Blog Essay Week 7

EJ Chapt. 5: Independence from Faction

This chapter interested me for several reasons. First, I thought the hire of Safire was intriguing, especially the thought behind it. I’ve seen several cases where columnists are former politicians, and I never thought of how they would be treated by their colleagues. I’m impressed that he said it didn’t really bother him. I don’t think I would have the same thought when it comes to my colleagues idea of me – I would want them to respect and work with me. I also agree with him when he says political experience is important as a journalist. 

The principle in this chapter, “journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover,” is important, but I think it can sometimes be unfair. Photographers can do freelance work for companies as they please, and they don’t get criticized of being biased. Why can’t writers do the same, so long as they reveal their potential bias to the reader? I don’t see the problem in this.

ME Chapt. 6: Mass Media in a Democratic Society: Keeping a Promise

I agree that Jon Stewart’s Daily Show is a form of political communication and can be referred to in conversation. Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert play a huge role in shaping people’s knowledge and opinion on topics, and I think it’s important to recognize their role in media.

Regarding media’s role in elections: I realized while reading the chapter that I do receive a lot of information from political ads if I don’t directly try to discover information myself. This is a problem because the information is so slanted. I think journalists could work harder to ensure adequate information about the candidates is accessible to a large portion of the public, not just a small percentage, and that the information provided is clear and unbiased. I definitely think that bias is an issue in coverage of political candidates and elections.

In relation to candidates’ privacy, I think they deserve it. They should be judged on whether they can serve, not on personal problems.

Case Study 6-A

Dilemmas

Is a site like Politifact.com okay in sharing information with the public, and how can journalists discern facts from the truth for readers?

Alternatives

I think a site like Politifact.com is fantastic because it examines the political claims. Unfortunately, I don’t think people know about it.

 

Decision rationale

It’s an important site that can help share information to a public that needs to know.

 

Case Study 6-B

Dilemmas

Is Assange a journalist? That’s the big question behind WikiLeaks. Clearly, there was information we needed to know, but what was his role in that information?

Alternatives

 

If Assange isn’t a journalist, than is he just a hacker? Is what he did wrong if it released information we needed to know?

Decision rationale

I think Assange cannot be considered a journalist but rather a man who had the power to release information and did so. We’re not sure what his full intentions behind the decision were, and thus I cannot fully decide on this case but I don’t believe he is a journalist.

 

Case Study 6-F

Dilemmas

Should deception have been used?

 

Alternatives

Could the Spokesman Review gotten information otherwise? I don’t think a fictional character should have been created to communicate with West – I think that shows lack of clarity on the newspaper’s part, and they should have relied on sources instead of deception.

 

Decision rationale

Deception should not have been used because the act of deception makes it difficult for the public reading a story to trust that the journalists shared the truth. 

 

Ethical Issue of the Week

To me, NBC has failed with Olympics coverage again this year. They constantly make decisions that make me question whether their reporters actually graduated from journalism programs or, in some cases, have a heart. This week’s ethical issue relates to that. On Sunday, Olympian Bode Miller won a gold medal, and NBC reporter Christin Cooper goaded him to tears by asking repeated questions about Miller’s brother’s death earlier this year. I think that, after Bode’s first answer, Cooper should have shut up and let the man have an emotional moment in peace. Instead, he didn’t, and the public isn’t happy. As seen by the Poynter article, public reaction to this interview has been negative because it has given the journalist the title of being heartless. I don’t think badgering him about this question was ethically sound, only desired because of good TV.

DQ: Do you think journalists can do freelance work for foundations, non-profits, companies, etc.?

Vocabulary

disinterested: not interested by personal gain from a situation

partisan journalism: Slant of articles in medium can take either a conservative or liberal view

journalism of affirmation: Journalists report with a point of view, and their viewers follow that same viewpoint.

civic journalism: integration of journalism into democracy

mass media: all the mediums of communication used to reach the public.

audience fragmentation: audiences get smaller as variety increases

social responsibility theory of the press: The press has an obligation to benefit society at large.

pluralism: diversity of views rather than a singular approach

verisimilitude: the appearance of being real or true when sharing messages.

Mina Radman

mradman29@ufl.edu

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4 thoughts on “Blog Essay Week 7

  1. It would be a conflict of interest for journalists to do freelance work for foundations, non-profits and companies while working for a newspaper. What if the non-profit, foundation or company is corrupt and the reporter’s perspective is skewed because of the relationship between the reporter and the organization? However, I don’t see a problem with reporters freelancing for these types of organizations when they are not employed by a news organization.

  2. I think it is perfectly fine for journalists to do freelance work for foundations, non-profits and companies as long as those organizations aren’t associated with beats the journalists are covering. I think some ethical problems could arise but in general I don’t see any big issues with it.

    In regards to your ethical issue of the week, I think that reporters should be cautious when approaching sources about sensitive subjects. The reporter should have stopped probing Miller once it was apparent that he was uncomfortable, which I’m sure it was.

    I think that the meaning of “journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover” has a lot to do with the mentality journalists have when doing stories. I think they can easily be friends with people they cover, but there has to be some sort of boundary that they create when they are on the job.

  3. We actually discussed your DQ at my internship over the summer. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper I interned for had an ethics lesson for us as part of our training and one of the examples he used was of his own. He told us we are always reporters. No matter what we do, who we are friends with, who are family is, what organizations we support, etc., we are always reporters and have a duty to report news. He said we need to make sure where ever we are, we need to make it clear with those around us that we are journalists, and if we hear or see something that is a story, we have an obligation to report it. His daughter has a severe disability and he and his family support disability awareness organizations. He was on the board of directors for one agency and in the first meeting they discovered their accountant was embezzling money. At that point he resigned and went straight to the paper and they broke the story. He had previously explained to the organization that he was a reporter first and foremost and had an obligation to the paper first.

    I think the freelancing work for foundations and non-profits is a difficult one. I like how our editor explained his decision and what to do in a circumstance like that. Personally, I think it’s harsh to expect journalists not to be involved in other organizations, non-profits, and the like outside of work. I see nothing wrong with how our editor handled the situation. I would just make sure the organizations knew I had an obligation to my job first. Additionally, I find it hard that journalists wouldn’t be allowed to give money to charities of their choosing. I think that as long as you take care that your beat is not of a similar topic, donations would be quite all right.

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