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The decline of college newspapers

Posted by: | April 19, 2016 | No Comment |

Are on campus newspapers dying?

Possibly. Many colleges and universities are moving to an online model and dropping the print version of their news.

However, this shift may not be the best move as print newspapers are still a valuable resource for advertisers.

The question is are student media organizations able to adjust to the change in technology? At most college s the paper prints weekly, which means that stories have a slow release time. It is near to impossible to release breaking news through this platform. For online news organizations, they can quickly post and edit breaking news almost as it happens.

Is print news too old to focus on?  No. A college paper is something physical you can hand someone. With the large space that is the internet, it is hard to stand out. With physical news, a reader is given something tangible to keep, which would entice them to keep reading.


under: Comm 455, newspapers, social media
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When one thinks of Benjamin Franklin it is difficult to think of him outside the political spectrum. One of the founding fathers of the United States, he contributed much to the Americas in a variety of ways.

What some people may not know is that Franklin was more than just a diplomat; he was an author and printer as well. Outside of organizing the first successful American lending library, he and Hugh Meredith purchased the Pennsylvania Gazette from a former boss in 1729.portrait_bf

Under the new ownership of Franklin and Meredith, the Pennsylvania Gazette quickly went from a struggling newspaper to the most read and successful among the colonies. The newspaper itself contained many stories revolving around lifestyle and issues of the colonial times.

The newspaper would also publish full texts of important political documents of the time such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Letters from a Farmer, Thomas Payne’s Common Sense, The Federalist Papers and many more.

Outside ox13582-004-473F0468.jpg.pagespeed.ic.JVw8EOG8tnf ownership, Franklin would regularly contribute to the paper under aliases. One big contribution the Pennsylvania Gazette provided to journalism was the birth of the first American political cartoon. Entitled “Join or Die”, the political cartoon highlighted Franklin’s view of the fragmented state of the colonies and pushed the idea of unity among the colonies.




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Ida B. Wells was a prolific activist and muckracker who used her journalistic abilities to expose the brutal lynchings of African Americans in Memphis, Tennessee that were tragically common in the late 1890s.

ida be wells photoLiving in a segregated, post-slavery society, Wells experienced discrimination herself that inspired her to write about the struggles of African Americans at the time. She taught in an all black school and was a vocal advocate for the improvement of their conditions. While teaching she also served as a journalist and publisher of the papers Memphis Free Speech and Highlight and Free Speech, both of which she owned.

After a well respected and accomplished businessman in Memphis was taken from prison and murdered in a lynch mob for defending his store from white vandals, Wells took up the anti-lynching. She published articles in her own papers and others across the south. She even traveled to England to expose the horrors of lynching to the rest of the world through her writing and speaking.

Back in the States, Wells published an investigative piece on lynching in the New York Age, reaching audiences outside of the south. Wells went on to publish a book called A Red Record,  which served as a compilation of all her writings and investigations on the topic. As the founder of the of the National Association of Colored Women, she led a crusade to reform the treatment of African Americans, specifically with regard to lynching and other forms of brutality, to President McKinley.

Wells died in 1931 but left behind a legacy of newspapers, pamphlets, books and articles that utilized the printed word and the art of muckracking to enact social change in her community and throughout the country.

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UPS blog photoIn the wake of the countercultural sentiments of the 1960s, a group of local papers whose objective was to give new ideas a voice in print formed a network known as the Underground Press Syndicate, or UPS.

The organization represented an effort to unite even the smallest and newest of papers to freely publish their thoughts and ideas, and gave writers a network to use in order to educate themselves and the masses on the issues of the day in an open setting. Papers included in the UPS spanned the country and notably included The Fifth Estate, The Berkeley Barb, The Rag, East Village Other, and the Los Angeles Free Press.

UPS sponsored conferences throughout the country and encouraged the exchange of ideas among its members at such events. Criteria for membership simply included allowing other UPS members to reprint content, have access to subscriptions of an individual publication, and listing the contact information of other UPS members in their paper.

Publications included in the UPS focused on a wide variety of social issues and made a special effort to include support for the women’s liberation movement as it grew throughout the decade. Although these papers were clearly driven by opinion and diversity of thought as opposed to straight reporting, the network of contact information and reprinting agreements mirrors that of a wire service but for smaller, more dogmatic papers. According to historian Abe Peck, the UPS and the rise of the alternative press in conjunction to counterculture itself “represent[s] the participatory democracy, community organizing and synthesis of politics and culture that the New Left of the midsixties was trying to develop.”

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A bitter sweet existence

Posted by: | March 29, 2016 | No Comment |


The Washington Post released an article called “Sweet and Sour” by Marta Zaranska this week that was quite interesting, to say the least.

The article described a plethora of research and increase in studying a potential psychological-olfactory correlation. According to the article, in essence, mood and taste buds are linked. According to studies, your mood can influence things such as how sweet the water is that you are tasting.

… And this is just the beginning.

Not only can mood influence  the things we taste,but the things we taste can also influence our mood and perceptions about our environment around us. The results have shown that ingesting sweets has the potential to “make you feel more romantic” and a 2013 experiment found that just thinking of love can even make plain water “taste sweeter”.

Nancy Dess, a professor of psychology at Occidental College in Los Angeles performed a study on bitter sensitive rats. Her findings found that those that showed a higher aversion to bitterness were also “more jumpy” then regular rats and showed hire indicators of stress than others. in addition, they also showed higher levels of social subordination.

In addition, a propensity towards certain tastes can tell a lot about an individual’s personality type. The article describes how individuals who are typically more sensitive to bitter taste are not only more easily disgusted than others but also have a tendency  to be more emotional “…after watchingand anger and do you think video then other people”.

A 2014 study conducted by German and American psychologist showed that bitter-sensitive individuals were much more likely to be “jumpy” and react more strongly when exposed to loud noises.according to science, this makes sense. Naturally bitterness tells us that a food could potential he contain toxins and is an indicator of danger. So, it is therefore logical to find that bitter sensitive individuals would also have a higher level of sensitivity to other cues of dangerin other aspects of life.

Furthermore, The author went on to state that people who enjoyed foods with more bitter notes in them (i.e. tonic water, radishes)we’re more inclined than others to admit that they “enjoyed tormenting people or that they tend to manipulate others to get their way”.

Does your significant other tend to enjoy a nice, wholesome grapefruit every morning for breakfast? Be careful–Because if they do, they’re probably a sociopath..


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NME and the music newspaper

Posted by: | March 29, 2016 | No Comment |

If the Beatles have a song named for it, it must be important. I’m talking, of course, about the British music newspaper turned magazine and blog, the New Musical Express (or NME). The music newspaper launched in 1949 in standard newsprint format, and was the first to publish its own singles chart that tracked the climate of music in the UK based on record sales.

The publication has documented the many trends and bands coming out of England for the past 60 years. From psych rock and the rise of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the 60s to the punks of the 80s and the chaotic Madchester scene of the 90s, NME covered the most ground on anything going on in the music world. In a country known for producing some of the finest music in the past decade, music fanatics and casual listeners alike could rely on the paper for comprehensive charts and entertaining coverage.Nme_blur_oasis

And when musicians from the US started to dominated the airwaves, NME jumped o
n that too, covering the likes of Nirvana. The rise of indie rock again in the early 2000s gave writers lots of new content. The internet allowed them to reach new audiences with online publication of articles but sales still dipped. NME.com saw success and won several awards for its online coverage.

The publication is responsible for informing the masses about indie music throughout many decades. Some have criticized the publication’s one sidedness when it comes to covering only certain genres. But borne of that was calling music that sounds like NME would cover it, well, NME. If a publication’s lasting impression is the coining of its own genre, I would say they’ve weathered the storm of change within the world of music journalism.

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Recently I read on of the best articles I’d read in a while. Part feature, part investigative it’s a Washington Post article called ‘A Marine’s Convictions’ written by  reporter John Woodrow Cox. It chronicles Marine Maj Mark Thompson, who was accused of sleeping with two students while a teacher at the Naval Acadamy– an offense that could result in being barred from the service. It asks the question — Is he innocent?

Using a refined attentional to detail, visceral descriptions and the reinforcement of audio Cox told the story so eloquently and grippingly that I went and read a bulk more of his articles.


The first and second place winner in 2014 for a Society for Features Journalism’s Short Feature award and finalist for Scripps Howard’s Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Storytelling, he is easily one of the best storytellers in the industry.

With 2,147 Twitter followers, why isn’t he more of a celebrity? Why do people opt to tweet and retweet what Anderson Cooper(7.32M followers) says and not a phenomenal writer like John Woodrow Cox?


It largely has to do with our society, how we create celebrities, and most importantly — reach.


Correspondents developed because publishers wanted to tell the news of abroad. There simply wasn’t a need for correspondents with spoken word — the people were  the correspondents. With the development of the printing press and moveable type, information was able to spread vastly, feeding the appetite for news. Correspondents expanded the news and helped to deliver the news at a faster pace.


Anderson Cooper, works in the same sense. He has a farther reach and therefore, is able to spread the news and satisfy the need for news to more people. He aids in helping people to feel ‘in the loop’ because if they are watching it, more likely than not, a friend is watching it as well. Why does that matter? Because there is an intense need to be informed and ‘ready’ for discussion. A celebrity correspondent is a part of that culture of need.

If you’re able to reach the masses and ‘connect’ with them, you gain celebrity, regardless often times of talent or precision. This is a concept that Michael Steven’s addresses in his book at length.


The question is, what’s more important? The correspondent delivering the news or the news itself?



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Above the fold

Posted by: | March 15, 2016 | No Comment |

On March 6th 2016,  Former First Lady Nancy Reagan passed away.

Here is what was on the cover major newspapers the next day.

Monday March 7th, 2016

Looking at top of each front page, called “above the fold” we can see the majority have a picture and a story about the passing of the first lady. The is one paper that does not, the Washington Post. Instead the Post’s top headline is that of a baseball stadium in Havana Cuba that is preparing for the arrival of President Obama for a baseball game with the Tampa Bay Rays facing the Cuban National Team.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 1.47.05 PM  above the fold



Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 1.47.19 PM  below the fold


From a graphics standpoint I think this is interesting for a few reasons. First, while other papers have Reagan on the cover, the fact that the Post does not makes it stand out. I see this as a good thing. In the world of digital media, the majority of the Post’s readership would have already known about the passing of the former first lady. The would not likely know about the the baseball game in Cuba.

One thing that is interesting is why the post about baseball is on the front page anyway? Since Washington is a big hub for politics, a story like this does make some sense as a top story, since President Obama will be traveling there. at the same time though, Nancy Reagan was a powerful person in Washington as well. As first lady, she kick started the “just say no” campaign in regards to drugs.


Overall I think the digital expansion of news online is affecting newspapers in an interesting way, starting with the front cover. News organizations have to adapt to the fact that a paper may not be the breaking source for news anymore, so that have to come up with ways to attract eyes to the page.




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Nellie Bly was an American journalist known best for writing an in depth expose on abuses taking place in an asylum. While writing this piece, Bly went undercover as a resident to better undernellie_bly_king_of_the_lobby_compositestand the inner workings of her subject. Her consummate approach to storytelling earned her a name among the ranks of famous muckrakers of her day. To this day Bly is celebrated for her journalistic achievements.

Her pioneering career began while struggling to find work as a young teacher in Pittsburgh. She wrote a letter to the Pittsburgh Dispatch expressing her displeasure with their coverage of working women, admonishing the author for their narrow mindedness and shedding light on the challenges women of her time faced. Impressed by her passion and craft, the paper hired her.

By 1887, Bly began writing for the New York World. She was given the assignment of covering the conditions of a notorious home for the mentally ill in New York state. Rather than observe its residents or conduct interviews with staff, Bly posed as a patient and entered the asylum for ten days. Her story got the attention of many in the community and actually created social change among lawmakers and locals who saw the mistreatment of those institutionalized at the center.

Bly also made a name for herself by traveling around the world on a solo journey in just 80 days. This trip brought her even more fame, and she went on to write a book about her travels. Whether Bly used her experiences to give others a voice, went undercover or staged a great adventures, she holds a place among the world’s best journalists and one of the original muckrackers of her time.

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Journalism isn’t dying

Posted by: | March 1, 2016 | No Comment |

(The Gutenberg Parenthesis) – its an idea that everything after Gutenberg and the printing press was an interruption to the ‘original’ form of communication, word-of-mouth.

In Megan Garber’s blog post ‘ The Gutenberg Parenthesis: Thomas Pettitt on parallels between the pre-print era and our own Internet age’ she quotes Thomas Pettitt, a professor at the University of South Denmark .‘We are going forward to the past’ he says. He argues that books because they were written down, became more valid and were considered more truthful. Pettitt continues to argue that people no longer believe everything that’s written down. No longer are books or print for that matter the medium of truth. The conversation doesn’t divulge into why this is, but Pettitt believes it has to do with the ‘overlapping forms of communication’

In some instances I agree. When information was first written down, it was a way to add validity to what had already been heavily discussed among the people. It wasn’t a matter or believing or not believing the written news. People were already in the know.

The skepticism we see today is tied to the printing press and spread of knowledge. For example, if a searing expose’ goes to print, people instinctively seem to question it. The instinct to question could be considered journalism, and that makes the death of journalism fall into a gray area.

While I agree there is nothing new under the sun and trends are reinvented and seep in and out of generations, Pettit seems to question the power of print and journalism today.

“…the formal press will need somehow to find a place in this chaos of communication, where you can’t decide the level, the status, the value of the message by the form of the message…the press, will need to find some other signals – it’s got to find a way through this

My main issue is that print is tied in so closely with journalism. The argument of the death of print journalism is a well-documented decline; to link the death of print with the decline of journalism is problematic. I read the above as Pettitt saying the press, journalism, is in a state of doom because it’s not considered trustworthy and it can’t be controlled.

Journalism is evolving, especially with the popularity of social media. Not only is journalism evolving, but it has a further reach with the internet and how quickly information is able to be shared.
Broadcast journalism alone can lead to a citizen uprising. Journalism is powerful and people need news. News and journalism although it is changing, will never go away. To say that you can’t decide the value based on the form seems unfounded. The form absolutely can decide the value, especially if you are in tune with your audience.

With that said, word-of-mouth is ever-present in today’s society, and while it may be experiencing a ‘re-emergence’ it’s doing so hand-in-hand with journalism.

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Reports from the battlefield have come and gone with the changing times. From the runners of ancient Greece to carrier pigeons in World War I, information has been the most valuable asset a military force can acquire. In today’s world, people get war reporting on current engagement
s such as those occurring in Syria and Afghanistan from news networks around the world but how does the enemy get theirs? Some follow the news just like any other person but other avenues have been useISIS_Twitter_2d to report.

It is true that Isis watches how global powers report on the ongoing civil war in Syria but they have also utilized the internet to their advantage. Using social media platforms, specifically Twitter, the terrorist group has been able to relay valuable information such as intelligence on enemy positions quickly and efficiently. Their abuse of twitter is not limited to pure surveillance as they readily use the platform to recruit followers, perpetuate their message of hate and report on the war in their view.

According to this Brookings Institute census, Isis is using twitter quite a bit among other interesting findings.  For instance, there are an estimate 46,000-90,000 Isis supporter accounts accounts with the majority of accounts residing in Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Another number that became a commonality in the census pertained to the number of followers. According to the census, each active account had an average of 1,002 followers and 7.3 tweets per day. A key finding that sheds some light on the identities of Isis supporters pertains to language. The study findings suggest that one in every five Isis supporter accounts chose English as the default language.

“73 percent selected Arabic, 18 percent selected English, and 6 percent selected French…likely reflects ISIS’s target audience in the United States for inciting and harassing propaganda.”


Measures have been implemented to tackle this problem and coalition powers have been working with social media to track down these Isis supporters. Twitter alone suspended  more than 2,000 Isis accounts in one week alone in March 2015 just to give perspective on how readily these accounts communicate. Although these moves to combat this problem hasn’t come late, it is almost impossible to stop the spread of news on the internet let alone dealing with a daunting number of Isis supporter accounts. If one avenue of information flow fails, Isis will focus efforts and push their news and message through another platform continuing the endless game of cat and mouse.



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