Monday, November 24, 2008

Trusting the News

With journalists and bloggers running rampant on the Internet these days it has become overwhelmingly difficult to find decent journalism. This is why has set up an Internet phenomenon that allows it's users to rate the journalistic quality of every news story that they read.

It is quite easy for a news-guru to become a Newstrust member and then to rate and review any stories on the site at their discretion. 

In this story from the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the reporter detailed Obama's economic plans for when he takes office in January. Despite good sources and an interesting read I thought that the reporter made a mistake by using an anonymous source for the best quotes in the story, in my opinion the reporter should have identified the source or kept it out of the story, it just smells fishy to me.  

The next story I reviewed was an AP synopsis of a report released by the International Monetary Fund on the soaring inflation in the world. The article looked like a press release and in my review I talked about the lack of reporting that went into this piece. Really, the journalist only used one report to write her entire story. 

The last story I reviewed was my favorite of the three. It was a Yahoo! News story about how South Korean agriculture companies had purchased a massive amount of land in Madagascar, their purpose to produce a greater surplus of grains for a country that has little land left to farm on (South Korea). The article was refreshing,  it was about something I had never heard of before and the reporter did a great job of getting enough sources to give the full spectrum of the story. My overall rating for this was the highest of the three, a sturdy 4.4

Thank you Newstrust, now you've allowed me to become a potentially legitimate news critic with just the click of a button, my ego is inflating like a balloon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The KooKoo Cafe leaves the "KooKoo" to be desired.

Our class with Dan Kennedy had us visit, review, and then map out coffee shops around the Northeastern area in Boston all onto one interactive coffee map. The map allows its users to to view a photo of the coffee shops storefront, their hours of operation, along with their price for a regular cup of coffee. 

I visited the KooKoo Cafe in Brookline and had what one could call an over-the-top experience that did not end so well. 

The shop immediately reminded me of the "I'm so hip and trendy/even if the coffee is terrible you love me because I'm cool, and organic" ambiance that one typically encounters in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. The owners, who also own the Yoga studio next door (duh!) attempt at a holistic and feng-shui type appeal that at first seems comfortable but soon becomes irking as the pretentious cappuccino drinkers emerge. It doesn't help that their chicken salad is really tofu and the rest of the menu is vegetarian, another LA type idea that don't fly too high where it gets cold and people [like me] NEED meat [to stay warm].

As I took my jacket off and sat down with a syrupy and bitter latte that left a terrible after-taste my hand brushed against their rustic looking stucco wall, it should should have had a "caution" sign. The way the wall was designed had so much friction that when the back of my hand lightly made contact it tore into my knuckles and cut me open, there was blood and it was not pleasant. Luckily one of the baristas after waiting for several minutes emerged with a few band-aids to quell the cuts and was relatively nice and apologetic about the experience. 

The manager or owner on the other hand who had been standing behind the counter the entire time made no attempt to help make my experience in the cafe any better and instead would direct sneers and annoyed looks in my direction, thanks asshole.

So here's my ratings, 5 stars being the best, 1 being the worst:

Coffee: 2 Stars
Ambiance: 4 Stars, but fades quickly to 2 after the wall tore me up!
Price: 3 Stars, seems an average price for a cup of coffee
Hospitality: 2 Stars, organically inclined hippies they should have been nicer!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Video Blogging enters the realm of the Boston Globe

Recently video blogger and Boston Globe reporter, Emily Sweeny, came to Dan Kennedy's class to talk about how the Globe's website is expanding from the basic news website into a video and multimedia source as well.

Sweeny, aka, Spikey Em (due to her spikey blonde hair) has been a reporter with the Globe since 2001 and runs her own blog/video blog called Spikey Em which links to her videos and articles.

In class she explained the importance of future journalists getting acquainted with video shooting and editing because that is what the news rooms are looking for nowadays. She said that newsrooms these days want reporters who can do it all from writing a great feature story, to figuring out how to get a good shot with decent audio, and then being able to edit the video cleanly and in an organized fashion. The time of the journalist equipped only with their notebook seems to be a thing of the past.

Sweeny demonstrated her own videos to our class. She began by showing one called My Word, which documented the different slang words and accents that Bostonians are so accustomed to using. The project was more slide show based but had awesome old royalty free footage that she said she got from the Prelinger Archives on the Web, definitely something to keep in mind for future editing.

My favorite video that she showed us was called Bingo! and it was a short video about the (dwindling) popularity of the game of Bingo in Massachusetts. She got some great interviews for this video and it was really entertaining to learn about the traditions and superstitions of those who take the game of Bingo very seriously.

Sweeny's presentation was very informative and I thought it was a great learning tool by seeing what news rooms are going to expect from future journalists.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

Two weekends ago I around the Fens in Boston and asked voters what they thought about Question 3, an initiative to outlaw dog racing in Massachusetts. Check out this video to see what they had to say, you might be surprised.

Right now it is 11:40p on November 4th, 2008. Question 3 has since passed by Massachusetts voters 56% to 44% and Barack Obama is now the 44th President of the United States of America.