Read & Respond – Week 2

For your first read and respond, you’ll be reading Brigg’s introduction and chapter 1 (available on our eCampus page while we wait for the bookstore to order the course text) and two linked articles. A number of you were grappling with how to come up with a specific focus for your blog with the potential for fruitful updating long after this course is a happy memory. Briggs has some suggestions. In particular, check out his interlude by innovator Greg Linch. See that last point in Linch’s list of innovator traits? “It’s not about you.” What can you write about that gets beyond yourself and joins a meaningful conversation?

Briggs also discusses the value of RSS readers, which we’ll be getting into this week in class. Start looking for blogs to follow NOW. Who’s writing about your interests? Who’s writing and reporting like you’d like to? Beyond this, there’s some useful discussion of coding and HTML. Don’t Panic! The next time you create a blog post, note those two tabs in the top right on the window; take a deep breath and click the “HTML” tab to see the code behind your post. It’s not so bad, is it? Give his simple coding exercise on p. 27-28 a try.

Once you’re done with Briggs, I want you to take a look at this link from 10,000 Words on nifty ideas for RSS feeds. We’ll just be using them for reading (at first), but it’s useful to know how much potential they hold. In essence, RSS feeds deliver the Internet to you in a digestible, scannable form. What could be bad about that?

Well, Ted Koppel has some thoughts on the subject in “The Case Against News We Can Choose.” Granted, Koppel’s more directly addressing 24-hour news stations, but his ideas certainly are relevant to the online world of information. How do his points inform our work in this class?

So have at it! You will need to respond to these readings in a comment on this post no later than noon on Monday, Jan. 17. A few things to make sure of:

  • Post as your WordPress identity so I know who you are.
  • Specifically address the readings, but don’t summarize them – build on them!

16 Responses to Read & Respond – Week 2

  1. capnwinters says:

    Concerning the Briggs sections:
    As I read it, this reading could be applied to our blogs. When Linch says “it’s not about you,” it is sound advice. I interpret it as meaning that we must strike a balance, writing passionately about subjects we care about, while also keeping the topic relevant and interesting to others. It warns against allowing personal opinion to dominate not only the content of one’s work, but also the focus. I will definitely bear this in mind while working on my blog in the future.

    10,000 Words link:
    This link really opened my eyes to the breadth of RSS applications in the world. I never really messed with RSS feeds in the past, and this link’s illumination of the various RSS apps really enticed me to give it a go. The custom RSS feed newspaper is particularly impressive.

    Ted Koppel link:
    When it comes to discussions of news integrity, you’d be hard pressed to find a better authority than Ted Koppel. His cautionary tale of for-profit pseudo-journalism, while not directly related to our area of study, does highlight the need for a new type of journalism. 24 hour news networks suffer from their corporate entanglements, while the diaspora of micro media outlets that exist online today have no such problems. So I feel that Koppel’s fears for the fate of journalism should be assuaged to some degree with this in mind.
    That said, people more interested in absorbing opinion-based news than fact-based news will more than likely continue this behavior online. Sorry, Ted Koppel.

  2. K.Wish. says:

    For many journalists, the question has always been, “What news is important?” and “What do we need to share?” As Koppel’s article highlights, the mainstream news today tells one what they need to know and makes these choices for them. But now, it’s very easy for the public to choose what they want to know, to read, and to share with others. However, this may not be a better alternative to the mainstream way, because something important is going to be left out in both situations.
    This point leads to the use of RSS feeds. Although these feeds give us the ability to choose the types of stories from particular sources, we are still missing some information. For example, the 10,000 Words article mentions that you can “Catch only the best tweets” in your feed, but how do you define what the best tweets are to read? In the end, I’m not knocking RSS feeds. They are absolutely a great way to receive the information you want at any time. These are just some thoughts to consider.

    Lastly, in Koppel’s article, he states, “Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s oft-quoted observation that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts.” I thought this statement related incredibly well to what Dr. Britten is currently trying to teach us about blogging and our topics. We are all naturally inclined to express our own opinions and personalities through our blogs. However, an important point to remember throughout this semester may be that we need to clearly separate our opinions from the facts that we present, no matter what our topic may be.

  3. The first thing that I thought after reading the intro of this book is that it is a very positive outlook to journalism. I really liked the talk about the future of journalism and what we have to do about it. There have been times where my journalism friends and I would have long, in-depth conversations about journalism and whether or not it is an intelligent move on our part to get involved in it. But after reading this intro, I felt pretty good about the future of journalism and where it is going. Hopefully, this class will help in preparing me more for the future.

    I really liked the Greg Linch segment of the reading as well. I liked the list and motivation provided. It made me feel like I have to be grounded and also positive. Journalism is supposed to benefit and inform everyone. I think that is what he means about the “know it’s not about you” suggestion. You have to always remember why you are in the field and that is how you will always stay grounded and be assured.

    The RSS Feed is something that I would not have been comfortable at all talking about before, but the book put it in fairly simple terms and it really is not as bad as it seems at first. The 10,000 words of cool RSS ideas are really interesting. I have no idea if I will ever turn my blog into a book or not, but it is amazing how there are ways that I could if I wanted to. Along with many other neat things that I could do, I have no idea if I will use them, but I am glad that I know that I can. I hope to learn even more about RSS and be even more understanding of it after class.

    I remember learning about the News We Can Choose argument during my JRL Ethics class last year. It is a shame how we have to almost throw unbiased opinions to the wind for the sake of views and money in this country. But, that is what people want to do. If a person wants to choose to only follow Republican views during elections, they can very easily do that. But that is how our blogs are going to be read. By allowing people with similar interests and views to follow us and learn from us.
    ~Andrea Sauer~

  4. Jazz says:

    Joshua Jazz Clark here, of (no transparency here).

    Coming up with the idea for my blog, tentatively dubbed “flash flood,” was surprisingly easy- considering the plan was to think of something better.

    But after a sort of meditative imagining throughout the week, the idea became tangible; the future of the internet, and journalism by commonality could very well be paved in the efforts of basement computer jockeys such as flash artists. The average online consumer would be surprised to learn the permeance of flash on the ‘nets.

    Both the beauty and pain comes from the simple fact that anyone can use it. A genius can create a stunning social commentary with fantastic animation and superbly level vocals with great free domain music. A barely post-pubescent boy can also create a hastily sketched bit of male genitalia flapping in the breeze to badly-remixed polka music. The bottom line has everything to do with intent, though the content can sometimes outshine the maker.

    I consider writing to be artistry on par with the greatest forms throughout the centuries, and journalism is simply writing which tells the truth. To escalate to the internet does not dilute the source, but simply gives exposure to an audience Picasso himself could never imagine. As “web workers” our generation has a unique advantage of technical mastery (for the most part) which leaves us as the forerunners for the future we create.

    For this I disagree so very much with Koppel. While i have respected him and his colleagues in the past, it could not be more apparent his stubbornness to adapt. Firstly, individualized news sources streamline our consumption of media so much, I didn’t think anyone could still complain. Secondly, in 2010, he has the nerve to criticize the companies which try to adequately monetize the workers, the journalists, in their employ? He speaks like a biased old man who sits on his porch, angry not for the masses, but to appease those few times he got the short end of the stick. RSS feeds are important. Let’s leave it at that.

    So, if the goal of futurism (future+journalism) is to take a step back, look, and figure out the tools to find our way forward, my blog’s focus fits seamlessly. I look forward to avoiding the pitfalls and seeing how flash can truly be a powerful tool in the world to come.

  5. rdlwvufan says:

    One statement in Briggs’ introduction stood out to me more than any other: “change is inevitable, but progress is optional.”

    I got to thinking about how this applies to not only journalism, but my life in general. I tend to resist change as a matter of habit, and I am reluctant to embrace new ideas, products, or ways of doing things in my everyday life. I think it’s cliché and melodramatic to say that it’s “the fear of the unknown” that tends to hold me back, but I do think it comes down to feeling a sense of control over my environment.

    Perhaps journalism has had a similar problem. Briggs says that newspapers basically tried to cut and paste their content onto a website when going online was considered the next big step to take. Instead of being creative and thoughtful by attempting a new approach to delivering their content (beyond simply a new medium), everything remained the same. In a way, it would be like writing a newspaper article and reading in on the nightly news. Just as there is a print style and a broadcast style, there is an online “style” to doing things, whatever it might be or is destined to become. By keeping things the same and not going out on a limb, newspapers maintained a sense of control over this new environment.

    Reading chapter one was somewhat difficult for me. I am not very tech savvy, so I feel like I might have to re-read some of it to get the full gist of what Briggs is explaining. Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily. We all have to start somewhere. I do think having a basic understanding of these things will be beneficial, though, to a similar degree that learning to blog will also prove useful.

    Considering the time in which I’ve grown up, it’s understandable that well established journalists (i.e. old people) would feel intimidated by all of this information. I don’t understand it well myself, so to a person who didn’t grow up with the internet, who is used to doing things his way, who had to possibly overcome a personally steep learning curve to proficiently use the internet at all, some of this might seem impossible. It might seem more realistic to just retire (or find a new career) than have to start over in their own field. I have an advantage over many in the field for these reasons. I plan to try to embrace these things and gain as much knowledge as I can. It’s imperative if I want to be competitive in the job market.

    RSS feeds are one of the things that I’ve known of for a while, but I didn’t actually know what they were or how to use them. I’m still not completely sure about them, but I’m sure the various suggestions from the mediabistro article have their value. Once I get a handle on RSS feeds (which I imagine aren’t as difficult to grasp as I am making it seem), and feel comfortable using them in a basic manner, I might better appreciate the value these ideas do have for someone who wants to know everything each day but has only five minutes in which to learn it.

    Lastly, the first thing I thought of when reading Ted Koppel’s article was something I learned about in media ethics: the long tail media. Being able to pick and choose one’s news has its benefits and drawbacks. People want to choose everything else for themselves, so it’s not surprising that the news is no exception. It’s great to have the ability to choose from a smorgasbord of news options, but it does tend to isolate people into cookie cutter groups. In terms of news, it’s mostly political. Right wing nuts watch Fox News and liberal tree-huggers watch MSNBC. Political leanings influence where people get news. People don’t want to be confronted on their views. It is much easier to have them reinforced by watching people who have the same views.

    What does this mean for blogging? Well, if one tends to get information from only one source (political or otherwise) and then blogs about this information, it could be skewed one way or another. This is more noticeable when it involves politics, but it can be about other things as well. Regardless of the topic, it is best to find various resources to get a better idea for a situation. After all, someone might read one of our blogs and nothing else (humor me, please), so if our views are skewed, we will only perpetuate that with our audience.

  6. ewadd986 says:

    The intro was a reaffirming piece to read. I think a lot of students are afraid that we are entering a dying field of journalism but that is not the case according to Briggs. Journalism is only evolving, not shrinking. It is important for us to be able to adapt to those changes to the best of our ability to become better journalists. I really liked his quote, “change is inevitable, but progress is optional.”
    One of the biggest things I took from Briggs’ readings was the importance of RSS feeds. I have used an RSS feed before but never continued to use it because I prefer to just go to the website. I tried subscribing to a couple RSS feeds for sites that I frequent and it is definitely a lot easier to manage a vast majority of content. The information is displayed much easier because it is full of headlines, whereas if I was to go to the site I would have to look around and sort the information myself. This also makes it easier to retweet stories or share stories on facebook.
    I also tried some of the HTML coding that he suggested and found it to be a lot of information to digest right away although I definitely can see how it will help my blog. Knowing how to format certain styles of text and images for my webpage will give me an advantage over my competition.

    -Eric Waddon

  7. Jonathan Vickers says:

    The intro of this book intrigued me. I am looking at the tools of ‘Journalism 2.0’ and what potential they may have in realizing a communitarian form of journalism for my thesis. I noticed several themes that I could tie in with my current research including the redistribution of jobs, the rise of niche markets, the weaknesses and death of the newspaper and most importantly the future potential of journalism 2.0. I like Briggs’ optimism when discussing the current media landscape and am looking forward to reading more.

    The first chapter was a great overview of many items I am familiar with and others I was unfamiliar with. As with the intro reading this section is giving me a greater understanding of how prevalent the web-based medium is becoming. I was interested in the RSS feeds and how those interfaces can be used to allow not only an increase in consumption of media but also the production and distribution of conversational media. I am looking forward to reading more.

  8. tonicekada says:

    10,000 words:
    First of all, I am really glad I am taking this course because I had no idea what an RSS feed even was until I read this article. It is amazing how much technology can do. My two favorites were the book and the blog radio.

    The intro chapter to the text really made a good point. The future IS in our hands. As Professor Briggs said last Tuesday in class, we really are the generation for the future. And by future I mean the change to online and technology for Journalism. The change in technology that created printing presses and newspapers once made Journalism grow quickly. Now, technology is even more advanced as programs such as RSS exist, journalism will grow yet again, and be even bigger than before.
    Even though I hate to say it, I am the most technology ill literate person ever. Chapter one really made me realize how much I need to learn about htmls, XML, CSS, and other digital works. I think I am going to appreciate this class even more because I am going to take so much from it.

  9. aarongeiger says:

    It’s nice to know I’m not alone in thinking that journalism is not just “reinventing itself,” it is essentially redistributing power and alliances. As we note, time and again, that old habits and traditions continually resurface, it seems that the original boom of the newspaper business has manifested itself into the age of the Web. In the 90s we noted that the “Wild West” moniker was applied liberally to the Web. The Internet was a place for educational systems (West Coast Unix and Berkeley), the government (revamped MilNet), and kids who were involved in Web-based anarchy. Today we see strangleholds on almost every facet of the industry that conglomerates are struggling to consolidate power with the goal in mind to regulate anything and everything in order to squeeze out digital dollars.

    But as organizations find ways to market to the masses, the masses are still redefining ways to market themselves to each other. There seems to be a continuing ebb and flow of tidal creativity, along with a lot of flotsam that seems to clog up the stream of good information. I guess RSS feeds are a means for the lone man or woman to market their own identity, per se. Although I have experience with RSS, I was unfamiliar as to the extent of its usefulness, and I intend to find out more.

    As a recap to the aforementioned saturation of power on the Internet, it’s important to know about SEO (search engine optimization)—something I’m starting to read about more—and RSS feeds certainly help me, the lone blogging slug with no celebrity name holding my coattails, to find ways to promote myself in the all-important world of Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines. The more people share my information, the more cross-indexing I receive, and the more stature I gain with my blog, the more people I can cull and coax to participate. It’s an exponential process.

  10. bostonkid124 says:

    After reading the Briggs’ first chapter, I got a better understanding for the basic concepts and terms in the class and in the online world. The other night I about an hour trying to play with the RSS feature on my blog, but couldn’t figure it out. Had I just read the chapter before I started to fiddle wit the site I would have been better off. After reading up on the RSS feed, I now have a great understanding of what it does and how it allows us to search for what we want instead of having to sift through news we don’t care about.

    Ted Koppel’s article was great and there were a few things he said that stuck out to me. He quoted Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s quote that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” before Koppel added that, “seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts.” This has a pretty significant meaning to me because as a sports writer I feel that the readers/listeners always base their judgments on the “experts.” The analysts look at a few stats and those become the focus for the story lines. Sometimes I feel that people don’t delve into the story enough and don’t do research to come up with their own story lines.

    The link about the RSS feed was great as it solidified my understanding and also gave me creative new ideas to use the RSS feed.

  11. I, like many others who have already posted, thoroughly enjoyed Briggs’ introduction to “Journalism 2.0.” The optimism allowed me to breathe a little easier, since, like many others, I’m sure, are often asked why they’re going into a dying field. The “you can do this” and “the future is now” parts of the Introduction spoke to me – the future of journalism truly falls on our backs. This generation is under pressure to figure it out. I, personally, have been sitting in the backseat of the car on this “new media” journey following what everyone else is doing. I now realize that it’s up to me to be trying to find new things and new ideas. I have the chance to “be part of something bigger and better than it’s ever been before.”

    What scared me most about Chapter 1 of the book is coding. I am not good with technology. I am actually awful at it. Tonight, for example, I just learned that the “backspace” button will take you back a page on the Internet. I know, I know, where have I been? Instead of using my fear of what I don’t know to hold me back, I now understand that I need it to motivate me to be a better journalist. While I was unfamiliar with most of the subjects in the chapter, RSS feeds particularly interested me. It seems like a great way to gather story ideas and fully engage my other interests. I use Twitter, and 10,000 Words ideas to use RSS feeds to catch up on the best tweets and others missed really caught my eye. The idea of being able to listen to subscriptions also really surprised me.

    As for Koppel’s article, I’ve attended one College Media Association conference and several Society of Professional Journalists’ conferences both nationally and regionally where the issue of non-objective journalism has been brought up. I don’t know exactly where I stand, but I think it’s a great argument to make. My most obvious point (which Koppel also brought up) was that completely objective journalism is unattainable. But really, in the big picture, what do our opinions as journalists matter? Well, my argument is that for the most part, we are informed. If we are doing our jobs correctly, we should know the facts and be able to come to a logical conclusion and form our own opinion. And really, when it comes to it, journalism is dying because of the fact that many objective journalism programs’ profits are lower than partisan ones. “It was an imperfect, untidy little Eden of journalism where reporters were motivated to gather facts about important issues. We didn’t know that we could become profit centers. No one had bitten into that apple yet.” This is Koppel’s way of describing it, which I think every future journalist should be able to relate to. While I don’t think there will be a firm decision on which “journalism” is better, I think the need for a forum to talk about is crucial to the process.

    Melanie Hoffman

  12. Shay Maunz says:

    Maybe this is the wrong place to say this, but I have to admit: I think Briggs may have gone a tad overboard while touting the benefits of RSS feeds. Of course, I have not organized an RSS feed for myself, and maybe if I did I would feel differently – at least now, after this reading, I understand how exactly they work, so I may yet become a convert.

    Still, he notes himself that “RSS is still emerging as a tool for web users, almost 10 years after it became widely available,” before going on to proclaim RSS the savior of journalists and techies everywhere. Why the push for RSS? I can hardly argue with Briggs that it does seem like an efficient way to sort information, but maybe users want more than efficiency in their web experience?

    Maybe I’m just offended that after reading the section on RSS I felt pathetically behind the times, until I realized, hey, I never hear anyone at the coffee shop talking about what they saw on their RSS
    feed. Maybe, just maybe, in this rapidly changing community, we are going to quickly move away from RSS feeds in favor of something completely different. Or maybe not. But when, five pages ago, he was ragging on those dinosaurs of the newspaper industry (a little respect please, come on)for being stuck in their ways, he should himself consider that RSS may not be the most productive place to focus our attention, or risk eventually being lumped into the same category as those dinosaurs.

    The section on coding gave me that same sickening feeling that I have absolutely no right to even use Google because I’m so clueless about technology. But, unlik RSS, it inspired me to actually learn how to use HTML. (Or maybe it’s because I just saw The Social Network, and I kind of want to be Mark Zuckerberg – guy makes coding look totally badass, at least through Hollywood’s lens.)

  13. coreypreece says:

    Briggs: For someone who has a somewhat solid working knowledge of HTML coding, I was really interested in learning more about CSS and XML. Obviously he doesn’t go into too much detail about the specifics of each, I had never really heard of nor learned about either of these two web programs.

    Until reading the first chapter, I also had never understood what an “RSS Feed” is. Often times I found myself looking at the journalism school’s website with the little orange “RSS” logo at the bottom and found my self wondering what the heck that was. Now I realize that it is actually a pretty cool, simple, and extremely easy way to gather all the news that your find pertinent for your life/profession. Needless to say, I set up my first RSS feed immediately after reading the chapter.

    10,000 Words: As I mentioned before, I never understood or experimented with RSS feeds. But after reading Briggs and now the 10,000 Words article, I feel like a seasoned veteran in regards to RSS feeds. Essentially “10,000 Words” is an extension of what Briggs brings up in his first chapter, and I found the pieces about RSS and Twitter and creating an interactive RSS timeline to be the most interesting/exciting. Though I’m not big into Twitter at the moment, after reading this article, I feel like I am missing out on a lot of news and ideas from people around me.

    Ted Koppel: I really enjoyed reading this article for two reasons. One, the argument Koppel strikes with the current state of broadcast news journalism is one that I am currently researching for my graduate thesis. And two, he is so right. However, while I believe there is little harm in people setting up RSS feeds or watching only one particular news channel to supplement their appetite for the latest news and information from around the world, I can also relate to his claims that the top priority in modern broadcast news (and supposedly news media in general) is that profits trump objectivity and what the public needs to know.

    I completely agree with Koppel on the topic of American news outlets garnering less than newsworthy information from home or abroad, and how those effects are affecting the American public and they way they consume and view news. I also agree that American news outlets are substituting expensive-to-report real, unbaised, hard news for cheap-to-produce opinion-laden news. However, the notion that the entire country is falling under the grasps of Olbermann or O’Reilly is a bit erroneous and is not supported by facts.

  14. deepafadnis says:

    For someone who comes from the print background, technology can be quite overwhelming. India, as everyone knows is known for its outsourcing land. Everyone who is anyone in India is leaning towards the software industry today and I would always find myself counting stars, while my friends spoke about websites, blogs, RSS feed and of course HTML. But I am glad that I am finally beginning to make sense out of. Briggs makes its very easy to understand and also her step by step explanation does not leave me grappling to find the next level.

    As a part of my work profile in India with a PR agency, I would often scan the internet to find things that were relevant to my client. I really wishes I could have known about the RSS then, my life would have been so much more easier. We used google alerts, which were effective but would often miss out important stuff.

    While I am playing with my blog, still trying to find my way through it, I am really excited about the class and the chapters that Briggs has to offer.

  15. lindsaycobb says:

    Briggs reading–
    I had some sense of how html coding worked before I read this, but I had no idea it was so straightforward. Once someone understands how to use the codes it seems like it could be pretty easy… just extremely time consuming. Usually instructional books like this are frustrating, because the author writes in a way that makes no sense. I was actually able to grasp what Briggs was saying when he explained coding.
    I got the gist of RSS from the reading, but it took talking about it in class for me to fully comprehend. I had never heard of RSS in my life so I had absolutely nothing to fall back on when reading about it in the book. I like the idea of an RSS reader, it is very practical. Briggs is right, we shouldn’t have to go looking for the same sites everyday when we’re able to set them all up in one place. I think its great, but I can’t help but think that subscribing to sites is just a lot like bookmarking.
    Linch is very positive- all he wants to do is tell a great story and lead the way for other journalists who want to be great as well… I could follow that guy! All the points he bullets are very true and I agree with all of them, but I also think its important for everyone to come up with their own list of traits. Because, like he says, we need to have desire, and desire may be hard for some people to find if they are jut going to down someone else’s checklist.

    1,000 words–
    This article really surprised me in a way. I had just learned about RSS feeds and then I read about all the different things you can do with them and use them for. Its a whole new world that needs to be discovered. Using RSS feeds in everyday life seems like a really good way to stay up-to-date and knowledgeable about the world and everything that you feel is important and 1,000 words gives you a ton of suggestions on how to do it.

    Ted Koppel–
    I saw Koppel’s article as pretty negative. It seemed like he had two problems and he couldn’t really stick to one or the other. I think Journalism and the importance of objectivity, profit, and uses different types of media will always be changing. He says that by being able to choose what news we want to hear we are forcing Journalists to report on issues that aren’t important. Personally, I think that whatever the audience wants to hear is exactly what is important. It may not be a topic that I find enthralling, but as a journalist my job isn’t going to be to tell a story that I want to hear… I will need to tell a story that the majority wants to hear.

  16. Shannon Teets says:

    Reading the introduction and articles made me aware of how little understanding I truely have of online journalism, the internet, and the elements that go into making both possible. I am anxious to gain knowledge of RSS feeds, HTML, and other elements of the online world and look forward to open up possibilities to gain new skills and implement them in my future endeavors.

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