My Profile

For my profile, I interviewed my friend Katie. She currently writes for The Review as a Senior Reporter. She hopes to hone her writing skills in this position and apply them beyond UD in her journalism career. My goal for this interview is to probe Katie about some topics we’ve been churning about, plus her writing and where she wants to go with it. I picked Katie to interview because she’s an open person and has experience with different types of writing. I find her tone in her pieces to be exciting enough to keep people interested, but not explosive enough to turn people off.

First things first, I ask her to tell me about the pieces she’s written so far. I wanted to see if they were mostly in one genre, and I found quite the opposite.

“So far it’s been pretty diverse. I have a column, I recently wrote a satire piece for them. I’ve covered a few events, and I’m going to localize a global story for my next piece. I just got published in Delaware Today. It was a sports piece, which is pretty new for me.”

When Katie talks about being on the job as a reporter, her face lights up. I think that is a testament to someone who has found their calling; she is able to adapt in her chosen profession to produce a variety of pieces.

Next I wanted to tackle something we’ve been discussing in class. Being cog in the wheel of journalism, she has a unique perspective on the field and where it’s going. I was looking to see if she’s more Carrful or Boydish by nature.

How do you feel about physical newspapers vs. online publishing? Do you think the internet is destroying the authenticity of reporting or is it a tool for better circulation?

            “I always love seeing my work in the physical newspaper when it comes out-” I can imagine there is an added element excitement to see your words printed in such a form utilized so much powerful writers who came before us. “it makes it feel a lot more real to me. Would it be weird to say I like the smell of them?” I appeased her on this query, but I’m more a book sniffer myself. “That said, I think it would be naïve to say that the internet is singularly destroying or helping newspapers…[it’s] more of a grey area. I think that with the public’s ability to post anything they want, people are wary of the media nowadays and trust the real newspapers much less. But I also think that the internet allows people who may not otherwise read a physical newspaper to get their hands on good journalism. The model is definitely [undergoing] a transition, so I’m excited to see where it will go.”

            We’ve talked a lot about the impression society has of the journalist in our Journalism class. Because of recent events in the news, it is hard for the average person to feel like their news source is as unbiased as possible. Like Katie said, it is hard for the public to trust the media especially newspapers. She touched on something here that we haven’t a lot in class, which is the influx of new readers that have come on the scene because of its availability online. She gives us a good example of this…

            “Students using their UD emails can get a huge discount on The New York Times online. Being a broke college student that I am, I probably couldn’t or wouldn’t shell out the money of a full physical description.” Good to know.

Finally, I asked her about her ultimate goal for her time at The Review. I was looking to see where she wants to go UD and beyond.

“I definitely want to continue to sharpen my skills and begin to write more long form stories, and I also think editing or taking some sort of leadership role would be cool. Long term my dream job would be to have someone pay me to travel and write about it. I’m not sure that job actually exists, but in a perfect world that’s what I would do.”

            To wrap up, I asked her if she had any advice for writing online pieces.

“Try to make it so that every paragraph you’re writing either says something interesting or alludes to something interesting you are going to say later. Each sentence a reader reads should make them want to read more. This keeps your reader on your article. Doing this without being click baity or gimmicky is difficult and requires you to be conscious of each sentence you’re writing, it’s relevance, and how it fits and flows with the piece. Also: don’t use interactive tools. Unless they’re adding something to the story, they can be straight up annoying.”

 

 

Breaking News: Nothing!

For my Social Action assignment, I made it my objective to try and generate buzz for an upcoming event on campus. I am a part of the RSO V-Day which is dedicated to preventing sexual violence. We talk about life on campus, our reactions to news stories, how women and minorities or portrayed in the media, and a lot more. Plus we host The Vagina Monologues, which I didn’t get to experience until I was in college.

The event is hosted by V-Day and S.A.G.E. and it’s called “What’s Your Monologue?” I was interested in promoting this because I think it can be beneficial to share your perspective and “purge yourself” in a way when you’re feeling discomfort about a certain element of your life. There is a kind of catharsis that comes from getting out all that bad stuff. Maybe because of this event people will feel more supported in the community, get some words of encouragement, or just get something off their chest. Humans all want to be heard and felt like they are listened to, this is an event that supports that desire. I think people might be nervous to potentially share private things to an audience, but I think those who do will feel better as a result.WYM 2017 2

For the assignment I posted on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I included the picture of the event flyer. For Twitter and Instagram I used more hashtags to accompany the post because that is the norm on those platforms. With each post, I included encouragement to click the picture and read it, which might have deterred some people. I ended up getting an underwhelming response, very few people engaged with my post at all and even less shared or commented. I think it might have been because I used the Twitter and Instagram accounts I made for class. I would have been able to reach a lot more people if I had used my regular accounts, but only a fraction of those people I would reach are in the area. Overall the response was underwhelming; hopefully people saw it and were interested but just didn’t interact with the post.

 

 

Boyd & Carr

After finishing Ronson’s book, I grew to like his unconventional writing style. I thought his informal speech, combined with his research, interviews, and own experience made the book the most unique work we have read so far. There is a certain fervor to his writing that I think may be fueled by his personal experiences on the internet. It seems Ronson’s online encounter with his troll drove him to delve deeper into ways the internet can strip away people’s freedoms. He and Boyd feel differently about the effects of the internet, but they do have some things in common.

Understanding the concept of online shaming and the effect it can have is crucial in our times. I think that Is evident by the fact that both Boyd and Ronson feel it is necessary to bring up when discussing social media. Ronson’s whole book is based on shaming, he even says “the renaissance in public shaming” is good. (pg. 34) Boyd also addresses shaming in her chapter on bullying.

In “Bullying: Is Social Media Amplifying Meanness and Cruelty” I think Boyd is the more pessimistic than she is in her entire book (which isn’t much). She segways into shaming by first talking about gossip and rumors. She says, “A rumor on Facebook has the potential to spread further and faster and persist longer than any school rumor could have in the past.” (pg. 145) Here she touches on the ability of the internet to be used as a tool to amplify things of interest in a long-term way. This is an idea that Ronson highlights throughout his book when he details the ripple effect that the internet has (on the shamers, the shamees, and anyone else caught in the crossfire) with his interviews. Boyd goes on to say most shared content online is shame related, even though some “productive attention” is out there. Ultimately, she says “People choose what to spread online” (pg. 146) and these things (like shaming) “don’t unfold because of social media.” (pg.147) I agree with the latter, shaming and the tools we use to do it are two very different things. Ronson shows us in his book that we found ways to shame before the internet was even invented. A shovel in one man’s hand is a murder weapon in another’s. We as internet consumers and social media hounds should try and do some more digging

Video vs. Text

I thought using video last week rather than text was a unique experience. I had to take a different approach than I usually do to the video assignment. When I started, I was concerned about how I was going to fill up the minute. By the end of the project, I had to edit a lot out that I wanted to say. In general, I found it harder to communicate what I wanted to say using a video compared to just typing.

When you are typing in a document, you can pour your thoughts onto the page in a moment. If you were to add a video, sound clip, picture, or song to your video to make your point you would need to put in more effort. Taking your ideas and transferring them onto a media platform requires interpretation and editing. However, when you express your idea with a video rather than a block of text you can do so much more with it. Using a video media editor, you can add music, subtitles, transitions, voiceovers, video and so much more. You can create a project with more bells and whistles. This medium is not for everyone though, because if you are not competent using a video editor than the quality of your message suffers. If you were to use a more traditional medium such as a word document, there’s an opportunity to construct a more effective argument.

One aspect of video that makes it so great is the voiceover feature. Many people utilized it in their Concept 60 videos. I thought James’ “How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home” demonstrated this well. His video had action on the screen to follow plus props, so the guidance and the clarification that the James’ voiceover added was vital. I found this useful in my window as well. My Concept 60 video was a step-by-step origami project, so I found voiceover helpful when I was demonstrating folding on camera. That way the video could be concentrated on my hands so the steps would be easier to follow. If James and I did this assignment on a word document, the quality of the overall presentation would go way down. The ideas we were trying to get across would have no examples or directions that were not typed out. While the assignment would be doable, it would still be less effective. The block of text would have to be long just to explain the steps that we could have just shown in the video.

Mackenzie’s video also used tools to help her idea come across better. Her use of pictures steered her concept. They were not stock photos, rather personal pictures. I thought this made her video more effective. The personal touch made the video seem genuine, so if someone watches it who has a prejudice against RAs they might be more likely to listen. In the same way, I thought Ashley M’s use of close-up in her video gave hers an authenticity. The video was simple, but it gave the audience the opportunity to watch her art firsthand. Watching her draw was all the video needed to get her concept across.

Race to the Spotlight

I felt the same uplifting feeling most of the class had when reading Boyd’s work vs. Carr’s. It was nice to be presented with knowledge and then to be allowed to make up our own mind about it. I thought Carr was too heavy-handed with what he wanted his audience to take away from the book. Obviously as a writer that is important, but in terms of appealing to more people I think it hurt his argument. In this sense, I thought Boyd presented an argument more like a journalist. She lays out her piece based on her understanding of her topic, but she does so in an unbiased way. The book centers on informing rather than conforming, Boyd didn’t just try and sway people towards her way of thinking like Carr did. It was a welcome change to move away from the idea that technology is an inevitable foe.

The part of Boyd that struck me the most was what she had to say about attention. I thought it was interesting how she framed our changing relationship with social media with the idea of attention. In “The Celebration of Everyday Life” section of the book, she illustrates how our intimacy with social media is formed from our society’s focus on the value of social and cultural attention. This attention is sought after so much because it colors our society. Boyd points out, as children we see our parents gossiping, reality television, celebrity news and this teaches us our most powerful social currency: attention. I found this to be extremely true, especially recently with the story of “The Average Talentless Nobody Who Got the Attention of America Who is Now Rich Beyond Their Wildest Dreams” becoming so common.

Attention is a very powerful tool, and I believe it may be the outstanding culprit of our generation’s preoccupation with technology. Attention is the tried and true way to ensnare the nation. I believe it is perpetuated by the way of thinking that Carr spoke of that changes the way people who use technology frequently process and store information. To be famous for something trivial was not in the eye of the public until Kris Kardashian created one of the most daunting lucrative celebrity networks that anyone had ever seen. Nowadays it is a lot more common to see someone’s “fifteen minutes of fame” stretched and squeezed for all its worth. (I mean everyone knows the Cash Me Ousside girl) Attention is the what drives this fame. If you can get the attention of the nation, you are set. There’s no better song to illustrate our drive to win the preoccupation of other’s than one of my favorites.

Blurring Boundaries

Carr’s argument centered around the drawbacks of living so close with technology. So much so that I was thinking about the role of technology in our lives as a black and white problem. I was focused on whether the benefits of technology outweigh the impact it may have on us as people. I should have been thinking of an alternate way from which to view Carr’s argument. Technology is not so much a part of our society that we need to decide whether to accept or reject, it is the reality of the way we live our lives now. We should be treating technology as an inevitable human progression and embracing it as an extension of ourselves. Technology is embedded in our lives and we need to learn to wield it, despite generational differences in aptitude for tech. In the 21st century humans can be their own navigational system, personal shopper, entertainment, librarian, teacher, scribe, weatherperson, and pimp without having any of those skills or abilities. All we need to do is whip out our phones. In a way because we have these tools, goods, information, and services right at our fingertips the average person is already a Renaissance man (or woman) without even trying. With these assets at our fingertips basically from birth, it begs the question: Are we on the cusp of discovering more than we ever thought possible because of our connection with technology?

What spurred these thoughts were Carr’s words about the nature of human brain to adapt with advancements so much so these tools become an extension of our body. “When a carpenter picks up a hammer, the hammer becomes, so far as his brain is concerned, part of his hand. When a soldier raises a pair of binoculars to his face, his brain sees through a new set of eyes, adapting instantaneously to a very different field of view.”

tech-pic
Colourbox Stock Photo #7770015
cpt-hook
 James Hook via fandom.wikia

He goes on to present Scott Frey’s words about our capacity as people to “blur the boundary” between the body and the instrument. This blur is certainly an uncomfortable change, (as most changes are) but I think the key to flourishing in this current state is to view technology as a springboard. By a springboard, I mean the beginning of a period of intellectual growth for our generation. We should stop trying to define the potential of technology as a positive or negative influence and utilize it for was it is: an inconceivable opportunity to grow.