Unit Three: The Reporter Now: convergence is a reality
Summary for teachers of lesson’s objectives:
- TEACHER OBJECTIVE: to foster a collaborative effort among students because this is noted as an important way of working in the new world of convergence; to help students recognize convergence in online news stories; to introduce topics of accuracy, fairness and objectivity
- STUDENT OBJECTIVE: to work as team on a project; to understand what convergence means to reporters today; to recognize importance of accuracy, fairness and objectivity in stories
Today’s teens have lots of opportunity to isolate themselves. Facebook, Twitter and texting allow students to talk to friends while not making any eye contact, and to carry on a conversation with no audible real-time response, and to multitask instead of giving the other person their full attention. Couple that reality with students working online with each other in class, and the outlook seems somewhat bleak for any kind of truly collaborative effort. So it is imperative for journalism teachers, whether online or not, to realize the necessity to nurture connectedness in the classroom to get students ready to work as a unit,
“…other skills are needed in modern newsrooms, including the ability to work collaboratively, because many multimedia projects are produced by teams with diverse skills.” (Du & Thornburg, 2011)
COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION:
Teacher: Put up the news websites from Facebook that students submitted for homework and then discussed on Facebook. The objective is to have students discuss the questions posed in homework:
- Is the site landing page easy to read, why or why not?
- is it clear how the stories are organized, why or why not?
- what stories did you click on and why?
- were they easy to navigate, why or why not?
- what elements are included in the stories?
Students: Students will discuss those topics above for the sites they submitted. Have students give reaction to each other’s choices. By doing this, the teacher is getting students familiar with the online world of news convergence.
Definition of Convergence from the textbook:
“Convergence is the term that describes efforts to use the different strengths of different media to reach broader audiences and tell the world’s stories in new ways.” (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, & Ranly, 2010)
Teacher: Ask if students notice any sign of convergence of media in the stories on the websites they submitted for review.
Students: Find elements of convergence in those websites.
Teacher: As they discuss, the teacher clicks on the websites on stories they are discussing.
Teacher: Go to this site and find examples of convergence to discuss the different roles of journalists involved in the story (print, video, still images). Ask them what role they think the reporters play at the newspaper and how that role has changed because of convergence:
(Click on the New York Times link to take you to today’s paper (or the hyperlink above) and look for interactive stories to explore. When I clicked I saw this New York Times video by the newspaper food reporter on baking brownies. Fun!)
(This Los Angeles Times link takes you to a story about traffic lights, and within the story is a “click here” spot for this interactive video.)
(This link takes you to a split screen interview done on computer by a Los Angeles Times newspaper reporter talking LIVE with her fellow LA Times newspaper technology reporter who is at the Coachella concert in the desert. The interviewer invited viewers to type in questions for the technology reporter who is talking about the latest apps at the concert.)
Teacher: Put this quote from textbook on screen on a scroll:
“Convergence demands of journalists new skills and new flexibility. Print reporters find themselves summarizing their stories into a television camera. Videographers find themselves selecting images to be published in the partner newspaper. Both print and broadcast journalists look for Web links to connect their stories to the worldwide audience and nearly infinite capacity of the Internet. Cell phones and MP3 players provide new outlets and require new storytelling techniques.” (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, & Ranly, 2010)
Teacher: A possibility is to interview a reporter from your local newspaper and ask how convergence affects their duties.
Go to the link above and search for the blog page. Do any of the students have a blog? Explain to students that often newspapers are requiring reporters to maintain blogs like this one pictured above in the online New York Times in addition to reporting. (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, & Ranly, 2010)
Discussion: As we saw in the LA Times story on the Coachella concert, newspapers ask readers/viewers to interact with the reporters. Newspapers are looking to create a conversation with their readers.
Have students seen any interaction with readers at their favorite online news This link takes you to a Los Angeles Times story that invites readers to vote on an issue about cell phones and driving. The story is about a man who got a ticket for just looking at his phone while driving.
- Have students seen citizens acting as newspaper reporters in news events? (“Telling The Story” calls this “citizen sourcing.” Page 3)
- Citizen Journalism refers to everyday citizens who maintain blogs, or websites to cover news in their local communities that otherwise might not get covered.(Page 6)
With citizen sourcing and citizen journalism now here to stay, how can accuracy, fairness, and objectivity be maintained? Readers and viewers demand accuracy. There has to be a trust between reader and newspaper that what is in the paper or on the site is true to the best of the reporter’s knowledge. Any site or newspaper that is inaccurate about facts, or has mistakes in spelling, or leaves out key details in a story, will break the trust between reader and newspaper.
“Fairness requires that you allow ample opportunity for response to anyone who is being attacked or whose integrity is being questioned in a story. Fairness requires, above all, that you make every effort to avoid following your own biases in your reporting and your writing.” (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, & Ranly, 2010)
Take a vote among students: who thinks the media is biased? Why do people think the media is biased? Ask for examples.
“Journalists describe themselves as the outside agitators, the afflicters of the comfortable and comforters of the afflicted. Journalists see their job as being the watchdog of the powerful, the voice of the voiceless, the surrogate for the ordinary citizen, the protector of the abused and downtrodden.” (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, & Ranly, 2010)
All those things mentioned above are not going to win a reporter many friends in power. In fact, lack of friends in power is a good indicator that a reporter is doing a good job at keeping the wrong kind of bias out of his work.
“Objectivity in journalism employs both neutrality and balance, sometimes instead of the kind of openness that is essential in science.” (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, & Ranly, 2010)
One question to ask yourself when reporting is: who will be unhappy if this story runs and why; and, who will be happy if this story runs and why. Then examine if you have given fair effort to seeking out, understanding and representing the perspectives of the major figures in a story. Also, reporting is not a lone endeavor. Reporters must keep editors updated as stories develop. This means several sets of eyes are looking at accuracy, fairness and objectivity in a story.
Read “Telling The Story,” Chapter 2, pages 17-42
To Do: (Collaboration and Community)
Girls: Go to your local online newspaper and the online New York Times and see if there is a difference in how national stories were covered in the different papers that day. Then conference on our Facebook page, or on email, to share what you found. Work on getting snips of the stories and pages you are talking about. Make a 3-minute presentation of a comparison of the papers and how the coverage differed in the areas discussed in our class: accuracy, fairness, bias and objectivity. Decide who will present your group findings to the class next week. You should send me you snips by Monday so I can upload them to Adobe.
Boys: Go to your local online newspaper, or favorite online newspaper, and the online Los Angeles Times and see if there is a difference in how national stories were covered in the different papers. Then conference on our Facebook page, or on email to share what you found. Work on getting snips of the stories and pages you are talking about. Make a 3-minute presentation of a comparison of the papers and how the coverage differed in the areas discussed in our class: accuracy, fairness, bias and objectivity. Decide who will present your group findings to the class next week. You should send me you snips by Monday so I can upload them to Adobe.
Assessment: Homework will help students begin to identify accuracy, fairness, bias, and objectivity in stories. Also, as they explore navigating the online newspapers, they will become more familiar with the features of the online sources.