Andrew Cards on Bush’s presidential terms

“He faced unprecedented challenges,” explained Andy Cards, when asked about Bush’s 2000-2008 presidential terms during a C-SPAN video conference on April 7, 2011 with college students.

Cards, a close friend of the Bush family since his time at the Republican National Committee, served as chief-of-staff for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006. Both he and President Bush came into office without high expectations because the economy and national morale were not as high as they had been in the past.  Because of Bush’s “courage to make tough decisions,” however, they were able to “restore faith, confidence, and responsibility” in the American people.

The most memorable event that demonstrated Bush’s powerful leadership was September 14, 2001 when he spoke about the Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He remained “cool, calm, collected and objective,” and “tried very hard not to allow emotion affect his decision making.” He knew that it was his duty to preserve, defend, and protect the American people, despite how unique and lonely that responsibility is.

Cards ended the conference by explaining how history will evaluate Bush’s presidential terms. He said that Bush would leave a legacy in the War in Iraq because he “brought democracy to that land, which was a very important contribution to that country. He also declared “history will be kinder [to Bush] than current events.”

Watch the full video conference at

Add comment Posted in  Video Conference Blogs  Tagged:  , , , , April 25, 2011

Baby boomers: booming into the Internet scene

You’re a young college student who has grown up with technology. You know Microsoft Word, Google, and social media outlets such as Twitter like the back of your hand. The Internet has become second nature to you and you can’t imagine how anybody would have trouble to adapting to it. You also can’t fathom your parents making use of such outlets, nor do you think they deserve to use such outlets. Your mother creating a Facebook? Pfft! That’s ridiculous.

If you are like many young adults, however, dooms day has come and you too have received a Facebook friend request from your mother, father, or even grandparent. According to Jamie Carracher’s article “How Baby Boomers Are Embracing Digital Media” for, encounters with the +40 population on the web are not going away anytime soon, in fact they are increasing. As Carracher cites, “social network use among Internet users 50 years old and older has nearly doubled to 42 percent over the past year.”

So why is there this proliferation of baby boomer web use? Why are more and more elders embracing smart phone technology? In his article Carracher offers the following answers:

  1. Baby boomers can connect with friends and family in ways that seemed unfathomable. Rather than having to call a son or daughter on the telephone or ask a child to mail pictures to them, baby boomers can email the children or look at their photo albums on Facebook or on album sharing websites such as Picasa.
  2. Baby boomers appreciate the mobility and convenience that comes with devices such as Blackberries and iPads. When adults were in college they were most likely using typewriters to produce papers and using telephone booths to call colleagues when they were away from land lines. With the use of smart technology, adults can now contact family and friends, search the web, and take photographs or videos with one simple device.
  3. Baby boomers realize the benefits of search engines and the incredible amount of information that is at their fingertips through the Internet. Career adults, or any adult for that matter, love the fact that they can find the information they need through a simple Google search. If a career professional needed to find out about school cancellations for his or her children, he or she could perform a simple Google search rather than having to call the school the child attends.

As can be seen from Carracher’s list, baby boomers see many of the same benefits of Internet use as we do. So what does their adoption of this medium mean to us? What should we consider when making an Internet that is easy for both the young and the old to use? We should think about the following when taking on this task:

  1. The adult population on the web is only going to continue growing. “Don’t ignore them.”
  2. Making the web easy for individuals who are not tech-saavy without being insulting. “We need to make sure we are building it to empower everyone.”
  3. How accessible the website is. Can adults with poor eyesight and a hearing aid take advantage of a web page the same way a college student with 20/20 vision and perfect hearing can?
  4. How we can educate elders on technology use. Baby boomers are not as tech-savvy as we are and there would be severe consequences if they fell in to the “digital divide.”

Rather than shunning adult use of the Internet, we should embrace it. Even better, we should partake in a sort of “community service” and help them understand the medium. If we do that, we can all live harmoniously and enjoy the great power of the Web together.

Follow Jamie Carracher on Twitter.

Add comment Posted in  Individual Tech Blog Items  Tagged:  , , , , April 18, 2011

Twitter vs. Facebook in building news brands

In her article “Channeling the news brand on Twitter and Facebook,” Mandy Jenkins discusses how newsrooms can most effectively use such social media outlets. One of the most important things to remember, according to Jenkins, is that Twitter and Facebook are not equal, and therefore require individual attention.

Jenkins offers the following advice to help guide newsrooms on Twitter use:

  1. Quality content over quantity of content: seek the most immediate, informative information that will set up a dialogue for your followers to ask questions
  2. Use good judgment: use information that will promote your brand. In Jenkins’ words, “some stories that come across your desk may not be ideal for the brand’s Twitter account.” You want to tweet stories that are as useful as possible
  3. Pay attention to time: tweet during high traffic hours of the day, mainly “in the morning, over lunchtime and in the late evening.” Think “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If a story breaks late at night and no one is awake to read it, does it really matter or make an impact?
  4. I tweeted it once, I’ll tweet it again. Tweeting an important story more than once is absolutely fine. Just reword your tweet and you’re golden, it makes the story sound new and will attract additional readers.
  5. Not all headlines are created equal. Some headlines transition to Twitter more easily than others. Sometimes you have to change the phrasing to make the most impact with a given tweet.
  6. Perfection by selection: Retweet information only if it is relevant, trustworthy, and important. Nobody likes the friend who retweets everything he or she sees.
  7. Be true to your newsroom. Don’t lose sight of your intended audience and the purpose for your Twitter account.

These tips provide journalists with sound advice about tweeting, but “what about Facebook?“, you may ask. Lucky for you, Mandy Jenkins also offers advice as to it’s use as well:

  1. Conversation starter: update your Facebook page with information that you would share with friends. If the link or update will allow for friendly conversation, than feel free to post it to Facebook.
  2. The time is right: update your Facebook during times of heaviest traffic. Employers are not fond of staffers being on the website during office hours, so it is wise to update Facebook when they are home and free to use the site at their leisure.
  3. Use discretion with cross-posting: hashtags were made for Twitter, long updates were made for Facebook. Remember: “Facebook users shouldn’t be seeing Twitter names and hashtags – and Twitter readers shouldn’t be seeing tweets that are too long coming from a Facebook stream.”

With the advice of such an influential social media superstar, you will be ready to use social media to your newsrooms advantage! Just remember Jenkins‘ guidelines and pointers and you will be golden.

Follow Jenkins on Twitter.

Add comment Posted in  Individual Tech Blog Items  Tagged:  , , April 8, 2011

How social media would have affected 9/11/2001

LA Weekly blogger Alexia Tsotsis examines how social media would have influenced reactions to the September 11th attacks in the article “What would 9-11 be like in the age of Social Media.”

She explains that, “our real-time communication platforms would provide crucial information on survivors and those looking for loved ones, as Craigslist did after Hurricane Katrina.”

By using social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, people would have quicker access to a multitude of information relating to the crisis. According to Tsotsis, social media outlets would have allowed for:

  1. Multimedia from those inside the World Trade Centers. If the attacks had taken place during 2010, office workers would have been able to tweet about what was going on and post pictures of the impending disaster. Even more importantly, they would be able to post video that would capture the true horror of 9/11. Had they had iPhones and other sorts of technology, we would have been able to more clearly understand the reactions of those inside the building, rather than just imagining it through the reactions of spectators.
  2. Videos from passengers on the planes. If we had the level of cellular device use that we have today, we would have hundreds of videos of passengers on the jets that crashed in to the twin towers. We would be exposed to a plethora of videos of passenger reactions and maybe even videos of the terrorists as they hijacked the planes.
  3. More myths, and quicker mythbusting.” With the use of Twitter or Facebook anyone and everyone would be able to post their opinions or their encounters during 9/11. We would have more exposure to conspiracy theories and exposure to people claiming that the Bush administration knew about the attacks all along. We would also, however, have access to people arguing that the 9/11 attacks were not an inside job and that Bush and his advisor’s had absolutely no knowledge of these attacks.
  4. More opinions. After Bush declared war on Iraq, Americans would have been faced with a flood of tweets that both supported and opposed the war. On the extreme, conservative side, some might say, “lets show those Jihad terrorists what America’s made of.” On the more peace-loving side, however, tweets might say, “peace in the Middle East not death showers and bombs.”

There is no denying that the American reaction to 9/11 would have been entirely different if Twitter and Facebook had been around. We would have access to an unprecedented amount of information from an unbelievably huge amount of people. Along with just being exposed to more personal encounters, and being able to find information more quickly, we would also be exposed to international opinions of the attacks. It is very apparent that if we were able to decipher the sound from the noise in the world of social media, we would have had a much better, unbiased understanding of the devastating attacks on that infamous September day.

Follow Alexia Tsotsis on Twitter.

Follow LA Weekly on Twitter.

Add comment Posted in  Individual Tech Blog Items  Tagged:  , , , , April 8, 2011

Response to “Mindy McAdams: reports vs. stories” review

Several weeks ago I wrote a review on Mindy McAdams article “Is your story actually a story.” In said article I discussed McAdams beliefs on novice journalists and how they have difficulty finding actual stories. I never, however, came to a conclusion on how to create or what constitutes a good “story.” In her more recent article, “Teaching about storytelling,” McAdams elaborates on creating a good story, and what separates student journalists from their more experienced adult counterparts.

You might be wondering why a journalist is able to find a story anywhere he goes, when you can’t find a story no matter how hard you look. McAdams explains that professionals are so adept to finding stories because “they are curious about the world, about people, about things they see. They aren’t walking around thinking: “Damn, I have to find a story …” They’re thinking: “Wow, I wonder who made that? I wonder why she’s doing that? I wonder how that got here?” The only way that we can create truly exceptional stories is if we are curious and if we find the answers to questions that nobody else asks.

Rather than fretting about the beginning, middle, and end of a story, beginner journalists should “think about what they want to end with — the point of it all.” According to McAdams, “if you can’t tell me that [why a story is so important], then you do not have a story at all.”

After determining your objective, all that you need to do to create a story is analyze:

1. How effective your story is

2. Why it will grab a reader’s attention

3. How the story will hold a reader’s attention

4. How you come to the point of your story

5. How well you conclude the story
If your story determine that your story is effective, and will grab and hold your readers’ attention then you have graduated from elementary level journalistic reports and are well on your way to writing news stories comparable to those of professionals in the field.

Add comment Posted in  Individual Tech Blog Items  Tagged:  , , April 4, 2011

Timelines: bringing interactivity to reporting

“A timeline is a useful — and helpful — type of information graphic, and fairly common in journalism,” Mindy McAdams

When creating packages for the Internet, we often become caught up in using a one size fits all formula of a written story by accompanied several photographs, a video, or maybe even a short sound clip. As reporters we need to remember that not every story is effectively conveyed in this manner, and explore the other formats for story telling. In her article, “Timelines in journalism: a closer look,” Mindy McAdams examines the way a timeline can be used for our articles.

Before using time-related formats in our writing, it is important for us to realize the difference between a timeline and a chronology. According to McAdams, a timeline shows actual spans of time, with proportional measurements for decades, years, days or hours, depending on the total time involved.

A chronology, however, “shows the momentum of a series of events” and is best conveyed in a list format. The Washington Post perfectly executed the chronological format in the following article about the Watergate Scandal:

Now that you know the different time formats, it is important you understand when to use them. McAdams suggests that we answer these questions before drafting our timelines:

  1. Is this a story about hours, days, years or decades?
  2. Should equal periods of time be represented with equal space? (Example: 100 pixels equals one year.)
  3. Are parallel time periods required? (Example: While this was happening in India, this was happening in China.)
  4. Does it make sense to combine the timeline with a map or a line graph?
  5. Should photos or other images be added to the timeline to help tell the story?
  6. How much text is necessary to make the story understandable — and satisfying?

After you answer all these questions, it is important to decide how to convey your timeline. The most obvious way to present the information is with a line and events going from left to right. With online journalism, however, we do not have to stick to such a conventional method and we are free to explore more interactive formats. The Guardian did an excellent job with an interactive timeline in their article “Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests. Some tools that you can use to help you create an interactive timeline similar to The Guardian’s include Dipity and Simile.

After creating the timeline either through your own coding or through one of the aforementioned websites, and before uploading it to your website, you should answer the following questions:

  1. Will people like it?
  2. Is it helpful, easy to understand?
  3. Is it confusing?
  4. Hard to use?
  5. Does it add something that text alone would not convey?
  6. Does the graphic need to be a timeline — or would a regular slideshow (or map, or whatever) be equally effective?

If you answered yes to a majority of these questions then you are ready to upload your timeline to your website! Congratulations on your mastery of this simple yet extremely important story format!

To read McAdams full article, click here.

Add comment Posted in  Individual Tech Blog Items  Tagged:  , , , April 4, 2011

Digitize me, please

“Its time for everyone to accept that the amount of information in our lives is going to keep growing” – Mark Briggs

As the world is transitioning into socialization on the Web, it is also transitioning into a world of digital data. The amount of information we have at our fingertips through the Internet is incredible. Even more unbelievable, still, is the enormous amount of tools we have to deal with that overwhelming supply.

In terms of email, we are able to label and store messages in folders on the basis of sender, date, or topic. We used to only be able to open our files on the computer it was created on, but with the advent of cloud computing, we are now able to open our files wherever we go, whenever we want, so long as an internet connection is available.

But wait, this article is only talking about how digitalization effects you personally. How has this transition affected the journalism world and how will it effect you as a journalist?

I’m glad you asked. One of the most important ways that the digital movement has changed journalism is by allowing reader networks. “These databases organized the contacts that already existed in the newsroom, creating a valuable tool for its journalists to use while conducting and distributing reporting,”says Mark Briggs. No longer did reporters have to make use of their own personal Rolodex, they could tap in to the sources of all their coworkers, allowing them to create even better stories.

Digitilization has also allowed newsrooms to organize their world. Through programs such as Basecamp, news rooms are able to “track all the news stories, photographs and other elements that go into the newspaper and onto its Web site every day.” This way reporters, editors, and all other staff members can be aware of the progress of a story, and there is no more missed communication.

Data-driven journalism has also been born through digital transition. Through this practice, newspapers are able to provide to their audiences “a searchable database format,” that allows them to find the facts they want about a certain topic. In this chapter, Briggs cites an example of the The News Press publishing a database of FEMA handouts after the 2004 hurricanes in Florida. “In the first 48 hours, visitors to the site performed more than 60.,00 searches. Each person wanted to know who got paid what in his or her neighborhood, and The News-Press was able to help each person find out without writing thousands of different stories.”

Databases cannot tell all digital stories, however. A driving factor of many stories may be location. With the creation of Google Maps, reporters are now able to pinpoint exactly where a given event occurs. These “map mashups,” as they are referred to, are especially useful in traumatic situations. The Des Moines Register used the idea of mapping to tell a story perfectly when it covered the aftermath of the Parkersburg tornado. The Register embedded a map on to its webpage and allowed users to click on different locations on that map. As they clicked on the different pinpoints, the viewers were able to see images homes before the tornado, directly after the tornado, and after the reconstruction. Even more exciting, viewers were able to watch security camera footage which captured the tornado’s destruction in a way nothing else could. Without the digital transition, an interactive and incredible story like this could not be told.

This surplus of information, data, and data-computing programs, seems overwhelming at first look, but don’t let it discourage you. These tools are aiding us as reporters to create stories in ways that have never been thought possible. Digitilization is making journalism’s future bigger and brighter than ever before!

To hear professional journalists speak about data driven journalism, watch this video.

Add comment Posted in  Briggs "Journalism Next" Chapter Reviews  Tagged:  , , , , March 23, 2011

Practice makes perfect: a beginner’s guide to videography

“The only way to learn video journalism is by doing it. It will take time and practice to master the fundamentals. But don’t let that stop you from trying to learn, because you must just DO IT, over and over, to get good at it. The best thing you can do is attempt to make all your mistakes as quickly as possible.”- Angelena Grant of

Many journalists feel intimidated by the idea of videography, feeling that high level video work is necessary when telling a story visually. This, however, could not be farther from the case. Our audiences don’t care if our filming is worthy of the next Academy Award. They are very forgiving with the level of skill apparent in the video. “If it’s authentic, if it takes a viewer to a news event or behind the scenes of somewhere important, it works,” says Mark Briggs.

The only item you will need in order to create video journalism, at the most basic level, is a digital camera, or a smart phone with video capabilities. If you are more experienced with video, though, you can try adding the following items in to the mix:

  • Large capacity batteries
  • Additional mini-DV tape or storage capacity on memory cards
  • External microphones
  • Tripod
  • Lighting equipment

Once you have suitable equipment for your reporting, you should get out on the field and practice shooting. Some methods you should focus on as you verse yourself in videography include:

  • Getting good clips so you don’t waste time editing
  • Avoiding panning and zooming
  • Holding your shots so you will have more material to work white
  • Staying silent so you don’t produce unwanted audio
  • Framing and composing the footage in a way flattering to your subject
  • Ensuring that you can hear the subject, because, as Angela Grant states, “if you can’t hear what people are saying, there’s no point in watching the piece.”

After you have collected film that meets some, or better yet all, of these qualifications you can edit the image. Some things to keep in mind during editing include:

  • Making sure that your video software is compatible with your video equipment
  • Keeping the piece short as viewers lose interest more quickly on the Web

Once you have produced your final product, you are ready to distribute your piece. Before placing your video online, it is important that it is compressed, facilitating easier downloading. YouTube is just one source that compresses files for its users, but if you are up to the challenge, you can always compress the file yourself. When the video is placed on the web it is important to consider the audience. If you want your family, friends, and a small amount of loyal followers to view your video, than you will probably just want to upload it to your website. If you want millions of people, perhaps around the world, to see the piece, then uploading to YouTube or another video-sharing site is imperative.

Although you may fear that viewers will not watch your piece because it is not up to par with that of news stations such as NBC, your viewers will still appreciate and watch your work. It is imperative that you remember that the quality of your videography skills is not what is important in your stories, it is the quality of your content.

To learn more about video journalism, watch this video.

Add comment Posted in  Briggs "Journalism Next" Chapter Reviews  Tagged:  , , , March 23, 2011

Making sense of the digital world despite the myths

The world of journalism brings with it an enormous amount of confusion, as we are in one of the biggest transition period since the printing press. In his article “5 Myths about digital journalism” Mark S. Luckie speaks of several points of confusion, and tries to debunk them.

The first myth he speaks of is journalists must know everything. According the Luckie this myth could not be farther from the truth. As he puts it, “the trick is not to be a master of everything, but to be knowledgeable about the tools at your disposal.” Imagine this: you are a company-owner seeking to hire somebody for your press department. You have one candidate who is an expert on web design but does not know much about social media and one candidate who knows a little bit about web design, writing, photography, and videography. Who would you be more inclined to hire? Probably the second candidate with experience in several different aspects of multimedia.

The second myth Luckie speaks about in his article is social media is the answer. The world of Twitter and Facebook has allowed us to connect with our audiences in ways that were inconceivable less than a decade ago. As the journalism ship is sinking, it is easy for us to become caught up in the idea that it will be the clear answer that will save us all. Nobody, “not even social media gurus” knows what is going to save journalism. All that we can do is use “social media to help augment and distribute the news” and to make “audiences more invested in the development and discussion of news.” If that is enough to save journalism remains to be seen.

The third myth in this article is journalists must have database development skills. Although it is good to have some skill with web page development, Luckie essentially tells us that we just aren’t as good at . He explains, “unless a journalist has a knack for computer programming and web development skills, the quality of work they can produce cannot match the level of expertise of a dedicated programmer or developer.” Don’t let these words discourage you from practicing web design, though. Who knows, one day you might even be considered your organization’s resident Internet expert!

The fourth myth is that comments suck and that they are essential for democracy. Many people believe that comments are awful. As Luckie puts it, “truly civil and engaging comment threads that news sites strive to cultivate are far and in between.” The reason for such unsuccessful message boards is not necessarily the fault of our readers, however. We cannot control the fact that some lunatics frequent our websites and like to voice their opinions. What we can control is if we allow those users to post comments. By making use of tools such as Facebook Connect and “flag comment” features, we can take positive steps necessary towards the truly engaging conversations we desire.

The last myth he talks about in his article, which is perhaps the most reassuring point he makes, is that there are no journalism jobs. It is indeed true that there are much more applicants for a much smaller amount of jobs today. It is also true that “journalism jobs that existed decades ago are often not the jobs that are available.” Don’t let these facts hinder your decision to go in to journalism though. With the tremendous growth in online journalism ventures, journalists just need to learn to look in unexpected places for jobs. Rather than being set on print journalism, look towards jobs in social media or other multimedia aspects. Also, remember to “set yourself apart from the pack by developing diverse and unique skills.” If you practice with Twitter and blogging, photography and Photoshop, and with sound editing software such as Audacity, you will stand out from the enormous group of unemployed, and will very quickly receive job offers.

Add comment Posted in  Individual Tech Blog Items  Tagged:  , , , , , , March 10, 2011

Twitter is not a popularity contest: most followers is not equivalent to most successful

Mass friending on social media: its something that almost everyone is guilty of. You, though, could not possibly be guilty of such an offense! How proposterous, right?

Ask yourself the following questions concerning Twitter:

1. When or why did you get your Twitter? Was it for personal entertainment or was it for business purposes that could help your brand growth?

2. Who was your first follower on Twitter? Was it a family member or a friend or was it one of your brand loyalists?

3. Who did you first follow on Twitter? Was it a family member, friend, or celebrity you like or was it a member of your audience or person with similar passions?

If you chose the first answer to any of these questions, you are indeed guilty of said offense.

You don’t want to simply sit on Twitter for your own enjoyment, you will not benefit from it, nor will your followers. What you need to do, according to Patrick Thornton of, is “create a quality experience on social media that will get people to interact with you, retweet you, link to you, talk about you, and tell their friends about you.” If you do this, you will have the best chance for organic growth.

It is difficult to separate family and friends from professional social media but in the world of journalism, it is imperative to do so. Just because you have more followers than one of your colleagues does not mean you have a more successful Twitter than them. In his article “Followers (or fans or friends) are not all created equal,” Thornton offers us some advice to help us in the separation.

The following is a list of points that Thornton believes will assist us.

1. “Only follow people that you want to interact with and that would be interested in your organization or project.

2. Look for ways to be interactive. Make your tweets enjoyable for your followers so they look forward to coming to your Twitter.

3. Make sure your content isn’t all about your self. Link to or retweet articles from colleagues that relate to your interests on a larger scale.

4. Follow Thorton’s 10-5 rule: for every 10 posts that involve links to cool articles, photos, etc. or ask people questions, you should have at least five @replies to your followers.

If you strive to abide by these guidelines, you will be able to create an interactive and enjoyable experience for your audience. They will then retweet you and recommend you to their friends, allowing for fan base growth. With the fan base growth, you will have the potential to become extremely successful and truly create a beneficial experience on Twitter. That’s more priceless than proving you can have the most followers, wouldn’t you agree?

Add comment Posted in  Individual Tech Blog Items  Tagged:  , , , March 10, 2011

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