ASR 33 and Citizen Journalism

It was a winter Saturday evening in a small New England College town in the mid nineteen-seventies. It could have been just about any such evening, because there was a similar pattern, a similar flow to such evenings. I was a dorky townie living up on Henderson Road looking down over the Village Beautiful.

I sang in the school choir and played in the band; not very well, but enough to get a little bit of a sense of belonging. I worked in Audio-Visual pushing carts with film strip projectors to classrooms or setting up the video camera. It was an early chance for me to get paid for playing with technology. Either that or I would work in the library around beloved books. When all the returned books were shelved for the day, I would straighten out sections where books were out of order. 811 - Poetry, American always seemed to be in good order, but 796.332 Athletic and outdoor sports and games, Ball Games, Inflated ball driven by foot, American Football, always seemed to be out of order as did 612.6 - Human Physiology - Reproduction. I would always be embarrassed spending long periods of time putting 612.6 back into order.

The evening would start off in a familiar manner. I would get dropped off at the Student Union; my base of operations for the evening. Back then, we didn't have cellphones, so the framework for the evening would be established ahead of time. I would have a dime to call home from a pay phone, if necessary. I might have some money to buy some French Fries at the Student Union or to buy pizza from one of the two local pizza shops in town. The default would be established. If I didn't call by 10:30, for example, I would get picked up at the Student Union at 11.

There was bound to be something going on. Perhaps it was a hockey game, either high school, or college at the skating rink. Maybe a classmate was having a party, or there was some college party I could find my way into. I was never invited to parties, but I always heard about them at the Student Union and would end up showing up, uninvited.

Maybe there was a party at the ABC house. ABC stood for "A Better Chance". It was a program for bringing students from poorer, mostly black under achieving city schools, to mostly well to do, white over achieving schools in the country. Mount Greylock Regional High School was one of those over achieving schools. It was supposed to be so that the kids from the under achieving schools would get a better chance at a good education, but more often than not, it was us country kids that were getting learning the most from the experiences.

Back then, we had a small black and white television set that received three channels. There were no VCRs or DVD players. You watched what was on when it was on, if your parents allowed it. For me, that meant we could watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. Later in the morning, Soul Train would come on; about the closest we ever got to seeing music videos or different cultures, unless, of course, we caught a little bit of Lawrence Welk when we visited relatives. Parties at the ABC house were wonderful. They were Soul Train come to life with great dancing that even though I was normally too embarrassed to join in, sometimes I would get drawn in.

In the basement of the Student Union was the Ratskeller, a coffee house that often had good folk music, and down the hall was the college radio station. For me, the radio station was the place to go. There was a good chance I would run into friends there, and if not, I could enjoy the music while reading the news as it came off the ASR 33 Teletype.

The ASR 33, would click clack along at about 10 characters per second with news coming off of the wires. It was a familiar comforting machine, since I had used an ASR 33 years earlier as my connection to some of the first computers I was ever on.

The old ASR 33 came to mind this morning as I drove up to a discussion sponsored by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists about Citizen Journalists. I had a shirt on that Kim had had made for me which said, "I get my news on Twitter". Back when I got the shirt, several years ago, it raised eyebrows, especially at various "future of journalism" conferences I would attend. Now, many people are used to getting news via Twitter. I thought about how writing good tweets is a bit like writing good headlines and how a good headline editor should be a natural on Twitter. I thought about how cool it would be to get an old ASR 33 and hook it up to a computer that would feed tweets to the teletype similar to how the wire service delivered stories years ago.

The discussion took place in an old factory building that is finding new use as the newsroom for the Torrington Register Citizen. it was a good discussion which moved past the tired old discussions about untrained amateur reporters posting biased unverified information on websites they can freely set up thereby driving real journalists, those who went to J school, and sometimes get paid, out of work.

The discussion focused on legal issues anyone writing online needs to know about. It focused on how professional journalists and citizen journalists can work together to improve openness and transparency in government and public life.

The newsroom reminded me of Mass MoCA. In North Adams, MA, next to Williamstown, I had worked at Sprague Electric in the buildings that would later become Mass MoCA. In fact, it was at Sprague that I first encountered an ASR 33. Now, the old factory in North Adams is an art museum and the old factory in Torrington hosts a twenty first century newsroom. The space is wide open. People can join in on the daily story meetings, either in person, or online. There are blogging stations and microfilm readers available to the public. It is a place to gather, to find out what is going on, similar to what the college radio station with the ASR 33 was for me back in the 1970s.

(Categories: )

Fiona's First Press Pass

For nearly four years, Fiona has been doing an Internet based radio show on Blogtalkradio. Earlier this month, she interviewed Jen Alexander about Middnight on Main, a big New Year's Eve celebration in Middletown, CT.

I've been working to help promote the event and I asked if Fiona could get a press pass. Everyone agreed, so she will be attending the celebration as a journalist. She is very excited.

We've spent time pouring over the list of great bands and other performances, as well as the food trucks and other wonderful eating opportunities. I've tweaked Kim's phone to make it easier for Fiona to tweet and blog and do interviews from Kim's phone.

I've also set up some new pages for Fiona. She is too young to have a Facebook account according to their terms of service. However, an older person can set up a Facebook page for her, so I've set up Facebook Fan Page. I also set up a page on to make it easier to find some of her postings.

With that, it is time for us to rush out and begin the festivities and the coverage.

#ff #ct #politics @ChrisDonovanCT @ChrisMurphyCT @JoeCourtneyCT @RepJoeCourtney @BlakeForMilford @journalinquirer @CTNewsJunkie

As we head into the political season, I thought I should highlight some of the candidates that I follow on Twitter, as this Follow Friday (#FF) post. For those who are Twitter regulars, hashtags, like #ff, #ct, and #politics are ways of marking topics when you have only 140 characters to use, and Twitter accounts regularly start with an at-sign to indicate they are twitter accounts.

I’m starting off with @ChrisDonovanCT. Chris is running for Congress in the fifth district and this is his campaign Twitter account. He will be opening his campaign headquarters in Meriden this evening after starting his tour around the district this week.

There is a site called Klout which measures the influence a person has on Twitter. It is a scale of 0 to 100, and Chris’ Klout currently comes in at 29.

Next, is @ChrisMurphyCT. Chris Murphy is currently the Congressman from the fifth district and he’s running for U.S. Senate. I ran into Chris last week at an even in New Haven. He says that he’s been working on his social media and his campaign twitter account has a Klout score of 50.

Joe Courtney has two Twitter accounts that I follow. One is his reelection campaign twitter account. It has a Klout score of 1, with only 167 followers and hasn’t been updated since February. His Twitter account as Congressman, @RepJoeCourtney has is much more active and has a Klout score of 48.

At the end of the list for today is @BlakeForMilford. Friends of mine live in Milford and had been asking me about Ben’s online presence. @BlakeForMilford only has 25 followers, hasn’t been updated since July, and doesn’t even have a Klout score yet.

For those of you who don’t want to follow the politicians directly, there is always the Journal Inquirer with over a thousand followers and a Klout score of 31 and @CTNewsJunkie with over 3000 followers and a Klout score of 43.

These days more and more politicians are using Twitter to get their message out. President Obama mentioned Twitter in his speech last night, so it remains More and more news organizations are using Twitter to highlight their headlines, and everyone can benefit from this by checking out specific Twitter accounts, even if they choose not to tweet themselves.

(Categories: )

The Media Circus

In 2008, I wrote a few blog posts about a young mother from Florida, “ branded by Nancy Grace on national television as the worse mother in America”. No, I am not talking about Casey Anthony. I am talking about Erin Markes. She had a son with a rare birth defect, and Nancy Grace “ridiculed and branded a criminal before all the facts about her son’s medical condition were known…The State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped the charges. The boy died in hospice care two weeks later. Markes has remarried and has a healthy baby. Nancy Grace never apologized.”

Now, I must admit, I have not followed the media circus around Casey Anthony. All I really know is that a jury, when presented the evidence, found Casey Anthony not guilty of what she had been accused of by Nancy Grace.

But that was last week’s news. This week, the big story is the unraveling of parts of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The ‘hacking scandal” has already cost the jobs of quite a few people and we’ll see what is left to be played out.

Meanwhile, the discussion about how to understand and resolve the financial problems of our country and the world seem caught in a game of he said, she said, where the focus is on placing blame, scoring political points, and not doing anything to make our country or our world a better place.

All of this brings me back to the SPJ Code of Ethics,

Seek Truth and Report It…Minimize Harm…Act Independently…Be Accountable

(Categories: )

Rethinking Television

I am not a big fan of television. Much of the content seems a bit mindless. However, recently, we purchased a Roku and I’ve been re-evaluating my thoughts about TV.

Mostly, we’ve been using the Roku to watch movies on Netflix. I’ve been trying to get my daughter to spend more time watching interesting shows. After much negotiation last night, we ended up watching the documentary, Between the Folds. It was a fascinating exploration of aspects of origami that I was not aware. Fiona enjoyed it as well.

After she went to bed, my mind was still engaged, so I thought I would go back and watch more of a lecture at Columbia, Manuel Delanda, "Deleuze and the Use of the Genetic Algorithm in Architecture". I had started watching that a while ago, but hadn’t watched in on Roku. However, as is often the case, I got distracted and started watching Cinéphilosophie: Philosophy goes to the Movies by Maison française.

The video isn’t all that high a quality. Pretty much a single shot of a lecture. Yet it was fascinating for a bunch of reasons. The topic was fascinating, the intersection of philosophy and cinematography. The idea that it was a lecture, filmed and placed on YouTube, to be viewed online, and here I was, watching it on my television, as the guests spoke about thinking about film.

This morning, I woke up, not feeling all that well, so I did a little work online, but mostly rested. As I searched around, I found the European Graduate School on YouTube. So, I spent a little time watching Claire Denis. Perspective Context and Narration in Film. 2010.

The video quality was even poorer than the video from Columbia, but again, the content was fascinating.

So, now I’m on a question for the best sources of educational videos on YouTube, and by this I’m talking about graduate school level lectures and now six minute how to videos about starting blogs.

Got recommendations?

(Categories: )
Syndicate content