The CSU Official BDS Ballots Results are in

On November 25, 26 and 27, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) held its Fall By-Elections. You can find a full list of referenda results and newly elected councillors here. However, the results of one referumdum were not officially announced until December 5 due to contestation that resulted in the ballots being counted by an independent firm. This was the controversial Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. For more information, click here. As promised, the CSU released the official results of the BDS referumdum on Dec. 5 through their Facebook page. The referendum was passed. Here is a breakdown of the results:

CSU Official BDS Ballots Results


A Closer Look at Concordia’s Four Seasons Growing Greenhouse Project

You can read all about Concordia University’s two greenhouses here. The Loyola campus greenhouse is closed to the public and is mainly used by the biology department for research purposes. However, Concordia’s downtown greenhouse encourages the public to come in and visit and has several projects going on. One project is its Four Seasons Growing. Here is a breakdown of the Four Seasons Growing and all that it has to offer:


For more information on the Four Seasons Growing project and/or everything else Concordia’s Greenhouse has to offer, you can visit their website here.

The Value of Visualization

Here is a map of some of Canada’s National Historic Sites. Click on the picture to interact with the different locations.

Map of Canada's National Historic Sites

Map of Canada’s National Historic Sites

This is a prime example of the value of visualization.

Visualization helps the viewer visualize the data set being presented. Without a map, the viewer would have a very hard time understanding where all the sites are located. It is much more appealing to look at a map rather than reading a data set. One medium that greatly benefits from the added value of visualization is journalism.

A leader in utilizing visualizations to better help their readers understand and connect with a story is La Presse. La Presse has created maps for topics ranging from common traffic areas in Montreal to a rundown of Montreal’s underground sex industry. Not only do maps simplify the intake of information, they also accommodate a variety of topics.

However, maps are not the only form of visualization that can add to a story. Graphs, charts, audio, video, and timelines are just a few other examples of forms of visualizations that can benefit journalism. What all of these have in common are ways in which information can be reprocessed in order to simplify it, interact with it, and change the ways that readers interpret a story.

It is important to remember that visualizations do not replace the traditional story format. What they do is significantly add to it.

Times They Are A-Changin’: The Tablet Trend

Every year, more and more people are buying into the tablet trend. They’re portable, light-weight, user friendly, and feature a wide-ranging amount of content on a single screen. Soon the days of whacking everyone in the face while turning the pages of a newspaper will be behind us. It’s no wonder that journalists are worried.

As the saying goes: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Many news organizations have turned toward the tablet trend and embraced it, knowing that when times are a-changin’, they must too in order to stay relevant.

A leader in a turn toward the tablet trend is La Presse and their innovative La Presse+. In April 2013, after 2 1/2 years of research and $40 million, La Presse launched a new digital edition of their newspaper. Despite the enormous amount of money they invested in the endeavor, La Presse ensured that readers would not have to a pay a cent for the app, opting instead to rely entirely on advertising revenue.

As opposed to the limits of print media, the tablet edition allows ads to be interactive. As examples given in this Globe and Mail article, an ad designed for a toothpaste company allows readers to whiten teeth by sliding a button, while another makes a car spin 360 degrees just by touching the screen. These interactive possibilities certainly help to attract the interest of advertisers and their valuable funding.

Another standout quality of La Presse+ is that the stories are produced specifically for the tablet medium and are not simply afterthoughts to a print version. Each video, audio piece, and interactive medium is carefully designed to enrich the story to which it belongs. Needless to say, La Presse+ definitely changed the journalism game.

The same month that La Presse unveiled their new tablet edition, The Guardian conducted a study to determine the usage of each of its five platforms. Not surprisingly, their tablet edition came out on top. A little more surprising was the fact that tablet usage peaked around 9:00pm, suggesting that most users are consuming this material while relaxing at home in the evening and not on the go.

Consumption of Guardian tablet edition throughout the day (green line)

Consumption of Guardian tablet edition throughout the day

Based on this data, it is no wonder that just last month the Montreal Gazette launched a new tablet edition scheduled to be released every weekday at 6:00pm, just in time for the peak of tablet usage. To download the Montreal Gazette for iPad or to read all that it has to offer, click here.

Tablets are changing the way that people consume information. Their interactive elements and multimedia features are winning over users across the board. In order to not get left behind, it’s time for journalism to change too.

What Storify Adds to a Story: The Ottawa Shooting

Storify is a great way to make a story more interactive. Storify is an online application that enables one to directly access Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Google, and many more social media sites and search engines.

Traditional news stories typically include a picture or even a video that helps the reader visualize the event. However, Storify allows journalists to embed material that will contribute to their stories, like tweets, easily and efficiently. Storify contains a search box where users can type in what material they want to include in their stories. For instance, users can directly search tweets by typing in hashtags, usernames, selecting whether they want results to include RTs, and the option to limit their results to a certain number of kilometers.

In regards to the Ottawa Shooting, Storify allowed me to access up-to-date information on the event as it unfolded. It allowed me to directly embed tweets that were time-stamped. Therefore, I was able to create a timeline of events. I also used Storify to embed tweets of people’s reactions, which made the story much more personal since it brought in a citizen perspective as opposed to a purely journalistic one. Furthermore, I was also able to include YouTube videos of the police takedown, the Prime Minister’s address to the nation, and the Pittsburgh Penguins tribute, along with Instagram photos of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

All in all, Storify adds a whole new visual and emotional dimension to the story.

 Storify 1


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Don’t Fear the Bird

Ever heard the saying “a little bird told me”? Well, that phrase is no longer figurative.

Social media sites like Twitter have changed the communication game. Up to date information no longer comes from police radios or anonymous phone calls, but rather from savvy posts and tweets.  In order to stay current, news organizations must jump on the social media bandwagon or risk being left behind.


The question then becomes: How should news organizations use social media? Many news organizations like The Canadian Press and CBC have put policies in place limiting what their journalists can and cannot do on social media. These policies include being smart about what one is posting and remembering that the traditional rules of journalism still apply online, which are both reasonable. However, it has been argued that the social media policies of news organizations like Bloomberg and the Toronto Star are too excessive. Their policies include not discussing developing stories and not responding to readers. If a journalist cannot respond to a reader, then there is no use in engaging in social media.

As one can see, social media has caused quite a rift in the journalism profession. Instead of focusing on what journalists cannot do on social media, news organizations should focus on what journalists can do.  In a blog post, journalist Matthew Ingram listed 6 things that journalists should do on social media:

  • Talk to people
  • Reply when you are spoken to
  • Re-tweet others
  • Link to others
  • Admit when you are wrong
  • Be human

If journalists follow this list, they will gain the trust of their readers and their news organization will greatly benefit because it will be viewed as modern and relevant. Unfortunately, many news organizations ban some of these items, and that needs to change. Social media editors in Canadian newsrooms said that they want their audience to know that there is a “real person” behind their news organization’s social media accounts. That should be the goal of all news organizations.

source: Kate Rosman’s Twitter account (@katierosman)

Journalists should by all means use their social media accounts to promote their own and/or their news organization’s content, stories, and videos. However, they should also be allowed to have some fun, within good reason, by engaging with their followers and expressing their opinions on certain matters, so long as those opinions do not spoil their reputation or integrity. After all, journalists should be human, but not stupid. Therefore, journalists must respect the codes of conduct imposed by their organizations if they want to keep their jobs, but they should be able to express themselves freely while still remaining professional.

For any of you budding journalists who may be new to Twitter, here are 10 tips to get you on your way. Tweet, tweet, tweet!

The Hype Surrounding Hyperlinks: Why Blogging is the Future of Journalism

What do engineering, psychology, and finance students have in common? Job security. The same cannot be said for journalists. For fun, tell people you are pursuing a journalism degree and watch in amusement as their faces twist and turn into confusion and disbelief before your very eyes!

It is no news (pun intended) that journalism is a risky business to be in nowadays. While it may not be dead, it is in a period of mass transition. The transition being a shift from print and broadcasting to online and data journalism – and what is the most popular medium of online journalism? Blogging.

According to an article by Matt Wells, “live blogging has rapidly become the dominant form for breaking news online.” He credits this to its links with Twitter, Facebook, pictures, videos, and audience interactions. “Rather than foretelling the death of journalism, the live blog is surely the embodiment of its future” says Wells. So why not embrace it?

In an article by Martin Bryant, The Guardian technology and media reporter Josh Halliday admits that “The most important thing I did at university, including my degree, was to blog and get online. That’s what got me the job.” In the same article, Paul Bradshaw, senior lecturer in online journalism and magazines at Birmingham City University’s School of Media in the UK (whew!), warns that “students entering the marketplace who have never run their own news website are at an increasing disadvantage.

More and more, journalism programs are emphasizing online journalism and blogging. Sue Greenwood, senior lecturer in web-based and entrepreneurial journalism at Staffordshire University, encourages blogging because it gets students “to think about their work in relationship to the audience” and to discover what will attract and build that audience.

It is clear that blogging has had quite a large impact on the media. In his article, Paul Bradshaw asked journalists how much blogging had changed their work. More than half of blogging journalists said that their work had either “enormously” or “completely” transformed, as seen in the chart below.

from the article When Journalists Blog: How It Changes What They Do by Paul Bradshaw

from the article When Journalists Blog: How It Changes What They Do by Paul Bradshaw

“The students who are doing data journalism and visualisation are standing out” says Bradshaw. Budding journalists, this is a call to action! Get online and start spilling your thoughts and ideas. Experiencing writer’s block? Check out these blogs for inspiration: Online Journalism Blog, The Independent Journalist, VideoJournalism: Thinking Visually – and here is a parody of what not to do: The Anti-Social Media.