Friday, October 29, 2010
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
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
Also big are celebrity-focused blogs such as Perez Hilton's blog and, my personal favorite, Go Fug Yourself.
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.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
And we didn't really discuss how we would feel if we found out a report or story we read had a journalist who took free stuff from their subject. What if you read a great piece and found out the journalist had taken freebies, would it take away from the story? Or would you say, "Hey it's all situational and I'm sure the journalist took the freebie because it was ok and didn't effect the writing."
From our discussion it's pretty obvious junkets are quite prevalent in the journalism world, so how many of you think this is a major problem in journalism today?
Here are some of the links to the sites where I got most of my info.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The photographs taken by Vernaschi can be found here http://marco-vernaschi.photoshelter.com/gallery/CHILD-SACRIFICE/G0000x1HawSRNvQo/
Vernaschi's statement (on the Pulitzer Center's site) can be found here http://pulitzercenter.org/blog/untold-stories/uganda-response-critics
The Pulitzer Center's official response can be found here http://pulitzercenter.org/blog/news-points/questions-uganda-child-sacrifice
Anne Holmes of the Vigilante Journalist wrote about why she retracted a previous interview with Vernaschi here http://vigilantejournalist.com/blog/archives/1615
This Lightstalkers debate about Vernaschi's methods is interesting. http://www.lightstalkers.org/posts/illegal-exhumation-a-debate-about-marco-vernaschis-methods
An article on dvafoto about the ethical transgressions in Vernaschi's coverage can be found here http://www.dvafoto.com/2010/04/ethical- transgressions-in-marco-vernaschis-coverage-for-the-pulitzer-center-on-crisis-reporting/
And finally, the Guardian's Roy Greenslade wrote an article about Vernaschi here http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/apr/21/ethics-press-freedom
I also just came across this while looking for photos from other photojournalists who were there at the same time. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=386071471537
Andre Liohn was one of the photographers who had been there around the same time. He criticized Vernaschi based on several ethical issues having to do with his methods of reporting and the nature of his photographs.
This topic was a difficult one to read about due to its sensitive nature. Any time children are involved, it seems difficult to remain objective during a debate. I took issue with Vernaschi's methods of gathering information, but was disgusted by his insensitivity. My personal feeling is that any time money changes hands, a journalist's integrity is at stake. No matter how much Vernaschi wanted to help the family in question, he should never have given them money. Our job as journalists is to bring a story to the world without becoming involved in it ourselves. I am not questioning Vernaschi's intentions, because it is certainly understandable that he could have pitied this unfortunate family and hoped to ease their burden. However, ethical guidelines are clearly set out for us to follow in our professional work and Vernaschi failed to do so.
As far as the photograph of the three-year-old boy who was genitally mutilated, I think that is more an issue of personal taste. I feel that Vernaschi went too far and his photographs were bordering on sensationalism. He could have captured the essence of the horrible circumstance in a more tasteful way. Surely he could have captured a moment with the young boy that was not set up, rather than requesting that the boy undress completely for the photograph.
I am still searching for more photographs to share with you, but if anyone comes across any please share the link with us. I hope to get some dialogue going regarding your thoughts on Vernaschi's methods and his ethical standards. Please feel free to ask any questions as they come up. I will check up at least once a day to see what you guys have to say.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Like others, I'm not entirely sure what I should be posting up here in respects to my presentation. So, below you'll find my research paper in its entirety with links at the bottom to most of my sources. Also, here's the link to the video which I showed a clip of in class the other day:
And here's the full story:
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Perverted Justice organization is best known for it's work with Dateline, but they are involved in more than television sting operations. They train law enforcement with their techniques for the benefit of both parties, moderate an online forum for survivors of sexual abuse, and have an internship program for criminal justice students. Perverted Justice is dedicated to bringing child molesters to justice and helping victims recover.
Perverted Justice has done an excellent job bringing attention to the child molestation problem. The 11 To Catch a Predator episodes resulted in huge ratings for NBC. Some believe NBC disregards ethical journalism for the sake of ratings. NBC has reported paying an "undisclosed" amount of money to the organization. According to newsmax.com NBC paid more than $100,000 for their work on the series. That sounds like a conflict of interest to me. It's a lot of money to pay for a story.
NBC employees have had problems with the ethical lapses including former producer Marsha Bartel. Bartel believes she was let go due to complaints about ethical journalism, but NBC insists it was downsizing. NBC defends the methods of the To Catch a Predator series. According to cbsnews.com, Stone Phillips refutes entrapment accusations on the Dateline blog. Host Chris Hansen also defends the media's role in the sting. He says their role is to get the information to the viewer in a complete fashion.