EJ Chapt. 7: Journalism as a Public Forum
This chapter really hit home for me. The concept of an Argument Culture explains so much. I hear it all the time that people don’t want to watch the news. They don’t want to hear people arguing and they don’t want to hear the crazies. This form of journalism has never really bothered me because I know what it is I’m watching. I know the difference between commentary and a report or fact versus opinion. The public, however, isn’t training in distinguishing one from another.
I think the Argument Culture can be beneficial if it’s properly addressed. Shows need to be more explicit with their reporting and state the obvious, whether it’s news or not. Producers can’t assume that a viewer is familiar with its approach. People tuning in hald way through can mistake opinion for fact. I believe this show description is necessary and the responsible thing to do.
I really liked the analogy that public discourse will dissolve into noise if we rely on citizens to report the news. If the news is based on something other than fact and context, the real news will get lost in the noise of everything else. The majority of the public already “tune out” news as it is. Why should networks feed viewers the kind of shows which turn them away? Why should reporters engage a viewers heart in a problem rather than his/her mind?
I believe there must be a clear separation of these types of news agencies and a clear viewer perception of what each one does. Those which are based on fact and context must maintain that standard through their choice or stories and work in reporting.
ME Chapt. 8: Picture This: The Ethics of Photo and Video Journalism
This chapter introduced a topic that I’m not very familiar with. I’m not a photojournalist and I haven’t worked much with pictures. However, the conversation surrounding the ethics of photos is very similar to the one surrounding other types of material. Where this conversation differs is in the severity and deceptiveness of editing photos. A double standard was discussed that made me wonder why it was okay to reorder words in print but not subjects in a photo. The conclusion I came to was this: words on a page are still words on a page no matter how you rearrange them, but a photo captures a tenth of a second that is permanent forever. Nothing moves in a photo or changes like in video. A close shot of someone playing an instrument in video can pan out to show that person playing a cello rather than a a guitar. A close shot of someone playing an instrument is simply that and nothing more. A viewer can’t see what is beyond that photo or zoom to see the bigger picture.
I believe that photojournalism must follow strict editing guidelines. I don’t think staging a photo is ever okay. Photos that capture a moment which may offend a viewer insult should not be used. I don’t believe in cropping out a body or removing a person from a photo. Instead I wouldn’t run the picture and I’d take another. However, there is a fine line between running a photo that insults and running a photo that educates. The mushroom cloud photo from the atomic bomb educates people about an important point in history. Although people feel different emotions when seeing the photo, they are deceived or wasting their emotion.
Do you believe it is the responsibility of the network or the viewer to determine which news is facts and which news is opinion?
Case Study 8-A
- Dilemmas-Problems in this case are whether or not the event is newsworthy, if it was okay for people to document, and what to do with the material which captured the event. It may not be appropriate to publish the photos in a daily newspaper or the video on the nightly newscast. Some would argue this isn’t news because people commit suicide everyday and being a celebrity doesn’t change much. Others would say he is a person of interest and committed suicide in public.
- Alternatives-Editors can chose to run the material at certain times of the day, they may run only certain photos or they may not run anything at all. The argument could be made that this is a private matter and published the photos is an invasion of this privacy.
- Rationale-I believe certain photos and video should run and certain times. A distant photo of him jumping is more appropriate than a photo of his lifeless body floating in the water. A picture of him mid fall may be more appropriate than a video of the act. Finally, he is a person of interest and he did do this in a public place.
Case Study 8-B
- Dilemmas-Photographing these women after an accident can be seen as an invasion of privacy. Even if they are on a public road, doesn’t mean they want photos of them taken right after a traumatic accident. The photographer can be seen as insensitive and the photo could be hard to look at.
- Alternatives-The photographer could’ve helped with the accident and not have taken any photos. He could’ve photographed the entire scene of the crime rather than the end, or the people helping fight the fire rather than the victim.
- Rationale-I believe the photographer made good decisions. He was helping fight the fire as a human being, not a journalist. He wasn’t assigned this accident for coverage but he did take a photo. Rather than photographing the car in flames of the women when they were inside the car, he tastefully photographed one women being cared for after she was safe.
Case Study 8-C
- Dilemmas-There are many dilemmas in this story. Should the photographer have taken the picture? Should the Alligator have included the picture in the report? Was the photo too larger? Was the opinion column written by the editor necessary?
- Alternatives–The photo could’ve not run at all due to its offensiveness and grotesque nature. The Alligator could’ve written the story without the photo. The photo could’ve been much smaller in the paper and not as large.
- Rationale–I would not have run this photo. I think just as much could’ve been done through effective journalism. The photo is unnecessary and does more harm than good. It was too large in the paper and offended many readers.
Case Study 8-E
- Dilemmas-This newspaper published the photo of a child’s body coming out of a crime scene. The editors decided to make an exception by running the photo because it was powerful and it captured an emotional moment. They chose to put the photo in the paper which people read in the mornings with their family at breakfast.
- Alternatives-They could’ve decided that the photo was offense to readers and insensitive to the family. They could’ve put the photo online instead of in the morning paper. They could’ve taken a photo of the scene rather than the victim.
- Rationale-I would not have run this photo. I don’t see what good comes out of it. Photographing children is different and something I don’t support. I think it was insensitive to publish this photo and it wasn’t something readers wanted to see.
Case Study 8-G
- Dilemmas-The dilemma here is should these newspapers run the photo of a dead body. If so, when, where and how? Does the photo capture a moment that is worth sharing? Is it too soon to publish? Should it be published on the front page or tucked away in the paper and published along with other photos.
- Alternatives-This photo could’ve been published in the Sept. 2 edition on the 5th day since Katrina. It could’ve been published later in the month when then stories had a different angle. It could be singled out or amongst a few photos relating to the storm.
- Rationale-I think the photo should appear later in the month. It’s too soon to publish and it lends itself better to a story about people moving on. I don’t think the 5th day since the storm is a time to start talking about people moving on with their lives. I also don’t think the photo should run on the front page or stand alone.
Example of an ethical issue with a video or visual image – along with a three-part analysis of that issue.
This photo ran on the cover of a local magazine. It shows two women in wedding gowns that are touching foreheads with one woman’s hand on the other’s waist. After a customer complained that the photo depicts a same-sex couple, the store covered the magazine with a blackboard. The manager said it was the store’s policy to censor any magazine if even one customer complains. After several customers complained that it was being covered, the manager removed the blackboard.
- Issue-People may find that the cover is offensive. Although same-sex marriage is legal in some states, it isn’t legal in others. This magazine may have been published in a state which does not recognize same-sex couples. Should the manager have covered the photo because it offended the customer? Was he right for removing the cover after people complained again?
- Alternatives-The manager could’ve waited for more people to complain before covering the photo. He could also have decided not to sell the magazine if it thought it would offend enough people in the store. The magazine could’ve decided to use the photo inside the issue rather than use it for the cover.
- Rationale-I think the magazine has every right to publish this photo as the cover. Magazines are unique in that they are published once a month and are geared toward certain audiences. I don’t think the editor would’ve published the photo if he/she thought it would offend readers. The manager should follow company polices, but could’ve waited for more people to complain before covering the issue.
USA Today Analysis
In the example of people powered journalism with USA Today, several front-page stories were replaced with other stories readers more frequently shared. At the top of the issue, a headline about Dancing With the Stars is replaced with a headline about Obama and the budget. The main article about Putin and stocks is replaced with an article about a teen who sued her parents over college funds and was denied. Everything else pretty much stayed the same on this cover. I wouldn’t say this change is negative because readers are choosing domestic stories over foreign and political stories over entertainment. Journos can adapt to this new regimen by creating a system for identifying the types of stories readers most frequently share, then using that list to select story placement. I think this is important for maintaining readership and sparking interest in others with front-page stories.
Post Toasties test or Wheaties test- a way for newspapers and morning news shows to determine the photos or video that accompanies early morning news stories. It’s a sensitivity test for media that might be at the breakfast table. The question asks, “Does this need to be shown at breakfast?”
The public sphere: the concept for the place created by the media where the public can learn about current societal issues and events. They can also engage in public criticism and commentary. The internet is a common example.
Argument Culture: A term used to describe the way the media covers events. They focus more on polarized arguments than facts and content, which leaves no room for compromise.