Category Archives: Journalism

Merging Traditional And Social Mediums To Better Serve An Audience

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Photo courtesy Steve Inskeep's Instagram account: @steve_inskeep.

Photo courtesy Steve Inskeep’s Instagram account: @steve_inskeep.

 

There was a wonderful example of merging-the-mediums storytelling today, 2-4-16, with Steve Inskeep reporting from Tehran, Iran.

First, I got a “publicity” preview and teaser of what Inskeep and his NPR crew were up to in Iran from interesting photos of Tehran’s subway system on Inskeep’s Instagram account. I happen to be particularly intrigued by photos of subway stations and people using them, so the Instagrams caught my attention right away.

Framing his radio story around exploring Tehran’s economic realities on hand, Inskeep wove a fascinating tale of Tehran’s cultural and economic life, and the various divisions of such, through his more traditional radio medium on today’s NPR Morning Edition show. I’m glad I had the visual preview beforehand though, as then I could “go along” with them in a much more visually imaginative way.

I need visual prompts. I’ve never, despite years of work in visual mediums, been all that visually imaginative. I’m a text-oriented person who works (and writes) better with literal prompts and signs and messaging of a more graphical interpretation.

In other words, radio storytelling, especially in a culture and city as intriguing and vital as Tehran, has its limits despite even Inskeep’s mastery of the medium. And he’s nothing if not a visually-minded storyteller and reporter when he’s on the move. Snapping interesting, contextual photos for Instagram (or wherever) clearly was a perfectly natural response to his new geography.

Thus, social media served as a natural enhancement to and for traditional forms of broadcasting. Especially within a place I’ve long been intrigued by and had often heard stories about from relatives who’d lived there ages ago (Shah times). And hope to one day visit myself.

Reporting about a place and a people with an enhanced level of audience comprehension and service can only help forge a stronger, intriguing, and respectful relationship between two cultures.

Tip Your Huge Media Market Giant

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A team of reporters from WSB-TV Channel 2 television news was there; someone apparently tipped them off to the arrest beforehand. The station has had exclusive access to the court proceedings since then.

Handcuffs01_2003-06-02

Now I can’t speak to the matter of terrorism-related charges brought on anyone, let alone a Clayton County, Georgia woman who wanted to kill all the whities via YouTube. (Although this particular burden never stops Matthew Charles Cardinale, the editor of Atlanta Progressive News. But he’s in law school now, so off he goes. Go Matthew go.)

I can, however, speak to the stinky little underhanded and exploitative way in which virtually all federal and state-related arrest media straight out of Atlanta (that good ‘n juicy perp-walk stuff) gets handed to market-dominating WSB-TV (Cox Enterprises) alone, on a silver platter, by someone at WSB-TV’s brother who happens to work in federal (or state) law enforcement.

So let’s recap: someone who works in government serves up exploitative tidbits to a single, for-profit entity, Cox Enterprises. Over and over and over again.

This sleight-of-media-hand trick has been going on in the Atlanta media market for decades: exclusive access to media/news-gathering opportunities (those folk in big trouble with the law) which no doubt many other players in this same media market would also love to exploit for their organization’s financial gain.

May be legal, but it ain’t right.

The Craptastic Digital Life Of The AJC

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ComingSundayAJC

Don’t vote? Then don’t complain about politicians.

No doubt you’ve heard that one before. Exactly why I never miss a voting opportunity, as I sure don’t like missing out on a good political whine.

But the matter of digital at the AJC.com (and other Cox digital products too, but I’ll worry about the others later) has gone beyond whining to just embarrassment at and for our flagship, hometown, news delivery outlet. (I’d call it a paper, but I’m not referencing any print product here. Just the digital stuff.)

I think of gorgeous pictures from the Atlanta Beltline lantern parade last night that could have enticingly filled out a compelling homepage this morning, 9-7-14, shifting to exciting sports-related photos later in the day to enhance the Falcons’ season opener, alongside the numerous political stories from the week in some kind of overview wrap-up. And, yes, even that craptastic Ross Harris (the dad accused of murder-by-hot-car) story somewhere in an appealing homepage-in-my-head Sunday edition presentation… and well, I just wanna cry for what could be AJC.com. And WSB-TV.com too. (They should be one e-product really, but that’s another rant altogether.)

When you don’t give a shit about digital, guess what? It shows! “Coming Sunday” on Sunday, plus all the cliched copy and grade school headlining imaginable? Gawd, today’s AJC digital product is so pitiful I wouldn’t dream of sharing it with my social network; I’d rather bury it out behind the woodshed.

My head is reeling, because the hard-working journalists, the few left around there, the proud, have done plenty of heavy journalistic lifting all through the past week, especially regarding the nasty level of corruption all through Georgia state and local politics. There’s been great work from numerous Cox employees reporting a massive amount of hanky panky straight out of DeKalb County, our bustling courtrooms, the AG’s and the governor’s offices, etc.

Only to piss it away on digi-crap you see a sample of in the above picture/screen grab. And on a Sunday too, the prime news reading and media consuming day for a serious journalism audience. And I’m not even highlighting their hideous homepage, whatever’s there, or not, now. Nor the online AJC’s rampant level of daily copyediting (or lack thereof) boo-boos. I’m scared to go back to their weekend-neglected homepage.

Since I gave-up on the AJC’s digital presentation with my croissant, second cup, and screens this morning, I thought about buying the paper product with which to properly absorb the Georgia political and otherwise news of a busy past week.

Not now. I’ll just put my $2.50 towards a NYT and call it a Sunday.

Local Data Mining: Where No Georgia Press Dare Go

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Investigative tech reporting in Georgia is non-existent. Other than cheerleading, Chamber-type stuff from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. There are startups incubated at Georgia Tech in the for-profit business of scraping data from social media sites, and then selling it back to organizations and business people, particularly folk in law enforcement. What’s commonly called “enterprise data mining.”

I know this because one company tried to sell me their lovely dashboard thingee. To which I replied, in a business-like manner of course at the meeting, “No thanks, I roll my own.”

Georgia law enforcement stores (years of) data scraped and mined from the general (presumed innocent) public, via such technology as license tag scanning. Lord knows what they then do with such data, and where (NSA?) they then feed that data, and the associated metadata, on to.

The head of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Vernon Keenan, announced that factoid, rather proudly, to a room full of journalists at the Atlanta Press Club this summer. Not a single follow-up story on that matter, at least any I’m aware of. Not one.

Hasn’t the data-mining dilemma revealed by Glenn Greenwald piqued the slightest bit of interest on local angles to the dilemma just a little bit amongst Georgia press leadership? Seems not.

Come on MSM in Georgia. Do better.

Loose DeKalb Lips Make Waves (Of Oppression) For AJC

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Ahoy! Botched metaphor. I know.

Loose lips might sink ships, circa 1942, but they never torpedoed any ships of journalism. To the contrary. Lip flappers, whistleblowers, gossips and media whores power and embolden entire journalism empires, causing ships to rise off of copy tides. Just look at the numbers for the Guardian empire lately. Off the charts!

Over in less high profile seas, say here down South, in today’s 1-minute news cycle there really is no such thing as a genuine “scoop” brought about by wildly exclusive information. Except when there (rarely) is, of course.

But don’t tell that to the powers-that-be at the AJC, as they’re lashing any remaining, hardworking reporter-bees left on their deck to the mast and thrashing them mightily, as punishment for having failed to sight enough scoops in their cruddy little scopes.

Two independent sources have now told me how Atlanta Journal & Constitution reporters, good ones, are being “written up” (or threatened with some type of disciplinary action) for failing to bring home the bacon fast enough. Failing to reel in genuine news “scoops.”

(“Scoops” being 100% exclusive 411 about specific, non-public events – but before the event occurs, allowing for a news organization to be first out of the gate on disseminating word of that particular news situation; to “own the story” in other words, something that’s increasingly hard to do in our hyper-connected world unless Edward Snowden or Julian Assange just happens to waltz by your office and dump raw intel on your desk. And “written up” being a documented threat by one’s superior to take away one’s job, rank, authority, paycheck and/or general livelihood should you, the super’s underling, not perform in some sort of, subjectively, better manner.)

Mark Winne at WSB-TV, for example, often gets genuine scoops about soon-to-be-made arrests by various Georgia law enforcement, and is thus frequently the first and only reporter in place for that classic, high-value video, law enforcement-enhancing moment – ye olde perp walk.

Of course it’s one of those open secrets in Atlanta old media circles that Winne’s brother is an FBI or GBI agent (I forget which agency) who tips his family member, Mark, off to lots of special events soon to happen. If that’s the case, they’ve had a lock on a good-visuals franchise for years now, and will continue at that game for as long as the gig works, I suppose.

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Exploitation of Georgia’s Children In Reality TV Programming

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After telling the officers in Douglas County, GA that she's a gangbanger, Deja'neke continues the jail tour in shackles. Photo courtesy of AETV.

After telling the officers in Douglas County, GA that she’s a gangbanger, Deja’neke continues the jail tour in shackles. Photo courtesy of AETV.

Shame on Douglas County, Georgia. Shame on Disney (A&E’s parent company) for supporting and funding (but mostly exploiting Georgia’s children), for profit, the production and broadcasting of the reality show Beyond Scared Straight on A&E.

The episode airing tonight, Thursday July 25, 2013, on A&E’s Beyond Scared Straight at 9pm features a juvenile reform program in Douglas County, Georgia that was created and implemented using tactics and practices of fear, violence and intimidation.

Of such tactics, Leonard Witt of Kennesaw State University’s Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, has this to say in an editorial:

They (academics studying conflict management) can tell you a few things about how violence begets violence and why piling trauma on kids who have suffered trauma their whole lives is not such a smart approach. Ever hear of programs like restorative justice?

Governor Nathan Deal should weigh-in on this media matter, as he has spoken out recently on matters of criminal (and juvenile) justice reform in Georgia, and he, Deal, fully supports reforming Georgia’s juvenile justice system.

However, this exploitative show features a method of “reform” that is not only dangerous, cruel and unusual, but has been demonstrated to be grossly ineffective; thus significantly undermining the effort, and new legislative mandate too, to legitimately and wisely reform our system of juvenile justice here in Georgia.

Georgia Politics Continue To Inspire Georgia Media To Heights Of Status Quo

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I am concerned about Michelle Nunn’s campaign for U.S. Senate already. And not because of her qualifications as a candidate to represent us here in Georgia. (Those seem just fine. Far better than most, come to think about it.)

But rather, what concerns …me is that, IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS, this candidate for U.S. Senate has already done two Georgia media-related things that annoy me something awful:

1.) Given Karen Handel yet another reason to NOT shut up and go away.

2.) Inspired Georgia’s usual-suspects-posse of mostly white male political writers to even greater heights of their predictable copy/keyboard pounding.

Perhaps my favorite example, thus far, is the AJC’s Jim Galloway attempting some Pat Conroy-like (gooey) prose in his “exclusive” interview with candidate Nunn, whilst sitting at Thumbs Up diner, of all non-interesting settings to announce one’s senatorial aspirations:

… a last name that bespeaks Georgia centrism.

Wake me up when anyone in Georgia political media ever does anything remotely innovative, disruptive, or interesting.