The Washington Post’s Offensive Lede

The Washington Post published an article today entitled “Knowing cultural view of virginity, Chinese women try surgical restoration.” Yes this is an awkward headline, but this is not the problem that I have with the piece.

“China has long been known as the land of fakes — Rolexes, DVDs, handbags and designer clothes.  Add a new one to the list: fake virgins.”

The article is about an important topic of medical surgeries and cultural diversity in China.  However, the lede is treated as though it is a feature piece or light-hearted news story.  The lede is very important in gaining an audience that will continue reading the entire article.  However, it is equally important that the lede suits the mood of the story.

This REALLY REALLY does not.  Also, I can see where it would be offensive to those that believe in the surgical procedure, and even those Chinese citizens that do not.  This creates a very bizarre stereotype that all Chinese citizens produce merchandise and believe in “hymen restoration” surgery.

The rest of the article beyond the lede is perfectly well-written.  But how many people really get past the lede?  I just can’t believe it made it past all of the Post’s editors

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Washington Post’s Five Myths

The Washington Post has a really cool section under Opinions entitled Five Myths.  This section is dedicated to beating 5 well-known myths associated with hot topics like gun control and immigration.  While it doesn’t supply a vast amount of information on a topic,  it is great for people who don’t necessarily want to delve deeply into a topic.  If you do, then this a great starting point for that.  Check it out if you have a few free minutes.

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Media meets the iPad

My boyfriend recently received and iPad for his birthday so we were exploring some of the news/journalism apps available.  All of the apps listed below are free, which is a wonderful step in diminshing the destructive paywall in media.

I’ve already talked about the New York Times and how impressed I am with theirs.  I have to say that I prefer it to their online edition.  It is much easier to navigate, more visually appealing and significantly less overhwhelming.

BBC News has produced my second favorite app.  Categories are lined up on the side of the article (horizontal) or at the top of the article (vertical).  You can scroll through the categories to see top stories with photos.  I definitely enjoy this format as an avid news reader.  However, there is an abundance of information that may be overwhelming for some.  Also, reading articles horizontally isn’t exactly convenient, because you are forced to scroll down more often.  However, it is a breeze if you hold your iPad vertically.

The Wall Street Journal for iPad is decent, but not great.  There is a lot of downloading with the app itself, which is a little annoying.  However, the articles are easy to read and navigate.  And it is free!!  Well kind of.  To have access to all of the content you have to pay.  No real surprise there with the Wall Street Journal.

The Associated Press has a really interesting presentation that is not typical of a news organization.  The design is almost like that of a scrapbook with headlines, photos and videos scattered across the app.  However, it is slightly more complicated to navigate.  This would be something you would definitely have to adjust to.  Hopefully they will adjust their app to make it more user-friendly.

The Guardian has not created an official iPad App for news, however, their Eyewitness App is absolutely amazing!!  It offers vivid full-screen photographs with optional captions and tips in the corner.  Hopefully, they will produce a full app in the future.

Finally, the Washington Post has not produced any apps for the iPad.

Definitely some great steps overall for new media!!

Media Cloud

The Berkman Center for Internet & Societ at Harvard launched a new system/application in March that follows media trends.  Media Cloud takes articles–each day–from an astounding amount of news media and blogs and stores the information in a database.  Users can then visit the Media Cloud website and chart this data.  While this is not a finished product, it is an interesting and innovative way to study media.  Journalists, communication researchers, news enthusiasts and average Joes are able to explore media trends easily without having to actually gather the data.  The Berkman Center has done this for us, taking out a time-consumng step and allowing us to focus on the content.  This is valuable because we can, in turn, improve the quality of journalism.  Hopefully, ethics committees and news media will utilize Media Cloud to optimize journalism.

I encourage you to check out Media Cloud yourself, but below is some interesting information.

TOP 3 TOPICS

CNN:  United States, Washington, California

Fox News:  New York, Florida, Texas

MSNBC:  Afghanistan, Taliban, Mexico

The New York Times:  United States, Washington, California

The Washington Post:  Virginia, United States, New York

The Wall Street Journal:  New York, China, Washington

I find it interesting that CNN and The New York Times (both considerably left-sided) had identical Top 3.

Repetitious Journalism

Among our many responsibilities as journalists, we must make the news easy and accessible for our readers.

The news that we see most often is repetitive because the same stories are found on across news sites, stations, papers and aggregators.  Also, a vat of information can be found on the home pages of websites and the front pages of newspapers.  Information is scrolling across the bottom of a screen while a well-groomed anchor is discussing a completely separate issue.  We are overwhelmed by news, but do we even care?  There is so much to consume and to understand that instead of sifting through the muck we choose to ignore it all.

Not only is there too much information to decipher, most of this information is repetitive.  We see the same sources being used for stories across all media along with canned press releases and AP articles.

The Editorialiste explains this phenomena best in his most recent post.

“But I believe there is too much recycling of information going on — so much so that the original source doesn’t get enough credit, and rebloggers get just enough to continue doing it endlessly.”

Coverage of Sarah Palin’s ridiculous attempts to gain attention is a perfect example of this repetitious journalistic style.  Stories about Palin’s “fake feminism”, “Drill, Baby, Drill” and the Alaska Senate controversy can be found everywhere from CNN to True/Slant.

Someone, please save us from the Palin media cicus.

Sunday morning, I scanned a few news sites and found some interesting points I’d like to draw to your attention.

Under the top news portion of the Washington Post, two separate stories about crime in and around border  could be found.  The Post tied this crime “Mexicans” and “border crossers” in a story addressing piracy near Texas and another focusing on the movement of illegal immigration to Arizona.  These stories only added to America’s fear of illegal immigrants and the influx of them into the United States.  While I understand that these are “news-worthy” stories, I would also like to bring your attention to a story by Newsweek that examines illegal immigration and a decrease in violent crime.  It is an interesting article that I believe can really break down the stereotypes we currently hold.

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