Final Project: Commonwealth Ave Bike Lane

outbound

The City of Boston is constructing another protected bike lane for residents surrounding the area of Allston and Boston University. The bike lanes will hopefully bring a safer commute to a renown unsafe street for bikers.

Working on this assignment was really interesting, as I was able to learn a lot about current plans within Boston and around the United States. While cars are often more efficient, treating bikes like cars is illogical and dangerous to both cyclists and drivers. Protected bike lanes will relieve some of the grievances drivers face dealing with bikers on the same road. See my article below for infographics and details concerning the new development.

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NewsTrack Roundup

The mission of USA Today is to deliver “high-quality and engaging content across print, digital, social and video platforms.” From studying the site, I have found that USA Today is very innovative in their use of multimedia. From news videos and sound bites embedded along with their accompanying reports–like this one concerning John Boehner’s opinion of Ted Cruz— in addition to creative implementation of graphs and charts, the news site works to deliver information in a clear and concise fashion.

Their official about page states that USA Today “allows readers to participate in the nation’s conversation.” Though only subscribers can comment, readers have access to USA Today on Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Facebook and Snapchat.

  • USA Today keeps balance between hard news and entertainment.
    • Whether creating a diagram of Prince’s family tree to discuss the future of his estate or pulling together Instagram, twitter, and photos to help illustrate the growing issue of transphobia in public restroom bills, USA Today ensures that the presentation of news is comprehensible and convenient.
  • USA Today works to create an interactive online platform for their readers to access news and information. Their website is very functional and navigable. Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 17.02.29
    • It’s easy for readers to find popular content, recommendations from the publication, and top stories.
    • News tags in different colors on each story icon helps readers identify the type of content they are consuming. Additionally, readers can navigate through different topics using the toolbar and search icons, which helps filter the variety of information included online.
    • Users can play games, take crossword puzzles, and read political cartoons online. Ideally, a consumer of this website would not have to leave the main page to find another source of entertainment.
  • They have taken advantage of media opportunities as they present themselves.
    • A few months ago, USA Today did not have a working Snapchat account, or one that was consistently updated. Just recently, they have frequently used that account to broadcast journalists’ at conferences and events, like the NFL draft.
  • USA Today has profited from their mastery of video news stories.
    • While their written coverage may be less extensive than that of the New York Times, Washington Post, and others, USA Today has been able to successfully publish stand-alone web videos that do not need words to accompany them.
    • This video covering an accidental shooting of a man in an animal costume walking into a news station contains original footage with commentary, in addition to interviews and press conference footage.
    • Less newsworthy videos, such as Obama surprising students visiting the white house , only shows a part of the entire event, but is edited to show the most informative part of the white house press event. This is done to make consuming news a less time consuming task.
  • Unfortunately, I have found that the website’s organization of news is somewhat disappointing.
    • News is not further categorized under the “news” tab to distinguish between types of news. News coverage and headings are also more consumer-friendly than professional. This lowered my opinion of USA Today as a news source.
    • Health, NFL, Politics, and National news are all found under the “news” tab.
      • a missing dog story, while news, is not what I would expect to see on the New York Times front page, and therefore I feel that greater care should be put into the format and classification of what the site considers newsworthy pieces. I would have liked to see this placed on the “Life” tab.

I would really like to see USA today expand its articles with links to outside sources. Though I do not expect USA Today to change its presentation and coverage of news– it is a very functional working model for online consumption in general–because I am a journalist, I want to be able to see the collection of sources and be given the option to continue my research based on the final product.

When consuming news, I prefer to enjoy getting a deeper understanding of events after they have occurred in the form of analysis and detailed accounts. Though online media has expanded accessibility to content and to the way that news can be shared, I prefer to only visit one or two sources to gain a full understanding. I really like USA Today as a means for getting a loose understanding of the day’s news but for a deeper and thorough understanding, I would not keep visiting this site.

Live Event Coverage of BU Narrative Conference

On April 2, I attended Boston University’s Narrative Conference. Upon my arrival at the panel discussion on Race and Identity, I was interested to hear the advice Panelists Francie Latour, Lonnae O’Neal, Michelle Garcia, Sandy Tolan, and Joel Anderson would give to working journalists and writers. Each panelist has struggled with developing their identities in their writing, and works to increase public understanding of diversity.

This event gave its attendees a better understanding of the obstacles faced by people of color (POC) in the field of journalism in the hope that awareness will help future coverage of topics involving diversity in race and culture.

The Panelists’ goal was to reassure their writing communities that it does not take a person of color to write about POC. If topics are approached from a point of understanding and openness, coverage can move from detached to involved reporting.

Some websites to supplement the panel discussion from the panelists themselves are:

Newstrack: Snapchat’s Increasing Use in Digital Reporting

Though USA Today’s news is not featured on Snapchat’s Discover feature, Snapchat is still a widely used mobile application, and it will inevitably contain newsworthy information.

Snapchat has recently emerged as another journalistic opportunity. By creating the Discover feature, Snapchat opened its application to be used by larger publication sources to update Snapchat users with fun, short video clips.

To work around not being on Snapchat’s Discover feature, USA today news includes Periscope video on its Twitter feed. These videos help to involve and include the reader on the experiences they may not be able to have. Rather than write a narrative on the event as it occurred, Snapchat and Periscope help to give a sense of what is happening in an easy, timely way.

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On the digital site, USA today news includes Snapchat stories according to their newsworthiness, but not as an application for reporting. For example, last week the Los Angeles Dodger’s team mastered Snapchat, and USA made sure to report the results by showing off some of the funnier Snaps, as well as the twitter comment that started Kiké Hernandez’s Snapstory.

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USA Today also employed Snapchat in a listicle about Snapchat highlights in the Cleveland vs. LA Lakers basket ball game.

It seems like when it comes to Snapchat, USA Today has found its usefulness in sports reporting. This could be because of the large audiences that are drawn to sports games, ready to record their experiences for their own Snapstories, and incidentally capturing breaking news.

For me, Snapchat is another tool for communicating with specific people, and seeing what they are up to. It will be interesting to see how the news media incorporates Snapchat’s capabilities into their own articles in future publications. Snapchat continues to develop the features on their application. It might be time for more news outlets to stake their own claims.

Video Reporting

It can be hard to find a good place to study in a college town like Boston. As a college student, it gets increasingly difficult to finish assignments and stay well nourished. Luckily, you don’t have to pay for an expensive meal in order to sit in a coffee shop. Coffee shops are a good place to get work done without exiling yourself to a dark corner in the library. Most coffee shops around campus also serve decent, affordable meals and snacks, so you don’t have to compromise giving up your coveted study spot for a quick bite.

Central campus at Boston University is the most frequented part of campus, so I made a quick video that gives a run-down of the study options available around Marsh Chapel. You might be inspired to find a coffee shop off campus–but if staying close by is easier, so will choosing a place to settle down and finish that last minute assignment.

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Newstrack: Spotlight and the (near) future of Journalism

The 88th Academy Awards show resulted in 2 wins for Spotlight, a movie that recounts the events of the Boston Globe team that released and revealed the Catholic Church scandal involving child molestation among the institution’s priests. The win is credited to production and screenplay, but the story shines a light on the skills of hardworking journalists. Winning an academy award will hopefully inspire current and future journalists to tackle difficult stories, and motivate them to dig deeper to find truths.

USA Today posted two online articles analyzing the effect the movie has had on the American public. Both stories criticize Spotlight for not having enough of an impact on other journalists until it won academy awards and express doubts that the movie will impact society as much as it aimed to.

The  first article claims that Spotlight missed the true story. It discusses how the National Catholic Reporter, a small independently owned paper circulating only 35,000 copies, first revealed the molestation allegations against Catholic priests. USA Today uses this to highlight the virtues of print journalism and investigative reporting, but laments the fact that small reports often get overlooked when national papers express fear or hesitation to follow up with extensive reporting.

USA Today brings up a good point about the problems facing print news today. Because media has expanded with technology, there are many ways to consume news and stories often get overlooked because they are too controversial for national reports. The largest news outlets often concern themselves with partisanship, and worry about the effects that reporting will have on large institutions. Even after the Watergate scandal, the news is less concerned with exposing hidden truths, and more concerned with giving readers what they want. Currently, it is left up to niche publications to publicize truths and to provide context and deeper understanding for larger publications to pick up on. Hopefully, the attention gathered by the Academy Awards leads to a spark in investigative reporting, and the duty of journalists to inform the public and act as watchdogs against the government.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 15.05.54The second USA Today article brings up another good point regarding problems in reporting that can be solved by following in the footsteps of the Boston Globe’s reporters. The article discusses how citizens can’t expect a movie to change the Catholic Institution. But there are still many issues left for journalists to express in order to push for reform. There is still unfinished business regarding the events that went unpunished for so many years, mainly that Bishops and Cardinals in many archdiocese are still allowed to retain their positions and have not faced criticism for their lack of effort in exposing priests involved in child molestation. According to the article, there are 17,000 victims going as far back as the 1950s that deserve justice from the Catholic Church, and still, the Vatican has remained silent.

Hopefully, the publicity gathered by Spotlight will lead to more reporting on this issue, and issues like it.

“We made this film for all the journalists who have and continue to hold the powerful accountable, and for the survivors whose courage and will to overcome is really an inspiration,” said director and co-writer Tom McCarthy.

Newstrack: USA Today & Video

Most of USA Today’s coverage includes video clips of the same content presented visually, with either supplemental material or a broadcast. Added content like photos and videos are the site’s specialty. Though USA Today does have textual coverage, they aim to give their consumers options in news consumption.

The videos posted on the site are very well constructed. They often include news gathering techniques like interviews and on site investigations. This story about a police officer killed on their first shift in Woodbury, Virginia is a testament to the quality of the site’s video reporters.

A good example of how the site works to combine traditional reporting with media is this article about Justice Clarence Thomas, who has “finally” asked questions in a judicial hearing for the first time in ten years. What I really like about the site is that it presents the video commentary first, so that if the reader is inclined to delve further into the topic, they can continue by reading the text below. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 20.43.24

Unfortunately, there are instances where USA Today misses out on great opportunities to expand on multimedia usage. In the following article, which is an example of a case that would have benefited from media, USA today talks about Presidential candidate Marco Rubio working hard to promote himself, but the article itself would have been better consumed if it included video like many other articles on the site. I would have liked to see the site provide a compilation of Rubio’s speeches, clips of him riling up crowds, or even clips of him trying to distinguish himself from his opponents.

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I think that USA Today needs to especially employ video techniques to their shorter stories when trying to make a point. The story below is about Trump attacking Marco Rubio. It contains 9 short paragraphs consisting of 1 to 2 sentences each; a video would have been much more revealing and succinct.

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