The Boston Globe

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A recent visit to the Boston Globe illustrates the changing face of journalism: tradition meets tomorrow. What is next for the newspaper industry? Taking a look at the ink stained printing press in the caverns of the Globe reminds us that the newspaper is still alive and kicking. Innovative measures at the Globe are what drive their website and the use of social media in the newsrooms.

The Globe’s Idea Lab is a dim lit space, with funky chairs and carpeting, that provides staff with ways to follow the Globe’s presence in social media. Television screens capture how many times people post an Instagram in Boston, re-tweet a Globe article, or mention the Globe on Twitter. The newest tweet mentioning the Globe shows up on on wall via projection monitor, until another is send out into the Twitterverse.

The technology was interesting, but more fascinating was the people behind them. It was encouraging listening to the passionate, intelligent, and innovative people that are part of what is yet to come for Journalism.

A stop at the Globe’s newly acquired radio station, RadioBDC, available only at boston.com was another great experience. The difference in RadioBDC radio versus a traditional FM station is advertising. Instead of a five minute breaks for commercials, in between music and talking, DJs at RadioBDC can break once every hour, mention their advertiser, and continue giving listeners what they really want: music. It’s also convenient that breaking news is just down the hall, and reporters can come in at anytime to let listeners know what is happening in Boston and beyond. I think it’s a great move on the Globe’s part, and it seems like it is, and will be, a success.

Green is the New Black

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Well this is disturbing.

The Op-Ed piece, “Toxic Chemicals in Clothing Make All of Us Fashion Victims” appeared on the Business of Fashion today. Guest contributor Tommy Crawford of Greenpeace, clues us in on some unknown information about what exactly our clothes are made of in other countries.

On the heels of Greenpeace’s Detox Campaign – which exposed manufacturing facilities that were using toxic chemicals – Greenpeace conducted a full investigation, expanding to global brands like Calvin Klein, Levis, and Zara.

Crawford writes in his piece: “In a constant race to get products on the racks, lots of big brands resort to outsourcing production in countries such as China and Mexico. But this clothing carries a hidden price tag. In many of these countries, lax regulations give suppliers of international brands a free hand when it comes to using hazardous chemicals to dye and process our clothes. Many of these toxic chemicals are banned in the US and Europe, but sooner or later they end up in waterways and wardrobes across the globe.”

Calvin Klein was the biggest offender. 88% of items tested were found to have toxic chemicals. Levis followed with 82% and lastly Zara with 70%. When these chemicals, toxic phthalates and cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes, are released into the water, they can cause hormone disrupting and carcinogenic properties.

Not only will the chemicals seep into the land where the clothes are made, but also in the countries where they are worn.

The Greenpeace Detox Campaign has 20 major brands on board to clean up their act and completely remove the chemicals by 2020.

H&M has agreed to help pilot a program that would require brands to disclose their suppliers’ pollution data.

Breaking is Broken

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No, I’m not being redundant. The traditional form of breaking news is no longer anticipated nor desired by the American public.

Michael Maness, Vice President of Journalism and Media Innovation at the Knight Foundation, presented “Breaking is Broken: How News Has Fundamentally Changed” at Northeastern University on November 14.

The old model of news no longer works because of social media. Twitter is the newest media platform, where users are both hyper consumers and producers of news. And in this, lies the problem.

While social media is excellent at allowing people to tell their own stories in mass distribution, these stories may be false. A good example?

ComfortablySmug hasn’t tweeted since October 30, when he apologized for his inaccurate and sensationalized “reporting” of Hurricane Sandy, but plenty more like him are lurking.

Not only is this a prime example of trolling, but an example of how Twitter needs “big” media to authenticate, curate, contextualize, and amplify accuracies while dismissing falsehoods.

But how do credible news organizations do this, when credibility is at a low? Over the last 20 years American’s confidence in both print and broadcast news has declined. We can’t just blame Craigslist for the demise of newspaper revenue.

Credible media sources, according to Maness, should be authentic, subjective, transparent, and self-aware. He suggests that this new news ecosystem of immediate, exploding information, cannot depend on the old news model that is slipping away from journalists’ finger tips. Instead, we should be looking to a new unit of journalism, that focuses on the narrative over the story. People want continuous coverage that is “narrow and deep.”

No longer are the days of perceived objectivity. We all knew writers had an opinion, but we pretended that they reported completely objectively. Journalists are living, breathing people, after all. Which leads to another problem. Robots. When a robot can write the same sports coverage a journalist can, we need to reevaluate the news, and ourselves as writers and reporters of the news.

Journalists should brand themselves, working on enterprise and investigative reporting in specific areas. We should think of technology first, instead of an afterthought. We know why the Huffington Post is successful. SEO.

In a world where smartphone sales surpass laptop and computer sales, and Instagram has more photos than the Library of Congress, the next big thing is, well, the next smallest gadget. However we can get our hands on something interesting that makes our lives easier, is exactly what we want. So why should our news be any different? People want curation of information on topics and subjects – we want to know everything, right now, as fast as possible. The news can keep up. It just can’t look like a 1980s headline in 2012.

Ralph Lauren’s Rugby Days are Over

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It’s a sad day. Even GQ shares my sadness.

Ralph Lauren Rugby, the collegiate younger sister of the mega-brand, will be closing early 2013, with the website down by February. Ralph Lauren will focus on its core brand, which has already mastered the world of prep.

Is the overexposure of the Ivy League prep to blame? As it is, Jack Wills will be closing Aubin & Wills after Christmas, and Abercrombie extended itself too far with stores popping up all over the world.

The good news? Clearance sales. Time to start stocking up now.

Candidates Clothing Concern

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Thinking back to the first presidential debate two things stick out in my mind: Big Bird, and American Flag pins. Not that I was watching the debate only for the moments that would begin trending on Twitter, but like so many others I notice small things that can overshadow the important issues.

I wondered if anyone else was sitting at home thinking, “is the size of the candidate’s American flag pin correlated to his chance of winning ?” Apparently there was.

As we know, Romney was named winner of the first debate, and ironically, he was wearing a larger pin. But this isn’t the only thing people paid attention to: suits and choice of tie were also concerning.

This article from CNN discusses what tie colors convey to the audience, what the wive’s of the candidates wear, and if the American public notices these details.

Comments on the article vary. While one person said what the candidates wore was of “zero importance” another noted, that Romney’s pin always seemed to be larger than Obamas. At least I’m not the only person who found it funny. The demonstrates how clothing can change the opinion of a presidential candidate – when it probably shouldn’t.

But I think it’s safe to say the President won’t be chosen on November 6th based on how well his suits fit during the campaign.

Photo (cc) by LR_PTY and republished under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Hurricane Sandy

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Following Sandy in the news Monday night was an experience I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around; my parents and my ten-year-old brother live in Brick, NJ, a beach town that is in serious ruins from Sandy. To mention the homes that were ripped away from their foundation, the houses that were burnt down in my neighborhood, and a gas leak started fire (which I just learned was finally put out) that blazed through what was left of our beach, would to only be scratching the surface.

But all of this happened after I sat glued to my television, laptop, and iPhone prior to Sandy’s landfall.

What did people do before Facebook, Twitter, and the internet? Hell – even television? Prior to broadcast journalism, people sat and waited for the next day’s headlines.

I had the Weather Channel turned on my TV, various news stations’ live streams, local Patch sites, The Boston Globe, and the Asbury Park Press open on my laptop. I used my phone for Facebook and Twitter. This hyper-local and intense following of the news did not make for a calm experience. Sure, I knew what was going on at every second, in every location I was concerned about, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

Once phone lines were down, power was out, and people were inaccessible, the only thing I could rely on was the infrequent texts from my mom and my other brother in Providence, RI, and Twitter and Facebook. Without power, people with charged smart phones could at least post to these social media sites.

And thus the picture deluge began. The same photos I saw on Facebook, eventually ended up in Tuesday’s Globe, creating a two way street between traditional news and social media.

Perhaps our world of instant-gratification is not the best practice to adopt for our mental well-being, but it does aid in bringing people the most recent news. Pictures, tweets, and  short blurbs about my hometown kept me as close as I could be to the unbelievable tragedy unfolding.

My mom described it to me as “the scariest thing you could imagine,” “unreal,” and “like a war zone.” “I’m sickened by the sound of sirens,” she said.

So did the “news,” both traditional and non, portray Sandy’s rathe accurately, prior to talking to my mom today?

Almost.

Picture from the New Jersey National Guard via Scott Anema

Retail Therapy

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Retail Therapy: The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear this phrase is the episode of the Nanny where Fran is on a talk show to discuss Gene Therapy. Because she is, well, Fran, she interprets this as “Jean Therapy.”  And so her rambling about the therapeutic magic of slipping a great pair of fitted jeans on begins. While hilarious, she wasn’t so far off.

Today I noticed someone’s status in my Facebook feed about shopping to lift her spirits, and it’s often that I see something similar once a week.

So is there any real clout behind our obsession with masking our current stresses with shopping? I decided to find out.

First stop google. By no surprise, the first link was to a Wikipedia article dedicated to the concept. The entry is only three paragraphs long, so it wasn’t too fruitful. However, I learned that the term, according to Wikipedia, was first used in the 1980s appearing in the Chicago Tribune on Christmas Eve, 1986. “We’ve become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy.”

According to an ABC News article from 2008, Dr. Carole Lieberman, who performed research on compulsive shopping, “penned the entry” into the Encyclopedia Britannica.

In June 2011 the Huffington Post ran a story “‘Retail Therapy’ Effective At Improving Mood, Study Finds.” One thing I always wonder about shopping to improve your mood, is if it potentially backfires – spending too much and then feeling guilty for having done so, thus significantly decreasing your mood from its already low state.

While that probably does happen – and I have one friend who is a perfect example of how it does – the HuffPost article said the study, published in Psychology and Marketing, showed that 82% of people’s mood did get better after some retail therapy. Typically, people spend about 60 dollars on clothing, food, and electronics, to feel better.

Of course, this spending is only a short-term fix, and could potentially lead to monetary problems. But, every so often, a small shopping session is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Show and Tell

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Photojournalist and Northeastern’s Director of Multimedia, Mary Knox Merrill joined the class of Reinventing the News, today, for a discussion about multimedia and journalism.

Merrill discussed her experiences as a photo editor and staff photographer for the Christian Science Monitor where she covered everything from national elections to the Haiti Earthquake, and gave an especially detailed account of her photojournalism in the Congo.

Merrill offered great advice on what to consider when taking photos or video for a story. Using her coverage of Haiti as an example, here is what seems most important when working with multimedia:

1. Get three types of photos- tight, medium, and wide. You want to fill the frame in a tight photograph typically being incredibly close to your subject. In a medium shot there should still be a focus on the subject, but with more context around it. Lastly, the wide shot can cover a huge arial view, landscape, etc., something that captures a larger area with no real subject or focus.

2. Consider when video is better than stills, and vise versa. Really this comes with honing the craft and practice. However, most of the time when you are interviewing or someone is talking about what you have been taking pictures of, video is a smart bet.

3. Rule of thirds. This is more technical and not exactly easy to explain in text without drawing a grid to demonstrate. Basically, don’t shoot your subject in the dead center of your frame. Place them to the left or the right of the picture with context around them (unless of course it is a tight photograph).

4. Anticipate the moment. Even if this means finding your composition and waiting for the action to happen for an hour, it will be worth it. Again, something we can get better at with practice. This shot took Merrill a while, because she waited for the man to walk into the frame at just the right moment.

5. A few other things she mentioned: remember to place your subject in its environment so the picture tells the story; always challenge yourself to photograph something in three interesting ways; and if your photo story is about a person, they don’t need to be in every shot- make sure to get some context and environment.

One last tip: When asking people to talk on record or when you get in their face with a camera,  Merrill says be “warm, sensible, and inviting” and that should do the trick.

Following the Vogue Health Initiative

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In its June 2012 edition, American Vogue made an announcement that all of the Vogue magazines across the globe (19 in total) would adopt a new six-point pact to establish a better lifestyle for models.

The problem: for years, models have been used in photo shoots and spreads who were under the age of 16 or exhibited eating disorders. Typically, the girls under 16 had little adult guidance, and girls with eating disorders continued to develop the unhealthy lifestyle to maintain their careers. In addition, these models sent a message to women that the model body image was the only ideal one.

The fix: Vogue would follow a health initiative that banned the use of models that fell under those categories.

The broken promise: Since the announcement, Vogue Japan and Vogue China have ran spreads with girls who are underage according to the newly adopted standards.

Follow the story from the beginning of the announcement to the recent public backlash of Vogue’s “broken promise” here at my Storify.

A Chat with Josh Stearns

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Storify of the Year author Josh Stearns talked via Skype with a Northeastern Journalism class Wednesday September 26th,  about his coverage of the Occupy Wall Street journalist arrests.

Stearns said that before the Occupy story, he had access to Storify but was not sure how he would utilize it, so he started with tweets from events he attended.

Once the arrests of journalists started, he really saw the value in it, and new that it could do something “very particular that nothing else out there could do.”

After he saw the first tweet from the New York Times about a journalist arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, he began to accumulate tweets related to the arrest. As more arrests were made media outlets all over the country began tweeting, blogging, and writing articles that he could pull into his Storify.

Stearns said, “Storify was the platform that let me weave all that together in one narrative.” It also let him cross-reference and verify the sources he was using.

The features of Storify that really enhanced Stearns’ coverage of the arrests during Occupy were the videos and pictures easily embedded in the story; they gave a first hand account while simultaneously allowing for breaking coverage.

Stearns said he likes how Storify “curates social media content” with storytelling, and it is a flexible option for different stories. He said with Storify, coverage grows over time and can constantly provide context and background to a story.

It was certainly interesting hearing about his work on the coverage of Occupy Wall Street using Storify as a chief research and collaborative tool.

As for my opinion on the tool, adding my own text to a Storify story is my favorite part. It allows for the journalistic voice to come through all of the outside content and helps guide and direct the reader through the story, as an article would, but in a more interactive and engaging way.