What’s a blog to do?

James C. Foust’s textbook, Online Journalism, lists six ways blogs can join in journalistic discourse.

Blogs can provide commentary of other news coverage or events. They can filter and edit, guiding readers to certain news story. Blogs can also provide grassroots reporting, covering stories and news events firsthand. My blog serves all three of these functions.

Blogs can also fact-check information previously in the blog or in other media and provide annotative reporting to supplement another news story and open-source reporting and peer review.

I filter and edit every week, I believe, so I’m going to keep that up this week. Check out this article, by the AP, about the response NBC got when they asked viewers for good, upbeat stories.  This is an interesting article, and I think brings up a good point. Yes, we are in the middle of some very depressing, critical times in the world. But, those things don’t consume all of our thoughts, and they aren’t all we want to hear about. People can be positive, so why not the news?

I’m going to use one of the functions I haven’t yet used, also. Fact-checking. And I’m going to start with my own blog. I realized, after critiquing the NPR‘s blog “Picture Show,” that I was incorrect about how often they update the blog. It is not every day, or even every week day. Rather, it skips around and sometimes is updated every day for several days in a row, and sometimes isn’t updated for several days.

The textbook has an accompanying Web site with some great content.

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The Chron.com v. The LA Times

The Houston Chronicle and the LA Times are about to go head to head.

The Nieman Journalism Lab recently compiled a list of the Top 15  newspaper Web sites according to the number of unique monthly visitors. From the bottom five I chose the Chronicle, because I lived there for so long, and, because the Chronicle is a city paper, I chose the LA Times from the top five to compare it with.

The LA Times’ front page is much cleaner than the Chronicle’s. Chron.com looks very busy, cluttered and even a little intimidating. The Times utlitized more pictures on the front page and spaced out separate items. The Chronicle has a lot of little pictures on their home page, adding to the cluttered look, and bunches a lot of the links for their stories together. The Times was much more pleasing to look at.

Chronicle: 0, Times: 1

I really like that the Chronicle has all their links at the top of the page. If I know what I’m looking for, I can get there without scrolling. The Times put their links to different sections on the side, descending down the page. This isn’t a huge inconvenience (just a minor one), but it does take longer to get around this way. As far as ease of use goes, the Chronicle has a slight edge.

Chronicle: 1, Times: 1

Both the Times and the Chronicle told you in the link, before the jump to a story, whether there were pictures or a video to go along with it. That was nice. In addition, the Chronicle has an entire section on their home page dedicated to videos, photos and readers’ photos – one place where I can get it all. Terribly convenient. The Times had links on the side of the home page, one for video and one for photography. Also, very convenient.

I’m going to have to call this one a tie.

As far as quality of multimedia, both Web sites have good video and photos, but I wasn’t able to find soundslides or anything beyond very basic videos at either site. I think that the Times did, overall, have slightly better photography. So. The Times takes this one.

Chronicle: 1, Times: 2

So, overall, I feel the Times has a better Web site and makes better use of multimedia than the Chronicle. But just a little better.

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The Economy

One of the RSS feeds I subscribe to, Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights, posted some very timely photography last week. Timely, at least, for me in this class.  The post featured two galleries of photos focusing on the economy. Both come from the Sacramento Bee, and both focus on events that don’t seem, at least to me, as if they could produce many interesting photographs.

I was, however, surprised.

Searching for a job really emphasizes the enormity of the unemployment crisis. That line…I can’t imagine waiting in a line that long. And just imagine, unemployment is supposed to rise for another year.

I also really liked California’s budget woes. The pictures of the guys sleeping and carrying cots around were important to include. It showed the frustration and hopelessness of the situation. You know, there is no easy solution to this.  For anybody. I think both of these galleries did an awesome job of illustrating that.

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Soundslides, Take 1

I worked on gathering the audio and pictures for this Soundslides assignment, my first ever, with Abigail Thatcher. She was comfortable working with the recorder, I was confident working with the camera. It worked well.

3

We decided to try to find a student playing pool at the Syndicate. Our first interviewee was somewhat Spartan in his replies. But we kept talking to people and ended up getting a pretty good interview, and some great pictures.

Once we began putting our separate Soundslides together, I realized our audio was soft. Very soft. With the volume all the way up, I still had to pay close attention to understand everything. I also realized I need to work on my photo captions. I’ve never really had any practice writing captions before.

Despite the quiet audio and my inexperience with photo captions, I think my Soundslides turned out well. I really liked putting the assignment together; I’m already planning out more of these projects in my head.

At the Gates of History was exactly what I would want to see and hear from an inauguration story. Gathered from the back of the crowd, this Soundslides presentation really captured what it felt like for the majority of people who braved the cold to see President Obama sworn in.

Apparently, this journalist had a ticket to get in to the inauguration, but wasn’t able to get through the gates before they were shut. As unfortunate as that is, I think it helped him get a better story.

Though the beginning audio was a little confusing, I like how the journalist got tidbits from several people, but didn’t introduce anyone. Without knowing each person’s name, I felt as if I could have been any one of them. It became an experience I could have had, rather than that individual’s experience.

The journalist did a great job of matching his audio to the action in the photograph, his timing was perfect. This is most evident when Obama is giving his speech and the pictures show people listening on radios and cell phones. Absolutely perfect.

The only thing I think didn’t work here was the garbled audio in the beginning. The first time I listened to it I couldn’t understand any of it; it took a second and third listening to understand it.

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Picture Show

National Public Radio’s Picture Show is a simple photo blog. The daily pictures and slideshows in a clean, single column setup make the blog compelling. The entries can be over any topic – some introduce a photographer, while others cover street art or a new museum exhibition – but all include photographs. I like that the entries cover a wide range of topics, not necessarily serving one interest, but still have the pictures to serve as a single, common thread between otherwise unrelated entries.

I would like to incorporate photos and photo slideshows in my blog, I think it would greatly add interest. I especially would like to use the slideshows, rather than using a vertical succession of pictures as I’ve seen in other blogs.  The visuals really propel the reader’s eye down the page in the Picture Show, and the accompanying short written entries are all to-the-point and at least mildly interesting.  I think if I were to incorporate picture slideshows in my blog more people might want to read it than just the person who is grading it.

The Picture Show blog is updated daily, for the most part.

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Goals for Multimedia Storytelling

My primary goal for this semester is to master all of the new programs and equipment. I have never used any of the video or audio editing programs we will learn, nor do I have any experience with the recording equipment. I hope to learn them thoroughly by the end of this semester. I am confident that having the knowledge of these programs and devices will benefit me greatly once I get into the journalism field and even in my internship this summer. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities this semester will bring.

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