Tim Rosenthal

When Tim Rosenthal graduated from Suffolk College in Boston in 2008, he didn’t know how to use any of the new journalism technologies that were beginning to appear, but now after just two years at Insidehockey.com he has become something of an expert.

“Alot of this stuff you can pick up on the fly,” said the 24-year-old Rosenthal. “The secret is you have to use everything from live blogs to Facebook and Twitter, there are just so many options for the readers.”

Rosenthal, who was a bit of a Luddite when joined the staff of Insidehockey.com right out of school, is now very active on message boards, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

“These sites are a great way to get the word out about what we are doing,” Rosenthal said. “We are a small independent site and we don’t have a built in fan base so this helps us reach them.”

Rosenthal said that the Insidehockey YouTube page has been most successful with several of their videos drawing more than 1000 hits in a single week.

“The video’s are the ideas of the individual writers,” he said. “We try to get a good background in the sport and then find things that could be interesting as videos.”

It hasn’t always worked, Rosenthal said that some topics are duds that don’t generate much interest, but as long as the video’s are topical and current then tend to do very well.

Recently, Rosenthal posted a video preview of the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres Eastern Conference playoff series that drew more than 400 views in its first 24 hours.

But YouTube isn’t the only place that Rosenthal and Insidehockey have found to stir up interest. Twitter and Facebook have become useful tools as well.

The Insidehockey.com fan page on Facebook has over 1300 fans and posts links to nearly every story, video,  chat and blog on Insidehockey.com. The Facebook page has also become the place to chat about the stories for readers.

Insidehockey.com does provide a system for comments, but it is under used by readers in favor of people discussing stories on the Facebook page.

Twitter has also been a great ally for Rosenthal. Posting on the handle @rosieshockey, Rosenthal keeps his more than 400 followers abreast of what he has written as well as tweeting updates during games he is covering.

“I started Tweeting last year, its a totally different following than Facebook,” he said. “Most of our readers are on Twitter or Facebook, not both so using both allows me to get at either groups of people.”

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IDEA

Can I turn my journalism degree into some sort of entrepreneurship? Of course I can.

That was the theme of the meeting with Dan Gregory a member of the Northeastern Faculty and the Faculty Advisor to IDEA, a venture accelerator at Northeastern.

Mr. Gregory’s talk was interesting, but not anything earth shattering. I knew that as a journalist I have a very specific set of skills that can apply very broadly across a lot of businesses, it just never occurred to me that I would ever want to do anything outside of traditional media jobs with major media companies.

I guess in my experience there are still plenty of jobs and opportunities that I am excited about in the traditional media world and I don’t see a reason to look elsewhere . . . yet.

His description of what IDEA is and what it does however, were very cool. Students, and young people in general tend to have great energy and great ideas to get things done, and giving them a forum and assistance in getting their projects off the ground is really exciting.

I liked the presentation, I just don’t think that his ideas are for me.

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News Trust

After learning about News Trust in class I was anxious to play around with it myself.

After using it a bit, I am less excited than I thought I’d be.

The idea of the site is wonderful, unfortunately in practice it works a bit too much like a traditional comments section to me.

I guess I read stories to see what I get out of them and I am totally uninterested in what the next person thinks about them.

That being said, I can see the appeal and benefits of a site like News Trust. The “MyNews” feature would be most useful for me as I like the way it aggregates things into one place, but even if I used it, I would probably just ignore the ratings.

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Comments in a news setting

With the case of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Judge Strickland-Stafford being in the news it seemed like a good time to discuss my feeling on comments. I wish they would go away and never ever come back.

Honestly, I can’t think of a single example of comments that added anything to a story I was reading. Now, I will admit that I don’t read many smaller blogs (which is the only instance I can see comments working in) so that might prejudice me a bit.

I have some personal experience with comments through my work with the Boston Globe. Every single story I have ever written has had a comment section. As I write about high school hockey, I don’t get many commenters, but when I do they never add anything to the story. They just take issue with something I have written, usually sighting information that is at best distorted and at worst outright wrong.

That is the case on just about any story I have ever seen on Boston.com, lots of comments based on incorrect facts or strong emotions. There is no substance to it. In rare cases 1 in 20 comments are actually interesting pieces of information, or well thought out opinions, but they are so drowned in the sea of bile that it isn’t useful or interesting.

Some people have put forth an argument suggesting that this would be better if people used their real names, and I agree with that to some extent but I still think it misses the point. I go to a news site to find out what the PROFESSIONAL thinks, says, and found out. If I want your AMATEUR opinion on things I can get more of it than I can possibly handle via, talk radio, Twitter, Facebook, message boards, blogs, etc. By placing comments on the same page with a news story the comments are subconsciously  given the same weight as the news item that comes before it, which is patently ridiculous.

Long story short, opinions are like . . . well you know . . . and everyone has them; and just like I don’t need to see that delightful piece of your anatomy, I don’t need your opinion in my news.

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Matt Carroll, data journalist

In class we had a neat meeting with Matt Carroll, a data journalist from the Boston Globe.  I learned quite a bit about Mr. Carroll and what he does in Walter Robinson’s Advanced Reporting class, but it was neat to get to hear it from the horses mouth.

I think that data journalism is one of the most interesting facets of journalism out there especially in this new era of internet journalism. There are hundreds of numbers pumped out by all facets of government on a daily basis and usually posted on their website. If you know what you are looking for and how to manipulate the data like Mr. Carroll the stories are out there to be written.

In my opinion any good story has some opinion in the form of quotes from people involved, but without the cold hard facts that data can provide their stories don’t carry much weight.

The website he showed us, Many Eyes, was interesting as an idea, but in practice I found it extremely limited. It has a very few useful types of graphs that it makes which Excel can do just as well and just as visually and as for the rest of it I found it pointless.

The scatter-plots and word clouds are neat and visual but totally pointless. I think many times in media, and especially new media people just try to make things pretty assuming that it will drive traffic if it is visual. I don’t think that is the case. I think that people are attracted by content and while it doesn’t hurt if it looks nice it isn’t all that relevant either.

A great deal of the stuff on many eyes seemed like that to me, a lot of style, not much substance.

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Globalpost

Though I missed the class trip to Globalpost to cover games in my capacity as the high school hockey writer for the Globe, I checked out the website and was very intrigued. The site is very easy to use and visually appealing, unlike many international news sites so right away I enjoyed reading it. The large photo at the top is vital for any successful news site, and the topic headings and large headlines made navigation easy.

Right now I don’t follow much international news. If I do, I get it from my infrequent glances at the New York Times or on a site like the BBC. In both cases I find the writing to be too dense. I am not really intrigued by a lot of international stories, so I find myself overloaded by the density of the writing.

Globalpost seems more reader friendly to me, which I know is difficult to quantify, but the easiest way to describe it is that I didn’t feel like I was trudging through some newspapers website. It is a website first and that kind of forethought in design makes for easy reading even if the material is the same.

The “Life, death and the Taliban,” section of the site shows exactly what I am talking about. There is a staggering amount of information collected and compiled on that page but through excellent design it is easy to navigate and doesn’t feel too overwhelming.

The information is presented in excellent ways as well. Some stories work well as written pieces, some work better with multimedia. The variety of presentations here are very engaging.

My complaint about the site is that it lacks a real hierarchy. It is seems to make no real judgments about which stories or videos are more important or valuable than others. Though I can understand that Globalpost may feel that it is all important, some of the pieces are good, and some are excellent. I would like to see some of the really well done, or very important pieces highlighted more.

I didn’t much care for the study abroad section. Some of the stories were fascinating and really well done. This article is a great example. I was really intrigued at the concept of what young Americans stereotyped as. But that article is sandwiched by one about spring break destinations and another about cat fashion accessories. A good deal of what I saw on the study abroad site was somewhere between trite and a waste of time.

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Deadspin.com

In class I discussed deadspin.com as an example of a new media website that I really enjoy. Deadspin is part of the Gawker network of websites and as a result s one of the highest traffic sports sites on the internet.

The site does an excellent job of condensing the days news into interesting and funny little comments with links to the actual stories. It is a great way to find out what is happening in sports beyond the box score. The site doesn’t really ever discuss Xs and Os gameplay, but the do let the reader know what is going on behind the scenes. They also do a fair bit of investigative reporting themselves, including covering Sean Sailsbury’s firing from ESPN with insider info no one else seemed to have.

The main drawback on a site like deadspin is the somewhat sophomoric tone that goes along with much of the sites content. The site is unabashedly directed at sports fans (i.e. men) and it can rival a high school locker room at times with sex and bodily function jokes around every corner.

To me, it’s funny, but it might not be some people’s cup of tea. Either way, it is pretty easy to tell which articles are “for fun” and which are real news so it isn’t too hard to steer clear of the low brow stuff.

My only other complaint about deadspin is that it is very focused on the major east coast markets (Boston, NYC, Philly and DC.) As a fan from Buffalo I am unlikely to see much written about my teams.

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