I want to get digital.

April 19, 2010 - Leave a Response

We started off writing with the humble rock and tablet, scratching our thoughts out. We had hieroglyphs, the Latin alphabet and Ogham. We figured out out to make paper from trees. We discovered lead, so we had pencils. We invented ink, we had quills. We had made plastic, so we had a pen.

Then we invented the computer. That’s when things really changed. Technology took off. Everyone had to have their own computer. Huge things they were, gigantic white boxes in the corner of your kitchen. Then they began to shrink. The personal computer became smaller and smaller. We went from the full blown package to being able to access the internet on our mobile phones. Isn’t it amazing?

Laptop computers were invented, probably one of the finest inventions ever. Then they began to shrink into those dainty little laptops that college students always seem to own. But don’t be fooled by their size, they still pack a punch technologically.

The newset computing gadget is the iPad, the love child of an iPod and a laptop. They look beautiful, sleek and sophisticated. With a 9inch screen, a built in speaker and 10 hours of battery life, it sounds like it could rival the humble laptop. But could it?

Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal said that it was pretty close to being a ‘laptop killer’. In his article, he goes through the pros and cons of the iPad, saying that if all you do is social-network, blog and use your laptop for music and photos, the iPad is perfect for you. However, like myself,  if you use your laptop for other things like for writing word documents, you’ll have a problem, as it doesn’t support it. Also there’s no USB port, a big problem.

Will it help or hinder journalism I wonder? From some of the reviews I have read, it won’t suit a journalist who likes to keep up to date technologically. As I said before, there’s no USB port, there’s no camera or video recording facility, there’s no word document application. How is a modern journalist going to make use of this magical new gadget? Well, they won’t probably until a new version comes out which sorts out all of those problems.

So journos out there, stick with your laptops for now, there will come a day when all of our technological prayers will be answered, but not any time soon.

Walt Mossberg article: http://ptech.allthingsd.com/20100331/apple-ipad-review/]

Image from: online.wsj.com


Profile of a MoJo.

April 17, 2010 - Leave a Response

The prospect of a MoJo is absolutely fascinating to me. A MoJo is a Mobile Journalist who incorporates writing, photography, editing and broadcasting into a normal working day. It’s admirable, but is it too much? Does it jeapordise the quality of the  journalism?

Take Kevin Sites for example, a famous MoJo who has reported everywhere from Asia to South America bringing a backpack of all kinds of digital equipment with him.

Starting off as a staff reporter for NBC, CNN and ABC news, he left in 2005 to be Yahoo’s first news correspondent. When he took on this new role, he became a backpack journalist, reporting all over the world with just the contents of his bag.

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone

In 2005, Sites set out to report from every major global conflict in one year ‘in an effort to understand the costs of a world perpetually at war’. According to his website his mission was “to cover every armed conflict in the world within one year, and in doing so to provide a clear idea of the combatants, victims, causes, and costs of each of these struggles – and their global impact.”

So what would Sites have had to lug around all of these war torn countries with him?

  • Traditional notebook and pen
  • Small digital camera with zoom lens
  • Mini digital sound recording  device, little larger than a pen
  • Broadcast quality, image-stabalised handheld video camcorder
  • Helmet mounted miniature ‘point of view’ video camera with recorder
  • Laptop with editing and writing software
  • Wireless modem for transmitting digital text, sound and video
  • Satellite phone that can transmit from anywhere
  • Camera equipped mobile phone

[The MoJo in the Third Millennium – Peter H. Martyn]

Carrying this amount of equipment ($10,000 worth to be exact) around with him is an achievement in itself, but what about the actual journalism?

Is removing yourself from one area of expertise potentially jeapordising the quality? Traditionally, journalists had one main focus, whether it be print, radio, or television. Nowadays there are several different areas that one journalist can focus on at the one time. Now that’s multi-tasking if I’ve ever seen it.

Would it lower the standard of the journalism? Would having to concentrate on so many different pieces of equipment distract you from the job at hand? At getting the story, at relaying the news back to those that want to read or hear it? In my opinion it would. How could it not?

Images from:



Opinion flow.

March 30, 2010 - Leave a Response

Interactivity is an important issue with regards to online journalism. How much interaction is too much interaction?

In the seminar reading for Week 7 : ‘Interactivity: an open sewer through your newspaper website’, Frits van Exter, the former editor of the Dutch newspaper ‘Trouw’ gives a speech on reader participation and its effects on journalism. The speech raised a number of valid issues regarding interactivity. For example, what problems could arise through audience interaction? By leaving yourself open to comments you are leaving yourself open to criticism, and I just don’t know if a journalist’s ego could deal with that.

Another point, do newspapers have to become interactive to survive? And if they do, what tools do they have to cope with the change? In my opinion, newspapers need the technological transition to keep up with television and radio because of immediacy. The public want to be involved, and if you don’t let them be involved in your news organisation, they will surely go somewhere else to vent their opinions. The tools that organisations have are registration [Make people register for your website] and moderation [Keep an eye on what is being said]. These tools are in place to allow organisations to monitor the comments and interaction being made.

Technological advances mean that the media has never been so interactive. It provides more of an opportunity for citizen journalism, for comment and for opinion. Journalists now find themselves having to answer to the public about their work, whether the comments are good or bad. While this is fair enough, everyone is entitled to their opinion, what happens when there is such a volume of communicators? How do we have time to accept everyones point? How would your comment stand out in the sea of opinion?

This video was made by the Creative Commons, it’s worth a look.

Article: http://mcs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/short/22/2/205 [The article can be accessed in the DCU library page by doing an online database search of Media, Culture & Society. Vol. 22 No. 2. 205 – 221.]

The beginning of the end?

March 27, 2010 - Leave a Response

There is a huge shift happening in terms of how journalism is practiced, it has become more interactive and there is alot of emphasis on online journalism. I haven’t quite decided whether I like the idea of it or not. I use the internet every day for a few hours, and during that time I like to access my news. As I mentioned in my previous post, I religiously check the Independent’s website and also RTE and Sky News. I wouldn’t pay for my news online. That it probably why I rarely check the Irish Times website, as it is partly done on subscription.

For people of my generation, the transition between journalism and the internet is a natural one as we have been rared on technology. The internet, mobile phones, mp3 players. I can’t really remember a time when one of those was not in my life. Although it is a natural progression, I don’t know if it is a good one. In the online journalism world, money is made through advertisement, not sales. What will happen to the humble newspaper? In a December 2009 article on the Guardians website, journalist Roy Greenslade tries to find why newspaper sales have declined.

ABC figures 2000-2009.

‘The editorial content is all wrong, with too many columnists, too much feature material, and not enough hard news. The editorial staffs are too small (and too sober). There is too much to read, which puts off readers. Print can’t compete with 24-hour news on television and radio. In the past decade, the overwhelming majority of journalists believe the internet is to blame, plus the growing availability of information through mobile phones. That, at least, makes sense.’
The main reason that I feel newspaper sales have declined [apart from the demon internet!] is because of the sheer amount of information and news out there. As Greenslade said ‘Print can’t compete with 24-hour news on television and radio.’ Radio and television are immediate resources, they can relay news in minutes, where newspapers can go out of date very quickly and easily. Although I love a newspaper, I love the feel and the smell of it,  I like to be able to physically hold it, but I cannot see how it can possibly compete with online journalism and with television and radio.
So is it the begininng of the end? Greenslade says ‘There is life in print – but it is ebbing away slowly without any hint of recovery.’ I hope this isn’t the case.


February 24, 2010 - Leave a Response

When I usually look at online news, I tend to look at the same 3 websites.

Sky News, RTE News and the Independent.

I like them. They’re easy to read, and easy to understand. All three offer a wide variety of news stories, from local and national, sport and showbiz to world news and ‘strange’ news. I’ve been visiting them for years now, and after checking my Facebook page and my e-mail account, they are my next port of call. I don’t know if it’s habit, but I enjoy their layouts, their writing and their appearence, and that’s what keeps me going back to them. They’re in my comfort zone.

I suppose the point of this blog is to get out of that zone. I’d like to look for news in different places, maybe some more foreign websites, or some smaller and lesser known about ones.

To begin, I’ve gone big. I’ve picked the New York Times.

My immediate concern is the layout. It’s very scattered and instantly confuses my eye. I don’t know where to look, let alone where to start! The different types of news are listed down the sides and when you click on one, for example ‘world’, it brings you to a new page. The stories are listed, and this page is easier to follow.

All in all, I’m not sure about the New York  Times website, it’s a little disorderly and not easy to follow like my usual news outlets.