The blogging world is full of fakes just like in the real world of journalism. Some bloggers regurgitate content, adding commentary and critiques, playing off of other people’s innovative ideas and reporting. I think that some commentary is necessary for creating dialogue but I don’t think we need to snowball one news story on a 100 different blogs. The different angles blogs can take on an issue make them an interesting addition in journalism but journalism isn’t about commentary.
There needs to be an obvious and literal separation between journalism and blogging. I think both stand-alone in most cases. However, some blogs morph into actual new content sites – this happens when original content is created and the blog itself becomes accountable for the content they post. Another question of blogging entering into the journalism standard is objectiveness. If a blog starts creating its own content and being objective about it, then that is journalism.
The blog, Treehugger is an example of a very advanced blog that covers the environment and sustainability. Discovery Communications bought Treehugger, which has about a 20 person staff and over 50 writers that contribute content. Treehugger is upfront with its mission, it strives to be the “one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information,” by reporting on original stories and commenting on other stories. But if its intent is to encompass all the “green news, solutions and product information,” then reposting stories related to these issues builds on the site’s mission.
While Treehugger is obvious in the niche it covers, it is still more biased towards the viewpoint of an environmentally conscience person. The writers don’t push an agenda or advocate for anything like traditional bloggers might, but they only report on environment and green news. The tone is professional and objective, which makes Treehugger appealing for people that might not understand climate change of promote a sustainable lifestyle but still want to read about those issues. The fact that there is a full-time staff, a diverse group of contributors and is owned by a reputable media company propels the site beyond a blog – making it more accountable for its content.
The blog produces a radio show, newsletter and manages a forum and a user-generated blog called Hugger. I think the blog is responding to demand. There is a population that wants to be informed about environemental news, not just commentary, and want to read it from a source that cares about those similar issues.
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At the same time this August, when the Flatirons blurred behind smoky air from wildfires in California, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research rejoiced.
The fires burning 85,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest near Los Angeles created their own weather system. The smoke forced its way five kilometers up into the atmosphere, high enough to be carried by a wind current into Colorado. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research were able to track the smoky haze using satellite data and further test their models with a real world situation.
Pollutants from the West Coast and Asia can, if meteorological systems align, be pushed up above the boundary layer extending about two kilometers above the surface to travel into Colorado. Models being developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research are about a year or two from being able to accurately predict the movement of pollution on a global scale, according to Louisa Emmons, a scientist working on these models.
“Tracking pollution is important because unless you know where it’s coming from you can’t reduce it,” said Jose Jimenez, a professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado. “You get into these blame games.”
The human health and environmental implications of ozone and carbon monoxide levels – what scientists call chemical weather – are becoming increasingly important to predict as pollution is proven to travel farther from it’s source. High altitude and remote areas, which are either closer to the wind currents above the boundary layer or farther from domestic urban sources of pollution, maybe more vulnerable to long-range pollution.
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Readers need to trust the news they read. The public identifies certain journalists, publications and news outlets as trustworthy and rely on those entities to report accurately and transparently. This relationship is what keeps newspapers and the like alive. With the fall of reputable newspapers like the Rocky Mountain News and constant news of buy-outs, as seen at the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times, it is hard to hope for a long-term commitment from readers. I think the new media has brought distrust among readers and shadowed transparency that the news industry traditionally depended on.
Shrinking newsrooms have forced reporters to double or triple up on beats and responsibilities. Another phenomenon that is building with the slow downward slide of newspapers is the building dependence on coverage by outside news sources. In the past, news wires like the Associated Press and Reuters supplied news outlets with stories, which readers expected, especially if stories were outside of the papers metropolitan area. Now, stories are coming from other sources that are more specialized in their coverage. Sources like Politico, Global Post and ProPublica. If readers aren’t made aware of where they’re news is coming from, it poses some threat to traditional ethics in journalism.
Recently, The Washington Post ran an article from The Fiscal Times about the debate over federal spending. Following the publishing of the piece, it was discovered that Peter G. Peterson, a U.S. Commerce Secretary, who had an interest in the issue being reported a certain way, funds The Fiscal Times. This connection was not made clear to readers when it ran in the paper.
There have been other examples of nebulous sources. One of the most prominent being when in 2004 the Bush Administration produced a video discussing the positive attributes of a change to Medicare that ended up being shown on various news stations.
Outsourcing from other news sources brings diversity and can bring in readers that appreciate more extensive or reliable coverage. However, the relationship between reader and news provider based on trust, objectivity and transparency is called into question. It is harder for readers to perceive an agenda, and conversely, depend on the absence of one. It is harder to rely on objective coverage and it is more difficult for newspapers to control for these inadequacies.
It is inevitable that the news industry will continue to change and change mostly for the better. But, I believe reliable and responsible metropolitan newspapers, will always be in demand. Newspapers should embrace outsourcing, but involve readers in their new more inclusive relationship.
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For iPhone users, technology seems to have no boundaries. It can do anything, just find an App and you can make it happen. People who can’t speak up about the best or closest bars and restaurants, dictate directions or weather predictions with their immediate knowledge, are suddenly the center of attention whilst consulting their iPhone. There knowledge seems boundless, no question can go unanswered. In the space of a 15 minute car ride; a driver was able to speak into the phone and ask it to pull up a google search about where they were headed, solve a tip-of-the-tongue “WHO SINGS THIS” dilemma by simply pulling up one of their Apps and then find out all of the movie times for Avatar.
In a time when technology engrosses, pervades, enhances and defines our culture it is hard to be impressed. When the iPhone pulled through and found the name of the band that I was so close to knowing, I was impressed. I also felt a little behind. Behind on what iPhone users already knew was possible.
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