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Archive for the ‘journalism’ Tag

Hashtags and Characters   Leave a comment

I have a Twitter account, but don’t tweet. Reading Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton did nothing to encourage me to embrace this social media leviathan. I was curious about Bilton’s book because I teach an Internet Media class. Undeniably, Twitter has a huge role in how society communicates. Journalists around the world demonstrate its use as a significant tool to report news. I appreciate that. However, it’s disconcerting that stories, whether personal or professional, can be condensed to 140 characters or less.

Nonetheless, Bilton’s book, while not as objective as expected from a New York Times reporter, provides insight into Twitter’s short history. All of the major players and how they became part of the little blue bird’s universe are introduced. Although many others are featured, the focus is on the four identified as Twitter’s co-founders: Evan “Ev” Williams, Jack Dorsey, Christopher “Biz” Stone, and Noah Glass. Bilton is sympathetic in his account of Glass’s involvement, which was short lived. Williams and Stone are profiled in a positive light compared to Dorsey who’s mocked for his Steve Jobs-wanna-be approach and his alone-at-the-end-of-the-day consequences.

The manner in which the story’s told is appealing. Starting in 2010 with Williams about to announce his departure as Twitter’s CEO, Bilton then offers the true beginning in 1997. The account is similar to a mystery without the murder, but plenty of intrigue and backstabbing. The reader knows what’s going to happen, but not necessarily how.

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
Almost Four Bookmarks
Portfolio/Penguin, 2013
302 Pages

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Hooked on Broadcast News   Leave a comment

soledadobrien

Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien’s voice is honest, moving and completely engaging in her memoir, The Next Big Story. I’d expected nothing less than an accurate and fair narrative. It’s also a celebration of opportunities, not just for her as the daughter of a mixed-race marriage, but everyone willing to work hard for the prize. O’Brien acknowledges that for many the ability to make that reach is often riddled with obstacles.

Thanks to the values instilled by her family, O’Brien admits she wasn’t always aware of any impediments. Yes, she is bi-racial, and yes, she grew up in a predominantly white community, but she was never beaten down. This was largely due to her drive to keep up with family expectations.

Much of O’Brien’s story focuses on her journey to become a respected reporter. It wasn’t something she anticipated, but once she discovered journalism she was hooked. She shares her early days of trying, often unsuccessfully, to get meaningful stories on the air. Through hard work, strong friendships and tenacity, she worked her way to anchor weekend news programs locally then nationally. Along the way she married, had children, but continued her quest to share other people’s stories. CNN’s Black in America and Latino in America documentaries are hers, both award-winning works, although she never mentions the accolades.

Most riveting are O’Brien’s accounts of covering such catastrophic events as the tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. These are all familiar, but O’Brien’s insider retrospective evokes emotion and suspense.

The Next Big Story
Four Bookmarks
Celebra Books, 2010
321 pages

Extra! Extra! Read All About It   4 comments

A journalism background isn’t necessary to appreciate the points made by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in their book entitled Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. Anyone who reads or listens to the news should find this interesting. The authors examine the speed at which information, specifically news, reaches consumers/viewers/readers. Demand for attention from various media is overwhelming in its volume and content.

Plus, since news is disseminated via multiple outlets including Twitter, blogs, newspapers, television, and Facebook — among others — it’s often difficult to know who or what to believe. Consequently, the authors say a healthy dose of skepticism is not a bad trait to possess. The pair outlines a six-step process to help sift through the excessive information to discern fair and accurate reports about the world around us. They suggest asking: “What kind of content am I encountering; Is the information complete, and if not, what is missing; Who or what are the sources, and why should I believe them; What evidence is presented, and how was it tested or vetted; What might be an alternative explanation or understanding; Am I learning what I need to?”

Media literacy is nothing original among journalism scholars, but taking it to the public is. It’s something that benefits the general population. A camera and access to the Internet are all the tools necessary to record and distribute news stories. However, just because everyone can play the game, doesn’t mean everyone plays it well, accurately or fairly.

Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload
Bloomsbury, 2010
203 pages, plus notes and appendix