Social Role

Social Role Week 15 – Anchored in the past, alive to the future

As the ever-changing media moves forward, we have to understand how to set our students up for success in the future journalism industry and as civilians.  An aspect of new media is social media.  In “What Schools are Really Blocking When They Block Social Media” by S. Craig Watkins for, he states the benefits to incorporating social media into the curriculum and school day: “(1) to teach students about the inventive and powerful ways communities around the world are using social media, (2) for students and teachers to experience the educational potential of social media together, (3) for students to distribute their work with the larger world, and (4) for students to reimagine their creative and civic identities in the age of networked media.”  There are many benefits to embracing this new media in the journalism classroom and by blocking or banning it’s use, we are doing a disservice to our students, especially when it comes to teaching them about the future of news.

Something that we can do to encourage a future-looking curriculum in journalism is to focus on creating student-centered civics lessons.  In “Here come new sons and daughters of liberty,” author Nat Hentoff quotes Sandra Day O’Connor and Karen Theroux in their opinions of student centered education.  Both challenge schools to encourage civics-based instruction and lessons.  O’Connor states: “Schools should incorporate discussion of current local, national and international events into the classroom, particularly those that young people find important to their lives … Schools should offer opportunities for young people to get involved in their schools or communities outside of the classroom” and Theroux says: “ther research has shown that involving students in democratic deliberation has school-wide impact on civic knowledge and participation, including community service.” Hentoff concludes the article with: “The kind of reality-based learning that Theroux and O’Connor’s commission endorse will create citizens who find excitement, even fun, in thinking for themselves. It will also teach those politicians who represent them that their degree of independence and actual knowledge of issues will be regularly tested by the civic-minded students they serve who keep experiencing the Constitution from the inside.”  Our journalism programs need to keep in mind that they should be student driven and serve students and communities alike.


Creating and Editing Video

I have been looking forward to this assignment, because while I have observed many students creating videos in our school’s broadcast program, I have never made one myself.  Through this assignment, I got to experience storyboarding, gathering materials, shooting interviews, shooting b-roll, and editing.

For this assignment, we were able to create a video covering any topic that we wanted.  Since the yearbooks were being delivered the following week, it was on the minds of many of my students.  I knew that I would have the opportunity to get some b-roll of exciting moments that my students would soon be experiencing.

To begin, I thought about what I wanted the video to cover and brainstormed what video I would need.  I started by coming up with the questions that I would ask in interviews.  I ended up asking:

  • Why did you join yearbook?
  • What do you like about being on yearbook staff?
  • What is your favorite yearbook memory?
  • What are you most excited about in getting the yearbooks this week?

Overall, I interviewed 13 students.  Although we have a studio, it does not block out sound from the room next door.  Therefore, some of my interviews have background noise.

In addition to filming the interviews, I also filmed b-roll on a few different occasions.  I took video of students working on the yearbook supplement in class, and I also went out with a few students when they got an interview and took some photos.  Another occasion where I took b-roll was when the yearbooks arrived.  I got some pretty cool reaction shots when the students got to see the book for the first time.

After compiling all of my materials (interviews, images from the year, and b-roll), I began editing.  I used Adobe Premier to edit since this is the software that we have at school.  After learning how to import the materials and learning the basic tools such as select and slice, most of the editing just consisted of listening to and watching the video I had and selecting what I wanted to include.  I also considered a couple of different ways of arranging the video, but decided to organize it by interview question.  I found my music to accompany the video from, the same site I used for my podcast.

What was really awesome about this assignment was that I was able to get help from students who have experience with creating video.  I learned a lot – from the very basics of getting a camera on a tripod – to the more complex intricacies of editing.  It was awesome to get to see how much they already knew and could pass along.  I also really enjoyed getting to participate in the process and look forward to incorporating video into my Intro to Journalism class next year.

Social Role

Social Role Week 14 – Adapting for the Future

One way that the future of journalism is changing is the role that journalists serve.  In “Journalism isn’t dying. But it’s changing WAY faster than most people understand” by Chris Cillizza for, Cillizza outlines how journalists are no longer the gatekeepers of information, but instead the context-givers and sense-makers: “And, as the “what” faded in terms of reader interest, the “so what” and the “now what” began to rise. Suddenly, people didn’t want to just read about a presidential debate, they wanted analysis of the debate, too. And they wanted that analysis delivered at the same time as the news. They didn’t want to wait for the next day to read about who did well and who didn’t. They wanted it in real time. And that went double for anyone younger than 30.” Journalist’s role changed as the availability of information increased for citizens.

Another way that journalism is changing is in the skills that journalists need to be successful.  In “10 basics today’s journalists need” by Paige Levin for, Levin breaks down what journalists really need to know to be successful: “We don’t need to be well versed in every single app and every line of code. But we do need to understand the bigger picture.”  She then breaks down 10 different skills that are crucial for the success of a future journalist.  She includes tips that may seem outside of traditional journalism training such as “learn basic coding,” “master math” and “understand the economics”  Levin also encourages journalists to engage their audience on social media.  Overall, her tip for journalists is to stay adaptable: “Most of the important skills are more like talents: the ability to generate original and meaningful ideas, critical thinking, collaboration, and general knowledge as well as specialized knowledge in areas of interest.”  These are the skills that we are encouraged to teach students as 21st century skills and lend themselves to scholastic media.

Social Role

Social Role Week 13 – Educating the Public about the Media’s Social Roles

Professional journalists and citizens must work together to accomplish a community of accurate and relevant news.  Blur, chapter 9 “What We Need from the Next Journalism” by Kovach and Rosenstiel, the authors acknowledge the heightened role of the citizen and the lessened role of journalist as gatekeeper: “Individual citizens will create their own news diet and even their own content” (196).  Because of this reduced role, “Citizens, who shape news production by the choices they make, have rights when it comes to news, but they also have responsibilities – even more so as they become producers and editors themselves” (291) according to Kovach and Rosenstiel for Elements of Journalism chapter 11 “The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens.”  By working together, public journalism can “create a learning community, one that discusses issues, not just on the basis of emotion but on facts about how things work” according to “Public Journalism and the Problem of Objectivity” by Philip Meyer for UNC.

In addition, it is not just journalists created journalism.  In “Brands aren’t the only ones becoming publishers and doing journalism — advocacy groups are too” by Matthew Ingram for, the author acknowledges that there are other groups putting information out there as well: “That said, groups like Human Rights Watch and the ACLU now have the same ability to write, film and publish to a potential audience as any media company, thanks to the internet and the social web.”  Additionally, political campaigns put out a lot of information without the press as well, as told by Kovach and Rosenstiel in Blur: “In the 2008 presidential race, videos produced by the Obama campaign staff were viewed more than one billion times on the candidate’s own YouTube channel, without any press involvement” (171).  The amount of views shows that the political campaign was able to directly communicate with the audiences without the press.

It must be a combined effort.  “The two sides, citizen and professional journalist, are not in competition.  They must work in combination.  The new citizen sentinel will not replicate the work of the professional journalist or even displace it, but rather inform, interact with, and evaluate it” (Elements of Journalism 289).  In “Learn from the fake news factories” by Jeff Jarvis for Zeit Online, the author outlines why the two must work together: “Media should listen to the conversations online, fact-check those that are getting out of hand, and share that information with the social platforms, which should in turn share that with users so they can make better judgments.”  By working together, citizens and journalists can create something impressive.  “Truth, accuracy, impartiality and diversity of opinion are strengthened by being open to a wider range of opinion and perspective brought to us through the knowledge and understanding of our audience” (289).  Both the journalist and citizen must take on this responsibility.

Social Role

Social Role Week – 12 Citizens as Journalists

This week we are focusing on the responsibility of citizens in the viewing and understanding of news.  While journalists hold a lot of the responsibility, in Blur chapter 8 “How to Find What Really Matters” by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, the authors introduce the idea that the audience has more responsibility than ever: “Journalists still select [stories, act as gatekeepers], of course.  But their choices have less impact on us.  In the digital age, the front page of a Web site may easily have a hundred headlines… we consume the news now by topic and story, and less by relying on the judgement of news institutions to select for us” (149).  Luckily, there are many digital tools that have been developed to help journalists and citizen journalists verify information.  According to, in “Tools for verifying and assessing the validity of social media and user-generated content”: “The speed of social media and the sheer volume of user-generated content (UGC) make fact-checking by reporters even more important now.”  Besides using fact-checking tools, citizens can also find trusted news outlets and reporters, as stated by the Blur authors: “An essential step in efficiently seeking important coverage is to find outlets and individual reporters who do great work on a consistent basis – a network of trusted sources or brands we can look to regularly” (152).

Verification of information is very important for audiences, especially when it comes to breaking news.  In “The Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook” from On the Media on Sep 20, 2013, the host and guest discuss how audiences can make sure they are interacting with correct info: “Rather than counting on news outlets to get it right, we’re looking at the other end. Below are some tips for how, in the wake of a big, tragic story, you can sort good information from bad.”  Below are the tips they provide to citizen journalists:

  • In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong.
  • Don’t trust anonymous sources.
  • Don’t trust stories that cite another news outlet as the source of the information.
  • There’s almost never a second shooter.
  • Pay attention to the language the media uses.
    • “We are getting reports”… could mean anything.
    • “We are seeking confirmation”… means they don’t have it.
    • “[News outlet] has learned”… means it has a scoop or is going out on limb.
  • Look for news outlets close to the incident.
  • Compare multiple sources.
  • Big news brings out the fakers. And photoshoppers.
  • Beware reflexive retweeting. Some of this is on you.

By using these tips, audiences can help to verify and avoid sharing out incorrect information.  Andrew Beaujon for reinforces this in “Every American needs ‘the critical thinking skills of a journalist,’ university says” by quoting James Klurfeld and Howard Schneider from a paper published by the Brookings Institution: “In the Digital Age, the ultimate check against the spread of rumor, pernicious falsehood, disinformation, and unverified reports masquerading as fact, will never be just more and better-trained journalists and professional gatekeepers. Instead, it will require a generation of astutely educated news consumers, as well as native producers and distributors, who will learn to be their own editors and identify for themselves fact-and- evidence-based news and information.”  This puts the responsibility on readers to verify the facts and encourage truthful reporting.


Investigating Interactive Journalism Tools

This week for Teaching Multimedia, we got to experiment with three different interactive elements: maps, polls/surveys, and timelines.  For yearbook, we are always brainstorming creative ways to present information in a more visually appealing way than writing.  Typically, students will immediately think of using graphs of some sort – bar graphs, or even worse, pie graphs.  There are only so many times you can use these elements before they look outdated or tired.  I am excited to be able to offer up suggestions such as the tools that I worked with below.

The first tool I worked with was Google Maps.  Using Google Maps, I created a map of the Lindbergh School District, creating a marker for each school in the district.  It was relatively simple and intuitive.  I was able to rename each school and change the color of each marker.  I can see students using this perhaps on a cross country spread to show where different meets are held.  See the map below.

The second tool I worked with was Polldaddy.  This was a very simple tool to use to create surveys.  Currently, we use Google Forms to take surveys of the student body.  While Google Forms have very many options, it does not have the matrix option, which I could see students using to survey students on marketing/sales questions (such as: do you buy a yearbook, why or why not, rate the quality of the yearbook, etc.).  I created a poll for seniors – we could use this sort of information on a senior spread or for the senior issue of the newsmagazine.  Giving multiple choice options would enable students to create graphs of information.  Using free answer questions gives students beginning information and they can then go gather more information in an interview. See my survey below.

The last tool I experimented with was Tiki-Toki for creating timelines.  This application was the most confusing of the three, and I am not sure that I would use it with students.  While there are many options, it seems like the design was pretty limited.  Additionally, with the free account, you did not have the option to embed the timeline online.  The Tiki-Toki application allows for many entries, which is a positive.  I have screenshotted my timeline below.  


Social Role

Social Role Week 11 – Scholastic journalism’s expanding roles

With the scope of scholastic journalism broadening, there is one thing that remains sure for both journalists and their audiences: skepticism is important.  In “Study: People view information on Twitter as less credible than on news websites” by Jeff Sonderman for, the author explains a study that confirms that people are more or less skeptical of their news depending on the outlet where they get it: “Experiments gave readers news in three different forms: A tweet from @nytimes and a short or longer story on The content was the same, but readers found the tweets less credible and less important.”

As consumers of media, readers must be skeptical of the information put in front of them.  “Cultural production of ignorance provides rich field for study” by Michael Hilzik for the Los Angeles Times, the author dives into the tactic of manipulation which is carried out by so many corporations, including big tobacco: “When this sort of manipulation of information is done for profit, or to confound the development of beneficial public policy, it becomes a threat to health and to democratic society.”  In order to not be deceived, Hilzik says readers must practice skepticism: “The effort needs to begin at a young age, he says. “You really need to be teaching third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-graders that some people lie. And why do they lie? Because some people are greedy.” Citizens, when being used as sources, must also understand where information that they provide may go.  Arizona State University explains that “The informality of social networking sites makes it easier for potential sources to misunderstand your intentions and the impact of cooperating.”  Both journalists and sources must be clear with their intentions.

In the same way that audience members must be skeptical of what they see, hear and read, journalists must be skeptical of what they are presented as well.  In the Social Media Guidelines for Student Journalists from Arizona State University, the guidelines outline how confirming sources and information is even more important in the age of digital information gathering: “Recognize that use of social networking sites is just one way of gathering information. It is no substitute for face-to-face interviews and digging for information.  Work offline to confirm information gathered via social networking sites. Seek through every means possible to interview sources in person or by phone to verify identities, claims and statements.”  Some journalists may also find themselves jaded, thinking that readers don’t want in-depth stories anymore, but instead short pieces with lots of pictures for engagement.  “Shorter isn’t better, photos aren’t always alluring and deep digging pays off, recent report concludes” by Rick Edmonds for contradicts that statement, in which Rosenstiel says: “Once a publisher has data about what content they are producing and what’s working and not working journalistically, the next step is try(ing) to change what they are doing to do more work that readers value inside key coverage areas and spend less effort on what isn’t working.”