Monday, December 01, 2008 0 comments

"The Wire:" Exploring the Newsroom

In this season of "The Wire," there are a number of specific issues the show focuses on in concern to the newsroom and journalism across the board. There is a strong focus on the corporate ownership of newspapers well as recent trends in print journalism.

One aspect that stood out to me is the shows portrayal of newspapers in society and how the Internet relates to its success, or failure. In the show, one of the characters involved with The Baltimore Sun, envisioned a paper that did not have a focus on the Internet and did not want to see newspapers fade out and Internet sources fade in. The show explained that even the corporate owners of the Sun agreed with this vision for a long time and had a means to keep the paper the way it was, without the assistance from a Web site.

This however, could not last, which brings the show to illustrate what is changing about news and the newsroom. The paper was forced to make significant job cuts because the paper was receiving a significant less amount of readership. More people, especially younger readers were choosing not the read the print newspaper due to the Internet being available to them.

This focus on the show actually brings about a number of topics including job cuts, corporate ownership and the era of print journalism fading away. I think the show portrayed an accurate message of what is going on in the newsroom today.

This issue, in a way scares me because I fear that going into the journalism industry; it may be tough to keep a job. Print journalism is, I believe, dying out and only the journalists with great multimedia skills are left. Even so, this only makes me aware that, while in school, it is my duty to become as prepared as I possibly can be by learning so many new aspects of reporting that have become very popular in today's society.

"The Wire: Season 5" has done a great job at illustrating what is going on in the world of news and sort of helps open the eyes up to aspiring journalists, letting them know what they are getting in to. The characters in the episodes say that this trend was coming along and for the most part did not want to see it be present. THey, as well as the corporate owners saw a desire to have the paper maintain it's print aspects but society would not allow this to continue without there being significant changes.
Sunday, November 30, 2008 66 comments

Pillars of Journalism: Objectivity, Accuracy, Plagiarism

There are so many important factors that are essential to proper journalism. Any reputable journalist must maintain several characteristics within their reporting at all times. It was difficult to choose only three important rules for journalistic writing because all of the rules I find very important. Below is a list of journalism rules that every journalist must not avoid.

Objectivity -
Journalists must maintain an objective standpoint whenever covering a news event or writing about a particular story. When a journalist looses their objective traits, the reader is then reading solely opinion instead of hard news.
Example: "Sen. Barack Obama will soon take office and will do a wonderful job as the nation's new president."
----This example clearly shows an objective viewpoint toward this topic and does not reflect journalistic qualities. The reader does not want to know how the reporter feels about the subject but instead wants the information as it stands. That is why objectivity is one of the most important traits to a journalists.

I cannot stress enough the importance of accuracy for a journalist. A reporter that does not report accurate information looses all credibility for their stories. Being able to report accurate information is one of the most important elements to a story.
Example: "A robbery occurred on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Bank of America, causing the bank's entire savings to be stolen."
If the Bank of America was not the bank that was robbed and if 5:30 p.m. was not the right time of the robbery, this statement will spawn all sorts of problems among society and those that may be involved with this situation. These are extremely important facts to write correctly. That is why accuracy is very important because being accurate is one of the first steps to producing a newsworthy story.

There are many rules and limits that hinder journalists each day. Plagiarism is one of these rules that journalists are forbidden to do. Plagiarism is taking other written works, someone else's information or another person's quotations and using it in a reporters own story. This is highly forbidden and could result in a loss of job.

This is one of the most important aspects to a journalist because it could result in very extreme penalties.

To learn more about journlism ethical issues read SPJ Code of Ethics
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 0 comments

Towson's Go Green Efforts: Story Breakdown

This week at Towson University, I plan on covering the newly adapted use of hybrid vehicles and expand the shuttle service for TU faculty employees and students. This is yet another initiative Towson has taken to "go green" and conserve the environment.  The school is already highly involved in the assisting of food waste and recyclables for student, they now are looking into their own carbon footprint. They have decided to drive and use hybrid faculty vehicles on campus. The extended shuttle service will also provide a more efficient means of commuter students arriving on campus. 

This should be an interesting event. I plan on interviewing a number of faculty members that are some of the decision makers and spokespersons for these projects such as Steve Showers, associate vice president of facilities management, Darcy Accardi, assistant vice president for civic engagement and others, as well as some students. 

I will research the programs that are dealing with these ideas to increase Towson's "go green" initiative and base a lot of my research on the primary interviews. 

I will most likely ask questions like:
-when did these ideas first come about?
-What is the overall goal in doing such things?
-How will this help Towson/Environment?
-What significant changes are there?
-How many cars are now hybrids on campus?
-What expansions have been made to the shuttle routes?
-What feedback has been received from students?

For a photo, I will shoot a number of car and shuttle pictures and maybe even some students walking to illustrate their use of alternative means from driving. 

For audio, I plan on getting clips of a shuttle bus speeding up or slowing down or even people loading or unloading from the bus. I may also use some of the audio interview I conduct. 

 To see Towson's Go Green initiatives click here
Sunday, November 09, 2008 0 comments

Web sites use multimedia/audio techniques to spark attention

Many Web sites take on creative multimedia strategies to increase the viewership of their content and make a much more pleasent experience while visiting the site.  

In this time in society, the avergage audience is no longer content simply reading words on a screen but are looking for anything interactive that they can hear, watch and click on. This makes them feel as if they are a part of the story or involved in the Web site. 
Many great examples of these sites float across the World Wide Web as they recieve a tremendous amount of traffic. One that I found is dedicated to a specific plane crash that occured, commonly known as Flight 401. 

It is an amzing story of tragedy and survival and the Web site has decided to preservec the story and give an accurate depiction of the event to the viewer. 

Screenshot of Web site:

The site offers a number of videos that tell the story from different perspectives, has a streaming song to play that was composed after the event took place, and even a simulation to watch with sounds to see and experience the crash first hand.

One thing that I would've certainly tried to add to the site as far as audio enhancements would be to have streaming clips of short interviews with different survivors. I would even maybe include the clips with short photo slideshows of each of them.

Other than that, this is an overall very well formed Web site.

Sunday, November 09, 2008 0 comments

"The Amazing Race: Towson"

By Towson University journalism student Daniel Gross


On Friday night, instead of staying in or having a night out around town, about 56 students chose to race around Towson’s campus in an effort to win $500, $200 or $100 to a store of their choice. Sixteen teams gathered in Paws in the University Union to begin the Campus Activities Board's Friday Night Live event, "The Amazing Race: Towson."

Among these 16 teams, two freshman and two sophomore resident students decided to form a team earlier that day to compete for a chance to win a cash prize. Some of the teammates had little knowledge of "The Amazing Race," the television show, but felt that they had a fair chance of winning.

“We have a good team and everybody has their own individual skills,” sophomore English major Jasmine Pitts said. “We have a good shot at winning.”

While waiting in Paws, the team received their first clue and began to brainstorm ideas.

“The clue says, ‘go to the residence hall that rhymes with the word hen.’ Now at first we thought the Den but we realized that’s not a residence hall, it’s an eatery,” freshman and education major Jim Grandfield said. “Then we thought Prettyman because it’s technically a residence hall but it’s “m-a-n,' not 'm-e-n.' The only one that rhymes with 'hen' is the Glen, those are the Glen Towers, the Complex."

The determined group got off to a slow start at the Glen Towers, the race’s first stop. Teams had the task of arranging ten residence halls listed in order from earliest built to newest built. The team’s first attempt at this was not a great advancement, having only one residence hall correct.

 After completing their first stop, the team continued to go to each station around campus, jogging to some, walking to others. Residence Tower, 7800 York Road, the beach volleyball court at Burdick Hall, Towsontown Garage and Towson Center were all designated locations the clues told the students to locate.

“I didn’t realize that it would be this much physical activity. I haven’t worked out in a while,” Grandfield said.

At each location, CAB staff members were present to distribute the next clue for each team.University Residence Government members were also present as the event's cosponsors.

“It’s really exciting watching how frustrated everybody is and excited and running up and down the stairs,” URG president Alex Newman said who was stationed at the Towsontown Garage activity. “Then when they finally get [the answer] they bolt off in a direction when they haven’t even read the clue yet and don’t know where they’re going.”

While racing around campus, freshman electronic media and film major Latia Blake constantly gave words of encouragement to her fellow teammates. “Brian, this is your idea, you better put a pep in that step,” she said to her teammate, sophomore Brian Wright.

The group of four was able to complete each task, find each location and make it to the finish line in Paws, but not before about six or seven of the 16 teams had already finished.

“It was definitely hard. I wasn’t expecting this much running but you know, I met some new people, new friends, had fun,” Grandfield said. “It was a good way to spend a Friday night and I’m just going to sleep in tomorrow.”

Two groups ended up tying for first place, getting $400 for each team. A group of five Student Government Association members were one of those teams.

“Overall it was a lot of fun. It really showed the meaning of teamwork and I think we can take whatever we learned today about teamwork into the real world,” SGA senator Ryan Lodge said.

The other first place team was also pleased with their success.

“We saw that there was $500 up for grabs and we were just like, ‘oh that’s ours,’ and it was,”junior and theatre production major Jeremy Garnes said. “I thought it was rough because we had to run all the way around campus but you know, we worked cooperatively as a group.”

CAB and URG staff worked hand in hand with making preparations for the event. From the feedback that staff members were given, students enjoyed certain activities like the piggy-back ride challenge at 7800 York Road.

“I’m glad that everybody came back with smiling faces,” URG director of special projects Chelsea Harris said. “Everybody was heated about who was going to win what and that just shows how passionate they were about winning the race.”

According to Ryan Grasso, the CAB programming chair, many students mentioned that they would like to see this program again next semester. “Everybody was out of breath when they came to the finish,” he said.

Monday, November 03, 2008 1 comments

Fall Season On-Campus Photos

Outside of Stephens Hall at Towson University, sunlight shines on a statue of the school's mascot, the Tiger during a fall day in November.

Blake Savadow 
Mass Communications 

Students study and walk to class outside of 
the Cook Library during a cool, fall day on 
Monday, Nov. 3. 

Ways to Improve:

There is always room for improvement. I have noticed a number of things I could to enhance the quality of my photos and photo taking ability. For one, I need to keep an eye out for an interesting shot, meaning the angle, lighting or subject matter of the photo. It is also important to use the rule of thirds so the viewer is more attracted to the photo. My main concern is understanding which settings I should have my camera set to when shooting under certain conditions. This takes repeated practice. I need to continue to take photos in different situations that call for a different combination of shutter speeds and aperture settings.

Sunday, November 02, 2008 1 comments

Amazing Race Event to be held at Towson

On Friday, Nov. 7, an event hosted by Towson's campus activities board and university residence government will be held to simulate the CBS television reality series, The Amazing Race. I plan on attending the event and covering it for a story assignment. I will publish this article on my personal website to illustrate my multimedia skills of journalistic reporting. 

This event will host TU students in groups of three to five people, all competing in a race on campus. 

To ensure accurate information and coverage, I will touch base with the event contact, Ryan Grasso to make him aware of my attendance. I will speak to him, other CAB and URG representatives and interview a number of participating students. 

I will make sure that I obtain all of the necessary facts from the event such as the start and end times, how many attended, what were the reasons for hosting the event, if this has been done in the past and what the students had to do if competing. 

Potential Questions:

-How was the event?
-How many people attended?
-What happened at the event? What was the idea?
-Who came up with the idea?
-What was the motive behind creating such an event?
-How do you feel the event was enjoyed?
-Will this become an annual? Semi-annual event?
-Were there prizes given away?


-How did you enjoy the event?
-Why did you decide to attend?
-Do you watch The Amazing Race on CBS?
-Did you find the race challenging, enjoyable, etc.?

Photo Possibilities:

Seeing that it is a night event, photos will be a challenge.  My Canon XTi Digital SLR uses a standard lens with 3.5 as its lowest F stop. Therefore, I may be forced to use flash, which will compromise some photo quality but still may produce some good shots. Things to look for:

-Students running during race
-Starting line of student teams
-Finish line with first team crossing
-Main event table with prizes, staff, snacks, with students enjoying, etc.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 1 comments

Best stories are built with "Inverted Pyramid"

Photo illustration by Daniel Gross

This article was found from The Baltimore Sun's Web Site. (

Man shot, wounded by city police during drug stop
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 1 comments

Planning for a Story - Event Coverage

Photos courtesy of

For my news event coverage, I plan on attending the next SGA meeting at Towson University to listen to what issues are currently happening throughout the school. I think this will be a great, newsworthy event to cover, especially seeing the many different things that have happened on and off campus recently. I predict that the SGA and their student guests may have quite a few things to say in regards to a recent fight that had broken out in the union, the new school budget for the next fiscal year and the appointment of new freshman senators into the SGA. After attending the meeting, I will obviously have to hone my story topics down, to understand what is truly newsworthy and what specific aspect should be covered.

What advance information is available about this speech or event?
The advanced information that I have is what I know are major topics in the student community right now. I am aware that the SGA covers new and appropriate topics at their meetings. There is also advanced information from any of the members on the executive board that I will speak to prior to the meeting so that they will be able to prepare me of what I might look for.

Who will be your main sources?

My main sources will certainly be any of the members on the executive board of the SGA, most likely SGA president Kristen Guy or vice president James Torrence. The newly appointed, freshman senators will also be points of contact because they will have prevalence at the meeting. David Satterlle, director of new student programs, will also be a good source for this story, since he will be tackling the issue concerning the fight that broke out.

What questions will you ask?

When the meeting is over, I might ask the exec. board what they thought of the meeting, ask them what they thought of certain student reactions and how they plan on helping in hte situation. For the freshman senators, I may ask them what they think of the SGA, why did they want to join and what they hope to accomplish this year.

What additional details will you look for?

In addition, I will also look for certain reactions for others in the audience or in the SGA. I will look for other issues to develop or come out of the freshman senators being elected or other issues concerning the major fight on campus.
Sunday, September 21, 2008 1 comments

Twittering Gives Practice for Journalism

Photo taken from
After reviewing a number of Twitter profiles and reading sample headlines of recent stories published in The Towerlight (, I was able to see many good examples of headlines and story briefs. Below are a few examples I found when perusing a few Twitter profiles.

"By Decemer, about 2,800 new recylcing containers will be placed throughout Towson campus in order to promote the RecycAll program," Towson student Katelyn Mattingly wrote in reference to a recent article in The Towerlight.
  • For one, this tweet interested me because I wrote this story for this issue and I found the RecycAll topic interesting when doing the research for the story.
  • Two, I thought that this post gave a great insight to the story by covering most of the 5W's to prepare the reader for what they are about to dive into.
  • The wording is also using an active voice, which makes for an exciting appeal to the story
  • Also, as a future tip, I would say that it would've been best to start with something other than the "When" W, as the when side of the story is not as important as the what.
  • I also think it gets a bit wordy when using words like "in order to." This would be great wording for maybe further down the story but for a lead into type sentance, I would have been a little more to-the-point.
  • Very good post though, i enjoyed this piece.
Click here to view Katelyn Mattingly's Twitter page

"Sean Schaefer throws four interceptions to help Richmond come back after last year's dramatic last-minute loss to the Tigers," Towson student Carrie Wood wrote in reference to a recent story published in The Towerlight.
  • I thought this was a great exampl of an active, concise headline. It is written i a way that draws the readers attention. It is organized in a way that puts out the most important information first. It is very clear at what the story will be about when reading.
  • In this headline, she includes all of the major W's for this story without rambling on or making the headline too extensive.
  • I especailly enjoyed how she tied in this event to previous occurances with the same teams. That certainly makes for a more interesting story.
Click here to view Carrie Wood's Twitter page.

"Quaterback Sean Schafer struggled, with four interceptions and one touchdown, to lead the Tigers to a loss," Towson student Amber Kowens wrote in reference to a recent story found in The Towerlight.

  • I thought this was another great exapmle of a story headline. It is very cler and to the point, addressing the main thoughts of the story.
  • It does not neccessarily cover all of teh 5 W's like the "when," but overall it is a headline that will pull the reader in to the story.
  • I mostly like the simplicity of the headline because I think it would generally attract more readers. It is much easier to understand than some others.
Click here to view Amber's Twitter page.

Photo taken from

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 1 comments

Original Journalism at its Finest

By Nick Madigan and Arin Gencer

Baltimore Sun Photo taken by Patrick Smith

Article Brief:

In what officials say is the largest environmental penalty ever levied by the state, ExxonMobil Corp. has agreed to pay $4 million to the Maryland Department of the Environment for a 26,000-gallon gasoline spill at a Baltimore County service station almost three years ago.

Under the agreement announced yesterday, the oil giant could face an additional annual penalty of $1 million if it does not stick to a cleanup schedule that could last several more years in Jacksonville.

The settlement stemmed from a $12 million lawsuit filed against ExxonMobil by Maryland's attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler. He said in a statement yesterday that the agreement was a significant victory for the environment and residents of the area "who have had to live with this contamination for too long."

The settlement was more than twice as large as a $1.9 million civil penalty levied against the Potomac Electric Power Company for a leak in April 2000 that sent about 111,000 gallons of oil into the Patuxent River from an underground pipeline at the Chalk Point Generating Station, the state's largest power plant.

Article Summary:

This article is a great example of an original reporting story that shows many signs that this is a fully functioning journalistic story.  There are definate clues that usually tell the reader if the story is something that an actual journalist researched, interviewed and wrote from scratch.  Below is a list of clues that helped me come to my conclusion:

  • Article shows a byline, emphasising the fact that it was written by the person and that they should take full credit of their work.
  • The article has a good length to show that it was not taken from a short press release or police report.  This story is almost a full two webpages in length.
  • There are many quotes throughout the story to illustrate that the reporter was able to seek others out and capture a number of voices to boost their story.  This makes their story more credible as well.
  • There are multiple chunks of facts about Exxon and the surrounding area the story is dealing with, to show prior research when writing the story.  
These are all ways in which one can see that there is no press release here; this is full blown journalistic writing at its finest.  
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 0 comments

Press Release Offers Alternative to In-Depth Story

2 teens sought in armed robbery of Towson High's Store
By a reporter

Baltimore County police have obtained warrants for the arrest of two teens sought in the robbery of a High's store in the 8400 block of Oakleigh Road in Towson on Aug. 26.

The youths are identified as Mark Anthony Demory Jr., 18, of the 1700 block of Weston Ave., and Jamal Dewon Harper, 16, of the 1700 block of Willow Oak Ave.

Mark Demory Jr. is described as a black male, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing approximately 155 pounds. Harper is described as a black male, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing approximately 140 pounds. Both have been frequenting the Towson and Parkvilleareas of Baltimore County.

Detectives say that on Aug. 26 at 9:25 p.m., two suspects entered the store and forced the clerk to open the cash register. One of the two suspects was armed with a handgun. The suspects grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash from the register and ran out of the store.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Baltimore County police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP (1-866-756-2587). Those calling Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

_   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   


By: Daniel Gross

From what I can see, this article shows good signs that the story came almost straight from a police report, or press release.

For one, no one is being quoted in this story.  This shows that interviews were not conducted to get different viewpoints, facts or ideas.

The story also simply states the basic information of what occured on this day.  It chooses not to dig deeper to uncover any linkages or other things to make the story more appealing and newsworthy. 

One last sign that shows this was mainly all from a press release or police report is that for a byline, it states, "a Baltimore Sun reporter."  The story writer chooses not to include a personal byline because the story is merely a recreation of a police report.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 0 comments

Leads and Short Reports from Recent Baltimore Sun Articles

Photo Taken from Google Images
Article Title (9/14/08): Code Red Heat Alert Issued for Today

Short Report:
With high humidity and temperatures forecast in the mid-90s today, the city has issued a Code Red heat alert and plans to open emergency cooling centers. Six centers, operated by the city Housing Department, will open at 10:30 a.m. They include: Northern Community Action Center, 5225 York Road; Southern Community Action Center, 606 Cherry Hill Road (inside the shopping center on the second floor); Northwest Community Action Center, 3314 Ayrdale Ave.; Western Community Action Center, 1133 Pennsylvania Ave.; Southeastern Community Action Center, 3411 Bank St.; and Eastern Community Action Center, 1400 E. Federal St. Residents can also go to Recreation and Parks centers throughout the city for relief from the heat, officials said. The Baltimore City Health Department recommends that residents check on older, sick, or frail people in the community who may need help.
Story taken from The Baltimore Sun (

Story Lead:
BEIJING - China's health minister blamed a dairy yesterday for the delay in warning the public about tainted milk powder linked to kidney stones in infants and at least one death, as authorities increased the number of known sick babies to 432.

What is a Lead??? What is a short report???

Illustration and explanation by: Daniel Gross

  • A lead or lede in journalism is generally the beginning sentences to a news story. This is where the journalist attempts to write the most newsworthy portion of the story, usually including a number of the five W's (who, what, where, where and why.) The lead to a story is found at the very top of the story and is read before anything else.
Now, what you'll find is that in many stories, the writer does not always fit each of the five W's into the lead but saves some of them for later down the story. This is where the most prevalent information and story relevant sentences are found.

In my example, The Associated Press explains a situation in China where the health minister has blamed a dairy for not making proper warning to the public about certain milk causing kidney stones. The lead gives the reader a general idea of what the story will entail and what it is concerning. This lead chooses to cover the who, what, where and when of the story but does not explain the why until later. Still, it gives enough information to segway into further details.

  • A short report can mean a number of specific things relating to a news story. Much of this is depending upon the source of media you are reading the news story from as well as the level of interest the story has. The short report is usually only a few sentences. It usually gives some interesting lines that will draw the reader in to let them know the basis of what has happened. It doesn't necessarily give a full outline of the story but it gives out something interesting to make the story appealing.
These shorts can also be used to get small pieces of information out before having the actual full story completed. This could be the case for some breaking news or news alert where there is something happening but the story is still being developed. The shorts can also be used for stories that don't necessarily deem full coverage. In the example, The Sun posted a weather alert to explain the heat advisory. There was no interviewing or investigating involved with this story. It was simply posted to alert the public and provide useful general information.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 0 comments

The Baltimore Sun - Top Headlines

Photo Taken from Baltimore

6 shot, 1 dies in attack in city
Article By: Richard Irwin and Brent Jones

To see the full article for this story click here.

This story was seen on the front page of the  The main reason that this story was brought to the front and why it is seen as a very newsworthy story is due to the numerous amount of "news values" the story covers.  First and foremost, the story has a high level of impact.  For readers to see, "6 shot, 1 dies in attack in city," that instantly gives the story a high impact because readers are curious and at times fearing what the story contains.  Readers are effected because they are left wondering if there city is safe, if someone they know was involved and other questions similar to these.  

Second, the story also has timeliness.  This occurrence happened just last night and it has already been posted with a photo on the web.  Therefore, the story is very current and up-to-date for the reader to view, making it very newsworthy.  

The story also has proximity to the paper's circulation.  This happened in Baltimore City and since the readership is in Baltimore, the proximity of the story plays a major role as to why it is newsworthy.  

Story By: Edward Gunts

To see the full article click here.

In this story, the article is explaining a complete makeover of a popular and heavily used road in Baltimore City.  

This story also has a high impact because many citizens are impacted by it.  Many readers will want to know about the new shops then will be passing by on the way to work in the near future.  This in turn, gives the story credit and it becomes newsworthy.  

The story also has timeliness because as it said in the story, the mayor of the city will unveil the final plans of the project some time today.  

Story by: Richard Irwin

To see the full article click here

This story also makes the headlines for a number of reasons.  It contains many of the news values one might look for in a story.

For one, it has a sense of unusualness.  It is very out of the ordinary that you would find someone dying from a gunshot that happened 13 years ago.  Many people would find that interesting and unusual.  

The story also has a great sense of conflict due to the fact that officials have ruled this case as a homicide.  Many people would find this issue controversial and would want to know why it was ruled in this way.  

And as in most cases, this story has timeliness and although he was shot 13 years ago, police just revealed yesterday that the case was ruled as a homicide.

All of these news values contribute to stories to give them meaningful purposes and credibility for being cover stories.  

News Values:

-How the story impacts the reader.
- Stories that are containing high interest names.
-Anything occurring in a story that is out of the ordinary
-A story that is tied with past stories that have been written regarding similar instances.
-Anything that is dealing with crime or punishment or sickness that raises a level of fear or excitement.
-A story that is prevalent in time and current.
-An occurrence that happened or is happening within the area of the readership.

-Daniel Gross
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 1 comments

Critical Reading for Today's Journalist

A look at a convergent media-based textbook with discussion question responses

By: Daniel Gross

All the News: Writing and Reporting for Convergent Media by Thom Lieb, is a book that no journalist in today's world, should go without reading.  I found this evident after reading the first two chapters of this book.  Lieb does a phenomenal job at explaining how the industry has taken a major shift in its presentation of news in media.  

Chapter one in this book explains a number of introductory factors in the field of journalism including steps to find the news, conduct research, write advanced news stories, and incorporate diverse voices in the news.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Where do you turn for news? Do you use different sources for different types of information? Why do you use the sources you do? Do you use multiple outlets of the same type (Web Sites, Magazines, TV networks)?
  • If I am looking for some news information and am seeking to be educated about domestic or world events, I turn to both Fox News Live and CNN first on TV.  I also make sure to go to MSNBC before finishing my time toward TV.  I then go online and depending on the event, whether it be national, local or international, I look through Yahoo News, Fox, The New York Times online ( and because I enjoy the layout of their Web Site.  
  • I mostly use these same news sources for all news events whether it be crime, health, life or business.  However, I mostly turn to Fox News Live for political news.
  • I use the sources I do because I think for the most part they are fair and equally representing of many issues.  I choose the most credible and trusted sources so I can have accurate information and I look for the highest rated news networks or sources because those are usually the ones that keep a level of interest during their broadcasts or stories.
2. When an important story occurs, how often do you check for updates on it? Does this depend on the media that are available to you?

  • When an important story occurs such as a terrorist attack, a major storm comes through a major city, etc. I generally keep my eyes on some sort of news source every ten minutes.  I will check and hope for updates about every ten minutes on a particular high interest story.  
  • If I am watching TV, the updates will come fairly quick, sometimes small updates at a time, and when on the Internet, stories also appear relatively quick and usually will say something like "news alert," so the audience knows they are updating a story.  
  • This does depend on the media that is available to me.  Sometimes I may be in a vehicle and hear about a story from a friend or relative.  In that case, all I can do is listen to the radio. 
3. Do you use blogs? If so, for entertainment, news or opinion? Have you ever created or contributed to a blog?

  • I do and have used blogs a number of times for a number of different things.  At this point, I mainly only use blogs for opinion articles or to learn about someone else if they have similar interests.  I generally do not go to blogs for news because I feel it is not as credible as the trained and paid professionals that do news reporting day in and day out.  
  • I have created and also very frequently contribute to blogs as well.  I find it is a great networking tool and means of establishing or recognizing yourself in your career field.  My blog in which I created (, mainly deals with my thoughts, my work, or news stories that I have had published in a credible news source.  At this point, my blog still doesn't really have a main focus on a particular topic.  
4. How does your interest in a story relate to the number and type of sources you use to learn about it? The time you spend learning about it?

  • My level of interest on a story greatly relates to the time and commitment I will spend on that story to research, watch, read etc. If I do not have a strong interest, I may read one article online and then move on to something else, instead of going through each form of media for that story.
  • Also, if it does not interest me very much, and I am confused about some of the content it says, I will many times not bother with finding out what I do not understand.
5. When you're reading or watching news, how long does it take you to reach your limit with a given story? Is there such thing as "too much news" in a report?

  • Well many times in broadcast news, the networks will have something called a "24-hour news hole."  This can many times result in a repetition of facts or footage and that is where I see it as getting too much news.  
  • It usually takes me to midway through the point where a network has begun repeating the facts they stated earlier.  Now if they continue to give out new detail and other facts about the story, I generally keep watching or reading, because I think you can never know too much about a certain story or topic.
Chapter two have a main focus on journalists being able to determine what is actually newsworthy with given stories.  In every story that have to decide what is news and what is not.  According to the author, it is a very complex process that is in the hands of the journalist to accurate provide information to the public.  

Discussion Questions:

1. Newspaper executives increasingly note a loss of college-age readers.  Are newspapers and other traditional news media relevant to 18- to 24-year-olds? If not, what would it take to make them relevant?

  • The recording of a loss of college-age readers is merely to do with college students or people or that age, being so attached to convenience and technology that they are instead logging onto their computers for news and information.  Newspapers are certainly relevant to those in that age group because the same information found in newspapers are found online.  The difference is that it is faster, easier and free to find news on the Internet, therefore explaining the loss of readership.  
  • I am honestly not sure what it would take for newspapers to gain readership in that particular age group.  The only thing I feel that would might work would be to somehow have exclusive news only found in print media and have the print media to be sure to include many graphics and photos to meet the advanced and technology feeling standard. 
2. With the public having so many choices of print, broadcast, and online news sources, what are the implications for determining what's news.  

  • In today's industry it is hard to determine what is actually news, because every company in every type of media has done something to make sure there is a 24-hour around the clock fill of news stories so that the public always has something new to read about.  The trouble is that not all of these stories are breaking or even very newsworthy.  
  • Actual news that is newsworthy, however can be determined by looking at the top headlines of front page of the news source.  Media companies will generally keep the actual news to the front headlines of the media source while filing all of the other holes and gap with fluff or human interest stories.  
3. More and more Americans are picking their news outlets to reflect their viewpoints.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What's gained and what's lost when we no longer have a shared national network?

  • I certainly think that it is a good thing that people are able to choose which viewpoints and opinions that would prefer to listen to but to answer this question I have to go back to the root problem of having varying networks and sources in the first place.  Because the different netowrks are so varyied, I would expect people to turn to specific outlets as opposed to switching one out for the other.  If we had un-biased, completely objective, news networks without their own opinions then I would not expect nor want people to turn to one network over the other because the news would be the same.  
  • There is great deal of loss when we no longer have a shared national netowrk because many times facts are now skewed and we end up hearing more opinions than we ever needed to hear come out of the mouths of the reporters.  
  • The only small gain from something like this is the fact that people that have different views can go to their safe haven of a netowrk.  People have different viewpoints.  So now, they have the option when looking at news to go with the netowrk that shares the same viewpoint as they do.