Google It. Every Time.

Have you ever needed to verify something and turned to the Internet? Did you turn to Google? I bet you did! Google has become a behemoth of a resource for all of us, from citizens to journalists and even government officials. We all Google all the time.

Simply put: Google has singlehandedly transformed the way we collect and verify information.

Google has figured out how to utilize its wealth of tools to verify and provide information that can best illustrate the world around us. We use Google’s search engine to look for universal results yielding all kind of data.

Whether looking to verify a business or person, you might not realize that by searching for that name you are utilizing features of Google+. As Neil Walker says in this article, when someone verifies their information on the Google+ platform “the result is potential social interaction with your audience on a local scale as well as the side benefit of potentially appearing in the local listings within the Universal search results as well as on maps and even the carousel.

Google Earth is one of my favorite tools to use every day. I just love being able to see what the world around me looks like and the distance in between places. However, Google Earth is especially useful for journalists because it allows them to verify whether or not images and videos are in fact from a particular place and event. The way that this is done is through visiting the area on Google Earth and looking for topographical elements such as buildings (especially landmarks), signs, structures, and geographic elements like mountains or rivers. Here is a video tutorial on using Google Earth like a pro, check it out!

italianquakeAn example of using Google Earth for photo verification purposes can be found in one of my previous blog posts on an Italian earthquake. Here, there are before and after images of the town of Amatrice.

Step 1: Locate Amatrice Italy

Step 2: Locate area of clock tower

Step 3: Identify architectural elements

Step 4: Compare images

If you look at the images like this one above, you can see that the local landmarks such as the clock tower are no longer standing but that the elements surrounding where it should have been still match.

Photo verified.

Thanks again, Google!

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Florida: More than the Punchline State

If you recently took the quiz “What Part of Florida Should You Life In?” then you might have been suggested a wonderful part of Florida to suit your unique personality. The beauty of Florida is that it is a melting pot of all kinds of people and places- and there is a place for every kind of person.

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Whether you live in Central Florida, the Panhandle, South Florida, or Southwest Florida, rest assured you are well represented in the national news. Here in Florida, we celebrate weird from all over. No matter where you hail from in the Punchline State, no place is safe from headlines. Being from Southwest Florida, I like to think that I’m safe from the Central Florida alligator and Walmart madness. Nope! It even gets weird where I’m from- a woman was caught having intercourse with her dogs. In Tampa, 34-year-old man Jarvis Carlton Sutton wanted Kool-Aid, hamburgers, and weed, and he wanted police to bring them to him.

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Another instance of bizarre Florida antics takes us to North Florida where Karen Henry, 45, Daytona, threatened her 80-year-old father with a large kitchen knife when he said she could not eat his potato salad. If that kind of crazy isn’t strange enough, don’t worry, St. Augustine offers the story of Charles Tucker Jr., 33,who died in his girlfriend’s cat door. He attempted to sneak in the house while she was away and got stuck in the cat door, she arrived home to find him dead in the cat door. It’s probably safe to say the cat didn’t get inside that weekend.

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Florida has been recently hailed by some as the “Punchline State” and they aren’t too far off. Florida’s weird news now has its own designated blogs and news sites. In fact, it’s more than that. The state is now a Jeopardy! feature. There are so many bizarre Florida headlines that the state warrants its own news pages—and even its own Jeopardy! category. Click here to watch a segment of “Weird Florida Man” Jeopardy!

One of the Jeopardy! questions surprisingly stumped contestants. After all, with all the retirees and snowbirds, Bingo makes for some interest SouthPark skits, why wouldn’t it make for the perfect answer to the Jeopardy! question, “Florida Man slashes 88-year-old woman’s tires with ice pick for sitting in his seat during this five-letter game.”

In case you can’t wait to find out what other strange things have happened in Florida, you don’t have to wait for the next headline—Buzzfeed has curated 101 of the strangest things to happen in Florida.

*Face palm*. Welcome to the land of the free… roaming strange and insane.

Paperboys, Printing Presses, and Digital Giants

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(Image: Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

“Contribution” is an interesting word choice when you think of how Facebook “contributes” to news. To me, Facebook feels like it “is” the news because it is now so deeply engrained in how we send and receive information and messages. However, in taking a step back to see how Facebook contributes to the news generally, we can really see that it’s part of a gigantic world of media.

Facebook is like a newspaper all its own, with news from various reporters, media outlets, and users. I think of it as a big paper like the New York Times. It receives freelance articles, staff and contributor articles, op-eds, and newswire articles. It’s a melting pot of news. Being a digital platform, Facebook is already ahead of so many newspapers in the area of digital media as has a native group of users who participate online. The users are there, it just needs the news. Newspapers have the news, they need the digital readership.

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Image Source: Creative Commons

Over the next five years, I see Facebook as being a major vehicle for newspapers to stay alive. Even though there are so many different newspapers and magazines online which share their content on Facebook, they tend to carve out their niche and a loyal readership. Rather than fight to make it on a website alone, newspapers can use Facebook as a way to engage and build these relationships so that the paper’s websites can thrive through Facebook Instant Articles. Users are already on Facebook, they just need their news delivered to them. In a way, Facebook is the new “paper boy”. In this sense, I think that traditional news publishers don’t lose control when they harness the power of their loyal readership.

I also see Facebook as a change agent. I believe that this digital paperboy is also like the paper boy selling papers in a town square yelling, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! President Obama signs new healthcare bill! Police violence escalating in Chicago!” This is the essence of the snackable nature of Facebook and I believe it leads to greater awareness about what is happening in our world.

Facebook, to me, is the digital printing press, the newsfeed is the digital paperboy giving us our news and yelling about headlines trying to get us to read more and learn more about our world. It’s not the end of newspapers and paperboys, it’s the reinventing of the process and streamlining of information and technology. Whether or not Mark Zuckerburg has too much power is not too different of a question when we consider the empires that particular news organizations and publishing houses have come to be over the years. It’s a season of change and it’s time to turn a new leaf. Before we had print, radio, and television powerhouses—now we have digital giants.

LIVE (Streaming): Hurricane Updates

With the launch of Facebook Live, we have seen a number of organizations and individuals get on board the live streaming trend. Facebook Live provides the ability for anyone to lives stream video similar to Periscope and Meerkat, video-streaming platforms which allow for questions to be sent in real-time to the user created the video.

With Hurricane Season upon us here in Florida, we need to be sure to monitor the progress of storms and understand the potential impact of each named storm and even depressions. I had wanted to see how various news organizations cover weather conditions so I searched Facebook for various pages related to weather or news generally. Some of these included The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, NOAA, NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center, the New York Times, and CNN. The only three that actually used live streaming to cover weather were The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, and CNN.

Approach

These three organizations took a similar approach to live streaming. CNN was reporting live during Hurricane Hermine so the live stream took on more of a traditional live broadcast approach. The presenter, Mark, gave the current status of the situation and interviewed local kids. The Florida Storms channel really approached its live streaming as a different type of broadcast and did a great job approaching it as a different news forum. Both The Weather Channel and Florida Storms approached the live streaming as an ability to interact with online users.

You can view the live streams here:

https://www.facebook.com/FloridaStorms/videos (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)

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https://www.facebook.com/TheWeatherChannel/videos/vb.118071565920/10154664668635921/?type=2&theater (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)

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https://www.facebook.com/cnn/videos  (Videos for Hurricane Hermine)

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Value

The value in live streaming weather forecasts related to storms is that it allows for users from all over to engage with the presenters and ask questions. This is critical because safety measures and understanding can mean life or death in such emergency situations. Where a topic can be complex and leave laymen with questions, live streaming is able to help so that these questions can be answered. There is also value in reporting live from a storm because it provides a real time picture of how people are being affected and what people are saying and thinking at the scene of the storm.

Techniques for Interacting

Florida Storms and The Weather Channel took questions from users while live streaming. This was likely an attainable technique because the presenters were situated in the newsroom. The Florida Storms live stream was very interactive, with presenters taking questions and actively forming their broadcast around questions and even doodling on the map to better illustrate answers to the questions they were receiving about Hurricane Matthew. The Weather Channel took questions and incorporated answers into their live streaming newscast of Hurricane Hermine. CNN did not utilize any comments for interacting, instead the presenter interacted with people in his immediate surroundings just as in a traditional live broadcast.

Suggestions for Improvement

I would suggest that CNN use comments for interacting with the viewing audience. It would add another level of interaction if users could have posed questions for Mark to ask the local children. Sometimes outsiders are better able to come up with interview questions because they are not in the moment of reporting. I do not have any suggestions for Florida Storms. I thought they the organization did a great job of live streaming.

Thoughts

Overall, each type of presentation has its own value and perspective. As someone who is interested in the path of the storm, I thought that the Florida Storms broadcast exhibited the most value. However, I think that there are many users who will greatly enjoy the CNN broadcast live from the storm as people like to see live action and what is truly going on and affecting people. It is important to note that these live streams featured different storms so it is possible that each channel might use live stream to show the path and projections of the storm as well as live coverage as Hurricane Matthew gets closer to making landfall here in the US.

QUIZ: What Part of Florida Should You Live In?

We all know that Florida is the melting pot of the South.

In fact, it’s hardly a part of “The South”. Certain parts of Florida might as well be other countries while others leave you wondering where the beach is.

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This wonderful state features people from all walks of life and personalities. Florida proudly and prominently features lifting bros, college sports junkies, club goers, beach bums, backwoods-headline-making-folks, athletes, and so many other unique individuals.

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Fear not, dear friends! There is a home for you somewhere in Florida and I have created the quiz for you to find out where you belong!

Whether you work hard and play harder, need time relaxing at the beach, or enjoy life’s simple pleasures, rest assured you can find your spot here in the Sunshine State.

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Facebook: Video Feed or Newsfeed?

Videos are viewed 8 billion times a day on Facebook, up from 1 billion video views per day in 2015, according to Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Fortune reported an average of 100 million hours of Facebook videos being watched on mobile devices.

 

Facebook is using video as a way to increase revenue through emphasizing the medium and allowing publishers to monetize videos. In allowing users and publishers to post branded content, Facebook is opening itself up for more marketing opportunities.

 

Industry trends are showing a decrease in text each year while there is an increase in visual content like photos and videos. If all things continue, Facebook officials believe that your newsfeed may be almost entirely comprised of videos within five years. Although I disagree that it will be entirely video, I do believe that our newsfeeds will be largely filled with visual content of both images and videos. This is because there are costs associated with video production in both financial and skillset aspects. Videos also take more time to produce and require editing to be short enough in length and of good enough quality that users will engage with them. Users who are interested in content can then click on the video or image source links to find out more information. However, videos will become increasingly popular as they serve to provide news in easy-to-digest portions with essential information.

 

Not all videos in our newsfeeds will be news. In fact, much of our newsfeed content is fun, adorable, funny, or just plain interesting. The below video of baby elephants acting like lapdogs received almost 2.98 million engagements when shared by the Huffington Post. A New York Magazine video entitled “Body Paint Animal Art” received an astounding 2.71 million engagements and was closely followed by another Huffington Post video, this one on cats getting brain freezes. These videos were the top performers provided by publishers on Facebook between March 1 and June 27, 2016.

Facebook: Video Feed or Newsfeed?

Videos are viewed 8 billion times a day on Facebook, up from 1 billion video views per day in 2015, according to Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Fortune reported an average of 100 million hours of Facebook videos being watched on mobile devices. This begs the question, is your Facebook truly a ‘newsfeed’ or is it a social feed and soon-to-be ‘visual feed’ or ‘video feed”?

Facebook is using video as a way to increase revenue through emphasizing the medium and allowing publishers to monetize videos. In allowing users and publishers to post branded content, Facebook is opening itself up for more marketing opportunities.

Industry trends are showing a decrease in text each year while there is an increase in visual content like photos and videos. If all things continue, Facebook officials believe that your newsfeed may be almost entirely comprised of videos within five years. Although I disagree that it will be entirely video, I do believe that our newsfeeds will be largely filled with visual content of both images and videos. This is because there are costs associated with video production in both financial and skillset aspects. Videos also take more time to produce and require editing to be short enough in length and of good enough quality that users will engage with them. Users who are interested in content can then click on the video or image source links to find out more information. However, videos will become increasingly popular as they serve to provide news in easy-to-digest portions with essential information.

Not all videos in our newsfeeds will be news. In fact, much of our newsfeed content is fun, adorable, funny, or just plain interesting. This video of baby elephants acting like lapdogs received almost 2.98 million engagements when shared by the Huffington Post. A New York Magazine video entitled “Body Paint Animal Art” received an astounding 2.71 million engagements and was closely followed by another Huffington Post video, this one on cats getting brain freezes. These videos were the top performers provided by publishers on Facebook between March 1 and June 27, 2016.

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Photo: Huffington Post

Did you notice that these were videos that are fun? Did you notice they are lighthearted? Would you say that they are comedic relied? A little laughter and a little “awww” goes a long way in today’s stressful society, and in making social media “social” and fun.

This New York Magazine video on video game exercising received only 182k engagements during that same time. Was it fun? Yes. Did it make me laugh or say “aww”? No. Did I want to send it to my friends? Not particularly. Another video, this one from AJ+ on Australia returning land to its aboriginals, received 196k views. Although it is interesting and cool to know, it isn’t something I necessarily want to share with friends.

It seems to me, we as a society are becoming more social and more inclined to connect online. Therefore, the videos we engage with and love are those that we want to share with our friends and family. These are the videos that are topics you might share over coffee or dinner, things you might take a photo of yourself. If I had a baby elephant in my lap you bet I would take a photo and send it to everyone I know. I can’t say I would say the same about video game exercise.