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April 27, 2007

Alterations

On Romenesko today there was an article called "Digital Alteration Of News Photographs Continues." The article discusses the photo that many of us saw from the Virginia Tech shootings. It's the photo of the four police officers carrying a student Kevin Sterne by his arms and legs. There was a great deal of controversy over this photo being ran. In the photo there is a little piece of sticking up around the Sterne's lap. The editors of the New York Post, The Sun (London), and People magazine all percieved that piece of cloth to be his genitals. Those three publications digitally altered the photo so it looked like it was part of the grass in the background. It turns out that Sterne had been bleeding from his femoral artery and he fashioned a turniquet from a peice of electrical wire and when he was later found by the police they put a turniquet made from cloth over the other one and this is what was actually sticking up not his genitals. This incident brings us back to the question of whether or not it is ethical to digitally alter photos for the paper, and if they alter photos for taste where do the alterations stop? At the same time I wonder if news papers should be publishing photos when they are unaware of what is actually going on in the photo. Should they have picked a different photo where they can easily tell what everything is? Should they have waited to publish after all the details?

April 26, 2007

Bob, The Reporter

Bob, a reporter for The Duluth News Tribune, decides to get employed at The Last Place on Earth. Using a tip from a local youth, Bob wonders whether or not the Last Place on Earth is selling cocaine.

Ethical Question:

Is it ok for a reporter to take on the role of someone else in order to get a story/ or to uncover someone doing something wrong?

chapter 7 scenario

Case Study:
TV talk show where people are arguing about how to deal with drug issues. The argument is polarized-one guy says drugs are good, the other guy says their bad. However, they avoid dealing with the real issues and argue about things that are irrelevent in order to draw in more viewers.

Each person feels strongly towards the opposite side of the issue though neither may be right or wrong. The problem is that they are not looking for solutions or compromise. They exaggerate their argument for the effects, all the while alienating viewers who wonder how the drug problem will be solved.

As the talk show's host, we reign the discussion in by asking them how we should approach the drug issue as a society. No doubt they will have very different ideas on how to fix the problem. It will be our job to look for some kind of middle ground where everybody (or, more acurately, nobody) is satisfied.

Independence from Faction Ch. 5

C. McMartin is a political reporter in small town Starkfield. He is the only political reporter at this small newspaper, but as of a few weeks ago, his uncle announced his candidacy for town mayor. Not only was this his uncle, but he had also raised McMartin since his parents had died when he was young. Some townspeople feel that the uncle is receiving free publicity while others trust McMartin's reporting. What should this small town newspaper do? Do they get rid of the only political reporter in this town? Or, do they allow it to continue and risk biased reporting? Could he report fairly? What could he do to avoid bias? Should he be fired, or forced to take a leave of absence?


Sarah H., Sarah D., Ali D., Eric S.

Chapter 9 Case Study

You are the editor of a distinguished daily newspaper in southern Kansas. As of recent, there has been an influx of Hispanic immigrants coming into your city. Most immigrants reside in the east end of town--it's crowded, dirty and crime is rampant. There are obviously many problems with this part of town. You learn through some investigative reporting that the police force generally doesn't patrol that particular part of the city. You also learn that many of the shattered houses in that part of town aren't up to city code--the landords have been ignoring numerous complaints from Hispanic residents. You think this is issue is a news maker. You want to run a five part series, but your boss says that Hispanic immigrants rarely buy and read the newspaper. Your boss tells you that a new golf course is being built on the west end of town and wants you to do a story on it. All the rich, white people live in the west end of town and are the largest subscribers to your newspaper. The golf course also wants to run full page advertisements in your paper. Do you change the paper so the Hispanic demograph finds it interesting, or do you ignore them and run a story on the new golf course.

Luke K, Jonathon, Marti.

What would you do?

Journalism students created their own list of ethical decision making case studies. Here they are. Read them and decide, what would you do?

The blog that is sort of about Pat Tillman and how the Army mishandled that whole deal and also kind of about how Sports Illustrated doesn't get enough respect. If you like long winded titles, this blog is right in your wheelhouse!

I have no evidence to support this theory, but I think it seems reasonable. I thinks sportswriting is viewed by serious journalism types as a redheaded-foster child. Or like your younger sibling of the same sex who’s better looking than you, and bigger where it counts, but not as smart. But still, you always end up with the uglier dates 'cause nobody actually thinks smart is sexy. Maybe this is not the case, but if it is that kind of sucks, because once in while there are amazing stories in Sports Illustrated.
I’m going to talk about Sports Illustrated here. I’m not sure if my theory holds water, but I had to start this blog somehow. It’s due at 2 am. 72 minutes.
I don’t read many magazines with great frequency. I’ve read SI and Newsweek for years. I sometimes check out the odd People, Maxim, Rolling Stone. Time and ESPN (the magazine) once in a while. SI, as far as quality journalism is concerned, is making those other guys look silly. Sometime on their own turf.
Such was the case when SI broke the Pat Tillman story we’re currently hearing a lot about. It was an amazing story. I can’t remember reading such an important story. Anywhere. It's really more of a Newsweek story. It’s the kind of story Drew Digby will assign to History of American Journalism students in ten years. Find it at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/magazine/09/05/tillman0911/index.html. 62 minutes.
For those who may not know, Pat Tillman was professional football player who gave up his career to join the Army after 9/11. A lot of people made a pretty big deal about him. He was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire in 2004. The Army kept that pretty quiet. The story revealed the circumstances of Tillman’s death and the reaction from the Army, which can only be described as scandalous (and even that seems generous). 52 minutes.
Granted, this may be an unusual story for Sports Illustrated. It would be an unusual story anywhere. The research that went into the story was so thorough you’d think the reporter had grown up with Tillman, had been there when he died, had sat with his mother afterward as she fought to find out exactly what happened to her son. It’s heart wrenching stuff.
This story transcends the genre of sports reporting or even war reporting. Like all the best reporting it’s about people. I guess what I’m trying to say is read more sports stuff.
As long as I’m on the subject of SI, I miss Steve Rushin, Rick Reilly is the greatest columnist in the world and RIP David Halberstam. All that with half an hour to spare. Thanks for your attention.
Olwell out. Peace.

April 25, 2007

Shoot or don't shoot

Newspapers around the country that ran the picture of the four police officers carrying a shooting victim received both flack and praise for printing that particular photo. The editors of these newspapers were responsible for the way in which the picture ran. But what about the person who took the picture? Alan Kim was the one responsible for delivering the majority of the photograhs seen from the shootings, and he had many decisions to make on that horrifying day.

In an audio clip on Poynter.org, Kim was interviewed about his pictures. He basically said that there wasn't much time to think about whether to take pictures of what was happening or not. He just payed attention to what was happening and pressed the shutter button. He was saying that if something like this happens, you can worry later on about running a picture--that decision is usually left to the "higher ups."

I wonder how much a photographer, like Kim, worries about the ethical dillemas associated with pictures that come out of situations like the shootings at V. Tech.? Since it's possible with both film and digital photography to not develop or simply erase a picture, do photographers really consider ethics when taking horrifying pictures? Kim shot most of the images with a very large lens--he distanced himself from most of the action. Perhaps this was his way of being ethical--keep away from the people in uniform and everything will be OK. Is it fair for the people in the pictures to have been photographed from such a great distance? I think that some of the most compelling images come from photographers who are right up close in the action. I believe that this way, people know you're shooting them and it gives readers a since of what is really happening. Maybe if Kim would've been closer to the kid being carried across the field, it would've cleared up some of the confusion surrounding the picture.

Kim talks about taking pictures of somebody being arrested. The person being arrested was a photographer for the V. Tech student paper. Apparently, he had gotten a little too close to the action and the authorities didn't like it. I guess this further illustrates that sometimes we can't do what we're legally able to do. I would like to see what kind of shots the arrested student photographer got. I bet they're better than Alan Kim's.

Link to the audio and story...
http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=121781&sid=29

April 24, 2007

Where’s the weird?

Sensationalism has been popular for a long time. The book “Communities of Jouralism? starts out with a story of the monstrous birth of a deformed stillborn child by Mary Dyer, who was a supporter of the heretic Anne Hutchinson. This was in 1637. The story was huge. It went on to appear in the “Chronological Table of some few memorable occurrences,? an early almanac in New England.

People love that stuff. I’m not asking why it’s not on front pages all the time, but when I pick up a newspaper, I rarely see something truly weird.

Is this a possible reason why people are so turned on by the internet? Or why so many Americans say they get a majority of their news from The Daily Show and Saturday Night live and maybe even farce papers like The Onion? “The Obscure Store and Reading Room? that is linked from the Romenesko site run headlines like “Man arrested for stopping at dry cleaners with out pants? and “Soccer mom abandons daughter after lousy performance.? Even major newspaper Web sites have a “most popular? section with links to most-read stories; they are almost never breaking-news stories, but rather, human interest stories that cause a smile or a cringe.

One of the news stories that have stuck out in my mind from the past year were the kids from, I think, Iowa. That detail isn’t important. Anyway, these kids were working the night shift at their local ice rink. It was a slow night, and since no one was around, they decided to drive their Zambonis through the Burger King drive-through. They got caught, but the story went national.

I don’t think newspapers should turn sensational, it might ruin credibility. But where is the news of the weird? People love that stuff.

The Daily Show

Ok, well I don’t know if all of you are like me, but when you feel like watching the news, you don’t go to CNN, Fox, or MSNBC. Personally, when I watch the news, I like the Daily Show. I also read the newspaper every morning, but at 10pm I flip to Comedy Central. I prefer to end my day on a comedic note. Every morning when I get up, I am bombarded with the latest tragedy in Iraq, news of a waning Economy, or another murder that took place. But when I go to bed, I get the latest bonehead thing done by congress, or a montage of all the hypocrisy that occurs in the federal government. So when tragedy struck at Virginia Tech I thought “What will the Daily Show do about this?? Well I was reminded that the Daily Show not news. Its comedy. Its host, Jon Stewart, doesn’t claim to be serious. If you don’t believe me watch him on “Crossfire,? which does claim to be a news program:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFQFB5YpDZE

The Daily Show went on to talk about random news, and interview Andy Card. The next day he interviewed a guy from “the Deadliest Catch.? This brings the debate. Where are we as a country if a lot of the people 18-24 get all of their news from the Daily Show, or the Colbert Report? Do these shows have any sort of journalistic responsibility?

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20070422_Whats_a_funnyman_to_say_of_grim_news_.html

April 23, 2007

"asian man"

http://www.poynteronline.org/column.asp?id=58&aid=121748

Thomas Huang wrote an article for Poynter called “Who does he look like?, referring to the killer of the Virginia Tech massacre. It discusses that the first night of the VT shootings, television news started calling the shooter an “Asian man?.

Huang believes it was wrong of them to identify him by his race; it’s like saying “black man? or “Hispanic man? in a story.

He gave an example of how racial and ethnic names can cause trouble. A photographer for the VT college paper, covering the massacre, was stopped by police and was forced to lie on the ground. He was cuffed, searched and questioned. The police said the photographer was a suspect matching the profile. Eventually he was released. The police were just looking for the killer; it’s routine. However, what would happen if the police shot the photographer first than asked questions?

I feel that journalists shouldn’t identify people by their race unless it’s relevant.

When looking for the Virginia Tech killer, “Asian? means basically nothing. It gets the police absolutely no where. Almost one billion people could answer to that description.

It’s a Journalists’ job to find as much information as possible and share it to the public. It’s important though to remain accurate and specific. “Asian? isn’t very specific at all.

They shouldn’t have jumped the gun and reported his race as “Asian? when it wasn’t even the right race. It would have been ok to report the race if they were still looking for the killer- and they knew specific details of what he looked like. In this situation, the race description could have helped find the man.

Anyone else?

"Who Does He Look Like?"

In an article on Poynter's Web site, Thomas T. Huang discusses why he believes it was wrong to identify the VT shooter as an "Asian man." He argues that identifying someone in a crime story by using racial terms will stereotype large groups of people and that racial terms should only be used if there's a greater amount of detail used about the identity of the person.

"We need to push for specific and accurate details," Huang writes. "Going with a single descriptor like "Asian" doesn't reveal very much. What, after all, does an "Asian" look like?"

He says that race or nationality should not be mentioned unless it's a relevant part of the story.

"But it's not as if the killer's Asian-ness, or nationality, or immigration status were a link to the massacre," Huang writes. "It's not like his description as an "Asian" would help us catch him."

On the other hand, the reporters were reporting what they knew.

Huang writes, "On the day after the shootings, the president of Virginia Tech gave this first official identification of the killer: 'We know that he was an Asian male.' "

And that's what the news media ran with: an "Asian man."

My two cents

While I agree that the immediate reporting of an "Asian man" created racial tension, I am not sure if it would be prevented by not reporting the race until the pictures came out later. I think that as the public eventually gets the pictures, the identities, the names, the viewers will come to their own conclusions, even racist conclusions, despite media using race as an identifier or not.

But this is all talk.

If it came down to it, I don't think I'd use racial terms in reporting a crime story. Sure, giving that person's race paints a better picture of who did what, but it's possible to do more harm than good. If reporting about what an "Asian man" did might stereotype the race, then, in my opinion, the cons out weigh the pros by far, and journalists might need to be more sensitive in crime reporting.

Back to you

Should the media just have reported the shooter as "man" instead of "Asian man"? Are there other options?

Do you think that using a person's race in the reporting of the crime will negatively portray the race? Have you seen it in action?

What would you do if you had to make the call?

- - -
On the Net: http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=58&aid=121748 - The Poynter article referred to in this post.

April 19, 2007

Refined blogging: The Chicago Tribunes’s community journalism

An article published on the Chicago Tribune’s website today and cited on Romenesko brought to light a new plan to create a community journalism website run by four of their own journalists. The site will be largely unedited and unregulated giving citizens on the outskirts of Chicago a chance to publish stories, reviews, photos etc. The kicker is that the Trib. will include a tabloid inset in their Sunday paper comprising the best stories of the week. It’s an attempt by the paper to keep out of the “dark times? plaguing newspapers today and keep up with popular social networking sites like Myspace.com.

Like so many other forms of journalistic media, the pros are asking: “Is this journalism??

My personal view is: Yes, it is. I think it is good to see different perspectives, in different communities from different voices. It’s true that someone living in a tiny apartment on the edge of the “bad side? of Chicago might not want to hear about someone in the ‘burbs bitching about the mansion across the street adding yet another garage for their 16 year old kids Range Rover; other citizens in that ‘burb might want to know about it though. Maybe they’re sick of development and it’s another example to spark anger throughout the community. It seems news is relative, generally speaking. Why not let people have a say?

The part about the site being unregulated is a little offsetting. I think the Trib. has an opportunity to refine the current blogging craze by staffing their journalists as the site’s editors. It may help, for credibility purposes, to filter some material and limit the mass influx of stories that may come in. It would help navigate the site and turn more readers on to the idea. If they see complete, well-thought-out stories being published, it would inspire the reporters to do better work.

Pleasing to the eye?

First off, I'm going to say that I aknowledge the other side of the argument, and respect their reasoning. But I must say I disagree with the people who complained to the Duluth News Tribune about running the picture they did the other day. I think the picture totally summed up the story, and if it was the first image or words somebody had seen of the story, it would've done an accurate job of showing how horrible the situation was. Yes, the manner in which the student was being carried was disturbing and yes there may have been blood on the students body. But to me, the story seemed disturbing, frantic and bloddy. The authorities, at first, didn't seem to know what to do and when everything happened so fast I'm sure standard police protocal was ignored. I think this photo was nesecarry for somebody who didn't understand the severity of this incident and the way in which emergency teams had to respond to it. This isn't the first time I've read something about DNT readers complaining about pictures in the paper. A while back, a reader wrote that he was disturbed by a picture of a high school hockey player crying after losing the big game. I don't know what's worse, the fact that there was yet another hockey picture in the DNT, or the fact that a reader was disturbed by a great photo that summed up the story without having to read it. Do people not understand that bad things happen? Do people not understand that when bad things happen the news covers them? Do readers of the DNT want to see a picture of the Minnesota Wild on the cover rather than a picture that hundreds of other newspapers in the country ran? I don't like bad things, but bad things do happen, and I think it's the responsibility of the media to show the public that bad things happen--even though it may offend some people. What kind of picture would have pleased the disgruntled readers? Wait, I know.... how about a picture of a hockey player wrapped in an American flag eating a Big Mac, skating on top of a hummer crusing through downtown Baghdad.

Did he get what he wanted?

I am just really disturbed by the media's portrayal of the VT aftermath. I question the validity of most of the reports concerning what actually happened that day because it varies from news station to news station. I am also not happy with the mass stream of video footage of the killer. He obviously sent this video package to NBC because he wanted the publicity, the fame and his "message" to be viewed by America. Why honor it?

I'm just not certain I would go into it as much as they did. I watched CNN for almost 2 hrs. and it was a constant stream of psychotherapists, analysists and VT professors that are explaining his motives and actions. Will we ever really know why he killed them? Probably not. I don't feel like it is necessary to keep analyzing him. He obviously had problems and it's even hard to grasp what he did. I think the media is just overdoing this video footage. It is already on Youtube.

As a society, are we really that intrigued with listening to his hate messages? I could barely stomach to hear him talk with so much anger and hatred. I feel, in most part, we are doing exactly what he wanted. He clearly wanted his message to be heard, or he wouldn't have sent in the video tape. I'm not saying that the media should ignore this, I just think the constant stream is redunant and unneccessary.

What do you think?

April 18, 2007

Changing Faces for different Generations

For years now, newspapers have been trying to change their look and ways to communicating with their audience to catch up with technology and the changing ways of new generations. Most recently Poynter even did an article on the Wall Street Journal. I myself do not read the Wall Street Journal because I don't have the attention span nor the patience to look at a complete page of text and know where to start and what I am even reading about. So on April 9th the Wall Street Journal made a huge change from their routine and added color to their layouts. Even though that minor change still won't get me to pick it up, it shows that these media giants and paying attention to our generation and they are realizing that if they don't make changes such as those they will lose the interest of our demographic and ultimately down the road go out of business. This is also kind of a double edged sword for them because they are making changes that better appeal to us, but then again their dedicated readers of decades are simply mortified of these changes and want it to stay the way it has because thats why they read it. Many companies aren't listening to those complaints, which I can understand, because soon those people will be gone and then who would they have left for an audience to consume their material. They need to draw in people at an early age or they may risk the chance of never gaining their attention at all. Not only that but newspapers are being faced with the fact that our generation consumes more news and material through the web and online. This is why so many newspapers have created online versions in the past years and have assigned people specific positions on this job separate from the print. No one knows whether or not print is going to stay around in generations to come. I personally don't think it will ever be the main source of news, and I think either the internet or other technological source will be the main way of people getting their news. That's why when you see some events happen it seems like their is more attention paid to the online version of the press rather than the print. It draws in more readers and allows the audience to have more up to date in formation in a more timely and newsworthy manner.


http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=8447&sid=53
(Wallstreet Journal taking a new look)
http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=47&aid=121610
(Different ways of getting information faster, technology changing the ways print media cover stories)

Covering people's tragedies

Real pain is unspeakable.
If it can be described or talked about,
it’s no longer real.

- Wang Ping,
“Splintered Eye?
Of Flesh and Spirit.

The last time someone close to our family died, there wasn't much talking for a long time. There was a lot of hugging, crying, and sometimes even laughing. It wasn't time to talk yet. It was time to express what could not be spoken (yet) by cooking familiar foods and hanging around the house.

The stanza from Wang Ping's poem points out an obstacle for journalists who end up with the unlucky assignment of covering someone's tragedy.

Reporter: "How do you feel?"
Griever: "How do you THINK I feel, you idiot?"

Reporters do put a lot of time and effort into covering people's tragedies. When we do, we can’t afford to be the unbiased, balanced, no-personality, transparent SuperJournalist that we keep idealizing in class. Maybe a phone interview is inappropriate here.

We really do have to soften up. We have to treat our sources like close friends by showing our reactions instead of hiding them; by nodding solemnly when appropriate, but laughing at a cute anecdote. “I’m so sorry this happened. She sounds like a wonderful person.?

I have two conflicting feelings about death and media. Maybe we are being too invasive by interrupting the grieving process before people are able to talk about it openly? Then again, maybe the grieving community genuinely needs to be assured that other people know that a wonderful friend/partner/neighbor/family member has passed away?

What do you think?

April 17, 2007

Escape from reality

How many of us remember where we were on September 11th? Along with most of you, I was still in High School, and can remember the day quite vividly. Instead of the same old seemingly boring routine, in all of my classes we simply watched the TV as the horrendous events unfolded before our eyes. I can remember that night after school was over, all I could do is sit and watch as all of the TV stations repeatedly showed planes slamming into buildings, people perishing, and newsmen/women attempting to bring us the latest info on the day.
Yesterday, we watched as 33 students were slain in the worst mass shooting in the history of the US. However, after about 5pm, unlike September 11th, the death of the Pope, or a president, the major networks went back to business as usual. This raised a question, Were the deaths of 33 students in Virginia lacking the newsworthiness that seemed so apparent to me? Instead of covering the story, the major networks went on to show “Dancing with the Stars,? and “Deal or No Deal.? Come on. Right here, in the United States, someone went on a shooting spree killing 33 of America’s youth in what is thought of as a safe environment.
To me, this is another example of the media failing to do their duty faced with immense pressure to turn profits. In a related analogy, 24 hour news networks spend hours covering the latest winner of American Idol, or pondering who the father of Anna Nicole’s baby is. Meanwhile, failing to mention that several of Americas finest young men and women have died fighting in Iraq, or that Anna Nicole’s baby is going to grow up without her mother.
It seems to me like a slap in the face of all those who suffered in the wake of the tragedy in Virginia. But maybe I am wrong; maybe America needs something else to take its attention away from the tragedies all around us. Maybe television today is doing us a favor by dumbing us down and avoiding reality. But I doubt it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041601830.html

Citizen Journalism and Tragedy

I am sure that everyone has heard about the horrible shooting that took place this morning at Virgina Tech University. With this tragedy it raises an interesting question of citizen journalism. As the news was breaking, the majority of the pictures, sound bites, and video footage was taken from cell phones and people who were witnesses to the shooting. In a class of mine today we discussed the ethics of this, both the fact that people took pictures and footage of the shootings and that it was released to the public. Where do we draw the line? As a society, is it okay that we are video taping shooting rampages on our cell phones to then release to the media for profit? And is it okay that the media is paying for this footage and showing it to the public? It is obvious that the footage is going to happen, because there will always be people taping, but does the media need to broadcast it? It will be on blogs, but does that make the media's news less newsworthy than the blogs because they are less graphic? It is terrible that disaster occured, but are we as the media causing another disaster by dealing with the situation as loosely as we have been? You tell me.

School shootings and censorship of the media

As many probably are aware of today marks the date of the deadliest shooting in U.S. History. As the day played out I watched the news when I had a moment so I kept myself fairly informed of what was going on. Within the past ten years the United States has encounter multiple school shootings and each time the media is faced with making the decision of how they would like to cover it. Technology has definitely changed since the event of Columbine. As I watched the televised media coverage today as well as the web it became even more apparent to me. There was continuous footage of the scene via video from cell phone and web cam. It was unbelievable what they were showing. I understand that the media in the United States censors a lot more images then that of other countries, and that has become even more clear since the Iraq war. At the same time you need to ask yourself if it is really necessary to show some of those images. The event of a school shooting shakes people up enough, but to show students carrying their fellow students out of buildings covered in blood and sidewalks of campus covered in blood, is that really needed. I understand the journalists are trying to tell the story, but I just find those gruesome pictures to be unneeded. You don't need to show students jumping from buildings and in mortifying conditions. It is unfortunate enough that the event happened why make everyone relive it. I may be a journalist myself and I don't think the media should be censored to a certain extent, but when it comes to situations such as this I think there need to be some measures taken.

April 16, 2007

"Black as an Adjective, not a Noun"

The article, the issue
An "Everyday Ethics" article from Poynter quotes a man from a TV station, John Mills, on inconsistencies he noticed in how the media names Barack Obama.

The article quotes Mills: "... the AP in Washington used race as a noun in the lead of its national newspaper piece -- "the first black" -- in describing Obama. USA Today, the NY Times, the Wa Post, Investors Business Daily did not use "black" as a noun. In coverage a while back, the AP called Obama "the lone black" in the U.S. Senate. ... I called the Washington DC print bureau of the AP. I spoke with the duty editor, and I was transferred to the "Political Editor" who was in charge of the Obama story that morning... Of using the term "black" as a noun when reporting on Obama... the editor told me: 'That's the reality.' "

The article goes on to say that Keith Woods, the dean of faculty at Poynter, said that using the racial term "reduces the person to a species..." He also said, "... it's an act of dehumanizing the person, summoning up their essence by rendering them an inanimate color." (Click the link below to see the brief article and full quotes, if you'd like further detail.)

My thoughts
Personally, I agree with Woods. (I wouldn't say that nominalizing the person's race to replace a name or other noun would cause the person or race to be classified as a "species," per se, mainly because humans of every race are still /homo sapiens/ (genus, species).) Despite that disagreement, however, I do believe that it is degrading to be seen only for one's skin color. The people with a black heritage have had, in my opinion, enough labeling based on skin color in the United States for many years. If a white man in a mostly black community had an article written about him where he was referred to as 'the lone white,' I would guess that he wouldn't be too happy about being singled out and labeled as something besides a man.

Also, I think the Political Editor from the AP had a very poor excuse. (That's right, I called it an excuse--not a reason.) To say "That's the reality," and shrug off the fact that people still label and degrade those of different skin colors than their own is to support racism, in my opinion.

Feedback?
What's your own take on the matter; can 'black' or 'white' be used as nouns to replace things like 'man' or 'woman'? Is it a demonstration of racism or a combination of newsworthy material and conciseness?

Most journalists write and edit (and live and breathe) by the AP Stylebook, the Bible of journalism. If the AP said that you should write "a black did this" and "a white did that," would you follow it? How far will you trust and follow the AP? Should AP rules be reconsidered, or would that created too many inconsistencies as each individual medium altered policies and standards?

---
On the Net: http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=67&aid=117044& - The article being referenced to in this entry.

April 15, 2007

The future of newspapers; web vs. print

I recently read, "Reporters: News future tied to web," and was shocked by the statistics.

The Politico, a newspaper that is distributed mainly to Congress, federal agencies and K Street (lobbyist hub in D.C) has recently volunteered over half of their reporters to focus mainly on a new Web site. This site, had over 2 million NEW visitors last month, and they expect the number to keep increasing. The print paper only has a circulation of about 25,000 and although it brings in 90% of the organizations revenue, they would rather devote more energy to the web.

Why? Has the idea of a printed paper just become ridiculous? I won't lie, I usually log onto the computer and check out the typicali sites, CNN.com, Duluthnewstribune.com, Startribune.com, etc. but I do read print also. I guess I just like the feel and look of print better. That could just be my opinion, but I don't feel like my future is based strictly on the Web.

I think it is odd that The Politico would rather spend time online when their main reason for revenue is their actual print. Why wouldn't you devote more resources on making the print successful? It just seems odd that the organization would send more reporters to the newly opened Web bureau and ignore the money-maker.

I realize newspapers aren't as popular as they used to be, but they are still around. I feel they will still stay here and be a part of our culture. I can't imagine my Grandpa logging onto the Internet to get his news. He would be furious. He doesn't like watching the news or listening to it. He loves to read it, every morning, with his cup of coffee. I'm sure there are 10 other people off the top of my head that I could think of that practices the same ritual.

I just hope my future doesn't consist of strictly web/online options. I like actual print. Do we want to see our newspapers disappear and just stick to our computers?

http://www.madison.com/tct/news/index.php?ntid=129202&ntpid=3 (article link)

April 12, 2007

All About the $$$

The recent controversy over comments made by radio shock jock Don Imus have raised some interesting topics for media ethics. If you have been trapped in a cave for the past week, Don Imus used racially derogatory language when describing the difference between the appearances of the women's basketball teams from Tennessee and Rutgers. He even went as far as to call the Rutgers team "nappy headed hoes."

The fallout began almost instantaniously. Imus was all over national radio and television programs in complete damage control and offering up apologies left and right. But the interesting ethical issue in all of this is what is happening at the corporate level. First, Imus was suspended from CBS Radio and his TV simulcast on MSNBC for two weeks. Well first of all, no crap MSNBC "suspended" him for two weeks... he wasn't going to have a show... good job.

Finally, after numerous big money sponsors have decided to pull their advertising, MSNBC has decided to pull Imus in the Morning off the air for good. What kind of message is this sending?? Is it only a big deal that he offended so many people only if the money behind your programming gets taken away?? Why did it take as long as it did to make this decision?? Ultimately if this is the decision you were going to make, I would certainly hope money wasn't the only reason behind it.

CBS Radio and Westwood One is the radio home for Imus in the Morning. They too tried to not only to control the damage, they even tried to capitalize on it. Sweeps for radio began just last week, and sure Imus was suspended, but that was not to start until next Monday. This gives plenty of new listeners the opportunity to tune into the show to hear what all the fuss is about and boost ratings. How is the suspension not immediate... only to capitalize on an unfortunate event.

In this day and age it is really unfortunate that decisions are only made based on one thing, money.

What is the best way to deal with plagiarism?

On Romenesko.com I found an article talking about the producer of Katie Couric’s show plagiarizing from the Wall Street Journal. CBS fired the producer as soon as they confirmed the plagiarism but refused to release her name. CBS is now conducting investigations to see whether or not the same producer had plagiarized before.

I found it very interesting that they decided not to release the producer’s name. It is very embarrassing for this to happen to CBS, so I thought they would do everything possible to apologize to their audience in hopes of not losing ratings.

All publications run into struggles with plagiarism. The New York Times, which is deemed “a newspaper of record? by many, has found itself dealing with plagiarism. What is the best way to stop plagiarism before it happens? And what is the best way to deal with it when it does happen?

tv news crediting print for story ideas

An article on Romenesko titled "TV news has always relied on print for story ideas" claims that television journalism ought to give credit to the print reporter that their story idea originally came from. It says that television news often times gets their story ideas from the morning newspaper and a lot of times use them as “rough drafts? for their scripts.
I’m not really sure if this is really the case in broadcast, but I don’t find it hard to believe since the newspaper is always a great first choice when it comes to gathering news. Whether or not the original reporter should be credited on air is the issue being discussed.
Ron Leiber, a Wall Street Journal newsman, said “when there’s no doubt about where a story originated, would it really hurt to give a not to the publication that actually found it in the first place.?
I think that it is unfair for the original reporter who did the work on finding and writing the story and I can see where one would get mad and want to be credited for it. However, I think it would sound kind of weird for a television reporter to announce at the end of the story that it was another reporter who gave them the story idea. If anything, maybe a written credit at the end of the segment would be a nice gesture just so their hard work does not go unnoticed. What do you think?

Podcasts...Information Overload? System self destruct?

Living in the digital age or technology era as our college age years have been coined provides for many new ways of learning the happenings of the world. Podcasts, are certainly a new way of providing news to the media and with Macintosh selling their 100 millionth iPod this past week, the use of podcasts is worth talking about.

My first main thought is; how are podcasts to affect newsprint? In an article found on Romenesko titled "Newspapers and Podcasts" a question of whether newspapers should add podcasts to the mix or addition of their papers? My first instinct tells me that that is a good way as a working writing journalist to make your job obsolete. What I mean is, generally people are pretty lazy and if they can plug into their computers and sycronize their pods with their computer to learn about anything in the world that they want through their earbuds, should they do so and if so how is it to affect newsprint. Consumerism drives our market, podcasts are free; now that I am thinking about it I would rather plug in my iPod than spend fifty cents each day.

Another thought that comes to mind. As iPod sells number 100 million, which is a shit ton of iPods, there are 6 billion plus people on the face of this earth. Are we starting to exclude all of the people without iPods from learning about "news?" Do only people that have a disposible income that could afford an iPod and consumeristic habbits that would steer them towards having an iPod get to know the news?

Podcasts are for the commuters. What are great way to kill that dead time on a bus, walking or driving to work. But by listening are we tuning out or tuning in? Should we be concerned with whatever it is that we are learning on our podcasts or should we be concerned with what it is that is in the moment we are in?

April 10, 2007

Should the Media Release Names of Those Accused of Rape?

Rape is widely considered to be one of the worst crimes that can be committed. It is also widely agreed that the media should not release the victim's name. This is done for a variety of reasons, privacy being the main concern. However, recent high-profile rape cases and accusations have made me think whether or not those accused should have their names printed.

Kobe Bryant, the Duke Lacrosse Team, 3 University of Minnesota football players just this week have all been accused of rape. No one mentioned has ever been charged with the crime of rape. So why is it that these men are brought under the public scrutiny of rape allegations?? Certainly, it has to be extremely frightening for these men to hear their names and rape in the same sentence. Say what you will about what you think may or may not have happened in the prior mentioned cases, but these allegations in the media have had a major impact.

The most widely publicized case was last years Duke Lacrosse Scandal, where four Duke players were accused of raping an exotic dancer after a party at one of the players' houses. The story turned the small community at Duke University into an international circus. The lacrosse season was cancelled, and the campus recieved a black eye. The four men accused left school and were brought into custody. The accuser's name was not released.

And just this weekend, three University of Minnesota football players were taken into custody for questioning of an alleged rape on the campus of the U. All three players were named, and recieved the top story on all local newspapers and TV stations. The story was also picked up by Sports Illustrated and FOX News. Just today, the three players were released from custody with no charges filed.

Accuser's of rape have mainly had their names not appear in the media. Now, I question whether or not names of those being accused of rape should have their names released until their is a prosecution.

Let the debate begin.

Covering "sensitive" stories-how much is too much?

With the war on Iraq producing a great number of stories, the question rises of how much detail is too much detail for a journalist to cover in certain “unpleasant? situations. For example, after September 11, some reporters went into great detail of abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners, which led some of the public to raise their eyebrows as well as the very editors of those reporters.

In dealing with the sensitive material, some stories were placed on page 11 rather than page 1 or 2 like many reporters thought or were not run at all. The article said, “Everybody agrees that journalists are supposed to ascertain the truth.? However, journalists can obtain the truth and cover everything without going into every last detail of sensitive stories like torture. A main reason for this is because these stories are so easy to access and just flat out aren’t appropriate for not only children but anyone under the age of 18 to see.

As for deciding what is really significant in these stories, journalists want to publish what the public wants to know and what they ought to know. The difficulty of it all is deciding how much detail of those horrid situations to cover. If things like the torture of prisoners are going to happen, I think as journalists it is our duty to cover those stories, but do it in a tasteful way. Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut lines to do so, but every single journalist needs to use their best judgment in what is too much detail-a case-by-case standard.

http://www.cjr.org/issues/2006/5/Umansky.asp

April 9, 2007

Endangered Newspapers; can they be saved?

Yesterday, Romenesko posted an interesting article that was published in the Baltimore Sun, dealing with the newspaper business and how they can "do it different," www.baltimoresun.com/business/careers/bal-bz.hancock08apr08,0,7258672.column

Columnist Jay Hancock addressed a largely talked about and controversial topic about what newspapers need to do differently to survive in the "Internet Age." "The problem isn't the journalism; soaring Web readership proves that," he said. "The problem is getting paid for it in the Internet Age."

With that he goes into the questions that he doesn't think have been answered yet, but are important to finding out how to "do it different." "Why do newspapers pay the Associated Press to distribute their expensive, hard-won stories to radio, TV, Yahoo and other enemies of newspapers? Why aren't more papers charging for online access? Why have newspapers cut investment in circulation? Why is almost all newspaper content treated as obsolete the day after it's published?"

I think that he raises a bunch of valid points.

He said that "Papers must regain control of their stories, hoard them under their banners and Web sites and stitch them to their subscribers and advertisers. If you want Yahoo viewers to read your stories, deal with Yahoo directly, as McClatchy newspapers agreed to last week. Quit AP or revamp it."

I guess that makes sense. Newspapers are paying AP to use their stories, allowing them to be published all over. Why aren't newspapers selling the stories themselves to a specific publication that wants their story for a fee? Why are we paying a middle man ?

" Growing readership has persuaded publishers to seek nonpaying Web eyeballs and hope advertising follows."

Well this also leaves a problem for newspapers online to earn any money, and probably any advertising as well. I am an online reader sometimes too, and paying would be annoying, but there has to be people out there that would be willing to pay for some content.

He also addresses yesterday's news, and how it really is valid more than just the day it is printed. It isn't always old news, the day after it went to print. Here is where the Internet is valuable, because as far as print, the "old news" would never again be published, and on the Net it can be found for years.

Which brings me back to my original point; of what can newspapers do differently to make it in this ever changing world. Obviously no one knows, otherwise it wouldn't be such a debated topic. But until questions like these are answered, newspapers will remain an endangered species.

April 6, 2007

Encounters with The Duluth Truth

I was wandering around Humanities last week when a friend (who happens to be moderately conservative) came up to me for a reporter’s perspective. He had just seen The Duluth Truth and was listing a handful of articles he agreed with, like the “well-written? pieces supporting the Iraq war.

Then came the misogynist piece of [expletive], sandwiched innocently between decent reading material. Why, he wanted to know, would they include that piece and ruin a well-done publication? Does The Duluth Truth set itself up for failure?

This got me thinking – what exactly is it about the publication that turns people away?

If their goal has been to piss people off, they’re certainly doing a fine job. I have to remind my friends that vandalism isn’t cool. It does, however, make us look like selfish jerks. It also draws national attention from the conservative press (http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/News/?NR=183).

Personally, I think The Duluth Truth can be unprofessional. I’ve probably disagreed with every single issue that they cover, and lost interest after the first publication came out. I don’t believe that they are a reliable source for news.

I also believe they have a place on this campus. The writers and editors especially have every right to shout out their opinions, even if it degrades their credibility. My first amendment is their first amendment, too. I’m glad that they use it.

However, maybe they need to re-evaluate their goals. What are they trying to accomplish? Who are they reaching out to? What would they like to see change? I’d like to see these questions answered honestly.

Is their goal to aggravate the liberals and appease the conservatives, or do they want to draw in support from the center? Right now, I have to argue that they are aggravating/appeasing, not attracting new readership.

No one should ever have to compromise her principles to attract publicity. If the folks at the Duluth Truth really are racist, sexist, heterosexist, homophobic, misogynist, -ist, -ist, -ist, and -ist, then this is probably the best journalism they can produce.

However, I get the feeling that they’re not so bad – just a little immature. Maybe, with a few writing classes and some common sense, they could fill the conservative niche that’s lacking at our school.

Or maybe they can continue at their current pace and self-destruct. Either way.

Peace,

Kathy Grigg
Activist, Writer, Liberal, Grrl, Ecofeminist, -ist, -ist, & -ist.

April 5, 2007

How people view journalists

After looking at Romenesko, I found an article by Dave Bakke talking called "Musings of a Journalist." (http://www.sj-r.com/sections/news/stories/111516.asp) Bakke basically writes a number of statements about journalists from a negative point of view. He thinks that these statements reflect the way a lot of people feel about journalists currently.

For example, he says "I am a journalist. It is my fault American's do not support the war in Iraq." This may in fact be the way that many people feel right now. Journalists should be bringing America closer together in support of our troops, but instead many journalists focus on the bad things in Iraq. Generally speaking, many publications focus on negative news because it sells.

Another statement he makes is “I am the reason your teenage girl dresses like that.? Bakke is trying to show how the public blames the media for the way people are influenced. He says “I have no business being where I am most of the time.? Many people feel that journalists are annoying and take advantage of the public. Although this is not always true, it is very common to see magazines and TV shows make women feel insecure unless they buy a certain product.

With all of this negative attention towards the media lately, we as a new generation of journalists must stride towards quality reporting. We must show the public that our purpose is not to make money and harass people, but to report on the events that are important to our nation in the most non-biased way. We must change the way many people feel about journalists, especially investigative reporters, and prove that we are necessary for our country to continue to grow and expand.

Think before you record

I found an article called “Think Before You Record? by Meg Martin in the archives on Poynter Online. This article discusses the different state laws for using recording devices during interviews. In August 2005, a Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede was fired for using the record button during an interview. It raised a lot of questions about what should be happening before the tape starts rolling.
A lot of reporters like to use recording devices to make sure their information is accurate and complete.
"Taping means I have the full context of an interview," wrote Scanlan, senior faculty at Poynter. "Many, if not most, complaints about misquotes, I believe, stem from a person's remarks being taken out of context."
The main issue discussed in this article was recording phone conversations. It’s legal in all 50 states, but a few states have their own law of how to go about it. The Federal law says it’s ok to record a phone conversation with the consent of only one person involved. That means that only the reporter him/herself is required to know that the conversation is being recorded.
In Florida, all parties must consent to the recording. In the remaining 12 states, the reporter just has to announce that he/she is recording so that everyone is informed.
It seems to me it is crucial to know what the law is for each state. If you were to call up someone in a different state and weren’t aware of their rule, the situation could result in jail time or fines.
I feel by not telling the interviewee that he/she is being recorded, that’s being dishonest and unethical. Yeah, the person may never find out, but to me, there’s something wrong about that. Martin says at the end of the article that choosing to record a source without his or her knowledge is just as much an ethical issue as a legal one. I completely agree with her when she goes on to say, “Trust and transparency are among the most closely held values of journalism.
In most states, it’s your decision. This may sound really lame, but just think, how would you feel if you were recorded without knowing it? I wouldn’t be too happy.
What does everyone else think?

April 4, 2007

New Contract Means Less Money for Hard Working Photographers

As of April 1st 2007 freelance photographers who wished to work for USA Today faced a new contract. This contract, while giving the photographers an increase in their day rate pay by $100 dollars, from $275 to $375, also changed one very important thing. No longer will photographers be paid extra when their work moves from newspaper to another medium, such as being placed on USA Today’s website. Instead USA Today’s new contract states that they can use the photographer’s work in any medium indefinitely and without the extra money that they once received.

This brings to my mind one very important question: Should companies that own newspapers be allowed to do this and will it hurt them in the long run?

While they clearly are allowed to do this right now I have to wonder whether or not it’s right. Photographers will now get paid only once, when their photographs are initially run in the newspaper. This means that if, in the distant future or even tomorrow, their photographs are put online they won’t get paid any additional money. By doing this, I believe that USA Today is, in a way, cheating photographers out of money.

They may also be digging themselves into a hole. The article stated that already, as of Monday April 2nd, there are unhappy photographers. Based on the contract, and what I got out of the article, I would think that eventually many photographers would stop working for USA Today and go somewhere else, where they will get paid more money for their work. If I were them I certainly would. Who wants to basically get cheated out of money for their hard work?

The way I see things USA Today is looking to save themselves some money which raises another question in my mind. Has money become more important to them than the news? I can’t exactly figure that one out, but I know that if Gannet (the company which owns USA Today) has as many publications as it does it clearly can’t be so hard up for cash that it has to forgo paying photographers money that they deserve.

Article Link: http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/newswire/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003566420

April 3, 2007

what perception is given to the reader when you use anonymous sources?

Of course the relationship between the journalist and his sources is very important. But how does it change the perception of reader when thier sources are confidential? Pat Walters discussed this issue in his article " No Name. No Story. Now what?" He discussed how using ananamous sources may be important to the story yet, if the main source is ananamous it gives the reader the perception that the story is not as valid or true. Sources are what makes your story accountable mso this makes sense.

How and when should we use ananomous sources. I think that if you don't need it don't use it. If you have sources that are ananamous and you need to use them, I think that you need to support them with other evidence that could help your story stay accountable.
http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=67&aid=118349

Pat walters suggests using the source " in a way that recognizes reader skepticism and facilitates ongoing scrutiny of the anonymously-sourced material." I am not sure what I think about this because I feel it may not be good for the relationship between the source and you the journalist.

Should Journalists trust Wikipedia?

In a recent article on Poynter Online a new Wikipedia rival was created to keep average jo blo's with no credentials from putting anything they want on the website without even naming themselves. This new website called Citizendium will only allow content to be posted if the poster names themselves and their credentials.

"Like Wikipedia, Citizendium will be non-profit, devoid of ads and free to read and edit. Unlike Wikipedia, Citizendium's volunteer contributors will be expected to provide their real names. Experts in given fields will be asked to check articles for accuracy."

If this website becomes just a popular as Wikipedia has should journalist be allowed to cite the information in thier articles or news reports?

I personally think Wikipedia is a world chaning website but since anyone can add information it makes it extremely sketchy with using it as a source. This website might be our answer to that problem. If this website I personally as a journalist would use it to look for information as long I know the information is accurate.

For quite a while, I expect that Wikipedia's substantial head start on content and community will make it a far more useful and popular resource than Citizendium. Over time, over course, that lead can narrow, says Larry Sanger, one of the pioneers of Wikipedia.

It remains to be seen whether Citizendium will prosper -- quite possibly its vetting model may prove too cumbersome or vulnerable to the inevitable cliquishness that develops within any large online community. And, of course, every system can and will be spoofed. However, it could become a preferred and authoritative resource -- at least on on some topics or for some communities.


April 2, 2007

Editors told big changes needed

In the article, Editors told big changes needed, talks of the changes that newspapers all over the country are making….going digital. Newspapers are now realizing the major need for having stronger websites that are more interactive and interesting for young readers.
The majority of readers are now finding news to read from popular websites such as Google News and Yahoo News, instead of visiting the actual paper’s website. The main fear being that without readers visiting the newspaper’s websites, the advertisement and smaller features stories are not being read.
Another main problem that newspapers all over the country are realizing is that the younger audiences are not picking up the paper and reading it, instead they use the Internet, and interactive websites to get it.
One suggestion in this article is to totally “blow-up? the newspaper. Find editors who are willing to sit online and see what stories get the most hits to draw in the younger audience.
I agree that newspapers are now living in a digital age, and it is a necessary step, I just wonder where newspapers will be 20 years from now, and if they will even be printed anymore.

https://vista.umn.edu/webct/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct?appforward=%2Fwebct%2FstartFrameSet.dowebct%3FnoToolFrameUpdate%3Dtrue%26forward%3DstudentCourseView.dowebct%26lcid%3D185552551

Can newspapers keep up?

Being in the information age, our culture has turned toward the quickest and most efficient ways of the time being to gain information. Unfortunately for journalists, they have not been able to keep up with the rapid pace of gathering and then reporting the news as other means of technology has such as the internet.

The article talks about how out of date the newspaper is becoming for a couple different reasons, for example, the fact that many newspapers cost money, but anyone can find pretty much any story within minutes on the internet hours before it even goes to print. The purpose newspapers once served is rapidly falling behind and out of date with other newsources like the internet, TV and even the radio.

The Web doesn't have to sit and wait for the gathering of news by journalists anymore. They are turning towards quicker means of gathering information from news events by organizations themselves or by citizens trying to hold those organizations. The journalist is being skipped over completely because they are just flat out to slow compared to other means of gathering information.

The newspaper does have the option to go back to once it orginially did when there were only weekly newspapers and focus purely on opion pieces of the week's events. That way the newspaper provides something more than the cold, hard facts. However, journalists then face another technological issue with blogging since that is mostly opinion. Do newspaper journalists need to find a new job and fast or can the newspaper tweak its product to fit the growing need of the public? There are arguments for both but time will quickly tell.

Article link: http://www.cjr.org/issues/2007/1/Stephens.asp