What's a Journalist to do?

You may have read about the teacher in Brentwood arrested for allegedly soliciting a student for sex. This is one of those situations that a student journalist (or any other journalist) wants to report on or likes to report. However, given the circumstances, it is newsworthy.

Read the article from the Contra Costa Times, linked above. Suppose you have a student journalist friend at Heritage High School. Your friend calls you for advice. You see, she is the one who has been tasked with writing a brief story about this incident and it must be done today to get in the paper being distributed on Monday. She's not sure how to cover the story. What is your advice, as a responsible journalist, to your friend?

Leave a comment here with your advice to your friend.

We're Number 1! ...or are you?

No, you're not. Yes, we are! NO, you're number 26. No, we're NUMBER 1!

So what does it mean to be number one? We've been hearing that "Avatar" is set to be the #1 movie ever, but what makes that so? Yesterday, BBC reported that "Avatar" was the top-grossing film EVER. Is it really? The Hollywood Reporter begs to differ.

Do you need to love "Avatar" or even love movies to find this interesting? No, this is more about the information you are being fed every day. I'm sure you could think of countless ways to measure the success of a movie. Should there be a standard that removes the hype (i.e. LOTS of money being taken at the box office)? Should media consumers have immediate access to a variety of comparative stats on a movie (or sporting event, or other newsworthy event)? How do we break through the cacophony of voices to find out what is true?

Something to Think About: Advanced Pressure

As journalists, part of our job is to question everything that is around us. Why is it this way? Why do things that way? What does this mean when...? How do I know this to be true? You get the idea. 

Another part of the job is to present all sides of a story, not just the side that everyone agrees to be Truth. We listen to the dissenting voices and present the evidence to our audience.

This Opinion piece from the NY Times, filmed here in the Bay Area, flies in the face of what we "know to be true" here at HHS. Watch it. Think about it. Leave a comment telling us your thoughts on the Advanced Placement culture. Is it worth it? Do the dissenting voices have a point? If so, what is it? What is your biggest take-away (the think you'll think about) from this story? Read the comments of your classmates as well. They will have something to say.

The video is about five minutes long. Watch it, ponder it, leave a comment on this blog post. This assignment is due no later than end of lunch on Wednesday, January 27, 2010.

Leno Wins, Public Loses?

It has been hard to miss the "news" about the ongoing scheduling conflicts between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. While pundits have endlessly commented on the outcome of this titanic battle, few have talked about integrity or the apparent sense of entitlement in this dust-up. Yesterday's Contra Costa Times included this thought-provoking commentary from Ruben Navarette. Read the commentary and do any additional review necessary to bring yourself up to speed on the battle between NBC, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. After you've had a bit of time to think about the issues involved, leave a comment on your thoughts about the integrity of the people and corporations involved. Be sure to include your real name in your comment and check to see that it's there. Your first name is all that is necessary unless you have the same first name as someone else.

Covering the News in 2010

As you might have heard, there was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake on the northcoast of CA Saturday afternoon (1.9.10). Of course, since my mom lives in the area, I was concerned when I found out about it and called to find out if she was safe and to find out what other news she had about the event. While on the phone, I booted up the computer and checked local news outlets. There were cursory stories about the fact that the earthquake had happened, but, other than an animated graphic of where the earthquake was centered, there wasn't much. Frustrated, I turned to...Twitter.

Now, I know you're thinking that Twitter isn't a news outlet. Clearly it is not. However, what I did find is that if I did a search using the hashtag #earthquake hundreds of tweets popped up. For the next four or five hours I watched what was happening. Initially, most of the posts were pretty serious where individuals and organizations seemed to want to just get the news out there. The "Ferndale Enterprise," a weekly print paper, came through as the go-to news outlet through their Twitter account, @Frndenterprise. By the way, local TV stations were off the air for hours following the quake.

Later, posts became less serious and eventually tapered off. The one video that claimed to be of the earthquake might, in fact, have been from an earlier earthquake in another part of the state. (FYI: you will not be able to click through on the link above at school. The article is at Mashable which monitors social media. Social media outlets are blocked by the school district).

So, here's what you need to think about: How is the way we get our news changing and what does that mean for journalists? We are a print driven publication. Do we need to seriously start thinking about how or whether we need to get involved with social media? Why (or why not) do we need to get online in a more directed fashion? How will this impact us as a staff? Do we need to have staff members whose sole job it is to explore the possibilities of social media? Leave a thoughtful comment here. Please make sure you put an identifiable name with your comment so you get credit. Check the comments to make sure that yours is there!Your comment is due by noon on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.