Author Archives: emily.vanschmus

Video streaming app changing journalism

by Emily VanSchmus

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With technology changing every day, journalists are constantly finding new ways to enhance their reporting. One of these new technological inventions is the app Periscope, an app that allows the user to live stream video online.

As the Periscope website describes the app, “A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.” Learn more about the app and how to download and use it here.

Periscope has most recently come to the public’s attention because it is being used to show the public exactly just what is going on in Baltimore.

Paul Lewis, reporter for the Guardian, reported from the streets of Baltimore with the app, letting the public see the rioting and destruction for themselves. The video can be seen on the Guardian’s website.

The media has faced controversy in the last week or so because consumers claim the reporters only show the rioters, rather than the peaceful protests that have also been going on. This criticism has led to people wondering if they aren’t getting the whole story. We, the readers, are not there to witness the actual events – we rely on the media to give us the story.

Do you see Periscope as a way for reporters to be lazy and just film, rather than report, or do you see this as a way for the media to become more transparent?

We talked a lot in class about what makes a reporter different from the average “citizen reporter.” Do you see technology like Periscope eliminating the need for online reporters since anyone can stream video through the app?

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Should the video of Walter Scott’s murder have been posted online?

Posted by Emily VanSchmus

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On Tuesday, April 7, Walter Scott was pulled over in North Charleston, South Carolina for a broken tail light. Half an hour later, he was dead.

Scott was shot eight times by North Charleston Michael T. Slager and remained facedown on the ground without any medical attention for several minutes before he was pronounced dead. The video of his death was posted online by The New York Times later that evening.

Slager was charged with murder that evening, although he claimed Scott had stolen his taser and he feared for his life. The video shows the officer picking up what could be a taser from a few yards away and placing it near Scott’s body.

The question at hand is whether the video should have been posted on the internet. On one hand, it shows a human losing their life, which can be insensitive to family and friends as well as hard to watch. On the other hand, there was so confusion around the recent Ferguson shooting because no one actually knew what happened. A video like this could stop the public from speculating and let them see what actually happened.

I stumbled across the article late Tuesday night after it popped up on my ‘suggested news’ section on Facebook. I wanted to read the article, so I opened the page on the Times website. I saw a video at the top of the page, and it had been a long day, so I figured I could just watch the newscast about the event rather than reading a long article.

Immediately, my screen showed a young black man running from a police officer as the officer shot him several times. I was shocked – I had not planned to watch a man die right in front of me and didn’t feel that I was well informed about what the video would actually show. I wondered if the Times would remove the video or change the way it was presented, but as of 5:00 Wednesday evening they had not.

Poynter published an article Wednesday morning stating that posting the video was justified. It was also released that the bystander who filmed the incident gave the video footage to Scott’s family, who gave it to their lawyer, who then gave it to the Times.

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SNL pokes fun at ISIS

“50 Shades” leading lady Dakota Johnson hosted “Saturday Night Live” last week. She starred in a skit that has been almost as controversial as “50 Shades” itself.

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Johnson’s skit, a spoof based on the Super Bowl’s Toyota commercial, portrays her leaving her teary-eyed father in the car as she leaves to join ISIS. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of leaving to join the Army, Dakota Johnson gets out of the car to join the gun-wielding men of the terrorist group. After an emotional car ride, the father asks if she needs help with her bags. At 1:02, she says, “Dad, it’s just ISIS.”

Here is the skit.

I can’t tell you if the video was funny or not; you’ll have to decide for yourself. What I can tell you is the internet went ballistic after this.

Flurries of tweets and posts overflowed newsfeeds, even before the episode was over. Many people tweeted that ISIS is nothing to joke about, saying they turned off the television before the episode was even over. Most of the coverage of this situation portrays the negative opinions.

However, there were others who posted that ISIS should be mocked.

Actor Taran Killam tweeted ‘Proud of this.” 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson responded by saying he appreciates comedy that pushes the boundaries. He suggested that SNL come up with a skit that mocked transgender bathrooms (in response to this bill, proposed by Kentucky’s Senator Embry in January). He went on to say that even a joke mocking something as ridiculous as the proposed bill would never happen.

“You will never, ever see that. Why? Because it’s just too far. There actually is a line, it’s just a different line than most of us perceive,” he said. Read more about his thoughts from The Independent.

Everyone seems to agree that there IS a line, but no one can seem to decide exactly where it is. My question, then, is do you think it’s possible to have a line, or is it really just a judgement call? And if it is a judgement call, what would you have said about running this skit on SNL?