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Analytics Quinnipiac Social Media Social Media Class

Quinnipiac Assignment #12 ICM524 – Final Project (Journalism)

Should Journalism Be Data Driven?

For my final project for Quinnipiac University’s Social Media Analytics class, I created a short presentation about journalism and data. This video is available on YouTube.

My essential question was whether data and story popularity should be drivers for journalistic choices. Those choices are everything from what to put on a ‘front page’ to what to bold or italicize, to where to send scarce (and expensive) reporter resources, to what to cover at all.

Popularity Breeds Contempt

For news organizations looking to save some money, it can be mighty appealing to only cover the most popular story lines. News can very quickly turn into all-Kardashian, all the time, if an organization is not careful. For a news corporation searching for an easier path to profitability, hitching their metaphoric wagon to the popularity star might feel right. After all, and to borrow from last semester’s Social Media Platforms class, they have buyer personae to satisfy. If all of their readers or viewers or listeners want is to know the latest about Justin Bieber or Queen Elizabeth II, then why shouldn’t a news organization satisfy that demand?

But there is a corollary to all of this.

Quinnipiac Assignment #12 ICM524 – Final Project (Journalism)
Journalism is going to survive. I just don’t see how the businesses that have provided it will survive – Clay Shirky @cshirky #openjournalism #quotes (Photo credit: planeta)

News organizations often have dissimilar foci. If I am reading, say, the Jewish Daily Forward, I am looking for news, most likely, about either the Jewish people or Israel, or at least for stories which are relevant to either of these two not-identical (albeit somewhat similar) entities. Hence a story about the Kardashians, for example, is not going to fly unless it can be related somehow.

Ethics

Dovetailing into all of this is journalistic ethics. Shouldn’t journalists be telling the stories of the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the forgotten? I well recall the coverage of Watergate as it was happening (even though I was a tween at the time). I’m not so sure that many people today appreciate the sort of courage that that really took.

What is the future of journalism? I feel it has got to be both. There must be a combination. News organizations need to show profits just as much as all other businesses. But that should not come at the expense of their responsibilities.

This was a great class, and I learned a lot. My next semester starts on August 25th.

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Analytics Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac Assignment #11 ICM524 – ICM Top 5

ICM Top 5

The Quinnipiac Assignment called ICM Top 5 was a look at trending topics on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, in an effort to determine what was really big.

As would be expected, the biggest news story, both in traditional news spreading and via social media sharing, was the situation in Gaza.

Gaza

ICM Top 5
English: Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I chose a news story about Benjamin Netanyahu talking about Hamas (according to him) violating cease fires.

I had wanted so much to avoid tweeting or blogging or otherwise amplifying the signal around the Gaza situation. But the assignment more or less forced my hand. It was simply far too large a news story to ignore. I am still less than thrilled, and have been attempting to avoid promoting any of the rather incendiary rhetoric I have been seeing in my news feeds (from all sides, I might add).

Central America

My second choice trending news topic was about Central American children fleeing persecution and ending up at the United States-Mexico border, plus all of the reactions that have been going along with that. This has been a particularly compelling news story here in Massachusetts, as Governor Deval Patrick has been trying to determine whether the Bay State can and should accept some of these children.

Ebola

My third choice for a trending news topic was the Ebola scare. With an American angle – there are a couple of Americans who have succumbed to the virus (these were people who had worked in places like Liberia) – the story was a good one to follow. It is evidently being followed around the world although the heaviest concentrations of hashtags are in the Sierra Leone area of Africa.

Films

For my final two choices for trending news topics, I decided to go a lot lighter and instead followed the release of trailers for the new Hobbit (Battle of Five Armies) and Hunger Games (Mockingjay) films. The Hobbit trailer, at least during the time period I was looking at, was the more popular of the two.

The assignment was fascinating. Journalists often see themselves as champions of the underdog, telling the stories that are otherwise not heard. But news organizations are commercial enterprises. If a topic is trending, it often behooves them to try to ride that wave.