M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Posts Tagged ‘internet

Can you scientifically quantify social media opinion?

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Over at NBCNews.com, we’ve started publishing daily charts tracking what people are saying about the presidential and vice presidential candidates on Twitter and Facebook. Here’s today’s for the weekend (click here for the full-size version):

Full social media chart Aug 26 2012

In my analysis, I write:

In recent weeks, Obama has generally led Romney by two to seven percentage points in national polls, which carefully select their samples to reflect Americans most engaged in the election and registered to vote.

The picture is different among Americans who have gone online to talk about the election, however — NBCPolitics.com’s analysis indicates that that narrower but more diverse sample of the country prefers Romney by 36 percent to 32 percent overall and by 51 percent to 49 percent when they’re compared head to head:

'Intent to vote' sentiment Aug 26 2012

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Nope, I haven’t changed jobs, or: Welcome to NBCNews.com

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But my employer changed names:

NBC News has acquired full control of msnbc.com and its digital network from Microsoft Corp. and is immediately rebranding the site as NBCNews.com.

Many details of the arrangement remain to be worked out, and financial terms weren’t disclosed.

But NBC News President Steve Capus said the site — one of the news industry’s earliest and most successful online operations — would become part of NBC News Digital, a new division led by Vivian Schiller, the former president and chief executive of National Public Radio. Schiller joined NBC News as chief digital officer last year.

Full story (M. Alex Johnson/NBCNews.com)

Written by Alex

July 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm

‘Alternative story telling’? No — just telling the story

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Sometimes reporting, editing and producing a breaking news story can be frustrating, because two new developments land on your doorstep before the last one has made it through the production process.

That’s what happened when a gunman entered a real estate office in Valparaiso, Ind., today and took about 10 hostages.  So in parallel with writing msnbc.com’s running main story, which you can read here, I also set up a Storify stream, immediately publishing news, images and local reaction as they came in. By the end of the day, it was a lively, largely unintermediated narrative of the entire drama as it unfolded:

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Written by Alex

May 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Surprise! People are sophisticated

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Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET: Over at msnbc.com, I have a piece looking at how people have followed the Trayvon Martin case online. This is one of the projects we’re doing with Crimson Hexagon’s Forsight social media tools, which are explained in this post.

Although you might get the impression from news coverage of the case that the American public wants George Zimmerman’s head on a stake, what the American public has been saying on Twitter and Facebook and in online forums is much more nuanced.

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The challenge of being a young journalist

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I envy the newly minted journalists entering our profession today. The tools at their disposal are so much more powerful that they were when I broke in 28 years ago at The Macon Telegraph in Georgia, which were: A notepad. And a pen.

But there’s one thing I wouldn’t trade from that era for all the avenues open to today’s younger journalists: the privilege of learning my craft in relative obscurity.

At The Telegraph, the circulation was a shade under 50,000. That was about the largest number of people I could reach. Today’s young journalist can immediately reach an audience that encompasses anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

That must be terrifying.

I’m reminded of this by the outrage that greeted the publication of a headline on ESPN.com over the weekend. It used an ethnic slur on a story about the New York Knicks’ out-of-nowhere star, Jeremy Lin, the first American-born player of Chinese descent to play in the NBA.

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Written by Alex

February 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Human editors matter, or: Pat Buchanan, call your lawyers!

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Google likes to generate a “quote of the day” atop some of its news searches. It doesn’t always work out well.

Because I was doing a story that involved Adolf Hitler, I of course did a news search for “hitler” to see who else might be reporting the story. This is what I got:

Written by Alex

February 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Hack or no hack?

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Over at msnbc.com, I’m tracking the attack on the CIA’s website, allegedly by Anonymous.

There’s an interesting language issue here. Several major news organizations are reporting that Anonymous “hacked” the CIA. Maybe; maybe not. The CIA isn’t commenting.

Initially, it appeared that a straightforward DDoS flood knocked out cia.gov. That’s not a “hack,” which implies some sort of infiltration of the host or its servers. It’s an attack from outside.

(You can read the Wikipedia definition for DDoS here.)

As of this writing, the site has been down more than four hours, which is an unusually long time for a robust agency to recover from a DDoS attack. That raises the possibility that the site remains down for some other reason. It could be some other kind of penetrating operation, which you could call a hack. Or it could yet have been a DDoS assault, and the CIA may be keeping the site down while it investigates and scrubs it for security holes. Not a hack.

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Written by Alex

February 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

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