Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
This is a complaint I've brought up a few times but, really, there is something wrong with the news selection process in this country. My biggest beef right now? Levi Johnston. Johnston and his rocky relationship with the Palin family is none of our business and it is not news. Johnston has been circulating all the media stations sharing the details of his relationship with Bristol Palin and the visiting hours she will or not let him have with their baby. AP wires confirming the breakup, headlines forecasting the future of Johnston and the Palin family flashing across TV screens and the Internet ... Will they ever get back together? Does Levi want Bristol back? What did Sarah think? Gossip such as this has no place on major news networks. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was chosen as a vice presidential candidate and lost. End of story. In my opinion, any story about the Palin family begins and ends with the governor. Just because she was thrust into public spotlight doesn't mean her family and all of her business have to be, too. And now, media just can't seem to let it go. I'm sorry, but aren't there more important things going on in the world?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
For a much more educated, cohesive take on this issue, read this.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"Indeed, the work by the Sun and the Times, along with the third choice of the St. Petersburg Times, "really did represent three very different manifestations of public service," Boardman said. "And the Sun was more in the investigative mode -- taking on forces that were concealing the facts from the public."
I believe that The Sun exemplified the proper balance of advocacy with neutrality. It is such a thin line that journalists walk between the two, frequently straying too far to one side or the other. But, The Sun reported the facts, served the greater societal interest, and impacted some change in their community. They are well deserving of this award and I hope that we all, as graduating journalists, can take this example of ethics in action and apply it to our communities that we are reporting on and be the catalyst of change....
Alright, now I will get down from my soapbox.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Media Literacy 101: The Ethics of Photoshopping a Shirtless Obama
The web is buzzing about The Washingtonian magazine's choice to put a paparazzi photo of a buff and shirtless President Obama on the cover of its May issue. Read the story at the link.
Monday, April 20, 2009
PolitiFact Win Recognizes Power of Online Journalism
Launched in 2007, PolitiFact's distinctive "Truth-O-Meter" ruled on the accuracy of hundreds of statements made by politicians (and even anonymous chain e-mails) during the 2008 presidential campaign.
The site was relaunched in January with a broader focus on statements made by pundits and opinion makers and a new "Obameter" to track President Barack Obama's progress on 500 campaign promises.
The Web site has been well-regarded and before being awarded the Pulitzer, it won a National Press Foundation award for Excellence in Online Journalism. It has also received a Knight Batten Award for Innovation, a NAA Digital Edge Award for Best Overall News Site and was one of PC World's "100 Incredibly Useful and Interesting Web Sites."
PolitiFact, which has its own theme song, is one of the first Web sites to be honored by the Pulitzers, which began considering online work in 2006. PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair spoke briefly about what that recognition means:
Bill Adair Answers, "What Does This Pulitzer Prize Mean to Journalism?" from Poynter Institute on Vimeo.
This was her response: "I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman."
Ever since the words have left her lips she has been vilified, called names and some are even saying that is why she lost. I don't care about Miss USA's opinion on gay marriage, I care about the response she receives from fellow Americans for expressing her First Amendment right to free speech. She said nothing derogatory, and gave a truthful answer. Whether anyone agrees with her, whatever. But as Ed Murrow said, "We should not confuse dissent with disloyalty." Free speech is for everyone to express their opinions.
I believe in the marketplace of ideas. When we start picking and choosing who can say what, we have just made the First Amendment moot. I think everyone can have their own opinions.
To see the video and read the story, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/20/carrie-prejean-miss-calif_n_188897.html.
By Storee Powell
Columnist Dave Berry wrote, “Newspaper readership is declining like crazy. I could write a pornographic sex scene here and nobody would notice.”
“Oh, Dirk,” moaned Camille as she writhed nakedly on the bed. “Yes, yes, yes, YES…”
“It was not always this way. There was a time when everybody read newspapers, whereas today, most people do not.”
The Pew Research Center found 63 percent of Americans said they won’t miss their local paper if it goes down. Despite readers’ feelings, research points to devastating affects for democracy if newspapers die. Newspapers are irreplaceable in a democratic system. However, to save the vital life-force, new and controversial ideas must be combined and instated to attract all audiences and make newspapers once again economically viable.
Implications for Democracy
A 2009 case study by Princeton University found that after The Cincinnati Post died in 2007, its absence made local elections less competitive along several dimensions. Municipalities that the Post covered in the past experienced a greater increase in incumbent advantage, a decrease in voter turnout, and fewer people ran for office after the paper’s closure.
Also, it has been found that places with higher newspaper circulation per capita have less political corruption.
What is the value of competitive elections?
Adsera, et al. said, “The degree of information of citizens curbs the opportunities politicians may have to engage in political corruption and mismanagement. Governmental performance improves as citizens have more precise knowledge on the policies adopted by politicians…the presence of a well-informed electorate in a democratic setting explains between one half and two thirds of the variance in the levels of governmental performance and corruption.”
The Princeton study said, “News coverage potentially influences election outcomes in many ways. By revealing incumbents’ misdeeds or making it easier for challengers to get their message out, a newspaper may reduce incumbent advantage. Newspaper stories could also raise interest in politics, inspiring more people to vote or run for office.”
What are newspaper’s roles in democracy?
According to researchers Adsera, et al., if a “control mechanism” such as a newspaper is set up, then “inefficiencies and corruption” of the politician are likely to be exposed to the public who can hold the violator accountable.
Why can’t blogs, online news and television fill the newspaper’s void?
TV, blogs and online journalism are basically parasitic, taking most of their stories from newspapers. A well-read blog can multiply a story’s impact many times. According to Salon journalist, Gary Kamiya, if newspapers die, so does reporting because the majority of original reporting is done by newspapers. Kamiya said former Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll estimated 80 percent of all online news originates in print.
Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin said the Pew Research Center reported a typical metro paper runs 70 stories a day compared to a half-hour of television news that includes only 10 to 12 stories. Furthermore, broadcast news follows the agenda set by newspapers. Usually, the broadcast news repeats the stories with less detail. Also, newspaper reporters build networks of people to create opportunities for new information.
Kamiya explained professionally trained and experienced newspaper reporters produce the stories that blogs, online and television news synthesize their news from. A world without professional journalists to do face-to-face reporting will result in document-based reporting and academic-style research. Blogs and online news will erode the human process of journalism. Stories will no longer convey the truthful reality of a situation if reporters cannot experience the story firsthand, which enables them to pass this relation on to the readers, according to Kamiya.
“The ideal of journalistic objectivity and fairness will increasingly crumble, to be replaced by more tendentious and opinionated reports,” said Kamiya. “The brave new media world will be one of tunnel vision and self-selected expertise, in which reported pieces are increasingly devoid of human interaction or human stories, often written by individuals who do not pretend to have a neutral stance.”
Another shortcoming of online news, Kamiya said, is that there’s currently no business model that makes online reporting financially viable. Original reporting requires lots of time, money and specialized skills—resources online news does not have. The Huffington Post, while a successful content-driven Web business, does very little original reporting for these very reasons.
Saving the newspaper: A Multifaceted Approach
Since other mediums can’t do the newspaper’s job that democracy requires, and online news is financially improbable, it can be concluded that newspapers need to stay alive. Combining ideas is necessary to combat rising printing costs, declining advertising and circulation, and the growing number of internet users.
Frederick Jones, undergraduate winner of the Moeller Student Paper Competition of the Association for Education in Journalism, explained that before 1970, antitrust laws did not allow for anticompetitive business practices, monopolies, and price fixing. When newspapers began to struggle in the seventies, some attempted to go against the antitrust laws by combining their business functions. It was clear that newspapers needed an exemption so the marketplace of ideas could continue to flourish, Jones said. Thus, in 1970, the Newspaper Preservation Act was passed, which allows papers to combine business activities. Under these Joint Operating Agreements, there can be no merger of editorial staffs or editorial policies.
In 2009, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the Justice Department to give newspapers even more leeway. Pelosi said that newspapers could share reporting and reporters, something currently not allowed. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder responded that he was open to adjusting antitrust laws if it would help newspapers stay afloat.
Senator Cardin took Pelosi’s idea a step further in recent proposed legislation. Cardin introduced the Newspaper Revitalization Act which would allow local newspapers to choose to operate under nonprofit status for educational purposes, similar to public broadcasters. This arrangement would not allow newspapers to make political endorsements, but would permit editorializing and free reporting on all issues, including campaigns. Better yet, advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt. Contributions to support coverage could be tax-deductible, and no federal taxpayer money would be used.
While JOAs, shared reporting and nonprofit newspapers may sound unfamiliar, experimental and intimidating, it’s because they are. However, less than 15 cities in the U.S. still have competing daily newspapers, and many monopoly newspapers are struggling as well. The year 2008 was the worst year in history for newspaper publishers, with shares dropping a stunning 83 percent on average. Unless action is taken, newspapers will fold completely, and quickly. The unchartered territory will likely be awkward at first, but the rewards could outweigh the risk of a democracy without newspapers.
Dave Barry notes another problem with current newspaper trends. “Go to any newspaper today and you’ll see herds of editors…the vast majority of who are middle-aged Dockers-wearing white guys.”
Professor of journalism at Utah State U., Ted Pease said diversity at newspapers in coverage and staff-makeup is seriously lacking in the departments of race, ethnicity, age and female gender.
“Although most large U.S. newspapers circulate in urban areas where the nonwhite population ranges into the 50 percent range and higher,” said Pease. “A variety of scholarly studies of news media performance show that coverage of minorities by those large metropolitan newspapers tends to account for only about 3 percent of their total news coverage. Further, more than half of white journalists and more than 70 percent of minority journalists surveyed in a national 1991 study said their own newspapers covered minority communities marginally or poorly.” 
Pease explained the lack of diversity is a problem because some 87 percent of all U.S. population growth through the turn of the century will be among "minorities" –African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos. Essentially, newspapers that ignore the fast growing minority populations ignore these two business facts: 51 percent of blacks, 52 percent of Hispanics and 42 percent of Asian Americans read the newspaper every day, and between 1990 and 2000, more than 63 percent of the U.S. workforce, wage-earners and consumer, were women.
Pease said, “News organizations that fail to hold those wage-earners by delivering content and coverage that satisfy their needs will lose them.”
Newspapers must diversify to be viable and appealing to modern U.S. audiences, including in the area of age. Because many of the “old white dudes” are out of touch with today’s youth, they are losing audiences quickly as the majority of their baby-boomer readership dies off. A 2007 Pew survey found more people, 35%, rely on internet for news rather than newspapers. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 say they get most of their national and international news online.
The internet’s power and influence cannot be overlooked by newspapers. The under-30 audience is the future readers of news. While tangible, printed papers are a necessity, so are online components which will attract the younger readers. Kamiya said internet is appealing to young people because it gives voice to people who would otherwise have no platform. It empowers readers by allowing bloggers to fact-check for themselves and criticize the “established press.” Letting readers actively take part in the news process gives them a sense of credibility that they feel has been lost by the “old media.” The old media has, Kamiya said, “too often been sclerotic, incompetent and driven by hidden corporatist, nationalist or reactionary agendas. The press’s catastrophic failure to question the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq is the most glaring recent example.”
In Paul Gillin’s How I Can Help Your Newspaper, he explains including online components will attract followers on Twitter, blogs and other social media, sparking youth’s interest in newspapers. Link-and-comment is the “foundation of blogging.” Readers don’t want to just be told the supposed facts anymore, they want to comment and criticize the stories and reporters. Creating Podcasts and Webcasts fulfills the desire for audio and visual. Also, syndicating material on the various mediums multiplies the impact of every story. Most importantly, writing for interactive readership must be different from traditional journalism.
Can the “old white dudes” handle all of this? They most likely can’t. Young people of diverse backgrounds need to be hired by newspapers to infuse the bland with some color. Young people will write about topics appealing to their modern audiences and know how to use new online mediums. This doesn’t mean fire all the older reporters, however. Let young employees train the older ones how to use the online mediums and write stories in new ways. The value of older reporters keeps older audiences attracted and adds experience to a complex business.
Don Fry, published author said, “Newspaper stories don’t necessarily tell stories. Sometimes they package facts in space.”
How can this be avoided? To argue the point of new writing style further, newspapers should not only engage in this online, but print as well. No doubt traditional style has its purpose, but to attract readers and increase credibility, stories can’t just package facts anymore. Professor of Journalism, Alice Klement, said breaking the rules does not mean losing commitment to craft. Rather, it means newspapers are willing to try unusual sources such as non-experts, or use a different style, like writing a story in first person. Reporters who write about themselves will reveal the reporting process, the questions they ask themselves and engage readers by simply explaining how and why they got the story. Letting readers know of the real difficulties of reporting such as source betrayal or ethical questions will make readers more understanding and less distrustful of newspapers.
Professor of English, Carolyn Matalene, said these kinds of journalists will ask themselves self-conscious questions, calling attention to their own acts of writing. Include the questions with the printed story. Allow the reporter to write a foreword outlining the questions and explaining their process. Matalene said, “Questions such as: How should this story be told? What if the sources do the telling? What is my role? How has covering this story changed who I am? What about my own story?”
Miami Herald writer, Leonard Pitts Jr. said, “Sixty-three percent of all Americans think they won’t miss the daily paper? I think 64 percent of all Americans are wrong.”
Newspapers are mandatory for a good democracy. Citizens need this information to create the kind of society they want, whether they think so or not. However, newspapers, reporters, readers and government cannot be afraid to sail in unchartered waters. Revamping newspapers will require new techniques and combining innovative ideas like new writing styles, JOAs, nonprofit newspapers, and using new mediums.
Senator Cardin concluded, “Thomas Jefferson, a man who was frequently vilified by newspapers, summed it up best when he said: ‘If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter.’”
 Barry, Dave. “Read All About It, Dude.” Telling Stories Taking Risks: Journalism at the Century’s Edge. Ed. Klement, Alice, Carolyn Matalene. Belmont: Thompson Learning Inc. 2003: 230.
 Pitts Jr., Leonard. “Don't Expect Sympathy Cards from Crooks, Corrupt Politicians.” The Miami Herald 18 Mar. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009
 Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, Miguel Garrido. Do Newspapers Matter? Evidence from the Closure of The Cincinnati Post Discussion Papers in Economics #236, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 13 March 2009: 19.
 Adsera, Alicia, Carles Boix, Mark Payne. Are you being served?: Political Accountability and Quality of Government. Working Paper #438, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Dept., U. of Chicago and U. of Illinois, Nov. 2000: 4
 Adsera, et al. 41.
 Schulhofer-Wohl and Boix, 8.
 Adsera, et al. 7.
 Schulhofer-Wohl and Boix, 7.
 Kamiya, Gary. “The Death of the News.” Salon 17 Feb. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009
 Cardin, Benjamin L. Special Commentary. “Cardin: Why Newspapers Need Saving.” The Washington Post 5 Apr. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009
 Kamiya, Gary. “The Death of the News.”
 Kamiya, Gary. “The Death of the News.”
 Jones, Fredrick. The Newspaper Preservation Act: Is It a Necessary Loophole in Antitrust Laws? Moeller Student Paper Contest, Indiana University, 1980. Bloomington, ERIC. Microfiche, 1981: 3-4.
 Mikkelsen, Randall. “U.S. Law Chief Open to Antitrust Aid for Newspapers.” Reuters 18 Mar. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009
 Cardin, Benjamin L. Special Commentary. “Cardin: Why Newspapers Need Saving.”
 Schulhofer-Wohl and Boix, 1.
 Kamiya, Gary. “The Death of the News.”
 Barry, Dave, 231.
 Pease, Edward C. “Why Should We Care?”
 Pease, Edward C. “Why Should We Care?”
 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. “Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Outlet.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press News Interest Index. 23 Dec. 2008. 16 Apr. 2009
 Kamiya, Gary. “The Death of the News.”
 Gillin, Paul. “How I Can Help Your Newspaper.” Newspaper Death Watch. 16 Apr. 2009
 Fry, Don. Foreword. Telling Stories, Taking Risks: Journalism at the Century’s Edge. By Ed. Klement, Alice, Carolyn Matalene. Belmont: Thompson Learning Inc. 2003: XV-XVI.
 Klement, Alice M. Preview. “At the Century’s Edge.” Telling Stories, Taking Risks: Journalism at the Century’s Edge. By Ed. Klement, Alice, Carolyn Matalene. Belmont: Thompson Learning Inc. 2003: XI.
 Matalene, Carolyn B., 1-3.
 Pitts Jr., Leonard. “Don't Expect Sympathy Cards from Crooks, Corrupt Politicians.”
 Cardin, Benjamin L. Special Commentary. “Cardin: Why Newspapers Need Saving.”
Adsera, Alicia, Carles Boix, Mark Payne. Are you being served?: Political Accountability and Quality of Government. Working Paper #438, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Dept., U. of Chicago and U. of Illinois, Nov. 2000 http://www.iadb.org/res/publications/pubfiles/pubwp-438.pdf.
Barry, Dave. “Read All About It, Dude.” Telling Stories Taking Risks: Journalism at the Century’s Edge. Ed. Klement, Alice, Carolyn Matalene. Belmont: Thompson Learning Inc. 2003: 230-32.
Cardin, Benjamin L. Special Commentary. “Cardin: Why Newspapers Need Saving.” The Washington Post 5 Apr. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009 http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/04/05/0405newspapers_edit.html.
Fry, Don. Foreword. Telling Stories, Taking Risks: Journalism at the Century’s Edge. By Ed. Klement, Alice, Carolyn Matalene. Belmont: Thompson Learning Inc. 2003: XV-XVI.
Gillin, Paul. “How I Can Help Your Newspaper.” Newspaper Death Watch. 16 Apr. 2009 http://www.newspaperdeathwatch.com/services-for-newspaper-publishers.
Jones, Fredrick. The Newspaper Preservation Act: Is It a Necessary Loophole in Antitrust Laws? Moeller Student Paper Contest, Indiana University, 1980. Bloomington, ERIC. Microfiche, 1981.
Kamiya, Gary. “The Death of the News.” Salon 17 Feb. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009 http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2009/02/17/newspapers/.
Klement, Alice M. Preview. “At the Century’s Edge.” Telling Stories, Taking Risks: Journalism at the Century’s Edge. By Ed. Klement, Alice, Carolyn Matalene. Belmont: Thompson Learning Inc. 2003: XI.
Matalene, Carolyn B. Introduction. Telling Stories, Taking Risks: Journalism at the Century’s Edge. By Ed. Klement, Alice, Carolyn Matalene. Belmont: Thompson Learning Inc. 2003: 1-3.
Mikkelsen, Randall. “U.S. Law Chief Open to Antitrust Aid for Newspapers.” Reuters 18 Mar. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009 http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USN1835208520090318.
Pease, Edward C. “Why Should We Care? The Philosophical and Economic Arguments for Media Diversity.” Online posting, 15 Feb. 2009. Get Media Smarts BlogSpot. 16 Apr. 2009. Still the Invisible People: Job Satisfaction of Minority Journalists at U.S. Daily Newspapers. Athens, OH: Ohio University, 1991 http://www.usu.edu/journalism/faculty/pease/whydiversity.html.
Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. “Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Outlet.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press News Interest Index. 23 Dec. 2008. 16 Apr. 2009 http://people-press.org/report/479/internet-overtakes-newspapers-as-news-source.
Pitts Jr., Leonard. “Don't Expect Sympathy Cards from Crooks, Corrupt Politicians.” The Miami Herald 18 Mar. 2009. 16 Apr. 2009 http://www.miamiherald.com/living/columnists/leonard-pitts/v-print/story/955386.html.
Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, Miguel Garrido. Do Newspapers Matter? Evidence from the Closure of The Cincinnati Post Discussion Papers in Economics #236, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 13 March 2009.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I remember, maybe a year back, there was a terrible roadside bombing in Iraq. In the days following the attack, The New York Times printed a picture that was short of something you would see in a horror film. I think, the details may be a little blurry, it was a photo of a woman who had been severely mauled by this bomb, and by mauled I mean legs blown off. She was on the side walk with horror just written across her face. And I think that the picture was buried in the paper, probably third or fourth page, above the fold. Later that week, I heard the photo editor of the Times on the radio being interviewed about that particular picture and his justification for running it like he did. And the most striking thing to me about the interview, and what I still remember, was his justification was that most of the people reading the Times would have no relation or proximal ties to that woman or situation. He said had it been a bombing in downtown New York City, the photo probably wouldn't have been run.
Graphics and photos have such an incredible ability to invoke all sorts of human emotions. These range from humor, seeing the rollerskating monkey, to horror, the roadside bombing photo, to empathy, take the photo of the girl with napalm burns running down the road in Vietnam. As journalists, and especially photojournalists, I think we take the power of photos for granted. And during war time, I think that many of our ethical aims are in constant conflict with one another. Anyway, on the SPJ website, there is a whole section devoted to helping journalists resolve ethical conflicts during war. Here is the section devoted to help you determine whether your motivations to run a particular picture are for the right reasons. It gives journalists an excellent framework to help decide whether to run a photo or not run it.
Assessing Our Motivation in Publishing or Suppressing Information or Graphics
---Why do we believe the public needs this information, aside from the fact that a journalist has gotten wind of it?
— Are we trying to draw attention to our own news organization, to create a “buzz,” to gain an “exclusive”? If so, how much has that factor influenced our decision-making?
— Is our primary motivation informing the public? Or is it entertaining the public, exciting emotional responses, responding to government pressure or “branding” an image or idea?
— If we believe we are trying to perform a public service by publication, what precisely is the nature of that service, and how credible, useful and important is it to the public?
— Is patriotism a primary factor in our decision? Would we consider it important to publish or suppress the information if we had no national allegiance?
— Is the contemplated “play” of our coverage commensurate with the news value of the story? If not, what other factors have entered into our decision?
Here is the link to the full site with all of the other frameworks for other war time ethical dilemmas. http://www.spj.org/ethicswartime.asp
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Why we're not covering the Round-Up rodeo: A note to readers
For the first time anyone here can remember, the Record Searchlight today won't have any journalists inside the rodeo arena at the Red Bluff Round-Up.
We have raised serious practical and ethical concerns about the new "ground rules" the Round-Up Association has established to "manage" our coverage, and have received no sign from its leadership or media representatives that they're willing to discuss the matter.
This means we can't bring you pictures and accounts of the action, and the publication of results may be delayed.
Click here for the rest of this story, plus dozens of reader comments. The newspaper says it declined press credentials because
...one of the four basic ethical principles for journalists is to act independently. It's our job to bring you the news based on our best judgment, not to willingly submit to being "managed."
Cowboys understand simple right and wrong. To us, this is wrong.
What are your thoughts on this?
If the death of newspapers has affected you at all (and it has affected and will affect everybody even if they don't know it yet) and you've enjoyed the discussions we've had in this class, I pretty much garauntee that you will want to stand up and cheer at several points during this movie. I know this post is getting pretty hyperbolic but cut me some slack 'cause it's almost 3 a.m. and I just had to post about this movie while it was still fresh in my mind.
Anyway, "State of Play" also deals with themes and issues that were addressed in the other films we watched in this course, including the murky waters of reporter objectivity and the protection of sources vs. the needs of the public. And as an added bonus: Jason Bateman of "Arrested Developement" fame delivers a fantastic performance as a slimey PR caricature that, as a PR major, I found absolutely hilarious! Bottom Line: Go. See. This. Movie! And Nancy, I think this would be a great film to show in a future incarnation of this course!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I do not disagree with Guy's choice to run the story of the incoming weapons ship. He did the right thing, seeking out and reporting the truth for the greater good. Billy did not understand that. Billy wanted personal fulfillment from his sources and co-workers as friends, instead of being compassionate and humane for the greater good. I had no problem with Billy helping the starving kid or getting connections for Guy. I did have a problem with Billy missing the important story near the end because he felt a loss of friendship. I felt this was a personal problem and selfish. Clearly he had forsaken his journalistic ideal of seeking the truth, which he had started out with by doing the famine story.
Now, how kids, does this apply to us today? What about the new-fangled Face Book and other online social networking sites? Is it ethical for journalists to fling their private life into the open for co-workers, sources and readers to see? Yes and no, that is a good answer.
A New York journalists named Melissa was quoted in a recent Quill article, "A friend is someone who stands by you, and takes your side even in tough times; a reporter is someone without allegiances who tries to tell all sides, and who, in tough times, digs deeper, trying to find the truth."
I would encourage everyone to read this timely story http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/spj/quill_200903/.
On the other hand, I think that journalists can connect journalists to sources to make better opportunities for stories to flourish, just like Billy did. I also think it is important to stick up for all journalists as a whole if you are one to ensure the public of credibility and stand by our processes (if they are indeed ethical).
So I guess my best answer is to take Aristotle's Golden Mean to heart. Go ahead and Facebook and Twitter with your co-workers and readers (but leave sources out) to open discussion about issues you may not know about, gain connections and enlighten others on your reporting processes and feelings about free press. But keep it professional, meaningful and know the limit of revealing too much personal information that would create a situation of potential betrayal of seeming friends, making it difficult to tell all sides of the story. I believe sincerity is the key. If you aren't comfortable saying something sincerely on these mediums to people you work with, then don't say it.
Activist college opinion-page editor fights her dismissal
Marissa Blaszko was fired in March as opinion editor of the Central Connecticut State University newspaper for violating the paper's code of ethics, which forbids an editor "to act on any political leanings." Blaszko is active in protesting the war in Iraq, she signs petitions and stands up against any kind of social injustice, reports Carolyn Moreau.
Read the whole story here.
As I was watching "The Year of Living Dangerously," I started thinking about the internet and all that it can provide. It would have been much easier for those reporters to submit their stories with the internet and they would have been published much sooner. They would have had more equipment to get better stories as well. Then I thought about all we are losing with the rise of the internet. We are losing the skills of great reporters like Billy who are being replaced with blogs, Facebook and twitter that anyone can comment on and call themselves a journalist. The training a journalist gains is dying because citizens don't realize the work people like Billy are doing. We are losing the face-to-face communication and friendships with individuals because it is much easier to send an email, or a quick message on Facebook. We are losing so much and now we are even looking at losing the social aspect of actually attending school, sitting in a classroom with a bunch of other people your own age and learning how to deal with them.
The internet does make life easier in a way, but is there a limit of how easy we can make our life? Is there a time when people will take a step back and realize how much Americans are relying on computers and the internet. I fear the day something happens to the internet.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Biracial Couple Photo Sparks Negative Comments on Post-Dispatch Blog
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Anyway, back to the actual film. This movie was more Hollywood-esque than the other films we viewed, but I still gleaned very valuable lessons from it. It wasn't my favorite (I can never decide if I like Mel Gibson), but it is definitely a great movie for fledgling journalists like ourselves to learn from.
P.S. I know, I know, I don't understand the title of this post, either...
My reaction: Why? Why, Herald Journal? I'm not advocating censorship, but how is this important enough to publish? Though it's funny, entertaining, and kind of pathetic-ville, it's not newsworthy or relevant in any way. A LOT of single people have dating qualms (myself included, of course). And guess what- we deal with them. Do people have nothing better to do than whine to the local newspaper about their dating lives? Seriously, the HJ is not Craigslist, a dating website, or the ward newsletter. I know it's just a letter-to-the-editor, but still... ugh. I'm all for free speech, and I'm not trying to suggest otherwise. I guess it's just annoying. I'm not trying to come down on the HJ. But I wonder how newspapers choose which letters-to-the-editor to publish, and if they publish all the ones they receive. Does anyone know? Has anyone seen anything like this in a bigger newspaper? Let me know what you guys think!
Hopefully that link worked, im not the most computer savvy guy in the world. But basically the article talks about how they are sending more troops in to Afghanistan and that the violence level will most likely rise as they do so. It goes on talking about these Afghani people they are trying to protect and the troops they are trying to train and so fourth. It also mentions the group Al-Quida, and that especially cracked me up as Marshall explained to us the other day that there was no such thing as Al-Quida and that it was pretty much just a made up term for anyone that gave the military any issues. Makes me wonder why they really wrote this story, are they trying to pre-emptivley make an excuse for something that is about to go down or possibly already has?
Monday, April 13, 2009
On the same day the Op-Ed piece appeared, Ryan Lake, a grad student working on his Ph.D. in Philosophy responded with a web comic on his blog. Lake's commentary and serious criticism of the NY Times piece might have gone largely unnoticed, except for the fact that he encapsulated his criticism in the form of a comic.
Web comics represent just one example of post-modern media that expands the nature of the dialog with the mainstream press.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons. I'm not especially ashamed of that fact, and I really wish that people would stop trying to make me feel so. I enjoy studying other religions. I have attended other churches and intend to continue doing so, because I just enjoy it. I am glad that we haven't reached the point in Cache Valley where talking about Easter on the front page of the newspaper isn't taboo. I'm glad that at this point we have freedom of religion and not freedom from religion.
Ben Stein said it better.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
It was nice to finally hear things straight. So many times in the news, when vets are being interviewed, reporters will ask them to tell the audience what it is really like in Iraq. They never do. The news we get from Iraq, or any battle field, isn't the whole truth. I've always suspected it and it was nice to finally have someone who has been there and experienced it be honest with us. I admire Marshall's service and activism.
What really blew my mind, though, was that stories published in America were delayed a year. A year! That is outrageous and certainly a disgrace to the field. I don't know why or how, but I have my suspicions about this, too. Journalists shouldn't be pawns. I think today's reporters need a greater conviction of their job and purpose. What does that say that we didn't hear reports about the war for a year? We are definitely sleeping on the job and failing our role as watchdogs.
In all of this I was glad to hear Marshall think the press is still a threat. We've got to be good for something.
I always thought it was odd to hear flat out declarations that there can be no life on other planets in the absence of water. How egocentric! So you’re saying that life can only exist if it’s precisely like us?
That’s the feeling I’m getting right now in the woe-is-us, hand-wringing sob-fest about whether life and our democracy can survive the death of some newspapers.
With all due respect to some great newspapers where I’ve worked, I don’t give a damn about the paper they’re printed on.
What I care about is journalism.
Read the rest of this good post, great links to the evidence included.
Follow her on Twitter, too: @CharlotteAnne
One of her blog commenters adds this:
Great investigative journalism can exist outside of newspapers. As illustrated by the 11 person staff of the online-only Voice of San Diego, which has uncovered several government scandals and does a fine job of delivering important news about the workings of San Diego to its readers.
so this article i found on Yahoo while checking my mail, is talking about how this new study shows that getting promoted at your job can cause you all this extra stress. It starts going into why stress is so bad for how and how it can possibly kill you and all this nonsence. Ill take that risk and Im quite sure the majority of America would too with the economy how it is today! Promote me! Ill deal with the extra 10% of this dreaded stress for an extra 10% payraise! Please, this is the dumbest study and possibly article I have ever seen.
from the blog
Innovation in College Media
a group discussion about the future of student media
The Daily Bruin at UCLA ran a “wrap” advertisement around their paper today. Ordinarily, I have no problem with “innovative” advertising ideas (well, except for those cursed roll-over web ads), but this ad went way beyond “innovative” and ventured into the area of “deceptive” and “unethical.”
Here’s the real Bruin front page, along with the ad-wrap front page that ran today:
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I imagine, given the circumstances of both stories, that it becomes difficult as a journalist covering a war torn area to give an unbiased, detached account of the events unraveling in that area, and I am sure that the ethical lines are not clearly drawn in the sand. There are several ethically questionable events that present themselves which pose serious ramifications. A clear conflict of interest is revealed when the journalist in Sarajevo becomes personally involved with the orphanage and its children. Marshall battled with his allegiances to his country and his profession. One could say these wartime, ethical dilemmas can lead to stories that are unfair and unbalanced, but due to the highly emotional nature of war, it would take a robot to remain unattached.
Yet, you can also defend the actions of these journalists saying that they were giving a voice to those who needed speaking out. Both of these journalists were also courageous to enter a war zone to report on wars that were and are very unpopular, but remained and reported for the people's right to know and for truths sake, even though that truth was often hard to come by. I take solace in believing that journalists breach ethical guidelines with the best of intentions, for it is often times the journalists pressing those guidelines who set the stage, and do the grunt work for further social change.
After analyzing myself last night, I realized I am not informed because I am indifferent. I am not informed because I am lost and confused as hell about what's really going on there. It seems so ominous, just a big looming ball of complexity, politics and censored journalism. I was even more upset after Marshall told us his first-hand account of being on both sides of the spectrum, and seeing how confused people were. I guess I just don't know where to start, or who to believe, as Adam explained in his blog, http://mediaethics-usu.blogspot.com/2009/04/wartime-correspondent.html. I have always thought that something needed to be done to remedy the situation, but I just don't know if war is the answer or not. Does anyone seem to know?
After my realization of my ignorance on the Iraq War, I asked myself what my opinion on the issue is, and I honestly didn't know. I am not anti-war and I am not pro-war, essentially because I don't know what is really going on. It was clear Marshall was anti-war, and he was informed properly, but he also said he had friends with first-hand accounts who were pro-war. So what should I think? When Marshall said he was most concerned about the public being an ill-informed democracy who couldn't really make honest decisions and opinions about the war. This resonated deep within me. That's what I am, an ill-informed citizen who just doesn't know where to look for answers, certainly not the American news. And I realized that this is what I am most angry about--that the press and other mediums aren't fulfilling their role as educators on the war because as Marshall said, the system has been set up for them to fail.
Today, I am still not anti nor pro-war because I just don't know. However, I am pro-free speech and investigative journalism of the war. I understand people may not want the overly sensatious scenes of the war, as Diane said in her post, http://mediaethics-usu.blogspot.com/2009/04/journalism-and-war.html. I also understand issues of national security. But I am in complete darkness on the reality of the Iraq War, and I am so mad about it. I feel I can't vote, form opinions or even debate about the issue because I am so ignorant. Now I find myself asking how many other Americans, including journalists and politicians are in the same boat, and now I am more than concerned. The only thing I know now is that free-speech is needed. The Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment for a reason, to prevent this!!!! The product of me!!! An uniformed citizen who is clueless, and who doesn't challenge or support what's going on.........I just exist in darkness.
As I was listening to him tell of all the stories that the media isn't, or didn't tell, part of me was glad. The stories are hard to hear and I don't know that I want to hear about everything that is going on over there. I can't change the fact that we are at war and I guess the way the war is covered seems more like protecting the ears of the American people more than censorship. All types of people read the papers and watch the news. People who have loved ones over there and maybe they don't want to hear how much danger their children might actually be in.
My brother served in Iraq for 18 months. We would get a phone call from him about once a week to hear how he was doing and every time he just said fine. He didn't fill us in on the extreme amounts of danger he was in because he didn't want us, his wife, or his kids to worry any more than we already were. I know he was shot at, drove over a land mine in his army vehicle and a few other stories, but it wasn't until he came home that he told us some of the dangers he faced daily.
If the media reports EVERYTHING that goes on over there, it might prove to cause more damage. I know as journalist we have to tell things how they really are, but there is some knowledge into keeping some information private. I feel bad that the wrong information is getting out, like when he said they always blame Bin Laden for everything. We need to be getting correct information, but I don't think we need to know everything that is going on.
From Marshall Thompson's Web site for "A Soldier's Peace" --
From August 2005 through August 2006, Sgt. Marshall Thompson wasn't much different from any other American soldier serving in Iraq. What Thompson saw during his year in Iraq as a military journalist changed him forever. By the time Thompson returned home from his tour of duty, Thompson had interviewed thousands of fellow soldiers ranging from privates to generals and he returned home with a startling realization...the war in Iraq was and is an unjust war.
It was a simple realization and yet one that caused Thompson to take an abrupt detour from the military life he'd been living...a life that had included stints in Kosovo, Macedonia and Korea.
Before you start thinking that "A Soldier's Peace," the documentary based upon his life once he returned home from Iraq, is just another story about some commie pinko peacenick I urge you to think again.
Marshall Thompson isn't from a military family, but he had no hesitation about joining the military. He contemplated the Marines and the Army Infantry, before finding out that the Army would offer him the chance to practice his love of journalism. Like many other Americans who were enraged after 9/11, Thompson joined the military with the desire to serve his country and right the wrongs that had been committed that day. Thompson doesn't really qualify as a pacifist, though he can't deny that his experiences in Iraq have given him considerable doubts about the usefulness of war.
Thompson, like many Americans, has simply come to realize that American actions in Iraq began without just cause and continue without just cause and, even worse, to the detriment of the nation we are supposedly helping and to the families of thousands of soldiers killed or permanently disabled by U.S. military actions.
Before his tour of duty in Iraq was finished, Thompson had realized the truth. While it certainly presented him with a moral and ethical dilemma, Thompson still cherished the opportunity to tell the stories of the military's men and women. What he couldn't do any longer, however, was fulfill his responsibilities in creating public relations materials designed to put a positive spin on military actions.
Thompson spoke to his wife Kristen, at home with his two-year-old daughter Eliza, and shared his revelations. Kristen, a lifelong democrat long opposed to the Iraqi war listened and supported her husband as he processed through what would have to happen next.
His tour of duty over, Thompson returned home to a hero's welcome and, much to the dismay of many in his conservative Utah community, immediately began speaking out about this unjust war.
"A Soldier's Peace" is a documentary created by Thompson and his wife, with support from other family members, about what Thompson did upon his return home.
What did Thompson do? He decided to tackle the subject on his homefront, Utah, a notoriously conservative state that until recently polled 20% higher than most other parts of the country in their support of President Bush and U.S. military actions in Iraq. Thompson decided that the best way to get his message out would be to, quite literally, walk 500 miles across Utah with a message of peace, love and understanding.
Sgt. Marshall Thompson became a peace activist.
"A Soldier's Peace" follows Thompson's 28-day journey, one day for each 100 American soldiers killed in Iraq at the point of Thompson's walk, and the people who joined him, opposed him, supported him, guided him and challenged him along the way.
The trailer we saw in class is here: A Soldier's Peace.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
There are many sources of MLA style help on the Web. They range from simple to nearly the full text of the print book. Here's a link to one of the simpler ones:
Google for others if this simplified version doesn't answer your questions about style.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Here is the response of a Utahn commenting on a Salt Lake Tribune online blog concerning HBO’s attempt in its series “Big Love” to increase its revenues by publicly insulting the religious sensitivity of a minority religion: “Anything that gets the LDS “church’s magical Mormon underwear in a twist is all right with me!!”
I write for a regional newspaper in Iowa. During the last election campaign, I suggested that Mitt Romney lost the Iowa caucus to Mike Huckabee primarily due to anti-Mormon bigotry. A reader argued that my opinion had no credence because I was a lay leader in the LDS Church. The writer was either suggesting that I knew exactly what I was talking about and was therefore credible, or that I shouldn’t be believed because I was a Mormon, which implies that the writer was a bigot.
This person didn’t realize his logical error because once bigotry has become normative within a culture, people come to believe that their biases are not only acceptable, but universal.
This year, I began reading the online version of The Salt Lake Tribune. My experience has been both eye-opening and troubling. First I noticed that The Tribune has a permanent “polygamy” tab on its Web site. Interesting, but I assumed it was just the titillating bait that most online sites have for catching the voyeuristic.
However, after a few weeks of reading messages to the posted blogs, it became apparent that there was a darker side.
It is obvious to an outsider that Utah, or at least Salt Lake City, has within itself a deeply held culture of bigotry. A bigotry so ingrained in the cultural norm that the readers posting comments to the newspaper’s blogs, apparently believing they are freethinking and ironic, are saying things online that would never be allowed into print if written about other groups. The Tribune and Utah bloggers seem unaware of this.
I noticed that after Utah and BYU athletic events, many bloggers simply use the occasion to display anti-Mormon hatred that had little relevance to the actual game.
After a recent BYU loss, readers wrote items such as: “The Angel Moroni must have been taking a smoke break to allow this to have happened!”
“On the bright side, Coug fans … at least you’ll have your whole Saturday to gamble, drink and hit the strip clubs before you go to church tomorrow.”
A common assertion is that “BYU is the most hated team in America.” This is an irrational but characteristic statement of those who think like bigots.
I can assure you that most people care very little about college sports, and even less about BYU sports. But one of the defining characteristics of prejudice is the belief that others hold the same bias as the bigot. During the segregation era in the South, many whites simply assumed that all “right-thinking” people held the same prejudices against blacks as they did.
Another common theme that shows up in Utah blogs is the claim that BYU fans and players are arrogant. This may or may not be true, but having lived in Ohio for a time, I can attest that Ohio State fans are very similar. They are very proud of their school and identify with the teams, but that is simply attributed to the nature of sports.
Marginalized groups, however, are supposed to know their place. They should never get uppity. I can remember how shocked I was as a young man in the rural South at the actions of an adult black couple. Both they and I were going through a door into a business at the same time. It was apparently unacceptable that they should hinder my entrance in any way. They stood back against a wall and looked at the ground until this white boy entered the store.
Mormons are not Amish, they are not blacks in the Jim Crow South, and they have no obligation to meet the standards set by others who despise them for their religious beliefs. There is, however, an obligation to treat the religious beliefs of well-meaning people with restraint and respect.
Dennis Clayson is a professor at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls and a columnist for the Waterloo Courier.