Boothe's 4202 Blog

How the Internet and Technology is changing Editing

Archive for January 2012

Sloppier than fiction

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Case Study 1:

Nothing brings out over exaggeration and tall tales in people like stories about animals. After all, Dad’s lone catch following a long day of fishing was never really that big and Bigfoot likely wasn’t the one responsible for making strange noises at your campsite.

Still, when I read an old story from a newspaper in Alaska titled “Eagle Snatches Dog While Owner Watches” there was something deep down in me that wanted the article to be true, despite its silly nature.

Of course, it wasn’t factual. The reporter had just one named source, a gas station attendant, whose recollection of what happened was funny but suspect due to its lack of key details. The dog’s owners were also only identified as a couple from Georgia. If you report on a story this sensational, there has to be more sources than that.

In this case, the reporter and editor needed to ask themselves:

  • When did this happen? And if the dog snatching didn’t happen the day before publication, is the story still viable?
  • If there was more than one witness, why don’t we go after additional interviews as well?
  • Does the attendant have any record, such as a receipt, showing that the Georgia couple was, in fact, at the gas station? How about video surveillance footage perhaps catching the incident or aftermath?

This story isn’t an isolated mistake in journalism. The pressure to write entertaining and interesting articles is immense, so it is understandable for a reporter to be enthusiastic when a promising opportunity arises. Several years ago, a former UF student even succumbed to the demand and foolishly resorted to plagiarism, according to an Alligator story.

In the future, computer software may help editors and reporters keep stories honest by singling out facts much like a spell-checker does. But in the mean time, journalists can make do by using Quora, a social-networking tool that functions like a question and answer site.

If a reporter is holding on to a story they feel is questionable or thin on facts, he or she can ask other media professionals their opinion through the site. On the topic of sources, I asked the question, “If you are a reporter, how many corroborating sources are needed to verify a public occurrence?”

 

 

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Written by jboothe

January 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Week 1 Readings: Curation and Aggregation

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Journalism is changing. Information is overflowing. And I’m becoming squeamish.

After reading through some of the squabbles between competing news sites and blogs over who has the right to aggregate or not, I could not help but to revisit how my own stories are being linked or sourced on the Internet.

In the sports world, it’s tasking for a lone reporter covering a team over an entire season to write about every nuance that occurs both on and off the court.  While writing about the UF men’s basketball team this season, I’ve had several of my stories linked on places that the Independent Florida Alligator competes with like Alligator Army and Gatorzone.

The way these sites aggregate articles is perfect. A quick, punchy lede or description of the story and the reader can click away to a new window if he or she pleases.

However, when looking at the aggregation techniques of publications like the Huffington Post, the need to leave the site is eliminated. All of the pertinent information is ripped from the original and already posted in the “new” story. Though the Huff Post tries to broaden the understanding of a topic – like it did with the teen texting and driving piece – through additional links, its methods discourage people from visiting the original source.

The site will provide the link, such as it did with the Miami Herald, but why would anyone click? They’ve already been inundated with every important facet of the story. There needs to be standards with aggregation. It’s OK to link but just don’t copy.

Speaking of copying, I was curious to read how hot news laws can be an excuse for its occurrence in the HuffPost versus the Herald debate. Back in March 2010, I wrote a feature for the Alligator on a UF football player who was playing rugby, which was a really popular story on our site and spread through sports message boards. About a month later, I found some of my quotes and several passages being used in a Union-Daily Times (S.C.) feature on the same player, who was a local star in high school before coming to Florida.

There was no attribution, link or mention of the Alligator in the new story at all. Without it, I don’t think the story can be simply called aggregation. Instead, it now looks like sloppy reporting if plagiarism.

Curation sidenote: I had never heard of curation in journalistic terms before entering JOU4202 but I found Professor McAdams’ take on the new job description really exciting in its possibilities. I’ve always thought of an editor as a tailor, trimming away the excesses in stories and adding length or style to a piece that doesn’t quite look right. But on the web, there definitely is a need more sweeping hand to guide the reader through all of the information that is available.

Written by jboothe

January 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hello world!

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Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.

Written by jboothe

January 18, 2012 at 12:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized