Friday, October 28, 2005

Effects of Negative Publicity

Negative publicity about blogging recently has affected many people, including the non-bloggers.

News pertaining to the jailing and punishment of bloggers over offences of sedition and porn has raised considerable concerns in the public community, resulting in negative effects and pseudo-perceptions of blogging and online activities as a dangerous affair.

In a blog created by a student less than a month ago, the blogger wrote about how she has secretly started her blog and how her parents would 'kill' her if they found out. A few days after she wrote that blog, she has ceased blogging completely, leaving her last words as having been found out.

The news is not without having an effect on me too. Don't get me wrong, I am not against blogging. I have been blogging for sometime, and I have found it extremely helpful for sharing, educating, and getting to know new friends. What I am saying here is its effect on me resulting from the daily hounding of my better half who reminds me constantly of the dangers I may be in, getting upset over my 'addiction' to online activities. The truth is, I barely spend more than five per cent of my available time in Net activities, even though I do communicate in online communities and blogs. I suspect the real reason is probably because I have not been spending enough time with my companion, but considering the fact I am a worker and a student at the same time, I am in actuality already barely grasping with time.

The way news is presented can affect the way views are perceived. If presented negatively, its effects may result in unfair perception of blogging and online activities as totally bad. In reality, however, blogging is a useful way of communicating and sharing, and online activities have helped build a unique sense of closeness in a global world, which have never before been possible prior to the introduction of cyberspace.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Online Journalism

Online Journalism
Going through the process of designing a news web site as part of the learning requirements for Online Journalism, the task ahead is not only challenging, but also demanding skills in conceptualization, news sense, story consideration, and some coding to reap the unique benefits that comes exclusively with online news reporting.

For example, when writing news stories, consideration must be made on how to engage the readers' attention and understand their habits and needs. One such consideration may be to provide hyperlinks for extended readings in addition to guiding a sequence for reading. Slideshow, such as a pictorial presentation of news, is a good idea to provide 'news in pictures', with individual captions to explain the photos, so as not to allow ambiguity or misinterpretation.

News stories can have a summary lead to draw the interest of the audience, and the content of each piece of news should be independent from the need to read previous entries for background or complete story. Linear writing allows the reader to scroll down to make a complete reading without having to click on another page for the story. Headlines of news stories should convey the content with a straightforward approach rather than 'funny or cute'. HTML coding is another area that needs to be learnt so as to provide essential customization of web pages. In short, all that needs to be done is to:

  • Use hyperlinks to allow readers to extend reading if required
  • Combine linear and non linear storytelling
  • Give the audience choices, yet guiding them along a sequence of reading
  • Incorporate captions for individual photos in slideshow rather than simply throw together a bunch of interesting photos
  • Provide a good lead for each story to draw audience into reading further
  • Provide sufficient linear reading without requiring hypertext to other pages
  • Use meaningful headlines rather than the funky
  • Get familiar with HTML even if a web authoring software is available

For a sample web site that includes all the points mentioned above, visit News Beat.

Dube J (2003a) 'Online Storytelling Forms', - Journalism Tools, (Accessed April 15, 2004) pp.1-3.

Dube J (2003b) 'A Dozen Tips for Writing News Online', - Journalism Tools, (Accessed April 15, 2004) pp.1-3.

Ward M (2002) 'Chapter 6: Who's Afraid of HTML', Journalism Online. Focal Press Oxford: 150-163.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Private Lives in Public Eyes

I use to record my daily activities in a diary when I was younger. These records are meant for self-edification for the private use of the individual writing the diary.

Today, web diaries (blogs), Internet communities, and other gratifying services and products allow individuals to share their private lives with many. Blogs allow the individual writer to share his or her life and deny or grant comment for feedback. It allows people in the public to know a person's private life and identify with the person as if he or she knows the individual.

Celebrities host web sites to draw people to buy their services and products while letting their audience identify with them, giving the public individuals the feeling of knowing them personally through participating in forums, group discussions, comment on photographs, giving testimonies at celebrities' personal profiles in what is called Online Communities, like Friendster, Hi5, and MySpace.

No longer is a diary for private use. It is now for the public eye, added with multimedia features incorporating sounds, videos, images and interactivity. If you are an individual unknown someone, you can become a celebrity through Net communities and blogs. You need not have to put your face on the line, and can hide behind a mask of avatars if you mind, but you can't escape the public eye.

Is this the kind of publicity you need for your private life? Communities such as these are just great ways to celebrate the broken line of private individuals in the public eyes of a small world.