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Tag Archives: Journalism

The media’s addiction to political polls

(Editor’s Note: On the day this blog was posted nine polls on the 2016 presidential election were released. Three were revealed the day before.)

On a weekly basis in the United States, pollsters tied to some university, media group or political agenda release their “scientific” take on the 2016 presidential campaign.

Not long after, the airwaves are filled with chatty pundits who will spend the better part of the day deciphering the poll results.

Later in the week, a different set of pundits will talk about how bad political polling has become in the U.S. and lament the credibility of the surveys and their results.

And this will be repeated the following week.

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Journalists seek police body-cam videos

A year ago Adam Marshall submitted the first-ever records request for body camera video to Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department. It was in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri, but before the shooting death by police of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, and months before Freddie Gray died of spinal injuries in Baltimore police custody.

“I’m still waiting on the results of that request,” said Marshall, an attorney for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, speaking at the Ohio Law and Media Conference in Columbus last month.

Accessing footage of body-worn cameras — the latest technological bandage applied to the complex issue of hemorrhaging race relations in America — poses particular headaches for journalists.

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Panoramic, 3D photo apps put to test for journalists


360 Panorama shot inside the Ohio Union at Ohio State University. Hint: To view on a computer, click with one finger while swiping left to right with another, then releasing.

 

Think of the possibilities.

You’re in the middle of an intense news scene that words alone cannot describe. A fire has engulfed a block of houses, or a multi-vehicle crash shuts down the interstate.

Or maybe you’re writing a travel piece and stumble into a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Or maybe the town’s star football player just got a new tattoo or broke his nose.

Two-dimensional photos are great. Yet what journalist hasn’t come across a scene that could be captured much better in 3D or panorama?

Time was (just a few years back) your photo staff would have to rent a GigaPan mechanical device to rotate a series of cameras, then spend hours calibrating and testing it. Kiplinger has one of those in storage.

But now a number of apps allow you — Reporters! Photographers! Anyone! — to capture surprisingly good-quality 3-D and panoramic images with simply a few taps on your smartphone.

After hearing a lot of buzz at recent journalism conferences, Kip decided to check some photo imaging apps out. We asked a photographer to test drive several. To be sure that they’re basic enough for everyone, we wordy types gave them a whirl, too. Big surprise: The photog liked them so much he decided to use them on assignment for his newspaper.

What we found:

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The skinny on recording apps, devices for journalists

Recording apps

Finding the right recording app can be a challenge for journalists.

Recording phone interviews got a whole lot trickier when journalists stepped out of the office and started using cells as primary contact numbers. As a freelance journalist, I fought my husband for years on giving up our home office landline because I didn’t want the poor-quality recordings that clunky suction mics produced.

That was 10 years ago. You would think that, given the leaps and bounds we’ve made in communications technology, we would have come further. Yet most cell recording options for roving journalists are still a bit “meh.” Bottom line: Almost none of the recording apps are free (no matter what they advertise), most recordings they produce are a somewhat muffled and many are cumbersome to operate.

Some options, though, are better than others. Here are a few that Kip Program — and journalists we know — have luck using.

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Digital, not personal. It’s a bot time.

Recent news that the Associated Press will begin using computers to generate stories on sporting events was received in the journalism community like a high-and-tight fastball.

This wasn’t just a courtesy brush back. It was meant to send a clear message — we are replacing you.

Count me among those unsuspecting (former) sportswriters who was knocked to the dirt only to get back up ready to defend my honor. Where’s the integrity in the news game?

AP has made it clear it doesn’t need humans for these basic jobs anymore. It’s hired Automated Insights, a company it invests in, that has given the wire service a sophisticated algorithm using the English language and statistics to fashion text. The company’s defense is that it can keep tabs on thousands of college and high school games without the burden of staffing.

AP also has let bots, using Wordsmith, write basic business stories, such as those announcing quarterly earnings. Meanwhile, Narrative Science writes business copy for a number of business publications and the Los Angeles Times.

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