Week 15 Presentation evaluations

Group 4 Presentation

I really liked the issue this group presented. It’s an issue I was familiar with, but didn’t really tieback to journalism and the media. This group helped me to better understand how the words journalists choose to use are a reflection of society but also a catalyst for conversation. I personally don’t like the term undocumented Californians or undocumented citizens. I understand why it is offensive and politically incorrect. However, I’m very much against reverse discrimination. By making words and phrases politically incorrect, you create a sensitively among people and issues. Sometimes it is best to use a term directly as it is used rather than being careful all the time. People wouldn’t see a phrase as offensive if it wasn’t avoided so often. I really liked this presentation and the video.

Group 3 Presentation

This was the second presentation on citizen journalism. Rather than talking about how traditional journalists and citizen journalists are different, this group talked more about their relationship. News sources and media outlets need citizen journalists in today’s day and age. They need a high volume of information in a short amount of time, and don’t have the means to collect/produce content themselves. Not only do citizen journalists provide more content, but they also provide unique content. They go to the places journalists can’t go, and they tell the stories journalists can’t tell. Some of the best evidence of events and breaking news have come from citizen journalists. The Rodney King beating video was a great example of the power of citizen journalism. This group really explained the symbiotic relationship between traditional journalists and citizen journalists, but I think they should’ve talked about the challenges a bit more. .

Group 10 Presentation

When this group began their presentation, I thought I knew where I stood on the issue of under cover reporting. I’ve never been a proponent of it. I thought it was deceptive, illegal and unfair. However, this group helped me to better understand situations for which it may be necessary. I liked the historical examples this group provided. Overall, I see uncover reporting only okay in certain situations. It would need to benefit the public good or uncover a scandal in order for me to be okay with it. The discussion of “Black Like Me” was really interesting and something I had not heard of.

Group 9 Presentation

The presentation this group gave on accuracy in the field of journalism, truly did completely change my thinking. It’s like a light went off in my head. Dr. Rodgers is the one who asked the question which triggered this change of thinking. He said “Do you think readers would rather you be accurate, or the first one to tell news?” This answer seemed obvious when he asked, but not easy to find when the question has been asked before. I really liked the video this group shared about all of the times the media has gotten a story wrong. They have relied on each other for breaking news and have had to make mass apologies because of it. The best apologies are those which admit why the mistake truly occurred.

Group 7 Presentation

This was definitely the most unique issue presented. It’s one I felt wasn’t the most relevant to an ethics class because it requires a journalist to choose between his/her work and something else. However, I thought it was really interesting. I knew about the bystander effect and I figured the same was true of events where journalists are located. The examples this group used were really spot on. When I imagined myself in the position of the photographer taking the picture of the man falling to his death, I had a hard time knowing what I would do. On paper, I’d say I would save the guy rather than take the picture. But nobody knows what they would do if they were caught in the moment.

Kristen Morrell, Kmorrell30@gmail.com

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Week 14 Presentation Evaluations

This Wednesday, five groups presented their ethical issue including my group. They were groups 1,2,5,6 and my group 8. I am posting this blog late because I was in the ER with a patient for 17 hours Friday and Saturday. I have received permission to post this after the deadline ASAP.

Group 1-Citizen Journalism

This presentation really impressed me. I thought the handout was super creative and engaging. This group did a great job of discussing the pros and cons of citizen journalism, while helping the class to better understand the term. As a journalist, it’s important to know that we have competition from within our in industry and from outside. With the internet, anyone and everyone has a platform for sharing information and telling news. I like how this group explained the “money” difference between professional journalists and citizen journalists. On the one had, you’d think the professionals making money would do their best to maintain their job. On the other hand, citizen journalists are not bound by money and can be more free with the information they give. Overall, this was definitely the best presentation I saw on Wednesday.

Group 2-Annonymous Sources

This group had a pretty controversial issue to research. While most people and journalists feel strongly that anonymous sources are almost always bad, there are others who say they are necessary. This group did a good job of balancing the arguments and giving examples of each. The suggestion to have at least one person confirm the source before publishing the information is the best of both worlds. You can use a source anonymonsly and have credibility because an editor or manager confirmed it. I also liked how this group provided historical examples of anonymous sources like the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate Trial.  

Group 5-Ethics Online

I loved the video this group opened their presentation with. It was spot-on with their issue and really engaging. The whole discussion of mugshots and the ethics surrounding their use was really interesting. I didn’t realize websites post people’s mugshots and charge them money to have them removed. Although mugshots are public record, I feel like this is an abuse of that information. Mugshots are public for a reason, but this isn’t it. While defendants should be held responsible for any crimes committed, they should also have a reasonable amount of privacy surrounding the case and their actions. 

Group 6-“Blood on your hands”

When this group started their presentation, I had no idea what their ethical issue was. They focused so much on one case that their topic got somewhat lost in translation. When they got going with a discussion of the issue, however, I realized that their issue is extremely important and common. Journalists report on people and events, sometimes ones that lead or result in death. Where should journalists draw the line with their reporting? At one point is “the story” invading another persons life or putting him/her at risk? I think this group should’ve used more case studies to explain their issue. This would’ve helped the class to see the issue for its application in general and not just the specific case. Overall, I think a persons’ safety is more important than a journalists job. Journalists should never jeopardize someones life for the sake of information or a story. 

Kristen Morrell, Kmorrell30@gmail.com

Blog Essay Week 14

EJ: Chapter 11

This week we have come full circle. We’ve spent the entire semester talking about journalists and their role in society, but now we are talking about the rights and responsibilities of citizens. I’d never thought much about this subject prior to reading this chapter. Often I see the citizen as the customer and my job as the journalist as a balancing act. I must balance my duty to inform with my loyalty to the reader and his/her desires. I don’t quite think the transition which is occurring in journalism and the changing role is as black and white as the chapter presents. Even when it seemed journalists were simply providing information and recounting events, I’m sure they considered the readers. Today the relationship between the press and the public isn’t just about helping citizens differentiate information. I believe a change has occurred, but it is more subtle. With so much information being produced everyday, and so many sources, citizens do have a huge supply. Demand isn’t an issue because everywhere you turn there is news. Although this chapter presents a citizen’s bill of rights and responsibilities, I don’t know that citizens consciously think about these things are have to.

Starting with truth I see an obvious problem. Although the book says a citizen “has an obligation to approach the news with an open mind and not just a desire that news reinforce existing opinion,” I’m not sure that people do this. People read things which confirm their preexisting beliefs and prefer news outlets which share their perspective. Having an open mind isn’t as easy as it sounds or top priority for a citizen.

On loyalty to citizens is also idealistic. While I agree that journalists should remain loyal to readers and put their interests first, I don’t know that this always happens. Sometimes doing what is in the interest of the reader could harm the reputation of the organization which wants to stay in business.

Independence is definitely a requirement of news organizations and maybe the easiest responsibility. I believe most journalists are in this industry for the write reasons, one of which is their inherent interests. I feel like a journalist would have no problem saying someone is wrong or saying they don’t support someone. The issue here becomes management. People from each department of the news organization must prioritize independence and pursue it. Monitoring power goes along with independence and is a goal for every journalist or news organization.

Creating a public forum is definitely the most relevant to today. Here is where we see a big change in a journalists role. With new technology and access, people can engage in a conversation with the media like never before.My hope is that this new aspect of being a journalist works out well in the long run. While I think it’s imperative and beneficial, I do have some concerns. I think opening the door for discussion with an open invite means some people may come with strong opinions who aren’t informed. I wouldn’t want people who are indecent or disrespectful to ruin this privilege for all to engage on social media and comment areas.

Proportionality and engagement are the most challenging in my opinion. With so many different communication platforms and different styles of story telling, it’s difficult for journalists to always give the public what they need when they need it. Sometimes our creativity and dissatisfaction make us want to report a story one way when the public wants it another. Also, what journalists find newsworthy is sometimes not what citizens are interested in learning more about. It’s important for journalists to stay focused on the subject matter and clear in their goals when reporting the news.

Summary of the class:

I have learned so much this semester. I see journalism as a unique industry challenged by constant change. I see my role as a journalist important now more than ever. I look at things now with a different perspective. I think I’m more inquisitive and smart about the news industry because of this class. I’ll be sure to use the principles we’ve discussed and the practices we’ve learned in my job. I’ll use our method of addressing dilemmas, alternatives and reasoning whenever I’m confronted with an ethical issue. In some ways, however, I think this class has polarized me from my studies. I find that I have too strong of an opinion when I’m supposed to be neutral. My heart gets attached to people and stories when I need to remain independent. This class has certainly made me question my fit in journalism and what I want to do after I graduate. I’m leaning more towards working in advocacy journalism or nonprofit work.

DQ: With so much change, how should professional journalists stay up to date on new principles and technology?

Ethical issue of the week:

http://www.collegemediamatters.com/2014/04/10/rutgers-student-journalist-secretly-recorded-ads-controversial-talk-unethical-or-ok/

Julie Hermann, the Rutgers University athletic director, “stood up in front of a class of journalism students a few weeks ago and said it would be ‘great’ if the newspaper died.” A student in the class, who is also the managing editor of Muckgers, a  student-run online news start-up whose name meshes Rutgers and muckraking, recorded the talk. Then he brought the recording to the news organization which published it. Although the AD was on record, I don’t think it’s every okay to record someone without their permission. It’s like talking to a wall and using those words to communicate with anyone and everyone. I don’t think it is ethical. 

Kristen Morrell, kmorrell30@gmail.com

Blog Essay Week 13

EJ  Chapt. 10: Journalists Have a Responsibility to Conscience

The anecdote in this chapter about Jayson Blair was quite alarming. Like many investigations, hindsight creates a bias that is frustrating. How did people not pick up on the discrepancies between Blair’s stories? How was it not obvious that he was fabricating stories and plagiarizing information? These are questions many of ask would ask now that we know the truth. However, nobody was asking these questions when the stories were published. Blair went unpunished for far too long and got away with a lot. I believe todays multimedia nature of journalism and heightened conversation between a journalist and his/her audience make it easier to detect work like Blair’s. Information can be told quickly and verified quickly. Within moments of an event occurring or news, journalists can report what they see and hear. It’s easier to see two different stories revolving around the same event. It’s easier to prove things with documentation on the internet. Although speed and the ability to reach many people can create challenges, I think it promotes honesty for the most part.

I found it interesting that this chapter mentioned the central ideas of journalism which many of us were first attracted to when choosing this field. Inequities, connecting people and creating community are all reasons why I was attracted to journalism. I think it takes a certain person to enter this profession and certain strength to hold true to these principles. Many journalists start their careers with lofty ideas and an idealist view. They want to change the world through their reporting and make the world a better place. Then they realize their editor values hits on a webpage or stories that make people happy. While these things are one way of measuring success, they certainly aren’t the way most journalists would measure the quality of their work when they first begin. It’s important to find a balance between writing stories that matter and writing stories that count. Stories that matter may not be the most popular or reader-friendly. They may not receive the most views or hits on a website. They will inform readers and shed light on issues people need to understand. They will introduce a different perspective to a controversial topic. Finding a balance between these goals is key to feeling success and reward.

Two Short Articles On Advocacy Journalism – discuss the shifting notions of ethics here:
Journalism for Action: 
http://huff.to/1iXll6d

This article presents a shift of ethics that I very much like. It’s called action journalism. It allows journalists to report a story/issue and tell readers what they can do about it. This is the type of journalism I need to practice. I often get frustrated after reporting an interesting story that simply ends. I tell what happened and who said what then that’s it. I feel incomplete and I don’t feel like I finished the job. With action journalism, there’s no political agenda. It isn’t activist journalism. It’s just more than a regurgitation of facts and information. Many people would argue that action journalism is both unethical and irresponsible. They would argue that journalists should present the information and leave it at that. A journalist who presents optional ways to get involved or ideas to participate is overstepping his/her boundary. Action journalism certainly presents a different set of ethics than traditional journalism, but I don’t think that makes it unethical.

In Praise of the Almost-Journalists: http://slate.me/1iXlHda

This article presents advocacy journalism. This type of journalism is often produced by people and groups who advocate for an issue. The reporting is extremely thorough and often done by experts within the field. People who aren’t in favor of this type of journalism would argue that it’s unethical because the reporters are biased. They present their case and often do not present the alternative view. They also have a personal interest in making people believe what they are saying which could cloud their judgement. I think this is still journalism. In fact, it’s the type of journalism I’m leaning towards practicing myself. Today, I think being an expert is more valuable than being a generalist. I’d rather read a report from someone who has dedicated their career to what they are writing about than from someone who has spend a couple days learning about the topic.

DQ:

Do you think it’s possible for a journalist to remain idealistic with their goals while still having professional (monetary) success?

Ethical Issue of the week

The Ethics Of NBC Letting George W. Bush Be Interviewed By His Daughter

http://thinkprogress.org/media/2014/04/06/3423457/nbc-journalism-ethics-bush-paintings/

This article is about the ethical issues with having George W. Bush be interviewed by his daughter for a news story. Jenna Bush Hager is a special correspondent for NBC and was talking to her dad about his series of paintings. Although the story was a hit, people question the ethics behind the conflict of interest. Organizations like the Society of Professional Journalism said it was unethical and violated their standards. Although conflicts of interest should always be avoided, I think they are okay with stories like this one. Jenna wasn’t interviewing her dad about politics or the war, she was talking to him about art. If anything, their personal relationship bettered the story and the dynamic between the interviewer and interviewee. I think it’s important to remember that there isn’t one standard set of ethics which should be applied to any and all stories. Some stories like this one are light-hearted and fun.

Blog Essay Week 12

EJ  Chapt. 9: Make the News Comprehensive and Proportional

I really liked the map analogy. It puts into perspective both geography and proportion. Often when I’m writing a story, I think of my audience and what they care about. I write the story for their viewing and for their understanding. However, it’s also important to give readers perspective. You can’t ignore one side of the world on a map just because you live in the other hemisphere. Just like you can’t ignore a problem going on in one part of the country just because you live somewhere else. Readers can’t always tell you what they want, but they can show you through readership and participating with a story. A reader most likely won’t say “I want to learn about prominent problems going on three states away,” but they will show you they care when they read a story about a social issue in a different states.

That’s why I think market research is really difficult for journalists. I don’t think numbers and statistics necessarily show a journalist what his/her readers want. An example is the statistic that you need 15% of your readers to read your publication front to back. Getting one person to read one story can be just as effective. I think it’s important for journalists to sit down and list their goals. What do they want to accomplish? Are they wanting more readers or a more consistent following? Are they wanting more stories that get read from beginning to in or hits on a webpage? By answering these questions a journalist can better decide what’s the best method to accomplish their goals. I don’t think any method is good for everyone.

 Is CSO online magazine the future of arts journalism?

I don’t think the CSO magazine if the future of arts journalism. I don’t think the publication can categorize itself as journalistic work. The word journalism implies independence, in and of itself. What this magazine is doing is more like public relations or self promotion. I understand why it exists and I don’t think it is entirely bad. I do think that it must be up front about the type of publication that it is so that readers aren’t deceived. Deceiving readers harms a publication’s credibility and reputation. Honesty is better than faking it.

Case Study 10-B

  1. Dilemmas- a criminal investigation is now underway regarding a sports legend. Sports journalists have the opportunity to conduct interviews, ask tough questions and get to the bottom of the crime. However, these reporters are often untrained in investigative work or the law.
  2. Alternatives-The sports journalist could’ve stayed out of the allegations and the trial. They could’ve decided that it wasn’t their place to get involved in the story. They also could’ve shown the full interview rather than editing it.
  3. Rationale- I think it’s okay for sports journalists to get involved in a story involving a sports legend. However, I do think there’s a line they shouldn’t cross. They shouldn’t get involved in the trial per say or the decision. They should only focus on the story and the person, not the guilt. That is for a jury to decide. By editing out that part of the interview, the journalist kept the interview focused on the interviewee and not the outcome of the trial.


Case Study 10-G

  1. Dilemmas-It’s problematic that Lehrer’s wrongdoings were not found until he got to a bigger paper. You could argue that he should’ve been caught much sooner. Lehrer had been getting away with fabrication for too long and defended the reuse of his work because he had written it before.
  2. Alternatives-The New Yorker could’ve forbid him from using old work or they could’ve questioned where he got the original material. Lehrer could’ve made a fresh start at the New Yorker and not tried to use old fabricated material under the defense that it was his original work.
  3. Rationale-I understand why the New Yorker let him use his work and didn’t catch the mistake. When people get to this level of journalism, it isn’t expected that a journalist would engage in fabrication. However, a smaller publication has more at stake for finding this scandal.


ESPN AND Frontline AND Concussions.

There are many possible ethical issues regarding the tension between sports entertainment and sports journalism. Entertainers have a purpose to entertain. They tell people what they want to hear and what makes them happy. Journalists have a purpose to inform. They tell people what they should hear and often what is upsetting. The partnership between Frontline and ESPN could become a conflict of interest. Frontline my be more interested in the investigation and wrongdoing of coaches, players and doctors. ESPN may be more focused on making those within sports sound responsible and dedicated. These alternative goals can create different types of interviews, content and readership. If I were a part of this partnership, I’d establish up front what they are trying to learn. I would make a commitment to my team to share what is found, even if it is bad. I would prioritize my loyalties and make them visible to my co-workers and readers.

 

DQ: What are some technical methods of tracking readership and how might the results be used to improve the publication?

 

Ethical Issue of the week:

Journalist fired over political ambitions

http://www.news24.com/Elections/News/Journalist-fired-over-political-ambitions-20140401

A Business Report senior journalist was fired for violating the company’s editorial code of conduct and code of ethics. Journalist Donwald Pressly applied to be on the DA’s list of parliamentary candidates for the upcoming election. Although Pressly had been open about his party affiliation, he hadn’t told his editor about his pursuits. The Independent Newspapers group executive editor did say Pressly has the right to appeal the decision. However, the executive said the newspaper hold the trust of its readers very dearly and doesn’t want to jeopardize that. I agree that this act should cause the journalist to get fired. Not only did he go against company policy, but he got involved in something which was a conflict of interest.

Blog Essay Week 11

 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:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/03/twitter_journalism_private_lives_public_speech_how_reporters_can_ethically.html

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.

Vocabulary:

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, kmorrell30@gmail.com

 

Final Case Study Proposal

With the advancement of technology, information is being spread faster than ever. With the increase in accessibility, information is getting to more and more people. This progress has been helpful in many ways but harmful in others. Today people can upload a video to Youtube and post a picture on Facebook in a matter of seconds. Residents in one community can learn that a tornado is a mile away the minute someone living in the community next door posts a tweet. The image of a missing suspect can reach millions of people who can help locate him as soon as it is released to the media. In other cases, a person’s name and private information can become public and irreplaceable in a matter of minutes. Once this information is published, it often remains public forever and can’t be taken back from people’s memory.

Examples of private information which can become public include the following: traumatic or humiliating footage at an accident or crime scene, an intimate conversation,  images containing nudity or near-nudity and moments of distress or anguish. Occasionally, journalists who use this otherwise private information argue that the reveal is in the publics interest. They can prove this by showing a public interest justification. Examples of this information include threats to public safety, crime or corruption, exposing lies or deception and misadministration of government.  

I would like to study how the advancement of technology and increase in accessibility has affected people’s privacy rights. I would like to answer the following questions. 

  1. Where do people’s privacy rights come from and what laws exist to protect them?
  2. How has the advancement of technology challenged these rights ?
  3. In what ways is it more difficult now more than ever to keep private information from the public?
  4. What are some ways people can protect this information?

After addressing these questions, I will perform several case studies. Some cases prove that facts typically considered private are public instead. In Sipple v. Chronicle, the man who helped stop an assassination attempt on President Ford sued two newspapers for revealing that he was homosexual. The Court, however, dismissed this argument because the man’s sexual orientation and activeness in the gay community was already widely known. In Four Navy Seals v. Associated Press, several Navy Seals sued the Associated Press because it published photographs of them which looked as if they were abusing Iraqi captives. The court sided with the Associated Press by saying that the men were active duty, conducting wartime operations, in uniform and aware that the photos would be placed on the internet. Other cases defend personal privacy rights. In Diaz v. Oakland Tribune, Inc., the court held that the fact that a student political leader was transexual was not of legitimate concern. Although the person was included in several newsworthy articles, this particular fact couldn’t be published. 

Overall I would like to better understand where this line can be drawn and what ethical issues surround the publication of these facts. When the law isn’t so clear, what should and should not a journalist publish for the world to see? How has this privacy changed over time and how is it being challenged today?

Kristen Morrell, kmorrell30@gmail.com