Friday, November 30, 2007

Final Blog Assignment #6

What am I going to write about? I am not an authority on any specific subject! Those were the first thoughts I had when I learned I had to create and maintain a blog for my Online Journalism class. I had no idea what I wanted to write about or even if I had enough knowledge about a particular subject to discuss it over about five weeks. I finally decided to write about politics since the campaigns were then and are, even more so now, in full swing for the presidential elections in 2008.
As a student of journalism we are all trained to be objective and keep a fair and balanced perspective when we write. So when I began my blog, I found it hard to project strong opinions or even to type sentences starting with "I." After a bit of a slow start, I found my "voice" and settled into the type of posts I felt were relevant to my blog as a whole. As you will see, most of my posts are about the candidates for president in 2008 and what they have been up to. I covered funny, light stories like the Steven Colbert post and also hard news stories such as various polls and what they mean. I really enjoyed the fact I was able to include some of my own photos for stories which I think really adds to the quality of a blog, as it breaks up the text and gives a visual aid for the story. I feel fortunate that through other classes and my part-time job (former Co-op internship) I had access to stories such as my post with the Ben Affleck pictures, and the Roth family from Salem, New Hampshire.
As I continued to blog, I decided the angle I was going to take was through the notion that people, especially in my generation, are more private citizens then public citizens. Many people I have met and interviewed have told me they feel disenfranchised and as a result, have become complacent and apathetic. With that idea in mind, I continued writing and in one post I included an essay in which I looked at that issue through First Amendment glasses.
Overall, my experience was very positive. It forced me into a whole new style of writing and I really learned a lot from it. Also, it made me research alternative online resources to add to my blog. Through that research, I learned about a lot more sources than I would have ordinarily, as I used to rely on the same few websites for my daily news. Finally, my blog also offered a place to post and share my photography and my news video packages I had been working on all semester for a different class.
I am unsure at this point if I will continue blogging, or if I do decide to continue with it, if my blog will look the same as it does now. One thing I do know is blogging is quickly becoming a trend used by media outlets, other professionals and individuals alike. I think this trend will have, and is having, a significant impact on the "traditional" reporting styles. Some examples of this you will see in the links in my blog to sources such as CNN's Political Ticker and other individual reporters' blogs. I think people tend to resist change if they are used to one way of doing things, but with the sweeping changes the Internet has created for the news business and for society as a whole, a shift in how we do things is happening, right in front of our eyes. This is an exciting time to be apart of and one that should not be resisted but looked at as an opportunity to reinvent some of our old ways of doing things.

A Serious Bomb Threat...

Hilary Clinton is not even president and already there are bomb threats and hostage situations she must deal with. A man walked into Clinton's campaign office in Rochester New Hampshire earlier today with what he said was a bomb strapped to his chest and took three hostages. He reportedly has a history of mental illness, has been drinking and says he wants to talk to the senator. Click here to read CNN's report. There has been at least one woman released, but the news is still covering the story and the situation is still underway even as I type this. Apparently, there are still two hostages remaining according to local WBZ station, a local CBS affiliate. New Hampshire is really a very political state and is very open about their politics. I have become familiar with the type of politics practiced in New Hampshire after following the primary action there for another class. This is a bit of a surprise for me to find out this could happen and I'm sure that many people in the area are shocked and I wonder if other staff members from the Clinton campaign are scared they might become targets in a hostage situation as well. I don't remember ever hearing of a similar situation in past election cycles and it will be interesting to see how this event plays out.

Good Job, New York Times

The New York Times website has an excellent feature in their politics section for campaign donations for the current election. On the left is a list of all the candidates and on the right is a map of the United States. You can click on a specific candidate and then on a specific region of the state and see what that candidate received. There is also a link in the upper right hand corner of the page that allows you to search for individual donors as well. I think this way of presenting information is very comprehensive, but is also less daunting then a long news article would be. Its much easier to access the information and its more interactive than just sitting and reading a lengthy article in the paper. I think for stories like campaign donations, with a lot of facts and figures, this format is the way to go.

Interesting Poll Findings

Students at American University did a very interesting study in collaboration with the Washington Post's website, where they polled over a hundred students and out of 108 responses, 96% said that they would vote, 27% said they would vote for Barack Obama with Hilary Clinton coming in second at 18%. Any GOP candidates were farther down the list, Rudy Giuliani leading the Republican pack with only 6% of the responses saying they would vote for him. Also, out of those same 108 responses, the Iraq war was the most important issue for people as was the environment. These results don't really surprise me because I have always thought that college-age students are more left-leaning anyway. Nevertheless, the findings are still interesting and you should check them out.

Well, These Are Some Thoughts...

Everyone should remember who Karl Rove is. He worked in the Bush Administration as the deputy chief of staff and is associated with scandals such as the Valerie Plame affair and the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys. Now, he has something to say about the upcoming presidential elections. Basically he hopes that any of the Republicans will win (no surprise there) and that Hilary Clinton is a "possibility" but that she probably wouldn't win. He also said he "wishes" he had "never knew" the name Valerie Plame.

Citizen Journalism

Professor Kennedy at Northeastern University has a very interesting blog about CNN's second ever YouTube debates. First, I must say, the "debates" between candidates, Republican and Democrat alike are very flawed. There are obvious changes that need to be made. The way they are currently conducted does not offer any free flowing of ideas through true debating and disagreements. The theory behind a debate is to allow ideas to battle it out with the hope that the "truth" or the "best" answer will come out in the end. I think now, they are more of just a question and answer period then a true debate.
Having said this, I would have to give some props to CNN for trying to come up with a way to get voters involved and to change the format of these debates. Basically, the idea that CNN had was for average Americans to be able to submit their questions via video onto YouTube and CNN would then sift through them and chooses the ones that will be asked. However, CNN has gotten into some trouble with the second every YouTube debate that happened this week for the Republicans. The news channel has been criticized for leaning more to the left, and now is accused of "planting" questions with more liberal leanings or agendas. You should really check out Professor Kennedy's blog on this topic. He has a link to one question in particular that was asked by a former general in the military who is openly gay, and it just so happens also openly supports Hilary Clinton's campaign. Professor Kennedy also offers some suggestions to fix the current problem with the system that I think are quite interesting and worth checking out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where They Stand

Some new poll numbers coming out, thanks to the website, USA Election Polls, show Hilary Clinton as the front-runner among the Democrats. However, coming in a close second and third respectively are Barack Obama and John Edwards. Rudy Giuliani is breaking away from the Republican pack, with John McCain coming in second. However, it is interesting to note, Mitt Romney is not doing very well overall, but according to this poll taken, is doing very well in New Hampshire. New Hampshire continues to be a very important state as they have traditionally been the first state in the nation to hold a primary. I don't think these numbers at least show any clear-cut winner. However, with President Bush's approval ratings the lowest they have ever been with some reports in the mid 20% range, one thing is for sure, Americans are ready for a change.