Review of “The Fight for Falluja” 360 VR Video, The New York Times

When reading different news stories, I often find myself bored, especially when I am reading the same story, from different sources, over and over again. I’ve come to realize that it is not simply the repetition that bores me, but also the method. If I am “experiencing” the same news again, it isn’t that fun when I am reading it once more. However, what about watching it?

Thanks to 360 VR (Virtual Reality) technology, there is a new method to experiencing news stories. Rather than simply show a video, and talk over it, news reporters can now, with new technology, show the audience what it is like to be in the places they are reporting. It does this by allowing the viewer to click on the video, and drag around their mouse to get a 360 view of the picture.

For “The Fight For Falluja”, reported by New York Times photographer Ben C. Solomon, this has an incredible affect on the story. Reporting on Iraqi forces’ attempts to take back the city of Falluja from ISIS,  Solomon uses the technology to his full advantage. The video is very easy to use, and the reporting done in it is excellent.

One of the things I really liked about it was the ability to really see what was going on. Whenever Solomon points out something, like how here is a battle taking place, the viewer is able to see it from all angles. Rather than wonder what the landscape is, or what people are doing all around him, the VR let’s the audience see those things for themselves.

One specific example I like is when Solomon is talking about the cells where ISIS would keep prisoners. When the cell doors are opened, the viewer can then experience what it would be like to be there. This is because, unlike a normal video where you might only get one perspective, the technology allows you to see just how small the “prison” really is. Thus, the technology enhances the detail of the story, as well as the experience.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend the video, which I will link below. It is a sad watch, but the way in which it was shot was very well done. Also, I do have to commend Ben C. Solomon on a job well done, and The New York Times for using this technology so well!

Here is the video:





Review of “The 5 Biggest Problems Plaguing Digital Journalism”

On Medium.com, there is a very interesting article called “The 5 Biggest Problems Plaguing Digital Journalism”. The article was written on January 6, 2016, and was written by Simone Stolzoff. In the article, Stolzoff says what he feels are the 5 major problems, which are; “Monetization”, “The filter bubble”, “Clickbait”, “Disruptive UX”, and “Our attention spans”.

On the topic of monetization, Stolzoff argues that while there are many companies, and news agencies, that can make money from online resources, many still can’t. And one of the main problems is that the companies that can make the money, take up all the readers, leaving the other places in a worse position. Adding to that problem is the issue of what Stolzoff refers to as “the filter bubble”. Because of algorithms, there are ways for the internet to simply show us content “based on past behavior.” Stolzoff says that this in turn keeps us from exploring new content, and with that the means to broaden our horizons, or even challenge our own worldview.

Another issue Stolzoff mentions is “clickbait”. When using that word, the author is mainly trying to highlight the use of “clickbait headlines”. Stolzoff says that because of the amount of clicks a headline can bring, there are many that are “full of superlatives, numbers, and curiosity gaps”. Though I do like that the author mentioned this as a problem, I am somewhat disappointed he did not go into more detail.

When Stolzoff uses the phrase “disruptive UX”, he is referring to the design of some websites, claiming that by increasing the amount of ads on their pages, that sites are in fact discouraging visitors to re-visit. As someone who has not re-visited certain websites, due to a disruptive layout concerning ads, I found this reasoining to be very relatable, and true.  Finally, the author mentions that “our attention spans are shrinking”, and that this damages are ability to read in-depth, and also causes readers to skim, rather than actually read an entire article.

Stolzoff, concluding his article, the suggests for the reader to “Pay for an article, just one, and see how it feels.” A reader should do this, the author argues, for three main reasons.The first one is that paying for an article can be a commitment, and when one commits to something their investing in it as well. Next, Stolzoff says it may feel good to know you’re directly supporting an artist, writer, or creator. Finally, he says that paying for an article will put the reader “back in the drivers seat”. This is because the reader is actively choosing what content they pay for.

In my opinion, I thought Stolzoff wrote a very interesting essay. However, I must admit to feeling a bit dissapointed. As I mentioned, the author came up with 5 different problems digital journalism is facing, and listed them. But rather than expand on his ideas, he only really jotted down a sentence or two for each one. To me, it just felt a little big too rushed, but I still appreciated the topic of discussion.

Article URL: https://medium.com/adventures-in-consumer-technology/the-5-biggest-problems-plaguing-digital-journalism-5b2bda0d24ed#.yx9dcy7ic



Final Project Proposal

Focus Statement/Issue: My story will be about the refugee community in Tucson, identifying and illustrating discrimination.

Subjects: There are groups in Tucson that specialize on the subjects on refugees. One such group is the Iskashitaa Refuge Network, a group located in Tucson that creates opportunities for refugees to get involved and integrated into the community. More specifically, I could speak to Barbara Eiswerth,the executive director of the organization. Phone Number: (520) 440-0100.

Another group I could contact would be Tucson Refugee Ministry, another group that works with refugees in Tucson. The executive director of this group is Cherie Gray. Phone Number (520) 360-9195

Apart from contacting the people in charge of the organizations, I will also help to talk to the refugees that are affected by the groups work. I would like to find out how their time in the United State is, and how they got here. Have they been discriminated against? How so?

For a different perspective, I could also talk to Leila Hudson, who works at the School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies. Email: lhundson@email.arizona.edu

I would probably use B-roll of the group(s)when they visit refugees. I would also like to use footage of the refugees themselves, where they live and what they do. I will also use interviews with various employees of the groups, as well as the refugees themselves.


Review of “Facebook and Google Funding Journalism: A Solution, or a Hail Mary Pass?”

At Fortune.com, there is a section of the website devoted to the subject of technology. However, the article that I will be talking about is not about technology as a whole, but specifically digital journalism.

The article is called “Facebook and Google Funding Journalism: A Solution, or a Hail Mary Pass?”, and it is written by Matthew Ingram. On February 21, 2017, 2 opinion articles were released. One from The New York Times, and the other from the Columbia Journal Review. In the two articles, both authors wrote of a desire to see big media companies, like Facebook and Google, donate money to the cause of journalism.

In his article though, Ingram argues that well the idea behind the opinion pieces may be noble, in the end it’s not all that realistic. Ingram does this by trying to answer three questions: “1) Do technology companies or their founders actually have a duty to do this? 2) Is there any realistic chance that this might actually come to pass? and 3) Would it solve any of journalism’s real problems if it did happen?”

To Ingram, the second question is the first to be answered, and he does so in a very respectful, if blunt, manner. He simply lets the reader think about the current situation, and then lets them think of what the most realistic outcome is. Would a digital CEO donate “over a billion dollars annually for the next five years”?

As for the first question, Ingram bluntly lays out his opinion in only one sentence. However, like his first response, Ingram is both respectful and thoughtful with his answer. In the same way he did with the first one, Ingram challenges the reader to think about the situation at hand.

When answering the third question, Ingram sort of departs from his previous method of responses, and instead begins to argue his point by attempting to deconstruct the media companies themselves, and how they, in fact, would not be helping journalism’s problems, even if they did contribute money.

My favorite part of the article is the ending. In the final paragraphs, Ingram concludes that media entities have their own problems, many of them by their own actions, and that asking them for help “protecting journalism” is more like a “bailout”. However, before ending, Ingram makes sure to reference yet another article. I liked this, as Ingram is not only responding to articles, but providing a reader with more of them, so that they consider another point of view.

URL to article: http://fortune.com/2017/02/22/tech-funding-for-journalism/


Review of “Tutorial: The Transition to Digital Journalism”

The University of California, Berkley has an Advanced Media Institute Section online. In this section of their website, various authors write about various things pertaining to the digital world, such as how to use online tools like Audacity, Dreamweaver, & Final Cut Pro. They also provide useful information on how to access things like voting records, criminal records, and info on lawsuits.

However, the article that I found the most interesting was “The Transition To Digital Journalism”, written by Paul Grabowicz. In that article, Grabowicz explores some digital tools and trends, and how they relate to journalists and journalism in general.

There are probably many articles about the topic of digital journalism, and how it is overtaking print journalism, but this article, to me at least, seemed to be different from the others, mostly because of how in depth they go to show that print is in decline, while digital is on the rise.

For example, rather than simply say that many print publications are going out of business, the article mentions specific examples, and the examples run much deeper than layoffs at The New York Times or The Washington Post. Grabowicz makes sure to mention papers such as The Seattle Post Intelligencer, Ann Arbor News, and Rocky Mountain News. By doing this, the article is making sure the reader understands that the decline of print journalism is not only the big newspapers, but the local ones as well. It may get a reader thinking; is my local paper being affected?

However, Grabowicz does not stop at simply telling readers that print journalism is on the decline, and instead mentions how newspapers have tried to keep their print product, and lists the ways so readers can know what the papers are doing. It is an extremely helpful list, and I was grateful he did that.

Another thing I thought the author did well is not only appeal to those that know about the digital world, but also made sure to let less tech-savvy readers join in by making a list of social networks, and actually saying what they were, and how they were being used. For example, Grabowicz spent a good amount of time talking about how many people are now using the social media site Facebook as a platform to share news. However, after he is done with his analysis, and after he has given an example of a story being shared on Facebook, he then provides information on what it is, and just how many people use it. He also lists other platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. With the information provided, this should help readers understand why those sites are important to digital journalism.

Finally, Grabowicz also focuses a lot of time talking about cell phones, mentioning that nowadays many people are getting their news from their cell phones. He not only mentions that, but also the fact that since many traditional browsers do not appear well on a phone, many news sites need strategies to make their news look interesting to potential readers. Grabowicz then lists some ways news sites do this, which to me was very fun to read.

URL to article: https://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/digital-transform/