EJ Chapt. 8: Engagement and Relevance
While reading this chapter, I found myself often thinking about a story I’m doing for another class. The story has been very troublesome for many reasons, and this chapter articulated why. I struggled with the text and wrestled with the themes by directly comparing them to my work. I’m covering K-12 education in Levy County this semester. I learned that transportation was a big deal to the rural county. The superintendent told me that the county spends well over the budget every year on the transportation of children to school. He mentioned that part of the reason why is because Levy County transports students it’s not required by the state to transport. Immediately I was intrigued and I developed a story idea.
I thought I had found journalism gold. Here was a story about money, politics, and the safety of children. I went out to Levy and started getting some b-roll before I did my interviews. I didn’t know what I was trying to capture, but I knew it had to do with children and transportation, so I filmed school buses picking kids up and taking them to school. My first problem arose when I wasn’t allowed to film student’s faces and I couldn’t ride the bus. This really limited my creativity. The next problem I ran into was getting my expert source to speak on camera. He practically refused and said he didn’t want to for several reasons. Suddenly my video story about kids and transportation lost momentum.
Then I thought about using data. Money was involved and people found that interesting right? The problem was the data hadn’t really been collected for the cost of transporting the non-eligible students. Even numbers regarding funds from the state and funds from the county became confusing. I had no simple data to present the story I wanted to tell.
Then I stopped and asked myself: what is the story I’m trying to tell and how can I tell it best? I realized that the story I wanted to tell was about the burden of transportation on education funds. I want people to understand how much it costs to get their kids to school and how those funds could be used for academics instead. I wanted people to know that it was a privilege and not a right for students living close to school to ride the bus. Not every county in Florida extends this courtesy. Finally, I wanted people to know that this privilege may not last much longer. The government is trying to cut back on spending and is considering privatizing the transportation department.
The experience I had with this story involved all of the issues discussed in this chapter. I had to decide if I was telling a story that was fun and fascinating or news that was important. I had to find a way to engage the audience in a story about kids riding the bus to school while also telling them about the money. I had to wrap my brain around policy and money so that I could tell the story correctly.
I think journalists always strive to find stories which inform and entertain, but it’s hard to see that a story can sometimes only accomplish one of those goals. When we find stories which do both, we know we have something good. When we have a story which is lacking in one area, it’s a challenge to complete the bigger picture.
ME Chapt. 9: New Media: Continuing Questions and New Roles
This chapter discussed many of the legal issues involved in the ethics of journalism. Originality, copyright infringement and stealing intellectual property have all become bigger issues with the advent of the internet. I have experienced some of these problems myself while working in a broadcast newsroom. As a web producer, I would aggregate information from multiple sources to create one story. I would work with a reporter who conducted interviews, a radio person who has looked through data and assignment desk editor who verified facts. It often felt strange to write a story using information collected by someone else. This is becoming more and more common as speed increases in importance. People working in a newsroom work together to publish news on multiple platforms, multiple ways.
Before reading this chapter, I didn’t know the internet used to be used strictly for government and military personal. This knowledge contributes to my understanding of why the internet is such a difficult business model. I have vented on previous posts about the need for journalists to accept that their work is still a job. I think it’s important for news organizations to make money on the internet so that they can pay their journalists to collect additional information. If the news organization couldn’t make money, they wouldn’t be able to pay a journalist and nobody would have the professional responsibility of news gathering. Likewise, I do understand the democratic benefit to free information. I do believe that an informed public is best and people need information. I think there is a fine line between providing people with enough information to keep them informed but not too much information that they undervalue your profession and skill.
DQ: Is it best practice to find an angle then gather information and material, or the reverse?
Case Study 9-A
Dilemmas-Fox and CNN broadcast this story with incorrect information. They were the first to report on the court’s ruling, but they did so with the wrong information. They also presented the information as breaking news, despite the fact that the legislation wouldn’t take effect until 2014. These networks presented information which other news media used.
Alternatives-The networks could’ve been more patient with the story. They could’ve taken longer to report the news, but done so correctly. They also could’ve presented the information as general news as apposed to breaking news. They didn’t have to spread the headline so quickly to so many people.
Rationale-I think the two networks which presented the incorrect information should’ve been focused more on getting the facts right than on being the first to report. I think it was okay that they presented the information as breaking news, however. A ruling from the Supreme Court is always breaking news to me. I also think other news media shouldn’t have relied on information reported first to do their own reporting.
Case Study 9-B
Dilemmas-The ethics of news aggregation are fuzzy. When being first to report or quantity of stories is important, it makes sense that the media would aggregate the news. However, this aggregation does lead to repetitive news and lack of originality. It also creates an easy way for people to use information that isn’t theirs without attribution.
Alternatives-Aggregation could be considered unethical. The media could require original sources and new information for all stories. Stories could only be passed around with proper attribution that is made very clear.
Rationale-I think aggregation should only be used with proper attribution. I also believe it’s a service that AP provides other media outlets. They should have to pay the AP for its efforts in order to use its information. I also believe that different reports from different people does create unique perspectives which are important. Aggregation should only be used when needed on a case by case basis.
Ethical Issue of the Week:
A woman with a large twitter following shared a news story she found about “unidentified sixtysomething woman who has been raped by her grandson.” When she shared the story, she also asked “I wonder what she had on to entice him.” People who saw the post began responding to her and telling her what clothing they had worn when they were raped. Suddenly, news organizations like BuzzFeed and Poyneter caught onto the story and began republished the woman’s tweets on their own platforms. They did this with the permission of the rape victims but without the permission of the woman on Twitter. I definitely think there is an ethical issue here because these news organizations publicized the woman without her permission. They used content she created as their news. Where I’m torn, is in the public nature of Twitter. One argument was made that Twitter is public. When people create Twitter accounts, they agree to certain privacy terms or lack thereof.
Page One Inside the New York Times was really interesting. I was really curious to see how a publication with such an influence over other media was being affected my new media. In many ways, the New York Times has set a standard for which other news organizations try to achieve. The movie, however, showed me that The New York Times was actually having to follow other media outlets in integrating new media. I thought it was also interesting that there was such a philosophical divide between traditional journalists and new media journalists. New media journalists were convinced their way was the best way and traditional journalists were stubborn and hesitant to change. I think the New York Times should somewhat let down its pride and be open to new methods of reporting. It can still have high standards and be influential, but it should prioritize the better method over its method.
Spin alley: A designated meeting place where people go after a large event. Here they conduct interviews and collect information from officials.
Fair use: This doctrine limits the use of copyrighted material to those with permission. It also limits the amount of information which can be used. News organizations use this doctrine to defend their use of information.
Echo chamber: When a media organization tries to amplify and reinforce information and ideas to viewers/readers through the use of different media outlets. This makes it seem like the information is coming from a variety of sources.
Kristen Morrell, firstname.lastname@example.org