What do Mizzou journalism students think of Google+?

By Andrew Gibson

Two giants were at it again last week.

Facebook released a slew of new features, the most significant of which lets users customize the amount of News Feed updates they see from each of their friends. Google made headlines by opening social network Google+ to everyone and by announcing that Hangouts, the site's video-chat tool that lets up to 10 people talk together, are now available on Android devices version 2.3 or above, according to Mashable.

Facebook has the clear upper hand in the news industry because it's been around so much longer, but there's no doubt its feeling pressure from Google+. Jen Lee Reeves, Missouri School of Journalism associate professor and KOMU-TV interactive director, has championed Google+ as the perfect combination of Facebook and Twitter, pointing out in a PBS MediaShift story that users can conveniently share content only with people to whom they're connected (or "circled," in Google+ lingo) or with the entire Web. Facebook's News Feed upgrade is an attempt to rival this granularity, according to Mashable.

But while KOMU has begun regularly incorporating Google+ into its newscasts, some journalists have dismissed the service completely. Dan Reimold, a University of Tampa assistant journalism professor, wrote the following in a PBS MediaShift article:

Google+ is dead. At worst, in the coming months, it will literally fade away to nothing or exist as Internet plankton. At best, it will be to social networking what Microsoft's Bing is to online search: perfectly adequate; fun to stumble onto once in awhile; and completely irrelevant to the mainstream web.

Another journalist, Mathew Ingram of GigaOM, doesn't go as far as to write an epitaph for Google+, but he does note that the "substantial changes to the way users interact with Facebook and Facebook-based apps are a significant threat to Google in trying to grow its Google+ network."

My future with Google+ is undecided. Circles and Hangouts seem like they can be useful reporting tools, but the thought of managing another social media account is, well, overwhelming. But my opinion is only one of many, and because I live in a city -- Columbia, Mo. -- full of Internet-savvy college students, I set out to interview six journalism students and six non-journalism students about the service. Here's what I found:

Guide to the 2011 Online News Association Conference

By Andrew Gibson

Some of digital journalism's most innovative minds, including Facebook + Journalists Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik and NPR social media strategist Andy Carvin, are in Boston this week for the 2011 ONA Conference, which runs through Saturday. Below are a few ways you can take a virtual seat at the conference:
ONA Mizzou President Melanie Gibson is also at the conference, so you can check her tweets for updates.

And, take note of this: Laura Hibbard, ONA Mizzou founding president and current Huffington Post assistant social news editor, is speaking at the conference Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CST. Laura will share what she learned about community building through starting ONA Mizzou. Another Mizzou presenter is Samantha Kubota, MU journalism student and KOMU-TV Web editor/producer. She'll speak Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CST about what she would change about the digital-journalism industry.

You'll be itching to be in Boston after seeing the agenda. There's always next year, right?

Finding new media internships in traditional newsrooms

By Nicole Garner

Image courtesy kenyatousant on Flickr
With most summer internships having ended about a month ago, it may seem like next summer is, well, a year away. But just because classes are back in session doesn't mean it's too early to begin searching for your next internship.

If you're already exploring opportunities for next summer, take a glance at news organizations under your interest radar. As news organizations move to accommodate social media and online news, new opportunities are arising at traditional stations for journalism students who aren't only interested in reporting or producing.

Internet safety and journalists

By Ashley Crockett

Image from Jamadots

By now, most Internet users know not to wire money to Nigeria to help out a great-aunt or to click a link in a suspicious email. Those with accounts infiltrated by spambots (hopefully) learn from their mistakes and switch to a stronger password. But when social media outlets are vital to your profession, preventative measures need to be taken to avoid potentially time-consuming battles to regain control of your accounts.

Live Blogging: ONA Mizzou Meeting 9/15/2011

5:33: Thanks for coming out everyone. Eat the tasty cupcakes and cookies. 

5:31: Simons mentions last year's contributors like Scott Woelfel. 

5:27: Amy Simons talks about our brand new Blogspot blog. She wants this blog to be for everyone. Any student can write for the blog.

5:26: Crockett lets the crowd know how the future meeting with an ONA National recap will work.

5:24: Amy Simons talks about Trib Local and how they will be presenting at a future ONA Mizzou Meeting. All Trib Local employees that will be speaking are Mizzou Grads who work in the Chicago area. 

5:23: Oshinsky introduces his company Stry and what it does. They will go live with Stry in 2013.

5:22: "Come have a beer with me."-Dan Oshinsky. Oshinsky will be tweeting his office hours/drinking hours and would love to have visitors come join him.

5:20: Crockett introduces RJI Fellow Dan Oshinsky who will speaking to the crowd. Dan is an University of Missouri graduate and will hosting his #BergChats at the Heidelberg Restaurant across the street from the Reynolds Journalism Institute. 

5:19: Andrew Gibson, Addison Walton, Amy Simons and Nicole Garner introduce themselves to the crowd of 35.

5:17: VP Ashley Crockett welcomes the roughly 35 guests to the Fred Smith Forum. Crockett explains what ONA does locally and nationally. She mentions the ONA Conference in Boston coming up in one week.

5:15: Sign in sheets are passed around.

5:08: ONA Guests arrive and are treated to cupcakes, cookies, snacks and drinks.

Journalism doesn’t need a eulogy

By Andrew Gibson

I’ve heard the question too many times: “Why are you going into journalism?”

It usually comes from people not in the profession who hear about the decline of print newspapers or conclude that online news is an impossible business model. However, I read a post Sunday from a journalism insider. Dave Winer, who “pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software,” according to his website Scripting News, posted this Friday:

“Journalism itself is becoming obsolete. I know the reporters don’t want to hear this, and they’re likely to blast me, even try to get me “fired” (it’s happened before) because at least for the next few months I hang my hat at a J-school. I happen to think journalism was a response to publishing being expensive. It cost a lot of money to push bits around the net before there was a net. They had to have huge capital-intensive printing plants, fleets of trucks and delivery boys with paper routes. Now we can hear directly from the sources and build our own news networks. It’s still early days for this, and it wasn’t that long ago that we depended on journalists for the news. But in a generation or two we won’t be employing people to gather news for us. It’ll work differently.”

Center for Sustainable Journalism publishes list of potential newsroom positions for the digital age

By Melanie Gibson

As I begin my senior year of college, I’ve been thinking about the job hunt a lot lately. But honestly, I’ve been thinking about entering the world of the working journalists since I started college in fall 2008. One of the most memorable moments of that fall happened in a once-required Career Explorations in Journalism course in which the students were told at the beginning of the class that many of us would not actually graduate from the world’s first journalism school, let alone go into the field.

Instead of getting scared, I taught myself to diversify my skills, and eventually, my classes helped me to refine my skills in multimedia reporting and producing. But, as I’ve advanced through my courses, I’ve realized that what we learn in required courses is not quite enough to make us stand out. What makes a good journalist stand out above the rest is the ability to innovate and move forward. But what jobs in the newsroom are there to accommodate these new talents?

The Worldwide Leader Makes a Huge Mistake

By Addison Walton

Social media and ESPN have had a very testy relationship during Twitter’s ascension as a convenient source of information and verifiable journalism. Over the past two to three years, ESPN has had its share of problems related to tweeting.

One of the first well-documented cases of the ESPN/Twitter problems involved popular ESPN.com (now Grantland.com) writer Bill Simmons. In October 2009, Simmons, who grew up and went to college in the Boston area, tweeted, “WEEI’s ‘The Big Show’ was apparently ripping me today. Good to get feedback from 2 washed-up athletes and a 60 yr-old fat guy with no neck.” WEEI, an all-sports Boston radio station, signed an agreement with ESPN radio only three weeks before Simmons bashed the station. ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Rob King suspended Simmons for two weeks because of the tweets, with the only exception being the promotion of his book tour via Twitter. But Simmons would continue poking the fire about one year later.

The Five Hardest Things About Journalism: No. 1

By Andrew Gibson

This is the fifth post in a series about what I think are the five most difficult parts of journalism. My opinions are based on one year at Mizzou in Columbia, Mo., and a summer internship at KCNC-TV in Denver.

Journalism decided to throw me in the fire last semester.

I had to write a story about teen pregnancy in my News (Journalism 2100) class. It’s a challenging and sensitive topic, especially for a 19-year-old male who had never reported before January.

Which takes me to challenge No. 1: sources.

Finding teen mothers who would talk took weeks and weeks of persistence. I called and emailed places all over Columbia — My Life, Planned Parenthood, Lutheran Family Services, Columbia Housing Authority, Rock Bridge High School and Douglass High School, to name a few — looking for someone who wasn’t intimidated by a notebook and voice recorder.

The Five Hardest Things About Journalism: No. 2

By Andrew Gibson

This is the fourth post in a series about what I think are the five most difficult parts of journalism. My opinions are based on one year at Mizzou in Columbia, Mo., and a summer internship at KCNC-TV in Denver.

People often shrink away in terror when I tell them my major is journalism. Following the shock, a common question is, What do you want to do with that?

My response usually has two parts. I say, ideally, I’d like to be a political columnist, but my realistic goal is simply to land a job.

Journalism has an uncertain future, and I can’t afford to be picky right now. I’ve accepted, and even embraced, that my first job will probably be a general-assignment reporter at a small news outlet.

That means I’ll need the skills to gather information about almost everything. If there’s a fire, my editor will likely give me the story. Is the local grocery store recalling its green onions? I’m on it.

Which takes me to challenge No. 2: Journalists have to know a little something about everything. Our job is to observe the world and then present it in a way that people can understand.

If we don’t get it, can we expect the same of our audience?

The Five Hardest Things About Journalism: No. 3

By Andrew Gibson

This is the third post in a series about what I think are the five most difficult parts of journalism. My opinions are based on one year at Mizzou in Columbia, Mo., and an internship this summer at KCNC-TV in Denver.

There’s a great irony in reporting.

Journalists are expected to dig into the depths of a story, examining every relevant angle, yet condense what they find into something readers can skim in minutes.

That’s challenge No. 3: judging what information is important. And doing so quickly.

I learned to use this reporting skill in News (Journalism 2100), and one experience called “man on the street” sticks out in my mind. Everyone in my class had to draw a story idea from a hat, gather background information, interview two people and write a 250- to 350-word story, all in 90 minutes.

The Five Hardest Things About Journalism: No. 4

By Andrew Gibson

This is the second post in a series about what I think are the five most difficult parts of journalism. My opinions are based on one year at Mizzou in Columbia, Mo., and an internship this summer at KCNC-TV in Denver.

Starbucks Via was a good friend of mine last semester.

This was especially true when my News (Journalism 2100) instructor,Karon Speckman, assigned everyone in my class to cover a Columbia, Mo., City Council meeting.

It started at 7 p.m., so I figured I’d be done two hours later. That would leave me plenty of time to get a quote from someone in the audience, write a 400-word story and check my grammar before midnight, I thought.

Instead, I walked out of the meeting, which was still going on, around midnight with rings around my eyes, an audio recorder with maxed-out memory and a notebook with smeared, illegible notes.

“Welcome to the world of public meetings,” Speckman said in class the next day.

And welcome to reality, Andrew, because you want to be a political reporter someday.

The Hardest Things About Journalism: No. 5

By Andrew Gibson

Please know that this post is a time capsule.

I’ve only completed one year of college and just one media internship at KCNC-TV in Denver.

In fact, I haven’t even declared an emphasis at the Missouri School of Journalism yet.

That makes me about as much a journalism expert as I am a Kansas Jayhawks fan.

My reason for writing this post is so I can look back 10 or 15 years from now and see how my reporting strengths and weaknesses have changed. I’ll probably have no trouble with Associated Press style by the time I graduate from the Missouri School of Journalism, but right now it’s somewhat overwhelming.

So, if it sounds like I’m pretending to be a know-it-all, please realize that’s not my intention.

I’m only 19.

Without further ado, here’s the first post of my series “The Five Hardest Things About Journalism.”

Offline success in the online age

By Nicole Garner

Image Courtesy of ChocoNancy1 on Flickr

It’s become a common practice for journalists to tweet from the field, find sources through social media and engage with audiences through their online profiles. But what happens when you work for a media outlet that doesn’t have a social media presence?

This summer, I interned at WEIU TV, a news station in Charleston, Illinois, which didn’t jump on the social media bandwagon until after I arrived. The news director hadn’t used any form of social media before and was hesitant to start Twitter and Facebook pages for the station (for reasons unknown).

If it's allowed on TV, is it allowed online?

By Andrew Gibson

Have you ever seen the episode of “Family Guy” in which Peter Griffin goes on a musical rant about the Federal Communications Commission supposedly ruins all of his fun? The lovable cartoon dad does his best Ethel Merman impression and sings about how the FCC ruins his fun by censoring crude humor on TV. He goes so far in the episode as to start his own “scandalous” network that challenges FCC regulations. It’s hilarious, really.

Lessons from journalism on the big screen

By Andrew Gibson
Movies are meant to entertain. Journalism’s duty is to inform. So, when you look to Hollywood for an accurate portrayal of a newsroom, you should take it with a grain of salt.
But the best journalism films move beyond shallow thrills and sensationalist scandals to underscore the truths of the industry.
Here’s what you can learn from three of the best flicks in the genre (spoiler alert).

The left and right of news sites

By Andrew Gibson
The debate will never end.
Many say mainstream media are liberal. CNN faced criticism for being too friendly to now-President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign.
But others fire back, saying the media lean right. Watch Fox News, they say.
The Washington Post has a completely different take on this dispute. It goes like this: Why let people speculate?
A July 11 Poynter article spotlights the Post’s strategy of explicitly identifying whether its columns are liberal or conservative. The policy has faced some criticism, according to author Mallary Jean Tenore in the story:
But Tenore also cites a Washington Post conservative blogger who says labeling the left and right is an example of transparency.
Also from the article:
The website also has a main political opinions page that features the more centrist columns, according to the article.
But the Post is just one of many outlets that report on the government. Here’s a look at how another newspaper, a niche publication and two TV networks show — or hide — contributor opinions.

Welcome to the age of #TfN

By Addison Walton
It’s been quite the last few weeks for social media. First, Facebook+Journalists has become a great way for journalists to connect on the world’s leading social networking site. Then Google launched Google+ into its beta phase and people around the world are “hanging out” and learning of the benefits of this new tool.

Of course, Twitter got in on the action as well. It has developed tools and guides to make newsrooms run more smoothly and information flow more accurately. It’s called Twitter for Newsrooms or #TfN for short.

Free journalism training through... Facebook?

By Andrew Gibson

Twitter has been in the news a lot lately.

When Keith Urbahn tweeted the first news about Osama bin Laden’s death, “over 300 reactions to the original post were spreading through the network” within two minutes, according to SocialFlow.

And Weinergate wouldn’t even have existed without Twitter.

So, what about Facebook?

Perhaps that’s a question best saved for Vadim Lavrusik. Facebook hired the Columbia University journalism professor and former Mashable community manager to lead its journalists program, of which the “Facebook + Journalists” page is an integral part.

Interactive Narratives -- the online documentary

By Melanie Gibson

Being a convergence journalism major at Mizzou, I’ve learned a fair amount about the importance of multimedia storytelling. To be honest, it’s gotten to the point that I can’t think that a story is complete with out a visual component, text and some form of audio component to really tell a story. Because that’s what we want to do – as journalists, we want to tell stories that are as rich in content and context as the individuals that we interview. And sometimes, the stories we find are far too big and rich to be contained in 1:30 radio news piece, a photo and text. This is where the documentary-style of reporting comes in. The documentary gives the reporters and producers a more time and space to be creative and tell the story, but the documentary is out and the online interactive narrative is in. This form of storytelling brings the documentary online to a wider audience and lets them interact with the story material.

The domino effect of online comments

By Ashley Crockett

Navigating the often harsh world of online comments can be like watching a train crash — you don’t want to see it, but you can’t look away as the sparks fly.
Thanks to the anonymity available on the Internet, anyone — from gas station attendants to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies — can hide behind a computer screen and comment about anything, in any way they want.
Could this system of expression be driving away potential sources for reporters?
Alex Schmidt, a freelance reporter and producer working for NPR, Spot.Us and other outlets, thinks so. She’s dealt directly with what she calls “broken commenting,” so-called because of the negative impact it has on her ability to do future reporting in certain areas.

Attention sports writer: MVP now means "Most Valuable Participant"

By Andrew Gibson

When national baseball editor Rob Neyer joined SB Nation, a sporting news website made up of a community of bloggers, he wrote a column representative of new media.

Keeping SB Nation’s focus on reporter-reader interaction in mind, Neyer wrote:

Twisting in the flashbulb

By Addison Walton

“Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” sang David Bowie on his famous 1972 song. In Bowie’s context, he uses the song to refer to the reinvention of his artistic self. Yet, this changing of medium is currently happening in the journalism community.

I was reminded of this again after examining Bob Shullman and Stephen Kraus’ blog post for AdAge on how affluent households learned of Osama bin Laden’s death. What draws this piece together is the references to bin Laden’s death as a “flashbulb moment” and drawing comparisons to other moments. Some examples of past flashbulb moments include 9/11, Michael Jackson’s death, and the O.J. Simpson car chase. Ask anyone where they were when these events occurred and chances are they will give you a more precise location than Google Maps.

According to the study, 57 percent of households with an annual income of more than $100,000 learned of the bin Laden breaking news through television. Granted, the announcement of bin Laden’s death occurred late on a Sunday night, but this number seems rather low to me.

Programming, the newest addition to journalists’ essential toolkit

By Ashley Crockett

The ever-expanding journalist toolkit just got a new addition: programming. This one word actually lumps together several things, such as data coding and proficiency in multiple Adobe programs.

The importance of a single reporter knowing how to write, film, and photograph is still settling in as an expected part of journalism, and right on its heels is the growing necessity to know how to present the finished products. For a journalist to be competitive, it really isn’t enough anymore to just report the news.

In the “Tweet” of the Moment

By Nicole Garner

We’ve all seen it – and we might have all done it, too. But at what point does quickly tweeting what we think is factual… become careless?

Last week, news media throughout the nation pounced upon reports that more than 30 bodies were found at a Texas home – but to many tweeters’ surprise – what they saw reported from credible news sources wasn’t true. In fact, it was nowhere close.

Houston authorities investigated a property following a tip from a self-proclaimed psychic, suggesting nearly 30 bodies would be found at the residence. And while authorities surveyed the area, finding not one body, news organizations kept reporting that bodies, some of children, others, dismembered, had been found at the Houston home.

Online news encyclopedia, brought to you by Encyclo

By Melanie Gibson

Harvard University’s new Encyclo offers a look into the organizations impacting the future of online journalism.

Produced by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, Encyclo is an online encyclopedia of journalism websites. The website says, “The Nieman Journalism Lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.” The Nieman Journalism Lab works with the Harvard Business School, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, all of which are located at Harvard.

Each post on the Encyclo site contains “an encyclopedia-style write-up summarizing what’s important about the subject from a future-of-news perspective,” according to the site; a list of links, articles and commentary about the subject; a listing of the subject’s peers, allies and competitors; the five articles from the Neiman Journalism Lab related to the subject; and there are links to the five most recent articles on Mediagazer’s website. For those of you who don’t know already know, Mediagazer is news aggregator website focused on journalism and media.

Joplin Reporting, 140 Characters at a Time

By Andrew Gibson

Journalism isn’t dying. It’s just changing.

Take the Joplin tornado. Brian Stelter, a media reporter for The New York Times, says some of his “best reporting was on Twitter.” If you read the archive of his firsthand tweets about the tornado, it’s easy to see what he means.

Stelter was originally headed to Chicago to cover Oprah Winfrey’s last show. But he decided on a whim to extend his journey and travel to Joplin to interview survivors for the Times. Stelter soon realized he didn’t even have a pen. That’s when Twitter came in handy.

Watch what you eat, watch what you tweet

By Addison Walton

In a recent post in the journalism/technology blog “10,000 Words,” Elena Zak highlights eight media members who were either fired or reprimanded by their companies for unacceptable tweets. What’s interesting about this piece is how it starts off. The first sentence says “When it comes to Twitter, journalists tread a thin line. While a lot of news organizations strongly suggest their reporters sign up for an account and gain followers, many don’t have a written social media policy.” (Read part 2 of Zak’s report here)

Herein lies the first problem with social media and many other journalism outlets today. In only one of the cases about which Zak writes is there a breach of a company’s social-media policy. The first step to rectify this growing trend of reporters crossing the thin line needs to be implementation of a social-media policy. (Of course, using common sense would help, but let’s put that aside.) With more news filtering through Twitter, news organizations need to have a clear set of guidelines if they are going to ask their reporters to open accounts and use them to report.

Future Posts

By Andrew Gibson

The ONA Mizzou founding seniors passed the torch to the new executive officers today. All posts on this page will therefore be the work of these new board members. We all hope to offer you the best information about what’s happening in the digital-media world.

Melanie Gibson: President

By Melanie Gibson
Hi all!
My name is Melanie Gibson and I am the new ONA Mizzou president. I’m a junior majoring in Convergence with an emphasis on entrepreneurial journalism and a minor in English. This summer I will be interning at NPR in Washington, D.C. in its Digital Media Product Management department. So, if you are going to be in D.C. this summer, d/m me on Twitter (@MelroseGibson) and we’ll hang out! I can’t wait to bring back my experiences working with NPR back to Mizzou in the fall.

Ashley Crockett: Vice President

By Ashley Crockett
Hi there, I’m Ashley Crockett, ONA’s brand-new vice president. I’m a junior convergence journalism major from Memphis, Tenn., with a minor in political science. This summer, I’m participating in the London study abroad internship program and plan to bring those experiences to the ONA table next fall.

Nicole Garner: Secretary

By Nicole Garner

Hello ONA members! I’m Nicole Garner, ONA Mizzou’s secretary for 2011-2012. I’m excited to be given this opportunity to work with everyone and help the club flourish in its next year!

Addison Walton: Treasurer

By Addison Walton

My name is Addison Walton. I am a 20-year-old sophomore from San Antonio, Texas. I am majoring in Convergence Journalism and Sports Venue Management. I love sports and was once called short by San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker. This summer I will be interning (again) at KSAT 12 Television Station, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio.

Andrew Gibson: Social Media Coordinator

By Andrew Gibson

Hello everyone!

I’m Andrew Gibson, and I’ll be the ONA Mizzou social media coordinator starting next fall. This is my first year at MU, meaning I haven’t entered an emphasis area yet, but I plan on starting the “Emerging Media” emphasis in spring 2012.