Media Issues Final Exam

Media Issues

Final Exam

Robert McChesney

In the media industry things have changed rapidly over the last decade. News outlets have been forced to create and update Web sites and mobile sites and do twice as much work. All this has to be done with smaller staffs and less resources due to budget cuts.

The digital age has revolutionized journalism, changing it from watchdog and investigative to breaking and right now. News Web sites are filled with breaking news and crime stories and we see less and less investigative and feature stories. Crime stories are popular online so news editors are running with it, choosing page views over quality journalism. This is a concern.

A news story used to require multiple sources and accurate quotes in order to be published, but now stories are posted online with little accuracy and confirmation. Rumors are posted as news with the thought process of is that it can be updated later when more information is available. This is the new form of journalism. News Websites are forcing reporters and editors to run with stories online that normally would never run in print. But, if they don’t post the two sentences they have on a local shooting, then the competing TV station will or another newspaper.

The media industry is becoming extremely competitive for news. Who wants it more and who is going to get it up online first is going to win the battle. It is no longer about who is doing the greatest public service. Sure, some investigative pieces still exist and we still see some feature stories, but the majority of news today is breaking and crime news. Sex crimes, murder, drugs, robberies and shootings dominate news Website headlines. We need to worry about this.

If the news media continues to make these kinds of stories prominent then where can we learn about local government and issues that really matter? We are so caught up in what’s happening now that we are losing site of the facts, which used to carry news stories.

Another issue is that of citizen journalism. Sure, the concept seems like a good idea, but what will happen if we continue to give the power of reporting to bloggers and citizens who can’t be objective and whole higher journalist standards? We are walking down a fine line with this new form of journalism and if it continues we will see the end of traditional journalism.

Daniel Solove

As the Internet continues to grow in popularity and usage, online social issues will become a major problem. Today, online reputations are tarnished and ruined every day because anonymity dominates the Web. This trend will only continue unless guidelines and rules are put in place to prevent online gossip and rumors.

There is an information overload on the Web, which also creats an overwhelming number of times in which a person is publically punished online. Celebrities are plastered across tabloid Websites and even new sites. Athletes and public figured are ridiculed for personal life decisions and shortcomings. Their business is aired all over the Internet and they can’t even leave a voicemail or send a text message without it winding up some Website. They can’t walk to the grocery store without having an unflattering picture of them posted all over the Web.

We see a lot of celebrities being ripped apart on Websites, but it isn’t just public figures and celebrities, it is regular people too. If something negative is written about you online, it is out there forever. It is also likely that it will show up high on a search results page. This is ruining reputations and making it difficult for individuals to shake a minor mistake in life or even get rid of something false that someone wrote about them.

The way the Internet is set up now, something that someone did five years ago, could still show up towards the top of a search results page for that person’s name three years from now. In the mean time, that person could have done great things in their industry and community, but their reputation would still be tarnished because of that mistake that still exists online.

For these minor negative things to show up on top of a search results page is ridiculous. As a result, it is preventing some people from getting jobs and ruining their reputation. Search engines are determining that they are the most important thing we need to know about these people, but it isn’t always true. In the future, search needs to adapt. We should see the most important things and most relevant in terms of date.

By showing something old that happened to a person years ago is most often irrelevant, but it is tarnishing people’s online reputations. Sometimes it is funny, but unusual how things get spread online. More serious offenses can be buried while false accusations of bitter old friends can wind up at the top of the list. We should be worried down the road that everyone could have bad reputations online, especially if anonymity continues to dominate because people are much more likely to post negative things anonymously.

Jonathan Zittrain

In the future we should be worried about Internet law and technology that will track our every move online and be able to access all of our information and personal items. Net neutrality will continue to be a concern down the road as more and more people gain Internet access and use more bandwidth. There needs to be a way to control how much bandwidth one can use and we already seeing Internet service providers try this. In the future we should worry about users trying to cheat this system and find ways around net neutrality protocols.

Tiered pricing systems seems to be the trend for net neutrality, but how much is something willing to pay for a ton of bandwidth? We don’t know. And how much are ISPs willing to charge? This is definitely a concern and something to keep and eye on as net neutrality as an issue continues to surface.

People are more behaved when they are accountable for themselves, which is what exists on the Internet today. But, in the future the courts could catch up and create more laws and regulations for Internet use and access, which could cause an uproar and create more headaches then resolution. The law is way behind on the Internet and people have become accustomed to limited regulation. If that is to change drastically in the future, which I believe is likely, then the consequences could be severe.

Another issue is online privacy and seeing that software has already been developed that can capture a user’s data, this is something we should be concerned about. In the future all the information and documents we store online or in our e-mail could be accessible to others even though we want it to be private information.

Privacy and net neutrality are two important issues that we will be dealing with as the Internet evolves and the law catches up. As frequent users of the Internet, we need to show interest and concern as these issues continue to develop and play out.

Ken Auletta

I think that we should be concerned that big technology companies will control everything we are allowed to do online. Take a company like Google, which now has almost every tech product on the market and online. They are creating and buying almost every platform, trying to offer users every service they would ever need. What if this works? There could be a monopoly on technology.

Google has Gmail, Google Maps, Buzz, Google Chrome, Google Docs and many more products. They have e-mail, mapping, online data storage and Web browsing covered. They even have a mobile phone.

I don’t by any means disagree with Google’s business plan, in fact I admire their will to stray from traditional commercial business practices. I have been impressed by the success of their business model, which has been the exact opposite model that every expert in the field has advised them to do.

With that said, I do see where there could be concern if their dominance of the Web continues. Many consumers, but more business competitors, see them as evil. They probably just envy their success, but many do fear the day when Google runs the Internet.

Google is so smart and top of the industry that we could see a day when Google or a company like them knows more than the consumer and even the government. Some might argue that this is already true. They have been so successful with their products, but who is to say they don’t have a whole line of inventions just waiting behind closed doors.

I don’t think we need to fear Google, but we might fear advertising taking over the Internet. Right now, advertising online is pretty limited when you think about TV commercials and newspaper print advertisements. Online advertising is growing though and soon it will be in more places then we can imagine, on your phone, iPod, iPad, Kindle, everywhere.

The advertising industry is making advances. Now, they can target advertising to Websites you have visited. So, if you are a Boston Red Sox fan and visit their Website then you will see ads related to the Boston market, the Boston Red Sox and other sports products. It seems convenient, but it can be annoying and overwhelming. It also could be considered intrusive depending on what kind of content you are viewing online.

Technology is always enhancing and it will be interesting to see what kind of products big companies like Google come up with.

Critique #1 of McChesney

I would argue with McChesney that online journalism is a positive change to the news industry. Now that Website reporters and editors are posting information online immediately, the public is better informed on what is going in the world and in their communities. It used to be that one would have to wait until the next day’s newspaper or the 6 o’clock news to find out what happened earlier in the day, but now they can log online and get it immediately.

News organizations are still objective and they still report, but I think now they listen to the community a little more often, which is a good thing. A newspaper or TV station can’t have eyes everywhere, but by using the community as almost freelance workers or even just for news tips and photos, it can improve a news organization’s overall coverage. For instance, if there is a big car accident, chances are a reporter wasn’t there when it happened, but if someone on the scene calls it in to a news station, then they can use their eyewitness account, perhaps a photo and some video taken on a mobile phone. Now, the story is being told immediately and from someone who was actually there. I see this as a great improvement in journalism because we are getting more information quicker.

News editors will still use their own judgment on which stories to post and run with, but now information is more open. A lot more is published and it is published faster because that is what the users and readers demand. The public wants information fast and in an easy format, so news organizations are now delivering on those demands. E-mail and text alerts and mobile applications are becoming popular and are a great tool for news organizations to reach their audience immediately.

News organizations will still do investigative and lighter news pieces, but they aren’t as needed today. What the public needs is information at their fingertips and they are getting that. The investigative pieces will come, but the cost effectiveness of having one reporter working on the same story for a month, just isn’t there. That reporter is needed to churn out dozens of stories, videos and photos during that same time frame. The public is getting more bang for their buck with online journalism.

Critique #2 of Solove

I think that Solove brings up an interesting point about online reputations because with the Internet, things stay on the World Wide Web forever and are often made higher profile than what they actually are. A local businessman arrested for driving under the influence is a crime, but it’s a common mistake among adults. Once the man pays his fine and completes his community service or whatever the punishment, he should be allowed to return to his normal life, but with the Internet, his name is likely showing up towards the top of search results pages because his arrest is in the public record. It was likely posted somewhere on news Websites and other places online, so when you search his name, instead of seeing his career accomplishments, you see that he was arrested for DUI five years ago. That isn’t right.

There needs to be come sort of regulation for search engine results especially because false information about an individual can remain online forever. If someone writes a blog post about you because you don’t get along with them, the false and bad things they sad about you are on the Internet forever. Their blog post might be coming up in search result pages under your name, which isn’t right, especially when it’s not true.

People shouldn’t be able to ruin someone’s reputation online. There needs to be more search engine regulation and Internet regulation in general. The law is way behind technology and this is hurting some individuals and their reputations.

World Web leaders, innovators share Internet insight

I had the opportunity to attend part of the International World Wide Web Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center last week, which united Internet and technology innovators from all over the world. The conference had dozens of sessions focusing on specific areas of the Web and how it will affect different industries and people around the globe.

Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the Web, was in attendance, but unfortunately I did not get to hear him speak. Some of the sessions I was able to attend included digitizing government documents and the future of print publishing.

Another separate part of the conference was the Social Media Futures’ Academy, which was put on by my Elon University interactive media graduate program, Google and Red Hat, a company that provides open source technology. The one-day youth conference was designed to discuss social media issues facing high school students. Many of us have begun using social media tools in our daily lives, but in many cases these tools have taken over the lives of teens.

Born into the digital age, today’s teens read more tweets and Facebook status updates than pages in a book. Kids are basically living their lives through social media instead of on the playground. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it certainly raises issues that are perhaps unfamiliar to the traditional teacher. The Social Media Futures’ Academy attempted to address those matters with discussions led by experts.

The session talked about the pros, cons and the future of social media. Students were encouraged to ask questions and share personal experiences. The presenters emphasized that students need to be cautious when posting because what someone posts is public.  If students do not carefully protect their online reputation then it can impact their college admissions process and job search down the road.

Eight schools attended the session, most from Durham and Wake counties. I thought that my interactive media classmates who organized the session did a terrific job and the entire event was a success.

Another session at the conference, the future of print publishing, mostly discussed books and reading habits. As Apple’s iPad, which surpassed iPhone sales in its first year, and Amazon’s Kindle become more popular, are people still buying traditional books? Bob Young of LuLu.com, a company that lets people self-publish and sell books and e-books, shared his insight on the future of publishing, discussing his efforts to connect authors with their readers.

Young compared “dead tree readers to iPad readers,” but emphasized the importance of the author in both categories. He centered on social standing and education being the main reason we read books and that that would never change. The difference now is that company’s like LuLu are trying to tie social media with books so that you can review a book and automatically your friends will see what you have read and what you thought about that book. It would add a new chapter into the book club concept.

One troublesome thought for the future of publishing would be integrated advertising. Imagine reading an electronic book and every 10 pages or every chapter a new advertisement would pop up. I think that would be really annoying, but it might happen some day..

Those are just a few highlights from a very interesting conference and an always-innovative field. It seems like every day I read a new article about a new gadget or new concept changing old media and it fascinates me. It is only every 50 or 60 years that we get to be a part of a brand new medium and right now we’re living through just that.

Be careful online, it can still be a scary place

The Internet is a great place. You can find almost anything you would ever need to know and that information is at your fingertips within seconds. Unfortunately, there are also some terrible aspects of the Internet, one of which we ran a story about over the weekend.

The crime brief ran on our Region front Sunday and was up on our Web site, TheTimesNews.com, by Saturday afternoon. The story involved a 59-year-old Raleigh man who was arrested and charged with sex offenses after he was found by police in a car with a 14-year-old Burlington girl that he met on the Internet. Authorities determined that the man was allegedly communicating with the girl in an online chat room, and then he drove from Raleigh to meet her in person.

Sadly, these kind of horrible crimes take place every day and we need to be more aware. I wouldn’t dare place any sort of blame during this difficult time, but in general, parents need to maintain caution when allowing their children to use the Internet.

I can remember my mother and father diligently checking in on me when I was a kid using the Internet. Back then it was the first year of AOL dialup, but I was still limited as to how long I could be on the computer and they constantly came in to see what I was doing on the Web. Most of the time, I was looking at sports Web sites and chatting with friends from school in chatrooms or on AOL instant messenger. Today’s children do the same thing.

As the Internet continues to grow in popularity and becomes more accessible, by lap top, Wi-Fi and even smart phone, we tend to focus on the positives and forget about the frightening things that occur online.

It is no surprise to anyone that there are bad people in the world and those same people are also online. It’s easier for these predators to hide online, too by creating anonymous profiles. This sort of behavior is disgusting and alarming. Luckily, local, state and federal law enforcement have stepped up their efforts to prevent these crimes from occurring.

I certainly don’t want to scare anyone away from using the Internet or encourage parents to deny Internet access to their children, I just simply ask that you take caution. Even though we use the Internet more today we should not let our guard down. It is even more important to monitor what you and your children do online as Global Positioning System applications continue to increase in popularity. There are all sorts of social networking sites out there designed for you to access on your mobile phone and then people can follow where you are based on your GPS location.

Sites like Twitter have launched a feature that lets people following you on the site know where you are at all times. So, if you’re asleep in your apartment or grocery shopping down the street, it shares that information. The Web site Foursquare operates completely on the GPS concept, encouraging you and your friends to explore new places and follow each other on the Web. In order to see people’s GPS locations on these sites you do need to accept people’s friendship requests, but many people don’t have much of a screening process when reviewing these requests. This is just asking for trouble if you ask me, but thousands, if not more, are using these features.

The bottom line is that we don’t know who is out there on the Internet, so we need to be protective while still accessing the good that the Internet offers us.

Free Wi-Fi downtown sounds like a good idea

Less than two months after sounding off on Google’s attempt to make one lucky city a hyper-speed Internet hot spot, the city of Burlington will pay for wireless Internet in its downtown area. The Wi-Fi will be free to those who visit downtown and is another step in an effort to try and get people downtown.

The free wireless Internet will cover a 15-block area downtown and seems like a good idea, but I’m not quite sold yet.

Since there is still almost nothing to do downtown, therefore no reason to go there, why would people need Wi-Fi in that area? The city council says it will allow people to connect while shopping and dining downtown. I question where they can do these things.

There aren’t many restaurants downtown, which would without a doubt be the easiest way to boost foot traffic to that section of town. So, is the city really going to spend all this money for Wi-Fi that will just be used by preexisting downtown businesses?

From what I can tell from the proposed Wi-Fi zone, which will be available in early June, the Times-News’ office is inside the area. We have our own wireless Internet available in our office building already, but using our office as an example, what would stop us from cancelling our service and using the Wi-Fi? We could save a lot of money in doing so, but obviously we will not because there would be some ethical issues with using the signal. Who is to say that some other smaller business might not do the same?

I see this as a possible incentive to get business to move downtown, but I don’t think free Internet is going to entice new business enough to get them to move to the area. In fact, I just see people and business that are already downtown using it. So, if you frequent the fewer than a dozen restaurants downtown then I am sure you are thrilled that you can now surf the Web on your laptop or mobile phone. But, if you’re like the majority of Burlington’s residents, then you might be questioning the $75,000 it costs to set up the Wi-Fi service.

This plan isn’t all question marks, though, because Wi-Fi will also be available in City Park which is a popular destination for people from all over the area. This is a great move for residents who will have free Internet access in the park even though the primary reason for having Wi-Fi is to create another hot spot for police to park and complete paperwork in their patrol cars.

I am a huge advocate for free Internet access, which is why I was a such a big supporter of Google’s community high-speed Internet project. There is so much information and knowledge out on the Web and I feel that everyone should have access to it. Having Internet in your home can be expensive and many can’t afford it, but many cities and towns across the country have begun providing it to their residents.

I am not against Wi-Fi in downtown Burlington by any means, I just question why other parts of the city shouldn’t get the same reward. In a perfect world, we would all be able to connect from anywhere, for free.

Inside the Tourney Central Project

As the Internet continues to become the dominant medium for news, it is becoming more and more necessary for media outlets to change their tactics for covering events online. Not only are news organizations emphasizing Web first journalism and breaking news coverage, but now they are covering entire events online using multiple platforms to reach their audiences.

This concept is a great opportunity to produce large amounts of revenue and boost online traffic while using different multimedia tools to cover a big event live on the Web. By using video, photos, text stories, mobile alerts and more, you can deliver countless options to the user and can also sell sponsorship advertising for each of the multimedia elements.

For the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, I built a Web site to cover the tournament through multiple platforms. The Web site serves as a model for online news coverage of a large event. The Web site served as a container for several multimedia elements and live coverage of the tournament. Below, I will outline the contents of the Web site, detail the coverage strategy and list statistics and revenue successes from the week of the tournament.

ACC basketball is extremely popular in North Carolina so I decided that covering the event online would be a great opportunity to give fans a ton of interactive content while increasing Web traffic for the Burlington Times-News, the newspaper I worked with for this project. I led a team of four Times-News employees in the online coverage of the ACC Tournament. Three sports reporters and one photographer helped contribute content to the project. The site required a lot of planning with the sports and advertising department at the Times-News and after obtaining credentials for the tournament I mapped out the Web site structure and layout.

The main elements of the Web site include a rotating section in the middle of the site, which contains a large photo and headline of the most recent story on the site. The section rotates between the six most recent stories from the tournament. Above the main section is a live update strip, which included in-game updates from each game during the tournament using a Twitter feed. I provided live updates courtside and they posted to the site immediately. These same updates also were included in a live chat section of the site where fans could interact with each other by posing questions, debating sports topics and more. This was especially popular at the beginning of the tournament during the week when people were logging on at work for live updates and to chat. The live chat generated over 1,600 page views and had 302 unique visitors.

In addition to live updates, the site contained video and photo galleries from every game of the tournament. Each photo gallery contained over a dozen photos from each game and generated 1,018 page views. Each video contained postgame interviews with players and coaches and included photos from the game. The videos accounted for 3,802 page views during the week of the tournament.

Other elements of the site included links to social networking pages on Twitter and Facebook for fans to keep up with the action on those platforms. Also, I sent out e-mail and text message alerts following each game. Final scores were sent via text message at the conclusion of each game and daily e-mail newsletters were sent at the end of each day to recap the day’s games and included links to related content. Close to 100 people signed up to receive mobile alerts throughout the week of the tournament.

Another interactive element of the ACC Tournament Website is the map, which includes basic information from each school in the tournament. The map shows the east coast of the United States and includes logos of each team located on the geographic location of each school. When you click the logo and information box pops up on the right detailing the team’s record this season, their leading scorer, their history in the tournament, a photo and the distance traveled to get to the tournament in Greensboro. The Web site also contains a bracket of the tournament, which was updated throughout, showing each team’s progression during the week.

Advertising is a key part of creating and maintaining a Web site like this. The ACC Tournament Web site contains a top banner advertisement, which was sold to Wings to Go, a local restaurant in Burlington for $3,000. Wings to Go also sponsored the ACC Tournament pick-em contest which I built for the Web site. The contest let users pick the winners of each game of the four-day tournament and the person who picked the most games correctly won a $25 gift certificate from Wings to Go.

Below the banner advertisement is a block of team logos which when clicked goes to each team’s section page. Each page contains the latest news, photos and video specific to the team chosen. So, if you are a North Carolina Tar Heels fan, you go to this page to get news and information about your favorite team. This section gives users another option to navigate through the site. They can click the top stories that rotate on the homepage or they can click the logos of the team they interested in reading about.

In order for the Web site to be successful, I had to let people know about it. I created a marketing plan at the beginning of the process that included print advertisements in the Times-News and a peel-back corner advertisement on TheTimesNews.com. When clicked, the online advertisement brought readers to the ACC Tournament Web site’s homepage and the position was used during the week of the tournament. The Times-News ran a print special section a few days before the tournament began and I created a print advertisement to go in that section as well which promoted coverage on the Website.

In addition to the advertisements, I created a rack card that was used during the week of the tournament. The card was displayed on Times-News newspaper racks across Alamance County. The card included the url of the ACC site. Outside of Alamance County, I marketed the site to other newspapers in the Freedom Communications chain. The Gaston Gazette, Shelby Star and Jacksonville Daily News linked to the Web site on their homepages during the tournament. They also used a lot of the content on the site in their print publications and on their own Web sites, so additional page views can be attributed to the shared content.

The Website contained preview stories in the days leading up to the tournament and once it began, stories from each game were posted throughout the week. In addition to live updates, a halftime story and photo were uploaded to the homepage and at the conclusion of every game, a new story was added with the final result. In order to keep up with the fast pace of the tournament, it required a lot of hard work by the staff members covering the event. Stories needed to be written in a fast and accurate manor. Photos and video needed to be edited and posted as fast as possible. This was a difficult task to accomplish because the next game started almost immediately following the one before it, which didn’t leave a lot of time to conduct interviews and update the Web site.

By providing all of the above-mentioned content, users had all the information they could have ever wanted from the tournament. They also could get it immediately. As Web sites become the most desired source for news content, news organizations needs to make sure they are making every effort to provide their readers with this information through a platform like the ACC Tournament Web site. Because there are many different avenues to produce and distribute content and because there are many ways for a user to retrieve that same content, news organizations need to make sure that all their bases are covered.

By creating a place that has many different multimedia elements and ways for users to interact, read and view content, a news organization can increase their Web traffic and online advertising revenue.

The ACC Tournament Web site was viewed by 3,377 unique visitors, which accounted for 12,401 page views during the week of the tournament. Through the Wings to Go sponsorship, $3,000 in new revenue was brought in with the opportunity for more in the future. This model calls for sponsorships from multiple businesses on multiple platforms. For example, more revenue can be brought in if we had sold sponsorship for the live updates or the mobile alerts. The videos could have been sold to a business and could have included pre-roll commercial advertisements. The top banner advertisement position could have also been sold to several businesses and could have rotated with each refresh of the page.

These are just examples of the opportunities that exist for covering a large event like the ACC Tournament. The first year of covering this event in this capacity provided a lot of incite into how it should be done. Certainly, there is an opportunity for other organizations to sell more advertising for a project like this and market it to a larger audience. This is certainly the way that news organizations need to move when covering events like this on the Web.

Google’s Internet project draws lots of attention

I logged on to Google on April Fool’s Day last week and was stunned to see “Topeka” plastered across the top of the popular search engine Web site.

At first, I thought it was an announcement declaring Topeka, Kansas as the winner of Google’s search for a city to wire with highspeed Internet, but it wasn’t. It was just another brilliant marketing scheme by one of the world’s most successful companies and Burlington doesn’t want anything to do with the online giant.

The April Fool’s prank was in response to Topeka changing the official name of its city to Google for the month of March in order to entice Google into selecting Topeka for its citywide Internet experiment. The name change came a few days before Burlington’s City Council decided to avoid the competition all together despite neighbors in Greensboro and Raleigh joining the quest.

A Raleigh city councilman actually offered up the naming rights to his unborn child to Google’s cofounders as incentive and while covering the ACC Tournament in Greensboro last month, a few t-shirts with “GoogleGreensboro” across the front caught my attention. The city is putting $10,000 into its marketing campaign because its leaders understand how b

I logged on to Google on April Fool’s Day last week and was stunned to see “Topeka” plastered across the top of the popular search engine Web site.

At first, I thought it was an announcement declaring Topeka, Kansas as the winner of Google’s search for a city to wire with highspeed Internet, but it wasn’t. It was just another brilliant marketing scheme by one of the world’s most successful companies and Burlington doesn’t want anything to do with the online giant.

The April Fool’s prank was in response to Topeka changing the official name of its city to Google for the month of March in order to entice Google into selecting Topeka for its citywide Internet experiment. The name change came a few days before Burlington’s City Council decided to avoid the competition all together despite neighbors in Greensboro and Raleigh joining the quest.

A Raleigh city councilman actually offered up the naming rights to his unborn child to Google’s cofounders as incentive and while covering the ACC Tournament in Greensboro last month, a few t-shirts with “GoogleGreensboro” across the front caught my attention. The city is putting $10,000 into its marketing campaign because its leaders understand how beneficial being chosen will be.

I seriously doubt that Burlington residents would have ever seen “Burlington” embedded on Google’s homepage. And you certainly couldn’t do a “Burlington search,” or log onto your “Burlmail” account or look for pictures on “Burlington Images.” If you “Burlington’ed” instead of Googled my name, you probably would come up empty. It all sounds silly right? Well, not really.

With all the silly pranks aside, being selected for Google’s Internet experiment will create jobs and spur all sorts of innovation that will draw national attention. Google wants to build a super-high-speed broadband network for an entire community. In doing so, Google wants to see what happens when everyone in a community has access to affordable Internet that will be 100 times faster than what most use today.

I think it will do great things for the winning city, like improve local health care, enhance learning environments for children. It would boost the local economy by enticing new business to come to town for the one-of-a-kind Internet service.

Burlington’s opposition is understandable. In order to compete with other cities it will cost money, which clearly isn’t available. Hundreds of other cities are competing and the odds are slim that Burlington would have won. But, it couldn’t have hurt to try and bring new jobs and new technology to the area. It also would have been nice if the city council had taken a survey of residents to see if people and businesses were interested, but they didn’t. I think that, in reality, they were unfamiliar with Google’s success and business strategy.

This can be used as a lesson that Burlington needs to adapt and catch up to other cities around the country when it comes to technology and the Internet. Being a part of the interactive media world is a necessity in today’s marketplace and if Burlington doesn’t catch up, it will be on the outside looking in.

Online editor Alex Kreitman can be reached at akreitman@thetimesnews.com. You can also read his sports blog  at alexkreitman.freedomblogging.com.

Private people make the Internet a strange place

In Chapter 9 of the “The Future of the Internet and how to stop it,” author, Jonathan Zittrain talks about Internet privacy. At the beginning of the chapter he refers to copyright and online privacy, which I think is becoming a concern.

During a recent project for one of my law classes, we had to produce a short introductory video for an upcoming panel on campus. In the video we used several still images that we got through a Web site

ACC Tournament Web site

This is a test of the ACC Tournament blog.

The Web can be a cruel world

You never know what someone is going to say about you or your business on the Internet. Because so many sites allow user feedback, reviews and commenting, the conversation becomes globally massive.

I know on our news Web sites, TheTimesNews.com, the discussion gets heated real quick. People say almost anything and do everything in their power to bypass our filtration system which is designed to filter out cursing and inappropriate dialogue. If people want to say something, they will find a way.

Online commentors write slanderous comments, accuse people of things that are simply untrue, but they don’t care. Because most online opinions are voiced anonymously, it makes it easy for a user to say what is really on their mind and difficult to find out the truth.

If someone writes about a local politician having an affair with his secretary, it might be false, but it is sure to stir something up among local government officials and certainly in the politicians family.

If someone doesn’t like a product or has a bad experience at a store or restaurant, they can write about it online. Their negative experience might be the only one, but if they blow it up and plaster it all over the Internet, it can be misleading to the rest of the audience.

I think that any sort of commenting or rating system online should not be anonymous. I think we should be able to see who is writing. Obviously it is near impossible to filter out people who will make up aliases online to deceive the public, but it’s worth a try.

Google advertising platform takes the cake

I definitely enjoyed reading the book “Googled,” because of its in depth look behind the scenes of one of the most successful companies in history.

From the bottom up, Google fascinates me. I learned so much about the unique and innovative company in the book that I didn’t know before, thus making Google much more appealing to me than it already was. I use Google a lot, probably over 20 searches a day, if not more. I have a gmail account I use religiously and I have become a recent lover of Google Docs.

The founders of Google, Sergey and Larry, built a great search engine. It was and is the best. Then they added a whole lot of other great products to their arsenal. But they needed to make money, facing pressure from those that funded the project. Instead of joining other search engines and implementing paid search to boost your results towards the top of the search list, Google waited. The founders didn’t want to discredit the search by skewing the results to make money. By waiting, they developed the current Adwords platform which is genius.

In this case, waiting was smart. They waited until they found a platform that fit their product. As a result of waiting, Google has made a lot of money and is extremely profitable.

I would like to see news organizations take this same approach. There is a panic mode going on about how to make money online in the news industry. Some are making drastic changes and implementing untested platforms that are risky. They feel they need to make money and have to make it now.

Maybe by waiting it out, they can continue to build a great product online and then the advertising would come a little easier. I think that by increasing audience, page views and overall Web traffic it will improve the chances to sell more and better advertising on those sites. I think in the current form, news organizations haven’t converted enough people to those sites and haven’t marketed those site good enough to entice the advertiser to put their money into it. Just a thought.

Be patient. I think that by waiting just a little longer before slapping up a pay wall and charging for online content, it will allow news sites to grow and in the end make money a lot easier. Similar to Google’s position, it has to fit the product and serve the users.

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