Archive | November 2012

Anderson Cooper responds to critical tweets while covering the Israel-Palestine conflict

CNN reporter Anderson Cooper recently lashed back at critics on Twitter.
Picture taken from NYDailyNews.com and captured on Nov. 27, 2012.

The centuries old conflict between Israel and Palestine has reared its ugly head in the main stream media again.

The conflict began in the late 1800s when a group from Europe, known as the “Zionists,” decided to colonize a section of Palestinian land. This group represented a small minority of the Jewish population, approximately 4 percent, in a country where 86 percent of people were Muslim and 10 percent were Christian.

Through the years, the Zionists have formed a small army, with help from Israel, and have taken over almost 80 percent of Palestine.

The current problem stems from issues that are  hundreds of years old. Israelis and Palestinians are fighting for the same land. The current crisis has led to terrorist attacks, limited food and water supplies, beatings and murders.

This crisis fits the mold for the “motives of the user” because it satisfies the “uses and gratification approach.” Such an approach suggests readers consume the media to fulfill a particular purpose. With this story, a reader may feel more educated about worldly happenings, and in turn, enhance “the water cooler effect” and talk about it to peers and colleagues.

With the explosion of journalism on the internet, it isn’t surprising that the story has been closely followed by social media sites. When a journalist goes on assignment, they will often post live updates via Twitter and Facebook. This rapid-fire news delivery establishes a personal relationship between the writer and reader.

Anderson Cooper, a well-known CNN reporter, has been covering the current uprising of the Israel-Palestine conflict. While reporting in Gaza, Cooper posted several tweets describing action as it happened.

For example, he tweeted, “Outgoing rockets from #Gaza City moments ago,” with an attached picture of the rockets emerging into the sky.

Journalists who cover such stories can only expect to receive criticism when it comes to their reporting or delivery styles.

Recently, Cooper got himself into a bit of trouble when he fired back at Twitter followers who made such criticisms.

A woman, @Pamela_Weiss, asked Cooper to “Report a fair story. Report facts. Why not talk about the rockets being fired FROM Gaza?!?” To this, Cooper replied, “ummmm…. I just did that and have been doing that repeatedly on twitter and on tv. Do you actually think before you tweet?” and “@Pamela_Weiss perhaps spend less time tweeting about coconut flan and more time actually following the news.”

In a separate instance, @Rabbi_Sykes tweeted, “May just stop watching #CNN. Now @andersoncooper almost apologized for #Hamas dragging a dead ‘Spy’ for #Israel & yelling God is great! Oy!” Cooper again responded inappropriately and said, “@Rabbi_Sykes excuse me, but how am I apologizing for Hamas by reporting them dragging a body through the streets? That is deeply offensive.”

Then a third time, a critic named @RetireLeo attacked Cooper’s sexual orientation and posted, “Didn’t Cooper admit he was gay, if so let’s let the Paelstians know and see what happens.” Cooper retaliated, “wow, tough words from an anon Internet troll. why not use your name and photo, coward? Have some more fritos and keep typing.”

After the whole ordeal, Cooper tried to justify his crusades and said, “Last night I was up for many hours so I think I maybe got a little mean.”

Although Cooper’s defensive remark after being slammed for his sexual orientation is understandable, the other two were just plain unprofessional. When a journalist finds him or herself under the light of fame, criticism has to be expected. There is no possible way for everyone to like your writing.

It is arguably unprofessional to even respond to critiques on Twitter or other social media sites. A journalist has a job to inform the general public about news stories, and the emergence of social media has made this job faster and easier. This new technology does not erase a journalists duty to remain professional.

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How The New York Times’ Facebook is staying current in age of social media

The New York Times facebook page has over 2,514,411 fans and 51,372 people who are talking about it.

The page is arranged in a timeline format ranging from the 1800s to the present. The first post was changed to the date of Sept. 18, 1851, when The New York Times, called The New-York Daily Times at the time, was founded.

The first post says, “‘We publish today the first issue of the New-York Daily Times, and we intend to issue it every morning (Sundays excepted) for an indefinite number of years to come,’ wrote The Times’s founders, Henry Jarvis Raymond, speaker of the New York State Assembly, and George Jones, an Albany banker, in the inaugural edition. It cost one cent per copy.”

The next few posts discuss the paper’s name change from The New-York Daily Times to The New-York Times in 1857, the first edition of the Sunday edition in 1861 and Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.

Posts from there on range from 1896 to 2012. More current posts link to articles about breaking news stories, feature stories and advice columns. An average of three to four posts are added every day.

A recent link with over 550 likes and 269 comments is an opinion piece titled “How to Live without Irony” by Christy Wampole. Wampole suggests adults should ask themselves, “Do I communicate primarily through inside jokes and pop culture references? What percentage of my speech is meaningful?”

Many of the 269 comments are actually negative and critical. Neither the writer or anyone else from The New York Times responded or defended the criticism.The company boasts the caption, “Welcome to The New York Times on Facebook- a hub for conversation about news and our page. Like our page and connect with Times journalists and readers,” but this is kind of a lie.  The reader never really gets to engage with the journalists if they don’t respond to comments made on posts.

Arguably, the lack of response doesn’t mean the company doesn’t know what people are saying, however. It is assumed writers post questions like this to engage with readers and spark their attention. No attention is bad attention, right?

The Facebook page also includes several photos and videos that have accompanied major news stories. Sadly, none of the pictures or videos have drawn extensive attention from fans of the page.

It is hard to know if the Times’ Facebook page does encourage revenue for the news company, but it certainly can’t hurt business-especially when it’s trying to get readers to pay for access inside a 10-story pay wall.

Paywalls and journalists, sinking or swimming?

Image taken from runawaytrader.com

The future of traditional news outlets has been a topic of controversy for several years. Until recently, news companies, especially newspapers, have watched the internet suck up content for free.

However, these companies are now fighting back by introducing paywalls, which require readers to pay for articles and stories.

The Times of London was one of the first publications to block content behind a paywall in July 2010. The entirety of the site is restricted for readers who pay to see it. This is known as a “hard” paywall.

Since 2010, American publications have followed suit with The Times of London, but many sites do not completely block off readers.

The New York Times for instance, allows readers to view 10 stories before the paywall will go into effect. This is known as a “threshold” paywall.

Writer Clay Shirky discusses the benefits and downfalls of a paywall in his piece titled “Newspapers, paywalls, and core users.” He argues that 2012 may be the year newspapers drop the idea of treating all news as a product and all readers as customers.

Paywalls have introduced a feud between the newspaper and the reader that no one could have ever predicted. Writers are struggling to keep food on their tables, while readers insist they shouldn’t have to pay for something that has been free in the past.

An activist group, called Anonymous, has openly expressed anger over paywalls, specifically the one put onto WikiLeaks. The group, that had once coincided with WikiLeaks, has claimed  paywalls are unethical.

Anonymous released the statement:

“Regardless of any workarounds, the fact remains that a meretricious page is placed for the majority of visitors that cannot be closed. The obvious intention is to force donations in exchange for access. This is a filthy and rotten, wholly un-ethical action – and Anonymous is enraged.”

Shirky more or less agrees with Anonymous and argues only a select group of devote readers will pay for content. He said those who pay for access on a news site see the source as a vital part of society. These people are willing to read anything produced by the site’s writers.

Due to the fact that these committed readers make up such a small percentage of general population, many news sites have seen severe dips in readership rates.

Going back to the Times of London, it experienced a reported loss of 4 million readers after the paywall was implemented. That’s a conversion of only 14 percent of readers who were made into subscribers.

Paywalls have also taken a hit with advertisers. Advertisers want their content to be seen, and a paywall significantly cuts out the number of eye balls affected by an ad.

It has been argued that the combination of paywalls and advertisements simply doesn’t work. Ads need to be conveniently placed in front of consumers, not blocked behind stone walls where only a small number of subscribers can access it.

Mike Masnick, of techdirt.com, stated that putting on a paywall is “suicide” for a news site. He said the only reason the New York Times has gotten away with it is because it is one of the biggest newspapers in the country. It is also extremely “leaky,” he added.

When the Times first introduced the paywall, it allowed readers access to 2o stories a month before they were required to pay. To the average reader, this is a large number of articles that will rarely be exceeded.

If they do happen to overstep the threshold of allotted stories, readers can access an unlimited amount of stories via search engines or social network sites. So the question remains, why would someone pay for something they can easily get for free?

However, as with everything, there are positives incorporated with paywalls.

The New York Times Media Group has reported approximately 454,000 paid subscribers to its digital products. These dedicated readers are providing funds for writers and editors that were never there before the paywall’s appearance.

There are many speculations that the Time‘s revenue will only keep growing. Fredric Filloux, of the guardian, even said traders who sold their NYT stocks after the paywall were mistaken in doing so.

There are even optimistic points of view when it comes to advertising. By requiring readers to register to pay, the news site will have access to information about the reader, which positions it to target the individual subscriber more effectively.

Paywalls, whether hard or threshold, and the news outlets that implement them, still have many unanswered questions to account for. No one can predict the future of the news media, but it can be said something needs to be done if journalists’ incomes hope to stay afloat in a sea of free news content.