4K or not ? That’s the question.

I remembered it all started with the glorious LCD flat screen running at 720p. Then it was 1080i. Next it was the LED TV’s running at the same resolutions, but with better quality. Then the flop of the 3D TV. Now we have entered into the age of 4K. Don’t get me wrong when I walk into Best Buy and go to the TV section I’m amazed at the quality of these TV’s. The colors are vivid, the depth of field is almost 3d like, and the screens are getting thinner with each generation, but honestly what’s the big deal. I mean the average consumer doesn’t really know the differences between 1080p and 4K. Heck, I’m into these kinds of things and I could barely tell you the differences. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m starting to feel like all these new resolutions are nothing more than a marketing ploy. I mean enough is enough. It’s like every other year it’s a new bigger and badder TV.

 

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Personally I have a 42′ inch LG 1080p LCD TV that suits me just fine. I’m a tech person I’ve always been. I play video games, shoot video with my DSLR, and dapple with computers and I still don’t feel the need to jump ship to 4K. Don’t get me wrong if I had a disposable $2800 to waste would I buy a sony 42′ inch 4K TV? Maybe, but that’s a huge maybe, I would rather use that money to buy a 70-200mm lens or something; it would definitely last longer.

 

Another thing about 4K is it isn’t exactly new it’s been around since at least 2009. I first heard about 4K when they introduced the new RED cameras; which cost the price of a small house in Covington, GA. Don’t get me wrong the quality is amazing and down right beautiful, but it’s not aimed for the average consumer, not yet anyway. They have a couple of DSLR’s that can shoot 4K at 24 fps, which is outstanding but there are certain things you have to take into account. A lot of the DSLR’s need external recorders to even record in 4K. They have the ability to record in 4K, but not directly out of the camera. They only have 2 DSLR’s that I know about that can record 4K directly from the camera to a memory card and that’s the Samsung NX-1 and the Panasonic GH2. It’s starting to be in demand and I imagine that in the next three years most DSLR will record in 4K.

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The problem with any new technology is that you have to give it time to integrate. Right now as it stands you don’t even have a company with the capability to stream 4K, not yet. It’s a very small amount of 4K content. Let’s give it time to grow before we create chaos this Black Friday. The price of a 4K TV is enough for me to wait. Look at the aging DVD player. I remember when they first came out they were about $300 easily, now you can get one for $20. Same thing with the flat screens, when they first came out they were about $6000 now you can get one for $500. In the next couple of years 4K will eventually take over, it’s inevitable. It’s evolution. With companies like Netflix starting to shoot movies and series in 4K it’s just a matter of time. I think I can wait another 4 years before I make the jump, but you never know I might just wait until the 6K comes out.

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We want Viewers

In the every changing world of media the media providers are constantly trying to figure out how to get more viewers. It’s the way the industry works. With the digital age of media changing the traditional way that people consumed news many people in the industry are finding new ways to monitor and anaylze their viewers. In Ch. 11 of Briggs’ book he explains the need to build a digital audience. When I think about the way content becomes viral or how a certain website becomes insanely popular I often wonder how did it happen. Sometimes it’s organic like Facebook and other times it’s word of mouth like Vine, but in the end it’s about directing people to the content.

One thing I have noticed recently online on sites like Facebook are the increasingly annoying ads that companies post on your timeline. If you really pay attention to them it’s almost like their tracking you. For example if you go to Applebee’s and the waiter asks you to go online and take a survey usually somewhere during the process they will ask for your email address. Like magic in a day or two you will start to notice Applebee’s posting on your Facebook timeline. This is the analyzing process in the new age of media and content providers are doing the same thing. I mean they’ve been doing it since the beginning with the rating system, but with digital journalism the tracking of the audience is bit more sophisticated.

In the chapter Briggs talks about software such as Google Analytics, which keeps track of traffic that comes to your website. In media it’s useful because you can gauge what content your audience tends to like the most. This can lead to a rearrangement in presenting stories. If the audience tend to watch issues concerning local crimes a news station can adjust their media content to meet that demand. With the use of SEO and SEM (the latter of which I despise) media companies can target their consumers directly. I see it all the time on Facebook with channel 2. Even though I’m not friends with WSB-TV they seem to constantly be on my timeline. Honestly it can be a bit intrusive because the whole idea of social media is to create dialog amongst your peers. With corporation squeezing their way into our social space it starts to defeat the purpose of the platform, which is to communicate without interference.

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I understand that media companies are trying to adjust to this new and foreign platform. I just wish they wouldn’t be so intrusive. It’s the equivalent of having a conversation with a close friend and all of the sudden an outsider injects themselves into you discussion.

Drowning in Emails

The more advance the technology becomes the more data we get. It’s just the natural evolution of things. In ch.9 of Briggs book Journalism Next he talks about the importance of managing and using data as a digital journalist.The ironic thing about this chapter is the fact that I had a problem with managing data just yesterday.

I just received a new replacement iphone 5 and I needed to get all my data from the old iphone to the new one. Unfortunately my screen was damaged on the old iphone and I had a passcode on it. I called Apple and they basically told me I was screwed and that I would lose all my data if I didn’t have a backup of my itunes. Luckily I not only had a backup on my computer, but I also synced my data with icloud and my contacts with Microsoft Outlook. Within 10 minutes of installing my new iphone 5 I had retrieved all my previous data. I was lucky.

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Honestly data technology can work both ways. If I didn’t save a backup of my iphone to itunes I could have lost two years worth of contacts, notes, emails, and apps. Even though technology makes data storage easier, it’s also like putting all your eggs in a basket. Let’s say your computer crashes or you drop your phone in water. Unless you save your info to a cloud service chances are you won’t recover any of that data.

Briggs talks about learning to manage your emails more effectively, which is something I seriously need to work on. As professional we have to constantly check our emails or we could miss out on vital information. It can also be a hassle at times. Other programs like dropbox are a god send. The cloud system allows people to have infinite access to their data as long as they have a internet connection. This has become a game changer when concerning journalism because it offer more options when storage is concerned.

Mobilize or Die

In the fifth chapter of Briggs book he talks about being a mobile journalist. When you think about it you really don’t have a choice. Everything as far as media is concern is either centralize to your phone or laptop. I rarely even watch the news on TV anymore. It’s all about the accessibility a smartphone gives you. As journalist we have to adapt to new technology and the way people view media.

With the innovation of smartphones we as people have developed short attention spans, it’s just the truth. With the click of a button we can google whatever intrigues us and have that information in seconds. When I read a article from the Washington Post online I rarely even read the whole thing. I find the major points of the article and I move on to the next article. Honestly, when you think about it articles are getting shorter and are usually accompanied by a short video. Most people just click on the video instead of even reading the article.

The new digital journalist have to be prepared to capture a story anywhere at anytime. The cheapest and most convenient way to do this is with a smart phone. Truth be told I hate to see news images delivered through a cell phone, but it is effective. When you think about it smartphones do everything. They record video, audio, serve as research tools, take notes, upload and even edit. That’s a powerful tool that fits in your pocket. One drawback about smartphones are the image quality. Don’t get me wrong some have incredible images, but there’s something about it that just irks me. I can’t explain it. It doesn’t feel professional enough to me. Also if you’re using a smartphone to cover a story you are probably in a rush and want to be the first person to report. This could lead to inaccurate information.

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On the other end of the spectrum you have the gear heads as Briggs calls them. I am definitely a gear head. I have to have my dslr, lights, microphone, monopod, lens, and other goodies. I like the options, you never know what you’ll come against when trying to cover a story. Also I believe more gear will allow you to create a more cohesive story because you have the equipment to do so. The only drawback is toting all that gear with you all day. It can really become a burden after a couple of hours. Also you can’t catch spontaneous action as fast as a person with a smart phone. With a dslr you really have to set up your shoots to get the best results. The process is longer and slower. The tradeoff with using gear would be quality. You can’t beat it. You have some dslr’s like the black magic pocket cinema that look almost as good as film cameras. At the end of the day the option is up to the journalist.

Get Connected

The emergence of social media and microblogging has definitely made journalism more accessible to the average person. I mean, everybody is a blogger or journalist thanks to Facebook and Twitter. In chapter 4 of Journalism Next Briggs does a great job of showing the importance of microblogging. Honestly I didn’t even know that such a word even existed.

 

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Twitter was alway a mystery to me. It wasn’t quite like Facebook. It took a very minimalist approach to social media. You had 140 characters to express your opinions and not a character more. I’ve tried and I mean I have really tried to get into Twitter, but the fact is I don’t quite get it frankly. It’s so short and a lot times messages on Twitter are like an inside joke that you had to hear initially to understand.

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Nevertheless I do understand the importance and power that Twitter has had on this generation of up and coming journalist. In the chapter Briggs talks about the immediacy that Twitter brings to journalism. A lot of stories have actually appeared on Twitter before any other media platform could get coverage. Briggs brings up the example of Shawna Redden and the emergency landing of Southwest Airlines in 2011. She gave a first hand account of the situation as it was happening. The whole ordeal was extremely intimate. I almost felt like I was on the plane with her just by her giving the description as it was happening. You don’t get that same emotion with the news. She made a connection with people who were thousands of miles away and that’s what social media and microblogging is all about. It’s that intimacy that you don’t get with news.

Briggs also talks about Twitter being used to collect data. I never really thought about that before reading the chapter, but it’s true. You can get real time information on how people feel about politics, world events, sports, society, and a plethora of other things instantaneously. Once again you don’t get this with news. With news you hear the information and you digest it. With social media you get involved in the conversation, it’s a call and response platform. As a telecommunications major I see the changes in news gathering and distribution and I wonder what’s next. One thing I will say is we are all being connected.

 

 

Ready, Set, Shoot

I have to say that I really enjoyed chapter 8 of Journalism Next. I mean to be completely honest everything mentioned in chapter 8 I had to learn the hard way when I purchased my canon 60D last year. In the chapter Briggs talks about being overwhelmed when first shooting video and boy was I ever. The problem with finally buying your dream camera is the new found freedom to shoot any and everything. The camera had so many options and functions that I literally took the whole day reading the manual.

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I remember my very first shoot. I went to Piedmont park with my new 60D, I had my monopod foolishly swinging it around like it was a rig. I was moving the camera constantly. I was zooming constantly. I just didn’t know what I was doing. That evening when I got home I uploaded all my clips into imovie and began to edit. I quickly realized that most of the clips were unusable. The problem was the clips just felt nauseating. It was too much movement, my eyes didn’t have time to adjust and concentrate on the points of interest. I later noticed that all the static clips I took just felt aesthetically better. I eventually was able to put together a small video from that shoot, but I didn’t like the result. I had learned an very important lesson that day. I didn’t have to move the camera unless I was tracking a subject. I got better result when I composed a shot, set the camera on the tripod, and let the action unfold. It’s funny because this is some of the first advice Briggs gave in chapter 8. Later in the year I did another video where I used what I learned from the first shoot and got better results.

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I like the fact the Briggs mentioned that the only way to get better was to practice. You really have to allow yourself the chance to make mistakes. Every mistake I have made when filming I learned from it and was able to get better results. Another point Briggs made in this chapter that struck me was when he mentioned getting 5 angles to shoot to help the edit. This is something I’m just learning and it’s so true. I tried my hand at creating music videos, but I haven’t quite gotten the results that I wanted. What I’ve learned is that I wasn’t getting enough angles of each verse to make the video flow like a song. I would get maybe two angles and I would be stuck in post using B-roll to bail me out.

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Also exposure and audio is key. You can have a superb video with horrible audio and lose your audience. In my case I need an external mic to get better audio since the on camera mic is total crap. I haven’t even dared to do a interview because of this. At the end of the day the camera is a tool. It doesn’t matter how much it cost, how big it is, or how many lens you have it’s all about the fundamentals. A person can use a iphone and make a better news package than a person using a Red Epic if they know the basics.

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Here….Twitter Twitter

There are so many blogs online sometimes its hard to find the good from the bad. I know personally I have my own preference for what makes a good blog. Me personally I like a simple interface, I can’t stand blog sites with a million widgets and links. Sometimes it can a bit confusing, after all I just want to express myself for the masses to see. A good blog should captivate and grab your interest from the start.

 

 

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One of my favorite blogs is Twitter. I mean it’s super simple, you only have 140 characters to express yourself, and it’s entertaining. The accessibility is what makes it one of the best. Even if you never seen Twitter you could easily pick it up. Also the fact that you can network and market yourself is a big plus. Look at Katy Perry she has over 63 million followers, that’s a lot of influence. The best thing about Twitter is that it really doesn’t matter if you’re famous or not, you can have an audience who listens to your opinion.

 

My next favorite blog is Facebook. Ah..yes Facebook. Maybe I love Facebook so much because she was my first social media love. I mean it’s hard to forget about your first. Now don’t get me wrong she isn’t perfect. Over the years she has became more and more intrusive. She knows things about me I never told anyone. Somehow she knows everybody I have ever known in my entire life, which is kind of creepy but I love her the same. It’s comfortable. Facebook was one of my first experiences with blogging and social media. I have the biggest following on Facebook and that’s part of the reason I like it. I’m more intimate with the people on there as oppose to Twitter. I don’t like some of the privacy issues, but oh well I think it’s a part of the territory. Facebook doesn’t have the best interface, but I’m so familiar with it that it doesn’t matter.

 

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Alright enough about the good blogs I have to go to the bad. The thing about a bad blog is mainly the website itself. I have seen blog sites with good content, but the website was horrible. One example would be Mediatakeout. The website constantly tries to redirect you to other sites or apps. It’s so bad most of the information is not accurate. It’s your basic gossip site, which wouldn’t be that bad if it function correctly. The last blog that I feel needs improvements are company blogs. It doesn’t matter which one they all are horrible. I just feel like corporate blogs are force. I don’t feel like it’s genuine. I just feel like they’re trying to collect and analyze my data; which most do. A corporate blog is a joke. I mean think about it it’s hard to voice your opinion when money is involved.

 

 

Digital vs Analog

The first chapter of Briggs’ book basically talks about jargon and the way journalism has changed over the years. With the newer generation being raised on technology most of the terms that Briggs talks about are fairly simple. One in particular that I didn’t know about was RSS. I have always seen this on the internet and on certain apps, but I never knew what it meant.

Briggs explained a RSS as a news feed that can be tailored based on your interest. The first thing I thought about was Flipboard, which is my favorite app. These types of app have essentially replaced traditional news for me. I like the freedom to be able to chose the news I want to hear.

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Most of ch.1 in the book was straight forward to me. Briggs talks about html’s and server, but mostly he broke the chapter down for people who my not be familiar with digital journalism and computers. One thing I did like about the first chapter was the terms and the definitions that Briggs gave to explain the way digital media works.

The second chapter of Briggs’ book talks about blogging and the significance it has had on journalism. Everybody has that one website or blog that they go to everyday online. For me its World Star Hip Hop, which is more or a RSS feed. I go there everyday for entertainment mostly. According to Briggs the communities of blogs can often become bigger than the blog itself. A lot of social movements start off on blogs and social media and become an agent for social change.

In the chapter Briggs talks about a blog by Curt Cavin who started a blog about race car driving. Eventually his readers organized a meet up where they generated $8000 for a charity, which shows the power behind blogging.