Blog Archives

The End of a Semester


If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

Well.  Here it is.  The end of the spring semester at Stony Brook University.  I can’t say it went as well as I had hoped.  Health and other obstacles got in the way of achieving my goal of Dean’s List again for the Spring.  Still, as disappointed as I am about the semester and my grades, I must reflect on all that I have learned.  And believe me, it’s a lot.  At this point I am staying positive and looking forward to my Wedding in October, and a successful fall semester at SBU.

Onward, as they say.

Initially, this blog was set up to meet the requirements of a course I took this spring.  Journalism 24/7.  This course taught me that journalism isn’t just about the story.  It’s not just the reporting or producing.  In fact, it’s not at all just about the news.  It’s a business.  Understanding the business side of journalism is just as important as the industry itself.  Learning the behind-the-scene activity that keeps newspapers in business, television programming alive, and radio broadcasting is crucial to a successful career in journalism.  As is learning the ins-and-outs of the webolution in the news industry.  Yes, I said webolution.  I like it, and it’s fun to say.  Learning the business aspects of journalism has helped me understand why certain decisions are made.

The business of journalism keeps the ball rolling, the information disseminated and the people informed.  It must be successful for journalism to continue in the future.  Make no mistake, journalism is not and should never be about the bottom line, the dollar.  But, that dollar can not be completely ignored either.  There is a fine relationship between business and journalism, and going forward, let’s hope that it continues to favor the story, not the dollar.

I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging about the news industry.  Analyzing what people are writing and saying about the industry has been incredibly informative for me.  I suspect that a lot of my classmates will discontinue their blog, although I would encourage the opposite.

Since my blog started at the end of January, I have had over 500 views.  That may not seem like much, but it’s enough to inspire me to continue the blog.  Obviously, someone out there reads my ramblings and well, even if it’s one person, it’s worth noting, I have an audience.

As long as you keep reading, I will keep writing.  I may expand the topics of the blog a bit in the future.  I might get a few guest bloggers to post and I’m thinking about including some original journalism of my own, local stories from my area, maybe a human interest story here or there.

Journalism in every form, is important.  Whether it’s blogging, broadcast, magazine writing, or main stream news.  As I have said in earlier posts, it’s an important tool in protecting our democracy and freedoms.  Watching the Watchdog is just that.  Making sure others in the industry are doing their job fairly, honestly and accurately.  If they’re not?  We will call them out.

Thank you for the support you have shown by reading my blog.  It is my greatest and most sincere hope that I continue to interest you and inform you.  Please, keep coming back.

Kendra Mercer

Could Facebook and Twitter Become a Thing of the Past?


Social Media Week 2012 SP

Social Media Week 2012 SP (Photo credit: Fora do Eixo)

In a blog post for 10,000 WORDS, sponsored by Media Bistro, Ben LaMothe writes about his experience lecturing to students at Central Michigan University.  He discusses the relationship of social media to mass communications and journalism.

After his lecture, LaMothe had a Q & A session and found something surprised him.  The students had voiced concerns that social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, were just trends and eventually could fall to the wayside and become something of the past.  They raised questions about whether education institutions should  offer a degree or certificate program in social media.  According to LaMothe, the students also had concerns that while conducting a job search they feared Facebook accounts could hurt their employment chances.

LaMothe writes, “Students are curious about how social media can impact their job search, but are also afraid of how it could be used against them in the search. Some students viewed the idea of maintaining a “clean” profile as unacceptable, and wondered if it was better to have no Facebook presence at all.  I explained that if they view it as one or the other, then it would probably be better not to have a presence at all. It doesn’t give a recruiter something to use against you in the job seeking process. But when you’re applying for a job in media, it could work against you not having a presence.”

On this point, I would have to disagree slightly with LaMothe.  I think a Facebook presence can in fact hurt employment chances.  We have seen recently articles surfacing about employers requesting the passwords of the social media accounts of new hires.  I know of fellow classmates who have applied for internships, find that they’re recruiter decided not to follow their “clean” or professional profile on Twitter, rather their personal one.  Users say and show a lot about themselves on social media, and I think employers are aware of this, and choose to get a “real” feel for the person they have hired or may hire.  I do agree that if you view it as having one or the other, you probably shouldn’t have an account at all.  I’m not sure why anyone looking for employment these days, with the knowledge of how far-reaching the internet is, would post things on social media websites that they wouldn’t disclose in an interview.

I also agree with LaMothe, it could hurt your employment potential if you are looking for work in media.  Considering the direction social media seems to have taken with regards to communication and journalism, not having a presence these days is just plain silly.

I know a lot of people who can’t stand the idea of social media and they don’t understand why people embrace it.  For me personally, I have to embrace it.  I need to be as absolutely connected as possible.  Social media is a great tool for journalists, writers and just about anyone else who want to get published or be involved in the media and news industry.  It’s a must.

LaMothe says in his article that sure, Facebook and Twitter could disappear, but he also says, “…But the ideas and the impact that the two sites have had on communications, customer service, and more, will just inhabit another site.”

Again, I would have to agree with LaMothe.  The technology and methods of these two sites have made a deep and everlasting mark on communications, and the news industry.  I don’t know of many high-profile reporters, commentators, news networks and shows that do not have a Twitter feed or a Facebook page, or some form of social media connected to them.  This kind of communication, and connectivity is here to stay, whatever package it comes in.

Beat Reporting on the Internet


Social Media Outposts

Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)

Ben LaMothe recently wrote an article for Media Bistro focusing on the idea of reporters creating an online community for the specific beat they cover, or something they report on and have great interest and knowledge in.  In LaMothe’s article, “Should Reporters Create Online Communities for Their Beats?” he states:

“When I think about subject-matter expertise in a newsroom, I think of a beat writer/reporter. In the newsroom, they are the subject-matter experts for the beat that they are assigned to cover.  They have a first-hand knowledge of the topic and the issues at hand and they have relationships with the people who are impacted or make decisions about the topic.  In the world of social media and online communities, they would be ideal community managers.”

LaMothe continues on and explains that setting up such a community online can be relatively inexpensive for a reporter who has the desire to do so.

I happen to think this is a very good idea for journalists in general.  Especially freelance journalists looking to gain attention and buzz to boost their careers.  According to the article it can cost as little as $19 for someone to use software to set such a site up.

This could prove to be a valuable tool for journalists and online reporting.  If professional journalists set up such communities online, link them to social media websites and blogs, this could just be the answer some are looking for to combat the problem of reliable, verified information obtained through the web and social media sites.  In previous posts I have discussed some of the issues associated with citizen journalism and how people are inundated with information.  Much of this information is difficult to sift through, and equally difficult to determine whether it is rumor, fact-based or opinion.  The opinion problem isn’t limited to the web, we see major networks all the time passing off pundits or talking heads as hard news people.

Educating news consumers, and helping the consumer find alternative sites online, offering trustworthy news, is something the web sorely needs, specifically social media.

In my previous post I discuss the notion that social media is taking over traditional journalism, something that I don’t think is necessarily the case yet.  Journalists equipped with a tool such as the one Lamothe mentions in his blog post for Media Bistro, could be the catalyst that allows social media to become not just a major player in the news industry, but launch it directly to the top.  Therefore giving social media a real chance as a serious journalistic platform and becoming widely used and accepted within the industry, more so than the role it has now.

This, I believe is something to be watched, and agreeing with LaMothe, something journalists should seriously consider.

Wall Street Journal Finds Interest in Pinterest


Alana Zak  published a post today in Media Bistro‘s blog, 10,000 WORDS.  She explains to readers how and why the Wall Street Journal has decided to embrace the social website Pinterest.  According to Zak, in her interview with Brian Aguilar, a social media editor for WSJ, the publication sees Pinterest as a new platform to reach a larger audience.

Aguilar states in the article, ““There are so many memorable soundbites out there, this gives you the opportunity to really highlight them and pique people’s interest in a story.”

Basically, the WSJ has created a Quotes board on Pinterest.   Various quotes taken from stories published by the newspaper and photo-shopped to appear as a pull-out quote in the middle of a real article.  Zak reports that WSJ is not worried about copyright infringements because they only publish what they already own.

When I first saw the title to this article, I was a little confused.  As a Pinterest user, at first I couldn’t understand why the WSJ would have any use for an online scrap-booking website.  Then I discovered after reading the article, the clever insight that exists at the Wall Street Journal.  Those folks are very much in tune with the digital wave.

Interestingly, a user commented on a quote by an intellectual property lawyer who stated that people should not post things on Pinterest if they don’t own the copyright.  The users response?  “Maybe he should never give advice about a platform he’s doesn’t understand.”

This story is a great example of how media organizations are adapting during the Internet evolution.  Survival of the fittest.  I wouldn’t be surprised if pretty soon we saw authors and even journalists using Pinterest to show clips or excerpts of their own work and include it on a résumé.  I’ve already seen photography collections posted, some of which I’ve been a part of myself.

There are many people who are left in the dark as to what Pinterest is all about, and there are people who give it a go and decide to abandon the internet site, because they “just don’t get it.”

I say to you:  The Wall Street Journal gets it and they’ve been around since 1889.  This may be the newest explosion in social media strategy.