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.

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.

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