Yajiao’s Blog

Newsday

Posted on: 10/05/2010

I worked with Eliza in pairs on news day. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill just happened, lots of media coverage focused on the financial losses of this accident. However, the oil spill also caused danger for marine mammals, fish, and birds, and might pollute wetlands as well. Therefore, we compared the costs of the Gulf of Mexico from economic and environmental aspects. I did research to find facts and statistics to prove which kind of impact will be brought by the oil spill on environment. Eliza did research for financial costs. We made a table by Dreamweaver, as it was clear for readers to contrast two sides. However, the template of the blog did not recognize the table code from Dreamweaver. I searched copy free pictures to match the article, and changed size and resolution for web in Photoshop. Eliza wrote up the story. I learned some tips to layout the story. For example, we cannot leave a gap between tow paragraphs unless we typed a dash. To make the dash invisible in the published page, we changed its colour to white. On news day we must finish the story and publish it online at 4 pm. It was a practice to allocate tasks and manage time properly to meet the deadline.

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Weco is a website to provide all kinds of eco-friendly information. Faced with the threats of climate change and heavy pollution, how to protect the environment has become a public concern for a long time. An increasing number of people have begun to take action. Weco is a platform for people to learn, share and exchange different eco ideas and culture. The unique point of Weco is that it combines articles from both journalists and users. It aims to encourage people to attend related activities, campaigns and find out their ways to reduce carbon emissions and save energy. To get user-generated content is also a trend in the web 2.0.

My first story for Weco is about the Earth Hour in 2010. It has become one of the largest global activities to raise people’s awareness of climate change. It connected individuals, organisations, businesses and governments from different countries to work together for a better earth. As Weco mainly targets readers in London, I wrote about how Londoners participated in Earth Hour specifically. The more important purpose of this article is to call for people switch off the unnecessary lights in their daily life, not only one hour for a year.  My second story is about how to develop a low-carbon relationship. Usually, people depend on technology, renewable resources, and new energy to reduce the CO2. However, I think to build a healthier lifestyle is more significant. People always neglect some small things which may lead to a big difference gradually. I provided some useful tips for green date and green wedding. Although green wedding is becoming popular, it is still a new concept for most people.

I took the role of graphics designers with Eliza. As this time our project is to create a website, it required muck higher technical and design skills. For me, this job was really a challenge. In the beginning we had difficulties to make a good layout that work well. We changed the logo, banner and navigation bar several times. There were also different kinds of technical problems happened during the process. We tried to make a simply and clear website, which is easy to navigate. Eliza did the basic structure of our website, created templates from homepage and each section’s page, and uploaded the website online. I did all the articles’ layout with cells and images, embedded Google maps and helped Eliza to fix with some page design stuff. The editor helped us to check mistakes for editing. Although this job took a lot of time, I become much familiar with Dreamweaver, and we learned basic skills about website design. I think this will be helpful in the future’s job as well.

However, the design can be further improved. As stories from our group finished quite late, even one day before the deadline, there was not so much time for us to design. We still need to practice Dreamweaver for creating a more professional website. In addition, we have not received enough articles from users. We need to further promote our website to attract more people to contribute, or we could try to establish a partnership with environmental organizations. The percentage of stories in different section is not balanced. Moreover, we ask users to send their articles to us by e-mail, maybe we can think about a more convenient way for them to hand in stories.

My individual project is a blog about Chinese students in the UK. We can see Chinese students everywhere in the campus of UK’s universities, and it is said Chinese has become a financial support of UK’s education industry. However, the argument about Chinese overseas students come from rich family but do not good at studying has been discussed in China for several years. A large amount of people think that only students who cannot get into a good university in China, their parents will spend lots of money to send them abroad, where students can apply for universities easily. Most reports of overseas students from Chinese newspapers and websites are negative. Before I made the decision to study abroad, I also misunderstood about overseas students. However, when I actually become one of this special community’s members, I want to build a platform to present a more balanced image of Chinese overseas students.

In addition, though there are certain misunderstandings about overseas students in China’s society, lots of Chinese students still want to apply for universities in the UK and receive an advanced higher education. Many people consulted me about life in the UK, therefore, I hope this blog could help those who are going to come to get some basic ideas about studying abroad.

For this blog, I set up five main categories. In education category, I pointed out the difficulties that Chinese students may meet for studying. In fact, with the rigorous academic atmosphere and traditions, Chinese students have to make more efforts to get a degree. In life category, I wrote stories about the lifestyle of different groups of Chinese students. There are two extreme groups of Chinese students. Some try to take advantage of the time when they studying in the UK and do some meaningful things, while others just want to enjoy a luxury life without parents’ control. In career section, as many overseas returnees cannot find a job or just get a job with very low salary, I analysed the advantages and disadvantages of working in the UK and China, respectively. In eat category, I recommended some Chinese restaurants. Although there are a lot of Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, most of them are providing Cantonese cuisine. Therefore, I selected the most popular restaurants in different flavours. In addition, I made a series of video interviews with Chinese students, in order to reflect their opinions about studying in the UK directly. But one interview was taken in a restaurant, so the background was noisy.

Because wordpress is blocked in China’s Internet, I copied some of my articles to another English blog in China, to generate opinions about studying in the UK from students in China. The link is under Get involved in the sidebar. Meanwhile, I set up a Facebook group for Chinese students to discuss the current issues happened in the UK. I uploaded pictures in Flickr to share scenery of the UK with my readers. I also linked some useful websites for Chinese students to get all kinds of information in the UK in the sidebar. I promoted my blog on Facebook, MSN, Chinese social networking sites to get more Chinese students to share their stories. People like to leave comments if they share the common experiences reflected in the blog. However, one problem is that most Chinese students still prefer to read Chinese blog and communicate with Chinese, therefore, the number of my readers is still limited.

Moreover, some parts in the blog can be improved further to make it better. Firstly, the stories may be presented in a better way. I still found difficult to write stories in English. Sometimes I got ideas, but didn’t know how to write it in a proper English style. Although Chinese students may understand the content, it still needs to be more professional. Secondly, the form of my video interviews is quite normal, just like asking and answering. I am thinking the video may be more interesting if I can get some footage of Chinese students’ real life in the UK, such as the environment of their apartment, how they cook dinner, where they buy stuff, etc, like a documentary.

The first digital election debate comes along with the UK election in 2010. Both Facebook and YouTube join the online debate and provide an interactive platform for public to ask questions to Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron. The five main categories of the questions are: economy, health and education, foreign policy, law and order. Three party leaders provide video responses and users can vote for the best answers. Totally, over 5000 question submitted and more than 10,000 votes on the questions.

Speaking about the online debate, Facebook’s Director of Policy Richard Allan said: “The dawn of the digital election this year is a transformative moment for democracy in Britain. By allowing voters to cross-examine their leaders, these digital debates will put the voters firmly in charge. This marks a decisive shift away from the constraints of top-down traditional media.”

Politicians also take advantage of social networks to promote their campaign. To have a further engage with constituents, an increasing number of MPs open accounts on Twitter and Facebook, and upload video on YouTube as well. Another function of social media in election is to bring back voters between 18 to 24 years old.

However, some argue that Twitter and blog are not as efficient to be a political tool as people’s expectation. Firstly, few online users follow the irrelevant tweets from candidates, unless they publish something which journalists can find news value on that. Secondly, there is a limited number of candidates keep writing blogs, because they fear of posting anything they might regret or cause misunderstanding.

Facebook will add an “I’ve voted” button at the top of the News Feed for UK users over 18 on 6 May. Facebook will put the vote tracker at the top of UK users news feeds as “a convenient reminder to get to the polling station”. The same system was used to follow voting in the 2008 US Presidential election.

YouTube UK election channel

UK election 2010 page on Facebook

More articles about the influence of the Internet on the election:

UK general election 2010-online journalism is ordinary from Online Journalism Blog

Welcome to the first e-elction from Guardian

Although the Internet environment in China is still not totally free, and certain websites are blocked such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and WordPress, Chinese journalists take advantage of the online platform to build up new websites to provide different media service. Umiwi.com, established by an ex-CCTV producer Wang Lifen, is a latest case of the new online TV site.

Wang Lifen, a former CCTV producer and hostess, created one very popular Chinese reality-TV show called Win in China, teaching the Chinese how to success in business. In March 2010, she resigned her position with CCTV and started her own online TV business. According to Wang, Umiwi will not allow user uploads of video content, and instead, during this initial period of development, rely on self-produced or live broadcasted content, and will consider purchasing high-quality video content in the future. Wang said that while Umiwi had invested into content production, the site’s operating costs are currently quite low. Umiwi primarily earns income via advertising revenue.

The slogan of Umiwi is to grow up with young people together. It mainly targets young Chinese people who have received relatively high education, and have passion to set up their business and want to learn experience from some successful businessmen. To offer an opportunity to communicate directly with CEOs from top companies, Umiwi is planning to create a series of programming modeled off of Warren Buffett’s lunch auctions. The celebrities selling their time in Wang’s auctions were chosen by netizens’ nomination and voting.

The first auction is for 3 hours with Giant Interactive CEO Shi Yuzhu, a leading online game developer. The bidding period is between March 15 and June 15. As soon as the bidding started, it drew a competition on the website. In May, the highest offer was nearly 2 million yuan (£200,000). According to the website, all the money generate from this auction will be donated for the drought in south-west China.

Influenced by the digital revolution and the wide application of the Internet, many traditional media companies such as newspapers and magazines adopt online business to expand their market and attract audiences. However, it is difficult for traditional media players to actually get profits from their online products. Despite much lower marginal costs for electronic reproduction and distribution, the initial investment in establishing the service is heavy. For instance, 400 extra employees were recruited to produce the online version of New York Times. The main revenue is from advertising, as media organisations provide free online content.

Online media providers seek out new ways to charge a fee from the Internet. One strategy is to target niche market with users who have special interests in certain kinds of services. The Wall Street Journal, mainly targets readers who are interested in financial information, is the first newspaper trying to make online news profitable in America. In 2003, it managed to attract 2.6million users to pay a $29 subscription. Similarly, the Financial Times in the UK, which is a specialist financial publication, set up an online subscription model as well. It gives readers a certain number of articles free online before asking them to subscribe. Here is the subscription form from its website.

In 2009, although there was a fall of FT’s print circulation, its digital subscribers increased 30%, as during the financial crisis, people required more economic news. John Ridding, the FT Group chief executive, said “I don’t think anyone can afford to dismiss the idea of developing paid-for content because journalism is valuable.”

In addition, an growing number of top newspapers in the UK join rush to gain profits from online readers. The Times and the Sunday Times, both are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which also owns the Wall Street Journal, will begin charging online content from June 2010. The subscription fee is £1 per day, or £2 for a week. Print subscribers will get free access to both sites, thetimes.co.uk and thesundaytimes.co.uk. Times Editor, James Harding said that online journalism is not worthless. Despite free newspapers and free content on the Internet, people will pay for quality information. Murdoch also plans to introduce charging for online edition of the Sun and the News of the World.

To deal with the declining advertising revenues from the print copies, newspapers groups are looking for new business model. For me, as a reader, I am reluctant to pay for the online newspaper. However, as a potential online journalist in the future, charging online is a way to make my work valuable.

The Third Session of the Eleventh National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Third Session of the Eleventh Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was end on 14 March in Beijing. The two sessions are the most important political events in China. This time, the Internet plays an outstanding role in both promoting democratic politics and reporting the latest news.

In the first place, the Internet has become a bridge for the high-level decision makers to know the opinions from grassroots. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao talked online with public before the opening of Two Sessions. He had a two-hour online chat with netizens jointly hosted by the central government website and the Xinhua website. The discussed issues ranged from education, employment to housing. In addition, CPPCC members in Beijing opened the video camera and sat at a computer screen for video dialogue.

Apart from the central government, different provinces adapt to the Internet platform in the political process. For example, Anhui and Hunan provinces incorporated ‘the online public opinions’ into their provincial government work reports. Many deputies of the Two Sessions also set up their ‘Micro blog stalls’, which offers a ‘zero distance’ for netizens to ask questions. Moreover, millions of netizens also open micro-blog (it is similar as Twitter) to participate in the Two Sessions and discuss proposals. The major Chinese websites such as People’s Daily and Xinhua Net provided with BBS, blogs, online surveys and SMS to interact with netizens. Here are two links to the Two Sessions Section in Global Times and People’s Daily. Meanwhile, it is a way for grassroots to monitor the proposals raised by deputies. Actually, there are certain numbers of proposals which are regarded as meaningless, and criticised by netizens strictly. It is like that deputies attend meetings in Beijing, while netizens held discussions on micro-blog.

Obviously, more voices from different social groups could be heard by means of using e-mail, blog, and micro-blog. It offers a better channel to understand more views and wishes, and some conflicts in society. To some extent, the Internet improves and encourages political participation in China.

In addition, the Internet also changes the pattern that how journalists report the Two Sessions. Most Chinese websites set up a special section for the Two Sessions. Some launch the on live video report to deliver the latest news, and ask netizens to give feedbacks. With the wide application of the mobile newspapers and videos, mobile phones take a significant role to provide the political news. For instance, Xinhua Net opened its mobile newspaper with the theme of ‘Let us have Two Sessions on phone’. The CMMB hand-hold TV is a new platform to report news. Compared with traditional televisions, the CMMB televisions are easy to take, without territory limitations and do not need any wires. These advantages make CMMB as a unique distribute channel which provides audience with different experience. CCTV channels, local TV channels, and international radio stations all deliver their programmes to the CMMB TV.

On the one side, deputies for NPC&CPPCC need pay attention to online opinions, and journalists also collect latest information from the Internet to report. On the other side, it is still necessary for journalists to report politics in traditional approaches, such as focusing on investigation and write in-depth features, and reflect the livelihoods of people at the grassroots.