Journalism’s Bottom Line

With the economic woes the country has recently been with hit with in the past year, one can only wonder how journalism is affected.  Bail out the automobile industry, Wall Street, and struggling farmers is the governments answer to keeping industries afloat. Well who bails out the sinking newspaper or magazine.  After all, they are responsible for keep the citizens informed of government bail outs and struggling farmers.  Their jobs are continuous and necessary to society. 

Sadly, there are number of newspapers and magazines downsizing or shutting down the printing press forever.  To keep a publication in today’s society does require revenue.  If readers are getting their news from free, easily accessible, on-line sources than revenue for traditional news and entertainment source is dwindling.   Even if newspaper and magazines host online sites they must still attempt to get paid subscribers and advertisers to support their existence. However the availability of news is so broad, to get and keep paid subscribers seems to be nearly impossible.  Advertisers have just as many options and may choose a less expensive more direct online presence to attract and keep customers such as Facebook and twitter sites.

There are only a few dollars out there and publications are not getting the portion they need to survive. They are getting clever by inviting citizen reporters to do some of their reporting.   Citizen reporter do not require a salary and benefit from seeing their story appear on the website of a creditable news organization.  Some news organizations may attempt to hire multi-talented employees who can do a variety of tasks (report, record footage, edit, and post) whereby eliminating the need for a news crew.   These creative endeavours are may help news organizations exist without terribly jeopardizing their content while staying within the small and disappearing budget. Technology is the blessing and curse to journalism’s bottom line.

Mrs. Michelle Obama

First Lady, Michelle Obama is a fashion icon.  It seems since the moment, then Senator Barrack Obama, announced his run for the presidency, that Mrs. Obama was placed in the running as next fashion icon.  What is it about Michelle Obama that fashion media and fashion followers can not get enough of.  Why does Essence Magazine, America’s leading fashion and news magazine for African American women maintain the Michelle Diary in their online fashion and beauty section.   Why has countless retailers and designers increased sales because Mrs. Obama  was seen wearing one of their garments?  

Many have liken her to the first Mrs. O — Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  Jackie, now synonymous with the pillbox hat and couture design. She had a certain jai na cest pas  about her.  The media loved her. Designers wanted her in their clothing.  It seems Michelle has a similar graceful style, elegance, and confidence that keeps the media, designers, and even her followers interested.

However for most African American women and girls, Michelle Obama’s role as fashion icon is refreshing and overdue. Her celebrity, popularity and style has caused her to appear on numerous magazine covers.   A woman of color on leading fashion, news and specialty magazines. She reflects the African-American woman who is rarely publicized but is very much a part of the fiber of the black culture.  Black women and girls can identify with her on a number of levels, which I am sure magazine publishers are noticing when their magazines sell out because she is pictured on the cover.

I for one am happy to see Mrs. Obama on the cover of magazines, setting fashion trends, and being recognized as a fashion icon.  She is an inspiration to me and motivates me to dress the part as a professional black women.

My Thoughts about Tomorrow’s Journalists

      After reading  “8 Must Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalists” on Mashable.com, it is apparent that knowing how to write a good news article is not enough for today’s or tomorrow’s journalists.  The scope of journalism is changing and the traditional ways in which news is shared has changed to include more electronic formats which seems to be the prefered method of media consumption these days.  As a result, tomorrow’s journalists are required to be knowledgeable and equipped with more than just writing skills.

     I agree with the article and believe those are eight essential must-haves to be employed let alone successful in the new world of journalism.  I think the two greatest traits of the eight are multi-skilled and open-minded experimenter.  To be multi-skilled allows future journalist to be a one-man ( or woman) force. They will be able to record and report (or produce) a story in their own unique way without having to travel with photographers, sound and camera people. With more capable and portable technology, it seems that after capturing the story in the necessary formats the journalist will be able to do some quick editing, if necessary, and quickly post the story for his followers to enjoy. However, this may sound ideal but the work and responsibility of one journalist could increase and as a result will their pay increase?

            Future journalist with the trait of being an open-minded experimenter would possibly find reporting fun and exciting.  By experimenting with the manner in which he captures or gets news and then  how he presents it  may lead to more innovation.  Technology is constantly changing and journalist of tomorrow need to be prepared to change and to make change in order to attract and keep readers.

You Can’t Tell Me What to Wear

Polyvore Website

There was a time when magazines such as Vouge and Elle  showcased for its devoted readers the lastest fashions from leading fashion designers using amazing photography and top models.  These reader were eager and thirsty to be told and shown the newest colors and styles but more importantly how to acheive the look and where to buy the necessary pieces to complete the look.  It was designers’, advertisers’ and the magazine publishers’  dream. But that dream is quickly becoming a nightmare and the pages of magazines are  becoming fewer and fewer as their readers are able to create and show to others their own fashion style through the popular fashion website Polyvore.  New York Times fashion blogger, Cathy Horyn, commented in a recent blog titled Thinning Out   the occurance of the slim April and past issues of leading fashion magazines.  She also commented on the influence and abilities of Polyvore which was featured in The New Yorker as leading the way to fashion democracy.

It has always been the misconception that designers, along with advertising and promotions, dictated the style and trends. As The New Yorker articles comments fashion magazines dictate to “American woman who stands out there naked waiting for [magazine editors] to tell her what to wear.”  Amazingly, it is one big misconception . It has always been the customer that decides what he or she will wear. And now that readers, particularly the technological savvy, prefer creating their own visuals of looks they like for presentation to others via the web is causing designers, advertisers and even retailers to rethink promotion and sells of their products. 

For me reading a fashion magazine is exciting. I cannot wait to hold it in my hands and flip the pages, look at the beautiful people, observe the artisty and creativity used in the glossy full color spreads — particularly in putting the outfits together.  After reading the publication from cover to cover, I know that I can return to something that sparked my attention again and again. I can tear it out and hang it on the wall and be reminded of it daily.  Although the fashion-related magazines for which I subscribe are falling into the same fate of thinning down it has not discouraged me as a reader nor encouraged me to only seek online resources for fashion styles and trends.  I will continue to anticipate the magazines’ arrival each month.  There is nothing like getting a new magazine in the mail then flipping through its pages to get to the beauty and fashion spread for the month. I love it!  I can take the magazine to bed or relax on the couch ingesting others ideas and opinions and using it for inspiration to change up my own style.  A style that I really feel the rest of the world does not need to know about on a regular basis.  So to all of those who must share with the world what you are wearing, how you put it together, and where you bought it, keep right on, I will try to remain the individual I am.  I will continue to support the fashion magazine!!

Dawn of a New Era: The Revolutionary Change

After reading Dave Winer’s comments on reinventing journalism, I am convinced that journalism is responding to its information hungry technology savvy users.  The growing options of  digital news availability is making traditional (paper) newspapers and magazines relics.  It seems the more users of media are interested in getting their information customized and delivered when and how they want it the less likely it is for newspapers and magazines to be the force they once were for delivering the news.  However, reporters of the news should be rejoicing, as they are able to keep their readers updated and current on the stories they report.  They are no longer bound by page space and may incorporate podcast, video, pictures, etc. into the story.

Winer mentions  that anyone with the proper technology  is able to publish on the web.  I wonder how this will play out in the future?  With the common man able to publish and cover major stories or stories of very niche interests, will “professional” be lost? Will traditional publications hire non-professional reporters with a number of followers to join their teams?  Will niche reporting take readership from traditional publications? This is the dawn of a new era.  A revolutionary change is taking place in journalism and newspapers and other printed media will definitely have to adjust to keep and gain readers/users.

Getting News in the Future

      How will people get news in the future? At the rate at which technology is advancing today and in the way information is accessed and gained, it is necessary to ponder about access of the future.  There are two considerations that will shape the manner in which news is obtained and accessed.  First the device used. Typically cell phones and computers and more traditionally newspapers and television news broadcasts.  The second consideration is technology such RSS feeds

       Today’s news audience  consist of several age groups with baby boomers and millennials or Generation Y accounting for the largest followers.  Baby boomers, typically over the age of 45, are technology savvy and use various forms of media to get the news and information they want and need. Generation Y, born after 1982, are huge users of technology and consumers of news or information. Both generations use cellphones and computers as primary sources of news. The popularity of RSS technology(and other technology available to customize information) would suggest current technology is favored by both groups. Therefore, it seems as if the broad news audience is ready for current technology and willing to use new technology as it becomes available.

        In 10-15 years, the computer will probably still be used as device for accessing news and information. The cell phone (as a device for accessing news) will probably have the capabilities to replace the computer because of advancing technology and society’s need to have information at its fingertips.  I believe, the cell phone will be as powerful as the computer and portable. 

      Technology will only grow to create a demand causing society to desire or require them to have certain devices that offer certain technology being that the news and information needed will probably be continuously streamed on the device of choice based on technology. Television news channels may stay around as more channels will be created to meet the news  needs of society’s varied and unique interests.  Many of the television channels will have online streaming video as well.

       It seems today’s audience of baby boomers and Generation Y are  ready for and using technology available to access news and information. In the near future current devices such as the cell phone and computer will be sophisticated enough to provide access to news and information in the instant the information is requested.

Design Matters

Does the average person realize they have needs that are met be well designed products?  In Garr Reynolds brief 2004 online article “Why Design Matters“, he states, “…design is about humans creating great works that help or improve the lives of other humans, often in profound ways, and often in ways that are quite small and go unnoticed.” Design has the ability to change human lifes, what a great statement. What a true statement.

Although it may not be obvious to most, the manner inwhich an object, product or service is designed is one of the main reasons individuals consume  items, products or services. Cars are sold based on the exterior design. Typically, it is what attracts the customer to a particular vehicle; however, the components underneathe the hood are also designed to be just as attractive and efficient to the customer to enhance the driving experience.  Another example are one to two year trade programs designed to educate and equip students with the knowledge needed to begin  successful careers.  These programs are planned to get individuals trained in a designated period of time and to almost gaurantee a promising future in that industry. Then there is the ergonomically designed iPhone that can has several capabilities that is designed to allows users to call or text friends, play video games, send and receive emails, take pictures and even record and upload video. This nifty gadget met a need millions of people did not even know they had.  However, they bought into it because of its design, functionality and its ability to meet several needs.

Design matters because of the planning and organization necessary to identify peoples’ conscious and unconscious needs.  It must be done well, as Reynolds points out, to change people’s lives.  Poorly designed products have no use.  Almost overnight the ipod replaced the Walkman because it was light weight, easy to carry, and could store more songs than people could ever imagine possible.  The ipod revolutionized the way active individuals ran and exercised.  The Walkman was just too bulky with limited options.  This just goes to show, a well designed product not only meets a conscious or unconscious need, but its buying benefits are more readily obvious to the consumer.

We as humans and consumers are attracted to those items that seem to have some sort of buying benefit. In the apparel manufacturing and retailing  components of the fashion industry a buying benefit is the positive result a customer should receive when wearing a garment.  Wise manufacturers and retailers place those buying benefits in the description of the garments, when possible, along with selling points to bring to the shoppers attention the positive aspects of the garment’s design when the customer is considering purchasing and wearing a garment. For example, a one piece bathing suit designed to camaflouge the adominal area or not so toned “tummy” may be advertised to women who are conscious about that area of thier bodies.  The garment may be described as rouching in the side seams to minimize and flatter body curves. The rouched side seams is the selling point while the effect of minimizing and flattering the body curves are the buying benefits. This is important to understand because during the design process the “designer” thought about the needs of the intended user/wearer of the garment and sought to satisfy those needs. Good design (and good designers) do just that– satisfy the customer’s needs in a positive manner, which is done correctly will change lives.

So yes, design matters in all fields, industries, and trades. A well planned and organized product that is appealing to the consumer because of its appearance (design) and ultimate ‘buying benefits’ will change that individual’s life because the designer planned it to meet that consumer’s conscious and unconscious needs.