This is a feature story on parking at UMass. It was a collaboration between myself and classmates Amanda Drane and Katie-Rose De Candia.

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John R. Henderson, a librarian at Ithaca College, has given the world this lovely guide for telling which sites on the internet are good sources.  I’m putting this new knowledge I’ve gained to the test with his Peak Oil assignment and you’re coming along for the ride.

Five sites with information about Peak Oil are given.  Site number one seems a little bit ambiguous at first.  It seems to have a lot of well thought out facts and numbers but the language they use is kind of informal for something like this. It seems pretty politically biased to me and so does everything else on this site. Going along with the theme of ambiguity, I have no idea what kind of site this is and they don’t make much of an effort to tell you.  Better stay away.

Behind door number two is a site that has me thoroughly convinced it’s a good source.  Without even looking at the content, everything looks professional and slick.  All the data they’ve given us appears to be cited well enough and as far as I know they aren’t just spewing out statistics to help their cause while leaving out more important stuff.  This site definitely has a modern. multimedia journalism look and feel to it and that goes a long way.  The purpose of the site is for discussing oil and energy and while the title of this article might look a little biased, the facts look good to me.  I deem site number 2 legitimate.

Site three just immediately looks bad.  The whole page is unbelievably busy with politically skewed links and ads and every other word is a buzz word.  Everything else on the site is political garbage. Even if there was a good article in there somewhere there’s just no way I could trust it.  I don’t even have to read the Peak Oil piece to file this one in the ‘not authoritative’ cabinet.

Alright, site number four is from the Huffington Post.  That’s familiar.  They’re left wing but it can be a legitimate news source.  If I’m going to find fault with this one it won’t be because of the whole site; it will have to be in the article itself.  Okay, this is really opinionated and unbalanced.  I don’t see a single good thing being said about peak oil.  That’s okay for an editorial piece, but I don’t want to get my facts from someone whose political agenda is this prominent.  I will not be persuaded by you to buy into this, Mr. Leary.  Another site for the bad pile.

Last but not least is site number five. Information Clearing House?  Can’t condone or condemn that right off the bat.  The beginning of the piece had me a little worried that it would be biased and opinionated but the further I got the more impressed I was.  There’s a ton of information here and it all looks like it’s backed up by relevant links to other legitimate sites, often government ones.  The same can be said about the rest of the works on this site.  It has a bit of a “the man is keeping is down” vibe but overall I think it looks pretty good.  There’s enough citation here for me to consider this an authoritative source.

So that leaves us with two good sites and three bad ones.  Just goes to show you that there’s a lot of crap out there on the internet and a lot of times it’s really hard to tell what’s good and what’s not.  Not everything can be so straightforwardly wonderful as this blog, for instance.  Don’t forget the clues!

Students in Steve Fox’s Multimedia Journalism class got a treat on Tuesday when Umass Journalism alum Sean “S.P.” Sullivan talked to students about what it’s like to break into the multimedia field right out of college.

Sullivan now serves as the associate producer of MassLive.com, the online affiliate of the Springfield Republican.  He graduated in 2010 and worked several internships before landing his current job.  Sullivan advised us all to take advantage of our time at UMass while we’re still surrounded by our peers.  He also stressed the importance of networking and knowing people in your field, recalling that he’s only been called for one interview when applying for jobs with know prior connections.

Sullivan talked about the work he does at MassLive and how to keep up with the changing world of journalism.  Local election coverage is more interactive than ever before.  The site features a dynamic table of election results that offers an up-to-date look at something that was just never feasible before the internet.

We also had an exclusive viewing of Sullivan’s self-proclaimed “micro-documentary” on the recent Springfield tornado aftermath called “The Path of the Storm.”  Sullivan, as a producer, doesn’t always get to create content like this and considered it a nice break from the norm.  The doc featured many dramatic pictures of storm damage and people who were affected dubbed over with interviews of victims from all walks of life.  It was kind of depressing and hopeful at the same time.

What stuck with me about the video was the tranquil music.  Sullivan said that journalists just starting out should never use music in their videos because you’re essentially telling people how to feel.  A feature story like this is one of the few times where music would be appropriate, but not any music.  Sullivan advised it’s very helpful to know musicians who could produce original music for you to avoid licensing issues.  “The Path of the Storm” featured a tune cut by one of S.P.’s editors at MassLive.

Sullivan jokingly said to always oversell your technical skills when applying for multimedia positions, as right now is a great time to know more about computers than your older peers.  Most of his job is just filling all of the holes of a template and fixing that template when something breaks on the site.  Sullivan wisely added, “There isn’t a problem in the world you can’t Google.”

As for the future, Sullivan said to keep an eye on YouTube.  They’re doing some really interesting stuff with creative commons licensing.

Social media and politics just changed their relationship status to ‘It’s complicated.’

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg — via Wikimedia Commons.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg — via Wikimedia Commons.

Facebook has officially submitted the paperwork to start its own political action committee and has formally announced its intentions to financially back political candidates and parties.

“FB PAC will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of

promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” said an official spokesman to The Hill earlier today.

The announcement was triggered by reports of Facebook registering the domain names for FBpac.org and FBpac.us.  It’s not the first time an internet giant has formed a PAC.  Google did it in 2006 and continues to support a whole lot of Democrats to this day.

This isn’t Facebook’s first rodeo with politics either.  The company has already spent more than half a

million dollars on lobbying in Washington this year alone.  They’ve also bolstered their DC office with a wealth of political veterans quite recently, even some straight from the Obama administration.  It’s pretty clear that they’re trying to secure a strong position in our nation’s capital.

This all comes on the heels of last week’s layout change that still has users around the world utilizing the site’s convenient networking tools to angrily organize threats and boycotts against the company.  There was also that terrible hoaxthat claimed Facebook was going to start charging monthly membership fees if you don

’t copy and repost this status update by midnight tonight.

Facebook is unique among other major companies as their customers’ opinions are a heck of a lot more visible.  The site is practically built to facilitate an uprising.  How does that mix with corporate politics, exactly?  I’m not so sure.  I’ll guess we’ll see what kind of groups and chain statuses pop up when Facebook gives a hundred thousand bucks to a pro-life black woman who supports capital punishment.

Hi there! This post is the maiden voyage of my new journalism blog.  That’s right, journalism.  Just because your Sunday paper is now your Sunday pamphlet doesn’t mean the profession of writing the news is going the way of the dodo and the MySpace.  Au contraire, it’s being reborn in a fiery explosion of multimedia.  With this blog I aim to prove over the next few months that good journalism is more alive than ever.  So like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, turn the speakers up and enjoy the ride.