Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

CBC reporters offer tips to cut through the media spin

December 4, 2009

The best way for someone to sense they are being spun is to listen for jargon or trigger words repeated over and over, says a reporter for the CBC.

With the seemingly never ending barrage of news stories popping up in the media related to politics, citizens are constantly exposed to political spin. Most politicans have become masters of trying to influence the behaviour of voters.

How can a regualr person see through the spin tactics of politicians and make an informed decision?

Political reporter Bendan Elliott said if someone keeps going back to or repeating the same message using different words, then this person is more than likely trying to spin you into hearing their version of the story.

“Also, regular news observers should listen to whether a question is actually being answered. If a journalist asks a question, and the person does everything except answer the question, then there’s a good chance that person is spinning.”

a It is hard for the average person to counter this spin, he said.

“The only suggestion would be for the person to continue asking their question until they feel satisfied that their question has been answered.”

CBC producer Donna Allen, said people should stop and ask themselves a few

questions,when considering whether or not they have been spun.

“Does this sound likely, reasonable, does it pass the smell test? What aren’t they telling me? Why is this person saying what they are saying? Might there be an ulterior motive? Does this person seem credible to me?”

Gaming journalists explain the process of reporting on their favorite past time

December 4, 2009

Sega producer Ethan Einhorn showing the platform of some of his most recent work, the iPhone. Conway photo

Electronic Gaming Monthly had a frat house like atmosphere, with plenty of late nights and crazy humour. Contributors would throw ninja stars at cardboard standees of their favourite characters and were always up for some bowling in the hallway.

Just ask Ethan Einhorn.

He is now a Digital Media Producer for one of the biggest video game developers in the world, but would you believe his career in the gaming industry began as a freelance editor for EGM?

It was an incredibly fun place to learn.

“I was actually working at a local television  station because I was a film major and one of the guys I was working with saw that I had a poster for EGM in my house. He told me that he used to work for the company as an archivist. He kept in touch with those guys and asked if I could talk with them because they had an opening.”

It seemed as though everything was falling into place for Einhorn. It did, but not in the way he expected.

“Turns out, I didn’t get the opening, but I did get a freelance gig that I took very seriously.”

He devoted a year to getting as many opportunites as possible to write for the magazine. Eventually, his hard work paid off with a full time position.

He didn’t have journalism training but rather his focus in college was on screen writing.

“I was furiously reading video game magazines at the time, so I really understood the language of game editors and how to clearly communicate with readers.

“That kind of knowledge was critical, because when you are given the chance to do freelance work, they are looking very carefully at your writing style and if  it matches the expectations of the magazine you will get more jobs. If it doesn’t, you will not.”

The process was challenging to get the hang of at first, but as time progressed it became easier to master, he said.

“Eventually I could do quickly and easily reviews that would take me a much longer time to compose when I started out.

“Didn’t get paid much. I had to take a second job at a game store to be able to support myself, but it was well worth it. Working full time for the magazine was certainly a livable wage, but it took me a year to get it.”

Even though people have the conception that working at a game magazine is all about fun and games, there is actually a lot of effort put into every issue, Einhorn said.

“Most people think when you’re an editor at a gaming magazine you’re just sitting around playing games all day. The reality is you’re taking the games home with you so you can play them there. The time spent in the office is entirely spent on editorial. Getting information from developers, deciding what the news stories and layout are going to be.

“It is a tremendous amount of work, but there are few things more gratifying than going somewhere out of state, going into the Walgreens and picking up a magazine that has your words in it.”

Over the past few years, gaming journalism has expanded beyond the format of print magazines. With the growing popularity of the Internet, video game journalists can now report the news as it happens on various websites.

Destin Legarie of Screwattck.com, is the host of the site’s news show, Hard News.

He may not consider himself a journalist, but he does his fair share of reporting. For each story on Hard News, Legarie said he browes the web, going over countless different websites looking for the best stories of the day.

“Once I find three, I’ll run with them after reading the articles I have found and those articles sources etc.”

Sometimes he’ll get news tips from viewers and investigate those as much as possible before running those stories, he said

“Looking up the person’s name, the facts they’ve given me, etc. Aside from those methods, we do get a lot of the same press releases that all the gaming blogs get and occasionally I will use information  from those.”

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UPEI blogger provides media a helping hand

December 2, 2009

Reporters need to come up with at least two new story ideas each day and a UPEI blog was created to help them, says the man who writes it.

Dave Atkinson created the blog as a public relations tool to give exposure to the scientific community of UPEI. Atkinson, a former CBC reporter, said he knows the pressure reporters face in coming up with new ideas.  He made the comment at a news conference Nov. 10 at UPEI.

He decided to link the university’s need for exposure and the media’s need for stories.

The blog provides reporters with information on the school’s science work and puts it in away they can understand.

To get the full story, Atkinson interviews those who do the research. Researchers often use scientic terms during the interview and it is his job to find out what it really means, he said.

“The best way to unravel jargon is to let them do it themselves. Everyone is human at their core, no matter how convoluted they seem.”

The best way to get them to give you the story is to put them at ease, he said.

“People will give you a great story if you give them the chance.”

His job is to take the research information provided to him by the science staff and translate the jargon to make an interesting story, he said.

“I make the researchers interesting characters in a story that people can understand and I then provide the information to journalists.”

He used the spread of chytrid fungus in Island ponds as an example. The fungus has been linked to the extinction of many species of frogs around the world. Researchers from UPEI tested ponds across the province to see how many frogs had the fungus.

“Sometimes the university will not give a press release and only post it on the blog. But there have been some stories that are so big that it wouldn’t be fair not to give it to everyone. The research that was done about the effects of the chytrid fungus on Island frogs is a good example of that,” he said.

Atkinson also provided some advice about with those in public relations.

“You also have to be careful when dealing with them because they could be a former journalist. A lot of journalists have gone into public relations and they know how to spin the story.”

Maria Forzan also spoke at the news conference. She talked about her research regarding the chytrid fungus and a parasite which has been killing songbirds on the Island.

Her research team monitors the life spans of different species of wildlife, Forzan said

“We do general surveillance to monitor wildlife mortality which we believe to be abnormal.”

Forzan has discovered song birds may catch the parasite from the food people feed them and the chytrid fungus may be triggered by warm temperatures.UPEI Research Communications Officer, Dave Atkinson. Conway photo