Sunday, March 4, 2012

Extra Credit Post: What is a Journalist?

We've spent a lot of time this quarter talking about the things that journalists do. In our last class, I'd like us to consider a question: Are all the people who do the things we've discussed worthy of the title "journalist?"

The question is about more than semantics. In December, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that a blogger in Portland was not a journalist, in a case that (coupled with others) could have major consequences. The Oregon blogger faces a $2.5 million defamation lawsuit filed by a company she has been investigating . She was seeking protection under Oregon's shield law, a law that protects journalists from having to divulge the identity of their sources in court. Her state's supreme court said she didn't have the credentials to qualify as a real "journalist." Read more about her story here and check out her blog here.

Also take a look at this story out of New Jersey, in which we learn about another case in which bloggers tried (and failed) to get the same legal protection afforded to traditional journalists. For reactions to the New Jersey case, click here and here.

So here is my question to you: What must one do to be considered a "journalist?" Or, perhaps more appropriately, what should one have to do to be considered a journalist? Talk in some depth about these questions, and consider the examples from New Jersey, Oregon and other places.

We will discuss your thoughts in class Thursday - you MUST participate in the group discussion to receive the full extra credit.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street

Dr. Seuss is not only an author of some of the most popular children's books of all time, but a household name that brings a smile to anyones face.

This New York Times article was written to honor the 75th anniversary of Dr. Seuss' first book, "And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street."

It grabbed my attention right away simply because of the topic it covered. I mean, come on, who doesn't love a good Dr. Seuss book? However, I felt disappointed in the delivery of the story.

I felt that the story took too many directions and didn't have a flow that kept my eyes moving through the piece. If you agree, what would you all change to make the story flow better? What did you enjoy about the story? There were quite a few things that I thought were done very well.

Do you think that the journalist brought an interesting perspective to the story seeing as it is about such a beloved author and so many years later? If not, what would you have done differently?

Finally, does the fact that it is about Dr. Seuss and the 75th anniversary of the book Mulberry Street enough to make this story newsworthy?

Here's the link to the story:

The Vanishing Mind: Life, With Dementia

This article grabbed my attention right away. It’s a quick read but covers a very serious issue for those affected by it.

The first paragraph started it off with the very personal story of a man stabbing a woman and then having troubles in prison. The reporter, Pam Belluck, then switched gears very quickly. Just in the second paragraph, she wrote, “Despite that, he has recently been entrusted with an extraordinary responsibility.” The nut graph appears in the fifth paragraph. Do you think Belluck introduced it in the best way possible? I think it was well done, but we all have our own favorite writing techniques, of course.

We talked last week about “jargony,” as Clay called it, a technique used to advance an issue. Do you think the reporter used that method for this story? Do you think this story has a broad appeal? Did it start off that way, or did the reporter introduce the newsworthiness later on?

It’s obviously important for reporters to provide a fair and balanced account of the issues they are reporting on. I think Belluck did a good job of leaving out her opinions and providing enough appropriate sources. Would you agree?

I recommend also watching the video after reading it!

Go Directly, Digitally to Jail? Classic Toys Learn New Clicks

Everyone probably remembers their favorite toys and games as kids, whether it was Monopoly, Barbies or Life. I know at least for me personally, my friends and I often reminisce about old toys and talk about how toys these days just aren't the same. This article reminded me how true that statement is, as the author gives the reader an insight into brand new toys and games that are integrating technology into their products.
How do you think staring at a screen instead of playing with imagination will affect learning in younger children in years to come? Do you think that these technologically advanced toys will have a long shelf life, or will they pass once technology advances once again?
Also consider the newsworthiness of the piece and how it's written. Do you think the inverted pyramid style works for this type of piece? Is it well written, and if not, what could be done to improve this story?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who's Counting Anyway?

Last week in class we discussed making the most of our words and looked at the 300 word stories. We also looked at the two very long stories that covered the Zanesville animals. All of those stories were very different because of their length, but each were written with the purpose of describing in powerful detail. Which do readers really prefer? Does length really have that much of an impact on the readers? Does anyone like to sit down and read a six page story? Are we doing readers a favor by keeping them short and leaving out detail? I found this story on The New York Times website and I was instantly drawn into it because of how unique of a story it was. In this instance I liked all of the detail because there was so much involved in this story and I wanted to know everything. What do you guys think?

This Story is about 60 people involved in a large kidney transplant swap.
Here's the link :

Jeremy Lin coverage

I thought the story was very interesting.

I liked how it told the story of how the media took what was a ‘feel good’ story and over-hyped it, and how that turned into a racial debate. I know I talk about the media all the time and how they like to stretch stories until they can’t get anything outof them anymore and the danger with that. This story explained my theory in a way that everyone could understand.

I thought the story had a lot of detail andfully explained what was wrong with the story but it still was short enough tokeep a reader’s attention.

Here is the link:

(Clay posted this for Brett C., who was having technical difficulties).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Deep-Seated Meaning Of The American Sofa

This article in NPR talks about the meaning of the American sofa. It starts off by talking about two sofas: one that New York Knicks Jeremy Lin had slept on before his rise to fame and the other belonged to Steve Jobs. Jobs wife told a biographer how they would often discuss the purpose of a sofa.

The article uses Lin and Jobs to introduce the topic, but goes on to examine the sofa further. It talks about the functions, meaning, and different styles of sofas. I know the one thing I miss while I'm at school is the comfortable couch in the family room at my house. This article proved an interesting read and brought up a few good questions.

I'm a sucker for headlines, and this one caught my eye. The article is relatively short and I enjoyed the conversational tone. Whether or not it is newsworthy is a whole other issue. Do you think this article is newsworthy? If it is newsworthy, what makes it newsworthy? Do you think this article is focused on a certain audience? What could the author have done to improve the story?