Jeffrey Cole and Karen North Featured In LA Times Article On La Habra Earthquake

ColeThe Los Angeles Times quoted USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future Director Jeffrey Cole and Annenberg Program on Online Communities Director Karen North in an article on last week’s La Habra earthquake and the social media reaction.

Twitter was one of the first places people went to talk about the earthquake, but Cole said people were describing it as being larger than it actually was.

“Generally, the human tendency we see on Twitter and social media is to amplify and spread rumors without any filter,” said Cole. “You just get to see everyone’s version of the truth.”

He added that Twitter is good for showing the scope of events, such as earthquakes.

northWhile seismologists used their websites to collect and release information, North said they should expand their social media reach.

“Places like Caltech and the USGS need to get on Twitter so that when the torrent of tweets go out talking about this earthquake’s implications for future earthquakes, they can go into that communication channel and correct false information and lead people to facts,” said North, an expert on social media.

Read the article

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Hollihan gives UCSD talk on press coverage of China/Japan

Communication Professor Tom Hollihan gave a speech on U.S. media coverage of Chinese-Japanese relations at a University of California San Diego conference earlier this month.

HollihanSponsored by UCSD’s 21st Century China Program and the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, the “China-Japan Relations and Role of the U.S.” conference brought together global experts to analyze the implications of the deteriorating relations between the two Asian powers.

Hollihan presented research on how American media covered the Diaoyu/Senkaku dispute between 2011 and 2013. Generally, Hollihan’s findings showed that U.S. coverage was skewed to sympathize with Japan and characterize China as an aggressor.

Watch a full video of a related USC U.S.-China Institute presentation here:

Read more from Hollihan here.

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Michael Parks and Robert Hernandez Talk J-School With The Coca-Cola Journey

usc_wallisannenberghallUSC Annenberg School of Journalism Interim Director Michael Parks and Professor Robert Hernandez were featured in a Coca-Cola Journey article about the evolution of journalism schools.

“Twelve years ago, someone might have wanted to become a newspaper reporter,” said Parks. “Now, we teach them digital journalism skills as well, like how to shoot, edit and create a TV package. We don’t expect anyone to become a one-person band, but you need to be conversant because today’s news rooms are multi-faceted operations.”

Wallis Annenberg Hall, slated to open in the fall, was mentioned as an example of journalism schools building new facilities to accommodate emerging technology.

Hernandez mentioned his experimentation at with new technology, such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Google Glass, as a way to tell stories.

“My interest is getting ahead of the curve and defining how best we can use them to create good journalism,” said Hernandez.

He added that USC Annenberg students now gain a lot of experience outside of the classroom.

“We are working journalists who just happen to be students,” said Hernandez. “We no longer have to wait for the newspaper. We can publish things in real time. That empowers the students and creates fantastic opportunities for them.”

“We might now be entering a Golden Age of journalism because there are so many opportunities ahead of us,” Parks added.

Read the full article here.

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Annenberg Innovation Lab Featured On KABC-TV

SmithFrancesca.ashxUSC Annenberg Innovation Lab was recently featured on KABC-TV when they hosted a group of kids from Jr. CEOs, a program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Doctoral candidate Francesca Marie Smith pointed out that kids “are not necessarily constrained by what we assume is, ‘no, well, you can’t do that.’”

longSmith and Annenberg Innovation Lab Technical Director Geoffrey Long were featured showing the kids how to use new technology, such as Google Glass.

“These are the guys where the next boom is going to come from, and we need to get them thinking about that as soon as possible,” said Long.

Watch the story
Francesca Smith
Geoffrey Long

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Professor Judy Muller Talks About Coverage Of Flight 370 With The New York Times and Marketplace

mullerUSC Annenberg Professor Judy Muller was recently quoted by the New York Times and Marketplace about the extensive coverage of the disappearance of and search for Flight 370.

“I fear I am part of the problem,” Muller told the New York Times. “I keep tuning in to see if there are any new clues.”

Muller, who is also a former ABC correspondent, added that the lack of confirmed facts has shaped the coverage tremendously.

“The problem is that when there is nothing new, you have a ton of talking heads blathering on, which gets them into speculation, which is not information,” Muller told Marketplace.

But, she added, most news stations can’t wait on new information, “because that’s not what drives ratings.”

Read the New York Times article
Read the Marketplace article
Judy Muller

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Discoveries: Ananny and Thorson research modern news consumption

Editor’s note: USC Annenberg doctoral student Mina Park blogs about the research and discoveries made by the school’s faculty. This is the first post in the “Discoveries” series.

By Mina Park

9475399262_83f170f0a2In the era of technology, news organizations have been trying to develop software to deliver the latest news online, and these different platforms have been changing people’s news consumption habits. Dr. Michael Ananny and Dr. Kjerstin Thorson are working on research about news and technology in order to understand this phenomenon.

Dr. Ananny’s research mainly focuses on the very first process of combining news and technology: the design decisions for making technology for newsrooms. Basically, news technology reflects the designer’s idea about what public participation means, what the value of news is, what the public sphere should look like, or who gets to participate in conversation. The designer’s research looks at how online news systems are designed to let people engage, in order to understand how journalists who design technology for newsroom think about the public.

People who are called ‘interstitial designers’ are designers who live partly in the world of software design and partly in the world of journalism. For example, they are making news as journalists, reporters, or editors and, at the same time, they are building news systems at the New York Times, Google news, Yahoo News, etc. as software engineers. As time goes on, their design decisions are becoming more important since the decisions change how people are being exposed to news and how people use the information. By interviewing interstitial designers, Annany is trying to understand the tools they use to create software.

As part of understanding interstitial designers, his latest work focused on designers of mobile news reader apps, such as Flipboard, Fluent, Pulse, Zite, etc. He found designers had different ways of seeing what online news is than journalists had. For example, they mostly focus on organizing information when they design news reader apps. They want to present information in a way that is clear and readable, since there is so much information on the Internet and it is too much for people to sort through to find the information they need. Also, designers want to meet the demands of the readers.

Since they want to serve their readers as customers, they want to highlight stories that readers are interested in. Journalists think, however, that who they are serving is the public, not an individual reader, and news organization should provide news about the world that it is important for the public to know.  Annany said he would like to be able to use these findings as evidence to show that designers and their organization’s priorities were not particularly in line with what journalists value. Based on the analysis, he expects that designers can make improved algorithms that reflect the values of journalists in their work.

Ananny is also working to understand what it means to create a record of witnessing an event for journalists who are working with Google glass.  Some journalists try to represent what audience members would want to see if they were in the scene, while other journalists believe their job is to interpret and make sense of an event. He said one of the motivations in doing this type of research was to try to have public conversations about the ethics and the public value of brand new technologies at the same time they were becoming popular.

Dr. Thorson, on the other hand, is working on outcomes of combining news and technology: the effects of new digital media. Her research mainly focuses on understanding how social media are changing the way that young people engage in politics and how political content travels across media platforms.

Broadly speaking, politics has become an optional life style. For example, we see some young people who are inventing a new kind of activism such as starting their own NGO or posting about politics on Twitter. Other young people ignore political content and are not involved in any sort of political participation. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Thorson, people who are getting news online and participating in politics are not in the majority. How does it happen? How does one person consume so much political news content and another see none at all?

In Thorson’s recent research, twenty young adults on Facebook who were not politically active were interviewed.  Many of them had no news and no political content on their Facebook page although at the time it was just weeks until the presidential election. Even though people in academia tend to think there is a quite a lot of news contents in online spaces, that is not the case. Professor Thorson tries to understand how we can understand social platforms as a place for politics. What she found is that Facebook is not a good place for political content because young people do not like to offend their family, friends, or coworkers by saying anything partisan. She also interviewed twenty young adults who were politically active and found that many of them were posting funny political contents because they did not want their ‘friends’ to think they were trying to push their opinions on them. On Twitter, on the other hand, young adults’ exposure to news content and politics is less accidental because they choose whom they want to follow. They do not follow people who post political comment if they do not want to see it. Thus, there is a lot of complexity with respect to social media platforms as social spaces.  Professor Thorson said she needed to understand this complexity including interpersonal relationships in order to understand the media effects.

In another recent study, she tries to lay out some of the contingencies that affect media exposure. Since we get exposed to news articles through so many different routes, it is important to map out what kinds of people get exposed to what kinds of articles under what conditions. For example, I can see a story about Obama from the New York Times posted by the NYT because I follow them. I can also see the same story in my timeline because my friend posted it on Facebook.  Or, I can see the same story because I follow Obama.  Professor Thorson is trying to figure out different ways to map out these media contingencies by building an app on Facebook. Using the app, she conducted a survey including questions about knowledge, political participation, political conversation, etc. Also, she was able to collect information about whom respondents follow, what pages they follow, what news stories they liked, etc. from the Facebook data. By doing so, she is trying to discover the relationships between different outcomes (political participation, political conversation etc.) and media flow that people are embedded in.

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Karen North Talks To Los Angeles Times About Instagram

northKaren North, director of the USC Annenberg Program on Online Communities, spoke with the Los Angeles Times about a burgeoning group of wealthy kids who post photos of their lavish lifestyles on Instagram.

According to North, most people use social media to show off or brag, not just the wealthy.

“What kids do is they share pictures and thoughts in a way that promotes who they want people to think they are,” said North, who is an expert on social media.

North added that people probably look at the photos posted by wealthy people in order to live vicariously through them.

“If you went to the Oscars, went skiing in the Alps or had tickets to Wimbledon, then when you post that, the rest of us get to feel a little bit like we got to do that too,” said North. “If we’re following, then we got to share that experience with you.”

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Karen North

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Annenberg Radio News Receives Several Awards

arnAnnenberg Radio News recently received awards from the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts and the Intercollegiate Broadcast System’s Golden Microphone Awards.

The station, directed by USC Annenberg Professor Willa Seidenberg, placed third in the Best Radio Newscast category at BEA’s Festival of Media Arts.

Reporter and graduate student Brianna Sacks also placed third in the Best Radio Feature category for her story on Leimert Park’s World Stage.

“I didn’t even know my piece had been nominated so it was an amazing surprise to find out the story won an award,” said Sacks, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of Neon Tommy at USC Annenberg.

“ARN’s team is so patient, helpful and welcoming to new reporters. I am honored to report for them,” she added.

ARN Reporter Grace Lim won the Best Spot News award from the Intercollegiate Broadcast System for her story on the Hawthorne gas leak. Lim is a second-year graduate student at USC Annenberg.

Annenberg Radio News

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Clayton Dube Talks About China’s Pollution Problem with CCTV

dubeCCTV spoke with Clayton Dube, director of the USC U.S.-China Institute, about China and their recent attempts to reduce pollution.

“With dramatic action, you can get some immediate results,” said Dube. “But, over the long term, it’s going to take steady work.”

China needs to increase energy efficiency and decrease pollution from thermal plants, he added.

“In the short term, the gains are not likely to be obvious, but with sustained effort, there can be progress made,” said Dube.

Dube also discussed how China has been working toward political and economic reform.

Watch the full interview here.

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Geoffrey Long Talks To Los Angeles Times About Twitter And Television

longGeoffrey Long, a technical director and research fellow at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about the growing presence of Twitter in television promotion.

“What has popped up in the last five years is TV viewers have a connection to show runners and actors that is more immediate and transparent,” said Long. “There’s an active dialogue that is no longer heavily one-sided. We’re still in the early stages of how that changes things.”

He added that Twitter is on its way to influencing the way in which stories are told on television.

“I think what we’re going to see more and more of, are TV writers thinking and writing in ways that lend themselves to quotability and spreadability?” he said.

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Geoffrey Long

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