A different breed of journalist

Monday, October 13, 2008

By: Sara Crouse

Not all journalists are the same. In fact, there seems to be a different kind of journalist for almost every occasion. It seems as if some journalists have an agenda almost foreign to others.

Science journalists have some difficult stories to report on and write. Their subjects are often so complex that they must put the words into lay language.

Besides ‘dumbing down’ the breaking science news, science journalists must recognize their story in relations to the changing world too. Not only are scientific breakthroughs constantly changing, but so is the world in which they are discovered.

It is difficult enough for science journalists to be aware of all the potential changes in their discovery, let alone take notice of the changing world around them. Yet, the great science journalist takes it upon themselves to do so.

There is a larger underlying importance in the work science journalists though. They are the connection between science breakthroughs and the public. Therefore, it is important that science journalists inform the public in a non-biased manner.

Is the role of informing the public about science best left up to the science journalist or the physicist? The journalist will use entertaining, fluff words to make the topic sound more appealing than what it really is. The physicist will at least state the accurate truth and findings. Some may say science news should be left to the scientists who discover them.

Do science journalists function with a ‘code of ethics’ to protect against exaggerated fluff words? There isn’t a ‘code of ethics’ for science journalists, but there has been recent talk of creating one. Science journalists should take it upon themselves naturally to provide accurate research and findings on today’s breakthroughs and discoveries.

Isn’t it the role of any journalist, no matter the topic, to provide the truth to his/her reader? Perhaps science journalists just have harder topics than most.


Political bias

By: Shauna Agan

During this presidential election, I have seen both candidates being advertised in many different ways. One way is through magazines that appeal to the younger generation of voters, particularly the female group.

I think that featuring the candidates through different feature stories and articles in magazines such as Cosmopolitan is a great way to generate knowledge about the candidates to the voters.

Although this is a great way to get messages out, I do not agree when the messages are biased. I understand that most political articles are biased to a certain extent. It is very hard for a writer not to show any bias at all in a political article.

This bias I am referring to is what I am going to call a hidden bias. This is where the writer uses certain words such as “promises” and “pledges for one candidate, and “refused” for the other candidate.

The article “How the Candidates Stand on Women’s Rights” in my November issue of Cosmopolitan magazine is a perfect example of showing a hidden bias.

In this article, Cosmopolitan address how both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama stand when it comes to women’s rights issues. The issues discussed are access to contraception, reproductive rights, pay equity, Title IX, and domestic violence.

I am not arguing the legitimacy or the truth that Cosmopolitan expresses as the stances of the two candidates. The part that I disagree with is the verb choices used to explain the stances of these men.

When discussing access to contraception, it said McCain, “Refused to address why Viagra may sometimes be covered while birth control may not”. The article said that Obama, “promises to require birth-control coverage by insurance companies”.

Although there are more examples than just these, there is one more example I would like to share. When discussing Title IX, the article said Obama will “urge compliance” with this law.

When referring to McCain’s stance on Title IX, the article said that he finds “flaws” but does not point out what these flaws he finds in the law are. It is important to point out the flaws he finds because by just saying McCain finds flaws, the article insinuates that he does not like the bill. This may or may not be the case, but a little more explanation would clear this up.

This article is definitely biased towards Obama. It tries to make the women voters believe that McCain is going to take away their rights while showing Obama at the opposite extreme.
I am all for articles communicating to voters where the candidates stand, but I do not agree with articles like this one that steer readers towards one candidate by using certain words. If an article wants to promote a candidate, they should just do it.


The Matthews Record

By:Quinn Albrecht

The Matthews Record is a paper that is published once weekly in Matthews, North Carolina. This does not sound like anything to ground breaking, lots of papers are doing this around the country.

What is special is who this paper is run and published by, two people. Mr. and Mrs. Denk. They have a few part time workers, but for the most part they do all the work.

The paper has a special emphasis on human interest stories around their town. In one instance they wrote a story about how bad of shape some of the sidewalks where in around the town.

The paper prints 11,000 copies and is read by more than 20,00 people. This paper should be an inspiration any future journalist, with a little hard work and determination anything can be done. With a small staff they manage to put out a highly regarded newspaper in their community.


Body Image

By; Sarah Keller

We have all heard that girls in the world today are viewing themselves poorly, that they have low self esteem and low body image. Where are girls getting this idea from? As many may know, they are receiving this poor perception from the media, whether it is by watching movies with very thin stars or reading popular teenage magazines.

When I was younger I loved Seventeen magazine. I thought they were great, they always wrote about how young girls should perceive themselves as beautiful no matter what shape they were, they even tried to put “bigger models” in the magazines to show that it does not matter what size young girls are. Looking back at it now though the models that they showed as being “plus size” were what I would call normal size, such as a size eight or nine. If they are taking women who are normal size and putting them in under the category of “plus size”, how do you think that affects girls today? If journalists show young girls that they are considered “plus size” if they are not a size five or below, it is going to give girls a poor self image.

I do appreciate that Seventeen tries to mix up their models, but they need to let girls know that they are “normal” if they are above a size five. Magazines today such as Cosmo Girl, Allure, and Seventeen are putting sections in their magazines for workout exercises. I think it’s great that they are trying to get girls to stay healthy, because obesity is also a big issue in today’s society, but maybe in their pictures they should not get stick sized girls to do all of the workouts; it might lower girls self esteems if they do not look like the models in those pictures.

Some magazines have done spreads over Whitney Thompson Who was the “America’s next top model” winner last year; she was the first “plus size” model that had ever won the show. Magazines think that it is great that they are showing girls that even if you are the size of Whitney you are still beautiful and not fat, of course your not fat, Whitney only wears between the sizes of eight and twelve. According to an article in The New York Times, the “average” woman wears between the sizes of 12-14; even Marylyn Monroe may have worn a 14 at one point.

Models are wearing smaller and smaller sizes today, and I think that we need to take it back to the way things used to be and have models wearing bigger sizes so girls today do not get the wrong image, it is up to journalists to show young girls that they are beautiful and that they are normal even if they are not a size two.


Cartoons is the new math

By: Katie Anthony

Yes, you read that correctly. I am declaring that cartoons is the new math. What do I mean by that?

As far back as I can remember, I was taught that math is the universal language. However, in a recent study done by Paul Bradshaw of Poynter Online, cartoons are quickly becoming the new universal language.

Bradshaw, a Poynter blogger, added a cartoon to the blog that he wrote last week. The result was astronomical. Bradshaw ended up getting 40,000 hits in one week which was more hits than Bradshaw has ever received.

So, how can cartoons become a universal language?

"You need not read English to understand them," said Bradshaw. "Cartoons, therefore, are a good strategy to attract a global audience."

If you think about it, Bradshaw has a very good point. Considering the way the media is changing today, I believe it to be true that soon the media will be grasping at any straws that are available to them in order to get more readers.


Bad News Spreads Like A Disease

By: Adrian Aitken

The economy today isn't looking to good and people are questioning what kind of outcome this slump in finance will bring. Others though decided to look at the cause rather than the effect and some are pointing their fingers at the media.

Today we live in a world of communication and messages are being thrown at us from all angles. Taking this idea people are starting to make the connection that a lot of bad news creates more bad news. This theory is currently being directly applied to the recent fall of the Dow Jones.

Eric Rauchway is a history professor who has recently published a book about the media and the Great Depression. During an interview on national public radio he stated that the media was just as accessible then as it is now and that the idea of the media making the situation worse is plausible.

I understand that the media isn't attempting to make a mass panic and that it is just doing its job, but I wish that there could be some way that the news is buffered and not have such a big impact on touchy subjects.


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