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Don’t forget our unarmed heroes overseas

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A journalist works feverishly to get the story into the hands of the public.

As 2009 comes to a close, let us not forget the men and women who laid down their lives in service to us overseas.

No, I am not talking about troops.  They are very much ingrained in our national consciousness — and remembered during ceremonies and festivities throughout the year.

I am referring to the unarmed media workers who risk their lives every day to disseminate the information and images that are as critical to America’s democracy as our flag itself.  After all, in order to have an effective electorate, one needs an informed electorate.

This has been a very hard year to be in the news media overseas, the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists reported.

In this calendar year alone, 137 journalists and media professionals were killed — 113 of which were targeted, the group reported.

Media personnel in the Philippines, Mexico and Somalia had it the worst.

Click here for more information, including a list of those who were killed.

And let’s hope that 2010 is a better year for reporters everywhere.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

December 30th, 2009

End of (yet another) era

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Well, folks, it’s the end of yet another era.

After breaking countless stories about the newspaper industry and covering the sobering parade of layoffs, buyouts and publication closings, Editor & Publisher has become a victim of the very environment it has monitored so thoroughly over the past 108 years.

Click here to read the memo, and here to read more from the Associated Press via ABC News.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

December 10th, 2009

What makes life better can also kill it

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The war is over, and now it is time to figure out what’s next.digital war

Neil Gershenfeld declared the digital revolution over more than three years ago at TED and proclaimed the need to look forward — and I warn you, tread lightly

“We’ve had a digital revolution, but we don’t have to keep having one,” he said.

This begs the question, who’s at the helm?

Congrats, it’s you!

BUCKLE UP AND TAKE THE WHEEL

Well, and me, and, yes, even that creepy dude across the street.

That’s right, the future of technology lies with all of us – the little people.

With the future of digital technology in our hands, anything is possible.  The entire process of product development will be flipped on its head as an increasingly high number of technologies will be proliferated from the bottom. 

Tools will become more relevant, practical and easy for everyday people to use.

THE INHERENT RISKS

The problem with creating from the bottom up is the same issue facing the news industry.  While untrained citizens could contribute to the news process, when they begin too engrained in the news creation process, the integrity of the entire product comes into question.

While the products created by regular citizens may initially seem better than the products created by corporations, the illusion could just as quickly crumble – and people could suffer. 

The personnel employed by corporations ensure quality control.  Sure, the products emerging from these companies may cost a little more, but they are more likely to have been tested.

NOT AS GOOD AS IT MAY INITIALLY APPEAR

Of course, the inherent issue associated with new technology is the ease of growing dependent on it.

In “The Persistence of Memory,” several of these threats are addressed.

For example, any cell phone user could relate to the real risk of forgetting phone numbers.  There are countless Facebook groups related to this growing problem.  And interestingly enough, it is often the people closest to us that are the most affected – thanks to speed dial.  I betcha don’t know your best friend’s phone number.  You could blame technology for that.

Another issue addressed in the “Persistence” is how Gordon Bell could suffer from two strokes – one digital and one physical.  Because he archives his existence through technology, he runs the risk of losing data – and thus suffering in a new way.

LOOKING AHEAD

Technological advancements promise new, sparkly, neat, cutting-edge developments that will revolutionize our lives – but is it for the better?

The more we grow to depend on technology the more we run the risk of creating new ways of suffering.

We’ve got to be careful, or else humanity may not survive this new post-digital revolution.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

December 2nd, 2009

Tiger Woods saga: A lesson in misunderstanding changing media

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The unrelenting coverage of a minor motor vehicle accident involving Tiger Woods, a fire hydrant and a tree is an example of what can go wrong when the press is misunderstood.

The accident, which happened early Friday morning outside of Orlando, has been the focus of the mainstream press and alternative media since it was reported.  And why?  Because Tiger won’t talk — and the way the media works has changed.

Even five years ago, this would never have likely been a story — certainly not at the current magnitude.  However, alternative media, like TMZ, has catapulted the news into the nation’s psyche and onto editors’ agendas. 

The situation has been exasperated by Tiger’s reluctance to talk to the press — or even police.

Simply put: He looks like has something to hide.  He looks like a bleeding animal, and the nation’s press cannot look away.

Throughout the weekend the story led newscasts and Web sites — and it looks like there may be no end in sight.

Every time it appears the story’s shelf life may be drying up, a cryptic statement accepting guilt is released or police tell the press they were unable to meet with the sports star — YET AGAIN.

Tiger needs to understand despite how convenient it might be, he is not a private person and so everything that happens that involves him is very much public.

This story needs to end — for Tiger and for the press.  And it can very simply — if Tiger just understood how the press works.  All he has to do is explain what happened to the police and to the media and then within 48 hours — barring any scandals — it will be.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

November 29th, 2009

Technological advancements threaten America

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Technology promises to change our lives, but will it be for the better?

Sure, technological advancements offer shiny gadgets and exciting features that promise to revolutionize our lives, but at what cost?

BALANACING THE RISKS

In order to create the ideal experience for customers, retailers collect vast amounts of information about our habits. 

Profiles are created and stored in large data centers and are regularly updated with the latest information about us. 

However, the perk of receiving direct mail that is somewhat pertinent to our daily lives also carries with it major risks.

As with large concentrated amounts of anything, there is a certain risk involved – and these vaults are more valuable to some crooks than gold. 

Identity thieves are sometimes able to penetrate the information stored in these centers and able to purchase items in our names, ruin our credit – or worse.

AND IT’S NOT JUST IDENTITY THIEVES

As more information goes digital and becomes more integral to our daily existences, the information becomes at increased risk.

As a never-ending influx of information flows into data centers around the United States, folks struggle to keep up.

One woman described in CNBC’s “Big Brother, Big Business,” even lost her recently-offered job and struggled on the brink of poverty for a third of a year after the information filed under her name proved to be incorrect.

GET OUT YOUR WALLET

With the advent of these new technologies, it is become increasingly simple for big business to charge the consumers more.

For example, “Big Brother, Big Business,” detailed how a man was charged more than $1,200 more than he had anticipated when the rental car company he was dealing with covertly tracked his every movement.

Unbeknownst to him, the car company tracked his movement across state lines and charged him by the mile.
Just wait until more technology becomes available, and this will seem like nothing.

WHEN AN EXTRA MINUTE DOES MATTER

And it’s not just consumers who are at risk.

An increasing number of employers are tracking their employees’ every movement – and not considering it a violation of our privacy.

The “they’re on the clock” mentality is creating a situation where folks could be tracked over years to the precise address and exact second. 

This could easily lead to job terminations.

DEATH OF CREATIVITY

John Philip Sousa, the legendary American composer, realized the threats that technology posed generations ago, according to Larry Lessig in “How Creativity is being strangled by the law.”

He warned that American culture would be destroyed if we depend too much on machines.

He was right.  Since the advent of the “talking machine,” the level of creativity in this country has waned – and it could only get worse as more companies make claims on our intellectual property.

As more technology becomes available, it will become increasingly easy for large corporations to realize what their employees are doing on the side and seizing control over it, as demonstrated in “Big Brother, Big Business.”

PAGING GEORGE ORWELL

And it’s not just our professional and financial worlds that are at risk. Our very freedom is in danger.

As more cities, like New York and London, seed their boundaries with cameras and scanning equipment, we are losing the freedoms our forefathers founded this country to protect – our individual rights.

While this may not seem significant, particularly for us peace-loving souls, it is.

The installation of this equipment means our lives could be altered forever.

A FUTURE WITHOUT RIGHTS

Big brother is watching – and the America you know and love is being chipped away.

If things continue on the current track, it would not be far out of the realm of possibility for Americans to be little more than mice racing through pre-assembled mazes.  No matter which path they decide, they will not only be watched, but manipulated.

GPS-based technology could eventually be tweaked not just to track people but control them giving big business and the government alike the ability to determine where people go, what they do and how they think.

IS IT TOO LATE?

The best way to prevent the apocalypse of individual rights is through education and the realization that this technology does not just apply to the so-called “bad guys.”

Eventually we could all fall victim to the whims and desires of others – unless we act now.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

November 16th, 2009

48 percent of Americans willing to pay for content online

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About half of all Americans would be willing to pay for online news content, according to research cited in the New York Times.

The U.S. respondents said, on average, they would be willing to pay about $3 per month for the content, the Boston Consulting Group found.

Although this is the lowest of any of the nine countries where the study was commissioned, it is a good sign for newspapers and other media organizations.

The fact that so many folks are willing to even entertain the idea of paying for content while so much is available for free is a great sign for the eventual renaissance of the American media.

“Consumer willingness and intent to pay is related to the availability of a rich amount of free content,” said John Rose, a senior partner and head of the group’s global media practice. “There is more, better, richer free in the United States than anywhere else.”

So, if media conglomerates come together for the good of the industry and subsequently the entire democracy, and charge for content, it seems that people would be willing to pay.

An interesting and very telling fact from the research: The people willing to pay for content online are newspaper subscribers, which is just further evidence newspaper readers are among the most informed and most curious of our society.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

November 15th, 2009

Trauma awareness webinar offered

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Poynter is hosting a webinar Tuesday on how to recognize and manage the effects of covering traumatic news stories.

The program, Trauma Awareness: What Every Journalist Needs to Know, has been set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Among the topics slated for discussion:

  • Strategies to keep your resilience
  • That distress in the face of tragedy is a normal human response — not a weakness
  • Tips to take care of yourself
  • Why peer support is important
  • When to get help

The program, which costs less than $15, is something every journalist should consider attending.

For information, please click here.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

November 7th, 2009

Posted in Media, best practices

Tagged with , , , ,

Election night: Where it’s at

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There is no night quite like election night for journalists.  In my first video post, I explain:

Written by Jamie DeLoma

November 4th, 2009

Posted in Uncategorized

Technology will set us free

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Technology doesn’t only make life easier, it allows us to spend more time being human.

As the things in our lives become adapt more to our behaviors and desires, we have more time to just live and interact with those we care most about instead of working on machines.

“Every moment of every day, millions of people send e-mail, talk on mobile phones, instant message each other, record TV shows with TiVo, and listen to music on their iPods,” Dan Saffer wrote in “Designing for Interaction.” “All of these things are made possible by good engineering.”

RISE OF THE MACHINES

 

However, unlike in movies like “Terminator,” this rise is a good thing – and beneficial to the entire human race.

“We’re now focused on human-centered design … that really involves designing behaviors and personalities into projects,” David Kelley said at a TED conference in February, 2002.

For example, Prada, Kelley said, is experimenting with store models that would allow customers to spend less time shopping — and thus more time living.

He described a retail location where all merchandise have special high-tech tags and that scanners are everywhere that tell potential consumers much more than just the price.

Upon scanning items, videos will be displayed of the clothes on models on runways.

“We know exactly what you have in your dressing room,” Kelley foreshadowed. “You can get more information about the clothing you are interested in while trying it on.”

And in a world where seconds are becoming increasingly more valuable, there will no longer be a need to ever leave the dressing room to get a second opinion on an outfit.

Liquid crystal displays in the rooms will transform from a seemingly opaque wall into a window.  And a magic mirror with a three second delay will allow folks to see how an outfit looks from any angle.

Say farewell to hours wasted at the mall, and hello to an afternoon with the kids.

INTRODUCING THE FRIENDLIER CUBICLE

 

And say good-bye to the drab cubicle of days past.  CBS Sunday Morning did a story about progress being made in that department.

“The idea is to make cubicles more human,” the 2002 report said.

Folks will be able to add personal details – including flowers that wilt in disappointment when you leave your office space and spring back up when you return.

The report even envisioned fish tanks and hammocks included.

Talk about leaving the office in office in a good mood.

You could now leave in more positive spirits to greet those you love.  This would likely lead to fewer arguments with the significant other.

EXPLORE THE UNDERWATER WORLD WITHOUT GETTING WET

 

Kelley unveiled a new submarine tele-presence system that allows boaters to see what is beneath their vessels without having to leave the deck – talk about a time-saver.

“It gives boaters the opportunity to see what SCUBA divers see,” Kelley remarked. The remote controlled submarine, complete with lights, become “the eyes and ears as you venture into the deep.”

Now the whole family could share a new, quick excursion.  Imagine all one could do with time and money saved from not having to change clothing – or go through extensive and regular training programs.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL

 

“The rise of the commercial Internet in the mid 1990s and the widespread incorporation of microprocessors into machines such as cars, dishwashers, and phones were previously they hadn’t been used led to this explosive growth in the number of interactive designers because suddenly of serious interaction problems needed to be solved,” Safer wrote. “Thousands of interaction design problems wait to be solved, such as when you:

  • Try to use self-checkout at a grocery store and it takes you half an hour
  • Can’t get your car to tell you what’s wrong with it when it breaks down
  • Wait at a bus stop with no idea when the next bus will arrive.
  • Struggle to synchronize your mobile phone to your computer.
  • Stand in line for hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

As engineers solve these dilemmas, life will become easier for us all.  In turn, we will have more time to spend with our families and those we care for.

BUT WON’T THIS JUST COMPLICATE EVERYTHING?

 

Absolutely not!

“Interaction design is the art of facilitating interactions between humans through products and services,” Saffer wrote.

The advancements, which will be largely invisible, will just make things easier.

“Interaction design is concerned with the behavior of products and services, with how products and services work,” Safer wrote. “They should never forget that the goal is to facilitate interactions between humans.”

LOOKING FORWARD

 

Ultimately, interaction design will make every aspect of our lives more enjoyable and fine-tuned.

Solutions will be found for an increasing number of life’s frustrations allowing us all to spend more time with our friends and families.

However, an inherent problem will continue to grow – humanity’s dependency on technology.

Should anything happen to our technology, we will be in deep trouble.

However, hopefully before such a risk is realized, we will have developed an interactive design capable of full redundancy to cancel out any interruptions.

As they say, only time will tell.

Written by Jamie DeLoma

November 3rd, 2009

Using Facebook to cover a story

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Facebook has become just another part of getting the story in newsrooms across America.

I have searched for — and studied — the pages of dozens of people (both victims and the accused) for a handful of prominent news organizations in the past few years.

However, as the practice of integrating social networks into the journalistic routine, the question every reporter must ask becomes more apparent and pronounced: What should the role of this technology be in our day-to-day responsibilities?

My position on this is simple: Use Facebook (and MySpace, and Twitter, and the countless other social networking tools out there) as you would a phone or yearbook.  

Present who you are and what you are looking for to the people you decide to speak with  in a private and respectful way — and don’t write a call for people to talk with on the person’s wall whenever possible because it is generally ineffective and disrespectful.

I have over 800 “friends” on Facebook and more than 1,000 “followers” on Twitter.  I would hardly consider the vast majority of these folks my true confidants.  Thus an inherent problem becomes obvious: Just because someone is a Facebook friend does not mean they are a person’s true friend — and should not be considered, stated or trusted as such.  Due diligence is necessary in ensuring the story is complete, correct and accurate.

Any experienced journalist should realize that in a tragedy, suddenly thousands of people know everything about both the victim and the accused.  Be careful when talking to social network “friends,” because they could simply be acquaintances — or less.

Another issue with using information collected on a social network is that much of the information is often inaccurate.  The information and photos posted about a person on Facebook should never be considered as truth.  Facebook users often post inaccurate information and manipulated photos on the network — and there is no easy way for a journalist to differentiate these items.  The importance of diligence becomes more apparent.

However, with all that said, social networking should be used in reporting regularly – but only as a piece of the overall process.  Ignorning it could mean missing out on potential sources and multimedia.  Just be careful — and use your common sense.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Poynter spoke with several experts about this very topic.  Please click here to see what they had to say.

And now I ask you, what do you think?