Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New York Daily News Loves to Gossip

Headline:Fired Queens teacher's 19-year-old pretty boy turns ugly on cameraman
The story begins like this...

"The hot-headed teen hunk who romanced a teacher nearly twice his age may love cameras on the catwalk, just not on the sidewalk.

Runway Romeo Joshua Walter - whose steamy affair with a Queens teacher led to her being fired - had multiple foul-mouthed meltdowns Tuesday as he shoved a TV reporter and tried to smash a camera."

Understandably, The New York Daily News is NOT the most reliable source for news. With a reputation for tabloid-y stories, the Daily News walks the fine line between respectable news coverage and gossip tall tales.

In this particular story (of an underage minor and a New York State teacher) the reporters tend to exaggerate the importance of certain details. For instance, "Salamino was 34 and a second-grade teacher at PS 121 when she started sleeping with the 17-year-old Walter, who did not attend a single class at Bryant High School in the 2006-07 school year because he was catwalking all over the world."

Certainly if this story was covered by the Associated Press the term "modeling" would substitute "catwalking all over the world" while "sleeping with"would be replaced by "intimate relationship."

Another instance where the choice of vocabulary makes me doubt the legitimacy and actual training of the reporters is the following sentence, "Now 37, Salamino was canned last summer after being found guilty..."

Since when does the word "canned" replace "fired" in a news story. Not once have heard the term "canned" used in a news setting and I was surprised to read it in the New York Daily News.

If this story had been published on "Page Six" or even in the Op/Ed section, I would not be analyzing it's validity. However, the story was placed under the "News" portion of the website.

Finally, at the bottom of the news story "journalists" Martinez and Yaniv included this sentence, "The United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education declined to comment on the pending case."

This last sentence bothers me most of all. Instead of including at least one credible source in the beginning of the story, the journalists covering this story placed the Department of Education last. In the pyramid of importance in news coverage, the authors of this story placed the Department of Education at the bottom. Regardless of whether this source chose to comment or not, the fact of the matter is the reporters deemed the Department of Education unimportant.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Microsoft Blews: Software program to rate political media bias

This is not the typical Unbiased Tabloid blog post. It doesn't analyze any media messages nor does it expose any bias. Instead, it serves to inform you of an innovative news aggregator that identifies the political orientation (or bias) of news articles.

Microsoft Blews is a software program in development that uses political blogs to categorize news stories as either conservative or liberal. These categorizations are based on the number of "right" or "left" blog links to a story. Blews also determines the "emotional charge" present in the blogospheres' discussion of the news topic.

"BLEWS achieves this goal by digesting and analyzing a real-time feed of political-blog posts, " says Microsoft.

This feed is provided by the Live Labs Social Media platform.

In addition to identifying the "political orientation" of news stories, Blews strives to create a more balanced view, with “see the view from the other side” functionality. This enables a reader to compare different views on the same story from different sides of the political spectrum.

Blews could be highly useful in informing political perspectives. It could be the first in a number of increasingly advanced aggregators with the ability to determine the ideological basis of news stories, and sort them on that basis. Or it could flop. What do you think?