Blog #4: Are we doomed?

You must have a minimum of FOUR links to other sources (not just definitions).

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley on Friday scolded the news media for what he said has been “a bad few months for journalism.”

“Our house is on fire,” Pelley told an audience at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. “These have been a bad few months for journalism. We’re getting the big stories wrong over and over again.”

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been studying the ethics behind Journalism – the high principles that journalists hold themselves to in order to establish trust with their readers. However, at the same time, we are surrounded by examples of unethical journalism and tabloid sensationalism.

booty

Thanks, TMZ!

The worst part about it is that the least ethical journalism or the stories that have the least impact on us are the ones that get the most click. We saw this ourselves in the Hoofprint.net story about the dress code. People clicked on the story because of a racy photograph rather than for a discussion about the dress code at the school.

huffpo

The most popular stories on Huffington Post on 5/28/2013.

News sources need to make money. They make money by people reading their stories, which means their readers see advertisements. It costs a lot of money to provide in-depth stories and stories about big events on-location. It’s easy to fire of opinion pieces, reactions to other people’s work, and gossip. It’s much harder to provide powerful journalism that people will also want to click on.

At the same time as much of the media is providing us with sensationalism and reporting that doesn’t really scratch the surface of big issues, it’s been discovered that the Department of Justice has been spying on Associated Press reporters (and other journalists) who have been trying to report on major news stories. The US Attorney General says the spying was to protect Americans. Journalists say it’s a clear violation of the First Amendment.

So, are we doomed? Is your generation destined to be uninformed and misled? Are you condemned to a lifetime of bad journalism? Is your own attention span preventing you from becoming well-informed people with knowledge of the events, people, and issues that matter the most? You already have to do more work than your parents did just to make sure what you see everyday is real, accurate, and trustworthy.

What’s the point of ethics if newspapers go out of business anyway? Are we really going to have the same ethical guidelines on the web? We already know that bloggers, Twitter users, and other people we trust to give us information every day don’t have special training in Journalism. Who are we going to trust?

What do you think? Are we doomed? If not, why not?

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Blog #4: Find the Balance

Minimum Words: 400
Minimum Links: 3 (Don’t just link to definitions and Wikipedia entries)
Due: Sunday, May 27 (or sooner)
Note: If you already debated some ethical issues in your post from last week, feel free to either write about this or go back to Blog 3.

Integrity is sometimes the most important tool a journalist has, so Fairness, Accuracy, and Balance are three words journalists frequently use to describe their mission and loyalties.

As we’ve learned through discussion and debate over the past week, ethical decision making often comes down to balance.  It’s hard to take a firm stance on one side of another of an issue. Your blog prompt this week asks you to come to conclusions about how you would balance some of the most important issues we’ve talked about.

Take a look at the concepts below and the questions that they’ve brought up. Choose as many as you’d like to talk about. Consider the Potter Box of Moral Reasoning from the presentation at the end of the post as you discuss how you would make your decisions. For a great post, try and find and link to a situation that brings these issues into focus.

Over the last two weeks in this class, we’ve considered the following issues:

  • Deception: When is it justified? Is it ever okay to deceive your audience?
  • Aiding Law Enforcement: To assist or to report?
  • Reporting Fear: Spreading terror or fighting ignorance?
  • Observing: When do you get involved?
  • Reaction: How much should you try to anticipate the consequence of a story?
  • Gifts: Accepting bribes or gaining access?
  • Sensationalism: A ploy to sell your news or a difficult look at the truth?
  • Citizen Journalists: Can people without training really report news accurately?
  • Conflicts of Interest: Should journalists avoid any connection to their topics?
  • Editorial Decisions: Should journalists tell us what we need to know or give us what we want to know?
  • Personal vs. Professional Ethics: What if your job asks you to do something that conflicts with your ethics?
  • Right and Wrong: How are our definitions of right and wrong shaped and how do they influence our decisions?
  • Moral Reasoning: How can subtle changes in Definitions, Values, Principles, and Loyalties (the Potter Box) change the way people thing about ethical questions?

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Post #3: Deceit – When is it justified?

Minimum words: 375
Minimum number of links: 3
Due Date: Thursday, May 9 at the end of class

As we continue our discussions about deception and journalism, take time to write meaningfully on the topic and come to your own conclusions on the matter. I’ve provided two possible topics for you and asked some potential questions in bold at the end of the topics.

Feel free to answer any of the questions, combine questions, or create your own questions based on things you find online, discussions in class, or things you’re wondering about. Please do not attempt to answer all of the questions. This is not a quiz.

Topic 1 – Deceit: When is it Justified?

Sometimes, in order to get an authentic story on a sensitive topic, a journalist must resort to deception. Deception can be used to protect a journalist, gain information that wouldn’t be freely offered, protect sources, or as bait.

Deception can play an important role; however, one of the foundations of ethical journalism is unwavering loyalty to Truth. Deception is a powerful tool that must be wielded wisely and appropriately.

Investigative reports and hidden camera work have brought to light practices and topics that people care deeply about, like showing what could happen when you bring your computer or vehicle in for repairs or service.

Some reporters have deceived their subjects in order to get as close to their topic as possible. Shann Nix once posed as a high school student for an entire quarter in order to giver her audience an honest look at what life is really like for high school students in San Francisco. Her story was lauded in the world of Journalism and even inspired the movie Never Been Kissed.

On the other hand, reporters like Jayson Blair have brought disgrace to the profession by fabricating details or entire stories.

Other times, programs like Bait Car and What Would You Do? blur the line between authentic news and reality television entertainment. Staging situations or putting people in potentially unrealistic scenarios for the sake of a dramatic or entertaining story.

Often, these shows are hugely popular, igniting debate and discussion across the country. There’s no doubt these programs are powerful. These programs present themselves in the same way as news, but, are they examples of ethical journalism? Is it right for TV stations to present the shows as news, or is it time for the definition of journalism to expand to include this type of reporting?

Where do you draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate use of deception in order to get a story?

If a publication or TV program uses deception to get a story, what should their guidelines be? What rules should they hold themselves to? Where should they draw the line?

A newspaper’s most important asset is the Trust of its viewers. However, it must also find and report truth. What role does the use of deception play here?

Topic 2 – Fired for PhotoShop

The darkroom was replaced by digital photography long ago. Taking and editing pictures has never been easier. Tools like PhotoShop allow photographers and photojournalists to retouch images quickly and easily. Practices that used to take hours in a lab now can be done in seconds. We live in a world where we expect flashy graphics, beautiful photography, and sensational images. As an audience, we’re hard to impress with photography straight off of a camera. In addition to simple edits to levels and contrast, PhotoShop can make a picture more true to life, bring out details that aren’t readily apparent, and frame a situation in a new light. In a sense, one could argue that a skilled photographer can bring out more truth from a photo by altering it.

Obviously, some photographers have taken this issue too far, completely changing scenes in order to enhance drama or editorialize.

Brian Walski was fired for creating this composite image to add drama to an otherwise undramatic scene.

Time magazine drew criticism for making OJ Simpson appear darker on its cover.

Many organizations say that almost any use of PhotoShop or image editing software is unethical. Photographers have been fired for even slight edits to photos or for removing unnecessary or distracting background elements.

Should a photographer lose his or her job over this? (Photo by Marc Feldman/Getty Images)

Is it time for photojournalists to review their code of ethics?

Is there a place for editing photos, perhaps even dramatically?

If a photographer should be able to edit images, where do you draw the line?

Is editing an image dishonest, or can editing an image actually add truth to a picture? If an image is edited, what responsibility should a newspaper have?

 

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Blog #2: The Media’s Role in a Tragedy

Due Date: Friday, April 26, at the end of class
Minimum Word Count: 350
Minimum number of external links: 3

Last week, the United States was transfixed by the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Over the course of the week, we followed the bombing, saw the first photographs of the suspects, and watched the manhunt that followed. Coverage of this has dominated every major news source.

Although, we’re told that Journalists aid terrorists by getting their message and actions out to a wide audience, we still demand coverage of events like this. A terrorist can take the lives of a small number of people, but their actions can reverberate around a country for weeks or even years.

On one hand, people are desperate for information surrounding tragedies. Even though we say we don’t want it, we clamor for coverage, clicking on every new piece of information. People demand coverage of events like this. Here are the top Google searchers from the day of the explosion.

bombing

The media can play a very important role in stopping rumors, getting important information out to people who are directly affected by the event, and helping law enforcement spread urgent messages.

However, the hunt also resulted in a few very forgettable and unprofessional moments for journalists and the media.

Although it is from a few years ago, some people have found this video especially relevant on these topics:

It’s tough for me to formulate questions about this. It’s hard for me to ask you to think about such terrible things. However, I think a close look at this is important to our discussions about journalism and what it means to be a consumer of media. It’s an issue that I don’t take lightly, but we would be making a mistake to turn our heads to this. Just what is the media’s role in a tragedy?

Here are some questions I came up with. Do something that makes sense with them. Try to synthesize multiple sources to make this count. Don’t answer all of these. Try to combine them, ignore some, or make your own. But, please, try to come to a meaningful conclusion, not just a “right answer”.

Post from December, 2012:

As we experienced with the horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, the media becomes both highly necessary and highly criticized. Some people even go as far as blaming the media for playing a role in turning killers into celebrities.

On one hand, people are desperate for information surrounding tragedies. Even though we say we don’t want it, we clamor for coverage, clicking on every new piece of information.

Just look at the top searches on Google from December 14:

The media can play a very important role in stopping rumors, getting important information out to people who are directly affected by the event, and helping law enforcement spread urgent messages.

On the other hand, some blame the media for encouraging terrorismspreading misinformation, and invading the privacy of grieving people.

For over an hour on Friday, some media outlets (including CNN) ran photos of the killer’s brother, Ryan Lanza, stating that he was the killer. People swarmed his Facebook page, sharing his pictures and leaving scathing remarks. Only after Ryan Lanza began posting on Twitter and Facebook that it wasn’t him did the outlets remove the images and call into question the information. News outlets said that they were just reporting what sheriff’s deputies told them, but significant damage was done.

Although it is from a few years ago, some people have found this video especially relevant on these topics:

 

It’s tough for me to formulate questions about this. It’s hard for me to ask you to think about such terrible things. However, I think a close look at this is important to our discussions about journalism and what it means to be a consumer of media. It’s an issue that I don’t take lightly, but we would be making a mistake to turn our heads to this. Just what is the media’s role in a tragedy?

Here are some questions I came up with. Do something that makes sense with them. Try to synthesize multiple sources to make this count. Don’t answer all of these. Try to combine them, ignore some, or make your own. But, please, try to come to a meaningful conclusion, not just a “right answer”.

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Post #1: Supreme Court Review

Due: Sunday, April 14
Word minimum: 300. Anything less than this will not get an Incomplete as a grade.

If you had incomplete or misinformation on your presentation, this is the time to fix it.

Welcome to J1 Blogs!

Your first post isn’t technically a blog post, but it’s going to get you started with the process and give each of you something to talk about for your first post. The post for this week is going to cover the work you and your classmates did presenting on the landmark Supreme Court cases regarding Communication Law.

First, embed your presentation into your post. We demonstrated how to do this in class. Or you can watch this demonstration to help you.

It should look like this:

Next, reflect on what you learned from preparing your presentation. Write about what you learned and what was difficult. Also, post your most important finding from the notes you took about the other cases. More importantly, try to write about what your learning means. Let others see what you know and how what you know matters.

Finally, with everything we’ve learned from Supreme Court cases and Communication Law over the past two weeks, what have you learned about freedoms and restrictions on the media?

Prompt Summary:

  1. What did you learn from creating a presentation and listening to the presentations from others? What does this learning mean?
  2. After learning about Supreme Court Law, what do you think about the limitations that have been placed on the media? Do you think all of the decisions are useful and fair? Do you think the media needs more or less freedom? What do you think of the laws as they pertain to High School Media? Cite examples from other cases to show your knowledge and provide evidence.
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J1 Blogs 2013

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J1 Blogs 2012

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Blog #2: The Media’s Role in a Tragedy

Due Date: Friday, April 26, at the end of class
Minimum Word Count: 350
Minimum number of external links: 3

As we experienced with the horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, the media becomes both highly necessary and highly criticized. Some people even go as far as blaming the media for playing a role in turning killers into celebrities.

On one hand, people are desperate for information surrounding tragedies. Even though we say we don’t want it, we clamor for coverage, clicking on every new piece of information.

Just look at the top searches on Google from December 14:

The media can play a very important role in stopping rumors, getting important information out to people who are directly affected by the event, and helping law enforcement spread urgent messages.

On the other hand, some blame the media for encouraging terrorism, spreading misinformation, and invading the privacy of grieving people.

For over an hour on Friday, some media outlets (including CNN) ran photos of the killer’s brother, Ryan Lanza, stating that he was the killer. People swarmed his Facebook page, sharing his pictures and leaving scathing remarks. Only after Ryan Lanza began posting on Twitter and Facebook that it wasn’t him did the outlets remove the images and call into question the information. News outlets said that they were just reporting what sheriff’s deputies told them, but significant damage was done.

Although it is from a few years ago, some people have found this video especially relevant on these topics:

It’s tough for me to formulate questions about this. It’s hard for me to ask you to think about such terrible things. However, I think a close look at this is important to our discussions about journalism and what it means to be a consumer of media. It’s an issue that I don’t take lightly, but we would be making a mistake to turn our heads to this. Just what is the media’s role in a tragedy?

Here are some questions I came up with. Do something that makes sense with them. Try to synthesize multiple sources to make this count. Don’t answer all of these. Try to combine them, ignore some, or make your own. But, please, try to come to a meaningful conclusion, not just a “right answer”.

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Blog #3: Your research

Due date: Today!
Minimum Words: 250

You’ve completed (or almost completed) your research for your inquiry story. Share what you’ve completed so far and give an idea about what you’ll be writing about or the angle you’re planning on taking with your story.

Your post must include:

  • What is your topic.
  • What question(s) do you hope to be answering?
  • What angle did you pick to localize your story?
  • What firsthand research (polls, surveys, interviews, or observations) have you completed so far?
  • What second hand research (articles, scholarly articles, websites) have you competed? Providing links would be outstanding if you have websites you consulted.
  • What are some interesting things you’ve discovered?
  • What are you waiting to  find out? Is there any research you have left to do?
  • What are you going to focus on when you write your story?

You’re welcome to get creative with this response as long as you touch on most or all of the questions above.

The point of the post is to give yourself a good jumping-off point when you return from break. You are free to update this post if you complete or add to research over break.

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Post #2 – Deception

Minimum words: 350
Minimum number of links: 3
Due Date: Tuesday, December 13 at Midnight

As we continue our discussions about deception and journalism, take time to write meaningfully on the topic and come to your own conclusions on the matter. I’ve provided two possible topics for you and asked some potential questions in bold at the end of the topics.

Feel free to answer any of the questions, combine questions, or create your own questions based on things you find online, discussions in class, or things you’re wondering about. Please do not attempt to answer all of the questions. This is not a quiz.

Topic 1 – Deceit: When is it Justified?

Sometimes, in order to get an authentic story on a sensitive topic, a journalist must resort to deception. Deception can be used to protect a journalist, gain information that wouldn’t be freely offered, protect sources, or as bait.

Deception can play an important role; however, one of the foundations of ethical journalism is unwavering loyalty to Truth. Deception is a powerful tool that must be wielded wisely and appropriately.

Investigative reports and hidden camera work have brought to light practices and topics that people care deeply about, like showing what could happen when you bring your computer or vehicle in for repairs or service.

Some reporters have deceived their subjects in order to get as close to their topic as possible. Shann Nix once posed as a high school student for an entire quarter in order to giver her audience an honest look at what life is really like for high school students in San Francisco. Her story was lauded in the world of Journalism and even inspired the movie Never Been Kissed.

On the other hand, reporters like Jayson Blair have brought disgrace to the profession by fabricating details or entire stories.

Other times, programs like Bait Car and What Would You Do? blur the line between authentic news and reality television entertainment. Staging situations or putting people in potentially unrealistic scenarios for the sake of a dramatic or entertaining story.

Often, these shows are hugely popular, igniting debate and discussion across the country. There’s no doubt these programs are powerful. These programs present themselves in the same way as news, but, are they examples of ethical journalism? Is it right for TV stations to present the shows as news, or is it time for the definition of journalism to expand to include this type of reporting?

Where do you draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate use of deception in order to get a story?

If a publication or TV program uses deception to get a story, what should their guidelines be? What rules should they hold themselves to? Where should they draw the line?

A newspaper’s most important asset is the Trust of its viewers. However, it must also find and report truth. What role does the use of deception play here?

Topic 2 – Fired for PhotoShop

The darkroom was replaced by digital photography long ago. Taking and editing pictures has never been easier. Tools like PhotoShop allow photographers and photojournalists to retouch images quickly and easily. Practices that used to take hours in a lab now can be done in seconds. We live in a world where we expect flashy graphics, beautiful photography, and sensational images. As an audience, we’re hard to impress with photography straight off of a camera. In addition to simple edits to levels and contrast, PhotoShop can make a picture more true to life, bring out details that aren’t readily apparent, and frame a situation in a new light. In a sense, one could argue that a skilled photographer can bring out more truth from a photo by altering it.

Obviously, some photographers have taken this issue too far, completely changing scenes in order to enhance drama or editorialize.

Brian Walski was fired for creating this composite image to add drama to an otherwise undramatic scene.

Time magazine drew criticism for making OJ Simpson appear darker on its cover.

Many organizations say that almost any use of PhotoShop or image editing software is unethical. Photographers have been fired for even slight edits to photos or for removing unnecessary or distracting background elements.

Should a photographer lose his or her job over this? (Photo by Marc Feldman/Getty Images)

Is it time for photojournalists to review their code of ethics?

Is there a place for editing photos, perhaps even dramatically?

If a photographer should be able to edit images, where do you draw the line?

Is editing an image dishonest, or can editing an image actually add truth to a picture? If an image is edited, what responsibility should a newspaper have?

 

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