2008_humbertomartinezI find it difficult to be a journalism student today as my professors are constantly reminding me of the struggling job market in the field. This can become frustrating and it is always encouraging to hear the success story of a peer. 

The students of my Web Publishing class at SUNY Albany were given the opportunity to speak with Humberto Martinez; a 23-year-old who has already earned the knowledge of a journalist who has been in ‘the biz’ for years. Martinez spoke about his recent accomplishments in the field and shared what he feels are the skill sets and tools that an aspiring  journalist must be familiar with in order to succeed in journalism.  

Martinez owes his own successes to hard work and acceptance into the Hearst Fellowships Program. He graduated in May of 2008 with a degree in Journalism and Photo Communications from Texas Tech University located in Lubbock, TX…nice. What’s even nicer is that  in the Fall of his senior year, he applied and was accepted into the competitive two-year Hearst Fellowships Program. His acceptance  put him right to work as a top feature writer for the Beaumont Enterprise in Beaumont, TX. Currently, he is working as a visiting reporter for the Times Union newspaper in Albany, NY. Sounds like a lot of responsibility and traveling for a young journalist huh? “The traveling can get rough but its fun, you learn as you go”, Martinez says.

Martinez made sure to spend time speaking about the recent tools that are being used in news reporting. He was enthusiastic about the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and emphasized on having the ability to use sound clips and video . Martinez explained the ways that Twitter can be used to help a reporter. He finds that Twitter is one of the easiest ways to network and collect sources for news stories. He often attends Twitter meet-up groups labeled “Tweetups” where he can meet and further connect with the people he follows in his surrounding area. Martinez recalls saying “I’m never going to use that!” when he first heard about Twitter in 2007 but he admits that since he began using the networking site in August of 2008, he has multiplied his number of available sources. He explains that the best thing that Twitter can do for a journalist is to get outside their group of friends and meet people from all different areas.

Martinez admits that Twitter can sometimes be a bit much. “You have to really dig and find what you want and what you need”, he says. He shared some of the ways to make it easier to navigate on Twitter such as using the popular “hash-tag” in which you can search a word or phrase that appears in all Tweets that have been posted. Through reading the varying opinions of different people on one topic, the reporter can receive views from all angles. He feels that this can be especially helpful when trying to find information on a story topic. 

Following his Twitter talk, Martinez explained that current news editors love a reporter who can put together sound clips and video streams. “In today’s journalism, that is where everything is going—know a little bit of everything,” he says.As far as using video, Martinez admitted to having no prior knowledge of creating video streams before the Hearst Fellowships program put him through an intensive training program.  “I never thought I would be doing video”, Martinez says. Now he finds himself often creating video projects in order to attract audiences with the use of moving images and sound.

I valued the information and tips that Martinez shared but what I appreciated most was his optimistic outlook on the current job market within journalism. Martinez ended his conversation with the class by speaking positively about the current lack of jobs in the field. He feels that people are becoming much more hopeful about job opportunities in today’s newsroom. Instead of discouraging us with job market statistics and depressing facts about the decline of the newspaper, Martinez reminded the class of why we were sitting there; for the love journalism.

Twitter Trends

October 5, 2009

Twitter has become so popular that this media trend has developed its own set of trends.

Twitter, which was created for the use of social networking is being used by celebrities and athletes as a way to self-promote and reach out to their fans. Through tweeting, celebrities can allow their fans the opportunity to get to know them as people and stay updated on events and important promotions. While there are many fake celebrity Twitter pages, the blog and website entitled ‘Valebrity’ was created to verify which pages are the real thing.  

Brand names and companies are now using Twitter to self-promote as well. Companies such as Starbuks have created Twitter pages to communicate with their customers, get their opinions, and remind them about promotional events. The website entitled Tracking Twitter is useful in finding the pages of all of your favorite brands. Links are provided to directly bring you to the company’s Twitter page!

Twitter has allowed millions of users the opportunity to make network and make new friends. The term TweetUp was invented because groups of people who follow eachother but have never met in person are arranging events where they can meet face to face.

Just as AIM did, Twitter has begun to develop its own slangs in tweets. An example is the use of “w00t” (the o’s are zeros). This is a way of cheering or showing that you are excited about something. Other examples are “RT” meaning reTweet, “OH” meaning overheard, and “HT” meaning heard through.

Clay Shirky Lecture

October 5, 2009

          The story that Clay Shirky shared about the reporting that was done in the investigation of Father John Geoghan was a good jumping off point to discussing the importance of accountability reporting and the consequences of its dissapearence in newspapers. He links the newspapers’ lack of ability to produce this type of reporting to the decline of newspapers being used for commercial purposes. Before sites like CraigsList.com were created, newspapers held a monoply in advertising. At this time, newspapers were the best and one of the only sources for companies to display ads and coupons. The power that these newspapers held over these companies forced them to overpay for their advertisments which, in turn financially allowed newspaper reporters to spend long amounts of time investigating major stories.

           Before reading this lecture, I had not made the connection between the amount of money newspapers were making in advertising and their capability of conducting in-depth reporting. The rise of the Web has made the need to use newspapers as a source for advertising non-existent and the prices that the companies were paying to place an ad in a paper are not comparible to the inexpensive advertising that the internet offers. What really hit home with me was that as Shirky points out, this change is irreversable. Newspapers will never again have the protection that their power over advertisers provided and will never again have the capital to support the reporting of high risk stories that require long term investigations. While advertising on the Internet is useful and easy for both the companies advertising and the consumers, it is blindingly clear that as a result, the quality of the news we recieve is suffering.

          Another issue that Shirky discusses is what I consider to be a problem that has been caused by the “daily me”. In other words, the Internet has become a place that caters to its user. It allows one to search through and pick only the stories, games, blogs, etc. that interest them. This may seem like a positive but it is in fact a negative because the user will never be given anything outside of what they “want”. Journalism and news reporting is important in the way that it explains and shows us things we may not want to see or hear but need to. The Web has slowed the circulation of information that  is needed. In this, I see danger in a society that is uninformed and uninterested in what surrounds them. This danger both scares me and personally affects me. My generation is the future of America and we have been raised to use the Internet as our source of news with trends of citizen journalism. While the newspaper has not completely dissapeared, it is not commonly used by myself or my peers and the quality of information that it provides is not appreciated. I am positive that the lack of appreciation for in-depth reporting and well thought out and written articles will have negative affects on my future and the futures of those within my generation.