Tag Archives: Television

Al Jazeera America bets on an American audience for serious journalism

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I’m watching the launch of Al Jazeera America here in DC, on Channel 107*. (No HD in this media market, from what I can tell.) It’s the biggest launch in broadcast media since Fox News, in 1996, and in media since Politico, in 2007.

Goodbye Current TV, hello Al Jazeera America.

It remains to be seen whether Americans will tune into to a 24-hour news channel that is, like Brian Stelter notes in his piece on Al Jazeera America’s approach to the news, something akin to a journalism professor’s dream, with 14 hours of news daily, documentaries and an aspiration to cover all of the U.S.A. Andrew Beaujon wrote a good primer on the Al Jazeera America launch over at Poynter, from its hiring to its talent to the big question about whether people want straight news.

At launch, I’m optimistic about Al Jazeera America’s programming, at least based upon my experience appearing on Al Jazeera English this winter. From data mining the U.S. election to covering the debates online, I met bright, professional journalists who demonstrated humor, integrity, a commitment to high standards, both technically and editorially, and a willingness to experiment with the incredible new tools that now exist for newsgathering and publishing.

I’ve long since accepted, however, that I may be an outlier in some ways. There are no shortage of Americans who watch and criticize media in 2013. Given 8 hours/day of television and the ease of a tweet or a Facebook update about what we’re watching, we’re all amateur media critics now. The fraction of that viewership who will shift their habits and tune into another channel for this kind of serious journalism isn’t something we know yet.

The modern information diet includes a huge amount of infotainment, advertorial, sports, reality TV and partisan opinion shows. When the ratings come in for Al Jazeera America, six months from now, we’ll have more of a sense of whether there is an audience for this kind of approach and programming, and what that says about us as a people.

I’ll be watching.

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Homer Simpson’s brain runs on Macintosh System 6

On Sunday, I flipped over from Iron Chef America‘s “Super chef battle” to find that Homer Simpson‘s brain is a Macintosh. And an old Mac, at that.

Homer Simpson's Brain runs Macintosh System 6

Homer Simpson

If I’m right, my geeky friends will analyze the screenshot and confirm that my guess that Homer is running Macintosh System 6 is correct.

The writers of the Simpsons may have altered some icons to avoid a notice from the litigious legal department at Apple but to this geek’s eyes, that looks like a Mac, circa late-80s.

Who else would call it a “Finder?”

Not Apple, in fact.

If you look at the screen shot of System 6 below, via Wikipedia, you’ll see that there’s no “Finder,” just the Apple symbol on the top left.

The OS above, however, is more similar to System 6 than the more rounded icons in the GUI that Apple introduced in System 7, along with a host of other improvements.

Given that the Simpsons debuted in 1989, System 6 would have been the OS in use at the time.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all, given the glorious geekiness of those writers, if Homer’s brain hadn’t been upgraded since.

Thursdays With Abe” is free to watch online now, for as long as Hulu makes it available.

Skip to the 9 minute mark for the key bit.

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MSM using social media tools at the National Press Club

I went to the Washington, D.C. Social Media Club‘s fall kickoff meeting tonight, which featured a terrific panel on Mainstream Media Using Social Media Tools. The moderator,  Jeff Mascott of Adfero, facilitated an excellent discussion with three journalists from traditional print publications:

I livestreamed the event through the digiphile channel at livestream.com. I couldn’t get the video from livestream to embed below correctly, so you’ll need to watch the session on demand at livestream.com. I wish I’d had a better mic and found a seat in the middle for a closer view. That said, the Social Media Club recorded a high quality version of the panel that will be available soon, so you won’t have to rely on my artifacted stream and low sound levels. Nota Bene: forward ahead to 6:30 or so, when the panel actually begins!

My insights for the night?

Challenges for the @Washingtonian include retaining a traditional editorial “voice” online and yet adding some  irreverance and snark on social media platforms. Apparently, the editors want stories to be published in print first and then the  Web second. That may be a  tough balance to strike.

Social media “enables me to compete with NFL and ESPN,” said @Cindyboren of the @WashingtonPost. Twitter levels the playing field for her.

The toughest challenge for  for @RickDunham? Time management, given the need to keep up with updating the Houston Chronicle’ digital outposts and the conversations . Community moderation is unending and necessary.

Rick also made a fascinating point about #journalism ethics and #socialmedia: keeping ideological balance with subscriptions to fan pages for politicians on Facebook is important in the digital age to maintain balance. Reporters need to follow everyone on their beat.

I asked a question about sourcing, as you’ll see if you watch the video. The panel provided good answers. Both @cindyboren and @rickdunham apply classic standards of #journalism to confirm the truth of statements, usually by calling people or  “@’ing the source.” Pick up that phone!

Rick also made a fascinating observation: the Chronicle is  realizing real adverstising revenue by livestreaming confirmation hearings and Congressional town halls to interested readers. Er, viewers.  By carrying such news events on their websites, newspapers have become in effect independent Internet TV stations. Hello, convergence.

As an aside, I learned Helen Thomas is @frontrowhelen on Twitter. @IkePigott made her an account.

Great event. Many new faces, with others now becoming more familiar as I get to know the local DC new media community.

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