Twitter Assignment (Interviews)

For my Twitter assignment, I reached out to people who are web designers (mainly freelancers) because I’ve always been interested in this area. I searched freelance web designers on Google and found the contact list from their personal websites. I contacted about 25 people through email and received 4 replies within less than two hours I’ve sent the messages. Overall, reaching out to people whom I’m interested in knowing about their job was a fun experience.

Chris Lam, PhD. (http://christopherylam.com) is an Assistant Professor of technical communication at the University of North Texas who teaches web design/development. He is also a freelance web designer/developer who works with small businesses to create websites for products and services. After spending his entire academic career heavily on digital media, he has recently started to freelance as he has always been an early adopter of technology. He thinks that his personality fits well for digital work. Chris advises students that they should be flexible, self-motivated, and willing to change the way they do things because digital media requires us to learn all kinds of technology that change constantly. He says that it is essential to know how all of the technologies work together and what their limitations are.

Katy Farr (www.katyfarr.com/work) who is a freelance web designer, works with a wide variety of clients from small business people to a university in China. Her degree was in psychology but after her children were born, she looked for less emotionally taxing work with creativity and more freedom with more control over her schedule. She advises students that they should keep learning all the time, never stop, be sure and have a good business plan, be very clear with clients about what you will provide and what their obligations are.

Chris Bibbs (www.rpxcreativestudios.com), a University of Houston graduate, is a graphic designer and a web designer/developer who specializes in WordPress. Has been self-employed as full-time freelancer since 2011, and is now based out of Houston. His client base stretches across Texas, as well as California, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey. He is on CodeAcademy, W3C Schools, and various sites learning new development and coding strategies. He says that he is learning something new everyday and advised students that design is not simply about making things look good and pretty, but is a problem solving. He said that having good problem solving skills is a way to succeed as a digital media designer.

Michael Froseth (www.MichaelFroseth.com) who is a freelance web designer & developer advised communication students that digital media is an ever-growing industry so there are always new tools, tricks, updates and lessons almost every day. He stressed that it is always important to learn new things so you need to always stay on top, read books, network and find a way to enjoy what you do.  

Meet Up Assignment – Mass Comm Week

mcmI have attended “The Decade in Digital” session where SJMC alumni talked about their jobs, professional experiences and digital careers during Mass Comm Week on October 27, 2016. This session was very practical and useful because each of the three alumni shared how they have lived during the ten years since they graduated from the program at Texas State University.

Dee Kapila, one of the speakers and who is head of Funsize, advised students that building and maintaining social networks is very important because networkings help us find the right path and careers in digital media. She emphasized that we need to listen to various voices and advice from many different people because it widens our perspectives.

Jordan Viator Slabaugh, Senior Vice President, Edelman, advised students to be curious about what is going on in the digital media industries and be active in knowing how the dynamics are changing today to be updated. Also, she asked students talk to smarter people than you because they give motivations and inspirations to learn more.

Asking them questions and listening to their advice and thoughtful insights encouraged me to move forward to exploring areas I like to do, such as research interests and topics.

Influence of fake news on social media sites on the presidential election’s outcome

The role of digital and social media in the news environment plays an important part in people’s habits of reading and getting exposed to news. Last week, both Facebook and Google has been criticized for a fake-news problem. Google announced that it will ban websites that share fake news from using its online advertising service. Facebook also announced in its Facebook Audience Network policy that it will closely monitor and not display misleading advertisements in sites that show fake content. These two recent announcements from the most popular social network in the world show that technology companies can no longer ignore their growing power in sharing and distributing news and information.

Facebook has been criticized for being a place for false news stories that may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome. For example, a false and unchecked story that wrote Pope Francis had supported President Donald Trump had spread quickly through Facebook. Similarly, the top result on a Google search for ‘final election vote count 2016’ lead people to read a story which falsely stated that Mr. Trump was ahead of Hillary Clinton.

https://www.cnet.com/news/internet-fake-news-problem-google-facebook-election/

Reading all this, I saw that tech companies need to do a better job of improving their algorithms. Even though search engines provide the most useful or relevant results for people, especially during the presidential election period, there are hundreds of factors that determine the ranking of news stories and this needs to be taken care of in a more careful way and be more responsible for online readers and users. Zuckerberg argues that Facebook doesn’t have the power to influence how people think and behave, or even vote; however, I do not agree with this. I believe that there needs to be more effective policy on news, such as fake news, on social media websites where increasing number people are seeking to read, promote, circulate or share the news.

The value of platforms

Reading professor Cindy Royal’s article about working intelligently on the platforms and having the right skills for journalism students/educators today, I found the importance in understanding about the “platform” that allows people to distribute and share the content. As social media platforms keep change, the old media models disappear, and new ones keep appear (and will continuously do), it is important to know how the information is circulated, distributed, communicated, or flowed in each and every channels – especially as a journalist whose job is to inform or share the information with the audience. As professor Cindy Royal said in her article, the value in engaging with news is the ability to share it, and platforms make this happen.

Mobile media and news

Mobile communication provides us an effective way to share information and people use mobile apps to read or engage in news. When it comes to news, I don’t really use news apps on my mobile to read news, especially long articles, because I easily get distracted concentrating reading the article. Since mobile use entertains me with a lot of things starting from messaging with my friends or talking on the phone to frequently looking at my busy daily schedule on the calendar, I can’t concentrate well when I read things that need my concentrations. Rather, I choose to read news from my own laptop because I can get away from my activities on the mobile phone and concentrate my work there.

Also, I thought about whether mobile media is the most consequential media innovation in history and I would say yes and no because new technologies keep emerging and there are new ways we can read, look at things, interact with other things such as virtual reality. Mobile media is the most innovative media today but it won’t be the same in the near future as more new innovative technologies emerge.

Nick Whitaker from Google News Lab

kakaotalk_photo_2016-10-26-18-06-37
Nick Whitaker, Media Outreach Manager at Google, talked about strategies, trends and directions in data and information and how Google is using digital tools to help journalists and entrepreneurs change the future of media. One of the things he shared was VR Journalism that virtual reality is a totally new medium of telling stories in journalism as interfaces are changing the way people see things.

Listening to his talk on innovations at Google News Lab and virtual reality, I agreed with him that we are living in a unique moment in the history of news where there are millions of ways of storytelling. I think VR journalism can be a challenge and threat to traditional journalism because it breaks the old rules and totally changes the way we discover, report, distribute, and share the news with others.

This is something that we have never experienced and experimented before, so a lot of trials and errors will help us learn and discover this new way of reporting news by understanding both good sides and bad sides of virtual reality experience in reporting. So I would say VR journalism is a ‘good’ threat to traditional journalism because the core foundation of journalism, which is to seek the truth, will never change. It is the way how news is reported and shared is changing, not the core purpose or foundation of journalism.

As Nick said in his session, we should not place in one place forever, but should continuously adapt and change. And I think virtual reality, including 360 video, or visual storytelling will totally change the way we understand the world and interact with each other. I’m very excited about living in this unique moment in the history of news. 

Representation of women candidates in news coverage

I remember reading a news article about Hillary Clinton written in 2008 that when she was doing a campaign in New Hampshire, she choked up and there was a tearing moment of her for about two minutes, and this image dominated the whole media coverage of the day. Some critics argued that Clinton’s display of emotion did not make her appear very presidential to hold power and other groups of people said her teary moment was a moment of human being. I wonder if people would debate or say the same thing if it was a male candidate. I also wonder which gender would generate more positive reactions or have more impact when the candidate show a tearing moment in front of the public. It’s an interesting topic to think about.

Internet Time

Not only the nature of the changes shape the Internet, but also the high speed of technology developments impact how we exchange information or check facts. Speaking of checking facts, it was amazing to see how NPR fact checked the first presidential debate in real time this Monday.

During the debate, NPR offered real-time assessments on a live transcript of the debate while editors, reporters, researchers, and copy editors gathered together and individually approved and edited in Google document and published the information. Doing something like this scale never happened before. This is the transcript that was updated live as the debate proceeded.

Also, The Guardian’s Mobile Innovation Lab tested live commentary on the presidential debate in push alerts. Just like how NPR experimented in a big scale for the first time, The Guardian also experimented the real-time commentary for the first time which tested auto-updating interactive push alerts and saw whether real-time notifications were a good space for opinion on this kind of live event. Things that didn’t exist even last year are happening now and will continue to change how we interact and share information in a high speed that we never imagined! 

The ethics of algorithms and gatekeeping

The article on ethics of algorithms discussed that algorithms perform a gate-keeping function by deciding what gets attention, what is ignored or censored, and what gets published. As algorithms make ‘subjective’ decisions for us, with us, or about us, they make things worse in terms of accountability or transparency – even Facebook engineers don’t exactly know how the algorithm works.

I found the algorithms’ editorial decision-making resembles some traditional editorial process in many ways because both ‘decide’ what gets shared. But they differ in many ways too because the transparency and visibility differ between these two processes. For example, the result of decision making process in traditional newspapers is frozen in the paper’s page but Facebook’s algorithm editing is dynamic and changes much faster. The ethics of algorithms is nothing new because the ethics of decision making has been debated for so long, but it makes me think more about the impacts and issues raised by the role of algorithms on social media platforms and how I, as a Facebook user, should be more aware of the usefulness and limitations of this function.

Facebook’s news feed algorithms

Digital media has reshaped news and is continuously reshaping news. Living in this era of transformation, I see constant changes in algorithms in social media and how they try to engage their audiences. The news feed algorithm in Facebook is designed to promote content posted by the family members or friends, and the importance of connecting people is becoming greater. These changes affect all types of content (e.g. photos, videos, links, etc) posted and shared by news publishers.