Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sunday, December 6, 2009

This I Believe About Digital Journalism

Journalism has come a long way from daily newspapers, classified ads and the local police blotter. It used to be that if people wanted to hear about the goings on of another town, state or even country, they would hope to know someone living in that area that could report to them the news of that region. Or, let’s say a person with genuinely liberal views lived in a mostly conservative area. It used be extremely difficult, for example, for them to hear the views of a liberal candidate running for an election, because, other than what they heard around the community and what they could possibly get from neighboring communities, it was quite a burden to obtain information that was not readily available from their community. However, the way we news is reported and obtained today is severely different than what it used to be. Gone are the days of waiting for the newspaper to arrive on your doorstep. Gone are the days filled of miscommunication and misinformation. Today, with the vast digital news environment, news of all sorts is readily available and accessible.

This new system of reporting and obtaining news is changing the traditional definition of a journalist. In an age where many, many people have a working computer and even more people have Internet access, it has become so commonplace for an average citizen to report in a blog or on a webpage about something that is happening near their area, making them, to some extent, a journalist. This idea of “citizen journalism” is without question one of the more important aspects of a changing system of news. Without this ability, people would still be somewhat disconnected from each other regardless of the advancement of other technologies. Steve Outing, in his article The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism, goes so far as to suggest creating websites devoted specifically to user-driven content, allowing a wide range of opinions and a variety of content. While citizen journalism is an important aspect of ever-changing digital journalism, I believe that the evolution of journalism is not about giving normal, every-day citizens the chance to try their hand at news reporting, but rather, giving them the tools to engage in the ultimate discussion.

The vastness of the Internet and the user-friendliness of websites gives anyone the opportunity to engage in something in which they believe. For example, in most cases, when a news article is published online, there is a feature that allows readers to post any comments or concerns they may have with the piece. So, if a person does not agree with what the reporter is saying, than they merely post a comment stating their issues. Then, another person sees that comment, disagrees with it, and posts yet another comment in regards to the previous one. Ultimately, this creates an ongoing discussion that would otherwise not be possible with conventional approaches to journalism. This does not just stop at online publications of newspapers. Blogs have also given individuals the chance to express their opinion without the restraints of a site moderator that could be found on various sites of newspapers. A person is able to create a blog, post their ideas, feelings, views and beliefs and let others read and comment on their work, creating, yet again, an ongoing discussion between people who otherwise would not have been able to interact. There are no editors who decide whether or not to publish said posts, and therefore, all opinions are welcome.

I believe that digital journalism has created the means for the ultimate discussion. With the ability to let individuals from all parts of the world participate and voice their own opinions, and the user-based format of the Internet, there are no more restraints to what can be read, and it is easier than ever for a person to develop their own ideas and voice them freely however they choose.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

‘Bowling for Breaks’ raises money for EMU alternative breakers

EMU students and their families banded together to raise money for VISION’s annual Alternative Breaks on Wednesday, Nov 18 at the Ypsi Arbor Bowling Alley.

Alternative Breaks, sponsored by VISION, is an annual event that sends EMU students on spring break trips to various locations and gives them the opportunity to do charity and volunteer work in areas such as urban youth education, disaster relief and animal rights.

“We are trying to raise money to keep our trips on the cheaper side and help pay for our food while we’re on our trip,” said alternative breaker Chelsea Riley, an EMU sophomore.

For 10 dollars at the door, you could rent shoes and enjoy three games of bowling and also be entered to win door prizes and participate in various raffles. All the proceeds from the fundraiser, which was put on by the Alternative Break coordinators, and the raffles went towards Alternative Breaks.

Other than raising money for the event, Riley said that it was a great way to meet fellow breakers and get comfortable with one another. “It was great being able to talk to other alternative breakers because I got to see where they were going on their trip, and I got to meet people who would be going on the same trip that I would be going.”

“I was surprised to see how many people came out for the fundraiser,” said EMU sophomore and alternative breaker Holly Knick. “They place was packed and it was really cool to see that many people who wanted to go on these trips to help people and make a difference.”

VISION will be holding another fundraiser (time is still undecided) to try and raise more money before students jet off on their various trips.

This is a video to show the mission of Alternative Breaks and why it is an important cause.

Students think green with alternative Thanksgiving

Residents of Downing Hall at Eastern Michigan University had a not-so-traditional Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday, Nov 18. Jennie Rokakis, a freshman at EMU, put together an event to give students the chance to explore vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options before going home to a traditional turkey and stuffing dinner.

“I got the idea for an alternative Thanksgiving because last year at my high school, our animal rights club held a similar event that I attended,” said Rokakis. “I thought it would be interesting for people to come and check out other seasonal foods that aren't your traditional turkey and stuffing, but that still taste great and are vegetarian friendly.”

Along with EMU sophomore Rebecca Barton, Rokakis prepared such foods as “Tofurky” sandwiches, vegan squash risotto, vegan banana nut bread, whole berry cranberry sauce, soy milk and ice cream and sweet potato pie. All of the food had to be prepared in the lone oven and small kitchen space of Downing Hall, so Rokakis and Barton had their work cut out for them.

“It took about a month to organize,” said Rokakis. “We had to call EMU Dining Services and make sure we were allowed to have this event in our residence hall and then we had to allocate money at the Leadership Advisory Board meeting. The preparing of the food is what took the longest amount of time, though.”

With all the work that was put into planning and organizing this event, Rokakis said she would consider the alternative Thanksgiving dinner a success. “We had about 15 to 20 people show up, which I felt was a great number. Being a freshman, this was my first event that I had ever organized and I was hoping that the turnout would be good, so I was very pleased with the amount of people that showed up,” Rokakis said.

“Everyone tried the food, and many people were actually surprised by how much they liked some of the vegan and vegetarian foods. We all laughed, had a good time and enjoyed each other's company, and everyone said one thing that they were thankful, which I thought was a really nice idea. I would definitely do this event again.”

Alternative Thanksgiving host Jennie Rokakis

Residents of Downing Hall enjoying their Thanksgiving feast

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The future of the Web is very bright with endless possibilities for improvement. Sir Timothy Berners-Lee gives three ways the Web will become increasingly relevant in every day life.

First, it will become easier to manage and analyze data. Currently, it takes a lot of work to work with and analyze just one set of data. As opposed to many links that connect one central theme, the Web will become "more like a large database or spreadsheet," making it easier and less time-consuming when doing research or, as previously mentioned, analyzing data.

Second, the Web will become more accessible from different types of networks and different types of devices. Before, the Web was merely accessible on a computer through a dial-up connection. Now, we have WiFi and satellites accessed on a variety of devices such as computers, cell phones, game consoles (PS3, XBox) and iPods and MP3 players. This accessibility will only continue to grow.

Finally, Web applications will become more and more prevalent in every day life. Things such as refrigerators, car stereo systems and telephone docks all with display screens and Internet access. While these things are not so apparent right now, pretty soon they will become the norm in a typical household with WiFi.

Relating this to digital journalism, such availability and vastness will make it easier yet again for journalists to quickly and effectively publish news articles.

Looking toward the future

According to Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, the future of the World Wide Web depends primarily on two things: technological protocols and social conventions. The main difference between these two aspects of the web are that one is the interactions between the actual machines and the other is the interactions between the people using these machines and all of their capabilities (i.e. the Internet). Together, though, they make up what is called Web Science.

Web Science, as stated by Berners-Lee, is "the science and engineering of this massive system for the common good."

So how do these two factors create a technology that can be used for the common good?

From the technological aspect, the need for a protocol is imperative for obvious reasons. Of course, it is important to have computers that are functioning properly with systems such as the web and the Internet that function properly in order for them to be most effective. There is always room for improvement, so it is exciting to think about how far we've come in just a decade, and how far we can go in the coming decades with our ever-growing technological capabilities. In respect to digital journalism, technological protocol is important for providing readers with accurate and well put-together stories. There are always going to be publishing issues, especially when publishing to a virtually brand new medium such as the web -- things like broken links, coding errors or formatting errors. With the refinement of these technological protocols, the digital news environment can thrive and continue to explore new possibilities.

From the social aspect, it's pretty simple. With an every expanding realm of technology, the ability of people to communicate over the web is becoming easier and more efficient. We went from email to instant messaging to picture messaging to iChat and video messaging. However, not only does this idea encompasses the way we communicate through technology, but how we conduct ourselves when doing so. Again, this affects the digital news environment by opening up the possibilities of what is covered in digital news and how the information is presented to readers.

Overall, Web Science is a science worth studying, not only for digital journalists, but for anyone who owns and operates some type of computer on a consistent basis.

Sunday, November 15, 2009