Fire in the Fenway

A seemingly random fire broke out today in the Boston Back Bay Fens today around 6pm today, engulfing a major part of the park. While the source of the fire is unclear (I tried to talk to a few firefighters about it), they speculate that it could have been a stray cigarette or other unintentional act that set off the gigantic blaze. Another bloggers post does provide a little more insight (and some great pictures)!  I have a few pictures that I took myself posted below, as well as a few short videos that I will have up soon.

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Categories: Uncategorized

April 2, 2010 Comments off

Matt Carroll

Matt Carroll is not your typical journalist. He seems like any other regional reporter at the Boston Globe, covering state politics, special interest stories, local buisiness, all the typical stuff. But don’t let this fool you. In the newsroom, he is  the equivilent of a cat who likes taking baths. How? He is a journalist with a passion for numbers.

Now today’s typical math-phobic journalism student (a.k.a. wordies) might wonder how a zeal for numbers and expertise in compiling and interpreting statistics might serve as useful in a field saturated by English and history buffs. But to Carroll, these numbers are like any public record, interview or government document: they are just another tool to dig up stories.

Carroll believes that compiled statistics are as important to journalism as anything else.

Carroll has compiled numerous statistical charts and stats concerning Massachusetts, including a report he built concerning where the highest concentrations of licesed gun ownvers reside. He makes these documents public via wesites such as many-eyes, a document sharing site Carroll showed our reinventing the news class. This site allows users to not only post docs and statistics but also comment on the works of others.

Numbers cannot always be trusted: people manipulate numbers. It’s done all the time with graphs, maps and flimsy interpretations. Even numbers themselves can sometimes be unintentionally misleading. One particular case of this that Carroll cited was a time when he was compiling stats on automobile accidents in Massachusettes and couldn’t figure out why there were so many incidents at midnight…before he realized that the data read 12PM, not AM.

But it is the goal of reporters like Carroll to break down these statistics to their bare forms. And when these numbers are correctly examined, interpreted and processed, one is presented with something that, I believe, is as close to the unbiased truth as it comes.

Matt Carroll may not be your typical journalist. But it seems, and I think Carroll whould agree, that in today’s increasingly digital world, the future of journalism will depend on this new generation of journalists like Carroll: journalists who don’t fear the numbers, but embrace and utilize them.

Categories: Uncategorized

No one’s crying over the House of Blues

Backstage entrance to the House of Blues, Boston

Imagine this – you’re a brand new student at Northeastern, looking for a place to indulge your love of music. Sure, you could see who’s playing at AfterHours on Thursday or Friday night, but if you want to see big performances in a hip concert setting and not business and engineering majors covering Jack Johnson (not that there’s anything wrong with that), make your way over to the House of Blues, Boston.

HOB, as its shortened to, is a chain club venue conveniently located in Boston right, next to Fenway Park on Lansdowne street, making it pretty easy to find (if you’re out on the street don’t know where that is, ask the next Bostonian Red Sox fan you see…they’ll know where it is). There’s also a number of great restaurants and bars right nearby, if you want to grab a bite to eat or a drink (if you’re of age, of course) before a HOB show.

Front entrance

HOB features a good size concert venue floor – not to big and not too small. There are also bar stations on either side of the floor. There is also balcony seating area surrounding the floor which, depending on the event, may be free to go up to, offering a cool bird’s-eye view of the stage.

Formerly known as the Avalon, HOB Boston has actually drawn in more revenue than its previous space holders and continues to book big names, such as lyrical master Ben Folds and rap icon Snoop Dogg, who both will be coming next month in lieu of other performers, both nationally acclaimed and local. I recently went to see Grace Potter,  an up-and-coning folk star from Vermont, back in November, and the venue was perfectly fitted to the event (I was right up close to the stage but didn’t feel packed in, as often happens in smaller venues).

The House of Blues is more than a concert venue, too. It features a restaurant that specializes in southern-style cuisine, a delicacy which I have yet to experience (but plan on doing so). It also offers a couple VIP lounges for special events, including their famous Foundation Room. Membership is required to access these areas but seems like an ideal location for a corporate event or special celebration. In addition to this, HOB Boston also features a Gospel Brunch that is held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month.

House of Blues, Boston, is at the center of Boston's heart - right across from Fenway Park.

So check out the HOB Boston website to see the list of upcoming events and concerts. If you see something you like, I encourage to try out the House of Blues at least once.

Click the main image at the top of the post to see a slideshow of venue outside of the HIM show on Sunday, March 28th.

Info

15 Lansdowne Street

Boston, MA 02115

(888)693-2583

—————————————

Restaurant Hours of Operation

Tuesday-Saturday 4pm-12am

Sunday-Monday: Closed unless there is a show

Retail Hours

Tuesday-Saturday: 4pm-12am

Sunday Gospel Brunch: 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month, 9:30am-12:30pm

Monday: Closed unless there is a show

Categories: Local Stuff, music

Maps…read between the grids.

March 26, 2010 1 comment

Of the three maps that we were shown in class on Wednesday, one of them particularly interested me: the political affiliation map. The reason it interested me so much is because it reinforced a thought that I’ve had for years: statistics are what you make them. Looking at this map, there is just one phrase that comes to mind: appearances can be deceiving.

I had always realized that when looking at political affiliation maps such as this one that population sizes have a considerable and essential role in interpreting the real meaning of these maps. However it is not until you see the map distorted (or undistorted, rather) that you realize how much this information can be lost in translation. This map, for instance, shows by color coding which states had a majority vote democratic and which voted mostly republican. It seems that republicans took the cake according to the first map. But take a look at this one that takes population size into account when generating this map. By shrinking the size of lower population states, it shows that the democrats clearly took the lead on this one. There are a few more maps like this on this site as well.

So what does this teach us? Well, the most obvious thing it shows is that the republican voting midwest, while appearing larger on a normal map, do have a much lower population that democratic coastal states, something that is not demonstrated in the first map but clearly shown the second time around.

But the next lesson, which I think is the most important, has to do with how maps are used in not just journalism, but in all forms of communications, be it marketing, campaigning, etc. For instance, if a republican group wanted to falsely convince a potential voter that the majority of people voted republican last year, they would show you the first map that does not reflect population size rather than the “true” map.

Now I’m not saying that the creator of this map meant to be malicious, but it brings up an important issue about not just maps like this, but statistics in general. The lesson is that what you see is not always what you get; more so, when looking at a map such as this (which can be so deceiving), one must always double check the facts. In addition, there are a number of questions one must ask themselves when a group presents information in a form such as a map like this: Who is this group? What are they trying to say? What are their goals? Do they have a reason to alter the facts? And if they do, make sure you take nothing for granted, whether it be a map like this, graphs, charts, etc.

I believe that maps such as these are a great way to convey information and has an indispensable role  in the world of communications; we should be grateful that we can have statistics like these readily available to us. However, it is up to the reader to always be aware of the cold hard facts to avoid being duped by the stats.

Speaking of maps, Google has a new little map project that they are currently working on.

Categories: Uncategorized

Tweeting events

So I tried out covering events on Twitter at a local Northeastern event last Friday. It was an event honoring Filippo and Maria Giudice, a husband-wife artist team that was displaying their “Tribute to John Lennon” project as  part of “Welcome to Our World” exhibit, sponsored by Northeastern University’s ISSI. It included a speech by the artists, a presentation by the two about their John Lennon Valley Project, and a question and answer session.

It was a great exhibit, but I didn’t really get a kick out of covering it using Twitter via my cell phone. It might have simply been the nature of the event, since there was not as much ‘action’ in this event as there was simply observing (it’s hard to Tweet about how you’re looking at a painting). I didn’t really think that I was able to cover the event as comprehensively as I would have liked to.

I also might have been more enjoyable for me if I had a BlackBerry or iPhone or some other kind of smart phone. My EnV didn’t really seem to be cut out for it.

Oh yeah, I also almost felt like people didn’t realize I was covering the show and presentation and thought I was just some college jerk and texting the whole time.

I did promise in my Tweets to post some pictures of the event. I will have those uploaded soon with descriptions of the event, so look out for those…

Categories: Uncategorized

My brand new Twitter account

Well, my record of not being on Twitter has officially been broken, but I’m not upset about it. There is a lot of great stuff on there, especially for someone like me whose passion is music and culture. It seems like almost every big artist out there has a Twitter feed (even Slash!); and coupled with the Twitter feeds of publications like Rolling Stone, Twitter makes it really easy to stay on top of the music scene. Here are 10 of the feeds I am following:

http://twitter.com/RollingStone

http://twitter.com/MTVBuzzworthy

http://twitter.com/SPINmagazine

http://twitter.com/billboardmusic

http://twitter.com/PasteMagazine

http://twitter.com/snoopdogg

http://twitter.com/DaveJMatthews

http://twitter.com/Slash

http://twitter.com/BenFolds

http://twitter.com/PaulMcCartney

I’ve gotta say, there are two very different things that you get when you look at the publication Twitter feeds versus the artists’ Twitter feeds. If you are looking for events, music festivals, new releases, etc, it is best to look at the publications’ feeds. The artists, however, seem to be more self-promoting, Tweeting about their new albums, interests, songs that they are digging (Slash even tells us that he is trapped in a Spongebob Squarepants marathon). It definitely is entertaining, especially the artist’s Twitter feeds, and is also a great resource to stay on top of the latest music news and events.

Categories: music

GlobalPost makes a Global Impact

I’ve always felt that the future of journalism would emerge not in a rushed crisis, but rather a natural shift. And it seems like this shift has come in the form of GlobalPost, an emerging news site that focuses on putting journalists back out into the foreign field, a place that has been long missed by many correspondants. As they say themselves on their site, “GlobalPost is embarking on a bold journey to redefine international news for the digital age.”

The company was started by Philip S. Balboni and Charles M. Sennott, two tested veterans in the field of journalism: Balboni wasfor 16 years the president of NECN (the New England Cable Network) and Sennott is an award winning international journalist with a wide array of recognitions and credentials. So it is definitely in good hands.

GlobalPost has enjoyed about a year of success thus far, starting in 2009; and despite the pressures of a crummy economy, they have still managed to carry on, ever expanding their site and increasing their global coverage, supported by advertising on the site. They have also adopted a paid subscription portion to the site, called Passport.

Passport is, I believe, one of the mot interesting features of the site. Rather than simply charging users to read content, what GlobalPost has done is given readers of GlobalPost the ability to actually have a hand in the news that they receive.  This means that they can be a part of the discussion of story ideas, you can have direct access to field correspondents to ask questions, you can even request who the next exclusive interview will be!

I was very impressed by the site when I perused it: interesting stories, a wide array of topics, it seemed that there was no corner of the world untouched by GlobalPost’s coverage. The site was a little tricky to circumnavigate at first, and there were some technical difficulties that I ran into, such as videos not loading and the like, but I’m sure these are all things that can be fixed.

One section that really stood out was their feature “Life, death and the Taliban“, which offers an inside look into the Afghan government from a first hand perspective. The reason I like these reports so much is because they are not speculative reports based on he-said-she-said; this are one on one interviews with the Taliban and an unfiltered look into the life of the Afghan people under the Taliban. I highly recommend this feature to anyone interested in international news. It is great because it not only gives you an unfiltered lens but will also allow you to see the conflict in Afghanistan in a way you might not have before.

GlobalPost also caters to us college students. Study Abroad is a program that allows college students to submit their own international reports and have them posted to the site. These topics range from water shortages in China to the image of American women abroad. NOt only is this good for students to practice their skills, but GlobalPost in a way is setting themselves up with the new generation of reporters and ensuring that they will have an outlet to report through (a big relief to journalism students like myself).

I have a couple ideas as to what I would report on for a program such as this. One would be a look into the music of the Middle Far East, something that has always interested me in the fact that it has influenced a number of famous artists, notably the Beatles (specifically Paul McCartney George Harrison). Another would be to look into the Chernobyl crisis these days, something that I think gets overlooked due to its waning sensation: but the fact of the matter is that people still suffer from the effects of this disaster, and it is only by documenting the mistakes of the past can we avoid making the same mistakes in the future.  Finally, a third idea would be to cover the reggae culture of Jamaica, another thing that has fascinated me since childhood. The main focus would be to show the heart of reggae: what it means, what are the circumstances that it arose from, what does it hope to achieve. For instance, I think it is important for people to see Bob Marley as not just a picture in a funky poster on a dorm room wall, but to really show what Bob stood for and what he hoped to achieve for his nation, a nation plagued by poverty and crime. Ideally I would like to do these all in a video format (since I have become a fan of making video reports), but a slideshow accompanied by sound could do the trick.

GlobalPost seems to me exactly what the news needs: not just more correspondents in the field but making these correspondents available to the public directly. With sites like this combining with sites like newhavenindependent.org covering the local aspect, I think we can all breathe a little easier about the future of journalism.

GlobalPost is reaching back out to where journalism is needed the most: the far corners of the world.

Categories: Uncategorized