JOR 445: Verifying User Generated Content

Verifying user generated content is a hot topic in journalism today.  Because our modern world gives anyone the opportunity to use digital technology to publish something to the world, we find that there is a plethora of information; and some may not be right.  It’s tough to differentiate between correct information and incorrect info picked up by civilians.  For example, anyone with a smart phone might become an accidental journalist and witness something that they can post online.  Others might hear about a breaking story on twitter that spreads before credible news articles do.

According to the article, very few people think to send in their eye witness information and footage to a news station, and so, they publish it themselves.  Verification is incredibly important to ensure that the public gets the right information in a timely manner.  However, if it’s wrong, it can be more detrimental than positive.

Just last weekend a string of tweets suggested that a local mall in my hometown had been evacuated due to shots fired.  However, it turned out that the mall was in fact evacuated, but only because a car was on fire.  As a result of the fire, the tires burst, sounding much like a few gunshots.  This is a classic example of when we must be sure that information is correct before we comment.  No news stations had any comment, suggesting that perhaps it wasn’t gunshots like a lot of people thought.

We can check verification using a few steps outline in the article.

1. Is it an original thought?

2. Who uploaded it?

3. When was it created?

4. Where was it created?

By conducting these four questions, we can help understand exactly when and where a story was created, and determine through research if it is valid.

Cameras everywhere: JOR 445 Surveillance Blog

In the current digital age, it’s certainly not hard to find cameras watching us every day.  We see them in stores, on streets, at banks.  In homes, on our devices, and even places we would never think to look.  Staff writers at the Providence Journal went looking for cameras and didn’t have a hard time.  The question is; where does all this footage go?  Who sees it?  And most importantly, why should we care?

On the one hand, safety is a big issue.  When someone commits some kind of crime, cameras ensure that we have them on film and have an easier time finding and prosecuting them.  Some might agree that this is a great way to keep the public safe. On the other hand, it also means that we are recorded almost everywhere and anywhere we go.  Footage of ourselves in public is more prevalent than many realize, and it’s incredibly invasive to some.  For all those who are hoping to lead private lives, this makes that nearly impossible.

The writers also found that often many businesses don’t reveal what they do with footage and surveillance.  This is unsettling for anyone who might otherwise want to remain  private.

It’s an interesting divide of opinions, because on one hand, we want to make sure everyone is safe.  On the other hand, how far is too far?  Some believe that people should be pushing for more appropriate usage of these cameras, but awareness is key.  The more people know about them, the more civilians can take action.  

Cool Tools and Apps

Journalism is ever-changing.  As any journalist might tell you, the industry was entirely different ten years ago.  In our social media and journalism course, we were each assigned to report on a different social ‘tool’ that can help enhance digital journalism.  We’ve all heard of Twitter and Facebook, but it turns out there are a plethora of different mediums for journalism and social media.  To name a few:



This blog site is a lot like the others, but specifically targeted towards a younger demographic.  This could mean anywhere from teens to early 20s.  The site is used mostly as a forum for art, music, and youth culture.  However, many serious news forums have grown increasingly aware that young people don’t watch for news.  So, they’ve made their own tumblr pages accordingly hoping to reach this new demographic.  Journalists like Katie Couric as well as news stations like NBC have Tumblr’s of their own.  They use it to discuss news with a lot more visuals than other forums in order to attract younger audiences.


Hootsuite is a composite app that pulls together all aspects of social media into one page.  Newspapers and Magazines often use this to organize all of their public social information.  For example, a user could log into their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and see all of their posts in a timeline spread.  It’s excellent for seeing when and where things were posted, and scheduling things to be posted in the future.


Making a lifestyle change: the difference between “have to” and “get to” when exercising

The most important thing I’ve done for myself in recent months is get a healthy amount of exercise on a regular basis.  And I’ll let you in on a secret: it wasn’t hard. At all. In fact, it’s my favorite part of my routine, which makes all the difference in the world.

Fitness, diet, and overall health is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember.  I’ve never had an issue with exercise, but the hardest part was always getting up and actually doing it.  To make things trickier, I don’t have a sweet tooth. I have sweet teeth; 32 of them to be exact, and they’re absolutely relentless.  Combining the two, getting healthy was always a mighty chore that I just didn’t have time for.  Procrastination for me consisted of a date with cookies, Netflix, and a lot of blankets. And so when I finally got to the backed up work that had to be done, I’d tell myself I had no time to hit the gym.

A little over two months ago, I stumbled upon some classes my school fitness center was offering.  A brand new facility opened in November with state-of-the-art everything, but the newness faded pretty quickly and what was cool for a month turned back into a huge room full of treadmills that didn’t interest me.  When I forced myself to go after class one day, I found a flier for classes that I had never seen before; Contemporary Dance, Beyoncé Booty Barre (as cool as it sounds), all sorts of styles of yoga, etc.  I ventured out to the next class and the rest is history.

The classes I began to take completely revolutionized the way I started to think about fitness.  I’d come home energized and excited and – somehow – counting down the days until my next class.  Each one brought to the table something that really made me happy – even better than Netflix and food and laziness. Of course, extracurricular activity and schoolwork do take up a decent chunk of my week and sometimes a little TV time is absolutely essential to my well-being.

The biggest change happened when I realized that all of this counted as exercise.  I’d grown so exhausted and fatigued by that word that I was at a point where I couldn’t ever imagine it was something I could love.  It hit me that exercise shouldn’t be a chore, it should be a part of your routine that you look forward to.  Not “I have to exercise today” but “I get to exercise today”.  There’s a reason why most children don’t need to worry about “getting exercise”; it’s because running around and playing outside is their exercise.  No need to look at it as a chore if you’re having fun. There are countless ways to incorporate exercise into your schedule without thinking of it as a task.  To name a few:

Dance classes. The Beyoncé Booty Class is my new favorite; We spend a portion of the class on a barre warm-up, a portion learning a routine, and a portion sculpting workouts exclusively focusing on our lower halves – entirely to Beyoncé songs.  It’s empowering and a major confidence booster.  Check local studios and gyms for unique dance-oriented classes.


Rock Climbing. Indoor or outdoor, whatever floats your boat – just make sure you’re doing it safely!




   – Trampolining.  This was one of my all time favorite activities as a kid and it’s still secretly one of my favorite things to do.  Plus, now they have actual indoor “trampoline parks”, where you can bounce around for your allotted amount of time which is quite the workout, if you can imagine.


Indoor Surfing.  Heard about this from a friend, still haven’t tried it yet.  Essentially you’re put in a room on an electronic surfboard with screens of waves surrounding the room.  As the surfboard moves, you maintain different postures and positions to improve muscle definition and balance.  Sounds great for those who just can’t get to a beach any time soon.


   – Hula-hooping. Channel your inner-child: they have classes for this, too.


   – Yoga.  One that recently caught my attention is called Anti-Gravity yoga, where you activate your core and engage in different stretches while suspended from a hammock-like cloth on the ceiling.


   – Walking the beach.  So maybe this isn’t necessarily available to everyone, but if you’re fortunate enough to live near a body of water, it can be a major way to energize for the day; I like to do it if I’m up early enough.  Nothing like the sound of the waves to start your day.


At the end of the day, you can do all of these or none of these.  Some people might love the machines at the gym and that’s awesome.  Essentially, I’ve found that the most important thing is just to love what you do;  the sooner you stop thinking chore and start thinking fun, the sooner you’ll find a healthier and happier lifestyle.



Here’s a picture of me trampolining.  It was tons of fun, I recommend it!




Journalism and Social media

It’s not uncommon to find a course on a college campus dedicated to the comprehension and trends of social media.  It is, however, less common to find a course specifically teaching journalists how to utilize social media to their advantage as reporters.  It’s an intersection of topics that’s often forgotten and according to modern day journalists, can and should be more prevalent.

I spoke with a journalist from the Bergen Record, a New Jersey paper, who gave me a lot of tips about journalism and social media.  The most important things I learned:

– Deciding what to tweet depends on the reporter.  My reporter in particular covers a lot of political stories, so she typically tweets whatever the governor of New Jersey is doing.

-It’s important to tweet more than just a link to a story.  A lot of reporters do this, and it doesn’t really improve the relationship with twitter followers; it seems impersonal.

-Tweets should probably be kept work related.  She told me that while she does enjoy a personal life outside of her job, it’s important to not give away any personal information that might give away followers on each side politic wise.

-Using other methods of social media only helps you.  She informed me that she uses Facebook, a personal blog, a work blog, as well as Instagram and Pinterest

-The business is always changing.  10 years ago, they projected that newspapers would be extinct which is obviously not true today.  She warned me to keep my ears open because the business is constantly evolving and new forums for journalism are introduced every day.


Visit from Tim Barrman

Today in Journalism 445, we had a visit from Tim Barrman, the News Applications Editor of the Providence Journal.

Tim spoke about crowd sourcing and how to reach and involve a large audience in a news setting.  His main discussion revolved around the map of snow in Rhode Island which allows people to send in information regarding the snow that has fallen thus far.  

This topic was an interesting discussion for the class because we all had ideas for him to either add to it or discuss it further.  One issue they often run into is the problem of people sending in things like “300 inches of snow in South Kingstown” which is obviously false.  So, they have to closely monitor the readings to edit out anything that’s incorrect.  One student suggested that he have people send in pictures for not only color but proof.  

This is the second speaker we’ve had in this class thus far from the Projo and their insight on social media is incomparably valuable.  As a class, we look forward to what is yet to come from JOR 445.