Mobile Journalism


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Curious City

I think the audience for this story is just about anyone who’s ever entered Chicago. I’ve found myself wondering about neighborhood boundaries many times myself, and after a three year residence, I still have only a vague idea of what’s what when it comes to neighborhoods. I thought the map comparison was great, as I have never been able to figure out why there were so many different versions of neighborhood maps. I was also glad for the explanation of the difference between a community area and a neighborhood, and that one is recognized by the city while the other is not.

I assume the reporting for this piece was mostly done by asking people the reporters knew for their experiences or if they knew anyone from “x” neighborhood. This could also have been done man-on-the-street style by going into a neighborhood and asking a few people they saw walking around. Including the guy who makes neighborhood maps independently from the city cleared up so many questions I’ve had about how these maps get made. The reporters probably found one of his maps and contacted him directly.

I think the comic was a good way to add extra information about Edgewater specifically, but still keeping the written portion of the article about Chicago’s neighborhoods as a whole. The links to the photos the drawings were based off and the embedded interview were nice touches and added to its legitimacy. Also, anything interactive is usually pretty cool.  I wish the comic had been embedded so I could view it right on the page or at least showed up in a lightbox or new tab when I clicked it. I think one of the biggest rookie mistakes is leading your reader elsewhere halfway through an article.

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“Truthiness”

I have always noticed this “truthiness” behavior in myself and others, but never knew it had a name or scientific basis.  A piece of writing accompanied by photos usually seems more credible, so I’m more likely to trust a story that includes media.  For this reason, I always try to include at least one photo or video in my articles, where technology allows.

But I think this “fluency” concept could also be a dangerous one for journalists or media outlets who use it irresponsibly.  Adding photos and other content to your articles gives them credibility, but what if a writer, intentionally or subconsciously, included a not so relevant photo in order to sway the reader to his or her point of view.

This supports a theory I have that no matter how hard you try, objective journalism is impossible.  Any story with media is going to evoke some sort of feeling in the reader, whether you intended it or not.