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Users must moderate fake news on social media

In Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Print Media, Technology, Uncategorized on November 23, 2016 at 8:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIn the fallout of the presidential election, one topic that seems to surface a lot is the spread of fake news online and on social media. During the campaign cycle, people were constantly posting and sharing fake news all over social media, often more than real stories.

Here are a couple of examples of headlines that turned out to be completely fake: “Terrorists are funding 20-percent of Hillary Clinton’s campaign;” “Tim Kaine will ban the Catholic Church from the US if they don’t change their stance on same-sex marriage;” and “Bus loads of paid Trump protestors arrive in Austin, Texas.”

The protestor story was reportedly shared more than 350,000 times in the first day, including a high-profile Twitter share by Donald Trump. Again, none of these stories were real or had any level of truth to them.

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For decades, alleged “fake” news has earned millions of dollars from a public more than willing to pay for it!

Some false stories are merely satirical and shared out of humor or irony. Unfortunately, they may continue to be shared by some who take them as the real thing and never confirm the content, fueled by unqualified commentary.

Whether from laziness or apathy, most people never look at a story closely enough to see if the stories they share online are factual or phony. Some people never look past the headlines before they start commenting and circulating junk news. And, once shared, the cork has been removed from the bottle and the genie on her way,

People tend to share stories on social media based on political and religious views. Stories are passed along through a digital chain of telephone where no one really looks at the basis of the story nor do they take a moment to consider the logic behind even the most outrageous headline.

Those with a propensity for fake news believe either the liberal left or the fanatical right controls the mainstream media. So, combating the spread of this nonsense is virtually impossible, because even fact checking is ignored.

Additionally, the fact is that fake news has been around far longer than the Internet has even existed. Print media like the National Enquirer, the Globe and other checkout rags have long been accused of publishing stories with no factual basis.

Many of these tabloid publications have been sued for the alleged fabrication of stories. Before the Internet, these publications had circulation in the hundreds of millions but that has dropped considerably over the years. Why wait for sensational stuff at the grocery store checkout when it’s immediately available on Facebook?

There’s also something ironic about the fact that people who seem so upset at the slanted reporting of mainstream media will spend so much time circulating nonsense stories everywhere else. So what can be done? Most of that is up to the reader.

Much of the blame for the proliferation of nonsense news has been focused on the social media outlets. Facebook has come under fire recently for not doing more to limit the distribution of false news during the election cycle. Unfortunately, it’s not the responsibility of social media operators to ensure the accuracy of content generated and propagated by its users.

The real culprits are the folks on the other side of the computer and smart phone screens. Social media operates because of people and if they stop circulating this junk it’ll dissipate. It really is that simple.

Forwarding some outlandish tale simply because it degrades an opposing view benefits no one. And, commenting on a news story without checking out its validity just makes people look ignorant. Sorry, there’s no nice way to say that.

But just imagine if people read beyond the headline and checked out a story from a couple of different resources before passing it along as “fact?” The level of garbage flowing around social media would be immediately cut in half.

Before reposting something, check it out and make sure it’s a real story. They get it wrong sometimes too, but generally, if it didn’t come from a mainstream news outlet, it’s probably not been verified by anyone. There’s nothing new about sensationalism in news, but responsibility for the constant viral circulation of fake or outrageous stories must rest, at least in part, with the users.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

Deer In Headlines takes to the online airways in new podcast

In Business, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Local News, Print Media, Technology, Uncategorized on October 21, 2016 at 9:22 am

Xenia, OH – Sept. 26, 2016 – Jamestown columnist, Gery L. Deer, has just moved his long running op-ed newspapers series, “Deer In Headlines,” into the 21st Century. As of September 27th, 2016, fans of the popular series can listen to the audio version on their computer, tablet or smartphone at MyGreeneRadio.com.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

A 25-year veteran of freelance journalism, the origins of Deer’s column, which first hit the pages of the Xenia Daily Gazette in 2008, began with an editorial in protest of a required college class having been cancelled (his efforts got the class reinstated). But this was only the beginning.

In 1993, he wrote a couple of letters to the editor and was soon asked to do a few guest columns for the Gazette, followed by a monthly technology series that lasted into the early 2000s. “Deer In Headlines” came in 2008 while working as a features editor with the Brown Publishing chain. In fact, it was one of his fellow editors who inspired the column’s quirky name.

Although the column made the leap in 2014 from the printed page to the small screen as a monthly feature on the WDTN-TV2 program, “Living Dayton,” this is Deer’s first venture into the podcast world.

MyGreeneRadio.com is an online radio station that launched in February of 2016 by long-time broadcast professional, Todd Hollst, to provide locally produced content along with music and area information. The format offers listeners a variety of music and a menu of podcasts featuring locally focused topics from philanthropy to sports.

“When Todd suggested he would like to have a podcast version of Deer In Headlines for his radio site, I was honored, for sure, and it seemed a logical progression.” Deer said. The syndicated print version reaches about 50,000 readers per week, with significant and growing digital following. So what can fans expect from the podcast version?

“At first I’ll just be doing an audio version of the printed column, with a few alterations here and there for the podcast,” Deer said. “Eventually, however, I’ll have some original segments especially for this medium.” You can listen to Deer In Headlines along with its other podcast counterparts, free, online at MyGreeneRadio.com and download it on iTunes.

Deer In Headlines is a product of and distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More information is available at gldenterprises.net.

The creative process cannot be quantified

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Entertainment, Local News, National News, Opinion, Print Media, Technology, Uncategorized on November 10, 2014 at 1:04 pm

If you haDIH LOGOve any friends who are aspiring novelists and you haven’t seen them for a while, I may know why. November is National Novel Writing Month, a time when writers – hobbyists and professionals alike – forsake virtually everything else in life to get down at least 50,000 words towards a completed novel in just thirty days. As executive director of the Western Ohio Writers Association I am, like many of our members, one of the anticipated 400,000 worldwide participants in the event. But attempting to pen a full-length novel in under a month is not for the faint of heart.

“NaNoWriMo,” as it’s known for short, is a non-profit organization started in 1999. In 2013, more than 310,000 participants signed up, spanning six continents. In the 2014 official press release, NaNoWriMo Executive director Grant Faulkner said, “Every year, we’re reminded that there are still stories that have yet to be told, still voices yet to be heard from all corners of the world. NaNoWriMo helps people make creativity a priority in life and realize the vital ways our stories connect us. We are our stories.”

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Given their commitment to the encouragement of writers as a whole, the NaNoWriMo folks certainly seem to want to keep people motivated and working and that extends beyond the November event. The organization also promotes youth programs, writing camps and other writing-focused activities throughout the year.

NaNoWriMo’s organizers insist the purpose of the 30-day novel challenge is to inspire and motivate authors to actually finish something, a common barrier for new writers. To hit the goal, writers must pen approximately 1,667 words per day, regardless of quality. But the “just keep writing” approach doesn’t sit well with some and there are those who say that it instead may be more counterproductive than helpful.

Opponents believe that the idea of such incredible pressure of deadline and competition undermines the inspirational process; robbing the author of the creative time necessary to be more selective of words, phrasing and flow.  Classic American author Mark Twain might well have been in agreement with this thinking.

In a letter dated October 15, 1888 to English minister George Bainton, Twain wrote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

nanologoBut those who are regular participants seem to really enjoy a process that they say gives them the opportunity to stay focused and inspires a bit of healthy competition. Throughout the month, each writer updates a public profile on the NaNoWriMo website which includes word count to date; a practice largely appreciated as one of the most motivating aspects of the exercise, or the most discouraging, depending on how you’re doing.

Whether you are a writer or a reader, this is probably a good time to point out that the creative process is not something that can be qualified or quantified. It is different for every artist. While there are people who are proficient with grammar, punctuation, style and general mastery of the English language, there is no such thing as an “expert” writer. Most successful authors – and not just in the commercial sense – will insist that good writing cannot be taught, it has to be practiced and that the creative process is ongoing.

It may very well be that a 30-day novel, after editing and revision, could end up the next New York Times best seller. It is just as probable that another manuscript, in the works for many years, might turn out to be the worst 300 pages ever put to paper. It’s really a coin toss.

Truthfully, the process really doesn’t matter. Although the value of art rests with the audience, its quality depends on the talent, determination and hard work of the artist (writer), rather than the method used for its production. As for those of you typing your way to 50,000 words this month, we who are grateful to get out 700 words every week salute you! Good luck.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and executive director of the Western Ohio Writers Association. More at westernohiowriters.org.

Horror author sets December tour in Greene County

In Books, Entertainment, Holiday, Local News, Print Media, Uncategorized on December 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm

howtosaveaworld-bookshot1GREENE COUNTY, OH – Beavercreek author Carl S. Plumer has been a writer since childhood, beginning with his own, single-issue newspaper. Now with the release of his second work of apocalyptic fiction, “How To Save A World From Dying: A Demon Apocalypse Love Story,” Plumer is visiting local bookstores in December to read, sign and talk about his journey from cub reporter to novelist.

Plumer will be visiting two Greene County bookstores beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday December 7, with Dark Star Books, 247 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs. On December 14th, from 2-4:00 p.m., he will stop by Blue Jacket Books, 30 S. Detroit St. in Xenia. Each event will include a reading from the novels, question and answer time and of course an autograph session.

The second in his series of, “Apocalypse Love Stories,” his newest novel is a loose collection of stories with different characters, plots, and locations. All share the same mash-up of horror, comedy, and love. Plumer said he wanted to inject some humor in to his favorite genre and, with the first book, wrote the title first, setting the stage for a new collection of horror.

Author Carl S. Plumer

Author Carl S. Plumer

“I’m a fan of horror movies and books; I love getting scared,” Plumer said. “When I first started writing, all of my characters (spoiler alert) died at the end. I think because I couldn’t figure out how to end the story, not because I was trying to write horror.” Plumer noted that there really is an important message he wants to convey to his readers, even amid all of the blood, gore and humor.

“I put my characters into dire situations – apocalypses; as bad as things get. But they rise above extreme adversity with grace, dignity, and a sense of humor. The plot may be adventure with a bit of gross horror, but my message is, ‘Carry on, regardless.’ Chin up, chest out, you know? It’s the British side of my ancestry.”

“Plus, I thought death made my stories seem cool,” he noted. “Turns out horror mashed with humor is where I’m most at home.” His first book, “Mad About Undead You: A Zombie Apocalypse Love Story,” has been on shelves for about a year. His third is planned for July 2014. Plumer’s books are released by Someday Press.

Both of Plumer’s current titles will be available for purchase at the events. For more information on his appearances and a complete synopsis of both novels, visit the author’s website at www.carlplumer.com. Watch for Carl S. Plumer on the WDTN-TV2 daytime program, Living Dayton, at noon, Wednesday, December 4th.

Author celebrates first anniversary of children’s book with reading November 2

In Books, Children and Family, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Print Media, sociology, Uncategorized on October 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm
Author Teasha Seitz, "Little Leah Lou and her Pink Tu"

Author Teasha Seitz, “Little Leah Lou and her Pink Tu”

XENIA, OH – Author Teasha Seitz is a Miami Valley native who has always enjoyed sharing and discovering stories with children. Her stories entertain, enlighten, and encourage young readers to explore their own world and discover who they are. Her first children’s book “Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu,” was released last year (ISBN 0985662506).

To help celebrate the book’s first anniversary, Blue Jacket Books in Xenia is hosting a reading and signing event beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 2. The author will read from her book and the store will have free printed activities for children to do as well.

Illustrated by Jean Ditslear, “Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu” tells the story of Little Leah Lou, who loved to wear her pink tutu. She wore it everywhere she went and pretended to be a princess. But when she wore it to the zoo she encountered a giraffe with the munchies and Little Leah Lou was left with just half a tutu. Her tutu was ruined! Could this mean she’s no longer a princess? Little Leah Lou was shocked, but not for long. Her solution to the tutu tragedy will not only surprise and amuse readers; it will win her the admiration of one of the zoo’s flashiest residents.

In addition to copies of “Leah Lou” at a dollar off the cover price, children’s tutus will also be available for purchase as a “package” with the books. Blue Jacket Books is located at 30 S. Detroit St. in Xenia, Ohio. For more information call the store at (937) 376-3522 or go online to http://www.teashaseitz.com.

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Extra! Extra! Examining the plight of print.

In Books, Business, Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Print Media, Technology on August 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

electronic_printAre newspapers dead? Since most of the mass distribution for Deer in Headlines is still in print media, then chances are if you’re reading this it’s probably printed in a newspaper. But it’s also circulated in a fair number of online publications as well so if the publication you’re reading ever went belly-up, you can still find it on the web.

When Amazon’s chairperson, Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post, the publication’s circulation had dropped by 40-percent over the last year. A seriously risky bet, Bezos picked up the media icon for pennies and paid for it out of his own pocket. The intention was to preserve the paper in its current state, but it’s just as likely he will take it to the next logical level – all digital.

Far more costly to produce than their digital counterparts, print publications still have a purpose among certain die-hards and the older generation. There’s something about holding that printed page in your hand that has brings about an emotional response unique to each reader.

I’m kind of caught in the middle. I like having a printed page in front of me, whether it’s a book, magazine or newspaper. But I like the convenience of digital media too. If you’re stuck waiting to be seated at a restaurant or in the doctor’s waiting room, you can always bring up something to read on your smart phone or Kindle.

Eventually, pretty much all periodicals (newspapers, magazines, etc.) will be converted to digital, but in my opinion, it’s not just the media format that’s killing print publications. Less ambitious salespeople and a lack of knowledge among advertisers have also helped contribute to their demise.

Publications, like any other media, survive by the vicious circle of subscribers and advertising. The more subscribers, the more profitable the ad revenue, but if the content is lacking no one is going to subscribe. The numbers drop and ad revenue falls along with circulation.

Plus, have you noticed how much smaller your newspaper is these days? Most have shrunken both in sheet size and number of pages, with some content located online to drive people to the publisher’s website. As a practical consumer, why would you pay $1.50 for a publication that has less content than it did when it was 75-cents? Unfortunately, if you want to keep getting a print publication you’ll have to pay whatever price they ask.

Advertising rates are going up too, though that one thoroughly perplexes me. Lower circulation should drive down ad prices, but many publishers are trying to recover lost revenue by adding web-based exposure in conjunction with print packages. For some, it’s too little, too late, however.

An ever more computer-savvy population will eventually drive print to its ultimate end. Attempting to preserve it will be a costly and finally pointless endeavor but some people are making the effort, as Bezos seems to be. But then again, he’s a billionaire and that’s what it would take – deep pockets.

No business can continue to operate in the red, always hemorrhaging money. Unless the operator is treating it like a hobby and has the disposable income to keep it going, it will die.

If you want to keep the presses running on your local newspaper, I suggest the following. First, contact the publisher and remind them how important the paper is to the community. If you are part of a business or organization, make sure to send press releases and other news-worthy information to the editors so they have good, local content to draw from. Include detailed contact information and artwork (photos).

Demand local coverage written by local correspondents. Small, hometown papers can do better financially on their own level than national publications when they have good, locally-created content to drive circulation and advertising.

If you own a business or are part of a community organization, advertise in the local newspaper but do it correctly. You need to display your ad regularly and consistently in the same publication for at least several months before you see a response. Be consistent and be patient. And finally, go buy a paper! You’re helping the community and the economy.

 

Deer In Headlines is syndicated by and intellectual property of Gery L. Deer / GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. All rights reserved.