The future of news  

News plays a much greater role in societal life than just a random post on your Facebook feed. Speaking about which, I aim to trace the future of news, keeping in mind the transformation of news. A newspaper cannot be replaced by e-news until you can use a tablet to swat a fly. Stanislaw Jerzy Lec said, “The window to the world can be covered by a newspaper.” Is the press dying in the digital age? I would say I disagree. Sure, maybe the costs are going higher and the profits are going down, but since when do we value news for its Profits and not its Purpose? Why do business magnates controlling the press run behind the wrong ‘P’? The number of people reading the newspapers in the UK has been decreasing at the rate of about 10% but at the same time the i experienced a gain of 11% readers.

Newspaper came and stayed. Then came the Internet wave and it stayed too! Then news took to social media and the upsurge continues. This tells us two things. Firstly, new formats of news have appeared and will continue to emerge but this does not mean that it outdates its predecessor. Newspapers, Internet and social media can co-exist and compliment each other. Secondly, news has catered to consumer needs by constantly changing its medium. However, what is the future after social media?

The answer is innovation. Innovation in press, internet and social media. The Independent has become the first national newspaper to go digital, but don’t foget that they also run the i which is a 40p newspapers! The Metro and Evening Standard operate free of costs. The Guardian operates on part-paid part-free basis on its digital front. Internet and social media have taken innovation to a whole new level. For example, Slow Journalism Magazine, attempts to explain and explore news after it has subsided from the mainstream and has escaped the concept of first and fast. Outlets like Vox.com are documenting news in a much more explained form. What’s interesting is that traditional news organisations are expanding their reach by using social media. For example, Sky news has its Snap Chat operation which has live blogs and feeds which are updated constantly through the day. Innovation also lies in the way newspapers are marketed, Metro went free and Independent has gone digital.

The above examples prove that news is transforming according to the needs of its consumers and innovation. Transformation of news is highly connected and dependent on media convergence. It is the interdependence among platforms where in lies the innovation in news. You will notice that it is not the death of press but the convergence of media which has just internally shifted numbers among its number of readers and its profits. It the purpose of the news that makes it novel; not its platform, not the format and not the economics of it. In all, through this module I have realised that components of media and its factors are interlinked and co-exist in the organisation. They are complimentary in nature and one cannot be explained without the help of the other, for example: media convergence and innovation, privacy and surveillance, copyrights and creativity, etc.

 

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New York Times

I must say that it took me a while to understand what the Creative Commons License is and to be honest; I still don’t quite get it. However, this week I want to write about New York Times which have devised a smart marketing strategy which operates under both creative commons and strict copyrights. So basically, I am a news junkie and have about 10 news apps on my phone. NY Times is easily my favourite but uh-oh I have to pay for it! So I resort to other sources such as Guardian, Sky, BBC, Politico, etc.

But did you know? You can access first 10 news articles every month, for free on you NYT app on mobile. After you’ve read these 10, you need to subscribe to NYT to read further. How smart is this? In terms of a copyright model, New York Times let’s us read any 10 articles for free under the Creative Common license after which it imposes strict copyright on what we read as we have to subscribe and pay for it. The limit of 10 articles is renewed every month, i.e. you get 10 free articles a month, which are 120 articles per year!

This is a great marketing strategy as these 10 articles lead to a lot more business for NYT. The reader is hooked to YT after they finish their free limit and want to read more. This helps NYT to increase their reach (as people read free stuff) and then, increase their business and protect their quality (as people want to continue reading and end up subscribing). The truth is this model works for New York Times because they are a huge brand and people trust it due to their quality. This is a great example of how a media organization exercises strict copyright while using the Creative Commons to compliment their model.

If you ask me, I just wait for the next month to read the next 10 articles but I know that if I weren’t broke, I would subscribe to NYT no matter what the charge. For now, 10-a-month is as happy as I can be!

 

I am Out There

This was by far the hardest topic to blog about and I am writing this an hour prior to the deadline. I must admit that I took too long to gather the courage to say what I am going to say. I have been reading all other posts under this category and I stand is complete opposite.

I am out there. My online visibility is very high. You can Google me, and you will find out quite a lot about who I am, what I do and my professional life. I have attended many events, spoken at conferences and featured in newspapers. This would be the first few things you see; professional visibility. I use Twitter and LinkedIn to make professional contacts and my profile contains details of my career. I have 3 WordPress blogs that has a good follower count.

However, I am also the social animal some people do not approve of. I have many friends on Facebook and I constantly post images and statuses. These garner a lot of online traffic. My Instagram account is public and my bio includes my Snapchat name. I am really annoying on Snapchat and constantly upload my story. Ironically, people who think that I over-share, are the ones that increase the views on my profile. I have a YouTube channel where make videos about my life and I am always in front of the camera!

With this I have clearly given you an impression that Yes, I am out there. Some people tend to judge me for my social media presence. But here’s the thing, I choose to be visible! I am not forced to do this and I am definitely not ashamed to do so. At the same time, I have accepted that sometimes there could be consequences to my online visibility.

What are the measures I take to keep safe? I ensure that I have complete control over my presence. I do not accept friend requests from anyone that I haven’t met or spoken to at least once. I customise my privacy levels in a way that I can choose who views what. I do not post pictures that could be used for any other purpose than what I intend to do. I keep away from social networks that involve interacting with strangers.

I feel online visibility has some perks too. As an aspiring journalist, it is in my job description to be social. In this digital era, I find it essential to be recognised. I want to be a broadcast journalist and my YouTube channel will help me do so! I want to be a good writer, and my blog will help people recognise me. I use social media to id my career goals and the level of online visibility makes a difference in my profession.

These days when journalists go for job interviews, employers check their Twitter followers. I want to make sure that I impress them when that happens!

Coursera

For this week, I would like to write about a community I have been a part of for a very long time- Coursera. Coursera is a venture backed, for-profit educational technology company that offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You might ask me why I consider Coursera as a online community, it is a platform for education providers to outsource universal access, often free, to world-class education. These education providers are top universities and organisations; whose facilities are either unaffordable or inaccessible due to proximity. People from different conutries can study or take a course sitting on their laptop. In the process, it forms a virtual classroom involving a teacher who communicates with students and the students who interact within each other. Theses courses often last a month or two and involves everyday classroom activities over the internet. Coursera uses multi-media including text, images, audio and visual mediums to interconnect its users.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 6.52.00 pmMost courses are free and can be taken by anyone and everyone. A certain portion are courses with minimal fees, depending upon the content or the university of the course and they provide official certification to successful candidates. A media student I have completed a few courses myself- Business strategy, marketing, pitching skills short-hand writing, medieval literature. My experience was marvellous and I made friends on my course that I still keep in touch with! All while on my desktop!

Coursera makes the millennial dream of universal education, a reality by providing universal access. It harnesses interaction among scholars, professors and commoners who share a common love for learning. Can you imagine the repercussions this business model can have in countries where people cannot afford educations? Perhaps a little village in Western Africa? The wonders Coursera could create had I been a state-backed initiative with the reach and resources.

At this moment, Coursera could be a much needed beginning to this change.

 

Tumblr: Endless conversations

Hi there! Today I am going to share with you something you already know about, but may not have thought about how this makes you a media producer too! This is Tumblr, a stream of endless conversations. What is Tumblr? Tumblr is part micro-blogging, part-social networking. Before social media, there were the big old chunky blogs and amidst this shift was the advent of Tumblr. It enables you to share media effortlessly be it a picture, gif, poetry or as creative as you can be. Tumblr is not Facebook, it is not WordPress either. It is where you share something quick and this sets off the cycle of re-blogs and notes and CONVERSATION!

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What makes Tumblr special, is that it is a thread. You make a post, and then there is a comment from someone half way around the world; and then there is a follow up to that comment, perhaps a defense. The end result is a a piece of media with text, images, gifs or videos that are mutually co-created by the virtual world and its audience. The popularity of Tumblr lies in the fact that it enables its audience to shape the media it consumes. I invite you to go through the images above and experience for yourself how the audience shapes and creates content on Tumblr.

As you might notice, a Tumblr post is a basic conversation, but among million of its followers. These are people to either share the content or contribute to it. When people contribute to it, Tumblr plays the role of micro-blogging and when they share it, it becomes a social networking site. Audience participation is a key concept in Tumblr since these notes or comments from people generate more stories and more content. This attracts other people to share their opinions, often to add context and humour. Hence, people start interacting among each other, sharing ideas and discussing common themes. This symbiotic relationship on internet fuses the audience and producer into one media junkie where the audience becomes the media producer. Tumblr operates on the concept of engaging more and more of its audience and integrating them into the larger community. It is very popular among teens and young adults, perhaps before they move on to Reddit!

-Rituja Rao

Storify: Voices worth sharing

Since the lecture on media convergence, the two words ring only one bell in my head- STORIFY! This week I am going to share with a wonder in media convergence, the most social event in history- Storify. Storify Inc. was launched in 2010, founded by Burt Herman and Xavier Damman. It is a powerful social media curation tool, used to aggregate and curate content from various social media outlets such as Facebooks, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram and Sound Cloud.

This platform gained major attention when almost all major news corporations started using Storify for coverage of ongoing news stories such as events, elections and major events. To give you an example, NBC used Storify to cover London Olympics, CBC used it for 2011 London Riots, and TRT World used it for UK general Elections 2015. Al Jazeera even has a show called ‘The Stream’ that gathers perspectives on news using Storify!

‘Don’t get lost in the noise. Discover the voices worth sharing’, is the official slogan of the company. And its objectives resonate this motto. Journalists use Storify to follow up on news stories and put together content that matters. They collect content from social networks, images, other news organisations, news wires, etc. And all of this curated content is credibly sourced!

To give you a simple example, here is my story on Storify. I have used my own text, some news stories- CNN, Guardian, Independent, still images, past interviews to give my story a background, live updates on build ups and gifs for an interactive element. I later shared my Storify post on my Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.

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This is a classic example of media convergence since it puts together different forms of media from different outlets. Finally binding it into one well researched story while being credibly sourced. Storify helps us research the wide web to pick important bits of media from a cluster of options. It has real world applications for journalists, PR managers and media stuents like you and I. I would describe Storify as a ‘One-Stop-Destination’ for everything the internet has to offer. I invite you to converge with the media wave by exploring Storify!

-Rituja Rao

The Journalist’s Toolbox

To begin with, I must admit it was difficult finding a useful online resource because in this day and age we use infinite online sources without realising how easy they make our lives and how useful they are. I am a BA Journalism student hence, I spend a lot of my time reading and discovering data online. In journalism, we use two techniques to gather information to create a story, especially in online journalism; these are Aggregation and Curation. Aggregation refers to gathering data from other sources and curation is linking it as one for your audience. These techniques are used to support the story.

Journalist’s Toolbox is a special archive of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) that has many listicles providing a gateway to other websites and services under that category. It has categories ranging from broadcast journalism, crime, lifestyle, federal government, etc. Can you imagine clicking on a category and it leads you to lists of other sources that you most probably wouldn’t know of?

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To give you an example- you are a student on DMC or Radio or Journalism. You need to make sure your work is in line with media law and ethics. You simply go on Journalist’s Toolbox, click on Ethic category on the right and it leads you to a list with links to:

Need another example? Hypothetically, you need to produce an analytical essay on the outburst of Global Journalism. Here is how Journalist’s Toolbox will help! The list goes on…

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Journalist’s Toolbox is a one stop destination to the world of journalistic research. Most importantly, it is a credible source because it is an initiative of the SPJ who themselves have contributed to improving and protecting Journalism since 1909. In spite of Journalist’s Toolbox being aimed at American audience, it often has a general outlook. They have a huge archive that they systematically maintain according to months and post a monthly update with current affairs.

As a media student, this resource can come in handy while writing essays, reporting, making radio or TV features or simply as research for your work. I highly encourage you to explore this site for yourself and I hope it helps you just as much as it helps me in my journalistic advent.

Rituja Rao