A Hard Week

With finals and the end of the semester approaching, the weeks are getting longer and harder, but this one was especially difficult.

I heard about the Boston Bombings on Monday, April 15 while studying in the Student Center. A TV nearby had the news on, and I noticed a crowd start to congregate around it. I watched too, for several minutes, before going straight to Twitter. I wanted to know the whole story, and the TV anchor wasn’t giving me details fast enough. I had two screens going for a while as I learned more and more about the national crisis. I was definitely following @BostonGlobe’s tweets along with my usual @nytimes, @cnnbrk, and @CNN. The tweets kept me updated in between classes and swim practice and I really appreciated the fast and simple access. One night this week, I also briefly watched CBS news coverage of the “manhunt” with my roommate. That was the first time I saw a lot of video of it all. I had seen some photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo, but the video struck me in a new way. I heard the gunshots and the police tapes. It’s interesting how different types of media can present the same news but have a different impact.

Later in the week, I also learned by word of mouth about the explosion in West, TX. Like the Boston Bombing, I mostly only had time to check Twitter and some other social media outlets to get information.

On a happier note, I want to point out some journalists who really know how to handle crises like these:


It’s been a rough week on Planet Earth… hang in there folks!


Live Blogging: Plagiarism & Ethics Lecture

The Attendance Clicker Question of the Day is: Britain’s first female Prime Minister died this week at 87, who is she? Answer: Margaret Thatcher! Most people got it right.

Alright, now we’re getting into it. Motto of the day: The ethical standard you apply to your work is your responsibility.

We’re talking about plagiarism, people. And this is serious stuff. The mood has stiffened and Steve’s tone has dropped.

We’ve been told not to plagiarize over and over throughout our lives, but there’s also a more abstract concept pertaining to plagiarism you might not know about. You have a certain right to your own ideas called your “intellectual property” which belongs to you and it is plagiarism if someone uses them illegally.

Key rule: If you’re not sure, DON’T!!!! (in huge red letters)

Good advice: When in doubt, ask your editor.

If caught plagiarizing at Mizzou, you could be expelled very easily and it can ruin your reputation as a journalist.

Did you know music and video clips have strict limits on how much you can use in work of your own? It is important to demonstrate “fair use” and always obey copyright.

Plagiarism can also come in the form of made up a story or sources. Guys, it’s so not worth it. People WILL find out. Don’t give into competitive pressure! A grade or a job is not worth plagiarizing someone else’s material to meet a deadline or enhance you work.

No one is paying attention.

They probably should be… I bet a good handful will plagiarize on their final project and not even realize it.

Copying information from the internet: It may be copyright-protected and the information may very well be wrong. Do your own research!

Did you know Mizzou checks for plagiarism? If this lecture hasn’t scared you into never plagiarizing yet, maybe knowing there’s a program called Safe Assign under “tools” in Blackboard will? Many teachers use it; I know I’ve had a few assignments run through it (successfully).

So we’re going to take a poll with our clickers: How many of us have used Safe Assign in a class?

This is an exceptionally interactive lecture. He did not tell us the results…

So many Facebook screens…

Every publication can do unethical things:

National Review altered a cover photo and changed the words on signs, which caused quite a reaction among readers who figured it out. The cover signs say “ABORTION” but the real signs read “FORWARD.” The lesson from this is the public will call you out on your credibility & it will hurt the legitimacy of the publication in the future.

abortion               forward

I’m not sure why they thought they would get away with this… There are so many people who are in the picture and who were at the event that could vouch for the original.


Even National Geographic has been known to have altered photos. In the cover to the right, they squeezed two pyramids together so they would both fit on the vertical layout and create a more compelling image.

I get it, plagiarizing is bad, but I’m not sure this “everybody does it” spiel is the best way to sell it to us… I guess they’re trying to show the severity of the consequences but…

When you do plagiarize, an apology is in order. Check this out from NPR.

Aaaand there goes the first cell phone ring of the lecture. Steve looks pissed.

More examples show that once you get caught plagiarizing for a publication, it often becomes national news and you aren’t remembered for much more after that.

Award winning wildlife photographer Terje Helieso was outed for a bunch of fraud animal photos composed of stolen images, which caused him a lot of embarrassment:

“If I was the only one to suffer for my actions, it would have been fine, but there is also my family and friends and my fans. I’ve made a fool of myself, basically, and I’m going to have to live it down,” Helieso told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet

Now I need to go on a little rant here. I have the same reaction to notable journalists who are later exposed for plagiarizing or manipulating their work as I do for famously decorated athletes who are later outed for abusing steroids during their career. It’s sad, disappointing, and it makes me angry. These are talented people who somehow fall into this jeopardizing act. I think the worst part is being misled as an innocent reader or fan, sometimes for years. It’s a betrayal that makes us question society and the integrity of anything we thought we knew. I’m done.

Just some more DON’TS to keep in mind: Don’t add sources that don’t exist. Don’t alter a picture on content or tone. Don’t edit a video or audio to change the meaning of someone’s words.

Photoshop can tempt you… Don’t give in!

LA Times

Steve asks, “Do you think this is a real picture?”

Hmmmm I’m not a Photoshop expert, but given the subject of the lecture so far… I’m gonna say probably not!

I’m right. At the LA Times, a reporter altered two different photos and combined them to get the image he wanted. Someone noticed duplicated people in the final image and he was caught.

Yes, it might make a better picture, but it tells a story that isn’t true and ultimately, it cost him his job and LA Times’ credibility.

The Sacramento Bee” is another example of two morphed photos that got someone fired.

Not all altered pictures are so blatant. There can be altered colors or lighting.

To avoid manipulating photos unethically, what you want to do is correct for what the EYE saw first. Bring it back to what you saw when you took the photo. Enhancing color here and there is one thing, but when you start changing colors completely, you cross a line.

“Is this real?”firefighter

All of my money on no.

The photo of the firefighter silhouette at right was taken by Patrick Schneider of The Charlotte Observer. Schneider enhanced the color of the sky to give the sun more of a halo and but the sky was originally brownish grey – completely different! He was fired after the photo was busted when it was entered into a contest.

World Press Photos is a worldwide contest that is actually ok with altered photos, but a publication probably won’t be ok with that kind of manipulation. They sure look nice on the web, but if you tried to print it, all of the editing would look like mud. It’s beautiful, but it’s not real.


“What do you think is wrong with this one?”

Hmmm is it manipulation? Am I close?

Lance Armstrong got a little amped up about Outside Magazine photoshoping numbers on his plain t-shirt and tweeted about it.

Yeah you know what else is bullshit, Lance? Doping, lying, and a few other things, but that’s another blog for another time.

double lightning

What are the chances of capturing the moment of lightning striking twice? Very slim, indeed.

“Is this real?”

But WAIT, it’s actually a REAL PHOTOGRAPH! Whoa, you got me there, Steve. Very tricky. Apparently, with evidence of 4 second exposure and videos confirming the incident, the photo proved to be bonafide.

dead santa

There’s also the issue of user generated content. It is a challenge that news organizations face because while they are sometimes funny, they’re still manipulated, so they have to be careful when using them.

So kids, don’t plagiarize, because you WILL get caught and DIE. Don’t plagiarize content from the internet, don’t plagiarize in your stories or photos, just don’t do it. Okay, promise? Okay.

Now on to a new segment: Would You Run These Pictures?


“Would you run this?”

The photographer of this photo later committed suicide because he was so distraught that he didn’t help the girl.

Distance is sometimes a determining indicator of ethics in whether or not to run a controversial photo. If it happened closer, the answer is typically no, but the further away the photo was taken from the publication, the more “ethical” it is to publish.

Fun Fact: In foreign countries, photographers try to work together because it’s safer. But it may look bad when you have many people taking the same photo of a tragedy.

“Would you run this?” The second photo caused a bit of a debate for the first.

dead girl 1
dead girl 2

The last photo we are looking at today is a unidentifiable man falling to his death during the attacks of 9/11. The Columbia Tribune debated whether to run the photo. At the time, Steve had argued they should run it. His reasoning is that no one knows who it is, it is not disturbingly graphic, and it illustrates a huge choice he had to make – to burn or jump. He thought readers needed to see it and it was almost “poetic.”

“Would you run this?”

falling man

Thanks for ruining my day, Steve. As if the genocide/anti-abortion expo on Lowry Mall today wasn’t disturbing enough…

On that note, HAPPY MONDAY!

More famous altered photographs that fooled us and photo tampering throughout history.

22 Things Happy People Do Differently

Happiness is a way of life, not a destination!


This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to address those with clinical depression or other mental illnesses.

happinessThere are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a person living in the slums of a third world country could be happy and content. I have spent plenty of time amongst both groups to have seen it first hand. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do…

View original post 1,119 more words

Tweet Your Autobiography

A few weeks ago, a Twitter challenge was held asking people to tweet their autobiography using the hashtag #140mystory. It’s a shame I only heard about it after it was over, because it would’ve been fun to try! I love the irony of writing an autobiography in only 140 characters or less. Coincidentally, the winner of the twitter contest was a Columbia author by the name of Steven Wise. The challenge was created by Irish author Frank Delaney as a way to engage the readers of his blog. I explored the hashtag and there were many different and creative approaches, but Steven chose a compelling metaphor.

The winning tweet:

Maybe I should host a Twitter competition for my 5 readers?…

Interactive Journalism

In lecture we learned some new tools for interactive journalism that will help enhance online stories. We learned how to embed maps, timelines, and other interactive graphics to visually upgrade content.

This is a simple interactive map I made via Google Maps:

Liza’s Favorite Places on Campus

Embedding visuals, especially Google Maps, is an easy but worthwhile skill and can add just the right amount of context to stories.

Strat Comm

Professer Mark Swanson came to our lecture today to talk to us about Strategic Communication at the Missouri School of Journalism. He described advertising as a unique form of art: the art of persuasion.

“Advertising is a mixture of art, commerce, and persuasion.” – Mark Swanson

As the Bob Dylan lyric goes:

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won

Advertisements tell stories about a brand, inform, educate, and motivate people to take action. Swanson also described advertising as truth well told. The goal should be to be truthful in an interesting and persuasive way.

Advertising also uses many different techniques such as testimonials, endorsement with a celebrity, creation of characters, and piggybacking off of trends.

Sometimes people have a negative opinion of advertising and view it as misleading, destructive to self-esteem or bad for society. However, done ethically and in the right way, advertising can be a great way to market a product and for customers to discover them.

CoMo Snow

Photo by Kit Doyle/Columbia Tribune

Well, here I am sitting around in my apartment again. It’s the third snow day for Mizzou in two weeks which is pretty impressive for both the state of Missouri to whip up these winter storms and the university to cancel classes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, just a little in awe.

The Columbia Missourian has asked locals to “Help share pictures of what it looks like where you are by tweeting with the hashtag #CoMoSnow or emailing Be sure to include your location.” They have a live feed of incoming tweets and pictures of all around snowy Columbia.

Cars are blocked again, streets are in need of more plowing, branches are broken, and some people are without power due to last night’s storm.

The Mizzou Alumni Association, @MizzouAllumni, tweeted, “Nobody could tweet about #CoMoSnow when @Mizzou closed due to winter weather in 1978, so here’s a throwback photo!” and included this picture:


Today marks the ninth snow day in Mizzou’s history. These last three snow days, which have been unofficially nicknamed “Thundersnow,” mark the third time severe weather has shut down the university in the past decade.

According to Mizzou Wire, the campus closed Dec. 1, 2006, following a 20-inch snowfall and Jan. 31 – Feb. 3, 2011, during the blizzard known as “Snowpocalypse” that pounded the Midwest.

Mizzou Alumni’s MIZZOU Magazine published the history of the campus’s closings up to last year, not including “Thundersnow”:

MU campus closings:

  1. 1949 Winter semester start delayed by President Frederick Middlebush (source: Missouri Alumnus)
  2. 1978 Classes cancelled on Feb. 13 due to 12 inches of snow (source: Savitar)
  3. 1995 Classes cancelled on Jan. 19 due to 19.7 inches of snow (source: Savitar)
  4. 1998 Winter semester start delayed one day, from Jan. 12 to Jan. 13, due to an ice storm (source: Savitar and MU News Bureau)
  5. 2006 Classes cancelled on Dec. 1 due to 14 inches of snow (source: Savitar and MU News Bureau)
  6. 2011 Full campus closure from 4 p.m. Jan. 31 to 4 a.m. Feb. 4. due to 17.7 inches of snow according to the National Weather Service (source: MIZZOU magazine)

Here’s a photo of Jesse today:

jesse topPhoto by Ryan Henriksen/Columbia Tribune

Visual Thinking

It’s more than point and shoot. Knowing where to be and when to be there is crucial in capturing the best storytelling images. Once you’re there, you also need to know how to position yourself and the camera and how to work with the elements around you. You have to see it; the camera is just a tool.

If visual storytelling had a hierarchy, the base of the pyramid would be the 5 W’s:

  1. When
  2. Where
  3. Who
  4. What
  5. Why

The visual must explain Who is in it, What is happening, When and Where, and Why is it happening or what is important about the image.

Next is picture/video quality, the capacity to communicate and execute graphical qualities. This includes lighting and composition among other things. This photo by National Geographic demonstrates how lighting can have a strong effect. Here it creates contrast between the fish and the swimmers while highlighting their resemblance to each other.


Composition is the orderly arrangement of visual element within frame of a photograph or visual. The golden ration, the rule of thirds, and layering come into play with composition.

Emotion and intimacy would make up the tip of the hierarchal pyramid. It’s what photographers and videographers strive to achieve in each image they capture. It’s what makes an excellent image stand out from the good ones.

Take a look at this picture of Will & Kate. What makes it a great shot? Not the prestigious couple, but the emotion in the little girl’s face in reaction to the couple.


To capture emotion and intimacy also takes great timing. That’s the amazing thing about photos – their ability to capture a single moment in time. Henri Cartier-Bresson call this “the decisive moment.”


“The decisive moment, it is the
simultaneous recognition, in a fraction
of a second, of the significance of an
event as well as the precise organization
of forms which gives that event
its proper expression.”

-Henri Cartier-Bresson

Marketing and Media Convergence

In the constant aim to appeal to customers and audiences, brands are becoming media, and media are behaving as marketers. This is known as “content marketing.”

Magnetic Content Studios defines it as this:

“The process of creating and advertising information or creative materials that are timely, relevant, and valuable and that fulfill a clearly defined audience’s need, in support of an organization’s overall strategic marketing objectives.”

– David Germano, Magnetic Content Studios

Convergence is necessary because media consumption is shifting in terms of where people are getting their news and entertainment. We now have smartphones and tablets that are doing what once only newspapers, computers, and televisions could do. Audiences are also asserting more control over distribution of content with DVRs allowing them to choose what to watch and when and barriers for the average joe are falling in term of who can publish what online – practically anyone!

On the marketers as media side, P&G is an example of content marketing success. Check out their P&G Thank You Mom campaign that ran through the 2012 Olympics. It’s the biggest campaign in P&G’s nearly 175-year history.

Marc Pritchard, P&G Global Marketing and Brand Building Officer, said, “At P&G we know that getting to the Olympic Games begins at childhood and that on each of these athletes’ journeys to London 2012, there was one person cheering for them louder than anyone…their moms. P&G is in the business of helping moms, not just moms of Olympians, all moms, all around the world. So we’re using our voice at the Olympic Games to thank moms everywhere.”

P&G is marketing their products indirectly be aiming at their target audience, MOMS, and simply thanking them. In this way, companies are strategically selling their products by first selling their company.

Similarly, Degree deodorant created a website, The Adrenalist, targeting adventure-seeking men not directly to market their product, but appeal to their interests.

This means that companies are reaching our to customers in more strategic ways than ever before. Content is evolving, and therefore blending the roles of journalism and marketing in creating and sharing content.