A Podcast

We learned about a new form of digital media in Journalism class this past week– podcasting. A podcast is considered to be any kind of digital media that is uploaded and put into a feed. It is unique in the sense that it is usually purely audio. As podcasting was new to us in class, it is also somewhat new in the digital space. The concept of podcasting first emerged during 2004, when Ben Hammersley, a reporter for The Guardian, released an article pointing out examples of significant audio content that had surfaced on the web. Through this analysis, he made the conclusion that podcasting was to become a popular phenomenon due to its great advantages: user friendliness. Listeners can tune into their favorite shows and get the information they want when and where they want it.

This concept of portability and consequent constant accessibility is one of the main reasons that podcasts have shown a rise in popularity over the years. As professors at the University of Maryland write in the article, Joining the Podcast Revolution, “with students now more mobile than ever, the idea of being able to access information without being linked to a certain physical location is very attractive” (1). As students walk to class and as people commute to work, podcasts are available no matter what.

One of the most well-known podcasts is called Serial. This specific podcast began in 2004, and was developed by the creators of This American Life, a journalistic radio show that is publicly broadcasted each week. Serial tells compelling stories that follow a plot and the lives of complex characters and lead listeners with suspense to the endings of these stories. It has achieved many awards such as the Peabody, Scripps Howard, and Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts. The podcast continues to garner large audiences ever since its creation. I plan to listen to this podcast this summer, as it had been recommended to me by several friends.

Podcasts are relatively easy to make. Anyone who is interested in telling a story through an audio method can do so for free. There are many tools available to the public that can be used for putting together an audio file to post. The video below includes information on how to make a podcast without spending money, and making it available to wide audiences:

In order to further understand the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing a podcast, we were instructed to create one ourselves. I have chosen to make my podcast about my visit to Madrid with CEA for the AICAP activity. This was a memorable time for me, as I have learned a lot about the conflict and tension that lies between citizens of Barcelona and Madrid. I especially thought this was a relevant topic after the soccer game on Sunday. You can listen to my podcast about my time in Madrid below.

Sources

  1. Jham, Bruno C., et al. “Joining the podcast revolution.” Journal of Dental Education 72.3 (2008): 278-281.
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Politics 2.0

Just as socialization practices in the world are being changed by technology, so is one aspect of society that affects people just as much– politics. Who gets power in politics is determined by how well he or she can utilize a result of advancing technology that is easily accessible and increasingly used by the public: social media. This complex, yet easy-to-use, entity has given rise to completely new set of political practices known as Politics 2.0.

Social media sites have become extremely influential in the way that people perceive political candidates. Since platforms like Facebook and YouTube give control to the user to create any image he or she would like, candidates can use this to his or her advantage, and get across a message in the strongest, most impactful way possible. Social media not only gives politicians new abilities during political campaigns, but also the citizens who will be most affected by the outcome. Politics are no longer made up of only one-way communication directed by people running for office– the public has just as strong of a voice.

President Obama is known to have utilized Politics 2.0 to his advantage during the 2008 election in many ways, just as we learned in class. First, his campaign had its own social network known as MyBarackObama.com. He used Twitter to stay in touch with voters and respond to their concerns and questions. This established him as a caring, honest candidate, and voters could feel his words and desires for the country were more personal. YouTube allowed Obama to have free advertising– he could post videos and have them remain online for all to see. This showed that he was not afraid to have his ideas preserved online, and citizens could hold him to his word. Lastly, there was Facebook. Barack Obama garnered nearly six million friends on this social networking site and gave voters the opportunity to connect with each other and come together in support of his campaign. All of these ways allowed Obama to quickly share information, give voters the answers they needed, and develop a personal, likable character in voters’ eyes.

The most important advantage that Obama had while using these social media sites to carry out his campaign was access to a significant demographic in the voting world– young people. Campaigning on social media platforms was attractive and accessible to younger generations in the USA, and this proved to be a significant part of Obama’s win against John McCain. When Obama ran for president again in 2012 against Mitt Romney, his understanding and outreach to young voters on social networking sites also proved to be an important factor of his reelection.

Politics 2.0 was most definitely used in the most recent election in the USA, so much that people question if Trump’s social media techniques were what brought him his entry into office. It is important to remember that the social media networks that are used now to share and spread information during political campaigns are still designed to cater to the user. That is, you see what you want to see, and this is something that creates people who believe they are informed to vote when they are in fact the opposite.

For a brief summary of Politics 2.0, view the video below:

He said, She said

These days, the popularity of a product does not so much depend on advanced advertising, wide audience contact, or celebrity endorsements. What really makes one product more effective than the next is its ability to  spread through a giant network of constantly moving, ever-communicating contraptions– human mouths. Word-of-mouth communication trends correlate to the success (or lack of success) of products, companies and brands and this is made possible by the discussion platform that social media provides. Research efforts behind marketing techniques and brand acceptance emphasize the analysis of the relationships “…between consumer posting behavior and marketing variables—such as product price and quality—and explores how these relationships evolve as the Internet and consumer review websites attract more universal acceptance” (1). Put quite simply– consumers are creative, and the ways in which they portray their feelings and opinions about products and brands on social media have proven to be powerful and effective.

Social media marketing has been a significant part of my life abroad. For example, I consult TripAdvisor before making any decision regarding which hotel to stay at, where to eat, or what sights to see in the 2-3 days I spend traveling most weekends. The company’s description of themselves doesn’t do it anymore– I put my trust in the customers. Another way I decide to give the “yay” or “nay” to a restaurant is through Instagram. For example, my friends and I traveled to Budapest this past weekend. We were exhausted after a long day of touring and activities and were craving pizza and pasta. So, we searched for an account called “Budapest eats” or “Budapest food” and found a great-looking Italian restaurant. And there it was– @budapestfoodguide, ready to assist us in our search for the perfect combination of tomato sauce, bread, and cheese 🙂 Most cities I have visited during my time abroad have an Instagram account purely dedicated to showing delicacies from different restaurants in the area.

If there’s a good-quality photo of a dish on Instagram, and the restaurant it is from has a good-quality Instagram page, I have found that these two characteristics often times lead to a good-quality meal. Click here to view the entire Instagram page dedicated to showcasing Budapest’s finest eateries and here to see the pizza photo that grabbed our attention and didn’t let us down.

Just as we learned in class, “word of mouth is necessary and effective.” Without the people, there’s no talk and without the talk there’s a smaller chance that a product can gain the momentum it needs to reach widespread success. As social media continues to become an increasingly popular communication platform, brands and companies need to pay more and more attention to the word on the street (“street” meaning Instagram, Twitter feed, or Trip Advisor site) that surrounds their products.

The video below explains the ways that companies can then utilize word-of-mouth communication in their products’ or brands’ favor:

Sources:

  1. Chen, Yubo, Scott Fay, and Qi Wang. “The role of marketing in social media: How online consumer reviews evolve.” Journal of Interactive Marketing 25, no. 2 (2011): 85-94.

Studying Abroad: A Multimedia Post

Studying abroad has become a very popular activity for college students in the United States. It is the product of many goals that both universities and students have when it comes to what they consider a valuable education. Colleges implement study abroad programs into their curriculums in order to give students many abilities and experiences that people look to get out of their education these days. These abilities and experiences include, “…global learning and development, intercultural competence, intercultural maturity, and intercultural sensitivity of students” (1). Students turn to study abroad programs to “…gain diverse attitudes, intercultural skills, and learning within a discipline” (1). These gains do not come immediately, however. It is when students journey outside of their comfort zone and go through the psychological processes that take place that they can fully reap the benefits of such a rich experience.

Studying Abroad: A Mind Exercise

Studying abroad requires students to make a dramatic transition from their normal routines at home, to a new one in an entirely different culture. One person who has successfully made this transition is Emmie Herbstman, a junior at the University of Michigan who is studying abroad in Barcelona. Herbstman spent the semester before this back in Ann Arbor, and arrived in Barcelona in early January. As a sojourner, or “…temporary visitor to another country who [will] return to [her] home country,” , she has had to adapt to the different social norms, expectations, and lifestyle of Barcelona (2). This is quite an undertaking, as there are several psychological processes that must occur in order to become fully adjusted.

Without knowing it, Herbstman has gone through an intense psychological development period in which she has subconsciously engaged in a roller coaster of emotions in response to her experiences abroad. An entire sub-category of psychology known as cross-cultural psychology focuses purely on the effects on behavior and thought processes that traveling across different cultural boundaries causes.

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This graph illustrates a version of the emotional roller coaster that sojourners experience during their time away from home, and after return as well (3).

There are different emotions and feelings associated with each step a sojourner must take in order to have a successful journey. These are important for students who are considering going abroad to be aware of so they somewhat know what to expect. The first phase consists of the preparation for the trip: packing, anticipating, and getting organized for a new lifestyle. The second phase occurs during the journey itself: becoming aware of the cultural differences, figuring out which cultural differences feel comfortable and which feel unnatural, and a greater understanding of the home culture as a matter of fact (2). Then, sojourners take part in the most difficult phase there is: adjustment. This requires both being aware of the differences and changing how one would normally respond to such differences in a home country to a more accepting, understanding way. Not surprisingly, students who study abroad often experience emotional discomfort, mental exhaustion, and physiological stress from the constant realization that they are far from home (2). The impact of these phases and emotions were not too intense for Herbstman, as she has had a pretty smooth adjustment to the ways of Barcelona.

Below is an interview with Herbstman about her experience abroad so far and how she has felt about it:

Where It All Began

Studying abroad: a time to grow, to experience, to make mistakes, and to learn. People have thought of international education in this way for many years, even centuries. Believe it or not, there is a vast history when it comes to the evolution of studying abroad. Emo of Friesland has been deemed the first person to ever study abroad as he travelled from his hometown in northern Holland to study at Oxford University in 1190 (4). Napoleon’s efforts to bring together all of Europe ignited thoughts about opening up boundaries, and after the Napoleonic Wars, the peace congressed raised topics that served as a leeway to the formation of an international education system. An organization was established in Europe in 1876 which would work to develop and maintain international education (4).

In America, the first abroad student came to study from Greece in 1835. Following this, Indiana University provided students with summer trips to countries in Europe where classes would count toward their academic requirements in the US (4). International education was slowly but surely becoming more common and understood as a way to expand on one’s education.

And finally, in 1919, the Institute of International Education (IIE) was established and studying abroad started moving quickly into the minds of students. As technology and communication abilities improved, studying abroad became a much more popular interest (4).

And Where We Are Now

As technology and communication improvements have led to the proliferation of students studying abroad, they may also be the reason that the emotional roller coaster has not been so intense for Emmie Herbstman. During the preparation stage, Herbstman was able to stay in contact with people she knows who have also been abroad to Barcelona and instantly receive advice from them about what to pack, what to do in Barcelona, and what to expect. Since this is the case, the realizations of cultural differences were definitely still apparent to Herbstman, but may have come as more of a shock had she not talked to other Americans her age who experienced the same transition. Communication and technology have also brought together people from all different parts of the world and have spread shared beliefs, interests, and knowledge across continent boundaries. In a highly advanced, bustling, and rather international city like Barcelona, these blurred boundaries can be felt. During the adjustment phase, students can have an easier time since they can easily stay in contact with those back at home. Before technology allowed global communication to be so accessible, sojourners could not feel as strong ties to home as they can these days.

Communication and technology advancements have not only led to an easier connection between students who study abroad and their home countries, but also a connection with countries that surround them in their temporary homes as well. Study abroad students often take advantage of their time abroad to see and experiences cultures outside the country they choose to study in. Instead of being sojourners in these other countries, they become tourists, and usually only see the place they travel to for a weekend or so in between classes. Herbstman has traveled to a different part of Europe for the majority of the weekends she has been abroad. Websites make it easy to plan trips, find cheap flights, and view tourists’ and locals’ ratings on places to stay and eat.

Below is a video summary of the routine that this one study abroad student has adapted, which helps make the adjustment to a new culture easier. The video includes her everyday life, and well as some of the trips she has made over the weekends.

Sources:

  1. Braskamp, Larry A., David C. Braskamp, and Kelly Merrill. “Assessing progress in global learning and development of students with education abroad experiences.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 18 (2009): 101-118.
  2. Sussman, Nan M. “Sojourners to another country: The psychological roller-coaster of cultural transitions.” Online readings in psychology and culture 8.1 (2002): 1-11.
  3. Smyth, Karen. “Sojourners 2.” Intercultural Interactions Psychology. CEA. Lecture.
  4. Lee, Megan. “The Complete History of Study Abroad.” Go Overseas. Go Overseas, 17 Apr. 2012. Web.

Valentí Sanjuan Presentation

Valentí Sanjuan was our guest speaker in class on Wednesday. It was so interesting to hear the story of someone who has used YouTube to develop his own brand, and now agency, and become an inspiration to so many people.

Valentí has established himself as a brand, representing hope, perseverance, strength and determination. He told us about how he has achieved this status, and it turns out that he has relied mostly on one source: YouTube. He maintains his own YouTube channel where he has developed a fan base made up of followers who want to stay updated on his adventures and great feats.

Here is one of the videos he showed in class, which exemplifies his strength and determination:

In each of his videos, he tells a story just as a journalist would. He emphasized in class that in order for a story to be effective and make an impact on viewers, it must be something that the storyteller is passionate about. He or she must really believe there is a reason other people should know about it, whether it is that it can move the world in a positive direction, make someone’s day better, or give people some inspiration. As Frederick Levy states in his book 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming A Star In The Youtube Revolution, “YouTube has always been about the idea of creating and developing something that would change the world” (1). Valentí Sanjuan’s success is a testament to this mission.

Valentí mentioned another necessary component of being a successful journalist: a camera — but not necessarily the kind of professional camera used to film a reality television show. The only tool anyone needs to portray their story to the world on YouTube is an iPhone. In previous class discussions, we’ve identified the iPhone as a key tool when it comes to citizen journalism. Valentí made the point that the iPhone can do everything necessary to document a story: It provides a way to find sources to support an argument, a way to upload videos, a way to grow audiences (through social media sites), and a way to respond to the audience’s feedback about the video. As Valentí states, 10 years ago you needed a lot of help to broadcast your story to a wide audience. Today, all you need is the curiosity and desire to tell a story, or to “give something a voice, inspire people,” as Valentí said.

I thought it was especially fascinating when Valentí pointed out the fact that even though he owns his brand, he is not his only boss. His main boss is made up of the mass of people who give him the support he needs to continue doing his job– in other words, his fans. This made me realize how much power YouTube has in determining who or what can become a trustworthy, popular source of information and stories.

Valentí Sanjuan was such an entertaining, interesting and informative guest speaker. It is truly amazing how he was able to branch off from the show “Visto Lo Visto” and do something completely different with his time and energy. Using only a self-held camera and the social networking abilities of YouTube, he has managed to gain the ability to reach tens of thousands of people and tell inspiring stories that positively impact viewers. He encourages people to focus on the good in life and believe that anyone can get through difficult times with the right attitude. Valentí says he is only focused on the present and doesn’t make any plans for the future. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.

Sources:

  1. Levy, Frederick. 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming a Star in the YouTube Revolution. Penguin, 2008.

Journalism of the People, by the People, for the People

Citizen journalism has become an increasingly popular source of information in society today. Many events that have taken place in the world have been covered by regular people, with regular phone cameras, and simple intentions of getting the word out. On January 15, 2009, Jim Hanrahan or “Manolantern” published a tweet that would light a news wildfire. The tweet read, “I just watched a plane crash into the hudson riv in manhattan” (1). And just like that, Hanrahan became a citizen journalist who documented a monumental moment in history and spread this vital information for the world to see.

Citizen journalism has been enabled by the development and growth of online social networks, which allow people to communicate across divides of communities, countries and often authoritarian government news policies (2). Anyone who chooses to send out a message can reach thousands, even millions of people. Social networks have allowed citizen journalism to gain a following and credibility, as regular citizens are becoming some of the first live reporters on a scene through a simple tweet, youtube video, or Facebook Live stream.

Citizen journalists have been instrumental in covering many events in recent history. One grim situation where citizen journalists have been essential is the conflict in Syria. Citizen journalists are risking their lives to share what is happening in Aleppo, and around 70 of these people have been killed in the process of reporting to date (3). Since the government has prevented international media from accessing the events happening in Syria, citizens have taken the initiative to document the events themselves. Without their visual documentation and informative reports, the world would not know what is going on.

Because there are so many dangers in reporting from the ground in Syria, the foreign press sends fewer reporters to capture the events. As a result, professional news sources have worked to collaborate with citizen journalists and assist them in reaching as many people across the world as possible (4). Citizen journalists can send videos, images and reports to those professional news sources. Below is a video which captures the life of one citizen journalist working to record events in Syria.

The rise of citizen journalism is often questioned due to its contrast with traditional journalism. However, its popularity has allowed more and more people to make a difference and be heard simply by using a smartphone or 140-character tweet. Professional news corporations are collaborating with and working off of information provided by citizens more and more (2). As Melissa Wall writes in her research article on citizen journalism, “the act of ordinary people creating media content that includes information (“’news”) has become a commonly accepted practice around the world, viewed by millions as alternative, authentic news or even simply as an everyday practice” (2). Citizen journalism has given power and strength to the voices that need it most.

Sources:

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/4269765/New-York-plane-crash-Twitter-breaks-the-news-again.html
  2. http://nca.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2014.1002513?scroll=top&needAccess=true
  3. http://www.wired.co.uk/article/syrian-citizen-journalists
  4. http://www.rferl.org/a/syria-war-reported-by-citizen-journalists-social-media/24630841.html

The Age of Mobile Journalism

Journalists no longer need to be published in a magazine, newspaper, or on the radio and television in order to spread information. There is a new journalistic practice that allows reporters to send their message directly from the scene of the event or anywhere they choose straight to viewers, all with minimal technology.This journalistic practice is called mobile journalism or “mojo” for short, and is being increasingly utilized by reporters across the world. Mobile handset devices have been developed to make this possible and are capable of “…portable digital media production and data transfer systems with configurations of features such as still and video camera capabilities, multimedia file swapping, global positioning satellite receivers, music players” and even more (1). Smartphones can manage these things as well with the download of appropriate applications. Mobile journalists can report news updates from anywhere around the world, at any time. Mobile journalism allows for a more flexible communication of updates and events since news rooms and entire production crews are not needed to effectively spread the information (1).

For mobile journalists who are working with a phone, there are some techniques that they must follow in order to create a credible and effective piece. According to the Missouri School of Journalism, there are five basic execution tips that, if followed, can lead to a piece that is enjoyable to watch. Even though mobile journalism is considered a less structured way to produce news pieces, there are still guidelines that reporters need to follow regarding camera angles, microphone usage, light and stabilization.

From the article “Five mobile journalism basics” by Judd Slivka

Mobile journalism has been described as a way for reporters to get “closer to the story” as stated in an article about the up and coming journalistic style. In the article attached in the tweet below, Geertje Algera, a mobile journalist at Geertje Algera Media explains the benefits of mobile journalism. Algera mentions how the absence of bigger cameras, entire crews and logistical planning leads to more raw and quickly delivered news update. Algera also brings up the fact that mobile journalism allows for less intrusive, more personal interviews of people. Now, the story can be produced from purely the journalist and subject of interest’s interaction, and not be affected by any intimidating cameras, newsroom sets or large crews. To read the full story about what this mobile journalism professional has to say, click below:

With the rise of mobile journalism, journalists must have knowledge of this practice and the skills to “…gather news with mobile devices, use them to interact with the social media audience, and how to format content appropriately for the medium” (2). Researchers collected more than 700 job postings from TV and newspaper companies in the United States and found that most of the positions require these skills in order to be considered for hire (2). Students who are studying to become journalists also must learn a whole new set of skills compared to those who were studying journalism before.

The rise in mobile journalism makes it so that important news updates can be spread across the world, even if a news room or camera crew are not available at the scene. This rather spontaneous and versatile way of communicating news makes it so that more real and less staged interviews can be shown, breaking news can be reported, and voices can be heard.

Sources:

  1. Cameron, David. “Mobile journalism: A snapshot of current research and practice.” Artigo consultado a 19.04 (2009): 2011.
  2. Wenger, Debora, Lynn Owens, and Patricia Thompson. “Help wanted: Mobile journalism skills required by top US news companies.” Electronic News 8.2 (2014): 138-149.