Tuesday, November 25, 2008

News Trust

News Trust is an interesting site that is looking to capitalize on the current trend of social networking sites. While you can meet people and make contacts through the site, the main purpose of News Trust is to take a serious look at news reports, stories, and information and rate them on their quality of journalism. The site contains a wide number of topics where stories are submitted by users and subsequently analyzed by other members of the site.

Stories are judged based on their factuality, fairness, and its level of informity. You can also say whether you reccomend the article and whether you trust the pubication.

It is a project that is apparentally getting a wide amount of attention and praise, as been backed by many grants and formed partnerships with instuittions such as Northeastern, PBS, and the Huffington Post.

Last week, my Reinventing the News class was treated to a presentation of the site by Editor Mike LaBonte. LaBonte explained the purpose and goals of the site, in addition to allowing students the opportunity to form groups and analyze a news story with the intent of seeing how each group interpreted the quality of the journalism of a story on the global economy.

This blog post furthers that concept, as I have submitted three sepreate global economy stories and analyzed them on what News Trust has decided classifies "good journalism."

China, Peru sign free-trade pact

In this anaylisis of a CNN story on the signing of a free trade pact between China and Peru, I decided the amount of information in the piece wasn't enough to make the article seem like anything more than a watered down summation. Overall Rating:3.6

APEC aims to restore confidence in world economy

This anaylisis was on a Yahoo story by Joseph Coleman on the APEC summit in Lima. Yo Joe, where are your sources? Overall Rating: 3.2

WTO Ministers May Meet Next Month, Officials Say

Finally, my final review revolved around this report from the Dow Jones newswires which focused on an upcoming WTO ministerial meeting. I liked the piece because it provided a nice context of the upcoming event, while being sourced in a way that made would could be speculation into fact. Overall Rating:3.6

Following this analytical process, it occured to me why I don't think News Trust will ever work. Most Americans just want their news given to them quickly and in small doses, therefore the thought of spending a lot of extra time and effort that it takes to analyze the journalism of a story won't appeal to the masses. Hell, I'm supposed to have a desire to analyze stories based on their quality since I'm a journalism student, but I just don't have the time to deal with it.

Furthermore, a topic touced on in class, the site has taken a very liberal lean, thus meaning News Trust's overall interpretation on what journalism is good journalism will heavily be influenced by the ideological tone of the story and it's author.

News Trust is a neat site that serves a great purpose for those who spend hours pouring over the news and consuming media, but I don't think it will ever make a big impact because most people just don't care enough.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mapping Coffee

A recent project in my Reinventing the News class required students to venture out to a location serving coffee near (and not so near) the Northeastern campus. We would compile information about each coffee shop and use that to compile a Google map detailing where these places are located.

I went to Wollaston's West Village, a small grocery store located in Northeastern's West Village side of campus. A medium cup of coffee at Wollaston's will cost you $1.55, plus the manual labor it takes to pour the coffee yourself (this location is strictly self service).

The coffee was a breakfast blend, and all of the normal items used to dress up a cup of coffee were available. I can't tell you how good the coffee was, however, because I'm not a coffee drinker.

There's not much to report on as far as service goes, seeing as the only service involved consists of the cashier ringing up the purchase. He gave me my change without dropping the coins, plus he wore a tie, so I guess the service, for what it is, was great.

Furthermore, don't expect to sit down and study here, as there is nowhere to sit and enjoy the coffee, unless you count the three or four small tables outside the building. Those may be nice in the summer, but the rumor is it gets kinda cold around here in the months ahead.

This is a great place for those needing a quick cup of coffee on campus, and Wollaston's hours are Monday-Saturday: 7 AM to 10 PM and Sunday:9 AM to 10 PM. 

Here is our class map, entitled Caffeinated campus, for those looking to find new places to grab a cup of coffee around the school.

This Map's For You

As I walk around the streets of this fine city on a daily basis, there's always a question running around my head that I just can't shake.

That question is: Is there a bar or pub near me that sells Budweiser's American Ale- Bud's newest (and arguably best) brew. Fortunately, the fine folks at Budweiser realized that there are likely millions of Americans whose lives have been ruined by their seemingly never successful quest to find this beer.

Fortunately, this beer (yes, this individual beer) has its own website that features an interactive Google map allowing prospective drinkers to enter their zip code and see which nearby establishments feature this beer. Once the zip code is entered, a street map comes up with the locations of participating bars plotted by an American Ale logo.

Clicking on the logo provides the user with the name, address, and phone number of the bar. For those around Northeastern, Conor Larkin's, Our House East, and Huntington Wine and Spirits all carry Budweiser American Ale.

Strangely, this map doesn' t work with all states, as some states have laws prohibiting this service. My home state, Texas, apparently has this restriction, for my home zip code will not work with this service.

This service illustrates how helpful Google maps can be. This map made it very easy to find exactly what I was looking for, while doing it in an aesthetically pleasing way. The maps are very easy to read and they quickly allow the user to get the location of whatever it is they're looking for. I can see why many news organizations are using these maps on their websites.
Photo of Budweiser plant(cc) by the Jesster79 and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Emily Sweeney's Visit

On Wednesday, Boston Globe Staff Reporter Emily Sweeney visited my Reinventing the News class where she talked to students about the changing media landscape and showed us examples of her work that illustrate the direction in which the newspaper industry is going.

That trend involves reporters multitasking by supplementing their stories with things like slide shows or videos on a newspaper's website.

Sweeney discussed the fact that when she first got to the Globe and wanted to make videos, there wasn't even space designated for such a medium on the newspaper's website. Now, the Globe employs staffers who work only with video, many reporters carry Flip video cameras, and the company recently spent thousands of dollars on video equipment.

In addition to this, Sweeney also commented that many reporters are now using Facebook as a way to get leads for stories, and Google Maps serve as unique interactive supplements to stories on the Globe's website.

From a video standpoint, Sweeney's videos tend to be very entertaining, yet they still manage to inform the viewer. Here are three examples from her personal website:

This is a video Sweeney produced about a former body builder who in the peak of his career was hit by a car. Though the car took his ability to walk, it did not take away his will to lift weights.

Next, Emily produced this video to inform out-of-towners on some of the finer points of Boston's unique slang.

Finally, Sweeney put this video together so viewers could get a unique view of what it's like in a bingo hall, in addition to informing them that these halls are becoming a thing of the past.

As I mentioned, all three of these videos are informative and entertaining at the same time, and as a student, I'm fully aware of the fact that it is hard to combine those two adjectives in many instances.

While the content of the video is great, I feel like these videos uphold a trend I've noticed in the new world of journalism. That trend is that in video projects, the quality always seems to be sub par. The picture quality of these videos is suspect, and, in the case of the body builder piece, sound becomes an issue. While I realize these aren't professionally produced videos, I can only hope that this new era of journalism doesn't mean we have to redefine our standards of quality.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Polling Place Photo Project

click on the photo to view my polling place photo project

The Polling Place Photo Project, which was created in 2006, is an example of citizen journalism from the New York Times which allows voters to take photos of the polling place where they made their voting choices.

In addition to showing reader pictures of various polling places, each set of user submitted photos includes information on the polling place, such as how many workers were present, how many people were waiting in line, and how satisfactory the service was at the location being featured.

This morning, I ventured to the polling place set up at the Wentworth Institute so I could contribute to this project. I arrived at roughly 11:30 to see no lines, a helpful staff, and a small handful of people exercising their right to vote.

As an aside, I was very disappointed to see Jay Rosen was one of the founders of this project. After seeing a video where he acted like his blog was the greatest and most important thing ever, I am disappointed that I have to give the arrogant SOB any sort of work that could contribute to his ego, which at this point, is roughly the size of Texas and California combined.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Where are all the fans?

Earlier this semester, I wrote a post stating why I feel like Northeastern athletics aren't quite up to par with the athletics programs of other schools across the nation.

I'm apparently not the only one who feels this way, as attendance at Northeastern sporting events, not including hockey, tends to be, well, pretty sparse.

While sharpening my video skills at the same time, I went around campus to ask students and professors if they go to games, why more student's don't attend these events, and what can be done to put more Northeastern butts in more Northeastern seats.