Discussion Post #10: What do you really need to know as a journalist?

At the beginning of the semester, we discussed a really simple topic – what are the skills that every journalist absolutely needs to have in this era?

Your answers were far ranging, and we talked about keeping them in mind over the course of the semester. Now, we’re circling back.

Now that you’ve completed a semester of Online Journalism, have those three things changed or are they the same? If they’ve changed, what are your new skills and why? If they haven’t, how come?

Discussion #9: No, Facebook tells YOU what you like

Facebook is notorious for changing the algorithm that ranks stories in user’s News Feeds on a regular basis, and on many occasions, they’ve done it without telling anybody.

The company is being more transparent about that process now, though, and in an interview with the company’s News Feed Manager on All Things D, Facebook opened up about EdgeRank like never before.

Read this article, then answer thisDo you think Facebook should have an algorithm at all? Do you think Facebook is actually listening to its users?

Weekly Discussion #6: One site, two site, red site, blue site

Much will be made over the rest of the semester about digital business models and, most notably, the concept of users paying for content. We all know that some sites have paywalls and others don’t, but all of us are chasing the almighty dollar for our digital news production efforts.

A relatively new trend among some major media outlets is to create two separate sites – one that highlights breaking news and instantaneous information and another that generally repurposes content from the daily newspaper word for word. The former is typically free for all, while the latter is behind a strict paywall.

Examples of this technique include the San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com vs. sfchronicle.com), the Boston Globe (boston.com vs. bostonglobe.com), and most recently, the Dallas Morning News (dallasnews.com).

What’s your preference? Would you rather frequent two different sites – one free and one pay – or have one unified site where some content is walled off and other content is free for everyone?

Weekly Discussion #5: Keeping the audience’s atten…hey look a dime!

Attention span is waning for many people when it comes to news and information consumption, and studies have shown that this attention span gets lower and lower as we study younger and younger consumers.

How, then, can we capture and keep those folks on our sites for longer?

According to a Pew study of different age groups and their news consumption habits, so-called “Millenials” spend far less time reading the news on any platform than any other demographic, and while the minutes-per-day has grown on average since 2004, it’s still much lower than any other age group studied.

You can check out the results of the study at Poynter.org.

Meanwhile, this week, give us an example of a story that you’ve seen recently that could have kept you on a site longer had its authors used some sort of multimedia element.

Weekly Discussion #4: That looks good!

As fair or unfair as it may be, first impressions matter, and when it comes to digital news, how your site looks and feels matters tremendously.

As we’ve discussed at length in class, your site can have the most amazing content in the world, but if it’s not designed well, laid our properly and easy to navigate, users will leave and never come back.

We’re going to discuss cogent web design and navigation on Monday night, but in the meantime, please give us examples of two sites you think are well designed and easy to navigate and two sites you think could do a better job.

Weekly Discussion #3: To publish or not to publish?

Lauren brought up a very interesting topic this afternoon regarding the reporting tactics of yesterday’s developments in the Navy Yard shooting investigation.

During their briefing yesterday, the FBI released chilling photos and video of Aaron Alexis, which nearly every news agency in America, let alone the Washington area, ran. Most showed the photos without a disclaimer that it could disturb viewers and readers.

The photo of Alexis with his shotgun was splashed on Facebook and was above the fold on the front page of the Washington Post, New York Post and New York Times.

The backlack was really strong in some cases with  many people offended at both the release of the photos and their subsequent publication. Some continued to run them. Others allayed their viewers by removing the photos and video.

What’s your position on this? In these kinds of cases, do we have a journalistic responsibility to run these images, or should we be more active in listening to those who oppose it?

Weekly Discussion #2: Talking platform agnostic content

Lots has been debated as multimedia journalism has evolved over whether content can truly be platform agnostic. The concept of this surrounds the idea that someone can get any piece of content on any topic in the exact way they want it – whether it be on television, radio, newspaper, online, social or mobile.

At what point, though, do things just do not fit? How could somebody present a visually-dynamic story during a radio broadcast? Or, in another instance, would anyone sitting at a train station with a mobile phone be likely to consume a 10,000-word longread?

Check out this piece from the Nieman Journalism Lab about Now This News, the New York-based startup that is taking steps to figure out just how to use different platforms to more effectively distribute news.

This week’s discussion topic: In recent memory, tell us about a piece of journalism that you not only were impressed by, but you were also pleased with the medium with which the story was delivered. On the flip side, tell us about a story you’ve seen that has had potential but was delivered in a way that wasn’t conducive to mass consumption.

Weekly Discussion #1: What do today’s journos need to know?

One of the major things that continues to be debated in professional and academic circles worldwide is exactly what set of skills journalists need to have in today’s media landscape.

Some say journalists should focus solely on storytelling. Some say that every modern journo needs to know how to code. Many are right in the middle.

This is a discussion we’ll keep alive throughout the semester, but from the outset, I’m curious about your stance. In the comments, list three skills you currently think every journalist needs to have today.

Keep those in mind. We’ll circle back to this very question later this semester.

Welcome to JOUR 352, Fall 2013!

Welcome to your class blog for the fall semester of JOUR 352 at the University of Maryland.

Expect this site to be the hub for all announcements, class discussions and pertinent information for our class.

Get excited for a great semester.

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