June 18 at noon EDT: Poynter live chat about avoiding social media overload

UPDATE: The chat is now embedded below.

Yet another CoverItLive blog! Yes, on Thursday at 1 p.m. EDT I will help lead a Poynter live chat about avoiding social media overload (during my lunch break):

How Do I Help Students Handle Information Overload on Social Media Sites?

The URL is simple and easy to remember (and tweet!), so please share the link with others!


Also, please come ready with questions and/or ready to help answer others’ questions.

If you are not able to follow the chat live, you can submit questions beforehand by commenting below or contacting me on Twitter.

I’ll be co-leading the discussion with Poynter’s Sara Quinn, a visual journalism faculty member who oversees the Poynter College Fellowship, which I attended in late May.

Speaking of cool Poynter people…

Mallary Tenore invited me to help with this chat, and I thank her for the opportunity. She’s awesome. If you don’t read her blog or follow her, you should.

I’d also like to thank Ellyn Angelotti, Poynter’s interactivity editor, who you should also follow.

Some background: While at #pcf09, some other fellows and I joined a live chat led by Emily Ingram. Ellyn said if I pitched a good idea, I could lead one too. I mentioned the topic of effectively using various social networks, which soon became this topic. Voila!

Dousing the Great (Fire)Wall, gradually

When I was in China last summer for a feature writing study abroad class, our University of Miami group discussed the Internet, freedom of speech and censorship with a number of the Chinese journalism students. What we learned and gleaned from their perspectives was quite interesting.

As you can tell from my occasional China posts, I am very interested in these topics, especially speech/press-related issues. (Shameless plug: Check out our class blog and my stories from the trip).

Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article, Great Firewall of China Faces Online Rebels:

“In recent months, China’s censors have tightened controls over the Internet, often blacking out sites that had no discernible political content. In the process, they have fostered a backlash, as many people who previously had little interest in politics have become active in resisting the controls.”

During our stay, I found a few proxy sites to get around some of the censored sites. One of the strangest sites that was completely censored was Wikipedia.

I don’t have a problem with the Chinese people or China in general. I found the country fascinating and the trip the most enlightening I’ve ever taken. My problem is with the lack of freedom: Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble and to protest the government for redress of grievances.

Journalism and free speech are improving with time, mostly due to the power of the Internet. (mobile phones are also playing an important role). The government may continue clamping down in response, but people are gradually pushing back.

Putting newspaper stands on their heads

I think the men in white coats are going to lock me up for the idea that somehow came out of my head and onto Ryan Sholin‘s blog post: The one dollar newspaper.

Here’s the craziness I just conjured up in a comment about ideas for a new variety of newspaper box/newsstand:

“We could all use a little change.”

I like the general concept because I never carry change either and still enjoy holding a paper in my hands.

Going out on this limb even further (and assuming these boxes are powered), why not have a blank below-the-fold? That way, when you purchase the paper, it prints the latest news in brief while you still have your main day’s news/feature above-the-fold and all the inside content.

Or even a news kiosk that prints tab or 8.5×11 papers on-demand with ALL the latest news. This would be the drunken love-child of an old newsstand and El Pais’ 24 horas (elpais.com/24horas).

Stay with me for a minute. You’d have these strategically placed in high-traffic areas, such as metro and bus stations, government centers, shopping malls, business districts, etc.

It may not the most practical idea, but it’s a good marriage of portability and timeliness. I don’t mind reading news on my smartphone, but I think a lot of people would prefer this kind of product on-the-go. You could print it with at what ever size font you want and even customize what you want to read. Don’t read sports? Double your business section. Like pictures? Print photo stories.

How about the ultimate one-stop-shop: It dispenses coffee or tea for another buck. Heck, throw in a muffin.

I’ll stop these mutterings for now. Any thoughts or suggestions for this hair-brained scheme?

UPDATE, 5:53 P.M.: Just to clarify, this wouldn’t be a go-to source for breaking news, merely a way to get updated news in place of reading a newspaper that is X hours old.

Weigh in: What do you think about this idea? Would you give me the money to try it OR would you say I flew the cuckoo’s nest?

Talking dirty diapers

Today I finished reading Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive by Mark Briggs. I also began voraciously consuming his past blog posts. I’ve made it as far back as September 2007 as of now and, in the process, have opened many of the links provided.

I created a J-Lab user account and commented on multiple postings, but one post in particular spurred a longer thought. Here is my response to “A 12-step program for journalists,” from Oct. 1, 2007:

Mark, I agree. Journalism definitely needs better well-placed humor and humanity. Reporters and editors still need to take subjects seriously when warranted, but if news organizations want to attract younger audiences (a community to which I belong), they need to understand why people watch Jon Stewart.

Many young adults are growingly cynical when it comes to the news and politics, so the Daily Show and the Colbert Report take an angle they can identify with and find entertaining. Those programs succeed with humor, sarcasm, parody, irreverence and such. They question authority and highlight absurdities. They remove the “filter.” In all, they are fulfilling a journalistic role, all the while providing an enjoyable watching experience for the viewer.

“Infotainment” is something we as journalists need to avoid, but that doesn’t mean news should be drier than a fresh diaper. Let’s not be afraid to soil ourselves from time to time, as long as we keep our reputations clean.

Please feel free to weigh in to the discussion by commenting below.

Sidebar: I’ve also been digging into Poynter‘s Web site and surfing for other journalism pages online. Basically, I’m trying to give myself a self-taught, Internet-based intersession course during winter break. Stay tuned…