Read & Respond – Week 12

Here are some reasonably light visual readings for your return from spring break. Mainly, you need to read through the assigned Briggs chapter 6 on visual storytelling. Think about his advice and note the example experts he gives. Some of you have been incorporating visuals into your work from the start, others have come around to it, and a few are still pounding out mostly text articles each week. Use these readings as a way to start thinking about more creative forms of visual storytelling. How might your blogs tell a story that is more visual than text (and while “use lots of photos” is surely an answer, it’s not the ONLY answer).

Second, I’d like you to look at some photoblogs. What’s a photoblog? Find out for yourself. You’ve probably seen some photoblogs – post an example in your response (and use an in-text link, please – full URLs are so tacky).

A great home for this kind of thing is Tumblr. This site (and others like it) are becoming prominent examples of quick-hit, visual blogging (actually, I’m not even sure if “blogging” is the right word for whatever Tumblr is, but it’ll suffice for now). This Huffington Post list of “33 Tumblrs you NEED to follow” is a good place to explore. It may not be your thing, but resist the urge to gripe’n’grumble and remember: Look past the content to what’s behind it. What ideas are here that we as journalists can use?

Finally, something that you’ll either get a kick out of or really hate: Memes. The meme is a basic cultural unit (much like the gene is a biological one). Like a virus, it lives to spread from carrier to carrier, mutating and adapting as it goes. Successful memes thrive, unsuccessful ones die out. Go to quickmeme (or your own favorite meme creator, if you have such a thing) and browse the current and most popular images. Then go to the Facebook WVU Memes page and scan back a few weeks/months (if you weren’t aware of this, I’m sorry/you’re welcome). Yes, Marshall and Pitt have their own meme pages, and the college meme trend is already showing signs of burning out, but take a look anyway. Resist the urge to say “this is dumb” (which it surely is), and consider what’s going on here. I won’t ask you to come up with a journalistic application for memes, but how might the kind of sharing and creativity going on here be useful in more valuable mass communication?

Remember, your responses are due by noon Monday, April 2 (after spring break) as a comment to this post.

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28 Responses to Read & Respond – Week 12

  1. I certainly agree with Briggs when he says that every journalists must have some basic photography skills to be successful in the industry. There are many people who learn and absorb information better when they see it visually. Plus, visuals just tend to make stories more interesting. They give your eyes a break from chunky texts, while providing stimulation. Briggs says, “Journalism without photographs is like writing without verbs.” This more than explains why articles/stories without any visual elements are so boring and hard to read. There’s no action taking place. In these cases, I at least hope that the author is a descriptive writer and can help the reader create images based on what’s being described/discussed.

    I found this nifty photoblog, illustrating the U.S. women’s gymnastic team winning their third title at the World Gymnastics Championships in 2011. This was big news and yet, it was mostly printed as photos and video with very few words. This news was better presented as visuals, so that we could see how well our team did, and not just have someone else tell us how well our team did. Honestly, this was the first I’ve checked out Tumblr or the quickmeme creator, but I think they’re cool. Certainly not things I’ll waste hours of my day on, but definitely something cool to check out when I need a laugh or inspiration. The vast array of images found on these sites is incredible. And I happen to find most memes to be hilarious, so no complaints here. In fact, I even took the time to create my own meme and I’ve been posting it everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. I was recently invited to Pinterest and I pinned it there. I’ve already had three “repins” and I couldn’t be more excited.

    That being said, I think journalists can use memes and Tumblr to their advantage by figuring out what people are interested in. Knowing what people want to hear about and knowing how to grab your audiences attention will make it easier to get your name and stories out there. Plus, people can see what you’ve created and repost it elsewhere (hopefully giving credit to the creator). These sites provide such a free flow of images and information that are constantly being seen by a stream of people.

  2. Briggs gives a lot of quick and dirty advice in this chapter, and if you’ve taken a photojournalism class or visual journalism class, much of this feels like second nature. It does to me, at least. One thing that resonated with me was when Deb Cram of Seacost Mdeia Group said “Shoot a lot, not just one or two.” This is my philosophy when taking photos. You’re probably not going to regret taking too many photos, but it’s likely you’ll regret not taking enough. And with SD cards holding tons of photos now, you don’t have anything to lose. I also liked that he mentioned using screenshots. sometimes a photo or graphic isn’t necessarily intuitive, but a screenshot is – say, if you’re talking about a website. And it can be really helpful.

    Photoblogs are fun. A solid one, and class, is Paula Deen Riding Things. It’s so good. Not only is it hilarious, but it’s newsy, in the sense that it keeps up with what people are talking about – like the Angelina Jolie leg.

    Tumblr=microblogging. I do have a Tumblr, and it started off as a Pinterest type of site for me – I just reblogged what I thought looked pretty or cool. But now I use it for my cooking adventures. While my blog is more tended to and gets a better audience, my tumblr is more personal and is a different avenue for me to explore. I think the best thing Tumblr can be for journalists is a photo blog because the photos are so easily reblogged

    I love how memes are compared to viruses here. Memes are funny. I said it. Some are, at least. Most are dumb and lack any depth. The ones that are funny have some deeper joke rather than just a surface joke. I don’t think these are essential to journalism. I think the takeaway from this is the way people interact. The motivation for people to form this community and pat each other on the back for how funny one another is, and everybody’s desire to be accepted or to have a funny meme and gain Internet celebrity.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Paula Deen Riding Things = Newsworthy. Got it.

      Good observation about Briggs this week. You’ll find that all his chapters have this kind of overview quality to them, but only if that’s your area (our TVJ people are likely going to feel this way with next week’s audio/video readings). In my opinion, it’s a reflection of how you’re now expected to know how to do a little bit of everything while still maintaining some area of expertise.

  3. Anan Wan says:

    Briggs really gives us a lot of useful suggestions and quotes. I like this one: “Being a good photographer isn’t just about the craft of making a good image but about knowing how to relate to people.” In his book, he also quotes “great photographers show you things you don’t see everyday.” For me, I like those photos that can tell me a story and let me know something unusual, but not just show me something beautiful. In my blog and my group blog, I always bring to show the photos which help to explain the international culture directly and include the useful information to my blog visitors.

    I find a “photo blog dictionary” website where offers you different categories of photoblogs. Pics for You is an interesting photoblog. It has “normal” gorgeous photos, useful photos and also hilarious “best-timing” photos.

    I know a lot of people using Tumblr, but this was the first time I’ve checked out it. I think the Chinese “Twitter”– Sina Weibo is somewhat the combination of Twitter and Tumblr. Tumblr is a time-saving and attractive way to express something or cover small story. Maybe it is not that formal but more visual-appealing and can avoid the boring text. Most people like that including myself.

    Memes are hilarious and so creative! I didn’t know that before. I really like the Facebook page of WVU memes. It tells the funny and recent local things, but it seems that only the people in this community can better understand them. That’s so alike to journalism, maybe better to say local newspapers.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      I forget, Anan – are you going to be talking about Sina Weibo in your grad presentation for this class? The more you’ve mentioned it this semester, the more curious I’ve become.

  4. Mary Power says:

    This Briggs chapter talks about thing’s I’ve spent entire classes talking about; Photoshop, online applications, and audio slideshows. Tips like “avoid awkward transitions,” and “avoid using overpowering music,” are pretty much second nature to anyone who has done as much video as I have at this point. And while Picnik is pretty awesome, for a free in computer application I’m a fan of Gimp. It’s a little less user friendly but does plenty for basics.
    As a broadcast major I feel that visuals are an important part to any media. Blogs are no exception and the prevalence of blogs that are dedicated to just visuals is a substantial tribute to that. Look at things like Post Secret, People of Walmart, and Texts from Bennett. All of these use visuals to tell a story in a way, even if it is a strange one.
    Tumbler is strange to me. It seems that often sites that become successful on Tumbler eventually find their own home (thedailywh.at is a perfect example.) As a journalist I see it as something that can be used in conjunction with other platforms and I’m unsure of its potential as an individual social media platform. I’ll leave my judgment for after I sign up for an account.
    The thing with memes is they get to the core of what the Internet can be; a community interactive forum for what is or isn’t importation, or in this case what is or isn’t funny. Specifically with the WVU Memes page, there is an image of a friend of mine that was used for a few. Now I’m pretty sure it doesn’t adhere to the rules of meme culture because it was only funny to people who have met him, but I still laughed. I don’t know exactly how my side-splitting laughter would translate to journalism but it certainly is its own form of citizen something, and there are people who put tons of effort into them.

  5. There are many ways to incorporate visuals into a blog post. One of course is by adding complimentary photos. Video is also good to use, as long as the video is relevant and generally not too long. If it is a long video, it will have to be a very interesting one if you expect the reader to pay attention the full time (or even watch the whole thing). Another cool way to add visuals, assuming you have the know how, is by creating an image with text. This could be making an actual picture out of text or simply by formatting your text in a unique way.

    Photo blogs are really a pretty interesting thing. They can tell stories with minimal text and photos. Sometimes the stories can be serious and other times they are the stories of someones experience. A cool photo blog I found is Earth Shots. I think Tumblr is a lot like Twitter. Photos can be reblogged so journalists could get their stories out quickly to their audience by using this site.

    I personally find memes to be very funny. It’s really interesting to see one picture over and over again with different captions or with other small changes and still be pretty funny. Memes can act like satire or can be just regular jokes.

  6. I agree with Briggs that all journalists should have some knowledge and usage of photography. I say this because I believe that imagery enhances stories and can sometimes better capture what the author is trying to say. Furthermore, visuals can do a much better job in conveying emotions rather than just using numerous adjectives to do so.
    One photoblog that I found was 30065. The blog captures Spain’s beauty, news, landscapes, events and landmarks. I never realized how informative just a simple photo could be until researching photoblogs. This and Tumblr can be a great source for journalists to use to get out a story fast enough to the public. Furthermore, these images can then be easily shared by its viewers. It really allows audiences to analyze stories from their own perspective and avoid having to read pages upon pages of boring descriptive words.
    In terms of memes, I think that they are hilarious. I see a lot of my friends using them on Facebook to make a joke or relate to their lives. That being said, memes can also be informative and sometimes newsworthy, but I usually just look at them to get a quick laugh or two. I think that this would be great for journalists to use to get a point across quickly, or break away from the usual news and add a touch of comedic relief.

  7. Just noticed that my link didn’t direct you to the cite properly. Here is the photoblog that I found interesting: href=http://www.javiermartinphoto.com/30065/>30065

  8. Joey Simson says:

    I think Briggs proves an excellent point. I have always enjoyed incorporating some form of visual means into my posts. It tends to be more appealing to the reader and captures their attention, rather then a large block of text. The idea that every blogger should have the ability to excise some form of photography skills is a great point that Briggs presents, as well. It adds an additional element to the blog that enriches the content.

    I really enjoy photoblogs. They are very appealing to me because I would much prefer to tell a story through photos rather then a bulk of text. It is also very interesting to look at photoblogs. You get the full “picture” of what is going on. Tumblr is a neat idea. It is a scaled down Twitter with the picture being the focus instead of the text.

    I have always enjoys memes (I just never knew that they actually had a name). It is fun because anyone with a minimal knowledge of graphic creation can make they- which makes for pretty good entertainment. I first came across them on Twitter, but I like that certain schools has Facebook pages dedicated to those that are aimed at their particular school.

  9. Briggs is on the money. Photos are a must in today’s journalism, especially online. The attention span for internet users is astoundingly short, and I am not innocent either, so it’s important to develop content that caters to this trend. As much as us literary types might hate the idea that readers won’t snuggle up to an article for a few hours, we have to understand our audience and design content that will best capture their interest. Photos can tell a quick story, which is probably why the internet loves them so much.

    On websites like Reddit or Digg or Pinterest or Tumblr, this trend is apparent. Posts that consists of a photo or a photo and a caption generate far more traffic than posts that are mostly text, hence the creation of TL;DR. This is also part of what makes memes popular. The content hits quick. It’s easy to digest, and then you’re back to browsing the web.

    But that’s not the only reason that memes are popular. Everyone loves inside jokes. They like feeling like they are part of the in crowd, like they get it when everyone else doesn’t. This is also why, in my opinion, that college meme pages burned so brightly. Not only were the memes themselves an inside joke, the content of the memes was an even bigger inside joke. Only the students at those universities, where loyalty is already high, get them. And let’s be honest, meme pages are basically photo blogs. Click click click and you have hit thirty memes in under a minute.

    In closing, my all time photo blog is Michael Buble being stalked by raptors: http://bubleraptor.tumblr.com/.

  10. Ali Young says:

    As an aspiring television journalist, I am constantly telling stories through visual journalism. I have to use mainly video to tell a story, but sometimes it involves photos, which sometimes make it seem more like a multimedia piece. Placing a video from YouTube on your blog isn’t the only way to get the readers attention. I like to include some of my own work whether it’s interviews or b-roll of a local event because that makes it more unique. Not only do I have video’s and texts to help me, I also have my voice track recorded so someone can sit back and listen to a story as well.

    Photoblog’s are interesting because it’s a way to avoid so much detail when you just want to glance at a picture. Not everyone appreciates so much text that accompanies a lot of blog pages because it’s easier to follow a variety of blogs when there isn’t so much reading. Instagram is a perfect example of a photoblog that I utilize every day because I’m not only able to browse through popular photo’s, but I can see what my friends are uploading that I might not necessarily see on Facebook or Twitter. You have the option to like or comment on photos and the coolest part is that everyone can engage in it. There are several options if you want to change the hue or tint of a photo to adjust it to something you make like better.

    Finally, I think memes are funny and they’re something that I see all the time. I actually love reading quotes so it’s amusing to see the jokes that people come up with. Of course the main reason why it’s so comical is because of the ridiculous background that is placed behind the text. (It reminds me of Texts From Last Night, but without pictures and maybe a little less graphic) Pinterest also has many categories including a quotes section that allows you to repin and share memes with your friends. The only downside is you have to receive an invite to be a member of Pinterest! Ask me!

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Ali, we haven’t discussed Pinterest in this class because I’m not familiar enough with it, but I know several news orgs (and J-schools) are using it. What do you like about it?

      • Ali Young says:

        I like that it pertains to my interest in so many different ways. When you sign up, you have the option to choose which categories appeal most to you. For instance, I wouldn’t choose men’s apparel or automobiles. I like home decor and am constantly pinning about food! That way I’m able to only browse through pictures and information that suits my tastes.

  11. erinfitzi says:

    It’s pretty essential to have photography skills as a journalist. I think that pretty much everyone has a photographer in them and it’s also really fun. I have slacked in keeping my blog visual and I have a really easy way to have visuals with animals.

    I’m a big fan of tumblr. It’s the simplest way to waste time while mindlessly hitting j or k to float down the page. I love looking at neat photos or even photoshopped photos, which are plentiful. I see some actual news value in Tumblr, but I guess not so many news organizations are embracing it. There are a few photo blogs/Tumblrs out there like the Oregonian, which we saw from Ali. It’s a cool way to display photos that might not make it to print, but I could see it driving people to websites by including links to corresponding stories and the website.
    I sometimes contribute to a few photo blogs on tumblr like Caturday because my cat is awesome.
    This leads into meme culture, and this huge world of internet cats. Memes connect people in a way that sort of lets everyone in on one big inside joke. I love memes – I love making them and looking at them. Heck, I even applied to I Can Haz Cheezburger, which would be awesome. I was surprised when I went to visit my boyfriends mom and she had lolcats plastered to her fridge and cabinets. She didn’t have a computer at this point, but when she went to work she would print off lolcats to take home. But why do people like personified cats? That’s just it, they’re personified. People like people, especially when cats act like people.

  12. Ali Young says:

    Here is my meme about the J school: http://qkme.me/3om40o

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