Making Sense of the Media

Making Sense of Living a 'Quantified' Life

Oct 21, 2013

If you think being wired is just being connected to the world around us through mobile devices, social media and the internet, you are thinking too small.

There are now people so wired that they track everything from their heartbeat to their sex life through some sort of mobile device.

It's all part of what has become something of a movement -- the quantified self movement.

As you've listened to or watched or read coverage of the government shutdown, how many times have you heard the situation in Washington referred to as a standoff, or an impasse or a stalemate?

Well, there's no doubt about it being a shutdown.

College Newspapers Going Digital

Sep 26, 2013

A lot of journalists got at least some of their early experience at a college newspaper.

But someday soon that experience may not include working for a college newspaper that contains news printed on actual paper.

More and more college papers are going to online versions only.

There's a cost savings obviously:  no printing or papers costs.

But is there a cost to student journalists who will no longer get the chance to work out some of their journalistic kinks for a published newspaper?

Paying to Read The Tampa Bay Times Online

Sep 14, 2013

You can still view the "Tampa Bay Times" online for free. But only 15 pages per month.

To see more of the online version of the newspaper you now have to become a paid online subscriber.

Making Sense of Robocall Abuse

Aug 26, 2013

We talk a lot about new media... and usually we're talking about things like blogs, "Facebook", "Twitter", "Tumblr" and the like.

But what about robocalls -- automated phone calls -- especially from government agencies like boards of elections and school districts.

Debating the Future of Journalism School

Aug 19, 2013
University of South Florida

With non-journalists like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post and Red Sox owner John Henry buying The Boston Globe, more questions are being raised about the importance of a journalism degree for a career in news media.

It's a debate that's raging at universities and in newsrooms across America.


It's not often that the news media is shocked by a story about its own business.

Journalists talk shop - a lot.

There is no shortage of speculation about the future of this TV chain or that newspaper.

But nobody saw the sale of the "Washington Post" to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos coming.

Courtesy the Simon Family

NPR host Scott Simon has talked about his mom on-the-air before, and he's mentioned her in social media.

But this was different. His mother,  Patricia Lyons Simon Newman, was in a Chicago Intensive Care Unit. Her son was by her side. They both knew she was dying. And Simon was tweeting about the experience to his over 1 million Twitter followers.

In a few days, Simon's mother was dead at the age of 84.

Making Sense of Royal Baby News Coverage

Jul 29, 2013

You can understand why the British were hanging on every scrap of news coverage about the impending birth of a baby to Princess Katherine and Prince William.

But, why was there so much American coverage of the birth of George, now third in line to become King of England?

Are Americans that interested in a powerless monarchy we once fought a revolution against?

If you've seen stories in the past few days about Cleveland's Charles Ramsey supposedly being out of work, broke and homeless, then you'll want to read this update that has word from the man himself:

Ledger of Lakeland

Allegations of sexual impropriety in the Lakeland, Florida police department (LPD) have shaken the police department and the community.

A State Attorney's Office report details allegations of consensual and forced sexual encounters involving more than 20 LPD officers or former officers.

And the Lakeland Ledger newspaper can take a lot of credit for helping bring the scandal to light.

What Kind of Media Consumer Are You?

Jul 12, 2013
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Are you a traditional consumer of media, a social consumer or a lurker? 

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense-Making Project" said that the recent glut of news from the Supreme Court,  the George Zimmerman trial and a filibuster in the Texas legislature revealed how many different kinds of news consumers there are in the digital age.

"This was the week I realized how dramatically everything has changed in the way we consume news," explained McBride. "And, at the same time,  how firmly some of our roots are still planted in the old platforms."

CNN, HLN Televising Dueling Zimmerman Trial Shows

Jul 1, 2013
Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel

HLN network chief executive Scot Safon resisted any impulse to call his boss, Jeff Zucker, to say "What are you doing to me?" when he learned that CNN scheduled a nightly hour on the George Zimmerman murder trial for the same time HLN was airing one.

So far, the call hasn't been necessary.


Neal Conan has hosted NPR's Talk of the Nation for more than a decade, but this week it's Conan himself who has everyone talking.

On Thursday, the veteran journalist will host his final broadcast of the call-in show, which airs four days a week.

Edward Snowden: A 21st Century Daniel Ellsberg?

Jun 24, 2013
National Security Agency

Defense contractor employee Edward Snowden says he released information about the National Security Administration's "Prism" data collection program because he believed the government was doing wrong and was not going to tell the American people.

Just about everybody is packing a smart phone these days -- a smart phone equipped with a pretty decent digital camera.

And, as a cost-cutting move, the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper has fired all of its photographers and will, instead, rely on reporters taking news pictures with their smart phones.

But, Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense-Making Project" said having a camera does not make someone a professional photographer.

Making Sense of the CNN-Buzzfeed Channel

May 31, 2013

What do the first 24-hour cable news network and a website known for cute cat videos have in common?

Well, CNN and Buzzfeed are about to share a YouTube channel.


Live, street-by-street television coverage of the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma was not enough warning to prevent the deaths of 24 people.

But, Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense Making Project" says coverage of emergencies like this still has room to get better in the digital age.

The revelation that the Justice Department got a hold of phone records at the Associated Press in an effort to track down a leak has already had a chilling effect on the news media.

That's the conclusion of Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense Making Project."

"If you're working at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) or the Department of Agriculture and you think there are stories that the public ought to know, you are very unlikely to call a journalist right now," said McBride.

Washington Wizards

When Washington Wizards Center Jason Collins announced in a "Sports Illustrated" article that he is gay, it was a huge deal in the media.

And, Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense Making Project" said the coverage was justified.

"This is big," explained McBride. "We have been waiting for this moment in the United States for a good three or four years."