Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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.  

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