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Crowdsourcing

17 Apr

Image via eclipsesource.com

A term coined by Jeff Howe in 2006, crowdsourcing has been widely used by businesses and even everyday people. Crowdsourcing is the phenomenon of using tools such as the web to gather information then outsourcing them to an unidentified group.

For instance, websites and blogs often generate content that they have gathered from other websites. “Crowdsourcing has virtually overnight generated huge buzz, enthusiasm, and fear. It’s the application of the open-source idea to any field outside of software, taking a function performed by people in an organization, such as reporting done by journalist, research and product development by scientists, or design of a T-shirt, for example, and in effect outsourcing it through an open-air broadcast on the Internet.” Says Jeff Howe in his Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business.

In my opinion, crowdsourcing is a success in many ways; with websites like Groupon, and blogs like Bloglovin, word about products and content really becomes wide-spread. Since crowdsorucing essentially captures groups that share common interests and passions, a company would generate a crowd no matter what because there is always someone out there looking for that particular content.

Groupon.com has definitely been a success story. They provide the community with deals on restaurants, leisure activities, vacations, etc. As long as the set number of people buys that specific deal, then the deal is on. This calls the consumers to come together in order to accomplish a set goal.

Through crowdsourcing, many citizens are now able to come together for a great cause and even organize protests like never before.According to the article The Power of Crowdsourcing, “What makes crowdsourcing so powerful is the broad participation that takes place at relatively no costs.” Instead of traditionally going out into the community and seeking potentials who share your views, you can now easily find them through the internet. Through social media outlets, events can be organized effectively with efficiency and convenience while reaching a broader spectrum of people.

Although crowdsourcing has worked in favor of businesses, citizen journalists, and even individuals, it has caused problems for traditional journalists and the journalism world as a whole. Since many websites simply pull in content from all over the web as long as the content is related to their interests, many of them do not care for the credibility of the content or whether the content is accurate and unbiased.

In addition, with the boom of blogs like The Bleacher Report, where content is generated by citizen journalists for free, it causes conflicts for paid journalists. These citizen journalists would still be considered journalists since they are reporting news, however if they don’t have to be paid then why should other journalists be paid? If online content can be produced and sustained by free journalists, I believe our profession will continue in this downhill slope.

The only question is, how accurate and objective are those unpaid journalists? Do they do the same fact-checking as traditional journalists or do they simply report on whatever they can find? This is a lot to consider because crowdsourcing has made great impacts in our society, but how it’s used can be positive or negative.

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Would You Pay?

5 Apr

Image source: soxfirst.com

Lately there’s been a whole wave of talk about the New York Times and its new pay-wall subscriptions. After 20 article views per month, the NYT website will direct its readers to a subscription page where they must pay to view further information on their site. The issue of paying for online content has been a controversial topic amongst the newspaper industry and journalists across the globe.  Would viewers pay for such content? How much is too much to charge for this online information?

Since the direction of journalism has traveled from print to online in the recent years, companies must start thinking of innovative ways to make money off of the non-traditional medium. If they don’t want to die out, they must charge for their intellectual property whether it be online or in print.

The Wall Street Journal has been one successful case that implemented a pay-wall and still kept its viewers. But of course, not every newspaper can be like the WSJ. Viewers would only pay for content that they deem valuable. “The content should fulfill a need of the people. The information has to be valuable and solves a problem.” Says Reid Buchanan, a Journalism student at the University at Albany. Another student, Mike Campana agrees: “When the information is important to a large percentage of the community, people would pay. It’s not necessarily the best content, but it is exclusive content that people need.”

The opinions on this issue continues to differ. Some people believe that because we are so accustomed to receiving free online content, we would not pay for such materials, because after all, “information wants to be free.” So what could be some possible solutions to this problem?

In my opinion, the best solution would be to charge by per article. A small amount can be paid if a reader wants to read a particular article instead of being charged for content that they may not even want to read. Along with this, a company can also decide to charge by column. I would definitely pay for the fashion/lifestyle section rather than the sports section. This way, people can have the freedom to choose certain topics that they take a particular interest in rather than the surge of invaluable information in such a large paper.

Everyone is waiting to see whether the New York Times will succeed with their new pay-wall. If they do, I can see many newspapers following in its footsteps. This just might be what we need to finally charge for online content; if all newspapers put up pay walls, we have no choice but to give in. The NYT could be the key to saving the downhill fate of journalism as a whole.

Cyber Bullying: What Every Parent Needs to Know

16 Mar

“If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up,” says President Obama at a conference in the White House.

The issue of bullying has always been very serious for youngsters and teens. Lately, the forms of bullying extended to the online community and kids are being taunted on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Formspring. These social media networks are providing a new medium for cyber bullying and it has caused some victims to go as far as taking their own lives. ” Cyber bullying gives tormentors a wider stage, a cloak of anonymity,” says Lydia Kulbida, a reporter on WTEN.

The College of Saint Rose located in Albany, New York hosted a talk today concerning the topic of cyber bullying. The panelist consisted of Lt. Joseph  Donohue of the state police crime unit, Lori Cullen, a blogger on the Times Union, Sandra Morley, principle of Bethlehem Central Middle School, Professor Stephen Birchak, and James Preller, author of over 80 children’s books.

The discussions were centered on how parents should handle the situation with their kids. Lori Cullen, a blogger on the TU was actually surprised when she first found out that kids actually had an online persona. Lt. Joseph Donohue believes that “talk about cyber bullying is as important as the talk about sex.” He explains. “Think about your most embarrassing moment but imagine that being online. That lasts for a lifetime.” “As parents, it’s important to adopt your parenting to the online world,” Says Cullen, and that “the eye that we have to keep changes as [the kids’] ages change.” According to her, “a lot of kids have this attitude that it’s no big deal.” “Some kids don’t know how to distinguish between bullying and just having fun.” 

Principle Sandra Morley agrees that times have changed: “8 years ago, if parents say something is happening to their kids online, it was easy to deal with.” Now, this has become an enormous issue that has gone beyond the effects that anyone could have imagined. The online world can be both beneficial and harmful depending on the usage. According to Morley, schools are now incorporating anti-bullying into their curriculums and schools are now addressing the issue differently. “Bullies are very sneaky, so we need to know our kids well.” She says. “Parents need to teach them right from wrong, parents are the key.” Says Donohue. “By the time the police gets involved, it’s already too late. [The victims] have already been bullied.”

James Preller spoke about the “bystander effect” which is the theory that if a group of 6 students walk by someone who’s being bullied, they wouldn’t do something because they think that someone else will do it. But if it’s only one person, they’re more likely to do something. Kulbida agrees that “usually bullying is not done alone. All it takes it that one bystander to step up and say no.”

Host Lydia Kulbida of WTEN

“Human aggression has been around since forever ever since humanity have existed.” Says Professor Stephen Birchak. However, we are at a point where this aggression is heightened by the technological tools we encompass. Our culture is entertained by celebrity gossip and bullying. Kulbida gave us the statistics that college students have a forty-percent lower empathy rate that twenty or forty years ago. Kids all want to be what we call an “instant celebrity.” They innocently throw mean comments and stuff out there and they get the attention from their peers, but they’re actually hurting someone in the process which can lead to a cycle of bullying because many victims respond to aggression with aggression of their own, also called “reactional bullying.”

Two graduate student presenters also showed us how cyber bullying is taking effect on the different platforms of social media. Anyone can simply make a fake account on Facebook under someone elses name and post up embarrassing pictures to instigate mean commentors. Formspring has become the biggest platform for cyber bullying. The site allows anyone to post anything and to remain anonymous. Many sites like these have user agreements that states that they would not be liable for any form of cyber bullying done on their network. There are very little laws out there that can make them responsible and I believe that’s a huge problem.

In my opinion, it is true that kids should learn about cyber bullying and bullying in general starting when they’re young. Parents should have some sort of parental control over how their children is using the internet. Young kids below the age of 14 should be monitored as to what type of content they’re putting online and parents should communicate better with them so they’re more willing to open up if they have encountered any form of bullying. The internet can be a scary place if utilized incorrectly.