Archive for March, 2009

Questions for Brian Stelter

March 29, 2009

1. With all of the changes in print journalism right now could you see yourself ever returning to blogging as a career.

2. How were you able to find the time to keep tvnewser updated with all of your other responsibilities (classes etc..)

3. Do you feel like your education at Towson was helpful to you being that you were able to do so much on your own as a student.

4. What do you think is the most important thing that you learned in school that you were able to apply to your career.

5. Now that tvnewser has a new editor, are you still a blogger.

Reading Post- Efficiency Fund Raid

March 29, 2009

This week I read Matt Dernoga’s blog, The Dernogalizer, because he has commented a couple of times on posts that I have put up and is interested in energy efficiency so i was interested to see what his blog was about. Matt writes for the University of Maryland Diamondback so his information is relevant to my project because it focuses on sustainability in Maryland.

Some of his posts were either national or world focused which is less relevant for me because I am focused on Baltimore specifically, but many of his posts went right along with my multimedia project. He had posts about the use of algae in cleaning the Chesapeake Bay, a Maryland global warming bill that recently passed through the house, and information about families that use wind energy for power in Maryland.

I am actually impressed with how well researched and how regularly updated his posts are especially by him being a college student. I also like how he makes really good use of links in all of his posts. In most of the posts that he has you can explore the links and find out a lot more about the subject and find where he got his information for the post.

Reaction-MSNBC story

March 29, 2009

This week I visited MSNBC Multimedia and looked at two slide show stories. The first was Couple Inseparable in Life and Death, the story of a couple that was married for sixty-five years and died within eight days of one another. The second was entitled A Night of Eloquent Emotions, which captured the reactions of three generations of African-Americans watching the Obama victory in November.

I liked the story of the couple, although when I first watched it I didn’t quite understand what the real purpose of the story was. While their love story was touching, I didn’t feel like the idea of two elderly people who had been married for a long time dying within a short period of time to be that unique. Most elderly couples have been married for a long time and the fact that one died soon after the other didn’t seem to be much of a story. When I realized that the whole section was on aging however, it made more sense that an older person would be interested in the story. I did like how they used a combination of video and photos to tell the story.

The Obama reaction story was definitely better tied to a current event. I thought that the story and the accompanying video were well done. Although the reactions were tied to a specific news event, the story and video are still timeless in a way because they capture a moment that will always be significant. This is something that I struggle with in my own stories; figuring out how to make the story somehow newsworthy or current without making the story sound like a news story.

Photo Gallery Reaction

March 22, 2009

I visited The Washington Post Camera Works and viewed a photo gallery entitled Non Profits Struggle to Serve the Community. The pictures in the gallery focus mainly on the activities of a South Carolina food bank that is struggling to feed the community that it it a part of because of the rise in unemployment in the area. Most of the photos are of those trying to receive help from the food bank and there are pictures of the customers in the food bank as well as in their homes.

I thought that this photo gallery was well done and could tell the story even without the actual story text. While the text was able to give statistics and explored the politics behind why the people of this area are going hungry, the photos showed the people that are dealing with hunger as a result of the bad economy. Seeing the people that need help at home with their families helped me to have more of an emotional connection to the story.

In many ways, the pictures helped me to understand the scope of the problem. While the text can give an actual number to the amount of food that is needed, seeing the first picture in the gallery helps make those numbers seem tangible. If the food bank is as large as it appears to be in the picture and they are still struggling to feed the hungry, the hunger problem must be widespread.

Research

March 8, 2009

After this week’s interview I have decided that I will probably switch gears from what I initially planned to do for my second module. I interviewed Sandy Marenberg, developer for a group of brand new green townhomes for low income homebuyers in Baltimore. Although the homes themselves seem very interesting, there is no one living in them yet and no real interesting story as to why they were built. I’m having a hard time coming up with a real story for this one beyond just describing the houses.

I have thought of another idea in place if that one but have not quite figured out where I would begin looking for people to interview. Instead of profiling the brand new green homes, I could possibly write a story about people who have decided to “go green” at home in Baltimore City. This would feature people who have found creative ways to go green in an urban environment in their homes. I would want to find people who have gone beyond the typical ways that people help protect the environment such as buying reusable bags and turning off their water. I would hope to find people who have done some type of innovative green renovation.

Reading Post-Recycling contest

March 8, 2009

This week I read “St. Ursula recycling contest proves to be a big winner” in the Northeast Reporter. This was the story of a contest held annually at a Parkville school designed to promote recycling among students. The writer focused on the fact that the contest had been far more successful than predicted and brings in an estimated five tons of paper to be recycled each year.

Although this contest takes place at a Baltimore County school and my project focuses on Baltimore City, it does have interesting information about recycling as it relates to Baltimore City. It would be interesting to see what organizations in Baltimore City have a similar program and whether those programs work for the city as well as they do in the county. I had a hard time understanding the specifics of the recycling bins that the writer introduced, and didn’t understand what the number of bins had to do with the amount of paper that St. Ursula was recycling. The fact that there are about 1,000 bins throughout the Baltimore area must mean that there are a large number of organizations that are at least trying to recycle in Baltimore.

I also wonder whether there are schools in  Baltimore City that have similar programs and how those schools compare to schools like St. Ursula.

Living on a dollar a day in Malawi

March 8, 2009

Living on a dollar a day in Malawi uses text and audio to give a glimpse into a day in the life of a poor family in Malawi. I found the audio portion of this story to be far more interesting than the text . While the text in the story and the narration in the audio are basically the same, the audio portion seems to give much more information about the people of Malawi and the family being featured.

Just the small things captured in the audio version that can’t be conveyed in the text help bring the story to life. The sound of the tools and the well helps me to better visualize the action in the story.  In the text, Martha’s story is mentioned but hearing her voice and her laughter gives a better picture of the young girl who is dreaming of a better future.

One criticism  of the audio version is the fact that I could not really understand what the people from Malawi were saying when they spoke. I still think that hearing their voices added to the story regardless. Martha was easier to understand but I didn’t know what the father was saying. I don’t know how their words could have been translated without being extremely disruptive to the story so I guess it only makes sense that it was left in as is.

Reaction post- Basic Principles

March 2, 2009

In my opinion, two of the most important ideas brought up in the Basic Principles of Online Journalism are brevity and scannability. Typically I am surfing online while engaged in other activities. More often than not I am looking at stories between activities while I am at work or trying to look at something quickly while taking care of my son. I rarely am online for the sole purpose of reading a story. While there are blogs and news sites that I visit with some regularity, normally I’m going to look something up, or check my email and a headline will catch my eye.

If there are other people like me, and I believe there are many, usually reading a story is treated almost like a distraction. I need to get the important information from the story in as little time as possible. This is what makes a brief story and a story that is easy to scan so important. I like the idea that brevity does not necessarily mean shortening the story, but can also mean breaking up the story in a way that makes it easier for users to read.

The other principles highlight the fact that  information on the web is adaptable and in a way can be tailored to meet the needs of each user. A brief, scannable story is the most important thing to me because I don’t have much time. A story with a lot of ways to interact with the story may be more important to someone who has more time to explore various links. The ability to post comments is often important to people particularly interested in a specific topic. With online journalism, the author has the ability to create all of these stories in one.