Bye, Bye Breitbart.

When I chose my little white slip out of the hat on the grimacing-facefirst day of class and read the name “Breitbart” aloud, I knew I was in for an interesting semester. If I am being honest, I had never even heard of Breitbart until that day, and just from the reaction of my classmates, I have never in my life related more to this emoji…

 

After reading through their mission statement, filtering through some of their stories and following them on social media outlets like Twitter, Breitbart’s goal as an outlet was very apparent: they were an unapologetic right-wing news platform whose one aim was to cater stories to that audience.

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Barring any personal beliefs or opinions regarding their subject matter, I chose to breakdown my tracking of the site into three sections: consistency, effectiveness and delivery.

  1. Consistency

    One thing is for sure, Breitbart is consistent in covering stories that their right-wing audience wants to read. As journalists, we are taught to leave our opinions behind to try and report in the most unbiased way possible. In my opinion, the only thing that saves Breitbart from criticism on this front is that they do not try to be a news platform that people go to for unbiased news. They say what they feel, and as opinionated as it is, that is what their readers are drawn to. If I can give them anything, they are at the very least consistent when it comes to their voice.Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 6.23.12 PM

  2. Effectiveness

In terms of effectively reporting their stories, I think Breitbart has some room to improve. Most of their pieces read almost like a blog and are rarely differentiated by topic, ie. breaking news is set up in the same way as a daily story. I think news organizations are more effective when they find ways to alter their reporting style depending on the topic, marking some stories as higher importance than others so that readers have a way of filtering their news. 

The outlet also utilizes one social media platform: Twitter.

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I think this is advantageous in getting more traction on their stories, however, instead of simply tweeting out links, I think the site would benefit from offering other content on their feed as well.

3. Delivery

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with effectiveness, but Breitbart’s delivery of their stories is almost lazy in my opinion. They often include one image at the top, and almost never incorporate any other form of media throughout their pieces. It was not until recently that I have been seeing them add a reference to a Tweet or even a video clip into the body of their stories like in this report about Ann Coulter having to cancel her speech at UC Berkley. We are in a time when things like video, Facebook Live, and social media are extremely accessible, so not taking advantage of these facets to improve their stories I think puts Breitbart at a disadvantage.

It was particularly interesting covering Breitbart in this political climate and with Steve Bannon as part of the Trump administration. I definitely saw how stories that were published on Breitbart as compared to other news outlets like the New York Times differed not only in language but also in the angle by which they were told (see my post How Breitbart ‘Breaks’ Their News for more on this) At the end of the day, Breitbart could improve on how they report, deliver and execute their stories to their audience. If they have one claim to fame it’s that Breitbart knows their readership and is unapologetic in giving them what they want to hear.

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How Breitbart “Breaks” Their News

If you scanned today’s news, you probably came across a popular headline about Steve Bannon and his termination as part of the NSC. The New York Times’ “Trump Removes Stephen Bannon”, or Huffington Posts’ “Steve Bannon Removed”, or NPR’s “Steve Bannon Loses Spot” (which was later changed to “Steve Bannon Removed” as shown in the image below) all covered this story and highlighted Trump’s newest change to his organization.

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Breitbart’s headline for this story however took a different tone, publishing its piece with the title, “Steve Bannon Leaves Nation Security Council After Susan Rice Takedown”. What struck me about this headline was one word: “Leaves”. This language positioned Breitbart’s story in a different way from most other news organizations by suggesting that Bannon was not removed, but rather chose to leave Trump’s NSC.

This story, which broke today, was written like any other article on the site and offered no indication of being “breaking news” (there were no updates or alerts). Breitbart did include it on a side tab titled “Most Popular” but other than that, did not treat it like a typical report of a breaking news event.

After reading the article, it was evident that Breitbart’s motive was to cast Bannon in a positive light and stay true to their rightest beliefs. The article even lead with…

“President Donald Trump’s Senior adviser Stephen K. Bannon has exited his role on President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, claiming that his mission is complete.”

With Twitter being Breitbart’s only other outlet to share their stories, Breitbart does not really utilize alternative storytelling methods to enhance their material. Despite tweeting out a link to the piece, Breitbart covered Bannon’s “resignation” like they cover every other story, offering no differentiation between what is breaking and what isn’t.

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Ditch The Pen and Paper, Alternative Storytelling Is On The Rise

With the rise of digital apps like Facebook Live, Instagram Story and Snapchat, news outlets are being pushed to use their creativity when it comes to storytelling. It is no longer just nut graph style, hard news reporting, but rather, engaging video and snappy text that readers look for when scouting news.

Although traditional outlets like the New York Times are beginning to embrace this move to digital, sites that were created specifically to produce digital content are raising the bar pretty high.

When I think of alternative storytelling, the first company that comes to mind is Refinery29. Refinery is a website that covers a variety of subjects from news to entertainment to health. Their online articles are always elaborately illustrated and offer an engaging experience that’s more than just the plain facts.

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Besides their web content, Refinery29 has created an undeniable social presence. With prominent accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the company is a great example of how to successfully use multiple forms of technology to tell a story.

Facebook, along with Instagram, is where I find most of my Refinery29 stories. On Facebook specifically, the company incorporates written posts with Facebook Live reports on events and a slew of short videos on various topics. I think they do a really great job finding stories they want to tell and delivering them in a funny, attention grabbing way.

This video below is an example of this storytelling technique, where Refinery reports the creation of a new spa for babies…

They use the same technique here to deliver news about Nikes’ new Hijab commercial that received a mixture of reactions from the public…

Refinery29 is a relevant example of how a digital outlet has maximized on the technological advances our society has created to tell a story. The news is still being told, but only in a more engaging way.

Allston Crawl to Brekkie

Since Boston is home to some of the best brunch places, I decided to focus my video onthe most important meal of the day, breakfast. Wandering around Allston, my roommates and I came across @Union, a popular breakfast spot for many BU students to go, especially on Sundays. After waiting an hour for a table for three, I finally cured my hanger with @Union’s Wedding Benedict. (I highly recommend)

In order to film the video, I used my iPhone to capture our @Union experience from start to finish. After shooting, I went onto my laptop and used iMovie to edit all of the clips together into one cohesive breakfast filled story.

Take a look!

 

A Home-Bound Spring Break

After returning home from a short trip to Florida, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my two-year-old twin cousins and celebrate my brother’s 19th birthday.

On the Saturday before driving back to Boston, my cousins joined us for a gourmet lunch, including chicken salad and buttered toast (as Ava explains in the video) followed by a birthday dinner for my brother in the famous Arthur Avenue in New York.

Home to traditional Italian vendors and restaurants, Arthur Ave. is a family favorite and must see for a true Italian experience.

I captured the days activities using Instagram story, including a mix of video, still pictures and boomerangs. The story was meant to capture the quality time I was able to spend with my family over break… and embarrass my brother all at the same time. Enjoy!

 

Goodbye Canada Goose, Hello Denim! (kinda)

As winter comes (slowly) to an end, let’s look back at the uncharacteristically warm weather the city of Boston experienced Feb. 23-25.

If it wasn’t the puddles of water from the melted snow on the ground that gave away the record high temps, then the unseasonably “light” outfits BU students sported across campus could have been an indication that a taste of spring was temporarily gracing the city.

While out enjoying the weather myself, I managed to take some photos showcasing this shift in weather, as seen through clothing.

Though many students were able to stash away their winter coats temporarily, we won’t be seeing a full break from winter just yet. In true Boston fashion, another Nor’easter is right around the corner…

 

How Does Breitbart Cover “Fake News”?

Since Breitbart has been openly supportive of the Trump administration, their coverage of “fake news” has been similar to that of the new POTUS. Their articles, like the President’s tweets, focus on calling out news outlets like CNN, New York Times, and CNBC for publishing fake stories and argue in favor of Trump and his political actions.

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On their site, Breitbart includes the words “Fake News” (sometimes in all caps just to add some flare) before most headlines of stories that revolve around this subject. This is a smart tactic as it makes it easy for readers to search for articles on fake news and have them be distinctive from the rest of their content.

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One of the best examples of Breitbart’s fake news coverage was an article published on January 22 called, Fake News: Three Mainstream Media Lies on Trump’s First Day. The tone and wording of the lead alone makes the purpose of the piece evident…

The mainstream media lost no time in attempting to undermine President Donald Trump, as opposed to actually reporting information.

The article is separated into three graphs, each with a bold heading outlining the “lie” in discussion. The first regarding Trump’s alleged focus on crowd size during his inauguration, the second about insulting the CIA and the third, claiming that the anti-Trump protests were important. Under each, the author refutes these “lies” and offers what Breitbart perceived as the truth about each issue.

For me, Lie #3 was the most entertaining to read. The author of the piece argued that the Trump protests were “vulgar” and “nothing more than a venting of outrage at Trump’s election”. He also felt the need to mention the “heaps of trash” left all over the sites, claiming this to be yet another reason why the protests were not important…screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-7-30-31-pm

It is interesting to see the perception of “fake news” from a news site that, in the eyes of Donald Trump, has been a respectable and fair news outlet throughout the presidential campaign. I look forward to seeing if Breitbart will be the only news outlet with access to Trump’s press conferences in the future.