Well, it seems as though this is my final post for the blogging section of the class. I will admit that I have fallen behind slightly with my blog entries but it all comes down to priorities. There is a lot going on in my life right now and I just do not have time for blog posts. Which brings me to the main point regarding what I have deduced on blogs; they are great if you have the time. And not just time once a week. In order for blogs to serve their purpose, they need to be updated constantly. I do not think that I have have the “consistency” required to maintain a blog. However, I am also not a huge user of Facebook and Twitter. I am not against social media as I once might have been, nor am I a conspiracy theorist that believes that such sites are only avenues for governmental tracking (not entirely ludicrous, I will admit). No, the reason I do not, and more than likely will not, become famous through my blog prose is that i don’t have the time. Or if I do, I spend it on something other than blogging.
What I want to talk about today is the addiction that comes with data mining. A while back, Bloomberg reporter Michael Forsythe, co-writer of an excellent piece covering growing Chinese local government debt, spoke to our class and you could sense his passion for data mining. I thought that he was nuts; spending hours poring over miniscule data entries. Then I tried doing some mining of my own.
For another class, we were told to try out some data visualization software programs and our group chose Tableau. I will not get into the pros and cons of Tableau because this is about the process and not the end result. I looked into Major League Baseball teams in the US, as data was readily available online. Payroll, home attendance, population of metro area, GDP of metro area, total wins, cost per win, franchise worth, franchise revenue, and the list went on. I started out just finding payroll info and dividing it by how many wins the team had to find how much each win cost the team. However, the more I looked, the more data I found and was interested in.
To make a long story short, if the topic you are researching comes from you ad not your editor, it generally means that it is something that you are interested in. Once that is the case, I have learned that the search ca be highly addictive. And that it is better to be the New York Yankees than the Kansas City Royals or the Cleveland Indians.
Good photos. Like to see sports photos that are well taken.
However, I would have liked to have had something to read to go with the story. Did the Boston Red Sox come to China? Have they been recruiting at Tsinghua? What is happening in the pictures?
Kazakh youth playing the dombra
As I read the homework, a few pages on soundslides by Mindy McAdams, I found the material to be informative yet dry. I wondered how I was ever to write anything reflective on this topic.
Instead, I decided to look online for soundslides. However, I wanted to see if I could find any that involved China as their central topic. A quick search on Google and I came up with a list of export companies selling everything from weatherproof aluminum sliding (not siding) and sound deadening drawer slides (whatever that might be) mixed in to a couple of journalism workshops. I had already read one of those and didn’t feel like anymore.
I then saw a link that went to a forum post made by a part-time editor of a website which he in turn linked to. The website had published an eight-part series on the music of the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyz, two ethnic minority groups from the Xinjiang province in China’s far west.
Xinjiang as a province has long intrigued me and one day I hope to walk through the bazaars of Kashgar near the border of China and Kazakhstan.I also believe music is one a life’s greatest gifts and something that is enjoyed by all regardless of race, gender, or wealth.
The soundslide and the accompanying articles were informative and well narrated. The information was solid but the main star of the show was the music. Each 5 minute clip had music playing for the majority of the slide.
The impact of the soundslides were lessened somewhat by the sub-par quality of the photos at times. There were some good pictures, usually outside and involving scenery or the massive scope of the steppes. However, when it came time to photograph the musicians, the photos were often lacking.
This critique served me well as it allowed me to evaluate another journalist’s work and look for where I could improve it. It was just as we have been taught in class; you improve by experiencing, evaluating, and through practice.
I will be the first to admit that I thought the news medium of radio would not survive the leap into the digital age. If newspapers could not survive, then surely radio could not beat out television and print, not to mention the fast-paced world of internet news services.
In addition, I am not really a big follower of podcasts. I do not think that I have the patience for them. I want to choose the news that I want to browse through and, ultimately, what news I select.
It was not until we were assigned the task of listening to The Giant Pool of Money, a joint program produced by the radio show This American Life on WBEZ in Illinois and National Public Radio, that I truly appreciated what radio brings to the table.. It did an amazing job of simplifying the disaster that was the subprime mortgage crisis of the late-2000s. The topic was one that while highly important and pertinent to our daily lives, many members o the public, myself included at times, felt confused or in the dark about.
Terms that are within the lexicon of the finance world such as adjustable rate mortgages and mortgage-backed securities have the tendency to baffle members of the public who are left wondering why they, or someone they know, have been evicted and their house foreclosed. But these guys presented the story with simple vocabulary, a cohesive theme, vivid characters, and a presentation style that made the information digestible to the everyday man.
I am inclined to agree with Mark Briggs when he claims that audio is more intimate. I am not like Briggs in that I prefer to listen to sport rather than watch the game itself. I guess I am not imaginative enough and enjoy those detailed slow motion replays too much. However, I do enjoy listening to podcasts on sports websites such as ESPN on occasion and at home, on the sofa and a beverage in hand. It feels as though the hosts are often talking directly at you.
Another very salient point comes from Jonathan Kern, author of Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production. Kern states that shows need to be “written conversationally”. This is a great point and is exactly where the writers behind The Giant Pool of Money succeeded. They took a topic that is fraught with jargon and boring terminology and told a story. Stories hold peoples’ attention more than reports.
Is there anything more incriminating than a long pause? When Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach who allegedly molested underage boys under his tutelage, paused when answering the question "Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?" from interviewer Bob Costas, did that pause not do more to condemn hm in the public eye than any other tidbit of news? This came straight form the horses mouth, as Sandusky had nowhere to hide and his rambling replies were telling. Most men who were asked this question would surely answer with a simple “no” or a forceful “absolutely not”.
Audio and radio are not the same thing, although they share many principles. Audio reporting has become an important part of web-based journalism. Personally, I will always remain a true fan of print, but a good piece of audio journalism, in particular when combined with other mediums, can be truly compelling. It is time to get on board.
I always enjoy finding out up-to-date information about Chinese policy-making as many of the ministerial websites do not have up to date information in English.
Your posts contained two interesting motions but did not really feature enough about how you feel about each motion and why you feel that way.
I would like to have read more of your opinion.
I enjoyed your piece about online shopping and delivery services in China. I do not speak Chinese, let alone read it, and therefore find joining sites like Taobao impossible. I do, however, see the convenience and ubiquitous nature of online shopping.
Are delivery services seperate from Taobao/Alibaba? Will/Has the company that runs the online shopping shopping site suffer any damage to their reputation when repeated examples of late delivery or damaged goods are presented? How are these partnerships changing?
With regards to language, I found the article easy to read. There were a few grammar errors and mistakenly chosen words throughout but nothing that made the message difficult to understand or hard to follow.
"However, like the other online consumers, problems come along with convenience. When it is like taking forever for a newly bought backpack to arrive, I can do nothing but repeatedly checking logistic information which actually does no help. And also, when an expecting smiling face turns to disappointed frown, I have to accept that sometimes things do look much fancier when they’re shot, photoshopped, and posted online.”
The paragraph above could use a little improvement. When it is like taking forever could be simplified by using the transition “For example” and the second clause just sounds confusing.
Otherwise, very good.
A picture is worth a thousand words. How cliched.
Yet a greater truism I do not know. While imagery conjured up in the mind through metaphor and rhetoric may be vivid, could any writer capture the panic, the pain, or the horror of the time in the same way that Nick Ut’s photo of Kim Phuc did after a South Vietnamese napalm attack?
I grew up in small town New Zealand and spent summers on a lake learning to fish. However, inevitably there were days were the gray clouds would intrude on days of barbequed rainbow trout. These were days when it drizzled just enough to deter you from going out but not hard enough to make you feel like you had no choice. It was on these days that I would settle down in front of the book case and flip through the countless musty National Geographic magazines that my grandfather had collected.
I would have been far too young to really appreciate the insightful articles that grace the pages of the magazine which is still close to my heart. I was not too young, however, to grasp how powerful a simple photograph could be.
I always loved National Geographic’s features on wildlife and nature. The picture above shows one of the more majestic creatures ever to dwell in the wild. However, I see a photo like this and I am reminded of the plight of the polar bear and how these magnificent creatures may soon be without any natural habitat. They may soon encroach into human habitats out of necessity more than what is the norm and what repercussions that might have for the animal.
I am also reminded of how I have seen countless polar bears in zoos. I am inexplicably drawn to zoos in the hope that one day a zoo might do a good job and make me forget all the horrible zoos I have seen in the past. Polar bears often look the saddest of any zoo creature, in concrete enclosures devoid of ice but dirty water aplenty. Is this the future that is to come for the polar bear?
That was a simple picture of a polar bear in its natural surroundings. And yet a story formed in my mind in an instant. Any journalist should learn to if not love, then at least appreciate, the power of the picture. Save yourself a few thousand words.
I read this week’s selected readings with a desire to know more but at the same time an apprehension that all I love about writing and the age of journalism is dead.
With journalism online nowadays geared towards collecting "Google Juice" and creating online networks of links to each others pages, it seems as though journalism online could go down a lazy path of excessively linking to other content and a lack of originality. This harkens back to my prior post about the regurgitation of information online.
And lets face it; people are egotistical. Journalists want to know how many people are following them and want to build up those followers. Sure, you want to “spread the word” and “inform the masses”, but it is my opinion that some just want to be the cool kid in school and amass as many “friends”/followers as possible. This may involve linking to sub-par websites with lots of traffic in an attempt to curry favor and get traffic sent your way.
I love the romanticism of writing. When I think of Hemingway sitting in Cuba drinking mojitos or Hunter S. Thompson writing "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved", I almost get chills. But those days, while not dead as good writing will always have a place in this world, are going the way of the newspaper.
Online journalism is, like it or not, the future. It disturbs me that there is no longer room in headline writing for a veiled headline that catches interest while the meaning is not revealed until later. Or even simpler headlines, that while witty or insightful, are considered unsuccessful due to the fact that they do not contain enough so-called “key words”.
Have journalists become like robots writing for robots? Do site analytics and number of hits take precedence over varied writing with subtleties and nuances that don’t make the grade on the Web? I would like to think not. I will have to let you know once I have mastered this Internet contraption.
And as a special teat, here is one of the pre-eminent examples of Gonzo journalism from everyone’s favorite pseudonym, Dr. Raoul Duke.
As I read the homework regarding accuracy in reporting, I could only wonder to myself how much of the content posted online on blogs, Twitter, and other forms of new media is accurate. If the foremost tenet of reporting and journalism is accuracy, how accurate is what we read online?
A rumor is created somewhere on the blogosphere that Jeremy Lin, the undrafted basketball sensation of Asian heritage, Harvard alumnus, and current darling of the New York and American media, had gone on a date with Kim Kardashian, a media magnet and manipulator that the American public seems tired of and repulsed by yet inexplicably drawn to. This rumor is picked up by media outlets throughout the Web and posted. The beautifully salacious nature of the rumor, as well as the dubious degree of credibility, make the rumor spread like gossip in a high school hallway. Lin then goes public after seeing his dating status online as “In a Relationship”, stating that Kim Kardashian is not “his type”.
I realize that the example given is rather extreme and rife with hyperbole but the sentiment remains. Is there a world out there for a journalist trained in the art of the interview? Has the Internet become a virtual world where information is just recycled and regurgitated, or has it always been this way?
While I understand the world of journalism and its future are inescapably attached to the Internet, the pitfalls of having too many secondary sources online and not doing the legwork yourself remain obvious. Marvin Gaye tells us to believe half of what we read and none of what we hear. How much of what you read on the Internet do you believe?