Tea Party knocks off Texas lt. governor

Originally posted on OnPolitics:

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst  (Pat Sullivan, AP)

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (Pat Sullivan, AP)

Tea Party activists may not be having much luck in key races for the U.S. Senate, but they can claim a big victory in Texas.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, founder of the Tea Party caucus in the Texas Legislature, easily defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a GOP runoff on Tuesday night and effectively ended the career of a once-rising Republican star.

Dewhurst, the No. 2 Republican officeholder in the Lone Star state since 2003, has the distinction of losing to a Tea Party-backed candidate twice in two years. In 2012, Dewhurst lost the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination to Ted Cruz — who went on to win the race and is now considered a national standard-bearer for the anti-tax, small government movement.

“The Tea Party is alive and well in the Lone Star state,” said Mark Jones, chairman of the political science…

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Technonology Triumps over Institutions in New Media

If there are lessons that we can take from the just concluded presidential election, it is that the media is evolving and doing so very fast.

For instance, institutions that have been held in high regard for so long are slowing giving way to technology as individuals become reporters with active audience through social media and other channels. In a nutshell, New Media is technology while institutions still command Old Media!

There are many examples to this: the 47 % depending on government handouts comment that become a near disaster for governor Mitt Romney was done through videotaped on a cell phone.

The two campaigns had contacts of individual supporters who they targeted with specific news items irrespective of what the so called mainstream media houses had for the day thereby shaping a different reality for their bases. Whatever it was, it is clear that the times where the major news organizations/institutions/ traditional media had the exclusive privilege of setting the agenda are long gone.

The danger for news organizations is that they have to use tools accorded to them by information technology to sharpen their competitive edge or they will be totally relegated from the role of informing the public. News outlets must deliberately put more resources in providing better news items.

A casual look through local newspapers provides routine, mundane and blatant promotional pieces as news items. The regional outlets are comfortable regurgitation issues that can be easily accessed online or from other news outlets. Newspapers can improve on this by motivating reporters to work on investigative pieces which can help them develop serious and effective portfolios as news people.

As a matter of fact, reporters should work to be the best on their line of work irrespective of the news organizations they work for. Matters like search engine position, syndication, Facebook and twitter followers, and other engagements like TV and Radio talks should be part and parcel of their portfolio and payment.

If the campaigns could attract top brains at such a short notice, the media has no excuse but to strive for the best reporters’ money can buy otherwise they will always have to play catch-up.

Jakobala:

Very simple ideas but they have profound impact. Thanks!

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

This is a guest post by Kristina Chang, Evan Moore, Tony Xu, and Omer Rabin; students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“What makes a blog popular? What drives page views?” These are the questions that we’ve been trying to answer over the last few weeks. We were on a mission to dig into the data and analyze the strongest parameters that influence the flow of visitors to WordPress.com blogs.

Out of the 30+ million blogs on WordPress.com, we randomly selected a sample of almost 100,000 blogs to perform a regression analysis. Here are our findings, together with a few recommendations. We hope that this provides some new information, and kudos to you in case you’ve already incorporated these tips into your blog – the data suggests that you’re on the right track. Keep it up!

Make your blog easy to follow – It almost sounds obvious, but the…

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Emerging Trends in News Media Industry

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The just announced Pulitzer awards have revealed the interesting changing face of the News Media industry as journalists and news outlets increasingly adopt information technology and social media tools.

The Tuscaloosa News (Ala) which won the breaking news category included its twitter feeds to its submission for the prestigious media award.

The paper covered the April 2011 tornado where 50 people were feared to have perished and at times used its website as a bulletin board where people could post their whereabouts and seek for the information of others.

The paper also used Google documents for come up with a database that proved instrumental in giving important updates and information on the devastation. In essence, the paper depended on the social media tools to report the calamity, and they did a good job at it too.com

Still on social media’s increasing penetration into news; a report recently released by the schools.com described social media as the “new news source” illustrating how social media is effectively replacing traditional journalism as a major news source.

In a revealing poll, it found that 50% of people learn about breaking news from social media platforms rather than traditional news sources like Television, Radio or Newspaper.

Of the social media platform, Facebook was the leading source with 59% of people turning to it for news, Twitter had 19.9%, YouTube 12.7% and Google+11% of people who used them as primary sources of news.

The report also indicates that 46% of people are getting their news from online sources; at least three times a week and more importantly, these findings indicate online news revenue has surpassed print newspaper revenue.

The report also lists some of the most remarkable breaking news items that have come to the public through social media. Among the breaking news include the Egyptian Uprising, protesters killed in Bahrain, Osama Bin Laden raid and death among others. The report, however also warns of the pitfalls of depending on social media as source of news

Back to Pulitzer Awards and the media trends set by information technology and social media, the Huffington Post Media, an online platform that aggregates and distributes news items, won in the category of national reporting for a 10 piece series on the struggles of wounded American soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq when they return home.

The story “Beyond the Battle Field” was written by a veteran journalist David Wood who has worked for both the Time Magazine and the Los Angeles times and thus one would say applied the best practices in of traditional media as he wrote the story.

Huffington Post become the first online-only daily news outlet to win Pulitzer even though the non-profit investigative journalism organization Pro Publica became the first online outlet to win the prize in 2010 and again in 2011, its stories are normally published in partnership with traditional print newspapers as well.

Another pointer to the changing times is that the Awards submissions and evaluation are now being done exclusively digitally even though online news organizations have been eligible for the awards from 2009.

The  24 year-old cub reporter  Sarah Ganim won the award for a local newspaper; The Patriot –News for reporting on the sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State University assistant coach.  Ganim certainly is among the youngest to receive the award; in 1985 Jackie Crosby at 23 was awarded in the specialized reporting category.

Breaking with tradition, an alternative newspaper Seattle Stranger was awarded the prize in feature writing for an item written by Eli Sanders, himself a veteran journalist.

The trend notwithstanding, it would be premature to state that social media is replacing traditional media. Rather, the trends indicate that journalists must, as a matter urgency, learn, integrate and adopt these new tools if they have to stay true to their trade.

The challenges that come with the use of social media in reporting also provide opportunities for journalists and traditional news outlets to delve deeper into news items. They should work on investigative, feature based news items that would provide an added value to what the immediacy and brevity that social media accords already.

In other words, the reportorial enterprise is becoming more and more integrated, democratic, inclusive and more engaging than ever before.

It is a trend that is not only egalitarian in its orientation but also more democratic; where all people, reporters at the national and international levels might just have fair shot at coming up with award-winning news item!

There is already strong indications that media integration ( new and old media) effectively complement each other with new technology and social media having a strong leverage in the future of news media if we pay close attention to where most revenue is coming from.

College Education for All

 

New and interesting initiatives are slowing but surely taking shape in ways of accessing high education by the masses.

A few educators are opening doors of college education to the masses across the globe in ways that are not only inspiring but also very innovative and hopefully, sustainable.

University of the People has been offering free college education to students around the world who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to receive such education because of their humble financial backgrounds.

Apart from application fee, most applicants are able to start their undergraduate education free of charge. Already nearly 1,400 students from 130 countries have taken advantage of the unique program.

The university started the program in 2009 and though it has it is yet to get accreditation; it has a lot of goodwill and support from prominent organizations and colleges including the United Nations, Yale ISP and the Clinton Global Initiative.

The giant computer maker, HP collaborates with the college by offering internships to its students. The other organizations that work with the college in a variety of ways include Open Course Ware Consortium, Partnership for New Beginning and New York University which allows students in the program to transfer courses to its campuses across the globe.

For instance, The Haiti initiative, undertaken after the after the 2010 earthquake aims to admit 250 students through a collaborative effort with the Clinton Global Initiative.

The other institution which is promising to change the way people access higher education is New Charter University , an outfit that charges $ 199 a month for its undergraduate courses.

That translates to nearly $ 6,000 for a degree! Compare this to the cost of other universities and you realize how far-reaching this concept is.

The university even has a provision that enables students to try the courses for free and only register (make payments) once they know it is a good fit for their needs.

It offers both graduate and undergraduate courses and has accreditation that would allow for the transfer of its courses.

The college explains it is able to set its tuition at such rates by not participating in government’s financial Aid Program . The university aims to graduate students without debt!.

that said though, students in this university still benefit from all from federal policies guiding higher education such as education tax credits and student loan payment deferment while enrolled.

even amid reservations, online education has gained mainstream acceptance as the means of impacting new skills mainly to non-traditional students. The online education model continues to ensure that educational opportunities are as diverse as they are democratic leading many people to acquire requisite skills and therefore better prospect for high paying jobs and therefore better lives.

The impact of these kinds of initiatives including Apple’s Itunes U can be resounding especially in developing countries where post-secondary education is most of the times a preserve of the rich. in most of these countries where online education infrastructure is not well-developed, alternative avenues to traditional education normally cost more. It therefore calls on education innovators to partner with these countries to see if effective and competitive online structures can be put in place to benefit individuals interested in college education.

currently, most leading learning institutions are grappling with the best way to offer their courses to the growing worldwide student body as seen by the recent move by MIT to offer credentials for some of its online courses.

A number of educational institutions however come up with campuses across the world in an attempt to attract additional students even though history is showing that most of such initiatives still do not cater for the needs of the students they intend to attract.

The gradual changes in the provision of online education will soon force educators to rethink long-standing traditions on education provision mainly for working adults, low-income, minority and the global student body.

How not to Reform Traffic Laws in Kenya

How not to Reform Traffic Laws in Kenya

Kenya parliament is debating a Traffic Bill whose hallmark is the abolition of the dreaded traffic police department and the initiation of high fines against drunk driving.

The Bill also seeks to streamline the process of registering motor vehicles by transferring the function the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

This legislation could not have come at a better time. The country is rated among the worst in road carnages; nearly 3, 000 deaths annually from road accidents. Economically, accidents cost the country billions annually as most of those killed or maimed are individuals in the most productive age group in the society.

A sound legislation should therefore be put in place to make the roads safe thereby opening the transportation sector to additional investment.

However, a pedestrian at the Bill reveals that the lawmakers are not in touch with the reality on  the roads or they did not seek any advice from individuals who know what ails the sector.

The main intent of the bill is raising penalties without doing much to reform behavior of the stakeholders; vehicle owners, law enforcers, drivers, pedestrians among others.

First, some of the fines proposed are way too high and will encourage  corrupt practices.

Police officers will have too much power not only to coarse and intimidate motorists but also provide many avenues enrich themselves by breaking the rules they are supposed to safeguard.

Though abandoning the police department might be good move, road users will now have to deal with many police officers thereby driving the cost of operating a vehicle in Kenya; the more the officers, the higher the frequency of bribes.

A good legislation should be aimed at training officers and ensuring they understand the important role they play in making sure roads are safe. Such training, however, must involve every stakeholder if we have to change attitudes on where the responsibility on road safety lies.

The other point that should be in the MPs mind as they debate this crucial piece of legislation is the fines stipulated in the Bill.  Exorbitant fines and penalties will encourage people to default leading to risky drivers on the road.

A case in point is fines of Shs. 500,000 or suspension of driver’s license for three years. Driving and owning a vehicle are privileges that certainly come with great responsibilities but if fines and penalties are set at levels that lock out a category of people, the chances of default and underhand deals will certainly increase.

The conditions of the roads must be addressed with the seriousness that it deserves. Roads should be maintained and important issues like speed limits, road signs, lighting and warnings must be part of this bill. Sadly, the bill does not address issues that will decrease the rate of road accidents in the country

Read more about the bill here: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Bill+seeks+to+scrap+traffic+unit+/-/1064/1374376/-/117yai1z/-/index.html

End.

Why Content is King

There have been reports that Google is in the process of penalizing over-optimization of web content making it harder for sites to rank higher without relevant and quality content. The move by the web-giant is expected to radically change web experience by ensuring relevant search results.

On the other side of the spectrum, individuals who make their living through tweaking web ranking through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will find the going difficult if they do not adapt to developing compelling and relevant content as the essence of their trade.

In a nutshell, Google wants websites and content providers to go back to the old, time-tested rules of quality and superb content.

It will be coming up with a semantic database that will guide web searches ensuring that only content that meets a certain criteria appear on top of pages during searches.

Practices of using too much keywords, links or worse still, software or other applications that pay lip service to content will be a thing of the past-hopefully!

But even as Google works in streamling Search Engine Optimization (SEO) only time will tell if its efforts will go too far as to throttle creativity and development and innovation by individuals across the globe who look at it as a neutral arbiter.