Credible News Sources

Recently, Keith Olbermann, on his MSNBC news show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, cited Fox News as the “worst persons in the world.” He claimed that the Fox News Channel is blatant right-wing propaganda. He also noted that President Obama, in a recent TV interview (the same interview, incidentally, as the now-notorious fly-swatting incident, in which, according to news reports on MSNBC, NBC, CBS, CNN and elsewhere, the President demonstrates his “remarkable fly-swatting skills”) claimed that there was at least one news channel dedicated to undermining his administration at all costs. Olbermann suggests that the President was referring to Fox News.

Back in the day when the Republicans controlled houses as well as the Presidency, a period that might well go down in history as a modern-day Dark Ages or Reign of Terror, the Fox News channel was considered to be the bastion of credible news. So much so that all other news agencies were too afraid even to question their authority.

Fox News, owned by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., had started on the premise that conventional news sources like CNN and network news operated on a principle of a subtle left-wing cultural bias resulting from the educational and social milieu of their journalists. The solution that Fox News apparently proposed was to dedicate a news channel to supposedly “fair and balanced” news coverage. “Fair and balanced” became their watchword, but it soon proved to be ironic. Over time, their supposedly objective news coverage has been exposed as right-wing propaganda that was pretty blatantly pandering to the Bush administration while they were in power.

This brings us to MSNBC’s news lineup. MSNBC is a news channel that is produced as a joint venture, as the name suggests, between Microsoft (the monolithic software giant founded by Bill Gates) and NBC. Their lineup of news shows supposedly offers us the alternative to Fox News, but, as implied by Keith Olbermann, what they are really offering us is left-wing propaganda that panders to the Obama administration.

The tragic consequence of all this government pandering and institutional propaganda is that the number-one casualty in mainstream news coverage is credibility. Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins of today, with their stunning exposés of corruption in high places? Definitely not at either Fox News or MSNBC.

Perhaps the answer to where we can find credible news sources lies with CNN–still bland and presenting the façade of objectivity while concealing a subtle left-wing bias–who now, apparently, resorts to blogs, Twitter feeds and Face book posts to supplement their on-site correspondent reports. CNN even encourages you to submit amateur videos via the “iReport” section on their website, which allows them to feature the videos on their news shows after a process of vetting and verification. In fact, in the ongoing Iranian uprisings, where mainstream journalists are being banned and extradited by the authoritarian Iranian regime, western news sources are having to rely on Twitter feeds, blogs and amateur video from Iranian citizens as their news sources.

This brings us to the argument that mainstream news organizations have recently been making against the Blogsphere, especially in the wake of such recent films as State of Play, directed by Kevin Macdonald, namely that the Blogsphere is composed primarily of amateurs who are out of their depth, whereas if you are looking for cutting-edge Woodward-and-Bernstein style in-depth reporting, you will find it only at the major news organizations who have the skills and resources at their disposal to support that kind of news coverage.

The reality–at least two of the so-called major news organizations are dedicated to producing partisan propaganda that pretty shamelessly panders to politicians while the third is increasingly resorting to the Blogsphere to provide its news sources. As for Woodward and Bernstein, they are both retired and writing books for a living.

News Releases – Writing to Get Noticed

Forgive me for starting with a not-very-clever rewording of an old saying, but today “almost all news is good news” when you are trying to generate visibility for your company or organization. I’m going to tell you how to create valuable news releases from information that you might not think has value and get it published.

What do I mean by “almost all news is good news”? That just about any news can be turned into content for online and offline publications, gaining valuable visibility for your business or organization.

Traditional news releases — or press releases as they used to be called back when real presses were used by real news organizations to print news – had to vie for limited space on a printed page. Typically, that limited newsworthiness to stories about new products or services, new technologies, or major organizational news.

Today, however, the concept of “news” has changed dramatically. Publishing space is virtually unlimited and publishers hungry for content. The lines have blurred between so-called “real” news organizations such as newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news outlets and “new media” such as online citizen-journalism sites, blogs, e-letters, and news aggregator services. Today, many of the stumbling blocks have disappeared that were once between people generating news and the outlets that published it. It’s easier than ever now to get your news published in a variety of places. The trick is writing something that will be of enough interest for someone to pick it up and publish it.

Picking a topic

There are more things to write a news release about than you might think, starting with the obvious: a new product or service, openings and closings, restructurings (partnerships, mergers and acquisitions), and employee/staff news. These topics generally can be considered “hard” news and worthy of broad distribution, when possible.

There are a host of other topics, however, that many people don’t think to promote with a news release, but that make ideal “soft” news releases. These topics include trade show and conference appearances, awards, business anniversaries, new client wins, capital equipment purchases, and new capabilities. While a business publication editor may consider these topics too self-serving to warrant publication, there are still good reasons to write a release on them, as you will shortly see.

Creating your own news.

Don’t think you have enough news, hard or soft, to write about? Then think about creating your own news. Develop a simple industry or customer survey, publish the results on your website, and write a news release about it.

Write a report. Interview key personnel in your organization and your industry trade association about your market or industry and publish their insights. Then write a release about the key findings, announcing the availability of the report for download on your website. With a little thought, you should be able to come up with several ways to create your own news.

Writing a news release

Now you need to write about your topic. Remember that this is news, not advertising, and an editor is going to judge whether it’s worth publishing. Avoid jargon and using phrases such as “industry leading”, “number one”, “unique”, and any other terms that smack of self-serving advertising.

Lead with all the important information in the first paragraph, starting with the topic, the company, and why your news is important. Traditionally, this is known as the “five W’s and the H” – who, what, where, when, why, and how. Keep sentences simple and paragraphs short.

Add the details to the middle portion, or body, of your release and finish with what’s called the “boilerplate” – the standard information about your company or organization, including basic description, locations, and web address. If your company is big enough it can even include the number of employees, subsidiary information, and stock ticker symbol if it’s publicly traded.

Ten of the Best Free Android News Apps

One of the most logical and useful groupings of applications are the Android news apps. It just makes sense to have one or more of these free apps on your phone so you can get the news you want when you want. Typically, all the bigger news sources provide their applications free of charge making these free news apps an even bigger no-brainer. This leaves everyone with one big decision to make: which one(s) to download. A secondary concern you should also consider is whether you want a local news app. Again, these are almost always free to download; however, the quality of these varies tremendously and it’s really a market-by-market issue. Of course, the bigger the market the better their Android news apps should be and this line of thinking usually holds true.

Regarding which of the many free Android news apps to download, the only way to figure it out is to learn more about them. Here is some periphery information about 10 of the best Android news apps:

FOX News

Like the TV channel and programming, this free Android app tends to provide its news from the more conservative point of view and spectrum. FOX News provides users with the latest news and updates from the people behind the FOX News Network. You can control the number of feeds and the type of news items you receive!

Tech Buzz Widget

Want to know the latest about technology, including any and all news about the Android OS, gaming, and mobile gadgets? If so, this free Android news app is the right app for you.

Phandroid

This is another app providing news on the mobile technologies niche. This one is more specialized toward information, news and rumors on all the latest about the Android OS and the Android Market.

Pulse News Reader

This Android news app will basically make you want to use your Android phone more and more for the sake of gathering news information. Its goal is to make reading your favorite news sources easier and more efficiently. It takes your favorite news sites and separates and orders them into a completely different look that’s easier to read and browse through. It really is a great app to have.

NYTimes for Android phone

This is one of the apps that nothing should need to be said about. It’s from one of the most trusted and popular news sources in the world. Now, you can read the famous NY TIMES articles without paying for the paper!

AP Mobile

This is one of the favorite free Android news apps of tens of thousands of users. AP Mobile gives you exclusive access to all Associated Press news feeds – the same source that provides news to every news outlet throughout the world.

BBC News

This app provides the latest headlines from one of the most trusted news sources in the world. It’s very compact and convenient; you will never miss an important world news event again with BBC News on your Android phone.

Express News

One of the most worthwhile free Android news apps around, Express News gives you instant access to more than 300 news providers all over the world. From the AFP and Associated Press to more localized sources like the Canadian Press. This list goes on and on and is great for those who like to take in the news from a multitude of sources.