Problems

Adapting to New Solutions

This past week Cory Bergman wrote an interesting article for Poynter on how journalism will be disrupted by mobile – “the second tidal wave of change” after the Internet. He posits that “news organizations must adopt a ‘mobile first’ mindset” but are mistakenly relying on a “mobile, too” approach.

Track180′s own Editor-in-Chief Ken Sands wrote a piece that takes a look at the history of medium change that the industry has faced. In it he cites a blog post by Jay Rosen whose words reflect the pitfalls implicit in Mr. Bergman’s article, stating that the “original sin” of news organizations in transitioning to the digital format was “re-purposing the old platform’s material” to fit it.

A failure to adapt, or even worse, fighting against this “tidal wave”, will drastically hurt this industry’s ability to be of value to the public. As Ken points out:

“It took a decade before it was universally accepted that news on the web is best when it’s created specifically for that platform.”

With the speed at which technology is moving taking time to come around is not an option. More importantly these new mediums do not have to be a threat to a news organization’s way of business, but rather can greatly enhance it.

In his article Mr. Bergman keenly states “news needs to solve problems.” This tenet is the root of any business and will defy all change so long as it is allowed to. It should always be the driving force. In the case of the news industry this means informing people in the best possible way. Right now mobile creates a great opportunity to do just that, perhaps even the best possible way.

I just hope for the benefit of the rest of us journalists come to the same conclusion.

The Anthropocene: Welcome to Our Epoch

Very cool video from a collaboration between Elementa Science and melodysheep about the new age we are all entering, whether we want to our not.

Made popular by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, the term “Anthropocene” refers to the current (unofficial) geological epoch where human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. In an IGBP newsletter Crutzen, along with Eugene Stoermer (who coined the term), wrote:

To develop a world-wide accepted strategy leading to sustainability of ecosystems against human induced stresses will be one of the great future tasks of mankind.

Joseph Stromberg and Paul Voosen have also both written extensively on further defining the term and its global implications for the future. To get a better idea of what those might be check out this interesting video mapping the history of the Anthropocene commissioned by the international Planet Under Pressure conference.

Regardless of how you define it, there’s no doubt that mankind is a formidable force of nature.

The issue now is what are WE going to do about it?

By |February 13th, 2013|Problems|0 Comments

The Problem With Single Source News

The image taken and posted by James Fallows in his article Why I Get More Than One Newspaper perfectly encapsulates why I started Track180.

In these three conflicting headlines lies the DNA for our app. In these three varying perspectives lies the coordinates to arrive at the truth. I could not agree more with Mr. Fallows – single source news is simply not enough. You need more than just one headline to get the full picture. It is the aim of Track180 to make this happen.

Of course since its first inception Track180 has grown larger in scope than this key concept, but what this image reminds me of is why a tool for tracking these views is needed more than ever.

The Truth: It’s Somewhere in the Middle But How Do We Get There?

“It’s complicated” isn’t just a cute way to list your relationship status on Facebook, it is actually a way to describe something much more important – the truth.

The truth is important. We all can agree on that. If your best friend suddenly packs their bags and moves to Guam, of course you want to know the truth as to why they left. You, other friends and your best friend’s loved ones will all have different perspectives on what happened. You will all share different encounters of what happened from your unique perspective, and somewhere in the middle of all those stories will be the truth.

I’m belaboring the point and burying my lead here, but what I’m getting at is the complicated process of settling on the truth. Arriving at it has always been difficult. And today, the process of figuring out the truth is more complicated than it has ever been. We are overwhelmed with traditional news, blogs, social media and a multitude of different perspectives everywhere we turn. And when all put together we are left with a confusing, and often misleading, mess of reality. This problem bothers me to no end. It keeps me up at night. How can we de-complicate news consumption?

I think it’s safe to say we have a long way to go in order to answer that question. In the meantime, I’d like to point you all to Mathew Ingram’s GigaOM story, “Journalism and the truth: More complicated than it has ever been before.”

This is a good article examining the influence traditional media has had in defining the truth up until now, positing that the new norm is something far more complicated, and a whole lot more accurate, than it ever was before. In brief, Mathew Ingram insightfully shows how now more than ever not only journalists, but we, the public, are the gatekeepers of the facts.

The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The question is: what is the easiest way for us to get there?

By |December 3rd, 2012|Problems|0 Comments

The Science of Political Polarization

How do we know what we know?

Simple enough question but one whose answer could change how people interact, and hopefully eliminate the polarizing affects of bis.

When we listen mostly to people who already agree with us, our pre-existing convictions get fortified, and we start to think that those who disagree with us are evil, dumb or duped. Is it any wonder that our politics are highly polarized, so much so that it sometimes seems as if Democrats and Republicans don’t merely disagree but live in unfathomably different universes? – Bloomberg

This article starts a good discussion on the ways we can build a healthier political environment and obtain a better understanding of what motivates us to act.

By |September 4th, 2012|Problems|0 Comments

Hospital Inquiry Finds Unnecessary Cardia Work On Patients

Maybe this is the reason our healthcare system is so expensive.

HCA, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States with 163 facilities, had uncovered evidence as far back as 2002 and as recently as late 2010 showing that some cardiologists at several of its hospitals in Florida were unable to justify many of the procedures they were performing. Those hospitals included the Cedars Medical Center in Miami, which the company no longer owns, and the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. In some cases, the doctors made misleading statements in medical records that made it appear the procedures were necessary, according to internal reports. – NY Times

By |August 7th, 2012|Problems|0 Comments

The News Without Transparency

We were promised more transparency in government…

Despite President Obama’s 2009 executive privilege requiring agencies to err on the side of disclosure when processing Freedom of Information Act requests, the Drug Enforcement Agency exempted a record number of FOIA requests in 2011 in nearly every category. – Reason.com

DEA FOIA rejections have increased 114% since the end of Bush administration. – Sunlight Foundation

…seems like we are getting anything but.

‘Lost Boys’ Peril Returns In Sudan

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More suffering for the children of the Sudan as a new generation of Lost Boys and Girls are fleeing civil war in an African country that has been plagued with a violent history and is supposed to be following a peace agreement. Cast out by their parents who fear for their safety, these homeless children roam the country trying to avoid violent militias and the dangerous natural conditions of their land with the hopes of surviving the ongoing battle around them.

Jeffrey Gettlean’s piece “New Wave of ‘Lost Boys’ Flee Sudan’s Lingering War” in the New York Times investigates this distressing story. Reading the accounts of these children gives a clear picture of the sadness that has been forced upon them.

We don’t talk about our parents anymore. Even if we go back, we won’t find anybody.

What will the world do to help these children?

‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ Moment During Reporting Of Obamacare Ruling

Media giants still can get it totally wrong, even with today’s technology.

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Moments after the ruling was released by the court, several media outlets – including CNN and Fox News – erroneously reported on-air that the mandate had been struck down. – Yahoo! News

How Do You Tell When the News is Biased?

Hint: Look in the mirror.

The amount of bias in news seems to be directly proportional to the amount of bias in ourselves.

…the hostile media effect suggests we’re not as smart as we think we are. We might like to think of ourselves as impartial judges of credibility and fairness, but the evidence says otherwise. Liberals and conservatives can (and often do) believe the same news report is biased against both their views; they aren’t both right. - Nieman Journalism