Wading through the noise: Journalism in the Internet age

The following is a blog post I wrote for a class in response to a post by my professor.

The Internet is a wonderful netwrok of information. It’s also filled with a myriad of storytelling tools that anyone, politicians especially, can access to spread information. But just because a politician uses Twitter to spread information does not mean that journalists should be dissuaded from reporting on that information.

On the contrary, journalists are needed more than ever to filter that information.

The fact that the public can read a press release from a local congressman does not mean that they will just because it is tweeted. To be frank, the larger public doesn’t care, younger people especially. They would much rather watch CollegeHumor than Hillary Clinton speaking on LGBTQ rights.

But, the public does care about topics that the press tells them to care about.

For example, take a tweet by a senator stating her support for a new bill.

Her supporters will see it because they follow her, just like they would see a newsletter or press release she would send out. But, if the Denver Post or Associated Press retweeted it and embedded it in their story thousands more people would see it.

Journalists are paid to pay attention to politician’s tweets. They also pay attention to press releases, appearances, Facebook posts and a number of other things. They wade through the mud and muck to bring the important things to the public’s attention.

The public is overloaded with information as it is. They want someone to tell them what’s important. Journalists can and should play that role in the Internet age.

This is not to say journalists should simply aggregate politician’s tweets and rewrite them into briefs. That’s not journalism. Social media should simply be seen as one more source of information in the course of reporting a larger story.


CU falls to Oregon State

On Saturday the Buffs lost 64-58 to Oregon State in their final home game of the season. I decided to shoot it because it had been more than a year since I’d shot basketball. Good times.

Also wanted to introduce a new storytelling technique I’m trying out… Gifs. Please click on the image below to see the gif.


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The student journalist: #NICAR13

Holy shit.

Just… Holy shit. This place is awesome. I don’t really know how else to describe the awesomicity [new word I just made up to mean the scale of awesomeness] of the 2013 NICAR conference.

And I truly mean awe-inspiring, not just the filler adjective that my generation uses when they can’t think of something else to say.

Where to begin?

For the past few years I have struggled to reconcile my various interests: journalism (specifically visual journalism), computer science and entrepreneurship. Here, they all come together into a beautiful mess of traditional journalists looking to go digital, coders who like telling stories and innovators looking for someone to listen. It really is beautiful to see the breadth of ideas and inspiration that currently surround me.

We (Ali, Ryan and myself) got in a few days ago and have been staying at the Econo Lodge (you’re welcome JMC). Kat and Fish (our T.A. and professor) got in the same day but have been doing their own things. The conference kicked off on Thursday and boy, what fun it’s been.

Right off the bat I got a swift kick in the ass from Chase Davis on what computer-assisted reporting (CAR) really is. He spoke on algorithms and programs I had never even heard of. R and Tableau and D3 and this and that.

While the methods may have escaped me the over-arching concepts stuck. One has to converse with the data because data waste sucks. So often we pull little bits and pieces and miss the bigger picture, which is why data visualization is so important.

I learned all about free and cheap data viz tools from simple infogr.am to cascading tree sheets.

Yesterday I learned about SQLite and databases. By the end of the day I had Sequel Pro installed on my laptop and I was in search of some CSVs.

And the lightning talks, oh the lightning talks. The five minute pitches to try and spread an idea were hilarious and thoughtful all at one time.

Today I spent time talking about how baseball stats can apply to banking and how drones will change the face of sports (Thanks Matt Waite)

I just got back from a lunch with Andy Boyle that really deserves it’s own blog post, but I was afraid that might be a little too much. Boyle is a News Applications Developer at the Chicago Tribune. No big deal.

“I get to solve cool problems all day,” Boyle said in regards to his job. “And people think I’m a wizard.”

The bearded Nebraska-native clarified a lot in the realm of databases and CAR, as well as triggering numerous ideas for the CU Independent.

One thing he said was that, right now, our taste is better than our talent. By that, he meant that we know what looks good and we want to do work like that but we don’t have the skills to do so, at least right now.

The solution? “Just make shit.”

The only way we would be able to grow as CARers is to just start doing stuff. That’s also how we get jobs.

I would be remiss to not mention some new-found friends from Ohio University. They were the ones who invited us to lunch with Boyle. Good folks.

Ah, but now I have to run to some of the final sessions of the conference. There is still one night left but tomorrow morning I’ll be on my way back to Colorado.

Many thanks to JMC and Fish for allowing me the opportunity to come out and participate. I’ve had a swell time.

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Inaug Blog: Busy day

Well, today was it.

And I’m not sure I really shot to my fullest potential. It was a good day, but I’m not terribly excited with my take.

Here’s my essay on activism.

Here’s a GoPano of one of the protests.

Here’s a Lytro I took at that same protest. Not sure about it…

I’m also working on a map of simply our posts.

That’s about it for now. More tomorrow night.

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Inaug Blog: Go time

Today was a day of firsts. I’m pretty tired so I’ll keep this brief.

I mounted a Lytro camera to the hot shoe of my Canon for part of the day.


It wasn’t until I got the Lytro images on my computer that I realized I needed a subject in the extreme foreground and something in the back. This was my best image of the day, although I know I can do much better tomorrow.

I also tried out the GoPano for the first time in the field. Since it’s such a wide angle I need to get a lot closer to any subject. In this video, from the middle of the National Mall, you can see the Capital Building and Washington Monument in the distance.

<I’m having trouble embedding the video. See the link here.>

You can see that I have some work to do in these formats. I’ll have it down by the end of this trip though.

I shot some wild art and features that you can see via the CAPTURED page and some more images on my map, which is also on the site.

What a productive day, learned a lot and got the lay of the land!

Tomorrow I’ll be shooting the Yoga Ball. Yup, a yoga ball. It’s going to be awesome.

Sorry for the brief post, I need to get some sleep for tomorrow and Monday!

InaugBlog: Ink freezes

Editor’s Note: I wrote this last night but the Internet was sporadic and I decided to wait until this morning to publish.

As I packed up my copious amounts of gear tonight, as well as some clothes, something a friend of mine told me rang in my head.

“Bring some pencils because ink freezes.”

Tomorrow morning I’m off to DIA to began a five day multimedia short course thanks to PBS NewsHour. Myself and 12 other college journalists will be compiling content related to the inauguration on Monday.

Our site, the Inaug Blog will contain all of our stories, photos, video, etc. so please check back on that as the weekend progresses.

I’ll try to post here as much as possible as well.

Already, I have created an interactive Google Map, see below, and hope to embed all of our content in the map as the course goes along. My goal is real-time but I know that probably won’t happen.

In any case, it is what it is.

I’ve successfully packed my clothes and gear by this time. Thanks to Steve Outing and the Digital News Test Kitchen I have quite a bit of gear to haul around.

All my gear

All my gear

Outing generously offered to let me use a GoPro Hero3 with hot shoe mount, Lytro and GoPano iPhone attachment in addition to my GoPro Hero3, Canon 5D Mk II, various lenses, MacBook Pro, iPad and Manfrotto sticks.

GoPro – I plan to mount this on top of my camera in order to create a neat timelapse as well as possibly create an instructional video on how I look for photos.

Lytro – My goal is to simply experiment with the Lytro. See what I think it works well with, see what Lytro doesn’t do well.

GoPano – This iPhone attachment is pretty astonishing. It allows me to take video in 360 degrees and allows the viewer to move around his or her viewpoint. I’m really excited to see how I can use this at protests and other events.

My gear – Pretty self-explanatory. I’ll shoot as many stills and video as I can.

Putting all this together, I kept thinking that ink freezes. Double, triple checking batteries, cards, did I get everything I need? What may I need? What can I leave at home?

I think I got it all.

I threw a few pencils in my bag, even though I hate pencils.

Well, I have to be up in five hours so I’d better hit the hay.

Thanks for your interest in my trip and for your continued support. It really means a lot.

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The Student Journalist: The most important principle of photojournalism

(Courtesy N.Y. Post)

(Courtesy N.Y. Post)

Kevin Moloney (an instructor with CU Journalism and Mass Communication, doctorate student and New York Times contributor) has taught me a great deal about photojournalism. And every time I came across the NY Post’s “DOOMED” photograph this week, Moloney’s voice came to mind.

“You should always be a human first.”

One should always help out if the need arises. It has become extremely clear that the situation in New York was complicated. The photographer claims to have tried to alert the train’s conductor with his flash, however it seems that he could have done more. Not being there, it’s hard to say either way.

In any case, the photog’s first instinct should have been to be a human and not to raise the camera. I think we forget that sometimes, hiding behind a lens.

Always be a human first.

Note: This post does not address the horrid judgement of the NY Post editorial staff. Another may, but please note that I am in no way letting them off the hook.

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