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Essay | Native Advertising: Just Another Form of Fake News?

9 Things That Have Changed in the Last 20 Years” – a seemingly innocuous listicle that shares its aesthetic with the content churn of most modern websites. With relevant and somewhat amusing examples including boy bands and pizza, its not until number 9 when you see “cell phones” and the latest Motorola promotional shot that your eyes begin to roll.

In our modern world of algorithmic echo chambers and Russian fake-news bots, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms stand trial for enabling the spread of digital social virus called fake news. Perhaps just the latest iteration of a long-running and well earned cyber-anxiety, the potential deception enabled by our new tools of communications have caused most of us to question the future of news media.

There is, however, another symptom illuded to at the start of this essay of the digital news disease to which we should pay attention: native advertising. Zarzosa & Fischbach (2017) define native advertising as ” content that bears a similarity to news, entertainment, featured articles, product reviews, and other content in digital media” (p. 104) despite not being them. By this definition it may be hard to parse native advertising from the fake political news we are all too familiar with due to the generality. The real difference? Native advertising doesn’t necessarily include false information (although they may), just an inescapably biased perspective. Worse yet is that unlike fake news which finds a home on sites that try to pass as legitimate, native advertising is hosted by the most trusted journalism brands on the planet.

Despite these differences, native advertising shares many characteristics with fake news. First is their shared patron: the digital advertising model. Burkhardt (2017) explains that “in a largely unregulated medium [like digital media], supported and driven by advertising, the incentive for good is often outweighed by the incentive to make money”, leading to design decisions that structure algorithms to deceive users. In the case of native advertising, content resembles genuine journalism not despite better intentions, but because of the fundamental design of such content. The very premise of native advertising is to be indistinguishable from real content.

Some have denied the insidious nature of native advertising, like the Native Advertising Institute who believe “the end goal cannot be to sell or promote. The end goal must be to resource, inform and entertain”. Such a statement is complete naivety. For a company to invest financial resources into marketing that does not promote their product, service, or brand would be irresponsible to shareholders, and is ethically impossible. The very act of creating native advertising is the promotion: creating content meant to provide value to readers only to abuse the trust established through sly promotion cannot be formed without a sale in mind.

Apologists of native advertising often point the fingers at consumers. Forbes admits that 75% of publishers are running native ads, and 41% of brands are currently using them, but justifies this by saying that “people don’t click on advertising but they do click on what they consider editorial content”. Readers aversion to advertisement shouldn’t be license to disguise advertisements in order to trick, it should be a sign that advertising models are non-functional in financing journalism, especially when other revenue strategies have been successful for small operations like Patreon crowd funding. If the foundation your industry truly is collapsing, the solution cannot be to move everyone upstairs; the solution is to move.

Zarzosa & Fischbach (2017) highlight the victim blaming attitude of marketing agencies by pointing out that “with the rapid growth of native advertising, there has been an increased interest to enhance the understanding of consumers’ responses to online native ads” (p. 107). Perhaps concessions will have to be made to the blurring line of sponsored content, but to complete ignoring of ethics guidelines demands regulation, not education.

We should especially be concerned with the solution of educating consumers when considering our current starting point. Contently conducted a study comparing consumers’ ability to correctly identify native advertising compared to control articles; the results were very discouraging. Participants misidentified the control as native advertising and identified genuine native advertisements with varying degrees of success. The author puts it plainly in saying that “as much as publishers insist that their native ad labels and disclosures are abundantly clear, it’s apparent that people remain quite confused”. 

We should be aware that this confusion benefits the pockets of companies, and they couldn’t care less about our feelings concerning its insidious nature. The Native Advertising Institute argues that “there is a public disdain for camouflaged ads, even though the reality of the marketplace is quite positive”; in this context “positive” really just means profitable. How arrogant must one be to assert that a public’s disdain for advertising is really to their own detriment? Waldrop (2017) explains that in the context of news screening that “Facebook and the rest would much rather live with loose algorithms that yield a lot false negatives—letting junk through—than risk using tight algorithms that yield false positives” due to possible lawsuits. It is clear that in the current state of journalism, the profit-motive is not aligned with the most valuable and consumer oriented practices.

Native advertising is in many ways worse than fake news due to its integration to mainstream media. When Hundley (2017) points out that over 6 million people viewed a fabricated and slanderous story about Hillary Clinton stealing the 2016 election (p. 518), we react with appropriate horror. But when we see a native advertisement published in the same font and column widths as regular articles, we don’t bat an eye. As the Guardian outlines, these practices go against the most basic publishing ethics and should be actively challenged by the public and legislature.

The Conversation and others like the Native Advertising Institute have pointed towards progress in regulation saying “some media and marketing industry bodies have produced updated guidelines to protect consumers”. While these steps are appreciated, self-regulation will simply never be enough. Until the government plays an active role in forcing the obvious differentiation of advertising from journalism, the public will continue to go on confusing the fake articles of native advertising for the real, just like they’ve been doing with fake political news.

The post Essay | Native Advertising: Just Another Form of Fake News? appeared first on alex rose.

Essay #1

Fake News and the Real World

Almost half of the world population owns a smartphone (Edge, 2016). This means two things: 1) billions of people now have instant access to worldwide news and 2) billions of people can now contribute to the news, thanks to social media (Macedo, 2016). In the United States alone, two-thirds of Americans get at least some of their news directly from social media (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017). This is cause for concern. Since social media platforms allow facts (i.e. news reports) to be so easily meshed with opinions and ideas (i.e. comments from, and external links provided by, news consumers), it is difficult to ascertain what news is real (Macedo, 2016). If one cannot identify fake news, then what exactly are people basing their real world knowledge and opinions on?


According to the Pew Research Center, almost 25 percent of Americans have, both purposely and inadvertently, shared made-up news stories, (Bialik & Matsa, 2017). But why is this the case? It could be for any combination of the following three reasons:


First, poor digital literacy may be to blame. According to British Columbia’s Ministry of Education (n.d.), digital literacy is “the . . . ability of individuals to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access . . . analyze and evaluate information [as well as] construct new knowledge” (para. 2). If the majority of people have poor digital literacy, then it is no wonder that false news stories are being shared – people cannot (or simply do not bother) to critically think about the news that they are consuming. For instance, even I am guilty of sharing false news stories with friends because I am sometimes too careless or lazy to read the entire news article or evaluate the source of the article. In other words, I do not think before I share.

Thus, blog creators like myself should keep this in mind – we should not exploit those with poor digital literacy for our own benefit.


Failing to read news articles in their entirety is another possible explanation as to why false news stories are shared. The instant nature of social media platforms, and the Internet as a whole, has an impact on how we operate. People mindlessly scroll until something catches their eye; people like sensational stories (Macedo, 2016). As Borchers (2016) explains, “Many news sites draw large portions of their audiences from Facebook, so the temptation is to try to create content that seems likely to be shared and liked over and over” (para. 12). Thus, people may be more drawn to short and sweet (and scandalous!) headlines without bothering to check out the contents of the article. In our fast-paced world today, who has time for the long (but probably more accurate) news article?

Again, blog creators should post responsibly. It is okay to have catchy headlines and titles, but they should not ever purposely mislead the audience.


Macedo (2016) writes that, “social media . . . allows the audience to interact more with the news presented to them. It allows them more than just the facts to float around as different people can comment, research and discover things as knowledge is passed” (para. 2). While this collaborative nature can prove useful, it is also not hard to see how facts can be confused with opinions. Look at any given Tweet or Facebook post linking to a news story and you will most definitely see a bunch of comments, from various individuals, offering contrasting points of views and linking to other sources. Linking back to the issue of poor digital literacy, it is no wonder that fake news is being spread – people may be overwhelmed by all the facts, opinions and links under any given news article.

To relate this to blog creators, blog creators should use their discretion. Perhaps when sharing facts, comments on certain posts should be turned off so as to not have false and/or misleading information be provided by one’s readers.


The average user is likely unaware of the fact that what they see on their news feed is highly personalized based on their activity on any given social media platform. As Shinal (2018) writes:

What people see on Facebook . . . depends on what they search for, who their friends are and what [they have] viewed before (para. 1).

The result? An echo chamber in which we consume the news that we want to consume; the news that we are exposed to through social media is arguably, curated towards us individually. We, thanks to the algorithm, will more than likely see what we want to see. This is where confirmation bias comes into play – we will believe x, and therefore interact with a social media platform in a way in which the algorithm will pick up that we have views that line up with x and, consequently, we will be exposed to articles which support x. For any given news piece, we are being exposed to a certain perspective based on how we have interacted with our social media.

It is thus clear that good journalism is important; journalists should “remain true to the impartial and trustworthy notion of delivering news and allowing readers to think critically and form their own opinion” (Macedo, 2016, para. 8). This is much more difficult to achieve when people are getting their news from social media platforms, in which our feeds are, more often than not, personalized for us.


Unfortunately, even when a news story is identified as false, it may still shape people’s attitudes (Marwick & Lewis, 2017). For instance, the recent Parkland shootings have been very prevalent in recent news. A news story that was quickly spread throughout social media claimed that David Hogg, a Parkland shooting survivor, was a paid “crisis actor” whose purpose was to spread anti-gun propaganda (Murphy & Mezzofiore, 2018). While this claim has since been disproved, it is not to say that people’s attitudes (in this case, towards gun control) have changed. Such fake news has real world consequences; consequences that we may not be able to see until they have played out.

Thus, it is of utmost importance that publishers pay attention to what they are posting and sharing, this includes blog creators like myself. In relation to KIM KIND OF COOKS, I do my best to ensure that I am not spreading false information regarding nutrition and health. I know that I am not nearly educated enough to provide such information, and so I refrain from doing so. As the creator of this blog, I have the responsibility to do my best to not create (nor spread) false information, as such information could be shared beyond my reach.


Bialik, K., & Matsa, K. E. (2017). Key trends in social and digital news media. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/04/key-trends-in-social-and-digital-news-media/

Borchers, C. (2016). How Facebook can influence the news, not just share it. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/22/how-facebook-can-influence-the-news-not-just-share-it/?utm_term=.0e2df49e4df9

Edge, A. (2016). Social media and the changing face of conflict reporting. Retrieved from https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/social-media-and-the-changing-face-of-conflict-reporting/s2/a654955/

Macedo, M. P. (2016). Why social media is so crucial for 21st century journalism. Retrieved from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/social-media-crucial-21st-century-journalism

Marwick, A., & Lewis, R. (2017). Media manipulation and disinformation online. Retrieved from http://posiel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Media-Manipulation-and-Disinformation-Online-1.pdf

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Digital literacy. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/teach/teaching-tools/digital-literacy

Murphy, P. P., & Mezzofiore, G. (2018, February 22). How the Florida school shooting conspiracies sprouted and spread. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com

Pew Research Center. (2017, August 7). Digital news fact sheet. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/fact-sheet/digital-news/

Shearer, E., & Gottfried, J. (2017). News use across social media platforms 2017. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017

Shinal, J. (2018, February 22). Florida shooting shows how hard it will be for Facebook to solve its fake-news problem. CNBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com

Essay 1: False News in the Age of the Internet

One of the most exciting things that came about with the turn of the century was the ability to communicate quickly and efficiently online. With the dawn of the internet, and particularly of Web 2.0, the way people communicated began to change, and with the invention of Facebook in the mid-aughts, social networking websites like it became the norm in day-to-day communications. Recently, however, Facebook and others like it have begun to stray from the “poking” and “wall posts of the past” and moving into a realm heretofore unchartered: the world of false news. Also called fake news, the false news is an alarming new trend that has begun to sweep our social media landscapes. One can hardly scroll down their newsfeed without coming across a news source that is questionable, or even blatantly false. Fake news has become so prevalent to our society today, that Kucharski even goes so far as to compare it to an infectious disease (Kucharski, 2016).

The problem stems with a (mostly American) problem with trusting the news as a legitimate source. Most news corporations have taken a political stance (usually right or left, sometimes seemingly in outer space) and report from that viewpoint. As Bill Maher reported on his television show, “Real Time with Bill Maher”, Americans polled said that while 45% of them trusted Donald Trump, the president with the lowest approval ratings in modern American history (Harwood, 2017) and who has been caught in numerous troubling lies, to tell the truth, but a mere 42% said they trusted the news media to tell the public the truth (Maher, 2017). Thus, the turn of the general public to other sources of information rather than traditional news media, and that is where fake news is able to creep into the mainstream and become a part of the social media landscape.

Unlike so-called fake news websites like The Onion, or television shows like The Colbert Report, the fake news prevalent in the media today has no satirical influence. Those satirical websites exist for the entertainment of many, as well as the confusion of others. Fake news used to be a joke, however, in the past couple of years, fake news has managed to find a spot in the world of online news. Facebook, or other social networking website users, can really be split into two groups of people: those who are “digitally literate” and those are not. In the past, when fake news was there for entertainment, the digitally literate were able to enjoy a good chuckle to themselves as those who were not, shared news stories from sources that were known to be satirical in nature. However, recently, with a new onslaught of news websites, many who truly to appear to be legitimate, it becomes more and more difficult to discern fake news from the real thing, and even those who would consider themselves to be digitally literate have difficulty distinguishing between the two.

While Mark Zuckerberg said claims that Facebook posts had the potential to influence the results of the 2016 election was a “pretty crazy idea” (Berghal, 2017) the world of online sharing has made the spread of fake news easy and unnervingly speedy, and because of this was able to shape people’s perceptions of the candidates at hand without ever expressing facts. Instead of statistics and real information, people voted with their feelings, because that was being targeted through social media. People click on things that upset or trigger them in some way, much more so than to valid information.

So, where do we go from here? Berghal lists a number of things that people can do to help avoid spreading fake news, which are outlined in his piece, quoting Washington Post Journalist Glen Kessler:

“1. authenticate the source (host),

2. check out the bona fides of the “contact us” page, and

3. vet the author.” (Berghal, 2017).

Following these steps seems like the logical thing to do, however, when people are quick to jump to conclusions and take action based on false news sources, they are unlikely to adequately vet their sources. Alternatively, he proposes technologies that block fake news websites from being shared on social media sites like Facebook. In general, though, I don’t believe we can stop the easily swayed from being easily swayed. Bill Maher proposes another alternative: that news corporations stop treating the news like a business endeavor, and regard it instead as a public service: something that their citizens need and deserve. Perhaps if everyone were to treat real news with the respect it deserves, it would be easy to distinguish the real from the ridiculous.

In conclusion, it looks as though people will be using social media as a platform for their news sources for a long time to come. While it is unlikely fake news sites will stop posting fake news, and even less likely that the majority of consumers will properly vet their sources before believing them or reposting, there is hope for the future of the news media. This lies with the news networks that bring the world reputable news, and hopefully, these corporations will be able to step up to the plate and bring people the news that they deserve to hear.



Berghel, H. (2017). “Lies, Damn Lies, and Fake News”. Computer 5:2, 80-85. DOI: 10.1109/MC.2017.56

Harwood, J. (2017). “Trump to address nation saddled with record low approval rating: NBC/WSJ poll”. CNBC.http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/26/trump-to-address-nation-sandbagged-by-record-low-approval-rating-nbcwsj-poll.html

Kucharski, A. (2016). “Post-truth: Study epidemiology of fake news”. Nature 500:525.  DOI: 10.1038/540525a

Maher, B. (2017). “Alt-News”. Real Time with Bill Maher. https://www.facebook.com/Maher/videos/vb.62507427296/10154470954107297/?type=2&theater

Essay 1

How trial and error, not coddling, taught me how to recognize fake news


Last year, I got totally bamboozled by a fake news story.

In my defence, I’m usually great at catching on to when something is fake/satire. Nowadays, I check sources, cross reference, and refuse to share a news story until I’m sure about what kind of news it is. But on August 11, 2017, I woke up, started scrolling through Facebook, and came across this:


I instantly believed it. I know, in retrospect I was a complete idiot. But I had just woken up and my sleep-addled brain fell for it. I don’t tend to share things on social media, or even like people’s posts. That day was no different, though I did tell my mom and sister about the story. Neither of them believed it, of course. But even after I clicked the post and went onto their website, I was still confident it was real.

It’s ridiculous that I fell for this satiric story, but how many others did, too? In what ways can this post be perceived as believable? And why exactly did I end up falling for it?



You just don’t know

Maybe you’re young and you haven’t gone out a lot. Maybe English isn’t your first language, or you don’t know the geographic layout of Vancouver well. Most native speakers know that cougar can mean an animal or an older woman who fancies younger men. Most city slickers don’t know how impossible it is for a cougar to get all the way to Granville Street. People who club every weekend are probably aware that The Roxy is known as a cougar bar.

You need this kind of basic knowledge to immediately pass off this article as satire if you first saw it in a little shared block of text on your Facebook page. This is something that Mike Caulfield discusses in “Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One?”

If you don’t have this innate knowledge of things, though, you’d want to look at the article more closely. I know that Caulfield claims that “it’s not by doing something, it’s by knowing something” we can reach a conclusion as to whether or not something is fake news. But I think that’s ridiculous. We need to do research and fact-checking if we want to gain knowledge. We don’t just inherently know everything when we age, as he implies. To check a source, all you need is a chunk of time and the ability to type things into Google.

The first thing I did that morning after seeing the article and telling my mom and sister was Google “Cougar attack Vancouver.” When nothing other than the Burrard Street Journal immediately showed up, then I got suspicious. I didn’t have to paste the link into Snopes (which wouldn’t have worked anyway because Snopes didn’t cover this site).




After being questioned on whether or not this was real, I simply had to stop, think, and wake up a bit more to find the answer.


Let’s look closer

If we wanted to pick apart this article further, there are simple steps we could take. It’s a fairly recent article, and it looks like it’s from a reliable news source, the Burrard Street Journal. But even looking slightly closer at that, you can see that a shorter form of that would be the BS Journal which should send off red flags.



Clicking on the article takes you to their site (which, coincidentally, has almost the exact same layout as one of my favourite news sites). You might notice the article has hyperlinks, but each one leads to a disclaimer that the journal is all satire. This is stuff that I could easily catch if I wasn’t still half asleep. Also, Justin Trudeau standing beside a sign that says “Welcome to Peopleitoba” seems a bit sketchy, too.

“In reality, most literacies are heavily domain-dependent, and based not on skills, but on a body of knowledge that comes from mindful immersion in a context,” Caulfield says.

But I didn’t really need to mindfully immerse myself in anything. I clicked two things to get the answer I needed. That’s a skill, not some wisdom I could have only acquired if I was an old man. He also says that “It’s by learning [digital literacy] on a granular level that we form the larger understandings.” Look, Caulfield, I don’t have time to learn anything on a granular level anymore; I have a full-time job and take three university classes. Every day, I make mistakes and learn from them. That’s all I have time to do.


I was sleep deprived (what’s new?)

The first thing many people do when they wake up is go on their phone. 66% of them are young people aged 18 to 24, according to a survey done by ReportLinker. Of course, many people wake up groggy. If they’re picking up their phone and scrolling through Facebook, there’s a high chance they’ll come across a shared news story. (Or at least there was a high chance before the algorithm changed. More on that below.)

This was me last year. I wasn’t lacking some sort of incredible wisdom. I was just tired, as many of us are. A recent Aviva study reported on by Global News and CTV News tells me that Canada is the world’s third most sleep-deprived country.


Why we can’t have nice things

It’s no surprise that after Trump won the election and people started pointing fingers at who was resposible, Mark Zuckerberg decided to bundle up Facebook families into little isolated homesteads and cut them off from news with his new algorithm. Instead of posting a simple list of precautions someone should take before sharing a news story as real, he cut us off from news altogether, and now all I can see on my feed are my Hungarian relatives selling their furniture and petting their dogs.

Sure, it’s crazy that people believe some of the crazy stories that are being spread across the web. Maybe everyone’s just too tired and busy to check if a news story is real or not. Or maybe it’s just that “between reality and the bubble of fantasy news stories, these are tough times for satirists,” as a Maclean’s article describes.

Satire is a powerful way to ridicule society. In some ways, it can be just as important as any other news. But when we read Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in class, people thought that Swift was serious about eating babies. Why? My guess is that people have been exposed to so much news, fake and real, and a lot of the fake stories are just as ridiculous as the real. I mean, how can this possibly be real?



I can imagine Swift turning over in his grave.

Reality is ridiculous. And so are fake news stories. But I still want to read both. Now that we’re aware that misinformation can be spread around just as quickly as information, we need to be able to look at both and think critically about which is which. I don’t want Facebook to censor news from me. I want all kinds of news popping up on my feed so every article I come across can be a critical thinking challenge.

I also don’t want to be told that I need to study how to recognize which is which on a “granular level.” All I need to be told is think before I share. Be critical. I don’t want to be coddled by Facebook or walked through digital literacy one baby step at a time. I need to learn these things myself. We all do, even if it’s through trial and error.

America already elected a yam to hold office. We are more aware of fake news now than ever before because of this event. I shared fake news with two people before I realized it was false. I was ridiculed. But I’m glad I thought a real cougar walked into a Vancouver bar a year ago, or else I never would have learned how to be diligent about fake news.


Works Cited:

Caulfield, Mike. “Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One?” Hapgood, 19 Dec. 2016, hapgood.us/2016/12/19/yes-digital-literacy-but-which-one/.

Joseph, Rebecca. “Canada Third Most Sleep-Deprived Country: Study.” Global News, Corus News, 29 Oct. 2016, globalnews.ca/news/3033503/canada-third-most-sleep-deprived-country-study/.

ReportLinker. “For Most Smartphone Users, It’s a ‘Round-the-Clock’ Connection.” ReportLinker Insight,    ReportLinker, 26 Jan. 2017, www.reportlinker.com/insight/smartphone-connection.html.

The Associated Press. “Is Satire Still Possible in an Era of Fake News?” Maclean’s, Rogers Media, 1 Feb. 2017, www.macleans.ca/society/is-satire-still-possible-in-an-era-of-fake-news/.

The Burrard Street Journal. “Panic At Vancouver Nightclub As Wild Cougar Wanders In Forcing Evacuation.” The Burrard Street Journal, 8 Aug. 2017, www.burrardstreetjournal.com/vancouver-cougar-attack-shock-in-nightclub/.

Essay 1 – Is Social Media the Enemy?

Is Social Media the Enemy?

The argument of whether social media provides credible information or news to its users has been a debated question for many. Social media platforms such as Facebook have provided individuals the outlet to share news and stories with their friends instantly whilst Twitter allows individuals to report live from one’s own perspective. Social media has also had negative impacts on users as articles that are shared often appear to be credible, but in reality are fake news and have no credible sources to prove that their information is real. Unfortunately not everyone who reads the news from these platforms go to the extent of source checking to verify whether what they are reading is true or not.

Social media has had a huge impact on young individuals as it allows them to take part in conversations regarding social issues. It has allowed them to become aware of global issues that mainstream media choose not to reveal to the world, such as people of colour being harassed by people in power positions in America. Posting in “real time” has allowed millennials to spread news quickly and effectively while also being able to be a part of the process of informing others of what is going on around the world. According to the article – New Study Finds Social Media Shapes Millennial Political Involvement And Engagement, millennials are interested in getting involved in spreading awareness of various social issues across the world. They feel the need to be a part of the process of being able to spread important news instantly (Fromm, 2016). Social media platforms allow them to feel more involved in politics and this encourages them to take a stand in the conversations taking place. Millennials believe that it is important to work together with others online and have collaborative conversations about social issues in order to overcome them (Fromm, 2016).

Unfortunately seeing news stories that are upsetting or worrying to some individuals on social media appear to have negative impacts on their well-being. According to an article by the Pew Research Centre, news articles often portray individuals such as political leaders or candidates in a negative manner. This causes readers to either change their perspectives about the individuals or angers them because the articles portray them in a way they believe to be false (Anderson, 2016).

Seeing unsettling news frequently appears to be taking a toll on social media users and therefore many are limiting the time they spend on these platforms. According to the article – ‘Post-election stress disorder’ strikes on both sides by CNN, the number of individuals seeking therapy to talk about political issues in the United Stated has increased significantly, especially within minority groups. Since Donald Trump became president of the United States, all media outlets have been reporting concerning news about the policies Trump has put into place and his future plans for the country. The Muslim ban was extremely scary for many individuals, as they could not get back to their country or their lives. The President’s open discrimination towards minority groups has created anxiety, as their safety is uncertain in a country they consider to be their own (Gold, 2017). Seeing headlines about Donald Trump on social media is extremely stressful for many as it is uncertain as to what new threatening policies he will implement on his citizens next.

According to Gold (2017), individuals reported that they find it difficult to maintain social relationships with those whose opinions differ to their own ones. Social media users often share news stories or comment on news articles they agree with or disagree with, which allows their friends and family to see what their point of view is about certain issues. Those who see Donald Trump as being a fit President also report on having negative experiences when supporting him on social media (Gold, 2017). They experience harassment because their opinions threaten and offend individuals whose opinions differ to theirs. Conflicting opinions about serious cases such as banning individuals from entering their own country are leading individuals to end relations because they feel discriminated by people they know and thought cared about them.

Despite the negative impacts of using social media as a news source, users believe that social media is allowing them to communicate with political leaders more effectively. According to an article by The Washington Times on How social media gives public opinion wings, the reporter mentions that individuals from across the world can reach political leaders through Twitter regarding specific issues. Political leaders are also able to post about certain topics and review the responses from users instantly, without having to hire individuals to run polls which can be time consuming and expensive (Weissmann, 2016).

In conclusion, social media proves to have both negative and positive impacts on users regarding news consumption. Seeing negative stories about what is going on around the world constantly on social media is unsettling for many. Fake news circulating on users profiles also makes individuals question what the truth really is and where to find it. Despite all the negativity, there have been some positive outcomes from information that is spread through social media. Individuals are able to share stories more easily and efficiently. Awareness is being created about topics that may not have been discussed otherwise and individuals are coming together from all over the world to seek the truth behind stories that may have otherwise been buried by news outlets.



Anderson, M. (2016, November 7). Social media causes some users to rethink their views on an issue. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/07/social-media-causes-some-users-to-rethink-their-views-on-an-issue/

Fromm, J. (2016, June 22). News Study Finds Social Media Shapes Millennial Political Involvement And Engagement. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefffromm/2016/06/22/new-study-finds-social-media-shapes-millennial-political-involvement-and-engagement/#6724df1e2618

Gold, J. (2017, February 20). ‘Post-election stress disorder’ strikes on both sides. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/20/health/post-election-stress-partner/index.html

Weissmann, S. (2016, September 12). How social media gives public opinion wings. Retrieved from https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/12/how-social-media-gives-public-opinion-wings/

Essay #1

Social media as a news source from the perspective of a person involved in the creation, dissemination, and curation of digital content.


As someone who has grown up using the internet consuming content made by others, making content for others to see, and collecting and archiving various things from the internet (be it images, videos, or links to just about anything) was a critical part of my life. The most readily available and known sites for one to go get this content were the easily accessible social media websites like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram. As a result of this social media culture that has been so crucial to our developmental years as my generation grew up swimming in this oversaturated sea of content, learning to consume content in a critical and analytical way is an essential part of life. This is a skill many people in older generations have not developed due to a lack of exposure to the unprocessable amount of information put out on the internet – they are unable to filter out what information displayed to them is necessary or even true – this makes this demographic more likely to fall for fake news and clickbait as well. Young people use the internet (more specifically, social media) so frequently that it can be considered another extension of their body, using it as easily as one can breathe. However, no matter the generation, due to its convenience in this modern day, social media can be and often is a main source of news. The accessibility of social media allows practically anyone who is somewhat technologically literate to use it.

The openness of content on the internet has also changed how information goes around. Due to this vulnerability of intellectual property, a unique copyright culture is popping up in the twenty-first century. This culture of sharing, remixing and repurposing as ways to avoid copyright allows ideas to spread easily. Instead of stealing ideas found on the internet – which would be plagiarism, sharing content means that you can spread someone’s intellectual property while still giving them full credit. Many social media websites have a built-in feature that allows one to do this, for example, Facebook share button, Twitter’s retweet, etc. Even sites that do not necessarily have a ‘sharing feature’ built in their platform often have a button that allows one to copy the viewing link so the information can be shared in an ethical manner. Because social media is so easy to use and spread information, many people get their information directly off of social media, using it as a news source. According to this Statista infographic, the share of adults that use social media as a source of news in select countries range from 29% (Germany) to 66% (Brazil). Research from Pewter Research Center states “more than half (55%) of Americans ages 50 or older report getting news on social media sites.” (Shearer and Gottfried, 2017) The same research also shows that younger audiences are more likely to get news from social media (78% reported getting news from social media).

Due to the sheer amount of information readily available, it becomes easy to believe anything that is published if one is not critical about what they are consuming. According to Westerman, Spence, and Van Der Heide (2013), mainstream media has traditionally been the main source of news because it is generally seen as a timely, credible and reliable source of information. Social media is known for spreading fake news articles. Research done by Allcott and Gentzkow in 2017 on the 2016 American elections show that the 2016 elections were tilted in favour of Trump due to fake news spreading on social media. “Our database contains 115 pro-Trump fake stories that were shared on Facebook a total of 30 million times, and 41 pro-Clinton fake stories shared a total of 7.6 million times.” If fake news were not spread so easily, the results of the 2016 American elections could have been totally different. According to research done by Silverman (2016), fake news stories were shared more times on Facebook than the most popular mainstream news stories. The demographic most likely mass sharing fake political news articles on Facebook are a less wary older generation. Though it has quite a reputation for spreading fake news, this does not mean all of social media is not credible – a lot of news received through social media are links to more traditional news platforms, and of course, every social media platform functions differently. One just has to be analytical and careful when processing information and possess a critical mind to deem what is false and what is not.

Social media gives the everyday person the power to be a publisher, and people, especially marginalized people use it as a source of news because it is so accessible. Because anyone has the power to write things, it is not necessarily controlled by mainstream media – news and topics that may be banned and censored by the government cannot be regulated heavily on social media (not for the sheer lack of trying). There is such a volume of information constantly being streamlined through social media, social media is virtually unregulatable. On platforms like Twitter where they struggle to put new implementations in place in an attempt to stop mass created spam bots, attempting to regulate people by reporting spam and abuse is not dependable. People can and do take social media as a viable news source because this lack of regulation gives the average citizen the power to post absolutely anything they want. Topics that would normally never get coverage from mainstream media news sites like the Gaza Israel conflict are getting coverage from citizens on Twitter going through these things first hand. In Shearer and Gottfried’s study (2017), three quarters (75%) of people of colour use social media as a news source versus the 64% of white people. A factor that plays into this is the receptiveness of social media, which is more inclusive for people of colour whose news is regularly undermined by mass media than mainstream news is. Many racial activism movements which would never have gotten coverage by mainstream American media gained traction on social media. When an African-American teenager, Michael Brown was unjustly shot and killed by a police officer on August 9, 2014, mainstream media like Fox News covered his death in an extremely biased way attempting to justify the murder of a young man. This sparked the “Black Lives Matter” movement where the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” spread throughout social media. The outrage of the unjust deaths of many young black men at the hands of the police sparked through social media and began a movement.

Although the phrase ‘social media as a news source’ may have connotations of something extremely unreliable and different to an older generation, the fact remains that it is just another platform to spread information. Nowadays it is how a lot of news gets spread in the first place. When the print press was invented, information became much more accessible to so many more people. Social media has essentially the same function with different mechanisms – in the 1800’s people could print and spread nonsense with their print presses. Now people can write nonsense and spread on their social media accounts. At the end of the day, social media is just a convenient new medium to spread information – lack of critical thinking and awareness is the problem here. As long one is careful and critical about the news they consume, everything should be fine.


1241 words.




Allcott, H., and Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211–236. 

Westerman, D. K., Spence, P. R. and Van Der Heide, B., (2013). Social Media as News Source: Recency of Updates and Credibility of Information. J Comput-Mediat Comm, 19: 171–183. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12041

Shearer, E., and Gottfried, J. (2017). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/

Statista. (2017). Share of adults who use social media as a source of news in selected countries worldwide in 2017. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/718019/social-media-news-source/


Vol. 7: Essay 1

In an ever increasingly digital world, news, such as how people digest the news and what news is available, has evolved significantly from the morning paper at your doorstep. It is no new fact that news delivered through paper to everyone’s doorstep has decreased year over year in daily circulation in North America alone, causing a significant shift towards digital mediums. The evolution has caused a seemingly divide for Millennials and other generations, as they continue to resort to mediums such as social media for awareness of the world on their mobile devices. As the delivery of news and important events continue to adapt to new technologies and consumer habits, one must consider this information is now received and where important age groups, such as Millennials, are digesting this content.

Some researchers even find that Millennials’ awareness is narrow and that their discovery of significant events is almost accidental and passive, suggesting that the pre-digital generation were more interested in news and events (Media Insight Project, 2015). However, according to a quantitative and qualitative study conducted by the Media Insight Project on 1,045 Millennials (ages 18-34) within different parts of the US, 85% of Millennials agree that keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them. This opposes the notion by some researchers that believe this generation is generally apathetic towards issues and events unless it is the most important news. Though Millennials do agree that keeping up with the news is something that they do think about, the question is where this content is consumed.

The figure below showcases the division between younger generations and older generations on their main source to obtain news in Q1 2017, based on a survey of over 70k news consumers from 36 different countries (Dunn, 2017). The sources vary significantly as the age groups get older, showcasing this division graphically and suggesting the every increasingly important for news to be disseminated and created online—there is an increasing trend in terms of how digital people become as the age groups are younger. Furthermore, it also showcases the unpopular choices of radio and print across all ages.

Figure: Main Source of News by Age Group in Q1 2017

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-vs-baby-boomers-get-news-chart-2017-6

According to the survey, around 64% of people ages 18-24 and 58% of people ages 25-34 use online (including social media) as their main source of how they get their news. Even with social media alone, 33% and 21% of these age groups respectively turn to places where they connect with friends to receive information. TV still dominates for the older generations, with 45-51% of people ages 45 and above using this medium as their main source.

Social media continues to play an enormous role in how Millennials learn about the world. Facebook, the nearly ubiquitous part of Millennials lives and most used social networking site, is not the only medium Millennials use for news as on average, those surveyed from Media Insight Project obtain news from three different social media platforms (Media Insight Project, 2015). These include YouTube, Instagram, and places of active involvement such as Reddit. As noted as being more passive, the consumption of news and information is woven into daily lives of social interaction and connection—they’re not always actively searching, but always connected and mobile. Also, not only are they looking at one article on a subject, but they are digging deeper and use search engines to learn more about the issue at hand (Media Insight Project, 2015).

Within the realm of digital news, mobile is becoming the preferred device. The portion of Americans who have ever gotten their news on a mobile device has risen from 54% in 2013 to 72% in 2016, suggesting that these digital users are on the go, do not have a lot of time and want to experience life (Eva Masta & Lu, 2016). There is even a shift towards a preference of receiving news from a mobile device over the desktop computer or laptop. Among people who receive their news from both places, 56% prefer mobile device to get news (Eva Masta & Lu, 2016).

Because of the multitasking functionality of mobile devices, many question whether news content will prevail as the audience is more apt to digesting news quickly and dipping in and out. However, through a study of online reader behaviour by Pew Research Center researchers on the details of 117 million anonymized, complete cellphone interactions with 74,840 articles from 30 news websites, the analysis found that despite the smaller screen and the multitasking abilities, consumers do spend more time on average with long-form news articles than with short-form. The length of long-forms tends to not deter most users away. Between the two forms, the total engaged time with articles of 1,000 words or longer averages about two times the time of short-form stories: 123 seconds compared with 57, and this is consistent across time of day and the pathway taken to get to the article (Mitchell, Stocking, & Eva Masta, 2016).

A typical journey of how I obtained an interesting news piece, such as the recent announcement of in the increase in minimum wage in British Columbia. Similar to the different studies and research findings mentioned above, I found myself stumbling upon this information through Facebook, scrolling down my personal news feed on my iPhone as I was commuting to school. It felt almost accidental, but it was the talk of the day as it sparked enormous controversy on not only online publications, but amongst my friends on social media. The voice of my friends and who I am connected online seems stronger than ever—and though I knew I would have probably found this out through word-of-mouth, it surprised me how much news that will directly affect me in my own province can reach me easily without having to search for it. After I saw the article about the news was shared from a friend, it was not difficult to pull me in to read the full-page article. I was easily interested in why this is happening, when it is happening, and how it happened in the first place. Now, I believe that social media plays a key role in the delivery of the most interesting, impeding, and important news to Millennials.

As the digital evolution continues to progress within the aspect of news, events, and information, it is important for companies within this space that curate and disseminate content to integrate these trends, to monetize on digital users. As users are continually on the go and stumble upon news, the real hurdle of credibility remains, and how easily news can be distorted quicker than a day. For digital users, this means that cross-referencing and fact-checking with multiple sources is key to obtaining credible information, alongside the credibility of the author or news creator. For content creators and news publishers, this age requires the use of social media to diffuse information and to use social connections and interactions of people to share and educate others on important news and events. It is important to understand where the delivery of news is ultimately evolving towards to understand what content should be then produced and how it should be received.


Dunn, J. (2017, June 26). How Millennials vs Baby Boomers Get Their News. Retrieved from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-vs-baby-boomers-get-news-chart-2017-6

Eva Masta, K., & Lu, K. (2016, September 14). 10 facts about the changing digital news landscape. Retrieved from Fact Tank: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/14/facts-about-the-changing-digital-news-landscape/

Mitchell, A., Stocking, G., & Eva Masta, K. (2016, May 5). Long-Form Reading Shows Signs of Life in Our Mobile News World. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: Journalism & Media: http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/05/long-form-reading-shows-signs-of-life-in-our-mobile-news-world/

Project, M. I. (2015, March 16). How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation. Retrieved from American Press Institute: https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/millennials-news/




My Experience as an Online Publisher, More or Less

I have always want to create a blog, for my writings, drawings, music, and everything I love and am passionate about. I never seem to be able to keep up and continue what I have started previously. As I brainstorm about the site in September, I want it to be about something that I am currently most passionate about so that it would be a motivation for me to continue.

My site is mainly about Korean language and K-pop, as these two are my current greatest passion. I have always liked learning about different cultures, and I believe that there’s nothing better than learning a culture through its language. Also, Korean culture has been rapidly expanding to countries outside of Asia in recent years, especially through K-pop. I thought it would be nice to write about the K-pop groups that I like and know well on my site as a way to promote the pop culture. It is also a good way for myself to express my passion in a way that I can’t really do in real life.

In John Suler’s The Online Disinhibition Effect, he talks about how the anonymity and invisibility of media users affect the behaviour of themselves. I think these two disinhibition matches with my reasons to post online most. I only started engaging in Korean and K-pop culture about 5 years ago, and there isn’t many people around me who share the passion. There are instances when I want to express how much this passion means to me, but only to be returned with ignorance and disinterest. It has caused me to have second thoughts before talking about it in real life in front of people. As I post online on my site, I am one step removed from the possible audiences of my blog. The audiences do not know me in real life, meaning that I don’t have to worry about how they see me as they read the posts. Also, it also gives them a choice of selection; they can simply leave the site if they are not interested. It gives me the choice of sharing this passion with people of similar interests.

The audiences I originally target are people who are interested in K-pop and Korean culture. I have not started promoting my site on any social media, so the views of the site are still pretty low. There has been audiences from different parts of the world according to Google Analytics, but the return rate has been low. I think it is because of the small amount of content that causes this, and also my irregular updates. I want to introduce the culture in a relaxed and fun way so that people wouldn’t be overwhelmed, which is why I decided to write about K-pop. I also try to keep the language I use in the posts relaxed and fun while being informative. By using appropriate photos and videos, it would possibly increase the audiences interest in the topic and posts they are reading.

Mike Allton, a content marketing practitioner, has written a post on benefits of using images in blogs. He mentions that images encourage social media sharing, creating emotional connection, and making the blog more memorable. I strongly believe in this because I have experienced the same effect. Most of the blogs I do follow are strong on the visual aspect, and I would visit the blogs solely for the images even if there is no updates. My blog is still a little bit weak on the variety of images. Also, the theme of my blog does not allow me to include images in the excepts of the posts, making it less attractive to audiences.

As I mentioned above, I have not expanded my blog to other mainstream social media. One of the reasons is because I want to separate my personal social media accounts from this blog, and I have yet to create social media accounts for my online self. In Mary Meeker’s report on internet trends, global internet user has grown from around 15% in 2010 to almost 30% in 2016. There’s also a huge increase in mobile phone usage from 0.4 hour per day to 3.1 hour per day. Nowadays, many people choose to access social media and other information through their smart phones. I think that it is important for me to further expand my online personality into other social media if I are to continue developing and elaborate my online presence.

Looking forward, I want to continue blogging and developing my online self. My first goal would be to develop a schedule for regular postings. This is one of the biggest flaw of my blog right now. To do so, I think I should have a number of posts contents ready to be post regularly so that even when I am too busy to write new posts, I can still post something. The other thing I want to do is to create other social media accounts and link it to the blog, so that I would have a more elaborated and wholesome online presence. This would be a bit more difficult to achieve because of the amount of work it involves, but I would like to try. I once thought that publishing online is not a difficult thing. But after actually trying my hands at it, I realise how complicated it could be if I do it seriously.


Mary Meeker. 2017. “2017 Internet Trends Report.” http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

Suler, John. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Mike Allton. 2013. “10 Benefits of Using Images in Blogs.” https://www.thesocialmediahat.com/article/10-benefits-using-images-blogs

Essay #2 – Experience expanding my site

This has been an interesting experience for me as it was the first time I have ever created a website and been an administrator of my very own website. The site is based on the observations that my dog Koby is doing throughout her life. As the site is not based on my own personal experiences, I have to curate the site to cater to Koby as a character and animal (dog) lovers alike.

I created my publication using WordPress as it was the website editor that was required for the course. The website is about the everyday experiences of Koby the Beagle. She has both a Facebook and Instagram page prior to the creation of the website and the posts on those social media platforms address her as if it were her point of view (first person, I). However, my site addresses her as third person because I am the owner and administrator. It would make more sense since I am viewing her as separate entity and not assuming her thought process within the posts as if it were her own thoughts. The public that I have is catered toward animal lovers in general but more specifically dog/beagle lovers.

My content has mostly been pictures followed by short excerpts relating to or describing what Koby ‘may’ be thinking in regards to the picture. The three peer reviews that I have received have critiqued my blog posts in that they desired for more wordiness in describing the pictures posted on the site. The design of the site has been well received as per the three peer reviews. I strive for simplicity in the overall design of my website with the font, picture and colour choices. The burgundy bands along the sides of the site, I feel are a warm, comforting colour that makes visitors of the site more welcomed. The giant horizontal picture of Koby shows her whole body with her mouth open as if she were smiling. That decision creates an “AWW” feeling for my audience as it is the first thing they see when the page is opened. The value that I think I am providing for my audience is to hopefully make their day better by seeing a cute dog go about life in her point of view as told by the owner. Sometimes people need to take a break from their everyday lives and just enjoy viewing some Beagle pictures. The Google Analytics are not impressive as it only seems people that access the site are people from the class. The indication of visitors from other countries seem to only wander upon the site by accident and do not stay for long. I have comments on the site but they are only from the course instructor and fellow classmates. Obviously I would want more engagement on my site and I believe this can be achieved by linking the website to Koby’s social media pages. On Facebook 76% of people frequent the platform daily while 51% of Instagram users frequent that platform (Pew Institute, 2017).

Looking back, my publication has been consistent with weekly posts both for the blog and class portion respectively. I feel it is crucial to create an acceptable design right off the bat as then you can focus more on the content. The design has remained the same since the beginning of the term and I do not intend on changing it unless there is a new theme that I come across. Looking forward I will try to connect with other pet bloggers as they can help promote my site (Kelley, 2014). My niche is essentially pet lovers with my voice as the main speaker in the blog posts. The variety of pictures is what I think keeps my blog interesting so that may benefit me but I need to remain patient and keep plugging away and commit to having Koby’s blog succeed (Gray, 2017). I will continue to blog until my domain expires. The reasoning is that although I wish to be patient to grow the site, I believe I will have more success on Instagram as the reach is much better and she has many followers that consistently ‘like’ pictures that I post. Not to bash personal websites as a whole, but I believe it is difficult to promote a personal website unless there is external help like existing social media pages or promotion from recognized pet bloggers. I appreciate the blog creation process and am proud of the design of the site but in the end I believe the success will be greater in a platform that I can be more committed to with my time.


Gray, A. (2017, May 30). 4 Things to Consider When You’re Starting a Pet Blog. Petful. Retrieved from: https://www.petful.com/misc/starting-a-pet-blog/

Kelley, J.A. (2015, Sept. 28). How Do You Become A Successful Pet Blogger. Blog Paws. Retrieved from: http://blogpaws.com/executive-blog/blogging-social-media-info/how-to-get-traffic-to-your-blog/how-do-you-become-a-successful-pet-blogger/

Pew Research Center. (2017). Social Media Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/


Essay 2

Before this spring in 2017, I never imagined I could do my own online publication. Publication has been quite an abstract form for me, and I had always believe that this process would probably involve many different professional people with abilities of typing, editing and printing. The most important part I can imagine is printing. However, the fact exceeded my imagination that I created my own online publication and able to let people from all over the world to access it without printing. At the same time, I learned a lot of skills and gained experiences of online publishing.

At the beginning, I didn’t know that to build a blog is also the way of publication. Blog creation becomes a fashion that started more than ten years ago, I can still remember that I built my own blog when I was in middle school. what’s more,  people who create very popular blogs can even gain lots of earnings which is quite similar to the popular instagramers. For the website I created this time, I started with registered the domain name, and at the same time, make decision of the subject of the website and this teaches me a lesson. Since my domain name is “yunkecpub” which involves yunke that is my name and pub refer to publication, but the subject of the website is movie and film review which took me two weeks to finally make the decision and has no connection with the domain name. I believe this could be one of the reason why this website don’t attract much audiences, it’s better for the domain name to register after setting up the subject of the website.

There are two important tools I learned about online publication, they are Google Analytics and Google AdSense. These are the new technology that I didn’t have any knowledge before. And I was very surprised by the function and convenience of them. It’s very easy to install both tools, just by registering and adding both tools on the administration page of the website, they can be used for free. For the Google Analytics, it’s a tool that can monitor the viewers of your website, and summarize statistics about what devices the viewers were using, where were they, what language were they using, when did they view the website and more. This is very helpful when people want to make adjustment of their website and want to check their actual readers. The Google AdSense is a tool that can implement advertisements on your website, and it can help you earn money automatically. Although not every website can earn lots of money when this depend the click rate and flow rate of the website, it gave me an idea of how to cooperate advertisement sponsors with online publication.

Since the subject of my website is movies and film reviews, I was actually inspired by a Chinese website which allow many people to leave movie reviews and book reviews. This website has a name—–Douban, it is a big website involving information about music, movies, books and so on. When I want to know more information about the movie, especially when I want to know other people’s opinion of the movie, I sometimes check this website. By reading film reviews online, I can get more ideas about the stories and the logics that I don’t understand.  This is why I want to create a website that post my blogs and film reviews.

For my imagined public, I expected they are readers who love to watch movies, who interested in movies that comes out recently, and who love to share views of movies. Nevertheless, in the earlier stage of the website creation, the most of my actual publics are my friends, classmates, instructor and people who accidently dropped in. There are some more expected readers gained later when I have more and more information on the website. By checking the Google Analytics, something surprised me that my readers are from all over the world, viewers came from countries include Canada, Malaysia, Brazil, Egypt, the United States and so on. However, there are still fewer viewers of my website than I expected.

For the appearance of this blog, I choose dark color as the background. This background can leaves viewers an impression like watching a movie. And I used one of the famous fantasy movie picture as the head image of the blog, especially when the expressions of the characters on the image are quite catching, lead people’s interest into the blog. For the content of the blog, I’ve post four film reviews from the movies I watched during this season. There are all coming out recently. I think I’ve providing a resource for people to get to know something about the new movies and at the same time, know something about me and about my personal views.

After created this website and learned skills of building up online publication for this term, publication became a much more solid idea for me. Publication is not just only the form of printing, it’s now also digitalized and integrated in every individuals’ life. I would continue work for my online publication, not only to attract readers but also to gain more online publishing experiences in order to correspond to the current trend.



豆瓣. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2017, from https://www.douban.com/

F. (2012, September 07). On Self-Publishing and Amazon. Retrieved April 07, 2017, from http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/post/31026577075/on-self-publishing-and-amazon

Erin Kissane for Issue № 4. (n.d.). Contents May Have Shifted. Retrieved April 06, 2017, from http://contentsmagazine.com/articles/contents-may-have-shifted/

Essay #2

This semester may be coming to an end yet, my online publication will go on. Over the last three months, I was introduced to the world of online publishing and given a chance to create a place that was solely mine – sukhisthename.com. It became a place to share my favourite recipes, new beauty regimes, and […]

Essay #2

Although I was aware of what this course was called, as well as the content it would consist of, I never really thought that I would be able to consider myself an online publisher by the end of this term. But really—that’s what I’ve been doing this whole time. In some respects, that’s what I have been...

Essay #2


First of all, I would like to start with introducing my online publication. My website is about my life as a barista working at a café in Vancouver. I have two main categories on my website: Coffee and Stories. My purpose for the first category is to introduce some basic knowledge on coffee via YouTube video links and to introduce some featured cafés in Vancouver to my audiences. I aimed to write down some interesting stories in our café and to encourage my audiences to share their stories with me under the second category.


When I first created my website, I did not think thoroughly about who my potential audiences could be. It was designed for myself as an online cyber infrastructure to reflect on my working life. I told my colleagues and my friends about this course and this website so I assumed that my potential audiences could be them. Also, since a lot of my blogs are on coffee so I assumed that some coffee lovers in Vancouver could also be my potential audiences. In sum, I want my audiences to know that they are viewing the life of a real person and I hope that they could find something in common with me.


To fit my topic on coffee and to fit my potential audience, I purposely customized my website. The theme I chose is called “Pique Café”. This theme was originally designed for small coffee shops so its head image and its background color are matching with my topic. However, I customized it for my own plan.  For example, I edited the “About Me” page to make sure that any potential audience would be clear on who I am and what the website could be. Also, for each post, I tried my best to use images from my real life to emphasize that the website is about me, a real person in real life. Moreover, I also tag each of my post by using keywords such as coffee, café or barista to make it more searchable online.


I think I have provided some values to my colleagues. After viewing my site, one of my colleague once told me that he felt very satisfied to be a barista and to do what he loves to do. I am very glad to hear it. Also, more importantly, I think this website provided a lot of values to myself. Before taking this course, I have no experience with creating and maintaining a blog. Now I have learnt how to apply for a domain, how to customize a theme and how to solve some technical problems by myself. Also, before taking this course, I did not often write personal narratives in English. Now this website helps me to practice my writing

Final Review

Looking back, I found one important problem with my website. It is too self-oriented. First, I focused more on how to write a nice story which is for self-expression. I did not think a lot about how to design the website to fit the needs of my audience. Also, I was somehow reluctant to learn about the commercial side of publishing. When we were talking about the marketing and monetization of the website, I actually felt not very comfortable to think about making money from my website. Perhaps, this reflected the idealistic I who believed that as a publisher, we should focus more on content. If we created valuable and responsible content, then it would attract audiences by itself.

During our classes, I have learnt that design matters. As we discussed in class, typography had different personalities and we should choose wisely according to our content. An interesting research supported this by showing that people who saw the statements in Baskerville were more likely to agree with it. To contrast, Helvetica and Comic Sans are not able to inspire confidence.

Also, from the data on Google Analytics and the data on WordPress, I found that my website was only viewed by a few people. I realized this may due to my reluctance to marketing my site. For now, as a personal blog, it may seems acceptable. However, what if I need to promote a professional website? While I was reading the two course materials on the shutting down of The Toast, I found that the reason for shutting down, as the Co-founders Nicole Cliffe and Mallorie Ortberg announced, was that they couldn’t make enough money to continue. I started to rethink about the meaning of publishing and to reconsider about monetization.

I still believe in the significance of content. What I am afraid is that publishers spend too much time on marketing and on monetization that they forgot to maintain the quality of content. As Travis Gertz criticized in her post, nowadays too much content are produced every day and publishers tend not to actually care about content. They only care about what content can do for them. In my opinion, valuable content and monetization should not be in conflict with each other. It is our responsibility to maintain the balance between the two.




Carpenter, Shelby. “The Toast Is Toast: Literary Humor Site Shuts Down Over Ad Revenue Woes.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 13 May 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

Gertz, Travis. “Design Machines.” Louder Than Ten. N.p., 10 July 2015. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

Oberoi, Ankit. “How Typography Affects Readers.” AdPushup Blog. AdPushup, 06 Dec.  2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.



PUB 101 Essay #2: Understanding My Life in Chunks

PUB 101 Essay #2: Understanding My Life in Chunks

Thirteen weeks later, hours spent on end, and after many changes of the website’s layout, theme, and intended audience, www.chunkofkevin.com is created as a platform for technologically driven individuals, family, and close friends to find out a bit of my own life, such as my passions, and interests in a website blog format. As an online publisher in this inclusive and open space, I have learned a multitude of lessons, including a variety of different perspectives, monetization aspects, and analytical tendencies that have bolstered my understanding of what was needed to build a website for a professional and leisure setting. At no point, would I have thought that publishing content could be this difficult. Specifically, I will be discussing the difficulties of creating my website in detail, such as the creational aspects, finding a targeted audience, designing captivating visuals, understanding analytics and monetization strategies, as well as underlining the ways in which publishing has impacted my outlook on my own life.

Firstly, I wanted my website to be strictly for business professionals who want to explore and learn more about other businesses, specifically large institutions that are already established. My initial impression was to sift through company’s financial statements and identify ways in which a business can increase their efficiency, which can come in the form of cutting down the supply chain costs and optimizing their pricing strategies. It was a tall task, but I thought I could do it. The first to weeks were the hardest as content creations became more and more difficult and ambiguous. The decision to explore the financial statements of businesses was exciting, however, siphoning through business statements became time consuming and endlessly tiring.  Instead, I ended up creating an article on “Vainglory” as an upcoming “eSport” in the gaming scene and its possibility to penetrate the mobile gaming market, as an official “eSport”. After that, the content creation process translated into my life and how it related to technology. I created several articles on my PC gaming build experience and have thoroughly enjoyed creating biweekly content that engages the audience to keep reading new articles that come out. In the end, content creation became less of a chore, rather, it was a way to update my following with new things that have happened in my life.

In regards to the design aspects, Matthew Butterick’s quote on, “send[ing] all your readers to [the] Medium, [and] hav[ing] your work permanently entangled with other stories [on] [the] Medium” (Louderthanten, 2015) provided me a new perspective on seeking to improve the design of my website. Rather than creating an enticing visual aspect to my blog, I realized that my visuals and theme needed to be consistent with my actual content and was required to match my vision. As a way for people to identify and connect with my life, each article post was quite lengthy and provided a lot of effort to create, which was also why I ended up changing my theme from an ordinary blog style into large visuals that catered to fostering emotional connection and investment into the author from the home page. Much like any other website, the content matches the theme very well.

In terms of adding value, my website is a place where people can identify with, connect to other people, and gives an update through the lens of technology to the reader. Looking at the last few weeks in which Google Analytics took its time to find the viewing patterns of the normal viewer, I identified a few key characteristics that stood out. Usually, when a viewer looks at the website, the behaviour tended to remain consistent, where he/she would click through to 3 different pages before exiting my website. Furthermore, it indicated that my previous design model was counter-productive, where a curious reader had to dive deep into links before finding what he/she wanted off the front page. So, I decided to hide posts on the first page to reveal my most important posts that people enjoyed viewing in the past. In regards to monetization, a quote from a Forbes article on “The Bread”, which is a famous blog that amassed 1 million unique visitors in the year of 2014, underlined the situation of online revenue generating ads as “stretching [the] [company] too thin” (Forbes, 2016) where people would often use AdBlock to ignore ads that the website places in front of them, reducing the effectiveness of ads. With this, I targeted my monetization techniques by focusing on paid affiliations with brands and sellers such as Amazon and NCIX, providing a link to the readers to purchase these orders directly with a personalized link that gives a percentage of the purchase as a commission. I believe that as my website grows, I will be able to use a variety of methods to allow for multiple outlets for advertising, such as subscribing to a weekly newsletter that has targeted advertisements as well as creating a YouTube video to generate a larger following.

I have been asking for feedback from my family, specifically my dad, where he really liked the large visuals and attracting font usage for the site. Having heard that feedback, I really enjoyed the idea of people commenting, so I added a little paragraph at the end of each post that encouraged commenting or emailing me any questions regarding to a new PC build, questions, and struggles with their tech problems. This has influenced me to become more aware of my surroundings and to recognize the valuable perspectives of others, instead of maintaining a small focus on my way of running a website. Although I fully agree on the New Yorker’s perspective that “anonymity can boost a certain kind of creative thinking and lead to improvements in problem-solving” (New Yorker, 2013), however, in many cases, a level of trust must be established before hearing and interpreting feedback that is constructive to the environment. Using this, I plan on using both an anonymous input form as well as email to receive a larger and more diverse comment base that can help improve both creatively and constructively.

Overall, my website has been a great learning experience that continues to push me forward to create engaging content to my following. Ever since the beginning of the term, I have learned that there is more than meets the eye, as there is so much work behind the scenes to maintain, update, and change constantly for a website that thrives off the viewership of others. In the future, I plan on keeping my website as a place to store my interest of technology. In the future, I plan on looking for affiliations, as well as ways to adapt my webpage to be more suitable for all devices, which include mobile users and tablet users alike to create a more integrated platform to view my content.


Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Available from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines

Konnikova, Maria. 2013. “The Psychology of Online Comments”. http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-psychology-of-online-comments

Shelby Carpenter. 2016. “The Toast Is Toast: Literary Humor Site Shuts Down Over Ad Revenue Woes.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/shelbycarpenter/2016/05/13/the-toast-is-toast-and-its-devastating/#44854347c877

Essay #1

Fake news are not the products of the modern era. In the past, politicians also use propaganda to fit their own needs. Also, in some countries, traditional media such as newspapers and magazines are controlled and censored by the government who would only approve contents that are not against the government. However, the reason why fake news became an important issue was due to the development of Internet and social media platforms as we are entering the digital era. Fake news always exist but their power grows when the method to spread information changed.

How Did Internet and Social Media Platforms Influence Fake News?
The development of Internet and social media platforms had cleared a lot of barriers on the publishing and the spreading of fake news. In an article from The Telegraph, the author James Carson summarized three ways how social media revolution influenced fake news.
First, the creation of Facebook, Twitter and WordPress decreased the cost to publish and to distribute news. For traditional paper media, it may take hours or days to collect information, to edit content and to print those contents on paper. However, with the assistance of social media platform, it would save a lot of time and money to publish information. Second, various social media platforms had increased the accessibility of fake news to a large amount of audiences. Also, because of the lowered cost, publishers of fake news would not worry about the building of trust and the consequence of losing trust. Third, it was difficult to regulate online social media by law. Most publishers of fake news are anonymous individuals. Without regulation and restriction, online publishers would not worry about taking responsibility of their behaviors.

In my opinion, I agree with the author. The social media platform had speed up the information exchange in a good way. However, speeding up the sharing of fake news was one of its side effect.

How Powerful is Fake News?
A group of scholars from Stanford University had conducted studies on the role of fake news on 2016 US presidential election.

First, in order to test the significance of social media, they conducted a post-election online survey among 1200 people. The results showed that only 14 per cent of Americans considered social media as the most important sources of information during the election (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017). Later, they also used fake stories and placebo stories to conduct an experiment. After a series of calculation, they estimated that a single fake news story had a persuasion rate equivalent to seeing 36 television campaign ads (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017).

In my opinion, we are surrounded by high technology and digital products in urban cities. We become attached to online social media platform to the extent that we ignored the other sources of information. We became biased and even tend to omit the fact that there are certain per cent of people who still rely on newspaper or TV as dominant source of information. Therefore, I believed that the power of fake news could be huge but it was also limited only to people who frequently use social media platforms.

What Can We Do with Fake News?
Understanding the role of social media platforms on fake news and the limited influence of fake news, the next question would be what we could do with fake news.

As a person who could not live without social media platform, I would suggest myself and other users of social media platform to raise awareness of fake news. This is the first step. Lipkin is the executive director of National Association for Media Literacy Education. She believed that “Education is key and is our most powerful weapon against falsehoods.” (Padgett, 2017). We should understand that somehow we are more or less biased but the key to avoid falling in the trap of fake news is education.

On the other hand, I think it was also the responsibility of the social media platforms to make regulations on their users’ online behaviors. Some may worry that it could damage the freedom of speech of their users but I believed that our online behavior should be regulated as our offline behaviors. Purposely spreading false news should be identified and banned. Recently, Facebook began using third-party fact-checkers and gave its users the ability to manually report fake news posts (Tarantola, 2017). It is unsure if the solution would work but it indicated that at least, social media platform companies had moved towards solving the fake news problem.

To conclude, I found that fake news always exist but during recent years, Internet and social media platforms had amplify the power of fake news. However, according to studies, the influence of fake news may not be as huge as we expected. To minimize the damage of fake news, social media users should educate themselves and social media companies should make policies to manage their online communities.


Allcott, H., Gentzkow,M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf

Carson, J. (2017). What is fake news? Its origins and how it grew under Donald Trump. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/fake-news-origins-grew-2016/

Padgett, L. (2017). Filtering Out Fake News: It All Starts With Media Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/it/jan17/Padgett–Filtering-Out-Fake-News.shtml

Tarantola, A. (2017). Facebook now flags fake news. Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/06/facebook-now-flags-fake-news/

Essay: I Want YOU! (to stop spreading fake news).

Incorporating a business into the world of social media can be challenging. The competition to grab the attention of people scrolling through their newsfeeds requires more than bright colours and click bait. Your content has to be relevant and easily accessible. But more importantly, your content should be something that people want to hear about. Otherwise the backlash can be staggering. Recently the Donnelly Group, an independent business based out of Vancouver that owns pubs such as the Bimini and the Lamplighter, made another shift in their business by purchasing the now closed Railway Club. The Railway Club had been a Vancouver staple since the 30s, but fell out of business after it’s last owner couldn’t keep it up. Then when he couldn’t see it they shut it down. When Vancouver local Jeff Donnelly decided to buy the club one would think enthusiasts would rejoice, right?

Wrong. Shortly after the news broke the CBC released an article interviewing partner Chad Cole on the future of the club, where in the interview he stated that “unfortunately [live music]’s not going to be a core element of this new pub.” The news of the Donnelly Group buying out the club spread like wildfire over Facebook and the comment sections of Georgia Straight articles and those done by Vancity Buzz were alive with internet rage. Comments ranged from “For most people The Railway Club is synonymous with live music…to bring the place back without live music is very disappointing” to “I’d rather tear it down than turn it into another generic vapid soulless chain bar. Not going” to calling out employees who work there: “…then the greasy, little floor manager comes over and says “how can I make this right for you?” What a joke”.

The anger was on. But despite the complaints of no live music, the article continued to explain that there would in fact be live music, just not as frequently as the venue had in the past. A follow up article was released emphasising that there would be at least four nights of live music a week due to the backlash. As for the “bad beer, worse food”, the Donnelly Group actually sources almost all of their beer and food locally, and is a proud supporter of local breweries and sponsor of Vancouver events. If any of the commenters had attempted to do the smallest bit of research into this new group that was reviving their so-called favourite establishment when nobody else would, they would learn all of this. This is the effect of social media news.

People have gotten used to bite sized pieces of information. Today things are limited to 140 characters, 7 second videos and status updates to express huge events in our lives. When our attention span has been trained to be so short, all we read is the headline. The drawback is that these headlines can be misleading and often don’t give people the correct information. Pre-conceived biases people hold can be triggered by a negative headline they don’t agree with or enlightened by one that they do. How many times have you “liked” or reacted to an article’s headline without clicking on the link? According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. adults get their news on social media. NPR reported that a Stanford survey conducted found that 80% of middle schoolers in 12 states couldn’t tell the difference between fake and real news. Based on the comments sections of certain Facebook articles, I’d wager that percentage would only be slightly less for adults. Fake news is effective because people believe what they want to believe. They want something to talk about, and when everyone has their own internet soapbox, it’s easy to yell your opinion into the void, however misinformed it may be. People see a title that supports their way of thinking and because it’s a “published” piece of writing, they cling on to that.

Publishing has changed now that Facebook is in play. In the Columbia Journalism Review’s article “Facebook is eating the world”, writer Emily Bell states “The future of publishing is being put into the hands of the few who control the destiny of the many.” Facebook’s power of news distribution is huge, and who can say what will and will not be published when people’s views of the truth have become so obscure, and even the president is spewing lies in national addresses. The technological powerhouses such as Google, Facebook and Apple have all started to dip their toes in the new industry, with Apple recently launching “Apple News” to add to the growing list of sources.

“When facts don’t work and voters don’t trust the media, everyone believes in their own truth.” claims Katharine Viner in her essay for the Guardian, published in July of last year. For a piece written over six months ago, the statements couldn’t be more true now. The world of publishing and how we receive and even accept our news is changing, and people blowing a restaurant chain out of proportion is just a small example. Incidents like #pizzagate that start off ridiculous and lead to shootings could just be the tip of the iceberg if people don’t start being more responsible for the news that they choose to regurgitate.

But the public doesn’t always believe they have time, or even consider looking deeper into the articles they’re being fed. In an attempt to stop the catcall of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, websites like Teen Vogue and Slate are attempting to educate their readers on how to spot false articles, with Slate even going so far as to create a Chrome extension that actually highlights articles on your newsfeed as possibly false if they come from uncredible sources. Despite this attempt, Slate’s headline for the announcement gives off the real message: “Only you can stop the spread of fake news.” The message is clear, and if people have a duty to themselves and to those around them to believe that the truth is not subjective when it comes to delivering facts. In the end, that’s what news media has always been and what we must fight to make it today.


1. Bell, Emily. “Facebook is eating the world.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 7, 2017. http://www.cjr.org/analysis/facebook_and_media.php.
2. Colglazier, William. “The Best TIps for Spotting Fake News in the Age of Trump.” Teen Vogue. January 17, 2017. http://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-best-tips-for-spotting-fake-news-in-the-age-of-trump.
3. Domonoske, Camila. “Students have “dismaying” inhibility to tell fake news from real, study finds. .” NPR. November 23, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.
4. Gottfried, Jeffery, and Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center. May 26, 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/.
Oremus, Will. “Only You Can Stop the Spread of Fake News. .” Slate. December 13, 2016. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/introducing_this_is_fake_slate_s_tool_for_stopping_fake_news_on_facebook.html.
5. Viner, Katharine. “How technology disrupted the truth.” The Guardian. July 12, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth.