University of Texas Newspaper Ignites Trayvon Martin Protest

Cartoonist Stephanie Eisner defended her work in Wednesday’s Daily Texan.
“I feel the news should be unbiased. And in the retelling of this particular event, I felt that that was not the case. My story compared this situation to yellow journalism in the past, where aspects of news stories were blown out of proportion with the intention of selling papers and enticing emotions.”

Hours later, she issued a statement. “I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting.”
“I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat.
“I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused.”

For whatever the Daily Texan did wrong in publishing the cartoon, an editor smartly met a small group of protestors in plain sight of anybody who wanted to see the exchange.  The paper captured video of the exchange and posted it on the Texan website.


Journalism Educators Tap Pinterest

Whenever something gets as hot as fast as Pinterest has, I make sure I am playing in that sandbox.  I am what I would describe as a “light adopter” of Pinterest so far.  I strongly urge journalists to get in there and play, even if, at the moment, the journalism uses of this new social network is not crystal clear.

How can you use it? PBS’s MediaShift does an amazing job rounding up how college educators are dabbling (or more)  I will provide an excerpt. Turn here for the full article by A. Adam Glenn, associate professor, interactive, at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and a longtime digital journalist and media consultant:

How Educators Are Using Pinterest for Showcasing, Curation

A. Adam Glennby A. Adam Glenn, March 20, 2012

Pinterest is the “in” site of 2012, and its phenomenal growth has sparked interest among millions of users.

It’s also spread to journalism educators, who are increasingly experimenting with it in the classroom.

The social network launched two years ago, but in recent months has drawn red-hot excitement for its unique visual, topic-based curation approach. While its 10 million users, especially women, are drawn to it almost obsessively, brands, media firms and news organizations have also planted flags on the network.

Now J-school faculty are increasingly in on the act.

From ‘mood boards’ to ‘survival boards’


One early adopter was University of Southern California’s Andrew Lih, who last October, long before he and many others knew the site would become a blockbuster, introduced it to online students in an entrepreneurial class to gather what he called a “mood board” for a project on public art. Lih explained that the students took advantage of Pinterest’s easy-to-use clipping approach to create a densely packed visual scrapbook of public and street art to identify themes that would have easily been missed had they gathered individual photos in a folder.

Aggregating images to share with students is an increasingly common classroom use for the tool.

Jody Strauch at Northwest Missouri State University has used Pinterest to show good design work to her media design classes. Heather Starr Fielder uses Pinterest boards in her classes at Pittsburgh’s Point Park University to share visual material for collaborations and peer critiques.


And Robert Quigley at the University of Texas in Austin showed students what ad agency GSD&M did with its South by Southwest “survival board.” (He also wrote up a tips piece for news users on Pinterest and now plans to have students create a Pinterest channel for a new social media-only news agency for college students that he has in the works.)

Pinterest fuels social photography, curation

But social curation journalism is, not surprisingly, one of the main applications for Pinterest among J-school faculty. For example, Carrie Brown-Smith, a journalism prof at University of Memphis, had students use Pinterest as part of a “social photography” assignment in a media site. She said the best Pinterest work came from students who have beats or blog topics, such as fashion, that are well-suited to Pinterest’s strengths.

Similarly, at Colorado State University, Michael Humphrey found students with an interest in lifestyle and arts, such as architecture, food or fashion, tended to lean toward Pinterest when given the choice with Tumblr or Posterous for a digital media aggregation assignment.

At Minnesota State University Moorhead, Deneen Gilmour assigned students in a “writing for the web” class to produce stories for their Doing It Downtown blog to use Pinterest as a curation tool for visuals, while using Storify for social media and Spotify or LastFM for music. One student produced an innovative story with the Pinterest boards she gathered to help guide restaurant and shop-goers to gluten-free menus items.

Cindy Royal at Texas State, who is looking into integrating the tool into her digital/online media course, had new media students create a series of boards to guide visitors to South by Southwest. (Other news organizations used Pinterest for their South by Southwest coverage as well.)

And Kelly Fincham, who teaches journalism at Hofstra University, came up with a clever formula for asking students to create their own Pinterest boards. “I teach Pinterest as a visual ‘SPACE,'” she wrote on the ONA Educator’s Facebook group. “S is for sourcing story ideas and trending topics; P is for promotion and publishing students’ work. A is for aggregation of pictures (with suitable copyright); C is for curating top news, and E is for engaging with others.”

This American Life’s Retraction, Mike Daisey’s Reaction

This weekend, the public radio show, This American Life issued an hour-long retraction for its most listened to show ever, the program about the Foxconn plant in China.  The plant is the factory that makes virtually all of the Apple products that you know, iPod, iPad and so on.

While nobody can be happy about the lies in the original program, Ira Glass shows us how to make a correction.  He doesn’t offer a lame excuse, an addendum on a web page.  He dedicates just as much time airing a retraction as he did to the original story.  He takes responsibility for the program that aired.   The downloads for this program are free.  They don’t charge to download a retraction.  It is a small point, but not at all subtle.

The lies were uncovered by Rob Schmitz, a Shanghai-based reporter for Marketplace.  Rob admits this was not some huge investigation that made the story unravel. Instead, he felt the story  Mike Daisey had told to Ira Glass and to audiences around America just didn’t sound right. So he started with tracking down Daisey’s Chinese interpreter.  It was a simple Google search.

In her interview with Rob, Cathy disputes much of what Daisey has been telling theater audiences since 2010 and much of what he said on the radio. Rob also talks to Mike Daisey about Cathy’s version of the trip and tries to square the two accounts.  Act One. Cathy’s Account.

Cathy says a lot of what Daisey tells audiences about Foxconn is not true. Security guards do not have guns, they talked with many fewer workers, they visited many fewer factories, the story about visiting workers as young as 12, 13 and 14 years old at Foxconn. Cathy says they met workers who looked young, but she says Daisey did not meet workers as young as that.

When Rob presses Daisey, Daisey admits he met with far fewer “outlawed” union members than he first claimed, his story about the young girls fell completely apart, his stories about workers who claimed they had been poisoned on the job was based totally on stuff people had told him.  He said refused to say he lied, but he didn’t meet an actual worker who had been poisoned on the job as he has repeated claimed.  Time after time, details in his stories do not check out.

One of the more interesting moments in the retraction is when Cathy says Daisey is a writer and it is OK when he makes up some of the facts.  It is a window into the understanding of a Chinese citizen who does not expect that everything they hear on the radio has to be true. She was not the least bit surprised to hear Daisey exaggerated some of his story.

Act Two. Mike’s Account. Host Ira Glass has a lot of questions for Mike Daisey, beginning with why Daisey lied to Ira and This American Life producer Brian Reed about how they could fact-check his story with Cathy Lee. Ira also explains This American Life‘s fact-checking process, in general. (15 minutes).

Act Three. The News That’s Fit to Print. To get a sense of what really is true of Apple’s working conditions in China, Ira talks to New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. Duhigg, along with Times reporter David Barboza, wrote the newspaper’s front-page investigative series in early 2012 about this subject. And while Duhigg won’t tell you how to feel about Apple and its supplier factories’ practices, he does lay out the options for how you could feel, in a very clear and logical way. Duhigg is also the author of The Power of Habit. (12 minutes).

Here is the Marketplace report. It is an unemotional, factual and low-key piece that does not even lead with the fact that Marketplace caught Daisey lying.

A note from Ira Glass
Glass told Daisey he felt terrible for him, but he also felt lied to. Astonishingly, rather than admitting to more lies, Daisey came back to Glass to try to provide more “context” for why he told his exaggerated story the way he did.  He said his goal was to “make people care.”  He admitted he took “a few shortcuts in his passion to be heard.”  He said his story is theater, not journalism. And Daisey said “it was completely wrong for me to have it on your show.”

.Daisey says he when he performs in a theatrical context he has no plan to reveal that some of his story is made up. He says audiences understand in that context, that some of what performers say is made up.  That is the context of the theater, he says.

It raises the question doesn’t it, is the only way to get to people to fabricate? To exaggerate?  Glass confronts Daisey by saying “it just isn’t true.”  Glass goes on to tell Daisey be thinks Daisey exaggerated and/or lied in other parts of the story too. Ira says what people want is “honest labeling.” Ira says, “I think when somebody says something happened to them that people believe it.”

Update: This is the strange way that Daisey opened his stage act this weekend.
He does not admit in the revision that he is a liar, he says he stands behind the work.  Astonishing.

Last year, performer Mike Daisey sat down with Jeff Brown for Art Beat to discuss his much-talked-about one-man show, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.”  It was that show that caught Ira Glass’ attention and started this radio project.  In that PBS interview, Daisey claimed  that his work is “non-fiction.”

Part of the tragedy of this story is that you might not now believe anything that Daisey said. In fact, an awful lot of what he reported to be true, is true.

Here is a piece that ABC News Nightline filed in February 2012.

Something to keep in mind:
A lot of people hear This American Life on public radio station stations affiliated with National Public Radio.  This American Life is produced by PRI, Public Radio International.  Marketplace is a program produced by American Public Media. They are all public radio networks and you hear their programming on stations affiliated with NPR, but they are not the same.

Newsroom Has to Make Tough Ethics Call About one of its Own

A Newsroom Battles With  a Tough Ethics Call

You don’t HAVE to read any of the links on this page but if you want to know more you can. Here are the facts of the case unfolding in at the Seattle Oregonian newspaper this week:

-the editorial page editor, a beloved man, died of a heart attack

-the paper ran a piece befitting such a fine man and his service

-subsequently, the paper learned the editor didn’t died while in his car, he died in an apartment with a 23 year old with whom he had a running affair and provides her with money.  She says it was not buying sex but he did give her money.

Bob Caldwell, editor of The Oregonian‘s editorial pages, was in the Tigard apartment of a 23-year-old woman when he went into cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon.

The woman called 9-1-1 at 4:43 p.m. to report that Caldwell, 63, was coughing and then unresponsive after a sex act. Washington County sheriff’s officers and medical personnel responded and transported him to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, where he later was pronounced dead.

The woman told deputies she met Caldwell about a year ago at Portland Community College. Caldwell, she said, knew she didn’t have much money, so he provided her cash for books and other things for school in exchange for sex acts at her apartment.

Caldwell had not given her money Saturday, she told deputies. They decided against pursuing prostitution charges. Deputies notified Caldwell’s family of his death Saturday evening.

-the paper felt it HAD to set the record straight even though the man had a wife and kids (Oddly enough, when Caldwell was arrested for a drinking and driving two years ago—an actual crime—his paper didn’t report the story. )

-the paper learned one of it’s staffers who provided false information about the first version of the story knew better but was trying to protect her lifelong friend and his family.  The paper fired her.

She write on her Facebook page:

Some of the public accuse the paper of a cover-up and some say they are unnecessarily harming a man’s reputation and harming his family.

Is this what disclosure and transparency requires?  The only reason they are reporting the details of the affair is because the paper screwed up the original report. Why should the family suffer this indignity caused by the paper’s reporting error?

QUESTION: Why should the public know this about a man who holds no office and is not known to 99% of the population (I made that number up.)  How important is it that he was the editorial page editor, in effect the gatekeeper of standards for the paper?

QUESTION: Should they identify the woman? Why or why not?

Here is the official 1200 word explainer by the paper’s editor

Shoot Better Video With Your Phone

Yahoo’s Becky Worley does a nice job in this piece explaining some quick and easy ways to improve your cell phone video.  Including:

Some Basics
Buy a tripod attachment, like the gorillamobile or the PhoneBoat. One note of caution here: there are no tripod mounts on cell phones the way there are on cameras, so many of these tripods snap on. It’s important to figure out if you’re buying a universal tripod or a snap on case that is made specifically for your phone.

Launch Fast

To launch the camera quickly from an iPhone, double click the home key, and then tap the camera icon that shows up only when you do this special double click. With Android phones, use an app like Lockmenu, and put your camera on one of the quick-launch spots on the lock screen. When you slide the camera icon to unlock, it takes you directly there.

Image Controls
All camera phones automatically adjust for factors like focus and exposure, but sometimes you want manual control. On an iPhone, double tap the where you want the camera to focus. You can have a soft focus on something in the foreground while focusing on a person in the back. Tapping the screen also resets the exposure — bright or dim — and the color balance, meaning: do skin tones look natural. If the light shifts while you’re shooting (the sun goes behind a cloud, for example), a quick tap should tell the camera to rebalance.

On Android phones, tap the menu and you’ll see a bunch of video and audio controls, including brightness, or exposure.  Slide right to make dark scenes brighter.  Left to darken.

Add-on Lenses
You can get everything from fish-eye and macro lenses like the olloclip to telephoto lenses like this one for the iPhone. These lenses are just OK. If it’s really important to get high quality video, you’d be much better off using a camcorder with a more sophisticated lens. The Kogeto Dot records 360 video, but I was a bit disappointed in the image quality.

Two pieces of advice: First, edit in the camera. Another option is to use an automatic editor like Magisto. You upload all your raw footage to their site, and they automatically make a highlight reel.

Human Hotspots for the Homeless

At SxSW, one charity is helping homeless people make a living by becoming a mobile wireless hotspot.  USA Today included this passage:


A test program called Homeless Hotspots — described as a “charitable experiment” by creators BBH Labs — takes members of Austin’s homeless population and equips them with 4G MiFi devices.

Wearing t-shirts that read “I’m (Name). I’m a 4G Hotspot,” they collect donations from users for the connection. The official website for Homeless Hotspots suggests $2 for every 15 minutes, but BBH’s Saneel Radia says in a blog post users can pay as much as they want.

“All proceeds paid for access go directly to the person selling you access,” reads a statement on the Homeless Hotspots website. “This is a form of income for them.”

Not everyone is viewing the deeds of BBH as charitable. Among the most notable criticisms:

Wired magazine’s Tim Carmody: “It sounds like something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia. But it’s absolutely real — and a completely problematic treatment of a problem that otherwise probably wouldn’t be mentioned in any of the panels at South by Southwest Interactive.”

Jon Mitchell of ReadWriteWeb: “The digital divide has never hit us over the head with a more blunt display of unselfconscious gall.”

Listen to one human hotspot working the South by Southwest conference.

Kony 2012: The Making of a Viral Movement

The Anatomy of a Viral Video

The most remarkable thing happened this week. Within four days a San Diego-based charity’s half-hour film about a Ugandan warlord accused of kidnapping up to 30,000 children in the past 26 years – turning girls into sex slaves and boys into child soldiers – has been watched 70 million times, mostly by teenagers.

While you read this, ask yourself why this issue has so taken hold among young people, your students.  If this story is so important to them, should it be a local story?

What do you make of the notion that readers and viewers only care about local, not international stories?

On “CBS This Morning” Friday, Jedidiah Jenkins, the director of ideology for Invisible Children, defended the group’s expenditures – both in Africa and through its advocacy. He also discounted the comment of one Ugandan journalist who characterized the viral video as a passing fad for Americans whose attention will be on something else next week.

The viral manhunt is the work of a non-profit organization called Invisible Children.  The YouTube video went viral like wildfire.  It is said to be the fasted growing viral video in history.

70-million viewers in three days.  Some call this “slacktivism” which allows people to retweet or viral something without really doing anything to help.


The story ignited using key firestarters:

To get the campaign off the ground quickly, the group had users send messages to 20 “culturemakers” and 12 “policymakers” with influential Twitter accounts urging them to support the effort. The list included names such as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former President George W. Bush, as well as celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Mark Zuckerberg and Lady Gaga.

The message that users could send to those people included a hashtag, #Kony2012, that gave the Twitter community something to galvanize around. It read: “Help us end #LRA violence. Visit to find out why and how. @rickwarren Join us for #KONY2012”

Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign

Kony 2012 campaign gets support of Obama, others

Uganda: How you can help

‘Kony 2012’ offers businesses lessons on viral marketing

Ugandans criticize anti-Kony video campaign sensation for simplifying a complicated history

As you might expect, there is significant blowback to this effort.

Some say it is a simplistic response, some say it is solely aimed at getting the U.S. military involved in Ugandan affairs.  Some attack IC for spending it’s donation income badly.  Some say the charity is supporting forces that are nearly as bad themselves as Kony.

Here is a Tumbler with all of that and more.

Google and Microsoft See the Future

This is the new Microsoft Future video. It includes communication glasses and lots of interactive cards and surfaces. I like the see-thru fridge too.

Forbes says Google is planning to come out with Google Glasses by the end of the year. There is always the possibility that this could be the end-all be-all of gadgets. It could finally sew together all the stuff you use. Forbes says:

In late February, the New York Times reported that Google will release its Android-powered, heads up display Google Glasses before the end of 2012. Different stories exist around the functionality and look of Google Glasses, being built in the secretive GoogleX offices. But thanks to observations from people like 9 to 5 Google blogger Seth Weintraub and the New York Times’ Nick Bilton, we think they’ll have these characteristics:

  • Small camera providing real-time data about a person’s environment (also takes pictures)
  • Head tilting-driven navigation system
  • Non-transparent heads up display on one lens
  • Voice input and output capabilities
  • The downside? Google Glasses are rumored to look more like “terminator glasses” than everyday eyewear.

Why are Google Glasses a big deal? Because they may be the beginning of the end of gadgets. Today, gadgets like smart phones, tablets, and MP3 players are built from the ground up to serve specific technological purposes. A smart phone exists to make calls. A MP3 player exists to play music. In the future, we’ll see more of the opposite: everyday objects that already exist (like glasses) or spaces (like a room) that have technology built into them. As the functionality of gadgets becomes built into these everyday objects, the gadgets themselves start to become irrelevant.