on-managing-a-news-outlet-s-facebook-page/s2/a551891/.

Tweets — An effective way to engage Americans on politics?

On Tuesday night, a Senior Lecturer in Communication Arts at IUSB (Indiana University South Bend), Alec Hosterman, went to Washington, D.C. to tweet during the State of the Union. How well did he use Twitter during this important political event?

Mashable.com

Mashable.com

The effectiveness of Hosterman’s tweets during the State of the Union depends on what audience he was tweeting for, what they wanted out of their tweeting experience, and what he wanted them to get out of it.

The first dozen or so Tweets added more of level sense of atmosphere and some moments of humor to the event by commenting on the crowd, Boehner, and Obama fist bumping. If he was tweeting for those watching along with the State of the Union, he began by simply hitting the highlights they were already hearing, but as the tweets went on, began questioning what was said and adding his own comments along with them. He also posed questions, which encourage followers to participate in a dialogue.

Tweets

He also did a good job engaging in conversation with followers by responding to their comments during the State of the Union. This is definitely a good way to make the experience of his feed interactive and inclusive for his readers, but could also be a little distracting for those who wanted to only follow the State of the Union and didn’t care for the opinions of others yet. (Hearing other’s opinions can color the way they experience or interpret the speech, a power that can be good or bad.)

For those not watching the State of the Union but just following the tweets, what was happening would be a little less clear, as he was taking more a stance of giving commentary in his short amount of space than giving a play by play of what was said. He used his feed more as a place to think and react that to give breaking news tweets, though he did use quotes when he felt the need to comment on them.  (and at the end of the night made it clear he was critiquing the speech).

twitter.com/AlecHosterman

twitter.com/AlecHosterman

The tweets in the day leading up to State of the Union were more of the tweets of someone’s personal Twitter: here’s what monuments I’m at with a picture, here’s what I’m doing, here’s where I’m going for dinner. These types of Tweets border the line between interesting (“Today has been about seeing the places most of us only know thru TV or books. Very humbling. Can’t wait until tonight’s event!”) and the kind that draw people away from Twitter with the overload of uninteresting information (“Trying PJ Clark’s for dinner”). However, these were before the big even started and can be more human interest that draw people into his character and learn more about him as a person, and also hinted that his feed wouldn’t suddenly be used only as a breaking news or only quotes feed during the State of the Union.

Overall, I think as an individual he used his Twitter feed well to reflect on and engage others in the State of the Union instead of passively watching, showing how social media can be used in matters of importance and even change the way people think about what they are experiencing.