Making Sense of the Media

Making Sense of the Donald Sterling Case

May 4, 2014

After decidedly racist comments by  Donald Sterling, owner of the L-A Clippers basketball team, were made public by the gossip website TMZ, the National Basketball Association (NBA) moved quickly to ban Sterling from the game for life. 

Sterling's comments were secretly taped by his girlfriend. 

Making Sense of the Future of Photos

Apr 24, 2014
Asher Svidensky

Plenty of people share photos on the internet.       

Plenty of those photos go viral.

But few viral photos are as stunning as the ones published by BBC magazine of Mongolia's first female eagle hunter. See some of the photos here.

But with the proliferation of iPhone pet photos and news organizations firing whole photography departments, is this kind of photography doomed or poised to take a new leap with internet exposure?

Making Sense of the Pulitzer Prize

Apr 21, 2014

The Pulitzer Prizes honoring excellence in journalism were handed out last week --  including the Public Service award to The Washington Post and The Guardian for their coverage of the Edward Snowden and the N.S.A. documents he leaked.

Making Sense of New News Startups

Apr 14, 2014

Statistician Nate Silver made quite the splash with his "FiveThirtyEight" blog on the New York Times website.

Why? Well, he very accurately predicted the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election, for one thing.

So, now Silver -- with backing from ESPN -- has launched his own FiveThirtyEight website.

Making Sense of the NCAA Cat Mug Confiscation

Apr 4, 2014
Jason Gay

The tweet from Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Gay  -- sent from a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament game at Madison Square Garden -- read as follows:

"NCAA has very strict rules for NCAA-only cups at March Madness. I have brought my cat mug. Stay tuned."

Making Sense of 'Over' and 'More Than'

Mar 29, 2014
Associated Press

Be advised. This story may seem to have a high nerd potential.  But it really does have a lot of significance to news consumers in the digital age.

A furor was unleashed recently when the Associated Press announced to a convention of newspaper copy editors that its stylebook -- the usage bible for editors everywhere -- was going to allow the use of both "over" and "more than" to describe an amount.

Believe it or not, this change cut deep for the men and women who spend their working hours trying to be precise in their use of language.

Making Sense of Online Quizzes

Mar 21, 2014

So which super power should you have? Which U.S. President are you?  Which member of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials are you?

Seriously, there's actually a quiz for all of those questions on the internet.

There's no real answer as to why anyone would actually want to know these things, but Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense-Making Project" does have some answers about why there are all these online quizzes.

President Barack Obama has been leaving no stone unturned in his search for signups to the Affordable Care Act ahead of the March 31st deadline. 

To get his message to the younger crowd, the President even made an appearance on "'s" fake cable access show, "Between Two Ferns," hosted by comedian Zack Galifianakis.

Making Sense of Publicizing Sex Abuse History

Mar 10, 2014
Penn State

Former assistant Penn State football coach Mike McQueary is a hero to some for revealing that he saw former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually assault a young boy in a Penn State locker room in 2001.

That got Sandusky sent to prison... but it also led to the resignation of Penn State's beloved head football coach Joe Paterno.

McQueary had said he told Paterno about the abuse but nothing was ever done about it.

Making Sense of Binge Watching

Mar 2, 2014

"House of Cards - Season Two" premiered on "Netflix" Friday, February 21.      

By that Sunday,  two percent of Netflix customers -- that's 634,000 households -- had watched all 13 episodes.

That's 13 hours of one TV show.

That is what we're now calling "binge watching!"

Making Sense of Winter Olympics Coverage

Feb 24, 2014
Yuri Kadobnov/NPR/AFP/Getty Images

Some reports say that the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ratings are down compared to the 2010 games in Vancouver.  But NBC is disputing that.

Whatever the ratings, millions are still watching the games -- and reacting in a much different way because of social media.

Making Sense of the I-275 Crash Video

Feb 17, 2014

It was a tragic, horrific car crash on I-275 in Tampa.  A driver was going south in the northbound lanes on an early Sunday morning.

He ran head-on into a car carrying four University of South Florida students.

The fiery crash killed all five.

Making Sense of Facebook Movies

Feb 7, 2014

Even though it is a huge part of a lot of people's lives these days, Facebook turned just 10 years old this week.

In honor of its 10th birthday, Facebook came up with a program that generates a video from the things you've written and the photos you've posted since you joined the social networking site.

To Facebook users, this is either the greatest thing since sliced bread or evidence that Facebook has jumped the shark and is on its way out.

Making Sense of Super Bowl Commercials

Feb 3, 2014

The Super Bowl has become more than just a football game. It's now America's annual media orgy. 

After the big game, people are talking as much about the commercials as they are the score.

Why? Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense-Making Project" said it's because commercials in the big game have become a product unto themselves.

In Washington, Tim Franklin oversaw daily coverage of government and policy, including the 2013 government shutdown, and launched Bloomberg Insider, a daily magazine published during the major parties’ 2012 conventions.

The New Journalism Job: Marijuana Reporter

Jan 24, 2014
WUSF Public Media

Two states have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana -- Washington and Colorado. 

And for journalists -- that means covering pot in a whole new way.

No longer is marijuana the beat of crime reporters. It's a consumer item now.

And newspapers in Washington and Colorado have named marijuana editors and even marijuana critics to cover the marijuana trade.

The Full Story of Bill Young's Life

Jan 24, 2014
United States Congress

When long-time congressmen Bill Young died last year, the tributes were as expected for such a Tampa Bay area political icon.

The Speaker of the House attended the funeral. So did other members of the Congress Young served for so many years.

Young's family was a also a major topic of discussion.

But not his whole family.

Young had a whole other family with his first wife, who he divorced in order to marry his then-pregnant former secretary.

Florida was back in the national headlines  when a man in a Tampa-area movie theater was shot and killed  in an argument over texting during the previews.      

The incident put Florida front-and-center nationally as a state where -- well -- strange things seem to happen... a lot.

Where did Florida get the reputation of being the go to state for weird news?  And does Florida deserve that rep?

AP Award Entry Series: Making Sense of the Media

Dec 31, 2013

Every week, media ethicist Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute’s “Sense-Making Project” joins WUSF’s Craig Kopp to go behind the headlines, the hashtags and the viral video to explain how the media does its job, why they do it that way and how they could do it better.

New Media Helps 'Person of the Year' Survive

Dec 18, 2013

It's a year-end tradition that appears to not only be surviving -- but thriving in the new media


It's Time magazine's  "Person Of The Year."

This year's Person of the Year is Pope Francis, with NSA leaker Edward Snowden reportedly coming in second.

Making Sense of the Sandy Hook 911 Tapes

Dec 11, 2013

Agreeing to an Associated Press request,  Connecticut authorities have released the 911 tapes of calls made to the police on Dec. 14, 2012, the day a gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Some people want to hear them. Some don't.

But the real question is do they really add anything to the reporting on this tragedy?

Making Sense of Toronto's Crack Smoking Mayor

Nov 10, 2013

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has finally admitted what has been rumored for months. That he has, at least, tried crack cocaine.

His excuse? He was in a drunken stupor.

And, the first thing Mayor Ford did after admitting to crack cocaine use was to announce he will be running for re-election.

As far as political scandals go, this is a pretty weird one.

But the way this scandal broke in the media is a little out-of-the-ordinary, too.

Making Sense of Bullying Reports

Nov 10, 2013

There was no shortage of stories reporting on the arrests of a 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old girl in Polk County in connection with the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick.

But Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense-Making Project" has cautioned reporters about reporting a direct link between bullying and a suicide.

The day before Tampa Bay-area Congressman C.W. Bill Young died, he was inaccurately reported dead in the news media.

Several news organizations prematurely reported the death of the longest-serving Republican member of the House of Representatives.

Among the first was St. Petersburg's Peter Schorsch, editor of "SaintPetersblog."

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.