Going (going) Back (back) to Cali (Cali)


Spring Break is next week. I’m off to San Francisco on Saturday to see my mother’s entire extended family. Very exciting. Not only will it be great to see family, but it’ll be nice to run somewhere completely new for a few days. A few days off from Mass Ave Bridge sunsets and monotonous runs around the Fens will probably be alright for me, helps keep things exciting.

It’ll be great because I get to spend time with my Mom, see her side of the family, who I really never get to see, and hang out on the other end of the country for a week. The Behlings, my mother’s extended family, are some pretty neat people. My grandpa Pappy, aka Ralph Behling, is who we’ll be spending most of our time with. He brought the Pap Smear west of the Mississippi and pushed for studies of cervical cancer to be done.  He’s a big supporter of women’s rights. He’s very, very funny.

In my Reinventing the News class, we were asked to give a presentation on websites regarding our beat, that incorporate our interest as well as looking into the future of the ‘beat’ from a journalistic standpoint. I gave my presentation a little over a week ago, and am wishing I could float back in time and think about which I chose a bit more. I felt in my presentation, I had already covered much of the material in an earlier post.

As my roommates know, I am a frequent pinner. For those of you who don’t know, a “pinner” is someone who actively uses the “Pin it” button on Pinterest and never stops adding to their interest boards. The concept is simple, you create virtual boards, categorizing them based on, go through pins, and repin, or like, the pins that interest you. I like to think of my Pinterest boards as my virtual inspiration boards, and it’s awesome to see what my friends are into – and how we are similar and different, at least “P-interest”-wise.

Some benefits of Pinterest are obvious: my mother could easily get ideas of what to buy me for my birthday (selfish), I could easily come across good crafting ideas on a rainy day, and I can find new clothes and jewelry I may not have come across otherwise.

But beyond the material and wishlist-aspect of Pinterest, there are journalistic benefits of it. Benefits that pertain to my beat of running, but also beyond just the scope of fitness.

Its biggest strength to journalism, in my opinion, is that it depicts exactly what the average American woman (the majority of Pinterest users) is interested in. The most “pinned” pictures are recommended to users based on their similarities to the pictures posted, and it caters to interests. It is a haven for ideas, and through Pinterest, I have come across new websites that I absolutely love.

It’s one of those websites I go to whenever I need to find something interesting to write about when I’m flat out of ideas. I found the Tone it Up! team through Pinterest, and have actively been following their workouts. These women would be perfect to use for a feature story in a Lifestyle magazine, for example.

It’s also just a simply beautiful display of art. Granted, some of the pictures are far from art, but other pictures, even ones without aesthetically-pleasing intent, have beautiful composition. It’s a great way to share inspiration, I’m most definitely “pin-spired”.

In regards to running and journalism, an obvious location of technology’s effect on running is Runner’s World magazine (though I’d say a majority of the Runner’s World community prefers the website).

Print magazine are useful, informative and generally great pieces of readings, Runner’s World is no exception to that. However, their website is most likely my favorite running resource.

The community on Runner’s World is pretty big, as seen is the forums and comment sections of articles. As a result, a lot of information is available.

It seems the website goes through the process of screening comments using their community guidelines to decide what is and is not appropriate. However, they show that someone has had their comment removed, so it is clear there is an extent of censorship, and they will permanently delete members who abuse posting rights:

Based on some more “nasty” comments I’ve read (sorry, Kate Gosselin) the censorship does allow for some strong and potentially damaging comments, but I have yet to find an outright bad word that passed through the screening.

I really enjoy the layout of the website, I think it’s organized well, and the search option is actually fairly good, and comes up with very relevant searches. Heed warning: long searches generally don’t work as well. Be short, be general. It’s smarter than you might think.

Runner’s World makes a clear distinction between what is user published, and what is published by the experts of the magazine (or freelancers they deem as experts). According to the website, it’s very difficult to get published on the website as a freelancer, though they do consider compensation-free articles less stringently.

I often think that it’s better for websites/magazines to be more willing to publish freelanced articles. After all, journalism is getting more and more competitive and we, those studying journalism as well as those merely seeking to freelance on top of other responsibilities, need outlets that can compensate our work. It’s capitalism.

But, with all the fact checking involved – particularly with the nature of running and its potential implications on health, liability can be a risk not worth taking.

I really do associate running with music. A huge part of my runs is based on the music I’ve listened to. Just today, I ran in the morning, could barely make it through 20 minutes. Why? My playlist just wasn’t doing it for me. Later in the day I breezed through 30 minutes, just by tossing in some new Black Keys.

My personal favorite, off El Camino:

And, thanks to technology and society, music is becoming deeply rooted in social media.

So, if following the basic rules of transitive relation, it can inferred that running must coincide, at least in my mind, with social media. My personal favorite musically-oriented social media websites serve similar and different purposes, but can be easily summed up to these five:

Spotify: Before Spotify, my list of favorite social media websites varied drastically, I had about 15 different places I would look for music – lastFM, Top10, the Runner’s World section of recommended songs to run to per year. Thanks to Spotify, there are Spotify applications that allow me to organize it all on there. Awesome, efficient and makes maintaining music, finding new music and creating/sharing playlists so easy. Just the other day, I realized you can create a radio station based on your favorite artists. I chose The Black Keys as my artist of choice. Usually, I would have done similar on Pandora, but I figured I’d test out Spotify’s music generating abilities with an open mind. I was blown away. To be frank, I liked just about 50% of the songs Spotify chose for me. Pandora was no different, though, I never liked more than about half the songs it catered to my taste. So what blew me away? For so long I’ve been restrained by Pandora’s silly “you can only skip [x] amount of songs per hour” rule. On Spotify, skip away. Unfortunately, both have yet to do away with horribly annoying and repetitive commercials.

8Tracks: Great to find playlists for anything. Allows users to share a lot of information without violating “terms of conditions”. When a playlist becomes popular enough, it can reach a huge amount of “likes”, subscribers and comments.

  • My favorite playlist of songs: “Wow, I feel epic”, where I rediscovered an old favorite track, which has quickly become a favorite one of my favorite running songs “Caring is Creepy” by The Shins.

iTunes: It gets the songs onto my iPod. I can do this with Spotify, but it’s a bit more complicated. Personally, however, I find most restrictions of iTunes purchases incredibly annoying. I like using my songs unlimited amounts in my personal mixes. I’ve purchased them, after all. They’re mine.

[Disclaimer: Can I include this without getting in legal trouble?]
YouTubeToMP3.com : Turns my favorite YouTube videos into mp3s to go onto my iTunes/Spotify. Enough said.

YouTube: An oldie but goodie, it will probably be a favorite of mine for days to come. I don’t love how easily videos are taken down, but as we learned in class, it takes a small amount of effort to get a video removed, especially when terms of offensive content and/or the breaking of copyright law are reason behind the notification to dismiss the content. There are videos for everything. They seem to rely too heavily on the community of users to flag videos, and some criminally offensive videos have been posted on YouTube, sometimes overlooked for extensive periods of time.

YouTube censorship fights the same battles many media hosts do, especially those of freedom of press/speech, and have come across obvious, surprising and unusual problems with videos uploaded to the site.

Examples of this were the anti-American videos of Anwar al-Awlaki, also known as the “Bin Laden of America”. Many videos Awlaki posted were removed by YouTube, particularly those of his calls to jihad. This decision came after Anthony Weiner voiced his disapproval of the videos, claiming they proted the fear of terrorism. Ironically, Weiner faced privacy problems with YouTube videos years later, after sending sexually explicit images via Twitter to a follower of his. And as the story goes, what’s on Twitter goes on YouTube goes on Facebook and so on…

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About kimberlybrussell

Journalism major & sociology minor, finishing up my last year of college.
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