Monthly Archives: February 2017

Breitbart: A Reputable or Treacherous News Network?

By John Luu
February 28, 2017
954 words

If we, users of the Internet, were to accept everything we read online as facts, then there would be a widespread of fear and confusion. To combat this, users can use media literacy to tackle “massive information literacy problems [such as] … fake news, misinformation, disinformation, and other types of spin” (Caulfield, 2016, para. 7). Polarized news sources that are based on political perspectives can provide opportunities for Internet users to exercise their media literacy skills to determine if it is a reliable source of news or not. Breitbart is a good example of a notorious and influential right-wing conservative news outlet that is heavily producing bias content and thus have implications on youth’s political opinions.

Firstly, Breitbart news appeals to the conservative publics. Its main website allow like-minded users to contribute political news and opinion articles, which are often bias. It can also allow for the “production and circulation of discourses, … and debating and deliberating” (Fraser, 1990, pg. 57) of opinions. Breitbart provides this public with a possibility to engage and participate in commentary through its comments section. Since this site is intended for right-wings, the vast sea of comments are clearly echoes of conservatism. In figure 1 and 2, users America is Great Again and DiscusstedConservative shares their right-wing political beliefs in the comments section and their usernames plainly points out their political views as well. There are even the upvotes for these comments, which suggests that more people agree with their comments.

 

Figure 1: Article comments. Screenshot taken from www.breitbart.com

 

Figure 2: Article comments. Screenshot taken from www.breitbart.com

 

Furthermore, other comments reinforce that Breitbart has a large following of conservatives that remind us of their traditional values.

 

 

Figure 3: Article comment on traditional values. Screenshot taken from www.breitbart.com

 

Breitbart’s merchandise also blatantly illustrates their support and promotion of Republican views. Figure 4 shows of a t-shirt with a border wall logo that references Trump’s wall plans and the mug in figure 5 depicts a rhino behind a target scope, suggesting that democrats are a “scourge upon the Republic” (Breitbart Store, 2017) which points to a bias political opinion.

 

Figure 4: Border Wall Breitbart Tee Shirt. Screenshot taken from https://store.breitbart.com/collections/all-products/products/border-wall-t-shirt

 

Figure 5: Breitbart Mug. Screenshot taken from https://store.breitbart.com/collections/all-products/products/rino-hunter-jumbo-coffee-cup

 

In addition to their publics engagement through the comments section, Breitbart News Network creates sensationalized headlines that attracts attention and fear.

 

The titles of Breitbart articles is arguably sensational and misleading, which can insinuate fear amongst its audiences. For example, an article titled Report: Social Media is Driving Americans ‘Insane’ (Nash, 2017), is blaming social media as a detriment to Americans. The argument of this article is based solely on one external source (Nash, 2017), which limits the credibility of Nash’s article. Also, Breitbart News website is designed to capitalize the letters article headlines, which can project an alarmist tone to readers. Before concluding his article, he mentions that “left-wing media was largely responsible for the public distress following Trump’s win” (Nash, 2017, para. 7). Upon further investigations of Charlie Nash, the young tech reporter is found with bias opinions on Liberals and the offensive use of a gunman for his tweets on his Twitter account. With the conjunction of Nash’s online activity and opinions, is it evident that his content can be seen as bias towards a certain political ideology.

 

Figure 6: Charlie Nash’s Retweet Showcasing Dislike for Liberal Ideologies. Screenshot taken from https://twitter.com/tciccotta/status/836098983135166468

 

Figure 7: Nash’s Tweet With Use of Elliot Rodgers, Murderer and Misogynist. Screenshot taken from https://twitter.com/MrNashington/status/833495979219415040

 

Referring back to his article, he claims that social media is a problem. This can ignite fear mongering amongst Breitbart readers/visitors and may believe that social media is actually affecting Americans. These types of “fearful headlines draw people in by capitalizing on their concerns and anxieties” (Boyd, 2012a, para. 3) that can shape opinions based on insufficient or incorrect information. Overall, Nash’s contributions to Breitbart faces an ideological trap of technological determinism. As Watson (2016) explains technological determinism, it can be applied to Nash’s content which it is presented through a deterministic stance, believing that technology determines human behaviour and ignoring the “subtle investigations of use and adoption practices.” Through the use of fear as an attention-grabbing tactic, Breitbart News can influence teen opinions.

 

With the rapid rise of teens as digital natives, bias online news outlets affect teen’s political education. For teens, the networked public is their new playground for social interaction and a participatory culture of generating and posting content to be seen (Boyd, 2014b, pg. 206). Some teens even actively follow politics and transcribe their political opinions into their networked publics (Boyd, 2014b, pg. 206). However, with questionable and unreliable news source such as Breitbart on the rise, the spread of misinformation can persuade teens into misleading advocation. For example, teens may jump on the bandwagon of the ‘Men’s Rights Activism” simply because a conservative news outlet promotes it or that it appears edgy to defy ‘political correctness’ (Hadfield, 2016). With such a large following, Breitbart has no issues spreading their opinions.

 

 

Ultimately, Breitbart News is a immense and proliferating bias news sources that favours the conservative ideology, which has a negative impacts on adolescents. However, news cannot be fully objective, because there will be varying levels of bias in every news. Personally, Breitbart News is an appalling news outlet that are more anti-liberal than their proclaimed conservative stance. On the contrary, one might disagree and support Breitbart’s opinions; which by all means, their gaudy merchandise can be found and purchased through their blaring advertisement on the homepage.

 

References

Boyd, D. (2012a). The Ethics of Fear and How It Undermines an Informed Citizenry. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/2012/fear-undermines-an-informed-citizenry-as-media-struggles-with-attention-economy/192509/

Boyd, D. (2014b). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Caulfield, M. (2016). Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One? Retrieved from https://hapgood.us/2016/12/19/yes-digital-literacy-but-which-one/

Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hadfield, J. (2016). The Men’s Rights Movement: A Smart, Necessary Counterweight to Man-Hating Feminism. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/08/02/mens-rights-counterweight-feminism/

Nash, C. (2017). Report: Social Media is Driving Americans ‘Insane’. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/02/24/report-social-media-driving-americans-insane/

Watson, S. (2016). Toward a Constructive Technology Criticism. Retrieved from http://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/constructive_technology_criticism.php

 

Website Design – SFU Peer Review #2

 

Art Bar is the name of SFU student Sarvin Samei’s website, found at artvancity.ca. My intention for this review was to continue exploring website design. I hoped to discover more creative ideas for my own blog, as well as provide Sarvin with some design tips of my own.

As somewhat of a minimalist, my first impression of the layout and website design of Art Bar was positive. I liked the crisp white canvas that served as the background to this blog. It reminded me of the white-washed walls of an up and coming art gallery in the process of a new exhibition. This may or may not have been Sarvin’s intention. I have to admit, I had expected something a lot more colourful from an art blog. Yet, the Astrid theme really worked. It resembled the art of black and white photography, with its bold black header, typography and white spaces. These design features were an effective backdrop for some original artwork posted by Sarvin on her pages.

Website Design Suggestions

Two sites I’d suggest for content design and picture editing include, canva.com and pixlr.com; they’re free and user friendly with helpful tutorials. The artwork displayed on Art Bar should really make a statement. I would suggest larger images and a short description of each piece, like at a real gallery. It would also be interesting to have workable links to each artists’ history, gallery, showings, or website, in order to see what else they’ve done.

The links to Art Bar‘s articles and pages were designed with a splash of electric purple colour, lighting up as the reader hoovers over them – a nice artistic touch. I liked the addition of a Twitter Link for readers to share the site’s content. I’ve discovered that a Facebook link works really well in allowing readers to share content as well. Uploading a free plug-in called Ultimate Social Media will provide some creative options for social media integration.

Where Will She Go From Here?

Like all of us beginning a blog, Sarvin’s pages contained a lot of white space waiting for more creative content. I’m really looking forward to seeing how her ideas and work will develop from here. Her About Me page was beautiful and professional, with a portrait of her that really ties in to the whole website design. On the What To Do In Vancity page it’d be helpful to see a list and/or description of galleries and art centres in the Vancouver area, as well as upcoming art events for those who’d like to be tourists in their own city.

Thanks for sharing your interests and ideas with us Sarvin. I know they’ve helped me in my process this week.

 

The post Website Design – SFU Peer Review #2 appeared first on nicole james kestila.

The Internet is Shutting Down Forever – What Would You Do in its Last Hour?

The Internet is Shutting Down? Imagine. What Would You Do?

Something to think about

I think it’s fair to say that most of us have become quite reliant on the internet in our daily lives. We use it to store our information in the cloud, communicate with others, shop, research, find out what’s happening in the world, search where we’re going, and the list goes on! But what if we were to learn that in less than an hour, all this would end forever.

What would you do in that last hour on the internet? And what does this say about you?

From the reaction I get when our Wi-Fi goes down at home, I know the effects would be disastrous for my family. We’ve already given up our house phone for iPhones, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who gets calls. The purpose of our phones is no longer for phoning at all but simply a tool to the internet. We have cable, but this too has become obsolete. Netflix has completely taken over our lives, and yes for this we need the internet.

Everything worth saving I’ve already saved on external drives for such a disaster, but wait…have I? Pictures…yes, files…mostly, contacts…no! passwords…? Wait, what will we need these for? Maybe I’m not as prepared for losing the internet as I think I am. Yet part of me feels relief from the possibility of a shut down. But then again, I grew up with televisions, telephones, radios, record players, movie rentals, newspapers, typewriters, notebooks (not the laptop version), paper maps, libraries, and yes…books. I still love books!

My kids didn’t grow up with any of these things. The internet is their social connection to everything and everyone of any importance to them. Except maybe their great grandmother, who still sends handwritten letters and paper cheques! Even their grandparents have slowly and patiently learned to text them (on handed down iPads). In fact, when my mom left for Vegas this week to celebrate my dad’s 75th birthday with her iPad tucked safely in her carry-on. Before she left she told us, “ I won’t be taking my phone, because I won’t have any use for it there, but I’m taking my iPad, so text us…there will be Wi-Fi in the rooms…right?”

Lol

I know I’d suffer from the internet shutting down, like everyone else. After all, I’ve chosen a new career path that completely relies on it! Yet, I think I’d use my last hour on the internet to reach out to my public one last time, say goodbye. Kind of like a message in a time capsule for future visitors of the planet, if the internet is ever turned back on. And I think I’d remind everyone to be kind, stay connected in anyway they could, slow down, enjoy life, and spend time with those they love. What does this say about me? 

What about you?

The post The Internet is Shutting Down Forever – What Would You Do in its Last Hour? appeared first on nicole james kestila.

Inspiring Websites – Audience Engagement

The Search Continues for Inspiring Websites

In my search for inspiring websites, I came across a unique parenting site called Scary Mommy 2. My focus this week for improving my own blog centered around audience engagement. I was interested in discovering what else I could do to expand and interact with my audience, as well as create more content. Since Scary Mommy 2 was continually coming up with articles I was reposting each week on Facebook, I figured this site was a great place to start.

Scary Mommy 2

Scary Mommy 2 was originally started by stay-at-home mom Jill Smokler in 2008. According to the site’s “About” page, Jill began her blog as an online baby book and simple record of days at home with her children. In 2015, Scary Mommy 2 was acquired by Vinit Bharara (media company – Some Spider) and now has hundreds of contributors. The site includes additions by video producers and editors, staff and news writers, and essayists. It also produces video and multimedia content for advertising partners.

As I mentioned already, Scary Mommy 2 was continuously posting articles on Facebook I found interesting enough to repost. This week I decided to go directly to the site by clicking on its link through my Facebook account.  I wanted to see what this site was really about. What I found was an interactive platform so engaging and collaborative I became lost within it for two straight hours. It literally took a desperate need for caffeine and a bathroom break to release me from its grips.

Audience Engagement

Like similar websites, Scary Mommy 2 had its link to Facebook, which was obviously working to draw audiences like myself and others back to its pages. I had already added this feature to my own blog and was noticing more traffic because of it. This site also included an email and mailing address for comments and questions. This was a detail I had overlooked on my own site but wasn’t sure I was ready to publish yet. I have some privacy concerns with working from home. Another interesting feature was its “Updates Sign-up,” which allowed readers to receive updates and new articles straight to their mailbox. I think this feature will be something I’ll want to add to my blog when I have more content.

What really caught my attention on this site for audience engagement was a page called “Confessional.” The Confessional page was really a message board or forum, fostering interaction and conversation, as well as stimulating collaborative discussion. Categories included a “Welcome Wagon,” for new members to introduce themselves; a “General Daily Discussion;” a “News” section; and various categories like “Kids,” focused on parenthood. It resembled a kind of chat room for readers wanting to ask questions of the writers and other members, discuss articles, and/ or share ideas of their own. I really liked this idea, especially for a site of this nature.

Advertisement

Because Scary Mommy 2 produces media for advertising partners, I wasn’t surprised to see a lot of advertisement on the site itself. The ads weren’t that prominent, and I didn’t find them distracting from the content at all. With a site of this magnitude and such a large audience, the ads made sense. I’d have to have quite a large audience myself before I considered advertisement on my site, and they would have to make sense to my content. I’m more likely to promote the advocacy of social change through my blog than anything else.

Searching out inspiring websites like Scary Mommy 2, to improve audience engagement and create more content on my own site, was a process well worth the time and effort. I would encourage anyone beginning their own blog to do the same. The learning curve has been steep so far, but well worth the climb!

The post Inspiring Websites – Audience Engagement appeared first on nicole james kestila.

Yoga Generation – A Welcoming Website Design

Yoga Generation

One of my favourite places to unwind in the lower mainland is Yoga Generation. Co-owned by Nicole Whitman and Prestonne Domareski, Yoga Generation is the only aerial yoga studio in the lower mainland – offering yoga in a hammock!

As part of my journey in beginning a website, I’ve gone from exploring other personal blogs to taking a closer look at online sites offering services in my community. yogagen.ca has been designed using elements that represent everything I’ve grown to love about this studio.

After searching through and comparing Yoga Generation’s online site to others in the lower mainland (and there’s plenty to compare it to), I was impressed by how personal its theme, layout, and customizations are. I also loved its interactiveness and usability through links, social media connections, and event invites. This site has a welcoming and inclusive characteristic about it, completely true to the atmosphere of the Yoga Generation studio itself.

What Sets this Site Apart from the Others?

What stood out immediately about their site was all the pictures and videos used to illustrate every aspect of the studio and its services. Unlike other similar websites, I wasn’t bored with endless columns, pages, and posts describing what the yoga experience is about. yogagen.ca has a storybook type design begging visitors to click on images of teachers and classes, events and workshops, examples of aerial yoga, and news coverage. The pictures even included regular studio participants taking part in classes, bringing a personal and authentic feel to the site.

The home page works almost like a book cover, suggesting what can be found deeper inside the pages – with an interactive, slide show type header and floating tag lines, prices, and promotions. What I really liked about the home page was the welcome section, briefly describing the Yoga Generation studio and intention of the owners and instructors. A calendar of upcoming events and a search button have also been included for the customers’ convenience.

yogagen.ca has a clean and comfortable layout and great use of space. Like the Yoga Generation studio itself, I am compelled to make myself at home in its domain, cozied up in my comfies with a warm cup of herbal tea.

Oh…and it offers discounts to students too! I’m sold!

The post Yoga Generation – A Welcoming Website Design appeared first on nicole james kestila.