Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Resume For Tyler Velin

Advertising and Journalism

I discussed in class the relationship between advertising and journalism. Journalism needs advertising in order to stay afloat, but where is the line between the two? Editorial content and advertisements need to be clearly defined as such.

Newspapers and magazines have started using their front page (or cover) as a place for advertisements. Those pages turn the most profit for advertising, and in a world where studios are paying $700,000 (what it cost Disney to put the Alice in Wonderland ad on the front page of the L.A. Times) it's hard to blame "dying" newspapers for selling out.

The Times first began printing misleading front page advertisements in 2009, when they put an ad for NBC's 'Southland' on the front page (picture to the right), directly next to the editorial content. While there was a large NBC logo above the ad, and the font was also different, it is easy to see how readers could have been mislead.

Time and time again The L.A. Times appears to be more interested in helping their advertising partners than reporting the news.

"We worked very closely with Disney to come up with an exceptioonal and distinctive way to help them open 'Alice in Wonderland,' said the Times' spokesman John Conroy. It was designed to create buzz, and to extend the film's already brilliant marketing campiagn." (Kenney)

They had a similar unapologetic response to their Law and Order cover, which was arguably much less obviously an advertisement than the Alice in Wonderland one.

(On the left is the advertisement, on the right is the real front page.)

"Nancy Sullivan, The Times' vice president for communcation, said: The Times collaborated with NBC to launch 'Law & Order Los Angeles' in a big, creative way for the hometown audience. This is an exciting, innovative ad that takes the show's beloved 20-year 'ripped from the headlines' concept and puts it front and center for Southern California." (Readers Representative Journal)

Another example I mentioned in class was editorial content and advertising in magazines. Open any women's magazine, and you can't tell a fashion spread shot by the magazine from an advertisment shot for Nordstrom.

SPJ Guidelines to keep in mind:
*Seek Truth and Report it
--Distinguishe between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
--Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

*Act Independently
--Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
--Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist theri pressure to influence news coverage.
I think we're letting the L.A. Times off the hook for their advertisements since it's Hollywood. What do you think?
Here are some links that I found helpful:
An article about retouching pictures in magazines. Is it okay for a magazine that says they won't retouch any of their pictures to print retouched advertisements?

Embedded War Reporting

Thanks everyone for your questions and insight on my presentation Thursday.

In Alan Hooper’s 1993 Book, The Military and the Media, S.F. Crozier was quoted in saying: “There can be few professions more ready to misunderstand each other than journalists and soldiers.”

In my class presentation I examined the relationship between embedded reporters and the military, as well as the perceived notion that embedded journalists are more prone to produce pro-American coverage as opposed to journalists who are not plugged into a military unit. I feel that the consensus from the class discussion was that war reporting is really important for the American audience; it’s just a matter of how that information is obtained and published, and whether it is trustworthy and follows the U.S. military’s Media Ground Rules.

The U.S. military was adamant that these rules were broken by Washington Times reporter Wayne M. Anderson, who was embedded with a Minnesota Air National Guard Unit at Camp Shaneen in Afghanistan this past summer. To recap, a complicated shooting occurred at the NATO facility at Shaneen between U.S. forces and allied Afghan-soldiers-in-training, with two killed and another four wounded. Anderson investigated the incident and ten days later published an account of the shooting in the Times, an article which was supplemented with a video of the wounded being transported to the hospital. The military contended that the video, which was removed from the Times website within 48 hours after it was posted, broke the Media Ground Rules contract in which Anderson signed. One of the major rules, in short, prohibits journalists from showing recognizable faces of soldiers wounded or killed in action. Anderson was expelled from the unit in Afghanistan for posting the video.

Judging from most of your feedback in class, I think the majority opinion is that Media Ground Rules exist to protect military interests, so if journalists want the great access that embedding contracts provide, they need to follow those rules. Here are a few questions to remember about this incident and the larger issue of embedded war reporting:

Would Anderson have been better off working independently, or is it unrealistic to believe he would’ve had an opportunity to catch this story without embedding?

After coming to terms with the U.S. military’s Media Ground Rules contract, was Anderson ethically right to shoot video and write his story?

Are the government’s Media Ground Rules and releasable and non-releasable contracts reasonable and fair to journalists?

Should Anderson have a constitutional right to appeal the military’s ruling?

I also posted a few links below that I hope are useful in thinking about this media issue (including the Washington Times article and a copy of the Media Ground Rules). Thanks for your time guys.




Photo Illustrations

Photo illustrations can be traced back to the beginning of the creation of photography, but in recent years the trend is starting to discredit many publications.

With more and more doctored images popping up in magazines, newspapers and online, the public is starting to look at all photographs with skepticism.

The O.J. Simpson Photo

The June 27, 1994 covers of Newsweek and Time feature the same LAPD mug shot of O.J. Simpson. Newsweek ran an unaltered version,
while Time darkened and blurred Simpson's face. After receiving harsh criticism about the manipulated cover immediately after it's release, Time pulled the issue and ordered a reprint. Many minority groups said Time altered the cover to show Simpson in a more sinister light and accused the magazine of racism.

The illustrator of the image (not the photographer – the image was a mug shot from LAPD), Mar Mahurin, said he wanted to make the cover "more artful, more compelling."

James R. Gaines, m
anaging editor for Time at the time, issued an apology shortly after the cover was released. He said that the publication was not trying to put forth and racial implications, nor imply Simpson's guilt, t
hrough the manipulated photo.

To read the apology letter in its entirety, go here:

The Economist's Obama Covers
On June 19, 2010, The Economist showed a picture of President Obama standing alone with
his head down on a Louisiana beach. The original image portrayed a scene of the president standing next to a member of the coast guard and a local parish president, Charlotte Randolph.
"I was managing the paper the week we ran the image of President Obama with the oil rig in the background. Yes, Charlotte Randolph was edited out of the image (Admiral Allen was removed by the crop). We removed her not to make a political point, but because the presence of an unknown
woman would have been puzzling to readers," said Emma Duncan, deputy editor of The Economist.

Another cover of The Economist was altered and ran on May 15, 2010. This one eliminated the background of an photo showing President Obama walking. Duncan says the image was edited in order to bring out the central character, which it certainly does.

The question behind all these photo illustrations is, where do we draw the line? In class, many of you thought the bottom cover of The Economist was acceptable, but the top was not. Playing devil's ad
vocate, both are manipulated photos, showing something other than what was truly happening in the images. On the other hand, the "It's time" cover of The Economist is more of an artistic illustration meant to attract attention. Does that make it OK?


The question of labeling was a topic of huge debate after Newsweek ran a photo illustration on the cover of their March 3, 2005 publication. The cover showed the body of a model shot in a Los Angeles studio paired with Martha Stewart's head. Originally, the cover shot was credited to Marc Bryan-Brown, who shot the model in the studio. Newsweek corrected the byline in their next edition, and on page 3 of the March 14 issue they called the cover a photo illustration.

The National Press Photographer's Association called the cover a "major ethical breach." Jack Zibluk, an associate professor of photojournalism at Arkansas State University, brought up the issue of labeling. "I find it very disconcerting that Newsweek's editors see 'labeling' as the answer to the issue. It's not. The real answer to rebuilding the trust of the audience is to commit to true and accurate photojournalism...The tendency to use more illustrations and fewer real photojournalistic images is blurring the line between opinion and truth the same way Web blogs and talk radio are blurring the line between 'honest news' and one-sided screed."

Read more about the issue from the NPPA here:http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2005/03/newsweek.html

The list continues

If you want to find more manipulated photos, you don't have to dig too deep. Here are some links to a few others I showed in class.

Portland Tribune: http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=128700705813481800

Lance Armstrong on Outside: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/16/lance-armstrong-outside-m_n_614647.html

Abe Lincoln: http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/index1.html

Also- for some of you photoj people: Here is the ethics guide from Reuters about which tools to use and not use in photoshop: http://handbook.reuters.com/index.php/A_Brief_Guide_to_Standards,_Photoshop_and_Captions

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Julian Assange and his dangerous baby

A new McCarthyism? - WikiLeaks v. the world

This one is huge, guys. There's really too much to write about concisely, and some of the best information has come from reading dramatically varied opinion pieces from all sides of the issue.

Some basic questions: is Julian Assange (WikiLeaks' founder and public face) a terrorist for publishing classified information he does not own, or is he a free speech hero?

Assange has been editorializing, intentionally 'stirring the pot' for political impact by adding titles to videos, teasing for upcoming releases, dropping huge amounts of data at critical times, and giving multiple global publications advance access to the documents (essentially forcing them to publish). Does this make him a journalist?

If the U.S. wanted to try Assange in court (assuming they can catch him), on what grounds could he be prosecuted? The Espionage Act of 1917? (Don't forget, he's Australian). Would 1st Amendment free speech or free press arguments protect him? What about the NYTimes? If a case was brought against WikiLeaks, shouldn't the other papers that published the information be brought to trial as well?

What should happen to people like Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been accused of leaking classified information to the site?

Here's just a few of the sources I found useful:

Assange himself, hosted on TED.com “Why the world needs WikiLeaks.” July 2010.

The Stephen Colbert interview I showed in class. 13 April 2010.

Andy Greenberg, writing for Forbes Magazine. Here's the article, and the full interview.

An interview with Der Spiegel, the German publication given advance notice of the leaks this summer.

Fred Kaplan, writing for Slate.com, has some pretty good insights.

Raffi Khatchadourian's New Yorker profile “No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency.”

Peter Ludlow's piece for the Nation, explaining Assange's behavior in light of hacker ethics.

Sarah Palin has some “Serious Questions About Team Obama’s Handling of the WikiLeaks Fiasco,” if anybody's still listening to her.

Another Slate.com writer, Jack Shafer, says these most recent leaks “make it impossible for Hillary Clinton to continue to serve as secretary of state.

The ACLU says that "Prosecutiing WikiLeaks for publishing documents would raise serious Constiutional Concerns.

Moe Tkacik is all about government transparency.

And here's the "Collateral Murder" video we saw some of in class.

Let me know what you think. I'd love to see some serious questions in the comments starting...now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

This One's For the Ladies: Gender Bias In the Media

by Kate Whittle
The goal of journalism is to provide diverse and inclusive reporting. But analysts say modern media is failing to serve the majority of the human population: women. Women are underrepresented in many areas of the journalism profession, and women’s issues are often ignored or portrayed in problematic ways.

The 2010 Media Report to Women, compiled by Sheila Gibbons, lays out statistics showing that nearly across the board, women are underrepresented in journalism jobs. The problem is pervasive in traditional print media: About 36 percent of full-time daily newspaper staff are women. About 16 percent of those women are minorities.

Sports reporting maintains the most noticeable gender divide. The 2008 “Race and Gender Report Card of the Associated Press Sports Editors" found “sports journalist jobs are overwhelmingly white and male." Women are 9 percent of sports reporters and 6 percent of editors.
The divide is not so wide in television broadcast reporting. In “Beyond ‘Anchorman’,” two journalism students collected data on broadcast reporting from a sample week in 2007, then compared the results to a similar study from 1987. The study found that in 2007, men reported 48 percent of stories, women reported 40 percent, and the rest were team effort. This is a substantial improvement over 1987, when men reported 73 percent of stories. The study also found an increase in the number of women and minorities appearing in front of the camera.

Besides the apparent lack of women as newswriters, other case studies show how women’s voices are missing on the news itself nearly worldwide. Nov. 9, 2009 was Global Media Monitoring Day. Only 16 percent of stories broadcast or printed that day focused on women’s issues. The project found near equality in the quoting of popular opinion, but when expert opinions are used, 80 percent are men.

Some journalists have addressed the portrayal of women’s issues in mainstream media by simply exiting the mainstream media. Women’s eNews was founded in 2000 by Rita Henley Jensen to report on issues not being covered elsewhere.
Jensen wrote about the lack of women’s voices in the news for a 2005 commentary for Romanesko:
“Newsworthy should be as gender-neutral a term as the word reporter. Sadly, although women have flooded the field of journalism, the folks who decide who and what should be covered are still working out of a testosterone-soaked playbook."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

BTK and the Media

Greetings, Ethics &Trends in News Media Section 3.

My presentation dealt with Dennis Rader (AKA the BTK Killer) and his personal contact with the media. What follows is an overview, complete with more details on the case. Enjoy!

Rader was a native of Wichita, Kansas. He married, started a family, and was a leader in his church and his community, even serving as president of his church congregation at Christ Lutheran (ELCA, in case you were wondering.) While he was doing this, he also committed his known murders from the early 1970s to 1991, starting with four members of the Otero family on January 15, 1974. Here is a link to an overview of Rader's crimes.

Throughout his killing career, Rader taunted the police and the media by communicating with them directly. He sent packages to both the police and the media. Rader's first communication occured October of 1974, approximately ten months after the Otero family murders. During the 1970s, the killer sent letters to The Wichita Eagle, KAKE-TV (the ABC affiliate) and KSAS (the Fox affiliate.) His messages contained graphic details regarding the murders. His first message was found in the Wichita Public Library and contained a detailed description of the Otero killings. He suggested people refer to him as BTK because he liked to "bind them, torture them, and kill them."

BTK used his acronym as a signature to mark his work.

Sometimes, Rader addressed reporters personally, as seen when he apologized for two anchors' colds. He often referred to other correspondence when writing to news outlets and spoke in a conversational tone, as seen in the previous link when he asked them to let him know whether they received the package at Home Depot and added "Thanks." For a map of BTK's actions, click here.

The media published information on BTK, but didn't necessarily reveal everything disclosed to him by the killer. This was often in compliance with police request. Robert Beattie, who later wrote a book about BTK, said that showed a puzzle from Rader's correspondence and showed it to a local Mensa Club, the members of which pleaded him to ignore police requests to remain silent and share the puzzle with the public in the hopes that someone could discover its meaning.

Because they reported on Rader's crimes after they had been contacted by him, some reporters were seen as accomplices to his crimes. Cliff Kincaid wrote, “Mad dogs after meat. Sharks after blood in the water. These are phrases that describe the media. They loved Dennis Rader and he loved them. They all have blood on their hands. And Rader sits in prison waiting for another media call.”

In an interview with Larry King, Hurst Laviana said, "I have regrets for holding things back. . .I wonder now whether we did the right thing, of editing the evidence. Would the police have been able to find a suspect sooner? Did we do the public a disservice?"

NEW: However, according to Brian Orloff, Laviana later "told [Editor & Publisher] that he feels comfortable with the Eagle's treatment of the evidence. He says the paper only refused to publish one letter with a BTK signature and a series of numbers and letters, which it published Wednesday." (The link was my addition. Orloff's complete article can be found here.) Laviana said they withheld details such as his signature to help police "weed out the copycats" and make the killer more identifiable.

Laviana described the "series of numbers and letters," saying it was "like gibberish. It didn't look like it meant anything. That's what I meant when I told the L.A. Times reporter that maybe that was not the right thing to do. I'm not saying it was the wrong thing to do, I'm not saying it was the right thing to do. But if there's anything to second guess, it would be that decision."

Among the items received by KAKE-TV were a puzzle filled with clues and a doll, its hands bound and a bag over its head.

The BTK Killer was silent for an extended period and resumed correspondence after the Eagle wrote an article to mark the anniversary of his killings. BTK was eventually caught based on information pulled from this correspondence.

In conclusion, I believe the media were not wrong to withhold some information when reporting the BTK killer's actions or sharing information with the police. While the SPJ code says to act independently, it's important to remember that sometimes working with the police can serve the good of the public. We shouldn't withhold information from the police for the sake of withholding information from the police; the same goes for divulging information to the general public. Above all, I would want to try my hardest to catch the creep who murdered people and give him as little attention as possible in the process. And if that's a form of bias, then so be it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Checkbook Journalism- Paying for Sources

For my presentation I looked at the ethical issue of journalists/networks/newspapers/magazines paying for information to get an exclusive on a story. Although journalist organizations and committees have guidelines there are no set laws allowing issues such as this to occur. It is our responsibility as professionals to obtain and report accurately and fairly, and not to "bid on news."

Through all the research I found that this trend is growing and is being used more than we all think. The money that is being spent is rising and these outlets are not shy to pay riches for reports. Media organizations such as Fox, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, LIFE etc have been accused of paying for news, but is it right?

The main case I covered was the ongoing trial of 24 year old Casey Anthony, accused of murdering her 2 year old daughter in 2008. This trial has made national attention very quickly and ABC jumped on board to make sure it would be ahead of the pack. ABC paid the Anthony family $200,000 for home videos and photos, making no attempt to make a public announcement while they were covering the case. Casey's attorney revealed the information in court, which brought many red flags to ABC. Many organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists commented that this sort of reporting is unethical and should not be tolerated, but it is happening so often and with all the money these companies have, is there a way to stop it?

ABC claimed the money was spent for the defense of Casey and not for an interview.

Not sure if we need to have our opinion but looking at this in a realistic manner, I believe that at this point there is no way to battle this sort of beast. Information is pricey and if someone wants the story bad enough it is going to get paid for by someone. I feel that as more people ask for big bucks the prices for news will continue to increase. I don't feel that a story is worth $200,000 but I don't have that type of cash either. Overall I feel that this issue is less harmless than some issues happening today.

Questions to consider

is it ethical to pay for information?

has journalism become more of a business?

how do you control something like this? Or can you not control it?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reporter involvement with subjects

Hello everyone,

Sorry this took a while to get up, I lost the invite for the blog post. Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful and amazing break with your loved ones.

To do a quick recap of my presentation, I talked about reporter involvement in subjects, specifically the case of Kevin Carter, a South African photojournalist who took a controversial photograph during the 1993 famine in Sudan. Carter, and colleague Joao Silva had only been on the ground for 30 minutes when Carter heard a whimpering coming from a nearby clearing. Upon investigation he discovered a young girl in critical condition. She was so weak she had lost control of her legs, and was attempting to crawl to the nearby village, where a food center had been set up to feed victims of the famine. A vulture landed behind her, and Carter instinctively snapped a few frames of the girl. However, rather than helping her, Carter instead waited for 20 minutes and then chased the vulture off, leaving the girl. He sat under a tree and cried. His reason for not having helped the girl was because photographers in the region at the time were not supposed to touch famine victims, for fear of spreading disease. The photograph won Carter the Pulitzer Prize, but he took a barrage of criticism in the wake of the award. Sadly, the guilt of having taken the photograph, as well as the backlash he received for it was too much for Carter. In June of 1994 a depressed Carter committed suicide in his car.

Carter was someone who had seen a lot of violence and gore. He previously had covered the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and had photographed many things there from shootings, to public executions. He had suffered from depression in the past.

A few questions to consider:

Do you think that Carter should have helped the child? Or do you think that his job was to merely cover, but not actively help victims of the famine? Another thing to think about was that the girl he photographed was one of hundreds of other people in similar situations Carter encountered that day.

How involved should journalists be with their subjects?

Do you think we have an obligation to be journalists first? Or do you think that people are more important than pictures or stories?

This is just some food for thought for you guys. I hope you enjoyed my presentation.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Airing of Graphic Material

So in class I specifically looked at the video (and case) of the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili at the 2010 Winter Olympics and the ethics of TV stations airing and posting the video of his death.

At the time, Kumaritashvili was ranked 44th out of 65 luge competitors in the 2009-2010 World Cup season. His father, David Kumaritashvili, is a veteran luger who previously won a USSR Youth Championship (when Georgia was still part of Russia). His father’s cousin, Felix Kumaritashvili, is the head of the Georgian Luge Federation. Nodar was also related to Aleko Kumaritashvili, the founder of organized sledding sports in Georgia. As you can see, Nodar came from a long family history of luge competitors and influencers.

The incident itself was the fourth time an athlete has died during the Winter Olympic preparations and Kumaritashvili is the 6th athlete to die at either Olympics. Officials say that the death was the first luge fatality since 1975.

The president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, said in a news conference following the accident that officials should have listened more carefully to athletes’ concerns about the safety of the track. “I don’t claim to know all the technical details,” he said. “But one thing I know for sure, that no sports mistake is supposed to lead to a death. No sports mistake is supposed to be fatal."

Tony Benshoof of the United States was the first slider down the hill following Kumaritashvili’s death. He was adamant that the nature of the sport is very risky and said: “Luge is a tough sport. It takes a long time to master. That’s the bottom line. We could hash over it for hours. But at the end of the day, we’re going 95-98 miles an hour and we’re six inches off the ice. We get down a mile of track in 45 seconds. There’s an inherent risk.”

There’s been a lot of debate following the death on whether it was the dangerous track or the luger’s lack of experience that led to his death.

Whether or not the accident should be blamed on the athlete or the track will continue to be debated with no exact answer. What I would like to examine now however is the ethics of the coverage if this tragedy.

In the hours and days following Kumaritashvili’s death, all of the major networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) aired the video captured of the luger losing control, leaving the track and striking a metal pillar. The graphic footage of the death naturally was all over the Internet before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally stepped in to claim copyright infringement and take it down. It’s still easy to find the footage, but Google agreed to remove it from YouTube and they’ve blocked it from showing up in searches.

Obviously the footage is very heart-wrenching and offensive to certain people, specifically friends and family of Kumaritashvili. His father will not view the video. Nino Licheli, a student from Kumaritashvili’s hometown, told reporters: "It was horrible to watch his death on television, this is such a tragedy. Our whole family was crying when we watched what happened."

News outlets will claim that the footage is simply part of the story and that newsworthiness of the story warrants the accompanied video when telling the story. Media claim that the “need to inform” outweighed their need to minimize harm and show compassion. However, many people are disgusted and offended by the media’s immediate reaction to show the footage without hesitation.

In my opinion, the video is completely unnecessary and tasteless to show on television. The IOC was correct (albeit a little slow) to request that the footage be removed from the Internet. The story can be told, and is still tragic and headline-worthy, without publicly airing the athlete’s final moments of life. The video adds nothing to the story factually and is simply used for “shock and awe” purposes. I would have run the story without the video in respect to the luger’s friends and family and anyone else upset by the footage.

  • Would you have aired it? Why or why not?
  • Was it necessary to show to tell the story?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Journalist Expression of Personal Beliefs

Hey Class,

Last week I presented an ethical dilemma involving journalist expressing their personal beliefs. On October 13, NPR's Senior vice president Ellen Weiss sent out a memo to the staff banning them from attending the Rallies to Restore Sanity/Keep Fear Alive hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert if they were not sent to cover the event. The memo was sent because staffers were asking whether a rally hosted by comedians is considered political. NPR decided the rallies were political.

The rallies, which were held at the National Mall in Washington D.C. October 30, drew an estimated 215,000 people over twice as many as Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally in August. Along with NPR, The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post all agreed that the rallies were political and attending would show basis. On the other side, Arianna Huffington, head of The Huffington Post, rented 200 buses to bring people from New York City to Washington D.C. for the rallies. Each publications reactions to the rallies brings up interesting questions about the extent to which journalist can attend rallies and show opinion.

To continue the discussion from class, here are a few specific questions to think about:
Can journalist attend political rallies? If they can, then to what extent? Also, is Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rallies considered political?

Here is the link to the memo: http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=45&aid=192569

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sports Reporting and Homerism

Hello classmates!

As you undoubtedly remember, I gave my presentation on sports reporters going "to bed" with the teams they cover, also called Homerism. There were a couple of examples I gave but the big one at the top spurred the most debate. Here is a recap of the events of that first example:

In 1995, the University of Nebraska won the National Championship. Championships are a big boon for a coaches recruiting process and head coach Tom Osborne was excited to start this recruiting season. As national signing day (Feb. 1st) approached however, Osborne had a problem, the Omaha World-Herald (Nebraska's largest newspaper) was set to publish a story that showed that 13.2 percent of the players on his team had committed misdemeanors and/or alcohol related incidents while a study showed only 6 percent of non-football undergraduates were accused of the same. Osborne was obviously not thrilled and asked the newspaper to "soften" the story and push its publishing date back after signing day. The paper said okay...and hid the front-page story in the sports section, moved the lead to the 15th paragraph, and published it 3 days after national signing day.

So that's a cool little story that spurred some debate amongst all you splendid students.

While it seems like an easy issue at first, (I mean seriously...who wouldn't have just published the story?) we then talked about how news organizations can have their hands tied financially with the teams they cover. Lots of money goes into those TV contracts and making those people mad is bad for business. Not only is management scared...but sports reporters are constantly in a world of being part of the "in-group." If you're not in...the team wont talk to you and you then become the worst sports reporter in town.

Basically what the discussion came down to was the acceptance that homerism is a problem in today's sports reporting world, sports is a different bread of news, and maintaining objectivity is hard, but also a must. However, my naive mindset says that if you're honest and forthright from the get-go, they can take your criticism without punishing you. Any thoughts on that? Any more examples of homerism you've seen?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Media Coverage & Human Suffering

Hello fellow bloggers,

Thank you so much for your all of your engaging comments and questions this morning on my presentation, "The Ethics of Media Coverage and Human Suffering." I genuinely learned a lot from hearing your perspectives this morning on this topic, as well as other topics in former presentations.

To refresh you on the presentation, the purpose of it was to delve into the ethics of media coverage and human suffering by looking into a few Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs. The image (displayed on the left) was taken by the Boston Globe photojournalist Stan Grossfeld who was sent on assignment to cover the Ethiopian famine of the 1970s and 1980s. "Ethiopian Famine" shows a mother holding her emaciated child at a food station in the Tigray Province of Ethiopia during the famine. An hour after the exposure, the child died. "You try to be a technician and look through the viewfinder; sometimes the viewfinder fills up with tears," said Grossfeld. In the end, 500,000 to 1,000,000 died due to the famine. Covering such events raises so many ethical questions. We, as journalists, must look into the how and why of reporting human suffering in order to understand the intention and outcome of the story.

Why do we cover human suffering to begin with? Do you believe Grossfeld's photograph should of been released, published, awarded? And where is the line between objective coverage and pure sensationalism?

In other words, How do we proactively fight this desensitization and inform people?

For instance, how much of a reaction do we have when we read an article on a car bomb in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan that killed upwards of 50-100 people? Or a woman being oppressed, raped or stoned in Saudi Arabia for something as petty as leaving her home without a Burqa? Or Grossfeld's image portraying a famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people?

Chances are, we’re not collectively having the kind of response we should have. Meaning, we’re, at some level, calloused to human suffering. Isn't it problematic for even the storytellers to be jaded? So how do we remedy this as the Fourth Estate?

Here are some links to articles relating to this topic:



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who is responsible for Hannity's hack job?

Hey class,
We were discussing the fallout of Sean Hannity's involvement with the Tea Party movement. The fact is, it wasn't really a "movement" until he got involved, so is what he's done ethical. In other words, if he is playing the role of a responsible journalist, is being the cause for a rally to gain attention and, ultimately, influence, stepping over the bounds of the journalist's job?
It seemed that the class all agreed that Hannity had, in fact, overstepped his role, if he were, in fact, a journalist. But, his stance within the world of news is shaky. The role he plays is neither reporter, nor editor; columnist or pundit. He is, quite simply, a talking head. Whether or not Fox News should have people who are simply talking heads - whose job it is to hike ratings - is another topic altogether. Hannity, on an individual level, is charged with the task of inciting rage in the viewer. And he did just that.
Now, the class argued that he should be held to the same standard of accuracy as any journalist if he is to broadcast on a "news" outlet. Thus, his blunder with switching footage to make the first Tea Parties seem larger would be outrageous. However, upon further examination, it is clear that he is NOT in fact the executive producer of the Sean Hannity Show. In fact, he has no role in it, whatsoever, other than to be the face.

The Fox News website lists the staff of the show as such (they do not provide last names):

James: Executive Producer
Greg: Engineer
Elisha: Senior Producer
Eileen: Affiliate Relations Director
Lynda: Associate Producer
Eric: Talk Programming Director

So, it's entirely possible that Hannity had no idea that the footage was fake. Of course, we will never know who made the final decision and who really has the power (I'm sure Hannity is given a measured amount of decision-making power for the sake of keeping the talent happy) but, it's safe to say that the decision to switch footage was not entirely up to him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Photoshopping of Katie Couric

Hello there!

I gave my presentation about the photoshopping of Katie Couric. I specifically asked the class if they thought it was ethical to photoshop a news personnel. And whether they thought the person loses credibility. As we all know, photoshop is becoming a part of our daily lives. But as a journalist is it really ethical to photoshop? Even if you are a celebrity journalist, is it ok to be in magazines that will photoshop pictures of you? Especially when you are on television on a daily basis, and everyone knows what you look like. Let me know what you guys think!

Here's a few videos I found on photoshopping that I thought were pretty crazy!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sports Journalists?

My presentation was on the theory of sports journalism, more specifically if sport journalists are called to the same code of conduct as standard news journalists. I talked specifically about the Player X article on ESPN.com and how the anonymous players made pretty bold claims at times but there was no journalists credibility behind those claims. Some people could make the case that since this is a blog, it's ok to allow some claims of this nature to be made. But others would still say that since it is on a news site, the writer of Player X should write to the same standards as the writer of the front page article. The issue with sources also touched on the Brett Favre situation and how there are potentially huge consequences for a claim that could turn out being fake anyway (but evidence doesn't look good for poor Brett).

For further discussion, take a tour of some of the sports blog type news sites such as deadspin.com and let me know if you think sports journalists should be allowed some slack, or if they need to be by the book as well?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Outing of Mayor Jim West

Hey guys!

So my presentation was on the outing of Mayor Jim West in Spokane by the Spokesman-Review. The ethical questions come when you start to talk about sting operations involving newspapers because the Spokesman-Review actually hired a forensic computer analyst to pose as a 17-year-old boy online to get Mayor Jim West to talk to him. After saving all of his chat logs and getting Mayor West to think that they were having online sex, they posted a front page article about it. The EVEN MORE unethical thing is that they said he was tied to sex abuse in the '70s and '80s even though there was barely any proof of it. The proof that was there was almost not even alleged, so the posting of that information by a publication is illegal.

What do you guys think? There's a fantastic documentary on PBS Frontline that you can watch for free online. The documentary is called "A Hidden Life".

What do you think? Was the Spokesman-Review just doing good investigative journalism or were they overstepping the bounds of journalism and going into the realm of private investigation to create and publish a story? I think it was the latter, personally.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Suppressing News at Police Request

Thanks everyone for the great questions and discussion on Thursday. You all voiced some intriguing opinions regarding where journalists stand when it comes to withholding information from the public based on police request.

The Raoul Moat case was interesting because of the way Moat specifically mentioned media coverage being responsible for his heightened anger-and the possibility of him killing again. If police shared this information with you, what would you have done? Although it (thankfully) doesn’t happen everyday, in situations like these journalists are faced with enormous ethical and professional questions. What if the media would have continued reporting on Moat’s story? What if someone else (aside from Moat) had been killed? Would coverage of the incident potentially have helped the investigation? What if someone in the public would have been able to identify the killer from news broadcasts and helped police apprehend their fugitive?

A serious conflict of interest is encountered when media outlets need to weigh their responsibility to inform against the potential threat to public safety. And it is often left to journalists and editors to trust their gut, factoring their own morality against their responsibility to report. Newspaper reporter Richard Halicks was told by mentors and editors when weighing the decision to run a story about an attempt on President Bush’s life in 1988, “ ‘Our job is to write and print stories in timely and responsible fashion, not to assist in criminal investigations, nor to anticipate the actions of madmen. If publication hampered the investigation, that wasn’t really the newspaper’s problem,’ they said.”

Not a problem professionally, perhaps. But morally? If someone were to be injured or killed—potentially due to a news outlet’s coverage—can reporters and their editors sleep at night, confident in their decision to run the story and uphold the fundamentals of their profession? I think the best answer varies based on circumstance, and although journalists are reporters with a public duty to inform, they are also human, and constantly need to weigh the impacts of their work on the safety and well-being of the public. Journalists hold a powerful tool in their pens and cameras, capable of not only helping and informing, but also harming. In situations where people’s well-being may be threatened by the publication of information, I think it is an undeniable human tendency to push professional principles aside, consider the circumstance, and take whatever course of action can best protect others.


The article in the UK Guardian announcing the media blackout during the police manhunt for Raoul Moat: Raoul Moat news blackout requested after threat to kill public

And the SkyNews report regarding Raoul Moat's threats against the public, brought on by what Moat perceived as inaccurate media reporting:
Raoul Moat: Secret Death Threats Revealed

Here’s an older, but equally interesting case where reporter Jon Hall for the Miami News was investigating a serial killer in south Florida during the mid 1970s. An excellent example of police requesting the suppression of news—and a journalist’s decision to ignore them.
“Stop this is a warning…Suppressing news at police request.”

The Virginia Tech Shooting

The media played a huge roll in the story of the Virginia Tech Massacre. NBC found them selves’ part of the story when the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, age 23, sent a package full of pictures, letters and videos of himself to NBC’s headquarters, between his two shootings on the Virginia Tech campus. NBC turned over all of the evidence to the police after they made copies for themselves of all the evidence. NBC aired a little over a minute of the 10-minute video rant of Cho talking. They also aired some of the photos that Cho took of himself holding guns and pointing them at the camera.

• If you were an editor at NBC when all this happened how would you have handled to situation?

• Would you have turned over all of the evidence to the police?

After all of information surrounding this case started to come out, parents were informed that students were not notified of the first shooting until after classes had begun for the day. Two of the families from the 32 students that were killed that day filled for a lawsuit against the state in hopes to revealing all of the facts on the day of the shooting. The two families that did not taking a settlement from the university are of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson, who were both killed by gunman Cho. These two families presented enough facts that the university may have acted with gross negligence the day of the shooting.



The 46 families out of 48 gave up their right to sue when they signed the $11 million settlement, which included financial compensation, health benefits and meetings with university and police leaders and the governor. It also required the university to create an electronic archive with documents related to the shootings and make it available to families.


University officials from Virginia Tech disputed a U.S. Department of Education report that found the school in violation of a federal campus security law. The school did not notify students in a “timely manner” according to the Clery Act. The Clery Act was created in 1990 in memory of 19-year-old Jeanne Ann Clery, who was raped and killed after having been asleep in her dorm room at Lehigh University. The law requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crimes on or near their campuses.


There was also a new law that was put into effect after the Virginia Tech shooting. The new law authorizes up to $1.3 billion in federal grants to help states improve their background checks, National Instant Criminal Background Check System, on people who are purchasing guns, so people who are mentally unstable like Cho, are not able to purchase guns.

"The Virginia Tech killer should have been stopped at the gun store," Paul Helmke of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said. "He was a prohibited purchaser. He had been found a danger to himself and others because of mental illness. Virginia did not send that information in."


Do you think the increased amount of funding for better background checks is going to be effective in future shootings?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Facebook Ethics

Have you checked your Facebook today? Well, most likely the answer to that question is yes. In fact, you may be so hip that you just do it constantly because it's on your phone.

For some reporters it's a valuable communication tool. They use it to get story tips, search out folks or share facts with their viewers. This does not seem to be the case for all journalists as some fill their page with unprofessional personal opinion.

Peter Horrocks BBC Global News Director
- read up on his thoughts about embracing social media sites

The way I see it, it would be in the best interest of all news outlets to put pen to paper and prepare a code of ethics for social media. With help from the Poynter Institution ethics group leader Kelly McBride, the Virginia newspaper The Roanoke Times did just that.

Random side note.. in attempts to find out if KPAX has a code of ethics I stumbled across Jill Valleys blog and it made me think twice. To go through a fight with cancer would be so difficult in the first place, but to do it in front of all of Missoula county shows true colors.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Hey guys. Thanks for the comments and questions Thursday. I think the paparazzi are definitely seen as parasites in photojournalism world, yet it is undeniable that they make a huge impact on society. Two of the more controversial paparazzi cases involved either Princess Diana or Britney Spears, and in the two cases, the paparazzi most likely contributed to the downfalls of both.

I'm curious if any of you find paparazzi tactics ethical or journalistic. Would any of you sell a photo of a celebrity? Would any of you decide to be a paparazzo if it was more financially secure than a more "ethical journalism" job?

Below are some interesting links I used to research the paparazzi:

Videos on celebrities and the paparazzi:

Princess Diana:
Britney Spears:


Paparazzi Salaries:

Also big are celebrity-focused blogs such as Perez Hilton's blog and, my personal favorite, Go Fug Yourself.

Misuse of Graphs and Statics in Media

The Misuse of Graphs and Statics continues to call in to question ethical action of the 24 hour news cycle and how they produce statics.

The use of For profit polling and statics companies means that over a period of time the New source can flex that company to produce results they want rather then results then create an accurate representation of a population.

Further more the use of interactive polls, such as online or text in polls, that are used to as a traditional poll only reduce the effectiveness of actual scientific polls. And once again Journalism takes a hit in and the industry looses in the end.