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One Final Picture

14 Dec

After spending all semester talking about the rising popularity of Web 2.0 and the various ways in which its tools can be integrated into everyday life, I found this magazine cover that I spotted funny enough to share. The day in age has come where there are entire publications devoted to even what appear to be the simplest of skills!

 

 

Podcast Assignment: Jose Reyes Leaves the Mets

5 Dec

I have included a three-minute podcast on Major League Baseball’s Jose Reyes deciding today to leave the New York Mets and sign with the Miami Marlins. The discussion is between me and my friend, lifelong Mets fan Stuart Johnson. The audio was recorded using Audacity and then uploaded onto Sound Cloud, where I was able to directly copy and paste the link to this blog’s page.

 

 

How to Podcast

30 Nov

While most of us have definitely heard about podcasting and understand the basic idea behind one, I would guess that very few of us have ever created or even thought about starting our own. Sure, we have strong opinions and original ideas about our various hobbies or favorite shows, but wouldn´t the process behind creating one be both time consuming and confusing? The answer is surprisingly, no! Creating and editing one´s own podcast takes both little effort and limited technical skill (and can even be done for free). For example, from the moment one sits down to talk about the previous night´s episode of Entourage with a friend, the audio file is only minutes away from being able to be uploaded to potentially millions of listeners and subscribers! Here is a helpful video that guides through the relatively easy steps involved in creating and uploading a podcast to a worldwide audience on iTunes:

Pretty easy, right? In-class discussion on Monday focused on a variety of programs available online to all for free that guide users through the entire process of creating, editing, and uploading. Examples included Sound Cloud, Blip.TV, and Podomatic, which also showcase podcasts covering a wide range of topics.  

 

Podcasting: The Audible Revolution

23 Nov

Podcasts have been an effective and easy way to share audible content ever since their inception in the mid-2000s. The basic advantage of podcasts are simple: they are PORTABLE! Users can listen to what they want, when they want it, and where they want to. Having to plan part of a day around being at a certain place at a specific time to catch a half-hour show when it airs is a thing of the past. Want to listen to the New York Times audio version show from that same morning on your evening flight from Barcelona to Paris? You got it. Podcasting has been so popular and widespread because of how easy it is for all. Almost everyone I know has an iPod and enjoys keeping up with the news, or has a favorite television show, or possesses some sort of interest in a radio program. The combination of the two has become simple: podcasts. Podcasts represent the shift from a push medium to a pull medium: the audience has never had so much control over media content.

In my personal experience, it is equally as simple to create a podcast. Back in 2007, my friend and I recorded ourselves talking on a weekly basis about our favorite baseball team, the New York Mets. Granted, I have forgotten the details of how it was uploaded, but within minutes, we had our content available for all to enjoy (or most likely, ignore) on iTunes. Yes, the same iTunes visited daily by millions of users worldwide. It was astoundingly simple for us to record ourselves in a New York City kitchen and potentially be heard only minutes later by some lone Mets fan riding the bus on the way to work in Taiwan.

Marketing and Advertising 2.0

16 Nov

In class on Monday, discussion focused on corporate blogs and how best to market and advertise a business through the tools of Web 2.0. One of the most effective and growing ways to communicate with customers and successfully advertise a business is by corporate blogging, in which one or more authors write as an official or semi-official worker or partner of the enterprise. Blogs can be beneficial to consumers by offering discounts, deals, and updates about existing or upcoming products. For a corporation, a well-written blog can work to promote customer relations or to generate mass publicity about certain products or the company as a whole.

I noticed an especially successful form of marketing through Web 2.0 while spending this past weekend visiting friends in Edinburgh. In order to find a dinner place, I used my trusty favorite website, TripAdvisor. The #1 rated place on the site for the city of Edinburgh was the Indian restaurant Kismot, which had over 330 reviews, an uncharacteristically high number for a relatively small city. After EACH one of these user reviews was a personal reply back from a member of the family-owned Kismot employees, who often cited specific examples from each diner´s experience to complement his reply. For example, the self-proclaimed ¨not so skinny brother ;-)¨ writes back long paragraphs thanking people for such things as  “allowing him to recommend a dish (Methi)” and for “asking my dad to take out the onions from the curry for you guys”. Mentions of superb customer service and personalized care accounts for a large portion of the TripAdvisor reviews left by diners of the restaurant. The owners of Kismot are well aware of their popularity on TripAdvisor, as one of the brothers was sure to ask me where I heard about the restaurant and encouraging me to share my opinions online.

A large percentage of Kismot´s clientele also come curious about the Kismot Killer, described as the World´s Spiciest Curry. Each year, there is a challenge for people to finish generous helpings of the curry, with prizes going out to the very few who are able. The competition even sends people to the hospital, which is advertised all over the internet, almost even more often than actual reviews of the restaurant.

Kismot is a perfect example of a business that has flourished as a direct result of their usage of Web 2.0 tools to advertise. Even seemingly negative press such as sending people to the hospital has worked in their favor, as they have been able to generate both excitement and curiosity about their restaurant. Like voters in political elections, restaurant consumers want to experience a personal connection, and Kismot has clearly figured out how to combine these modern and ever-growing forms of communication to provide this experience.

Multimedia Project: Harrods Food Hall

14 Nov

This past weekend, I traveled to London with my girlfriend to visit some of our friends and some of my family members that live in the city. Our touring brought us to the world-famous Harrods Department Store (the computer does not even spell-check ‘Harrods’ anymore because of the popularity of the brand), an entire day long journey itself. Marissa described many of our adventures through the clothing sections of the six-floor megastore in her multimedia project post on her blog about style and fashion.

We soon realized, however, that there is a lot more to Harrods than simply designer clothes and shoes. The store’s recently opened Fine Watch Room houses the largest collection of watches in Europe, with 13 individual brand boutiques containing some 35 watch brands. Additionally, we stumbled across my personal favorite section of the department store, the Food Hall. Harrods is home to some of London’s finest gourmet foods, containing a vast number of fine eateries such as The Georgian Restaurant on the fourth floor and the world-renowned Ladurée Parisian luxury tea room and macaroons on the ground floor. Other dining options include wood-oven pizza at the Pizzeria on the second floor, described by my resident cousin only as “godly,” and the East Dulwich Deli, home to some of London’s most popular and nutritious salads and juices.

My main focus, however, will be on the various choices available on the first level food hall. Harrods Food Hall is currently in the running to be awarded a prestigious Luxist Award in the Best Gourmet Food/Food Hall category. Originally founded in 1834 by Charles Henry Harrod as a single room selling groceries as well as perfumes and stationary items, Harrods has blossomed into a ‘luxury food court’ of sorts, selling a variety of gourmet goods as well as containing various ‘easy eatery’ options aimed at providing a quick yet high-quality lunch. I took a number of pictures and videos aimed at documenting both the quality and busyness of this unique section of Harrods.

A brief tour of the Food Hall facilities proved to be quite overwhelming. My first stop in the court was my admitted favorite of sushi, at the über popular Sushi Bar. I took the picture on the left showing the circular bar packed with people clustering around the stools to wait their turn to sample some of the ‘selection that rivals any to be found in Tokyo or beyond,’ according to the eatery’s website. While I did not sample any of the fish myself, I could tell from my sushi eating experience, well documented on this blog, that the selection of fish was both fresh and diverse. I was able to talk with one of the sushi chefs for a minute (Note: Several Harrods employees refused to be recorded on camera when asked, citing store policy). He mentioned that sushi in London, as in many Western cities around the world, is skyrocketing in popularity and as a result, the sushi bar is one of Harrods’ most frequented eateries.


My next stop in the Food Hall was Harrods’ newest restaurant, Xin (there is no official link on Harrods website, so I have included some TripAdvisor reviews), which is the department store’s take on dim sum. As the picture I took shows, this eatery was also full, with diners sitting on chairs in a horseshoe shape surrounding waiters running out of the kitchen with piping hot dumplings.

 

One of the most popular areas in the Food Hall appeared to be the Caviar House Seafood Bar. The seafood bar offers up several marine favorites, as well as more expensive options such as caviar and lobster, accompanied by champagne. Much like the sushi bar and dim sum restaurant, seating at the Caviar House seafood bar was informal and laid back, despite the surrounding hectic atmosphere. Shoppers and diners continuously streamed in and out by the hundreds. It is interesting to note that the location of the restaurants I have mentioned is intertwined with the gourmet food shops on the ground level.

There are a plethora of gourmet food options available on the ground floor Food Hall of Harrods. See a video I took below for a quick peek into the bustling Food Hall, beginning with the area containing the Dim Sum and Sushi Bar restaurants, and then entering into the room with a variety of gourmet food options.

As you can see in the video, Harrods Food Hall has already begun their annual Christmas decoration campaign in their food section, decorating the area with a number of wreaths and lights aimed at highlighting some of their ‘Christmas’ time foods. I continued my video taking at a different area in the gourmet foods room, taking shots of both the butchery and rotisserie, selling some of the ‘most popular and definitely the tastiest cuts of meat in London’ according to the man working behind the counter of the latter establishment. Also in this section of the store is the fish market, selling a vast selection of freshly caught sea creatures.

One of the unique and fascinating things about Harrods is that, as advertised, it is a store that has everything. Putting aside the largest selection of fine clothing, footwear, watches, and accessories that the store houses for both men and women, the Food Hall is special because of its incredible variety and quality. There are restaurants offering different cuisines and various levels of extravagance and formality, as well as countless options to buy for the home. I cannot think of a comparison in the United States that has the quality of sit-down eateries and take-away gourmet goods under one roof. The brand of Harrods transcends the store’s physical boundaries, as well, as I counted hundreds of the dark green plastic bags that the store has become synonymous with throughout the city during my stay. Even as I took a whisky tour in Edinburgh, Scotland on Monday, the world’s largest collection of whisky contained three bottles of ‘Harrods’ Whisky’! 
While I was repeatedly rejected in my requests for brief interviews with employees of Harrods, I was able to talk with my American friend studying in London for the semester about his knowledge of the Harrods Food Hall. He offered some quick thoughts on the matter:

Radio in Spain vs U.S

9 Nov

Following this week´s trip to a radio station in Barcelona, I have been thinking about the main differences I have noticed between the way radio is thought of in Spain and in the United States.  I cannot remember the last time I turned on the radio at home in New York to listen to a program. With everyone in New York having basic cable television, let alone some of the complex additional packages that are on the market today (think: 800+ channels with constant programming), there is simply not much need to even own a radio at home. The only time I can recall recently listening to radio is while driving, and this too is a downward-spiraling trend with the invention of iPod connecting car software. Why listen to a ´hits´station that is filled with a TON of advertisements and a constant repetition of songs when you can listen to any song you want at any time you want?

A main difference I have noticed between the two countries´use of radio is with sports. I have discussed in my Sport + Culture class about how FC Barcelona games often finish sometime around midnight. Immediately upon their completion, tens of thousands of listeners will tune in to various radio programs committed to recapping and dissecting the completed game. These programs continue into the wee hours of the morning! I cannot think of anyone in the United States listening to their radio at 2 am about a game that they just saw themselves on television. In fact, the most popular radio sports talk show in New York, Mike Francesa, is now offered live on television because people prefer to have a picture to see. Viewers would rather sit on their couch and watch a sitting man talk into a microphone than even entertain the idea of having no picture to associate with the words. In Spain, sport has a very distinct culture, present in a lot of different mediums, as evidenced by the publication of multiple daily sports newspapers, non-existent in American culture.

Stations like Catalunya Radio show that radio in Spain is more than a mere supplement to everyday life. It can be, and often is, the main provider of citizens´news, sports, and entertainment awareness. Sure, there are local news radio stations in New York that are popular, such as 1010 Wins, but similar to the sports programming, there is lots of repetition (the same announcements every 20 minutes or so), and advertisements. The only times in New York that I have heard people relying on such a station as their primary source for news is in taxi cabs…