Journalism during the 2016 Presidential Election

Journalism was either praised or criticized by many during the 2016 Presidential election. During this week’s class, we were asked what grade (A through F) would we give journalism during the 2016 presidential election race. I found it interesting that each of us graded differently, but majority were in the B to D range. Many of us shared the same points and reasons why we placed journalism in the “below average” category.

Read: How the 2016 campaign changed political journalism by Kristen Hare and Alexios Mantzarlis to see what 20 journalists graded the election coverage, as well as advice for the future. 

First, many agreed the night of the election coverage was off. I stayed up for the entire thing, flipping through a few different mainstream news channels, and all had different results. I actually noticed that Google had the most accurate results in terms of electoral votes coming in, and then Fox News was the second most precise (from my experience). This shouldn’t be the case – we should be able to see realtime results on all stations.

Second, a lot of the election mainly focused on now President Donald Trump. While he certainly put himself out there to gain the attention of voters and mass media, I think that journalists could have done a better job of highlighting the other candidates more. I felt that the whole election was full of attacks rather than the good of each candidate.

Third, all of the news headlines have become more about what small point in that article or news coverage captures a person’s attention, rather than what the story as a whole is about. I noticed a lot of news stories shared on social media would have a crazy headline, usually attacking Trump or another candidate, and then you open the story and it’s all about another issue, with one or two sentences about that headline. The changing of headlines can  be the journalist skewing what the person said or did to make a story interesting. As someone said in class, it’s like all the headlines these days are for tabloids. (I also found Column: Why click-bait will be the death of journalism by Jeffrey Dvorkin to be an interesting article!)

One final point I’ll make is that numerous mainstream news channels have turned their morning and other shows into talk shows, criticizing other journalists during them. It’s almost like a battle of the news stations – who can sound more truthful or more journalistic?

I’m sure we will continue to see changes in journalism in elections as the Internet keeps evolving. What would you grade journalism during the 2016 election?

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Can Big Data Prevent Fake News?

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communication class, we discussed “Big Data” and how it influences what we do in our daily lives. According to SAS Institute Inc., “Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.”

The bold part of the definition is important to consumers because it changes our buying experience. For example (a favorite example mentioned in class), if I am booking a flight on Expedia and it says “20 people are looking at this flight right now” or “2 spots left on this flight” – typically I would purchase the flight quickly so I don’t lose my spot. But, this is just marketing. Big Data is helping Expedia and other companies create tactics like the ones stated above to make consumers spend money.

Big Data changes how we shop, travel, eat and even how we interpret news stories. While their are tools to fight against fake news, sometimes it relies on the user to determine the validity of a story.

“The problem is that users are generally disinclined to take the extra effort to check. Even going to a website, tool, or app to verify a story before sharing it is more effort than most people will take,” Bernard Marr said in his Fake News: How Big Data And AI Can Help article. “Until big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning enabled tools become more sophisticated and reliable, we need to focus on educating people (starting as early as primary school) to be critical thinkers and not take every story at face value.”

While the above article mentions the tools that are helping fix this void of sharing or reporting fake news, I agree that the problem does rely on the user. We talked a couple weeks ago in our class about how the Internet has changed how we read, write, speak and listen – all of which definitely apply to social media. Our attention span is short; we want to read something short and know the point behind it immediately.

Many people don’t open an article before reading it – they just assume it is true. I believe this is how fake news is spread. Users see a headline of an article that sparks their interest, they share it, it keeps circulating, and before we know it – it’s everywhere (and it is fake). Most articles like this would be reported as “fake” if the users simply read it before sharing. I see this happen a lot on my personal feed.

Unless we educate users from the very beginning to be critical thinkers, will fake news ever stop being shared? Will users read more than just the headline? To that end, can Big Data really prevent fake news? I’m interested in your thoughts – leave your comments below!

P.S. Here is some other news about Big Data:

Fort Benning: Another chapter down

Earlier this week my husband, two dogs (Scrappy and Eli) and I closed in on another chapter in our lives at Fort Benning. Ryan was there for the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and I was working as a journalist at the Bayonet & Saber newspaper in the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office. Fortunately, I can say that I was lucky enough to end my time there with one of the biggest events and stories of the year: The Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

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The Best Ranger Competition was the most interesting event I have covered. The competition involves 50 teams of two, who compete in a rigorous three-day, 60-hour event. It was so cool to see the kick off and the final buddy run at the end, and everything in between. I also met Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first females to graduate Ranger School! I have now met both 🙂

I had the opportunity to embrace new adventures, too! I conquered my fear of heights and stairs and climbed the Ranger tower at Victory Pond. It was so worth it for the pictures and footage we got! (See below.)

I wrote two stories on the competition: Best Ranger Competition creates new challenges and National Guard team captures Best Ranger title.

Both stories were so fun to write. Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy came for the awards ceremony, so that was so cool to hear him speak! He even retweeted a few of my tweets — he’s very active on social media! 🙂

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Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy speaking at the Best Ranger Competition awards ceremony at Fort Benning.

I was also so excited to see Capt. Robert Killian win. His family spoke with me the first day of the competition and they knew it was his year. It was a perfect story.

Along with our team we have some amazing photographers! You can check out all their Ranger competition photos at www.fortbenningphotos.com. Some photos were featured in the ArmyTimes!

On that note, I was glad to end my time at Fort Benning writing such fun stories; however, I’m extremely sad to leave such a great team! All of my coworkers were so talented, smart and beyond funny! But I know we will all keep in touch!

Now on to the other exciting news in my life: I have officially accepted a position as a Web Specialist II with Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families. Working at SU was a dream of mine since I was young — it feels so surreal!

I’m so thankful to have had our wonderful and fun chapter at Fort Benning. I will miss all of our friends we have made — that is one of the hardest parts about being in the military community, you always have to leave your friends! 😦

But on a positive note,  I am also excited to start our new chapter in New York. It is bittersweet.

As my good friend Courtney said, “You may be going to New York, but you’ll always be a Georgia Peach!”

We are currently in Florida spending some time with family before we head up north. We are also going to New Orleans (my fourth time — it’s my favorite!) next week. I can’t wait!

 

Chattahoochee River flooding

April Fool’s Day brought a lot of rain to the Fort Benning and Columbus area. My friends from home flew in for a long weekend and planned to sit by the pool all day while I was at work, until it stormed all day. Needless to say, that did not happen.

After I got out of work, we decided to take advantage of the rainy day by going to the National Infantry Museum. We then went downtown to go to dinner, and that is when we saw the results of the storm.

The Chattahoochee River completely flooded the riverwalk and its surroundings. I quickly tweeted my video of the flood to The Weather Channel and other local news stations. My tweet was picked up by The Weather Channel, ABC News, storm chasers and a local news reporter. I was SO excited to get a “favorite” and mention from The Weather Channel on Twitter! You can see the video and tweet by clicking here.

Below are some pictures I took of the flooding from my phone. You can see how much rain fell if you look at the lamp posts.

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Prepare for upcoming intense heat

It’s the first day of spring! While some of us may be rejoicing that warmer weather will soon be here, the rest of us are not looking forward to it — especially Southerners.

After living in North Carolina and now Georgia, I’ve experienced the extreme heat and humidity. It is not fun, and it can be very dangerous.

Typically from March to September are the months to be weary. This is when you start to hear the sad news about people leaving their pets or children in their cars and they die of heat illness. You may also hear of people working outside and suffering from heat strokes. Soldiers, construction workers and many others are at a disadvantage with their uniforms and heavy gear.

I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing for the heat before it gets here. I just wrote an article for my job regarding heat safety (information provided by the Fort Benning safety office) for Soldiers and the heat mitigation tools they use: Soldiers urged to prepare for upcoming heat. This can also be put into life outside the military. Please read the article by clicking here and educate yourself on how to keep yourself and others safe.

I wrote a blog post last year about keeping pets safe in the heat: Keep pets safe in extreme heat. Again, please read this article to prepare yourself, your family and pets before the heat and humidity arrive.

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Photo source: www.uab.edu

This is a crucial and scary time of the year, and I hope you take this blog post seriously.

Winter Storm Jonas

This is about a week late, but I finally had time to upload some Winter Storm Jonas photos my friends and family sent to me. According to The Weather Channel, “Winter Storm Jonas produced prolific amounts of snow in parts of the East, rivaling infamous snowstorms of the recent past. Snowfall totals from the storm topped out near 42 inches in West Virginia and at least 14 states in total received more than a foot of snow from the storm.”

This storm was one for the books, that’s for sure!

Many people sent me these photos since I couldn’t experience this storm for myself. My family and friends never let me down!

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We recently found out we will be moving back to Central New York this spring, and I can’t wait to be back up north to experience these crazy winters!

Winter finally hits Upstate New York

We didn’t end up having a “White Christmas” — instead it was 67 degrees — but I did get to see some snow and ice before I left town. Of course, now that I’m no longer there, the snow has hit hard and is staying (just my luck).

It had snowed a couple times before Christmas, but nothing stuck. So now that the snow is finally hanging around, I would say winter has finally arrived up north.

My friends, Laci and Dan, live on Lake Delta in Rome (as I stated in my Fall foliage on Lake Delta post). I had the opportunity to take some pictures after the storm hit Monday night into Tuesday morning, Dec. 28-29. Unfortunately the WordPress website isn’t allowing me to upload all the files at this time, so I picked a few photos from Christmas Eve and the storm and posted them below. The Christmas Eve photos were taken from my cousin’s house.There is nothing like fall and winter in Upstate!

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It was a full moon and 60 degrees on Christmas Eve.

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Ryan and I enjoying the warm weather and full moon on Christmas Eve.

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Foggy Lake Delta after the ice storm hit.

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Looking down the icy staircase leading to Lake Delta’s brisk, cold waters.

My next adventure is to New Orleans (for the third time in the past year and a half)! The “Big Easy” is one of my favorite cities I’ve been to. I can’t wait to go back and experience all the fun. I hope to get some great weather photos while I’m there!

Will you have a white Christmas this year?

Ah, it has been a little over a month since I last posted on my blog! While I am sad I have not posted, a lot of things have occurred in the last month that held me back from writing.

This past month I have been traveling to visit family and friends in New York and in Florida (since I was without a full-time job.. why not?!). But when I returned to Georgia from those adventures, I landed an interview with a local newspaper and was offered the job. I happily accepted!

I am a journalist for the Bayonet & Saber newspaper on Fort Benning. I have learned so much already, and I am having lots of fun so far. I have always been interested in working with a media company, so it has really been such a great experience. I get to contribute my marketing skills to the job, too! I really love marketing, communications, writing, editing, social media, etc. All of it truly excites me. While I really enjoyed working at a credit union/nonprofit, I am thankful for a different type of experience to enhance my knowledge in these areas.

With all that said, I have barely had any time to write and build my personal social media presence as much as I have in the past. I spend many nights working on stories when I come home from work. Once I get a good grip of my current job, I’ll be able to post more frequently.

Well, enough about me! Let’s talk about Christmas… will you have snow in your front yard this year?!

In the words of Bing Crosby, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”

Temperatures have been quite warm for this time of year. Even my hometown of Rome, New York  has not had any snow (besides a few flakes back in October, but nothing stuck).

I will be going home for Christmas this year, and I am truly hoping there is snow on the ground for the holidays. I look forward to winters at home every year I can go!

Meteorologists say if there is at least one inch of snow on the ground on Christmas morning, that is defined as a “white Christmas,” according to The Weather Channel’s website.

“This year, we have one of the strongest El Niños of record in play. That and a persistently warm East and Midwest, along with a cold, wet West, is setting the table for what we may see Christmas morning,” the website’s article adds.

So, who will have the one inch of snow or more this Christmas? Below is the map The Weather Channel put together showing where snow is most likely to be on Christmas.

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It looks like I do have a possibility of seeing snow on Christmas! I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed. Today it was almost 80 degrees here in Georgia, so I am really wanting that cooler weather so it feels more like the holiday season.

Click here to read more about the white Christmas forecast, and click here to read more about El Niños.

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What exactly is a blizzard?

Winter will be here before we know it. Some states, like Nevada, have already felt the early onset of winter. I recommend reading this infographic by Jon Erdman on The Weather Channel’s website describing what a blizzard really is. There are a lot of facts on there that not even I, the weather enthusiast, knew about.

One example is that everyone has heard about “tornado alley”, but I had no idea there was a “blizzard alley”. The infographic states “A 2002 study by Dr. Robert Schwartz and Dr. Thomas Schmidlin compiled the number of blizzards from 1959-2000 over the U.S., finding a clear “blizzard alley” in the Dakotas and western Minnesota, extending into Iowa, Nebraska, southeast Wyoming and eastern Colorado.”

Source: The Weather Channel

If you live in an area where snow is frequent, I definitely suggest reading the infographic and be aware of the snowy conditions around you when they come. It provides a lot of good information that every person living in a colder state should know. There are some major differences between a normal snow storm and a blizzard, and winter is coming up quickly, so be prepared by knowing the facts.

The bright side of winter being on its way… Thanksgiving (even though this is still technically the fall season), Christmas, and 2016 will be here SO soon!

Amazing Clouds on Lake Delta

One of my best friends, Paige, sent me these beautiful photos of the clouds over Lake Delta, NY this evening. She told me the pictures do not do justice for what her and our other friends, John and Sarah, could see in person. I wish I could have been there to see it live, but here are the pictures she sent me below…so captivating!

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