CNN: Text Heavy, MSNBC: Multimedia Friendly

31 03 2011

The two Media organizations I followed were CNN and MSNBC on both Facebook and on phone apps. The stories that I would read would be anything from entertainment, to world news (especially focusing on Japan), to US news. I thought that both methods worked well for them. However, CNN had maybe one photo or (less likely) a video in a story with a lot of text, while MSNBC used used photos, video, photo stories and even an interactive panoramic slide show. CNN’s mobile app was more organized separating the stories into categories like General, Politics, Tech, and entertainment. MSNBC only listed the stories in the order in which they came. MSNBC’s Facebook site had more news stories posted often than CNN’s Facebook site. Also, when MSNBC would post a new story, it would have a question which promoted the audience to make their own opinions of the story. I would change MSNBC’s mobile app to separate stories into categories. I would like to see CNN incorporate more multimedia in their stories, not just pictures and video on occasion.


Little Shop of Wonders: How Continental Auto Parts and Salvage Co. has Lasted in the City

1 03 2011

Continental Auto Parts and Salvage Co. on Cass Avenue, where the store has been located since 1932, Friday, February 25, 2011. (Dawit Bekuretsion/Photographer)

If you drive around the city, you’ll see some vacant a dilapidated, buildings where business formerly operated. In the shadow of St. Louis’ past, most of those hollow businesses either left the area or went out of business. But not all of these buildings are empty. One building still stands as a monument of that former glory with its cheeky sign. That building still has a business operating out of it. That business is Continental Auto Parts and Salvage Co.

Continental Auto Parts and Salvage Co. is a family business that has been in St. Louis city for more than 78 years. Located on Cass Avenue near the intersection at Jefferson Avenue, this business prospered through the Great Depression and is struggling to survive the current economic decline.

In the Beginning…

Continental opened in 1932, in St. Louis by Bill Friedman, the older brother of the current owner Irvin Friedman. Irvin Friedman did not join the business until 1934 after their father passed away. Irvin was 12 years old at the time, but he felt the need to help support his family of four boys and two girls because of the dire economic situation.

In its genesis, Continental was a salvage yard. After acquiring land on both the north and south side of Cass Avenue, the Friedmans added an electrical shop so they could service starters and alternators. According to Irvin Friedman, this addition lead to industrial accounts that ushered in a period of success for the business. He said that he and his brother decided to stay in the area because of the business they received from industrial fleets from, large trucking companies with 10 to 200 trucks.

Their business model is client-friendly. They would buy foreign auto parts at a cheap rate from rural areas because those parts do not sell well in those areas. They sold those parts at a cheaper rate than if those parts were found in the city. With these large clients, they became well-known in the area and brought in three generations of repeat business, which is what he also attributes for his success.

Westward Expansion

Expansion was in the air for Continental. With this much success coming out of the city, the Friedmans decided to expand into the county. In 1952, they bought 47 acres in Maryland Heights and opened a second shop called West Continental Auto Parts and Salvage. However, this was the end of their expansion. Four years ago, West Continental was sold. This also marked the retirement of Bill Friedman, making Irvin Friedman the sole owner of the business.

Fall of the Area

Mike Powell, longtime employee at Continental Auto Parts and Salvage Co., disassembles a Delco car starter in St. Louis, Friday, February 25, 2011. (Dawit Bekuretsion/Photographer)

Mike Powell, who has worked at Continental full-time for the past 15 years, described the area as a place that had a lot of businesses when she started. He mentioned the Flamingo Hotel and Lounge, which was to the east of the shop. The Chinese restaurant across the street from the shop saw plenty of business in the area in its heyday, but for Powell the empty space is an eerie reminder that, “If we can’t pick up business… this could happen to us in a few years.”

Looking Toward the Future

Irvin Friedman, owner of Continental Auto Parts and Salvage Co., takes a customer's call on Friday, February 25, 2011. (Dawit Bekuretsion/Photographer)

Irvin Friedman, now 90 years old, has mixed feelings about the future of Continental. They lost many of their large industrial clients to larger corporations and a population shift out of the city has decreased the number of repeat customers. Now, most of the customers are walk-in clients. He has also downsized his workforce from eight to two and a half. He explained that the half is a part-time employee. Two years ago, Paul McKee, a developer in St. Louis, bought the property the shop sits on after Friedman sold the south Cass Avenue lot. Kim Miskiff, the another full-time worker at Continental, says that if McKee puts in housing into the area it could possibly bring in more business but he doesn’t know what McKee’s plans are. Irvin Friedman is a little more optimistic about the future of Continental.

“We have to see what McKee does in this area,” he said. “We still have a chance.”

Fire Drill at Pius XII?

15 02 2011

Late in the afternoon on Friday, a fire alarm sounded at the Pius XII Memorial Library. It is unknown if this was a fire drill, however, DPSSS quickly arrived at the scene to investigate.

Free Online News for Everyone?

3 02 2011

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! (Online and for a price)

So, the New York Times think they can charge for their online news? Well, it sounds like a bad idea to me. Newspapers with an online supplement may start to charge for their online content to try make some money on that platform, like what Hulu is doing with Hulu Plus. I think if the newspapers can make the online content worth while it might work, however, if they can’t do that, they will drop charging online customers and may do what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is doing with their website.

If they make new platforms, they (journalists) will come.

With the release of new technology, it’s apparent that journalists have to adapt and move to those platforms quickly, as we have seen with the internet and mobile phones. Recently, Apple released the iPad, a tablet computer. With News Corp. launching an iPad only app, the news is going to move to these newer platforms quicker and in large strides.

The Social Media Empire

As society places more importance on social media, like Facebook and Twitter, those social networking sites are going to play a bigger role in news reporting, especially with startup news outlets. After all, CNN has its own Facebook page with news updates.

The News doesn’t need defibrillation. It’s evolving.

1 02 2011

At first, news was distributed by newspapers, television, and radio. Now, news can be found all over the internet in the form of online blogs, videos, and stories. Online social networks are also playing a part allowing common people to comment on news like the Huffington Post. This era of news reporting is allowing for everyone to put in their two cents on an issue or to even be the first to report on a breaking news event before the traditional news media has a chance to report on it. Traditional news outlets utilize online social networks to allow online readers to comment, share stories with their friends, or to even communicate with the reporters like KSDK in St. Louis.

St. Louis University: The Unauthorized Edition

1 02 2011

St. Louis University: The Unauthorized Edition

Blog Assignment #1

20 01 2011

I found a site that contained a video about a musician known as “Blind” Willie Johnson. The  video told his life story in under a minute and a half effectively as an animation. The video included musicians, past and present, that his music inspired. The one thing that stuck out to me was that the video was silent. At the bottom of the video had text that gave the details of his life. The music was simply a track, presumably Blind Willie himself, playing guitar and humming. The creators of the video effectively did a biography of somebody without spoken words and only included the most important facts of his life. I believe that it would be interesting to do silent video stories for the class as like a gallery, similar to what the website that I found the video on did. That could yield some creative and interesting results.