Twitter: The Ultimate Breaking News Source

Prior to taking this class, I never saw a need for multiple social media accounts. I always believed it was repetitive to share the same information over different sites and spend all your time checking up on what other people have posted on them. I was a “one-size-fits-all” kind of girl with Facebook. Now, that I’ve been on Twitter for approximately 4 months, I can truly say it has it’s own unique value in the way I receive and spread news.

For example, when I’m scrolling through my Facebook news feed, it’s hard to sort through all the drunk photos from the night before and irrelevant status updates before I can actually get to interesting stories (like the one about the Russian artist who nailed his testicles to the ground in protest at Kremlin’s crackdown on rights.) But, since I have added Twitter to my media diet, this mindless scrolling is a thing of the past. I can easily access what I am looking for by searching for stories through their hash tags in the search bar. 

I have to agree with Steve Buttry’s article, “10 ways Twitter is valuable to journalists.” Being able to follow big news corporations, such as CNN and NYT, as they push out breaking news information is a big advantage of using Twitter. Also, the idea that Twitter saves time is completely accurate. The fact that there is a word limit,  140 characters, to tweets forces the writer to write concisely while getting out the most essential information about the story as possible.  It not only makes it easier for the reader to pick out what interests them, it also makes us as journalists better writers because it challenges us to use only the most terse and precise language.

Twitter has aided me as both a writer and a news consumer. I am appreciative that we have sites like this where we can explore others and share our own stories. 

Reinventing the Craft of Reporting

photoListening to Dean Baquet speak at The Foster-Foreman conference was an experience I won’t soon forget. That was the first time I’ve ever heard advice from someone so high up in the world of journalism and you can bet I took notes on every word he spoke. Baquet is a natural born speaker. The way he spoke was incredible; his reassuring tone and certainty of his words made me trust everything he was saying. Baquet had an absurd number of quote worthy words of wisdom in his one hour Q&A, but the one quote that stuck out the most for me was, “If you suck up all the knowledge you can get…you get the chance to transform a craft that actually needs some transformation and I can promise you will have the absolute time of your life doing it.” It was refreshing to hear someone speak about his or her profession with such passion. After listening to him speak at the conference I had butterflies in my stomach, I’ve never been so excited to begin my career in what Baquet calls, “a great time to enter the world of journalism.” The technological advances in media over the past 10 years not only transformed the way we, as journalists, report information, it also transformed the way readers receive that information. These technological advances offer readers a new way of experiencing narrative journalism. I think it’s important to know as journalists that the readers are the most important part of the business model. However, this does not mean we should compromise the integrity of our industry for the sake of reporting “news”. The speed of the web has confronted many news organizations with fast paced “in-the-moment” decisions. Baquet answered a student’s question regarding the “to publish or not to publish” dilemma when faced with competition and a controversial topic, “Your ethics are your ethics…if your competition choses to do it; that’s their ethics…if you change your ethics no one will know who you are.” I used to view journalism as a competition, whoever puts the story out first, gets the most detail, the best pictures, wins the game. Listening to Baquet taught me to hold onto my ethics in a typically vicious industry, advice I might have been forced to learn the hard way if I didn’t hear it this early. Baquet has been around the journalism block a few times and stated at the conference that he learns by “trail and error.” I’m going to hold onto his advice and hopefully when I’m faced with a tough call in the future, I’ll look back on this conference and like my mom always says, “Make good choices.”

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50 shades of Plagiarism

Plagiarism: Taking someone else’s work, thoughts or ideas and claiming them as your own. A seemingly simple concept is too often accompanied with a hefty load of ambiguity when applied in real life situations. Every situation is unique; there is no one scenario to define what is or isn’t plagiarism. It’s all just shades of grey. However, we can look to past examples to guide us through those situations of uncertainty.

San Antonio Express-News reporter, Macarena Hernandez, wrote in an article about a woman whose son was in Iraq, “She points to the pinstriped couches, the tennis bracelet still in its red velvet case and the Martha Stewart patio furniture, all gifts from her first born and only son,” Similarly, New York Times’ reporter Jayson Blair wrote, “Juanita Anguiano points proudly to the pinstriped couches, the tennis bracelet in its red case and the Martha Stewart furniture out on the patio…and all the other gifts from her only son…”. It’s hard to say what crossing the line truly is. In this case, I believe if she, and only she obtained the information in Macarena’s article, then she has the right to claim that Blair was plagiarizing from her work. Plagiarism in cases similar to this one should be handled with sever punishment. Personally, I believe taking someone else’s work and trying to pass it off as your own, without giving credit to the original author, is just plain wrong.

However, this is not to say that all plagiarism is intentional. Some people have difficulty properly citing their information or think that citing is unnecessary in certain situations. This is understandable. A tip for all writers: if you’re not sure, or have any doubts about if you are plagiarizing, cite your sources! It’s much better to be safe now than sorry later. As stated in the plagiarism committee report, you can also check your information on “plagiarism sleuth” if you can’t remember where the information originate. It will tell you if you are unknowingly stealing someone else’s idea or words.

I think most plagiarism is easily avoidable with simple citations and accreditation. For some, the concept of accrediting people for their words, thoughts and ideas seems too difficult to grasp. Just because you didn’t come up with the idea originally doesn’t mean you can’t report it. As a writer, your most essential attributes are your credibility and reputation. Just one case of plagiarism can kill both those birds with one stone. Do your self and your career a favor and cite your sources and be creative on your own. No one likes a copy-cat.

Kristina Marie’s Media Diet

pic I start off most mornings by skimming through my FB news feed. I like to get caught up on the major events that occurred in the cyber world for the 7 (sometimes 8 if it’s a good night) hours that I was getting my beauty rest. It’s generally just a cluster of irrelevant sorority squat style pictures and “single-girl-swag” type statuses that I, and most other social media lovers, continue to go through every morning for some unknown reason. I suppose it’s because we hold on to that tiny bit of hope each morning that it’ll be a good day and we might stumble upon one or two posts that makes you smile or laugh.

The posts that typically stand out the most on the news feed tend to be articles; most of these articles are from Onward state or Elite Daily. Both of these sites are reporting what I, as a college aged female student, consider to be relevant news. They talk about Zedd at the BJC and “The 25 GIFS That Perfectly Describe Penn State.” Entertaining and simple news that doesn’t require a lot of effort to follow along, that’s all I expect from social media in the mornings. Which is why it’s the first thing on my to do list, my go-to source for daily information. I like to start off soft and easy and work my way up to the harder news, like CNN or The New York Times.

After my morning scroll on the book, I grab a copy of the Collegian on my way to class. I rarely ever read it cover to cover but it’s nice to have something to glance at when I have those awkward 30 min breaks between my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In large lecture halls like 100 Thomas, It’s hard to stay focused on what the professor keeps blabbing on about when your laptop is staring you in the face, screaming for you to spend all your summer work money on Nasty Gal or read through the shenanigans on the Listserv. The Listserv is how my sorority communicates information to all members; it’s how we all get our important information for the week like who’s going to be sober sister (gag), who’s on suite duty, how to block our football tickets together, what internships are available and where all of our socials for the weekend are going to be held.

After class, I’m usually stuck doing reading and other miscellaneous assignments for my classes. I like to end my day by relaxing in our brand new suite in Haller Hall, baking some Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies and watching the news. Anything direly important from the day typically gets recapped in the nightly news and in more detail than the first report, which is the biggest reason why I like to wait till the end of the day to catch up on my world news.

That’s about all there is to my recipe for media dieting; simple yet effective like all good things in life.