Study: Viewers turning to YouTube as news source

According to a study by the The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, YouTube is becoming  “a growing digital environment where professional journalism mingles with citizen content.” It seems much like how Blogs have helped create the explosion of “citizen journalists” and the like, YouTube is turning into another avenue where this form of journalism (if that is what you’d like to call it) is expanding.  YouTube is proving to be an invaluable resource for many individuals seeking first-hand video accounts of things like natural disasters and other high-profile news events. In a way, YouTube is kind of working like Twitter. People are able to quickly upload footage of events at a close to real-time capacity, with little to no editing, to present relevant footage. These “news” videos are like the video version of a Tweet. Also, many news outlets are now taking footage that has been directly uploaded to YouTube by normal citizen users and using that footage in official news videos. As people turn to YouTube videos as a news source, and news sources use YouTube users’ videos, the distinction between professional journalism and citizen journalism further blurs.

I personally think YouTube is a great source to supplement individual’s need for more news and current event-related videos. The ability we now have to access footage of first-hand accounts of events from multiple sources is quite amazing.

*UPDATE – I’m watching CNN right now. A number of top Syrian officials were just killed by a rebel bomb blast. All the video footage CNN is showing is labeled as “YouTube/Amateur Footage” and shows us on-the-scene vantage points of the building on fire and the aftermath of the bomb through shaky handheld cameras. All this footage is being produced by normal citizens, adding to the growing nature of “citizen journalism” (even though these individuals taking the videos and pictures probably don’t necessarily consider themselves as journalists). All of this is an example of the growing presence of YouTube and amateur video in the news and the importance of it. The unprecedented amount of video, audio and photographic evidence we have access to for events that are occurring in real-time is groundbreaking. Take this Syrian bombing story for example. Before the advent of YouTube and easy-access to amateur video online, news outlets would generally not have any video/audio/photographic evidence in a real-time format (or even at all) for something such as this unless they had proactively set up a film crew in the area and anticipated an event beforehand. That, however, is an extremely difficult thing to do with most news events, especially ones related to disaster and violence. In this case, YouTube videos are feeding directly into the story being carried by major news outlets. As viewers, we are seeing events occur and unfold in a much more timely manner than ever before thanks to websites like YouTube.

Bloomberg app for business journalists (Blackberry and iPad)

While I was working in finance (at Bloomberg) I did not have a blackberry torch or an iPad. Now that I have both, I do not work anymore in finance and have no need for any financial apps. However, there is a good chance I will produce a business related show where I can combine my passions for economics and news or write commentary on market conditions. In addition, as an avid Economist reader, I noticed many of the journalists use charts and data from Bloomberg to accompany their commentary. I have done so myself when I worked at Bloomberg, but I did not need an app since I had direct access to Bloomberg’s data terminal.

There are several Bloomberg apps and I picked the one which would help me most as a professional producer of a business program for television. If you work in finance you must always be up to date on the latest information on what is going on in the various financial markets. If you are a business journalist or producer of a news show it is part of your job responsibility. I had the phone version for a while, which I never used. I do not remember if it came as a default option with the phone or I downloaded it myself, but if you are looking for a business app to add to your phone, I recommend it. There are many features and I focused on two: data and news feeds.

Data: the app is great for a quick summary of the benchmark indices such as the Dow Jones and S&P 500. It provides currency exchange rates for the most traded currencies. It also has an icon for each asset class where you can click and find more detailed information. There is even a ‘stock finder’  which is a search engine for equities.   However, the app lacks a search engine for other asset classes. For equities there are features such as a data table following the top ‘leaders’ and top ‘laggers’ .  There is also an option to view charts with historical performance over 1d, 1m, 6m, 1 yr, and 5 yr, (day, month,and year). This is not helpful for me personally since my area of interest is commodities and currencies.

Real time news feeds: this is a great feature for a producer of a business news show. It’s a great way to keep up to date on news makers and find potential guests for a television show, especially considering the time sensitivity.  The news section is divided into rubrics. There are various user-friendly breakdowns such as geography, sector, opinion, sustainability, and health care.

I would give it a 4 (out of 5) for the reasons mentioned above.


“App” Test: AudioBoo online recording device

In browsing some online journalism tools today, I came across this British site, It’s basically an online recording device with a focus on social media. You can record anything up to three minutes for free, and you can pay 60 British pounds per year for AudioBoo Plus to record for up to 30 minutes. When you finish recording, you can upload immediately to Twitter or Facebook. The site itself has a social media format — you can have followers and follow others as in Twitter and blogging sites, and you can chat with other AudioBoo users. You can also browse popular, featured or “trending” audio clips.

In addition to recording clips directly, you can upload audio files from your computer and share them on your social media sites through AudioBoo — so even if you forget to use AudioBoo during your next interview, you can link to it on your social media later.

In terms of “new media,” I think AudioBoo is a fantastic way to record interviews or even breaking news for immediate release to social media sites. It could work like a radio station, but instead of a constant stream that listeners have to “stay tuned” to, the content would be broken up into small audio clips which viewers would originally find on Twitter.

I tested AudioBoo by recording a story about Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France and posting it to my Twitter account. This strategy gave people a quick and easy way to listen to breaking Tour news without searching for it specifically on the VeloNews website. If a news organization were to use AudioBoo, I would recommend upgrading to AudioBoo Plus so as to not be limited to three-minute clips; on the other hand, that short time span forces long-winded journalists to be concise, which keeps listeners interested throughout the whole clip.

The only problem I ran into when using AudioBoo was that the loading of the audio clip after I recorded it was sometimes slow. I’m not sure if that’s a problem with my own computer or with the site, but I had to completely close out one of my recordings and start over because it was taking so long.

I tested AudioBoo on my laptop, but the device is also available as an app for Android, iPhone and Nokia. If you have a mic on your phone, tablet or computer, I would recommend using AudioBoo — because, as the site’s tagline goes, “sound is social.”

Social Networks and Journalism?

Networks such as Twitter and Reddit are often criticized for being the source of nefarious rumors and false news reports, including a false conclusion on the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act by CNN.

But as misreports and errors can spread quicker than in print news, they can also be publicly vetted for accuracy. When George Mason University students deliberately created fake Wikipedia entries they used these pages as a veneer of credibility for websites, YouTube videos, and other sources. Reddit users spotted the fake in less than half an hour. Several users first found the hoaxes and like white blood cells on an pathogen, they swarmed on the fakes.

As Yoni Appelbaum describes in a post at The Atlantic: “The Wikipedia articles had been posted and edited by a small group of new users. Finding documents in an old steamer trunk sounded too convenient. And why had Lisa been savvy enough to ask Reddit, but not enough to Google the names and find the Wikipedia entries on her own? The hoax took months to plan but just minutes to fail.”

In a research paper entitled “Tweets and Truth,” University of British Columbia journalism professor Alfred Hermida speculates that Twitter can bus used in a similar way to fact-check news in something approaching real time.

Is there anyway that social media and journalism could find a symbiotic relationships?

Revisiting the viability of paywalls

Much has already been written about the fiscal future of newspapers and the business models that will ultimately prevail. But in light of a report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Steve Myers wrote an article on the Poynter website that re-examines the viability of paywalls (the charging for online content).

Myers points out that three of the top five papers in the last six months, in terms of highest increase in Sunday circulation, utilize some form of paywall. In contrast, the five papers that saw the biggest drop in daily circulation offer their online content for free.

While some papers like The New York Times have used a paywall for some time now, other notable publications are beginning to follow suit — The Los Angeles Times put up a paywall a few months ago and The Chicago Tribune plans to do the same. Myers doesn’t necessarily propose that paywalls are the solution to the industry’s woes, but an interesting question is raised: are readers increasingly willing to pay for the news they get from the web?

A post by Brent Lang on The Wrap website takes the position that paywalls will become a bigger trend among papers, but that the figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations can be misleading:

“The rise in circulation may be partly attributable to a complicated new set of rules by the Audit Bureau of Circulations that may allow newspapers to count the same subscriber multiple times if they pay to access articles over more than one device.”

Although there are exceptions, I used to be of the mind that paywalls will largely fail as long as readers could easily travel to other sites that didn’t charge for online content.

Are paywalls still a model that only a few papers can utilize successfully? Or are they more viable to a broader range of publications now? Would you be willing to open your wallet for access to online news?

What’s next for newspapers?

The topic of how the newspaper industry is changing has already been extensively covered and everyone in this class knows about it. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse with this article, but I actually think it is rather interesting as it offers some greater insight into what some of the big publishers are doing to adapt (or not) to the new demands of the industry.

The article focuses on three strategies three major news owners/corporations (Warren Buffett, the Newhouse family and Rupert Murdoch) are each embarking on to keep themselves viable. While these strategies may be recognizable to members of this class, I think matching each strategy with the its respective publisher, as the author does, provides us with a great tool to better judge the feasibility of each strategy. By knowing which publisher is using which, we are able to trace what strategies will ultimately be successes or failures.

The author defines the three approaches as:

∷ Farm It – Keep doing what you do today as well as you can in the hopes of optimizing the existing franchise for as long as possible. This presumes that (a) the company will operate in a reasonably hospitable and predictable market environment and (b) management is sufficiently skillful to execute smartly with the available resources. 

∷ Milk It – Accept the inevitable decline and fall of the traditional newspaper model and then whack costs to extract the most profits from the decaying business for as long as possible. On the day you no longer can turn a profit, throw the keys on the table and call it quits. 

∷ Feed It – Determine that even the most proficient management cannot overcome the fundamental changes in the marketplace that have been cutting readership and revenues since the Internet arrived two decades ago. Instead of retreating, however, you leverage the waning strengths of the legacy business and invest aggressively in new digital products to reposition it for the future.

I find it surprising that all of the publishers did not choose the last option, Feed It. I think there will always be a place for the traditional paper newspaper, but that is no reason not to aggressively tap into other forms of digital media that will maximize readership and profits. It seems that no other industry gets stuck in ways so much as the newspaper industry does at times. Innovation is vital to stay in business. This is how it works in every other industry, and the news industry is no exception.

Image Editing for Magazines: Where Do We Draw the Line?

In this CNN story, Greg Botelho writes about a petition, led by 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, addressed to Seventeen magazine in an effort to get the magazine to offer one unedited photo spread per month. In the story, Botelho notes that, “Adobe Photoshop and other digital image manipulation programs are widely employed by professionals and everyday users,” especially in magazines and especially for female fashion models. Since we were talking about photo and video manipulation today, I wondered where magazine editors legally and ethically should draw the line when they “retouch” models in their editorials. Seventeen claims that it never has and never will manipulate the face or body shapes of its models in photos. The only edits the magazine regularly makes, editors claim, are things like “remove flyaway hair,” “smooth fold” and “make background blue.”

My question is: in a magazine of this nature, where posed photos of models are not news stories, is it okay to make certain changes to clean up photos? If you were the editor-in-chief of Seventeen, which manipulations would you say were okay and which would you say no to? Especially in a magazine specifically geared toward teenage girls who admittedly struggle with body image issues, I think the amount of editing a photo receives should be carefully scrutinized. The Seventeen petition included 84,000 signatures, all from people who believed the magazine Photoshopped its models unrealistically. If Seventeen has in fact never changed its models’ body or face shape (though it doesn’t mention face blemishes or skin tone), maybe the solution is to include a wider variety of body types in its magazine from the start.

We talked exclusively about news stories in our class discussion today, but since many of us are working for magazines right now, I’m really curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on photo editing for posed models and to hear your opinions on how Seventeen responded to this petition.

The social media non-policy at The New York Times

Since we’re talking a lot about the need for all of you to be involved in social media, I thought you’d be interested in this column that ran on the Poynter website today. In the post, Phil Corbett, the paper’s associate managing editor for standards talks about why the Times hasn’t yet created a policy regarding its reporters’ use of social media.

Of particular note is his comment that use of social media should be thoughtful and, I would add, purposeful. Corbett goes on to say, “social media is basically a public activity, it’s not a private activity, and people will know that they work for the Times.” I think many editors share this perspective, so that your social media use becomes their business.

For June 12

We’ll be talking about story ideas, background research, sources and interviewing on Tuesday. In order to be ready for that, I want each of you to find a non-breaking news story (print, broadcast or online) that you think is pretty good. Post the link to the story as a comment to this blog post. In a few sentences, be sure to tell us what you like about the story.

Now for the tricky part. I then want you to read two other stories that your classmates post — the one in the comment right before yours and the one in the comment right after yours. If you’re the first one to post, then randomly pick a story to serve as the one in the comment right before yours. As you read these stories — as well as the one you posted — think about how the writer got the idea for the story, examine the background information in the story and be ready to talk about what else you would have liked, and consider the sources that appear in the story and those that don’t (who should have been there that isn’t).

This shouldn’t take you too long, but it will be important in order to have a good class discussion on Tuesday. Thanks!

Welcome to the class blog

We’re going to be talking about trends in journalism and about the pressures and problems that the industry faces. So I want to see each of you blogging about what you’re seeing in the field and in the news as it relates journalistic practices and the prospects for the future of the field. And I’ll expect lots of discussion, too, so be sure to comment on the posts of your classmates.