Seek Out Your News

The most significant thing I’ve learned in JOMC 240?

That’s a tough one – I’ve sure learned a lot. I’ve been asked to think outside the box and about the future of media more extensively than ever before, and I’m feeling optimistic – albeit potentially blindly – about what’s ahead for journalism and technology.

Who doesn’t enjoy looking forward to a world where virtual reality is in fact a reality and not just a figment of our imagination? Or one in which our news and technology is personalized specifically for us?

Though the future can be uncertain (and sometimes a bit daunting), I’ve learned to look at it with a sense of fervent anticipation. There are so many brilliant minds out there who are going to become some of the world’s greatest innovators and will completely shift the way we think of/consumer journalism. This I know is true – some of them are my classmates.

Journalism may be experiencing a shift, but it is not dying. In the future, we are going to be exposed to more news than ever before, and it will be easier than ever to stay informed. However, the most significant thing I’ve learned this semester is something we discussed during the first week of class.

In order for journalism to survive, we must possess an inherent desire to actively seek out the news. I would argue that most people enjoy being informed of what’s happening around them, at least to some extent. But that desire must remain intact.

Journalists are going to be doing everything they can to inform the general public. They’re going to be personalizing our news for us and shoving it right in our faces. It’s going to be more difficult for us to remain uninformed than to be made aware of what’s going on around us.

Still, there are going to be people who won’t want to be bothered by the news. There will always be those who are apathetic about the happenings of the world and those who opt to take the “ignorance is bliss” approach. But those people won’t cause journalism to die out.

So, JR, you’ve taught me many, many things this semester, but there is one that I’m going to take with me for the future:

The news will be there. It will be readily available for us whenever we want it. But we must possess the desire and make the conscious effort to consume it.

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Dropping the Box

I was scrolling Jim Romenesko’s blog and found an interesting post about the Charlotte Observer and other The McClatchy Company-owned newspapers’ decision to remove baseball box scores from the print edition of the papers.

What’s even more surprising than this decision not coming many months ago is the fact that people are actually upset about it.

When asked about the decision, Observer sports editor Mike Persinger said the paper had received “perhaps a hundred” phone calls from readers about it. All of whom, I’m sure, were at least 60 years of age or older.

Persinger wrote on Facebook that the Observer would “still devote similar space to baseball, just with more notes and feature stories.” Which I find a little hard to believe, simply because I don’t believe the space left by the vacated box scores would be enough to accommodate substantial game notes, much less feature articles.

This is simply yet another example of newspapers being hit by lack of readership and having to compensate by cutting down on printing costs. Though I’m not entirely sure why newspapers even still include a section for box scores, to be honest.

In today’s world, I don’t know of too many people who wait for the paper to check out games scores from the previous night – the ones that end before deadline, of course (sorry Yankees-Sox fans, don’t think your 19-inning barn burner would’ve made it into Saturday’s paper).

Most people interested in looking up a final box score or game stats usually do so by checking the ESPN ticker, firing up their ESPN app or conducting a quick Google search. To be honest, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more papers make moves similar to the one made by the Observer and others in the future.

In fact, I would even suggest removing all scoreboard sections in newspapers to save money and devote more space to content that people will actually look forward to reading. There’s not much sense in spending money to print box scores in a newspaper when the same exact information can be found much more quickly and through more effective means.

Periscope and the Verge of the Twitter Reporters

News media is changing.

This isn’t news to us or anyone else. Newspaper subscriptions are declining, as are viewers of traditional newscasts. People used to sit in front of their televisions to watch the evening news to catch up on what they’d missed during the day.

That’s just not the case anymore. Now, we’re all in this state of wanting news now, as it happens, in real time. News outlets do a fairly good job of that, but there is always breaking news to be found on Twitter.

For a lot of people, especially in this generation, a significant amount of the news they consume is obtained on Twitter or through other forms of social media. It is a living, breathing social network that’s all about what’s happening right now.

Live-streaming apps like Periscope could completely revolutionize traditional news media and news reporting. As far as I know, the app doesn’t require any journalistic training to use, so anyone on Twitter has the ability to live stream anything they want at any time, and anyone anywhere can tune in.

Now, they could choose to stream themselves making breakfast, or they could choose to stream the crime scene they’ve just arrived at. Or the protest they’re taking part in. Or the political rally they’re attending. Any newsworthy event will have the ability to be live streamed by anyone on the scene, and people everywhere will be able to tune in and watch.

People on Periscope providing live video or even just tweets from the scene could end up playing a major role in news coverage. Why choose to watch one reporter/news station’s coverage and opinion of an event when you can follow along on Twitter to see multiple perspectives provided by multiple different people?

In the future, we won’t have to wait for professional news crews to arrive on the scene to know what breaking news is occurring. All we’ll have to do will be to log on Twitter, do a quick search and tune right in.

Killing Cable

My classmate Lauren recently published a post about making the transition from traditional cable to a more personalized TV service, like Sling TV.

Apparently, Sling TV, which has been described as “Netflix, but for live television,” allows subscribers to stream select channels over the Internet for $20 a month with additional channels available via add-on packages. Sling TV can be viewed on multiple different apps across various devices, including the iPhone, a Windows or Mac computer, Amazon FireTV and even an Xbox One.

JR asked in class last week about how many different channels we watch, out of the thousand or so we have at our disposal. I think I originally said somewhere around 10, but I honestly think it’s even less than that. I probably watch no more than five channels regularly, and that may even be a generous estimate.

And I don’t think I’m alone here. Our generation is watching less and less live television. There aren’t many shows that can attract viewers to watch live when it originally airs. They know they can get it on Netflix, or Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or any other of the streaming services out there whenever they have the time. And even if the show they want isn’t available on one of these mediums, they can probably find it somewhere else just as easily, and for free (shoutout to you, ProjectFreeTV).

In the very near future, here are going to be multiple services like Sling TV available, and I don’t think it’ll be long before we see major cable companies affected. Our generation will be the first to use them, but I think they definitely have the potential to become popular among our parents as well. The best service will allow people to offer five- and 10-package (or however many) deals that allow users to customize their service by picking and choosing which channels they want to watch and pay for.

Think about it – it’s just foolish to pay for a service you’re not using, and we’d never continue to do that with anything else like we do cable. My roommates and I are going to be working out specifics for our house next year pretty soon, and I’m pretty sure we’ll all be open to some potential alterations to our current cable subscription. Thanks to unwatched channels and some less than stellar service from Time Warner Cable, a service like Sling TV will definitely be a feasible option.

Feeding the Madness

My classmate Tala wrote an interesting post on the effectiveness of games like March Madness and bracketology in our obsessive, competitive society.

I’m pretty much the exact opposite of Tala when it comes to March Madness. For about as long as I’ve been able to understand how the NCAA Tournament works, I’ve been filling out at least one bracket every March. The crazy thing is, Tala and I probably have about the same odds of making decent picks and finishing the tournament with a respectable bracket intact.

The true odds of completing a perfect bracket have been debated, with the best possible being somewhere around one in 128 billion. That’s pretty unlikely. To put it in perspective, you’re about 500 times more likely to win the lottery.

So why do we continue to do it? Personally, every year when Selection Sunday rolls around, I take my time filling out a bracket or two, using some sort of nonsensical method to pick certain teams over others, ultimately deciding on a national champion. And every year, I think to myself, ‘I feel good about my picks. This could be the year.’

And usually, less than a day or two after the tournament starts and after a significant amount of frustration, my bracket is ripped to shreds and forgotten. (Thanks for nothing, Iowa State. You were supposed to beat Duke!)

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That’s my bracket, sitting pretty in eighth place in my pool and in the nation’s 28th percentile. Another year to forget…

I say I won’t now, but I know next year I’ll be filling out yet another bracket, and I know I’ll be experiencing yet another disappointing tournament season. I know it’d be a lot more fun to just watch the tournament and actually enjoy watching Georgia State beat Baylor…(come on, that shot was ridiculous) but no, no thanks. I’ll fill out another bracket.

But why? Like Tala said, completing brackets in March has honestly become a social norm. You’re in the minority if you don’t fill out a bracket, and depending who you hang out with, you might even be ostracized to an extent. If you suffer from FOMO, it’d definitely be pretty tough for you not to fill one out.

Games like bracketology are a perfect example of things that can become viral and catch fire on the internet. Anything that can fuel our competitive nature while also allowing us to engage with things that are happening in the real world will attract us and continue to keep us interested.

As long as the NCAA Tournament is around, you can expect millions and millions of people to continue filling out brackets every year – including me.

The Future of Money

When Apple Pay first came out, I wasn’t sure that it’d catch on. I thought users would be skeptical of entering their financial information into a mobile app that could be transmitted to merchants within seconds.

I was wrong.

According to this article on Gigaom, Apple has tripled the number of stores accepting Apple Pay in just five months, with over 700,000 stores making it an available option.

This information was announced by Tim Cook at an Apple event back in March. During the presentation, Cook revealed a slide that showed many of the new businesses and retail chains now accepting Apple Pay:

In addition to all the new places it’s accepted, Apple Pay is now partnered with 2,500 different banks, up from 500 at its launch in October. This is significant because it means consumers don’t have to apply for specific cards or banks to use the feature. In fact, Apple has also announced that 90 percent of debit/credit transactions in the U.S. could be supported by Apple Pay.

And it’s only a matter of time before that number grows to 100 percent. The rapid growth of Apple Pay, in addition to the rise in popularity of other mobile payment apps such as Venmo and Facebook Messenger, raises some questions about the future of money.

So, as JR encourages us to do so often, I’m going to make a little prediction about that future.

In the next 10-20 years, I could easily see cash becoming obsolete. I hardly ever carry cash anymore. Unless I’m going somewhere that I know doesn’t take a card or has some type of card minimum, my wallet’s probably gonna be empty (take that, would-be muggers).

I think those type of places are ultimately going to disappear (or adapt, at least). In the future, businesses, restaurants, stores and pretty much anywhere else that accepts payment is going to accept it virtually via some type of mobile payment app, whether it be Apple Pay, Venmo, something completely new or a combination of all of them.

In the future, there will be no need for the exchange of cash. Why waste time fiddling around for exact change or waiting for the cashier to break open a new roll of pennies to give you back that three cents? Even the use of credit/debit cards will be unnecessary. All it’ll take will be a quick swipe of your iPhone and you’ll be on with your day.

Emasculating Emojis?

So I came across a The New York Times article titled “Should Grown Men Use Emoji?”

I was a bit taken aback, for a couple of reasons. One being that the Times really did a story on the sexuality of emojis. #WelcomeTo2015, right?

After my initial feelings of surprise/flippancy passed, I thought this article might actually raise some interesting points. I’ve always thought the use of emojis was kind of feminine – I mean, I use them, of course, but not to the extent of some of my female counterparts. And some most emojis I’ve never even considered using.

We talked in class about whether the emoji was devaluing human language or conversation. I think the general consensus was that emojis aren’t a detriment to literacy, but simply a supplement to or an alternate/simplified form of standard language. I’ll throw a couple in here or there, usually either as a joke or to keep from sounding dry or apathetic.

In the article, a Columbia University professor argued that some men shy away from using emojis because women typically use them more frequently. He explained that women tend to be more overtly expressive in language, but men could benefit from using them more.

I’m not sure how exactly using emojis could be beneficial, but it’s tough to argue that the emoji has’t found its way into our culture, and not just among women.

Check out Roger Federer’s Twitter. Or Drake’s high-five emoji tattoo (it is a high-five, by the way. Not prayer hands.). Or Atlanta Hawks (and former UVA) player Mike Scott’s impressive collection of various emoji tats.

One of the most interesting insights the article provided was into the art of using emojis in romantic communication. I’ve talked to some female friends who have reported feeling creeped out by suitors who use too many emojis in text conversation.

And I agree – whenever I see or hear about a guy being a little too emoji-heavy, I cringe a bit. But I guess the same goes for girls, too. If I’m trying to have a conversation over text with a girl, and she goes a little overboard with emojis, I’m probably gonna be a little uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, I think emojis are meant to be used in jest. They’re obviously not going to be used in any type of business-related talks with associates or in any important conversations with professors (except for JR, maybe). They’re little cartoon images; they’re supposed to be fun and they should be viewed as such by men and women alike.

When it comes to the frequency, though, I’m gonna have to side with the anonymous Reddit user cited in the Times article: “Like anything else, moderation is key.”