Tuesday, September 25, 2007

spirtual healing...rip-off

When I first discovered I had asthma, I wanted to learn everything I could about the chronic disease. After all, I would be living with asthma for the rest of my life. I hit up the spots I thought were reliable such as WebMD and the American Lung Association. I did some Google searches as well and found more good sources, but some sketchy-looking Web sites. When it comes to your health, you don’t want to mess around bad information. In some instances it could mean your life, which is why when I come across sites like World Center for EFT, it makes me upset this information is being expelled to the masses.

World Center for EFT is a site hosted by Gary Craig, an ordained minister who claims his “emotional freedom techniques” can help cure many ailments including allergies, stress, headaches, drug addiction and so forth. It isn’t until you see the homepage of the site and look at the small print at the bottom that one finds out he is not a medical practitioner and this “therapy” has not been proven to work. Now I’m all for alternative medicine. Sometimes it can help someone with an illness, but usually not on its own.

The site claims it can help problems vanish in a matter of minutes after applying EFT. Asthma can be stress-induced, but as a disease, it does affect you internally in terms of the size of your breathing ways. Now if you want to be suckered into buying the 5 Star DVDs, the site sells them for $60 a set. Otherwise, save your money for those physician co-payments and ask for some stress-reducing tips from your doctor. It will save you money and perhaps your health.

Huffington's incredible credibility

Arianna Huffington's blog, The Huffington Post, is quite obviously a credible Web site. While the nature of any Web blog can be questioned because of the political agenda behind the posters, Huffington's is in unique company.

Huffington works for The New York Times, and because of this, has daily contact with some of the top journalists in the country. This is reflected by the variety of posters on her blog. While other blogs present just her point of view, Huffington includes those of other top journalists and writers. The material The Huffington Post covers is extremely varied. International, national and local New York news are all covered and easily accessible.

One would also be hard pressed to find a spelling error. Another reason this is a highly credible blog is because of the links she presents to visitors. Every major media outlet is linked to in a clear and easy manner. This shows a fearlessness in presenting opinions, as she offers those interested in more information to read the (mostly) unbiased accounts on other sites.

While it could certainly be argued Huffington's posts are inextricably linked to her political agenda, the same could be said about all other bloggers. Her attention to detail and variety of staff make this blog a very credible one.


Reuters describes itself as a "global information company" on it's About Us section which links off the home page. Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, but despite that, an overwhelming majority of it's revenue is generated from the financial services they offer. Reuters was founded in London in 1851, so having already established longevity lends to the website and companies credibility.

Reuters is a company staffed by 16,900 employees in 94 countries, and of that staff, 2,400 belong to the editorial staff. All of the stories featured on the Reuters website are written by Reuters employees and contain the time and date that the stories were submitted. The news provided on the site ranges from Politics and Technology to Health and Science.

The website’s appearance is very simple and contains mostly texts, with a few pictures to correspond to related stories. Advertising on the page is extremely minimal, almost inexistent, and is by no means distracting from the editorial content. In addition, all of the links and pictures on the website appear to be working.

The site is very easy to navigate and near the bottom contains links where you can learn more about Reuters, it’s history, management, and ways of contacting them. The site also hosts links that allow you to visit the 18 other international editions of reuters websites.

Overall this websites appears to be credible in that the overall appearance of the website is very professional, the information is provided on a timely basis, contact information is provided, and numerous links allow you to learn more about the companies history and objectives.

Web Cred: BeerAdvocate

For my website credibility blog post I have chosen BeerAdvocate.com. While beer advocate is not what most people would call a “news site” its content is updated regularly and it offers visitors to the site a world of things to do, such as learn to describe beer, learn to pour beer and learn to brew beer. BeerAdvocate is also a monthly magazine, but the website is updated more often with ever-changing beer news.

As far as credibility is concerned, I trust BeerAdvocate. Here’s why.

The page consists of probably four divs, one for logo, nav on the left, and two content divs. The layout of the website makes it easy to find your way around. The color of the background on the sides and top is black with either white or peach colored text, which I know, some people do not like, but I think it works well with the theme of the sight.

The navigation on the site works splendidly, I have not found any broken links, or missing images. The site hasn’t been over run by any crazy number of ads. In fact the only three ads on the page are BeerAdvocate sponsored.

BeerAdvocate is not only where I go to learn about new beers, its where I go to learn about the beer drinkers’ culture. How can you not trust a site who’s motto is “Respect Beer.”

Soccernet.com Credibility

I got into watching soccer over the summer. I'm a big basketball fan and watching the players' movements on the field is very similar to watching basketball players move around the court. Plus, it's just a beautiful game to watch.

I decided to do my credibility assignment over Soccernet.com. It started out as a soccer news site for English Scottish leagues. In 1999 is was bought by the Buena Vista Internet group. Years later, it was purchased by ESPN and it is now a part of ESPN's website.

It has since expanded to news for all soccer leagues all over the world.

Soccernet is a very credible source. It provides accurate news for the most part free of opinions and biases. And now that it is owned by such a credible source as ESPN, Soccernet's own credibility has skyrocketed. But it has a history of providing accurate information, so be acquired by ESPN has only helped.

News 8 Austin has a website?

Yes, they sure do. It’s about as lame as the television channel, too.

I decided to blog on the credibility of News 8 Austin’s website because I was curious as to how my opinion of the television channel would hamper my views of their website. If, perhaps I had gone to the website and been somehow surprised or impressed maybe I would have felt not only the website was more credible but also the channel.

Regardless, the News 8 Austin website initially does seem somewhat credible if not spectacular. Each story shows a date and time stamp of when it was last updated and you can easily click to email the journalist in charge of the story.

The URL clearly belongs to the same News 8 we all know as it carries their logo in the address bar and the web address is simply www.news8austin.com.

There is a readily available and easy to find link on every page to the About Us section which takes you to a page that is obviously still within their website. This page is titled Contact Us though, which I thought was a little confusing as the link and the page should be titled the same.

The Contact Us page lists several addresses and phone numbers for their main location, satellite locations, various departments and even a map to find them. If you scroll down below that you will see a short history of the station, which is said to have begun on September 13, 1999. This certainly hampers their credibility, as I prefer to get my news from reliable sources that have been around decades. Further hampering their credibility is what you learn next, they are owned and operated by Time Warner Cable of Austin.

With little history to exemplify objective reporting and being owned by a large conglomerate I question News 8 Austin’s website credibility. It is too hard to be sure whether they skew their reporting based on personal politics or the politics of the company which owns them.

Web site credibility: 'Lords of Metal'

I am a big fan of metal music. Yes, it's cheesy but most of the time that's deliberate so I have no problem with. Plus I think cheese is funny.

Anyway, I have found it hard to seek out professional publications that are not biased towards metal already, yet still offer many reviews of this music style on a regular basis. This is the problem with a site such as RollingStone or Sputnikmusic. One Web site I have found is Lords of Metal, which by name alone may turn some away. But the site's quality content and consistent updates allows me to give it a passing grade on credibility.

The Web site is presented in a simple layout that is easy to read, yet does not look too basic as if the creators know little about what they are doing. Links are generally good and working, another positive. The site offers updates at least once a month, operating basically like a magazine. Each month it brings forth a slew of new reviews and interviews with bands, so one can conclude the site's owners are actually reporting and not simply reviewing CDs in their own catalog.

Perhaps the biggest evidence for me is the grammar. Even though the home page is in Dutch, users can click on the English version to read reviews in crystal-clear English. This is not so for other sites I have gone to, such as The Metal Observer, where it is routinely obvious that English is not the writers' primary language. The Metal Observer's reviews also include biased language in its reviews, using exclamation marks and other devices that leave me to believe the reviewers are coming in on an even keel. Plus, the site does not always have reviews of the latest albums.

Seeing as Lords of Metal is a monthly web zine, it is done professionally and includes contact information, "about" links, calenders and other features that exude a feeling of completeness. All of this combines to give LoM a passing grade in my book.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The British Broadcastig Corporation

Every news corporation receives criticism at some point in time; people demand truthful and honest reporting. The integrity of a news organization depends on it, and as seen in the case of Dan Rather, one false story can end a career and lead to a network with a tarnished reputation. Credibility is key to every aspect of journalism; without it, you have nothing.

The British Broadcasting Corporation, also known as the BBC, provides countries with continually updated news and a well organized web site for Internet-users across the globe. The BBC's stated mission is "to inform, educate and entertain." The BBC's news and audio can be viewed and heard in 33 different languages. With a budget that exceeds more than 4 billion, BBC has the largest audience numbers and revenue than any other broadcasting corporation.

The British government created a department known as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or FCO, with its purpose being to promote the interests of the United Kingdom abroad. The BBC World Service is funded by the FCO, a government organization, while BBC's domestic radio and television services are funded through a licensing system . The BBC corporation operates under a Royal Charter that is reviewed every ten years. Up until 2007, the government appointed people to positions in the Board of Governors which was replaced in January of this year. The BBC Trust is the new overseeing body that replaced the Board of Governors and promises a new and revised system. The trustees are still appointed by the Queen on advice from ministers. The corporation claims to be independent but when government organizations are paying bills and appointing trustees to oversee the corporation, how free and independent are they? I find this interesting because in the U.S. we have had dozens of court battles concerning the rights of the Press and the first amendment. The separation of the press from the U.S. government has been vital for the free flow of information and the role the press has played as a watchdog has kept the government on its toes.

As far as credibility is concerned, I don't see a huge issue with the BBC, however it concerns me when the government has any role with a media outlet as huge as The British Broadcasting Corporation. In the U.S., people fight for the separation of business and state. The U.K. system is clearly different and I think it is important for people to realize this.

Without Me, It'd Just Be Aweso

And without Austinist, I wouldn't know what the heck was going on around my town. Well, I may have some general idea, but it wouldn't be nearly as cool and trendy as what I find on there.

Austinist is a website where its audience is purely Austinites or people who want to BE Austinites. They have news, community events, music, theatre, movies, fashion, gossip, photos of graffiti and reviews of Craigslist's famous Missed Connections.

However, I'll ignore all the fun references and just focus on their news coverage. Instead of shoveling stories from news sources onto their page, Austinist provides a list of links to the news stories with a brief headline. Considering that the site seems to cater to the 21-35 crowd, I know they'll pick stories that I'd be interested in reading. For example, when the story on the Taco Bell Python broke, it was a link that took you to the story on the Austin American-Statesman's website. I regularly check statesman.com, but that story must have slipped by me. Austinist found it, I read it, I laughed heartily. I would have missed that completely had it not been for Austinist's little spiders.

As laid back and liberal as Austinist can come off sometimes, the site is completely credible to me. There are links on the side to all of the staff members' bios, email addresses, AIM ids, flickr accounts, etc... If you had a question or problem, you could contact the author or editor immediately.

Austinist seems to be fueled by the ads on the site, which I must admit, don't detract from the content. I took the liberty of circling some ads for your viewing pleasure:

Overall, Austinist is a credible, if laid-back, website. They source everything. You can contact anyone. No smoke and mirrors here.

The credibility of NPR

With an hour-long drive to work every other day, I soak a lot of National Public Radio while in my car. I download about seven weekly podcasts and my home radio is set to 90.5 FM, the Austin affiliate station.

Occasionally, I visit the NPR Web site, which is why I’ve chosen it for this assignment.

I am usually impressed with what work NPR does, so I have pretty high expectations of them. NPR is a nonprofit organization that produces news, talk and entertainment programming. NPR has a partnership with noncommercial independent radio stations — about 800 — that provide much of their own local programming. Unlike most news Web sites, NPR relies on donations instead of advertising. It can come from individuals or major corporations, and I have yet to see any sign of favoritism that NPR shows toward donors.

NPR easily has the best, most credible news site for a radio organization. Like any other news organization, it covers anything from breaking news to features. The main story Monday evening was about Iran’s president making a controversial visit to Columbia University.

The stories are fair and unbiased. They’re straight news reporting without the author’s opinion, unless the opinion is clearly labeled so. NPR also offers analysis and perspective from reputable journalists like Daniel Schorr and Ted Coppel.

As far as its radio shows go, Terry Gross, host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, is the most skilled interviewer I’ve heard. She is almost always prepared with a wealth of information about her subject and an arsenal of insightful, provocative questions. She is evidence of the quality and fairness NPR aims for in its radio and Web programming.

NPR subscribes to the Associated Press, so it has a news feed on the right part of its site that keeps readers updated on breaking news.

From the Web site’s homepage, you can scour programs, stations, transcripts and archives. NPR does a good job of making its information accessible. You can also click on most of the stories for an audio version.

The look of NPR’s Web site is clean, navigable and somewhat stylish. There aren’t nonfunctional links or pictures that won’t load on the page. The NPR Web site has a consistent style. Everything is organized in a clear manner. The news stories are in the news section, the music stories in the music section, etc.

What especially makes NPR is that is has an ombudsman, the public’s representative to NPR. Reputable news sources need ombudsmen to look out for readers and ensure that news publications are reporting fairly and accurately.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


The site that I decided to use for this blog is CNN.com because it’s a site that I visit regularly for news and other useful information. CNN.com is a journalistic Web site that offers information about politics, sports, world news, and entertainment as well as many other topics. CNN is also a television broadcasting network so some of its video content comes from that.

CNN.com is probably one of the most reputable online resources because it’s updated constantly through out the day. In addition to this all of the stories contained on this site have the dates they were written included at the top and also the dates that they were updated. CNN’s world headquarters, which is in Atlanta, Ga. is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by over 4000 news professionals. More information about who contributes to and runs the site can be found by clicking the about us link at the bottom of the Web page.

I read CNN.com everyday and I have yet to find a typographical error. While I honestly have no idea whether the content of the site is accurate, I have been unable to identify any grammar or spelling mistakes. Credible Web sites will always contain this type of quality in their content. If you visit a site that has a proliferation of mistakes then that’s a clue that the site may not be all that credible.

The appearance of CNN.com is another factor that contributes to its credibility. The Web site is rather plain to look at which is a good thing because it doesn’t try to get you to pay too much attention to too many things at once. It’s not at all confusing. The information is clearly laid out in a manner that is accessible. The site is easy to navigate and there aren’t any tacky, blinking adds jumping out and distracting the viewer from the actual content of the site.

Mother Jones is a Mother load of...

Motherjones.com, a self-titled investigative reporting site that offers information on a range of political issues, caught my eye when scoping through Google’s political news hits.

Note: it did not catch my eye because of the name. There are a lot of individuals who share my same last name. Just because we share a common name does not mean we share a common belief. I’m my own woman!

The site was interesting, to say the least, the homepage takes you through a ‘briefing’ in which the authors attempt to tell informatively the “facts” of the political stances of beings such as: Hillary, Cheney, Obama, more Hillary and so forth. Funny thing is, I’m not sure which way the site is leaning to, the political cartoon illustrations bash republicans and democrats alike.

I know what you’re thinking, that’s why they call it an “independent” site, but for the most part, all independent sites have some political mojo going for them.

The fact that the site told information on political namers lent its credibility, BUT the illustrations completely knocked what little credibility I had established of the site.
[Example to the right].

When I went to the ‘About Us’ tab at the top I was fully insured of the non-credibility of this site. Not only did the first line state: “independent nonprofit whose roots lie in a commitment to social justice…” What really pushed me over was the following paragraph:

“If you are a Chase Bank USA card holder and are calling because a charge to "Mother Jones San Francisco" has unexpectedly appeared on your account, you may be the victim of attempted credit card fraud. Please contact the fraud division at Chase: their toll-free number is (866) 564-2262. Mother Jones did not - repeat, did not - enter this charge on your account.”

This is what I concluded:

The site, which is strictly run by donations from viewers, could NOT be credible if the donators have a possible chance of being ripped off by giving their contributions. That alone makes me believe it is un-credible all of the other signs could be disregarded.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Web Credibility Blog Post

This week, I want you to write a blog post on Web Credibility. Find a site and discuss why you think it is or is not credible. Consider the things the book discussed in evaluating online resources. The site you select should be one in which news content is regularly updated (as opposed to a personal or corporate site). Make appropriate links as necessary in your post.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thursday SPJ panel discussion on internships

Hello everyone,
I wanted to let you all know that the Society of Professional Journalists Texas State chapter will hold a panel discussion on "How to get a Journalism Internship," 5 p.m. Thursday in Old Main, Room 234. Speakers will include . Free pizza will be served. All interested students are invited to attend. For more information, contact me or SPJ faculty co-advisors Kym Fox, Gilbert Martinez or Sue Weill.
Emily Messer
SPJ student chapter president

A Litte Comic Relief

While I can’t say I frequently view any particular blog, I will admit to occasionally checking out the notorious Perezhilton site. With both the Emmy and MTV awards having recently past, I found myself on Perezhilton wanting to see the winners, the fashion, and of course, the gossip that his page is known for. I chose to compare the Perezhilton site to a very similar blog, Best Week Ever, which pokes fun at people in pop culture. Like the Perezhilton website, Best Week Ever has a television show on Vh1 that accompanies the blog.

Perezhilton: The author of this blog is actually a man named Mario Lavandeira, but he adopted the name Perezhilton after Paris Hilton, which he uses for both his blog and new VH1 show. He considers himself to be a gossip columnist and has this past year risen to himself become a celebrity through his scrutiny of Hollywood. On his website he boasts that he receives 4 million hits a day.

Best Week Ever: This blog is written by a team of bloggers, many of who are also tv personalities and comedians, all who also appear on the show. The blog is a spin off of the Vh1 show and also pokes fun at those in the media spotlight.

The two websites share many similar blog posts. Both sites often comically compare the photos of some celebrity to another character, usually quite hideous, but equally hilarious.

The Britney Spears/Ms Piggy pic appeared on Perezhilton a few weeks ago, and the Fred Thompson/Vigo the Cruel (Ghostbusters II villain) pic was on Best Week Ever yesterday.

Both sites have in common that they frequently link to video, on Perezhilton, there are often links to youtube videos that relate to the particular person or event he's commenting on.

Best week ever does the same, and has video clips from the Best Week Ever show included on the site. Both sites have the option to comment on any particular post, and often link to other stories on related content. Despite the Best Week Ever blog being located off of the Vh1 website, the Perezhilton site has by far more user comments.

However, because the Best Week Ever blog is off of the Vh1 website, it does provide more mulitimedia options. The blog has links that allows users to take quizzes on pop culture, search for posts about a specific celebrity, and has an option that allows you to recieve celebrity news via your mobile, and a Best Week Ever radio show that user can listen to through the site.

The Perezhilton site does provide a few of those multimedia options, such as a search bar, linking, and video, but as far as the mobile and radio options go, the Best Week Ever site is more multimedia inclusive.

Bottom line, both blogs are satirical in nature and simply poke fun at those in the spot light and offer a little comic relief to already not so serious news. I feel both are about equal as far as quality goes and the deciding factor as to which a reader prefers, will probably just be which sites humor they most relate to. Funny drawings or witty commentary..

Thought this blog post on Best Week Ever was pretty funny.

Politics: served up steamy and hot

You can take your politics seriously or you can poke, poke, poke fun at those in power.

Personally, I like a little bit of sarcasm mixed in with my daily political briefing over the web.

Wonkette is the perfect place to get that. Is it liberal? Yes. Is it crass? It can be, but probably for a good reason. What I love so much about the blog is it points out the obvious and ridiculous happenings of Washington politics and its society. Whether it is Wonkette’s coverage of obscure presidential candidates like Ron Paul or reports that Michael Chertoff is a blogger, nothing goes uncovered or un-ridiculed. Wonkette is essentially the Perez Hilton of D.C.

Now, if you like to take your politics a little more seriously, the New York Times has The Caucus, a blog set up specifically for the 2008 presidential election. Now it doesn’t offer up juicy tidbits such as Wonkette does, but it will give you some pretty straightforward coverage of big ’08 news. The fact that it can pull from the Times’ library of multimedia helps as well.

Whatever way you take your politics, each blog will give you a taste of important political news. OK, maybe Wonkette doesn’t always give important, you-need-to-know-this news, but it’s still funny as hell.

Hillary Clinton coverage comparison

A comparison between Arianna Huffington's Presidential election coverage and Texas Rainmaker's clearly exposes the very opposing political views of the bloggers. The best contrasting posts pertain to Hillary Clinton. Both her election platform and moral beliefs are the subject of speculation in either blog.

Huffington's blog attempts to present a balanced and logical view of the candidates. In a post by Leonard Greene (hosted on Huffington's blog), Clinton's fundraising is under scrutiny. According to Greene, her Las Vegas trip was funded by a "disgraced" man named Norman Hsu. Although the post is clearly meant to tease a New York Post story, the information presented is clearly detrimental to Clinton and raises questions about her morality. According to the article, Hsu was jailed last month on investment-related charges.

"Hsu - who raised more than $850,000 for Clinton before being jailed last month on charges related to an investment scheme - treated the senator's campaign staff to several days at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, complete with free show tickets and dinners at posh restaurants," the Monday article said.

Huffington's blog also hosts pro-Hillary material, best displayed in the form of RJ Eskow's Monday post. Eskow lauds Clinton's plans for health care reform.

"Her plan is solidly in the center of Democratic proposals. It emphasizes mandated coverage, cost reduction measures, and the elimination of predatory insurance underwriting. At first review, it reinforces the sense that she and her staff are knowledgeable, highly competent, and incrementalist in their approach," Eskow's Monday article said.

Texas Rainmaker's blog contains overwhelmingly negative coverage of Clinton. It is important to note the blogger does not provide his name, but lists the name "Jason" and promotes himself as a conservative lawyer. In a Friday post, Clinton's choice of advisers and friends is clearly questioned.

"Her advisors include someone who negotiated a deal with North Korea to provide them nuclear fuel which they used to build weapons, someone who traded campaign donations for burial rights at Arlington National Cemetary from someone who never served in the military, and someone who pled guilty to stealing and destroying classified documents detailing the response to terror threats," the post said.

I was hard pressed to locate a pro-Hillary article. It is obvious in the wide spectrum of politics and blogs that balanced coverage is a rarity. I would much rather read the Huffington blog, and be more receptive to information located in the posts because of the balanced coverage. Texas Rainmaker is too one-sided for my tastes.

Austin City Limits

Since I attended this year's ACL Music Fest, I decided to take a look at the blogs that have posted their comments about the event already. Most blogs I searched for just offered photos and a couple of comments, but there were a couple that actually delved into their opinion of the festival.

The first is by a girl named Heather who writes a blog called A Comedy of Errors, hosted by LiveJournal. She talked about how she thinks that ACL is overrated:
HOWEVER I do not think ACL should be hyped up as much as it is every year. Yes, it's great. Yes, there are a lot of great artists. Yes, weird people come in from all over the world to over-populate Austin. But it's a music festival, not the first/second/third (depending on who you ask) coming of Christ.
Whatever. It's not the coming of christ, of course, but I think it's hyped as it should be. She did throw some love out for Regina Spektor, and I can appreciate that. Yay.

Another blog, Texas Oasis, had an entry for all three days of ACL. Texas Oasis is written by an older lady called Blueberry. She enjoyed the festival and had a few pictures, video and mp3 files to share on the blog.

Both bloggers mentioned the fire that exploded behind the port-a-potties that injured a few people during Bela Fleck's show. Neither one of them seemed too sure about what happened, but it was interesting to see both people's perspectives.

mmm BBQ ... wait did someone say tacos?

Here in Texas we have a thing about our BBQ (shocker I’m sure) but here in Austin we also happen have a thing about our Tex-Mex. So what an awesome job is it to spend your days searching out the best of either and then reminiscing about your finds to the world via your blog. I found two such blogs:

Taco Journalism, written by a team of bloggers who are in constant pursuit of the best tacos in Austin
Urbangrounds, written by one BBQ loving biker dude who touches on many topics but weekly (approximately) tells his tale of a search for the best BBQ in Texas

Taco Journalism is updated approximately once weekly with a new eatery featured and reviewed. The best and worst part of Taco Journalism, though, is the pictures. If you want to see what you’re reading about and imagine the experience before hand than these pictures are an accurate portrayal. On the other hand if you’ve just eaten, presumably some crap from another drive-thru, and you log on you’re likely to feel at least a little slighted. That being said, the articles are reasonably in depth if a little long for a blog. Comments are welcome, but rare. They have a cool Google map of all of the taco joints in Austin they have reviewed as well as a list of the restaurants below the map. Each title in the list shows the name and rating (in form of stars or estrellas) of the restaurant and is a link to that particular blog entry.

Simply stated, Urbangrounds is all out blogging at its best. The comparison might be a stretch as Urbangrounds blogs on all types of topics, many of which have nothing to do with food, but the coverage of Cooper’s Old Time BBQ in Llano is pretty good. The blog style of this post to that of the majority of the posts on Taco Journalism is similar. There is a conversational tone that lends itself to a good friend telling you about this great new food place they just discovered. Urbangrounds, though, not only welcomes comments – he gets comments. It is clear that his readers feel a sense of community on his blog that Taco Journalism hasn’t quite captured as of yet. Additionally, Urbangrounds has more pictures on his blog, which admittedly add little to the actual content of the blog, but are nice to look at it. Urbangrounds also has an extensive blog roll and history for perusing in your abundant spare time (wink, wink). The post does seem a little on the long side, especially in comparison to those over at Taco Journalism, but because of the pictures and the only once weekly factor I think it's a nice length.

All in all I’ve determined that what I’m looking for in a good blog is regular entries that are detailed but succinct, as well as some pictures and comments to expand the experience.

I Am Fashion VS. StyleCritics with Emmy Blogs

I chose to pair I AM Fashion with StyleCritics to focus on their opposite blog treatment of the 2007 Emmy Awards' fashion. Each blog attacks the task of gown critiquing in a stylized tone that gives the blogs their personality.

I AM Fashion is a blog named after a CoCo Chanel quote and was created to fulfill the need for fashion blogs by real people. The blog is posted by two women who call themselves Harrod's Girl and Barney's Girl, named after their favorite stores. The girls mostly blog about fashion events like award shows or style week. They try to keep their topics on higher end of the fashion trends. The Emmy blog, "Emmy Awards Fashion 2007", was posted by Harrod's Girl.

The comparison site StyleCritics markets their blogs as shameless apprasisals of celebrity fashion. The purpose of the blog is to point out celebrity Style IQ, so the public can learn from celebrity fashion mistakes. The writer of the blog is named MeanCritic.

I AM Fashion starts the blog by noting that all the Emmy dresses were pretty this year, and then Harrod Girl goes into depth on why certain dresses successful. She points out the use of strapless dresses along with the bold colored dresses that stood out. Further into the column, Harrod Girls nicely transitions from Best Dress to Worst Dress by discussing basic black dresses in between. Harrod ends the blog by asking for Best/Worst dress comments.

StyleCritics focused on the Emmys too but in an uninhibited, rustic style. StyleCritics treated each fashion subject as a short blog, like "America In Tears" and "Felicity Red Hot In Pink", and gave the reader some background info, instead of just commenting on the dresses. The Mean Critic uses a rating system, but never really clarifies what dress makes a 10 or what the number systems scale goes up to. The highest rating on the site was a 4 for Felicity Huffman's pink dress, so I assumed the rating system stopped at 5. The site also provides a source link for each photo.

Scandal in the Senate

It's always interesting when a public figure gets caught with their pants down. Senator Larry Craig from Idaho was arrested a couple of months ago for lewd behavior in a public restroom. He chose to plead guilty in hopes that things would be quickly swept under the rug and he could get on with his life. Senator Craig wasn't so lucky, the media has had a field day with the scandal and many bloggers have voiced their thoughts.

Two blogs out of hundreds that touched on this subject included BlogActive and AMERICAblog. Every blog is going to cover a story differently in regard to the authors opinions and knowledge. Bloggers are not held to the same accountability and standards compared with journalists today, and this is a growing concern among journalist that the line between fact and opinion may be blurred when it comes to information on blogs.

BlogActive is clearly a more opinionated blog site and the way he chooses to deliver the story over Senator Craig comes from a completely different angle. When viewing the site you can easily see from the ads and links that this is not a conservative blog. His story over Senator Craig is basically calling for pubic servants to be honest and to be open about their homosexuality like he is.

"I have been calling on gay Republican representatives, senators, and high-level staffers to stand up and be proud of who they are, to level with voters about the truth, and to let people decide on their politicians based on truth, honesty and openness," quote by Michael Rogers from BlogActive.com.

AMERICAblog chose to deliver the story in a much more factual manner and does not include much bias or opinion. They provide their readers with Senator Craig's voting record on issues concerning homosexuality and gay marriage. The information was direct and the story delivered the events of the arrest and the facts of the sentencing for Senator Craig.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pink versus some shade of red

When it comes to blogs, there are only three I manage to really keep up with: Amelie Gellete’s The Hater, Dan Savage’s Savage Love and Eileen Smith’s In the Pink Texas. I depend on them to keep me up-to-date and entertained on entertainment, sex issues and Texas politics. I know I need to peruse the Web a little more, and I'm getting around to that.

I find the above three of the most intellectual and humorous people on the blogosphere. On the otherhand, I easily make the assumption that most of the blogs on the Web are too boring to bother with.

Since the most recent post on inthepinktexas.com, titled “Cover Girl,” is about Hillory Clinton revealing her universal healthcare plan, I will compare that to a blog called Cato-at-liberty.

Cato-at-liberty is an official blog of the Cato Institute and the latest post is title “Hillary Clinton’s Health Plan.” It’s important to note that the Cato Institute is a Washington D.C.-based libertarian think-tank. Of course, the organization commonly collaborates with right-wing groups.

The Cato blog is briefly recaps the issue (let’s say one sentence) and gives its opinion. The blog has links, such as Michael D. Tanner’s full statement (He’s a Cato scholar), Son of HillaryCare, featuring Tanner (a Sept. 17, 2007 MP3) and “Hazards of the Individual Health Care Mandate,” by Glen Whitman (maybe Eileen Smith would call him some . The blog is posted by Cato editors, not a named human being. It also provides an opportunity to Del.icio.us, Digg or reddit the post.

Both blogs mention that Monday Clinton announced her plan for universal healthcare, in which she proposes that all Americans to carry health insurance and offer federal subsidies to help reduce the cost of coverage. Clinton added tha anyone who is content with their healthcare coverage can hold onto it under her proposed plan.

Cato quotes its so-called scholar as saying “Once again her plan, which would cost $110 billion per year in new taxes, calls for greater government control over American health care. If her plan were to pass this time, it would mean higher taxes, lost jobs, less patient choice, and poorer quality health care.” It doesn’t prove how or why, just socks on the anti-liberal gloom and doom.

That’s the main problem I have with this blog. It’s just propaganda that provides no real insight to any issue. There aren’t too many blogs that can see the faults concerning all sides of the issues, even if Smith is rarely showing herself as a serious political junkie, and she does generally lean toward the left.

But she doesn’t put divide everything into a left and right category. Smith is just as ready to poke fun at Hillary Clinton as she is any other politician. Though in this blog, she asks what could possibly be worse that today’s American healthcare system, and the answer isn’t Clinton’s proposal.

Smith also incorporates links, images and videos in her blog. This one includes a YouTube video of the right wing response to Clinton’s plan.

I haven’t found a political blog that can match the self-deprecating humor of Smith’s. In her post, Smith writes that she likes to promote Clinton’s candidacy in order to start bar fights.

Smith writes: “Last time that someone told me that Rudy Giuliani would kill her in the general, I threw my pinot in his face and broke a bar stool over his back. Needless to say, my husband brought it up with our marriage counselor the next week.”

Smith even carries more credibility than she lets on. She recently became the first online editor for Texas Monthly. And there is something cool about the Eileen Smiths, Naomi Kleins and Molly Ivins of the world, the women who have been influential in political journalism.

Anyway, I don’t know how much I can trust a right-leaning blog from an organization that receives money from oil companies and calls global warming “junk science.”

Britney Spears VMA "Performance."

Now while I realize that there are far more pressing issues to discuss other than a mediocre pop- star’s dissent back into the trailer park, I couldn’t think of anything else interesting to write about and I knew that there would be PLENTY of material to choose from for this particular topic. I didn’t actually watch the award show myself (I wasn’t that bored), but I have seen a few hilarious clips. Anyway, here are the views of two different women who wrote blogs on the topic called "America’s Favorite Tragic Figure" and "Britney Spears and the VMA’s."

"America’s Favorite Tragic Figure" was the first blog that I read. It was written by a woman who calls herself MommyK. I found her through Technorati which eventually linked me to Blogger where her blog, "Conversations With Myself," is found. MommyK’s blog differed from the other blog because it was more thoughtfully written. Her blog had a more professional look to it and it was more astheticly pleasing because it was more organized than the other blog. She seemed to empathize with Britney. While she agreed with the fact that Britney’s performance was awful and that she pretty much made a fool of herself she thought it was uncalled for for people to call her fat. She is a mother herself and realizes that it isn’t possible for everyone to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight directly after having children. She also believes that people should be less judgmental when it comes to Britney’s mothering skills. MommmyK admits to breaking many parenting rules herself and thinks that everyone else has too.

"Britney Spears and the VMA’s" was the second blog that I read. I also found this blog through Technorati which lead me to some woman’s myspace blog. The woman’s name wasn’t on the site but I know she is a woman because her gender and age were listed. This blog was not nearly as well written as the other blog, but it was 100 times more hilarious. It looked very amateurish and tacky. Pink and purple, like an eleven- year- old girl created it. The content differed greatly from the other blog as well. This woman had no sympathy for poor Brit at all. She believed that Britney’s body looked terrible and that, "...in Hollywood it takes only a month," to get rid of the baby weight. Which I found really strange because this woman is a mother too. She was equally critical of Britney’s parenting. She made a comment so funny about this that I feel the need to quote it entirely. "Poor kids have more disgusting teeth than the hobo that lives next to the dumpster in my neighborhood. At least the hobo has an excuse. He can't afford a toothbrush and has no running water."

The thing that both of these blogs had in common was that they were both written by mothers. My guess is both of them are bored housewives who need something to do between changing dirty diapers and washing dishes. Both blogs talked about the fact that the performance was abysmal and an embarrassment.

The Greg Oden Knee Saga/Conspiracy/Conundrum/Whatever

Note: Unfortunately, Greg Oden didn't get his knee injury dancing with this girl, because that would have been awesome.

With news that the #1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft forced to undergo surgery that will put him on the chillin' list for the entire 22007-2008 NBA season, the bloggers were out in full force.

Henry Abbott, mastermind behind the TrueHoop NBA blog is a lifelong Portland TrailBlazer fan, so his coverage of the Greg Oden news was in depth.

Actually, his general coverage of the NBA is deep. He is one of the best bloggers out there. There is a reason he was hired by ESPN to bring his blog to them.

Abbott reported early news the Oden needed to have his knee looked at under the knife, then reported news that they weren't sure how bad the injury was after surgery, and then finally reported news that the surgery was worse than people expected and it's going to cost him his rookie season.

Marcel Mutoni, the blogger behind SLAMonline's "The SLAM Wire," reported the severity of Oden's surgery after news was broke that the injury would sideline Oden. There were a couple of small links about Oden's potential surgery, but nothing to the extent that Abbott reported.

Now both bloggers are linking to reports that Oden may have known about his injury before the draft, causing conspiracy theorists to have a field day and claim that he duped the TrailBlazers and their fans. Either way, there's a lot more to come from this story and both bloggers should have plenty.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Comparision of Houston sports blogs

I haven't yet delved too deep into reading blogs, but one I've liked reading is that of Richard Justice, a sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle. His blog, SportsJustice, is separate from the material he writes for the newspaper; for example, he had a post lauding the Texans after their big win over the Carolina Panthers Sunday.

I then found a second Houston sports blog, on KPRC Local 2's Web site. It's written by Randy McIlvoy, the Sports Director and an anchor for the television station. I wasn't familiar with it before this assignment, and from what I read I wasn't missing anything.

It's easy to see that Richard knows better how to use a blog, as his includes long entries, viewable reader comments and at the top of the most recent one he had links to interviews with Texans players commenting on the latest win. While on this latest entry I didn't notice any replies from him to reader comments, I know from reading it in the past he will respond. I've always enjoyed reading his columns and the blog is no different. He may be a columnist, but he still attends practices at times, and interviews top officials with the Astros, Texans and Rockets, which goes a long way in legitimizing his opinions on the teams' respective front offices.

McIlvoy's blog on the other hand, was not very good. There was a link to send him a comment via e-mail, but nowhere on the site were readers' comments visible to the public. The entries were also generally shorter and did not provide links to past stories or articles written by others in the industries (which Justice does; he's even provided links to YouTube in reference to high school performances). "Randy's Rants" seemed to be more about...well, Randy, instead of being an area to converse about Houston sports. His "about me" bio page is long as any entry I saw, and in the top right corner of the site is his mug.

I've read Justice's columns for a while now and there's usually good reads. They provided substance whether the reader agrees with him or not, and that carries over to the blog. Rand's Rants focus more on upcoming content on other forms of media: radio, TV highlight packages to look out for, etc. In this regard Justice is more entertaining to me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

O.J. compared

NOTE: Given that these bloggers are always posting, the links may or may not take you directly to the O.J. post I am writing about.

Since my ultimate goal in life is to find myself working in fashion magazines I decided to pick two entertainment blogs to compare. Just as almost everyone in our society is interested in the celebrity aspect of life, I am too, but for a different reason; I like to laugh and whenever I’m in a bad mood I can always go on to one of these sites to look at the failings of the millionaires.

The Perezhilton blog and a blog called Popbytes have a bunch of unimportant information relating to celebrities, movies, TV or anything of that nature featured on their sites. I like to read these in particular because they, the bloggers, are either making fun of the sticky situations of the famous or stating it in a humorous way.

For this post I will be comparing the reporting of the most recent O.J. Simpson debacle. As background for those who don’t already know, Simpson was just recently named as a suspect in a casino break-in case that dealt with some sports memorabilia.

On the Perez blog an entire folder is dedicated to this…person, detailing all of his past mishaps, run-ins, etc. but on Friday half way down the homepage a picture of the man was in full display with the word ‘idiot’ written in white across his forehead [See right picture]. The title of the piece read: “O.J.’s Confession.” The short, short summary consisted of barely eight lines with a link to an ABC source in the midst of the sentences.

On Popbytes this same story was a bit more difficult to find. On this homepage under daily_pop_nosh a short blurb states, “besides murderer - you can add burglar to this asshole's name” with a link to a different bloggers page. I found it interesting that this blogger didn’t even care to write up his own short, short blurb as Perez had. He basically calls him an asshole and leaves it at that. Just to see where the story went I clicked on the link and was take to a blog titled holycandy. On this blog the summary was longer than Perez’s and had a different picture with a link to an AOL source.

Both blog sites allowed for their audiences to comment on their sites. Most of the comments were a bit inappropriate but still funny given this man’s situation.

I liked Perez’s approach to the topic a bit better than I did for popbyte’s. I think it was more effective and depicts what most Americans already feel towards ‘the juice.’

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Austin City Limits, here I come!

I'll be moblogging from ACL this weekend at cindyroyal.blogspot.com . I apologize in advance for the poor quality photos from my phone and the cryptic text message posts. But, it should be fun!

Anyone else, feel free to blog about ACL here or post a link to another blog that you are using.

Compare 2 Bloggers

For this week's blog post, I want you to compare two different blogs. Find two blogs that are relevant to the same topic, then write a post that compares and contrasts their coverage of a certain issue. For example, you might compare Daily Kos and a blogger from the Washington Post, as to their coverage of the war in Iraq. Make links and references to specific posts to support your entry.

You can use Technorati.com to find popular blogs, or seek them out yourself. Make sure that you are comparing blogs, not just regular columns on newspaper sites. Do this before class on Tuesday.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The White Stripes just pulled out of ACL. Check Austinist for details...

Multimedia message

My dog chloe

Moblog madness.


There was an article on statesman.com about Britney Spears' performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Although people have already talked about it, using multimedia might have made the article even more interesting. The piece discussed the insults and defenses about Spears made on blogs throughout the Internet. It also brought up how hypocritical the public is to both cry shame at the skeletal state of most models and actresses and in the next breath call BitBit fat and disgusting.

The first piece of multimedia would have been easy: show the video of Britney's performance. It's pretty painful to watch, as you can see here, but it would have perfectly demonstrated why people were hurling insults at her. While to me Spears doesn't look fat, she certainly looks out of shape and practice, wobbling around on stage.

The second piece of multimedia would have been audio clips of people (normal people, not celebrities) who saw Spears' performance. Perhaps the AP writer could have made contact with some of the most critical and most defensive bloggers and made their comments available in audio format.

Third, I would have put an online poll next to the story. People could vote and see results right away of what the general public thought of Spears' little romp on stage. A) They hated it and she looked awful, B) It was bad, but give the girl a break, or C) I've been living under and rock and don't know or care what she does.

Lastly, Spears has had a history of bad public events. The baby on her lap, the crotch photos, the shaved head, her husband... An interactive flash choose-your-own-adventure package would be fun to see. Perhaps it could start way back at the beginning of Spears' career until the present, and along the way you would be able to choose options, as if you were Spears, to see where you end up. It'd be childish and a waste of time, but what else do you have to do at work?

MYSA's treatment of the Cowboy, Giants opener

On September 10, 2007, the Dallas Cowboys opened their 2007 by playing the highest score ever in a division game against the New York Giants. The Cowboys led by new coach, Wade Phillips were proud to pull out a victory but leave with some defensive concerns. The game played out like an offensive war with each team posting high passing yards, a plausible running game, and a worn down defensive.

Since the 2006 ended with the snap heard around the NFL, first-year quarterback, Tony Romo, spent the entire off season talking about the hard loss. Romo needed his season opener to be a game the fans would not forget-in a good way. With his need to prove himself as the real deal, Romo should have been the headline of the day, but the San Antonio Express-News folks continue to follow the herd and report on Terrell Owens as the player to watch in Dallas.

In Tom Osborn’s story, “NFL: Cowboys Win Offensive Opener”, the reporting carelessly leads to the reader into the Cowboys season opener by using insignificant quotes from Owens and other players that portray the game’s highlights as uneventful. Owen’s pre-game quote about picking up the slack is insignificant, because he was shut out of the first half of the game by the Giants defense. Adding a multimedia content to the story could have helped translate the team’s excitement as well as the crowd’s support during a crucial division win.

First, after focusing on significant quotes that captured the team’s momentum in the story lead, I would have add a link to a video of Romo commenting on the game, the game’s turning point, and being named the Player of the Game. The video would show Romo with Madden by the trailer of where his picture is posted as a stand-out player of the game. Romo would give Madden details of how the game changed at the half and what his concerns were when the score was so close at the half. He would also give a spontaneous response the being the player of the game when just a year ago he wasn’t even a starter. Since the game had the highest score ever between the two teams, a second video link would be in the story to show the Giants/Cowboy rivalry history.

The second piece of multimedia I would add would be a two mini-timeline’s showing the comparison of plays that came out in the pre-season in comparison to plays that were used in Week One. The chart would have a link to the name of each preseason game. Then, the link would show two graphics of the play and how it was used. The link would also label the play a success in a green highlight or unsuccessful in a red highlight. The chart would help fans learn the Cowboy playbook without having to study the game.

The third piece of multimedia would be a link to certain names in the story that would give a history piece to fans. The team is starting with a lot of new key positions in a team that has a respected history in the league. The links would be to head coach, Wade Phillips, and the link would show Quick Facts bulleted on Phillips football career. Tony Romo would have a link to show Quick Facts on his quick rise in the NFL and how he arrived at the NFL. Lastly, Quick Facts will be applied to the offense, defense, and special teams.

The final piece of multimedia would focus on the game’s injuries. Each player that went out on both sides would link to a description and diagram of the injury and possible recovery times and treatments. Since Eli Manning when out with a bruised shoulder that would be a link with a recreated picture of Manning’s should and details on possible treatments.

In my treatment of the story, I chose video over photo, so the viewer can feel the rush of game day by hearing the crowd sounds. Then, I chose timeline links, because fans enjoy dissecting the players and the game.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Multimedia content for Multiple Sclerosis

Living with a disease is difficult, but when you have the support of your family and friends, it makes the hard times easier to deal with. I chose this story on a bike team called Carpe Diem, who are riding for Andrea Guerrero, a San Antonio woman with multiple sclerosis. MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system. My mother went through a bout with cancer after I was born and she always emphasized how my father’s support helped her make it through. I could relate my mother’s experience with Guerrero’s, who has children and is struggling to cope with her disease. Carpe Diem is riding in Valero MS 150 Bike Tour, which helps raise money for MS research. The team consists of Guerrero’s friends, who she through her childcare business, which she is unable to run anymore because of her MS. Her husband will also ride in the tour, but with another team. The bike tour will begin at the AT&T Center in San Antonio and end in Corpus Christi.

I was surprised the story had no multimedia because there are many things that can make it more interactive. The easiest multimedia content the Express-News could have added was a map outlining the route of the bike tour. It could include an infobox on the map which gives the dates of the tour, who is sponsoring it and a legend. The map can have mark stars with each of the stops that will be taken on the tour by riders. At each stop, which I assume it will be a city or town, when the mouse rolls over the star, it could bring up a box with statistics showing the number of people living with MS in that area.

Another piece of multimedia I would include is a video clip showing a day in the life of Guerrero. The story provides details about how it is a struggle for Guerrero to do things such as going to grocery store or shopping for her children’s school clothes. It could begin with Guerrero getting up in the morning, getting herself and children ready for school and then how she goes through her day to day. There could be shots of Guerrero doing exercises, taking medication or planning her diet to deal with her MS. More importantly, it could show how her family keeps things together through efforts such as the “believe” maxim her daughter began, which appears throughout their home, according to the story.

The third piece of multimedia content could be a graphic showing how to do exercise that alleviate pain associated with MS. The National MS Society has an illustrated manual on their Web site with stretching exercises beneficial to those suffering from the disease. I would include three different stretching exercises, one on the neck and shoulders, another on arms and the last on legs, which would cover most of the body. I would have the graphic show each exercise with numbered steps with a small description under each illustration explaining what to do. I would include a link to the illustrated manual at the bottom if people want to learn more exercises.

The last piece of multimedia would feature an interactive graphic of a person who suffers from MS. It would be like a video game, in the sense that you can move the person around, but it would basically be a graphic that moves. Initially, the person would be shown as a someone who was just diagnosed with the disease. The user could have the person trying to do the dishes or pick up a box in their home and showing how they become fatigued faster or feel pain in their arms or legs. When the pain becomes to great after the person attempts to do the activity, a screen can come up which shows the central nervous system of that person. It can give a breakdown of what is happening internally to nervous and signals that are being sent to the person’s brain. Then it could show someone with a the disease more progressed, who is trying to comb their hair or get dressed in the morning. Once again, when the person gets too exhausted and in pain to continue their activity, the screen will give another breakdown of what is happening to the person internally.

Mii's Taking Over the House That Mario Built

I chose an article titled: Casual Fans Are Driving Growth of Video Games. The article is about the quickly expanding video game market, and the affect that casual gamers are having on the video game market as a whole.

A column containing a series of bullet points that detail what a “Noob” is (a casual gamer). This would contain information such as specific examples of casual games. Other bullet points might include the birth and growth in popularity of services such as Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo's Virtual Console, or Sony's Playstation Network. Though all three services are relatively new, each one has become incredibly popular, and each caters primarily to casual gamers by offering a host of simple, pick-up and play games.

A time line illustrating a history of the video game industry, specifically the history of home consoles. This would begin in the 1972, which marked the release of the first home console: the Magnavox Odyssey. Users could view information detailing important events that occurred during a given year by clicking on that year of the time line. For instance, 1975 would be a highlighted year because it marked Atari's first entry into the home console market with a machine dedicated to playing Pong called The Sears Tele-Game System. Other highlighted years would include 1983, which saw the collapse of the video game industry as a whole, and 1985, which saw the revival of the industry with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Mario Bros.

The most difficult multimedia treatment to put together would be a “Casual Game Player.” This would be similar in use to the video player on YouTube, but instead of being a simple interface for watching videos it would be a simple interface for playing various Flash-based games. A large number of these games are available free of charge, and it wouldn't be very difficult to put together 3 or 4 examples of “good” Flash-based games that users would be able to play. These Flash-based games are important because they paved the way for casual gaming.

Tailgating 101 treatment

The University Star’s “Tailgating 101: A football fan’s guide to game day,” located here, was a story centering on the experiences and exploits of Texas State fans tailgating before football games. The story featured some good quotes and examples of activities, and had a few pictures to accompany it. School spirit was stressed as a major point in the story, and I had a few ideas how it could be improved with a multimedia treatment. The use of video footage, an interactive comment box, links to other tailgating sites and graphics have gone a long way toward improving the overall story.

The simple step of a reporter arriving early at Bobcat Stadium’s parking lot and looking out for colorful tailgating characters to interview on camera would have been excellent. I tailgated at both home games this season, and there is no shortage of colorful characters in the parking lot. Face and full-body painted Bobcat super fans are aplenty, and self-proclaimed barbecue experts are even more abundant. The sound bytes alone would have made the extra time worth it. A narrator’s personal account of his preparation, interlaced with some video footage of him being painted would be a great addition.

Adding a comment box at the bottom of the page would take a step toward the future of journalism. By adding interactivity, readers would have the opportunity to share their secrets to tailgating, showing school spirit and barbecuing. The growing Internet trend of interactivity and online communities is the best example of how successful a simple comment box can make a story.

Other tailgating sites, including those for other sports would also give readers interested in becoming game day champions more information to absorb. This site list could include more than other articles. Forums and blogs would go two ways, as both more information and another venue for interactivity.

The use of graphics charting tailgaters’ attendance for Texas State football games would also be another good choice for this article. An effective graphic can go a long way toward sending a message to viewers and readers — often times more than the article itself. An overview map of the stadium, with fans in the stands (more fans reflecting higher attendance numbers) would be cool. Finally, a poll asking readers’ opinions about tailgating or barbecuing methods would fall under both graphics and interactivity. The results of the poll could be sent back to readers in an unusual way. Instead of displaying a bar graph, a simple flash mini game of possible popular answers would be entertaining and informative.

Todd's King of the Hill Interactive Wonderland

The article I have chosen ran in the University Star and was written by a very talented and handsome young reporter. The article is about a King of the Hill exhibit at the Southwestern Writers Collection in the Alkek Library. The exhibit is basically a celebration of the show and its 11 plus seasons. The archives were donated to Texas State by one of the show’s writers and producers, Jim Dauterive. I chose this story because it is interesting and there are many possibilities for multimedia interactivity.

The first piece of interactive multimedia would be a slide show. But this isn’t your aunt Fanny’s slide show from her cruise to Alaska or bingo night. This would be a slide show with pictures, quotes, and audio from the characters of King of the Hill. Just imagine it, a slide of Hank Hill comes on the screen and you hear, “Damn it Bobby,” or “I sell propane and propane accessories.” Or better yet, a picture or two of Bobby Hill, accompanied by several of his more outrageous quotes, such as, “That’s my purse, I don’t know you.”

The second interactive feature would be a map of the Hills’ neighborhood in suburban Arlen, Texas. Using a flash animation that looks like Google Maps, have an overhead view of the neighborhood. Special locations could be the houses of the main characters, the beer-drinking fence (not a fence that drinks beer), the propane business where Hank works, or Bobby’s school. Other possibilities include Bobby’s route to school, or Hank’s route for walking the family dog, Ladybird.

The third piece would be more interactive. I would have a flash “game” where the user could select one of several memorable King of the Hill backgrounds, say, the fence in front of the Hills’ house. On top of their chosen background they would build their own King of the Hill scene. Yes, just like those sticker books we all remember from childhood, but now the user can recreate their favorite scene from the show, or make a new favorite. Additional features would include “speech bubbles” that the user could fill with hilarious dialogue.

The fourth and final feature of my interactive King of the Hill experience would be a magic 8 ball, Dale Gribble style. The user types in a question, submits it, and based on certain key words in the users’ question, the 8 ball feeds the user a response, either in text, or better, in the voice of the ultimate conspiracy theorist himself.

Multimedia Treatment to the Auto-Ped article

I chose the article that appeared in The University Star about the auto-pedestrian accident that I was involved in to show some multimedia additions that could supplement the story. The article includes a basic overview of the accident, including quotes from a responding officer and an eyewitness, as well as a photo of the car that was involved. This is (obviously) a story that I am interested in and I have had to answer a lot of questions about the accident and collect information about it from a variety of sources. This assignment made me consider--if they had been available–what details to the story I would like to know and could have been provided using elements of multimedia.
No. 1- The first multimedia element that could be included in the story is a slideshow. Pictures taken at different angles, and of people at the scene of the accident would give the story more detailed, especially with the inherent lack of specific information in the text of news stories of this nature. Also, captioned photos taken at a later time in the same area and at other streets surrounding campus, would show the amount of automobile and pedestrian traffic that is typical.
No. 2- Because the story included remarks regarding the safety of students walking on and around campus, I think it would be interesting if the story included an opinion poll. Similar to the simple and straight-forward opinion polls that already appear on the Star website, this story could include a one-question poll showing the split among the Texas State community’s concern for safety. For example, questions like: "Is it dangerous to be a pedestrian at or around Texas State?" or "Do you think the City of San Marcos and/or Texas State University needs to take action to ensure the safety of students walking to and from campus?" show the percentage of readers that are satisfied with the current conditions of the campus-area and those who would advocate changes.
No. 3- This article also mentions a number of eyewitnesses present at the time of the accident. A third multimedia element that would be appropriate for this article, is the inclusion of eyewitness input. Audio and/or video components of onlookers’ accounts could have been collected and included, as well as any existing eyewitness- generated media like cell phone pictures, or digital video.
No. 4- The final multimedia addition that I thought of was a digital re-enactment of the accident. It’s a little bit out there, but I got the idea after I read the police report. The last page had a drawing of Chestnut St with little cars, a stick figure (me), and a bunch of arrows, and I thought it would be interesting if I could watch a CGI-like video of what happened.

New Approaches to Treating Tourette Syndrome; New Approaches to Relaying the News

I read an article from the San Antonio Express-News website about new treatments that are being researched for Tourette Syndrome. A 6 million dollar study is being done at six different universities, one being the UT Health Science Center, to research the effectiveness of behavioral therapy treatment. The study is attempting to find a non-drug solution to the tics and behavioral outbursts those with Tourette Syndrome experience. The behavior therapy teaches patients to recognize oncoming outbursts and try to mentally suppress them.

While I found the article very interesting, providing mulitimedia treatments could provide more information and color to the article.

In the article, David Retano, who suffers from Tourette Syndrome, provides a brief personal experience growing up with Tourette and it's symptoms. The article could include in it, a message board like feature, where others suffering from Tourette, or simply just people wanting to comment on the story or sydrome could do so. This feature would be not onlike the blog we use for class, and would add a more personal feel to the story by allowing the readers to share their own stories.

In the article, another article in "Newsweek" pertaining to the study treatment is named, but not linked. This article could benefit by adding links to it and thus providing the reader with more related information. This specific "Newsweek" article could be linked, as well as links to the UT Health Science Center, and other sites devoted to educating and supporting people with Tourette Syndrome.

Another multimedia piece that could be added is an interactive feature where the different types of already available treatments are listed and pictured, and upon clicking them a brief description of the treatment is given. This would include how common the treatment is, the price range of the different treatments, their effectiveness and side effects.

One last multimedia piece that could be used to make the article more personal and relatable to the reader is interviews with people suffering from Tourette Syndrome. I imagine the set up of this feature to be very similar to the Washington Post's "Being a Black Man" interactive feature. About ten different people suffering from Tourette Syndrome, of different ages, ethnicities, and age would be pictured. Upon clicking on any one, a different window would open with a few different topic choices for you to select. Ex. How has Tourette Syndrome effected your life and personal relations? What treatment if any are you currently undergoing and are there any negative side effects? You could then select a specific topic and see a video of that specific person's answer to the selected question. This would answer many of the questions the reader is perhaps wondering, and if could come from a patient first hand.

All these multimedia features that could be added to the article would allow readers to spend more time with the piece and the subject overall, past just reading the story. The more options and information you present to your reader, the more interested in your piece they will be.

Bobcat Football: New Football Staff Sets High Goals...

I’m usually not a sports girl, but I am actually interested in football. This year I’ve decided to pay attention to Bobcat Football. I was really interested in this story by Scott Strickman in the University Star called “New Football Staff Sets High Goals for 2007 Season.” I am curious to see how the Bobcats will do this year with Brad Wright as the new coach, especially after doing so well with previous coach David Bailiff.

The first piece of multimedia I would add would be a link with any video clips of the Brad Wright talking about his new coaching strategy and the first and second game. I would also try to add a video clip of the previous coach, David Bailiff, talking about Wright as his successor.

The next multimedia piece I would add to this story would be a photo slide show of the first two games. Since they were both at home it would be very easy to have plenty of shots of Texas State students and fans. Photos of the players and new coaching staff would also be great additions.

Another simpler piece of multimedia would be a schedule updated with wins and loses after each game so that people who don’t regularly attend games can keep track of things easily. Also, as part of this multimedia I would have most if not all of the players listed by name and number with their statistics updated with each game. I think this will help fans get to know the team a little better. I might also include a few video clips of the more spectacular plays with a few individual players.

The last multimedia piece I would add would be a flash presentation much like Angela Grant’s on the roller derby girls. I would have photos of a few of the important players this year, the new coach, and assistant coaches on a main page. When you scroll over each individual’s picture a box with a video clip of each will pop up. I would ask them to talk about their hopes for this season, their thoughts on the coaching staff, and what they think the Bobcats will have to do in order to have a great season.

Multimedia treatment paper on disappearing honeybees

I was intrigued by a story on the front metro section of the Friday San Antonio Express-News titled “Trail of Mystery,” which dealt with a possible explanation of the sudden and immense honeybee disappearances. According to the author of the story, researchers may have found a virus that is linked to the disappearance 50 to 80 percent of commercial honeybees. The bees aren’t used just to make honey, the story reports. They are also necessary for pollinating almonds, apples, cotton and almost 90 other crops nationwide.

The story was well-done and explored information on the recently discovered virus, but I thought of some multimedia projects that could accompany the story on the Web.

No. 1: I would create an interactive map of where reported beekeepers in the U.S. are located. That way, readers can paint a visual picture of which areas are hit harder. A sidebar accompanying the story reports that there are more than 200,000 beekeepers in the U.S., with most of them being small hobbyists and roughly 1,600 commercial beekeepers, according to the USDA.

It can be a simple geographical map of Texas with bee icons representing beekeepers. I think it should be limited to just Texas, because the map is serving mainly a San Antonio audience and a U.S. map may be too ambitious, even for a big Texas paper. Maybe small icons can represent 1-24 beekeepers in an area. Medium-sized icons can represent 25-49 beekeepers. Large icons can represent 50 or more.

When you click on the icons, it can have information to the side of the map, such as the precise number of beekeepers in the area and a breakdown of how many are hobbyists and how many are commercial. This would give readers a good idea of which areas of the state are more dependent on this industry.

No. 2: Images are always popular, so I would propose a slideshow. It would be photographs of the process of beekeeping. There could be close-up shots of the bees along with shots of beekeepers covered in bees.

It could be mixed with sound in a program, such as Sound Slides, so that people can hear the buzzing of the bees and the workers talking about their jobs. Since this is a seemingly uncommon job or one most people would find dangerous, the photos audio and visuals would be a strong combination.

No. 3: An interactive feature on how exactly bees produce honey or pollinate crops would be fascinating. It could be a number of graphics put together and could have text on the graphics, such as “First, the honeybee must …” The second slight could illustrate the second step, and so on.

No. 4: For something more extravagant, I would propose developing a Web page on the Express-News site on more in-depth topics concerning the bees. It could explore the origins of the bees the U.S. uses, the possible causes of disappearances and affects of the missing bees.

One somewhat off-topic but interesting idea that the story didn’t get into was the origins of the bee. The reporter mentioned that this bee virus may have become a problem after the U.S. began allowing imported bees from Australia. But, our bees are not even native to America. They were European bees imported to America by early colonists. And they completely revolutionized the physical landscape of this country. They also changed the country’s agriculture and commerce. National Geographic often does beautiful computer-generated graphics and illustrations depicting what places we can’t photograph look like, including places of the past. I would like to have illustrations of what America looked like before and after the bees were imported over here, so people can get an idea of how they have affected this country.

Most people don’t know bees are used to pollinate so many of our crops, and the story mentions this in a later paragraph. There should be infographics of the crops they pollinate, how many farmers depend on them and how much that industry makes, so we can see the economical aftermath of lost honeybees.

There could also be a timeline/infographic of different types of honeybees, where they are located, when they were imported or migrated to other countries and other pieces of information. This could have something similar to the flash video we saw in class of the African elephant that a poacher eventually killed. It can have dotted lines representing bees crossing countries and continents.