Farewell 2010, Google-Style.

December 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

zeitgeist |ˈtsītˌgīst; ˈzīt-|noun [in sing. ]: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time. ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from German Zeitgeist, from Zeit ‘time’ + Geist ‘spirit.’

In under three minutes, Google has managed to sum up the year while promoting its bevy of online services and products. Leave it to Google to multitask!


Phoenix, Here I Come!

December 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Color me excited. In about two weeks’ time, I’ll be in Phoenix, Arizona, where it is 66 degrees and sunny.

Follow me as I live blog from twitter @ http://twitter.com/jiejennyzou

That’s exciting news for several reasons, the top one being the current nor’easter which is dumping an expected half foot of snow right here in New York City as I type. The same storm already staked its claim on the south this past Christmas weekend.

Winter weather woes aside, my trip to Phoenix will not simply be an opportunity to defrost and take in the sights. I’ll be one of 75 student participants in IRE’s 2011 Campus Coverage Project which will be hosted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in downtown Phoenix. The 3-day-long conference will feature training and tips from some of the top investigative reporters in the country.

As a staff reporter and copy editor for my campus news site, The Stony Brook Independent, I’m anxious to start implementing as much I can from the conferences to my staff’s local coverage of Stony Brook University and the local Long Island area.

Guest speakers are set to include Manny Garcia from The Miami Herald and its sister publication, El Nuevo Herald, IRE’s  executive director Mark Horvit, and Ron Nixon from The New York Times.

I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the training programs they have lined up for us, which include computer-assisted reporting sessions and budgetary analysis workshops.

Check back here for more updates as I’ll be posting as much as I can during January 6-9. I’ll also be live blogging via twitter @ jiejennyzou with the hash tag #ccp2011 (or something similar along the lines to this).

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

December 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Move on over to irrelevancy, New York Times Co.

Well perhaps not to irrelevancy, but to the corner where all the other slightly less relevant companies sit.

That’s right fellow media junkies, NYT Co. is no longer a crown jewel of the S&P 500, which lists the top 500 American companies (though it’s not strictly a U.S. list as some multinational companies also make up the S&P). According to Mashable, the New York Times Co. is out and Netflix is in.

Netflix, the Blockbuster-esque company that first made strides with its video rental services via postal mail, has since expanded to the popular option of video-streaming which requires no red paper envelopes. Other video-streaming companies like Hulu are also cashing in on the convenience of the web.

The New York Times will now be on the S&P MidCap 400, which lists the median range of US stocks. It’s not the slums, but it’s not the elite either, and for a company that has built its reputation as the finest paper in the U.S., it’s a hard economic reality to swallow.

The Times is also set to unroll its paywall on its http://www.nytimes.com site sometime within the next few months. Forbes recently reported that the Times is serious about its paywall and is taking a Financial Times approach to the overhaul as opposed to WSJ’s porous wall where users can access articles for free via a quick google search.

I remember first reading about the Times paywall on its website last January with a bit of incredulousness. Even as someone who plans to go into the industry in the next couple of years, the idea of being charged for the NYTimes bothered me.

There’s no doubt that my life would be different as a j-school student if I didn’t have access to the Times. It was the first newspaper I started to follow on a consistent basis and it set off my growing love affair for print, which has since expanded to other major dailies. But as a college student, the idea of paying hundreds a year for a subscription really really hurts. It not only hurts, but I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ll be able to actually afford the Times.

I shiver in anticipation as I await for more details to roll out. But for now, I’m pretty much at the mercy of the Times. Their sweet, no-longer-free, high quality, journalistic mercy.

So, what say you, fellow blogosphere warriors–will you be shelling out some cash for the Times online? Do any of you subscribe to the Times in print and will you continue to do so?

A Leaky Situation for Wikileaks

December 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Julian Assange is leading a cyberwar, and it's not pretty.

The word “wiki” was first coined by programmer Ward Cunningham from the Hawaiian phrase, ‘wiki-wiki,’ which translates to ‘quick-quick.’ The prefix has since been applied to any website that allows for collaborative editing of its content by multiple users.

In 2006, Wikileaks, a self-described collaboration of “Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa,” was formed, allowing “whistleblowers” to anonymously and untraceably post documents.

Fast forward to 2010 and Wikileaks is now in the midst of a cyber-war after being dropped from several DNS servers in reaction to its most recent leak of several thousand U.S. diplomatic cables. Aside from ruffling some political feathers, its director, the extradited Australian Julian Assange, currently sits in a Swedish prison awaiting rape charges.

It’s true that Wikileaks has come to dominate the journalistic conversation, but its continuity hangs in the balance. So far the non-profit organization has managed to stay alive and can be accessed via several domain names with the help of its bevy of web users, but it’s unclear just how much longer the organization can hold on in a increasingly hostile international community.

But on to the journalistic aspect of Wikileaks.

Wikileaks has changed the way that confidential information is released and reported on by the press. It used to be that newspapers had teams of investigative reporters that dug through boxes of files or arranged meetings with heavy chain-smoking sources in dark parking lots. While the latter may be based solely on a viewing of “All The President’s Men,” Wikileaks has managed to affect the news media in a way that no other “whistleblower” in history has.

It has provided an instantaneous venting tool for all sorts of jaded government workers. The journalists– who were once the gatekeepers of such information and spent hours deliberating and often cooperating with governments in an argument over editorial judgment–are suddenly subtracted from the equation.

Not just subtracted, they’ve almost become pawns in Wikileaks’ arsenal of classified information.

However voluminous the information Wikileaks has managed to leak in its relatively short web existence (I can count at least 5 major blow-ups that made front pages), it has yet to deliver anything on par with the Pentagon papers or Watergate; at least in my opinion.

And it’s worth noting that Wikileaks is almost unnavigable because of its breadth of documents. The typical citizen will need a third party (namely, a trusted journalistic outlet) to make sense of all the military lingo and just sort through all the documents for them. In that way, it reminds me most of the Starr Investigation, which was posted in full at the height of the web boom in 1999.

Much like Starr, news organizations are beginning to wise up when it comes to Wikileaks and their skepticism is starting to show. The AP recently announced that it would no longer refer to the organization as a “whistleblower,” which has a more positive connotation, and would instead call it a website that specializes in displaying leaked information.

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