Reddit: How can journalists use it?

reddit front page
The Reddit.com Front Page

Yesterday, I had my ‘teaching moment’ presentation in my mobile and social media journalism class. Over the course of the semester, each student has to give a presentation about something they think is relevant to journalists these days. I decided to present on one of my favorite places to find news, interesting facts, and funny pictures. This site is reddit.

Reddit can be a great tool in the online toolbox for journalists. In my discussion, I brought up a few ways journalists have used reddit in the past.

  • Finding story ideas by subscribing to ‘subreddits,’ which are sections of the site with content related to a certain topic. Subscribing to subreddits related to your beat is a great place to find new things that are happening in that area.
  • Finding and contacting sources. Because this is a user driven site, if you find someone who has an interesting story to tell, or could potentially be a source of information about a certain topic, you can private message them to see if they would be willing to be interviewed. r/IAmA is a Q&A format subreddit that is great for this.
  • Crowdsourcing. Journalists can ask questions on the r/AskReddit subreddit to get a general idea of what angle they might want to take with a story.
  • Breaking News Threads. Often, people will use reddit as a platform for their citizen journalism of breaking events by posting pictures and updates to a thread on reddit. These can be a great place for news organizations who are not close enough to the event to go themselves, but still have some first-person perspective of what is going on.

Some things a few of my classmates brought up is they don’t like the layout of the site, or find it a bit confusing. I’ll admit, it does take awhile to get used to, but just like anything else, you become more familiar with it as you use it.

Overall, I think reddit is a unique hub of information that you can refine to better fit your interests and area of specialty as a journalist. I personally like to use it,  both for the entertainment and news aspects.

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The changing process of journalism; What does the future look like?

Technological advancements are necessary for the culture and society of the world. Without new inventions, we would still be stuck in the stone age and the world would be unchanging.

Now, many people would say we’re living in the digital age. Communication has never been easier, information is at the tips of our fingertips, and we walk around with small computers that can help us organize our lives. Technology allows our lives to move quickly, which has many implications for a lot of aspects of society.

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone (Photo by AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

We The Media, by Dan Gillmor, is a 2006 book about the changing system of journalism, and how it has been greatly affected by the rise of the internet.

First of all, access to capturing, creating content and finding news is easier than ever. We’re in a time where wearable technology, like Google Glass, will give us a way to essentially wear a computer.

As Gillmor puts it; “At one time, an individual with an issue had few options. He could stand on the corner and rant, or post a sign, or write a newsletter, or pen a letter to the editor. Today, if his argument is sufficiently moving and/or backed up with facts, the tools at his disposal can make it a global phenomena(pg 64).”

An example of how this is becoming popular is Neal Augenstein, a journalist who only uses his iPhone for reporting. He takes images and records audio on this, and he says it has little effect on quality.

The process of journalism has sped up greatly with the introduction of the internet, but that also means almost anyone can be considered a ‘journalist,’ or what is considered a ‘citizen journalist.’

There are pros and cons to citizen journalism. One advantage is that breaking news is captured by people actually experiencing it. Social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, make it so easy to share a video or photo with the world.

But a disadvantage of citizen journalism is the fact they are not trained in ethics or how to be transparent in their works. With the spread of information being so fast, wrong or opinionated content can be distributed to a lot of people, and they might not double check their sources.

Overall, technology has given my generation so many opportunities to gain information, and make news ourselves. Finding out what is wrong with the world and reporting on it has given a rise to activism. Now more that ever, we need to figure out how to use technology in the best way possible.

3D Printing: Technology with some pros and cons

3D printing is a technique that has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years, but a lot of people aren’t really sure how it works or what the implications are.

After learning that Cornell had built a fully functional speaker using this 3D printing technique, I was interested in learning more.

3D printing is part of the additive manufacturing technology family. Additive manufacturing refers to the layering technique a machine uses to add layers to an object that it has the dimensions for. I like to compare it to using a scanner, if scanners had the capability to give us actual objects. Based on what the object is, different materials can go into the machine to make the object.

Here’s a good webpage if you want to learn more about the process.

The possibilities of what we are able to do with this technology are pretty much endless, and many scientists think 3D printers will be available for home use in a short time. All sorts of markets can make products fast and easy. People at home could possibly make things like fitted shelves with just a blueprint and the click of a button.

3D printing has many implications for medicine as well. For example, last March, a patient who had lost part of his skull was able to replace it with a piece of  prosthetic plastic that was custom made to fit his skull from a 3D printer.

But like many great technologies, there is also the possibility it can be used for things not so positive.

When blueprints for a 3D plastic gun were made, the gun was shot, and the plans were uploaded online in 2012, the US State Department quickly took them off of the internet. This move was made because they didn’t want to risk the wrong people getting their hands on the plans and making mass amount of non-trackable guns.

While this is a completely reasonable fear, I think there are so many advancements we can make in different parts of human living, 3D technology is something that should be researched and implemented with some regulation.