Determining news from sleaze

Friday, September 26, 2008

By: Hannah Pickett

It is a journalist's job and duty to report facts and unveil information, secrets, and bits of information no one else has done. But, when does the search for the fresh new spin teeter on the fine line between reporting relevant facts and reporting National Enquirer trash?

Just this week, an Alaskan man released what is believed to be 100% genuine video footage of Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin's participation in the 1984 Miss Alaskan beauty pageant swimsuit competition.

Once the video was out, it hit broadcasts like Entertainment Tonight, as well as CNN. My question is this: Sure, this is a trashy interesting bit of information worthy of the print and broadcast tabloids, but does it deserve time on reputable newscasts like the Today show or CNN? Where is the line drawn between tacky, irrelevant, gossip-style information seeking and good journalism?

How is 'good' journalism defined? This video footage would have been more suiting and acceptable to report of an actress, pop singer, or well-known reporter, rather than the first woman vice presidential candidate.

Was there an agenda behind the timing of this specific 'release of video' with the election just around the corner? Was this a liberal attempt at further attempting to point out that Palin may not be the model of conservative views?

Journalistic ethics are an issue in everyday reporting. Deciding news from sleaze is obviously arbitrary to the reader and reporter, but definitely raises some flags in situations like this one.

Who cares if the VP candidate was a beauty pageant contestant? Will this honestly affect her desired position in the White House? Those are the questions a reporter must struggle with in determining news from Hollywood, in this case, presidential race, sleaze.


The latest news-delivery technologies

We're just starting to get used to getting our news from computer screens via the Web or maybe our cellphones or BlackBerrys. But it seems that those technologies are going to be so yesterday — perhaps even as soon as, well, tomorrow.

What are the newest technologies? Poynter's Ellyn Angelotti is back from the Online News Association convention in Washington with a heads up on the 10 newest technologies for news delivery. Some of them are going to blow your mind. At least they did mine.


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