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.”


Using Audioboom and Audacity to Create Recruiting Podcast

This week in Teaching Multimedia through Kent State University, we took our recording skills with AudioBoom and our editing skills with Audacity and created our own short interview podcast.  For this assignment, I decided to interview my coworker, Justin Cange, who also advises journalism at Lindbergh High School.  Because we just finished up registration and recruiting season at our school, recruiting for scholastic journalism was something that we had talked a lot about and learned a lot about.

For the interview, I brainstormed a couple of questions that I knew I wanted to ask.  I did not write an intro for the interview, but knew that I wanted to introduce my guest at topic.  During the interview, any fidgeting was picked up in the recording.  I stuck to all of my questions and thanked my guest at the end.

After recording the interview, I listened to it to make sure everything was audible.  Something that I noticed the couple times that I have recorded so far is that the Audioboom app picks up a lot of sounds, so even though Justin and I were in a room off of our classroom, you can still here sounds from the adjoining room.  I scripted an intro and outro at home and recorded them.  Because the room was different, you can hear a difference in the audio between the interview and the solo recordings.

I wanted to find music for the background of the podcast, as I listed to Lori King’s podcasts for the Toledo Blade, and I though the music sounded nice in the background.  After a quick Google search, I came upon where I found the royalty free track for my podcast (and made sure to give credit in my outro).

I dragged the four files (music, intro, interview and outro) into Audacity and began editing.  The first thing I noticed was the volume discrepancy between the tracks, which I was able to control with the volume bar.  I also wanted to edit some of the longer pauses or answers in the interview, and I used the cut tool to do that.  I used the fade in and fade out tool to help transition between clips and at the beginning and end.  I also used space (silence) to create that transition as well.

After editing and listening to the track a couple times, I exported as a .WAV file and then uploaded to Audioboom.  In Audioboom, I added a title and the headshot of Justin that you see above.

Overall, I feel very happy with what I have learned about the app Audioboom and Audacity.  They are both relatively easy to use, especially with FAQ and YouTube videos available.  I anticipate doing a podcast unit with my Intro to Journalism class next year and incorporating both of these programs.

Social Role

Social Role Week 10 The Wonderful World of Cybermedia

There are many benefits of modern media tools: accessibility, immediacy, the connection of people from all around the world. However, while modern tools help in many ways, they also provide some challenges to journalists and our student journalists.  In “Why journalists should be afraid of Trump’s media strategy” by Joel Simon for Columbia Journalism Review, Simon discusses the political system’s use of social media: “a media system with fewer gatekeepers is exciting because it allows unconventional forces to overcome the institutional barriers and get their messages out. But there is a big downside, which is that the continuous erosion of traditional media’s power in the United States is part of a broader global dynamic that is putting journalists at greater risk.”

One challenge that new media produces is that of the verification of crowdsourcing.  The Online News Association Social Newsgathering Ethics Code addresses this problem by asking journalists to “Endeavor to verify the authenticity of user-generated content before publishing or distributing it, holding it to standards that are equal or equivalent to those maintained for content acquired through other means.”  In “Best Practices for Social Media Verification” by Craig Silverman for the Columbia Journalism Review, Silverman outlines many ideas for making sure that crowd sourced information is accurate.  Many of these ideas are similar, asking journalists to confirm location by looking to see if the account has location services enabled, to look at the network of the person (who they follow, who follows them and who they interact with online), to examine the content they are presenting and if there is a way to verify what they are tweeting, and to contact them to see what details they can provide in addition.

Another challenge provided by social media is the lack of context.  With the quickness of social media and the increasingly shorter attention span of audiences, information, especially released on Twitter, can be shortened to a point that no context is given.  Twitter accounts like UberFacts and OMGFacts fail to present sources or provide context for their “facts.”  In “Do we really want our facts to be ‘Uber’ or ‘OMG?’” by Alexios Mantzarlis for, Mantzarlis warns against these types of accounts and how they are using the word “fact:” “Appropriating the term “fact” in this way to build up credibility and reach a broad audience is not just dishonest marketing. Given the reach of these accounts, it can cause long-term damage to our understanding of what a fact is.”  Again, Simon for the CJR warns against this shooting from the hip type of information used by politicians: “Use dramatic and shocking action to get attention; rely on social media to control your message, engage critics, and mobilize support; depend on the feedback loop between social and traditional media to reach a mass audience.”  Without context, there is more power given to these bits.

Social Role

Social Role – Week 9 Student Media’s Leadership Changing Role pt. 2

Many of the resources this week focused on investigative reporting and the watchdog role, especially The Elements of Journalism chapter 6 “Monitor Power and Offer Voice to the Voiceless.”  In this chapter, Kovach and Rosenstiel introduce another tenet of journalists: “Journalists must serve as an independent monitor of power” (171).  They proceed to explain that this means that power doesn’t just mean the government, but others in power as well and those in the unseen corners of society.  They also warn against the role of the watchdog being weakened: “Much of this reportage has the earmarks of watchdog reporting but too often the stories focus on risks to personal safety or consumer pocketbooks, not to citizen’s freedoms” (184).  Journalists must look out for citizens by performing this watchdog duty.  One way to incorporate the community into reporting is by crowd sourcing information.  

In “How Journalists Can Make User-Generated Content Work” by Katya Yefimova for, Yefimova warns that when using content from others, journalists must still insist on the truth, quoting Eric Carvin: “If you don’t hold citizen journalists to the same standards, you are disrespecting social media as a tool for journalism.”  She details a couple of ways to do this, the most beneficial likely being getting to know your audience and building trust.  When you have citizen journalists you can trust, you can treat them responsibly and fairly.  Additionally, in “5 ways journalism educators can teach students to use multimedia in breaking news coverage” by Katy Culver for, Culver offers many ways to incorporate multimedia while still engaging audience.  One tool that she suggests is Storify, which allows users to cultivate social media posts.  In this way, journalists can collaborate with their audience to help tell a story.

However, a downside to using user-generated content is the requirement of fact checking.  In “5 True things about fact-checking” by Jane Elizabeth for the, Elizabeth states that fact checking is good for journalism: “The “chaos of [Internet] information…has made our independent fact-checking operations both more doable and more important than ever for the very industry that created it.”  If we are going to use crowd sourced content, journalists have to continue to insist on the truth, regardless of where it comes from.  While using your audience can help to build relationships and engagement, it should also be approached with caution.  Kovach and Rosenstiel argue that the community also has a responsibility to truth: “The community also has a significant role as sentinel over journalistic integrity” (192).

Social Role

Social Role Week 8 – Student Media’s Leadership Role

We discussed last week the role that the student media should play in the community in terms of being leaders in demonstrating professional news values.  Another way that student journalism can be an example in their community is by involving community voices through inviting them to participate in the process of news gathering and creating forums for their community members to express their voices and opinions.  Authors of The Elements of Journalism insist that journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.

Although this is a necessary part of journalism, there are challenges to involving the community in media. When involving citizens, journalists still must insist on discourse based in fact, as stated in Elements of Journalism: “So journalism must provide a forum for public criticism, and in a new age, it is more important, not less, that this public discussion be built on the same principles as the rest of journalism – starting with truthfulness, facts, and verification.  A forum without regard for facts fails to inform, and a debated steeped in prejudice and supposition only inflames” (199).  Blur also addresses the need for journalist and community members to vet information and stories: “The problem is that these conversations increasingly are occurring without a structure for fact-checking.  The conversation creates a foundation of public understanding that may or may not be built on any knowledge of what is true or what is not.  Facts, by the structure of this culture, are devalued” (126).  Another challenge is making the forum available to all members of the community as well as not just focusing on the extremes of the argument, but also the broad areas of agreement as well.  

Along with the negatives of encouraging community involvement in the journalistic process, there are also positives.  In the Open Journalism PowerPoint provided with this week’s resources, many pros are outlined, including: “It combines the experience and diversity of the community, the power of machines and the skills, access and discipline of open-minded inquiry journalists are trained to perform.”  Participation from the community provides a mutual benefit for both the journalist and the community by encouraging public participation, forming communities of interest, encouraging collaboration, correction and clarification, reflecting diversity, and recognizing that journalists are not the only voices of authority.  Kovach and Rosenstiel write, “To be at once the enabler and the goad of community action is a great challenge, but it is one that journalism has always embraced.  It is a challenge that can be met by accepting the obligation to provide the members of the community not only with the knowledge and insights they need but with the forum within which to engage in building a community” (209).


Podcasting Presents Challenges


I am an avid consumer of podcasts, so I have been looking forward to this assignment of making my own.  My current podcast docket is so full that I struggle to get through all of the content throughout the week.  I listen to a fair number of NPR podcasts including This American Life and the NPR Politics podcast.  I have recently discovered On the Media, which is wonderful and often lines up with points of discussion from my graduate school classes.  I also listen to podcasts which cover some of my favorite shows such as The West Wing Weekly, Gilmore Guys and Survivor podcasts.

For this assignment, we were able to cover any topic we like.  Since I enjoy many Survivor podcasts, I decided to preview the upcoming season.  I wrote out a script, timing it as I went.  When I timed my final script, my husband told me it sounded like I was reading – which I was!  But I can see why podcasting is difficult.  There is not the ability to just read without sounded stilted.  I wanted to be knowledgeable, so I did have to do a bit of research.  I listened to a couple of YouTube videos from the SurvivorCBS YouTube channels, read some interviews about the upcoming season and castaways and looked at the Survivor Reddit forum, which often features interesting information about the show.

When it came time to record, I found it extremely difficult to find a quiet place to record.  My neighbor’s house is currently under construction, so that was out of the question.  At school, I walked around for about 20 minutes trying out a couple of different locations.  The publications room is right next to the shop classroom, and the vents were running, so there was a constant buzzing in the background.  I ended up recording in a conference room in the office, but even still, you can hear a phone ringing at one point – it’s not perfect.  Using the AudioBoom podcasting app, I recorded my podcast.

The next step was getting the podcast onto WordPress.  After playing around with the settings on the AudioBoom app, I figured out how to upload the podcast.  Then, I copied the embed code, emailed it to myself and pasted it into the insert media window in WordPress when creating a new post.  It was really simple!

Overall, my biggest challenges for this assignment were trying not to sound like I was reading (I wasn’t very successful at this), finding a quiet place and figuring out the AudioBoom app, which was actually pretty user friendly.  I am excited to incorporate podcasting into my Intro to Journalism class and I am glad that I have an example to use and some experience with the tools that are out there to use.