I'm a journalist: I can do whatever I want!

Monday, December 1, 2008

By: Sarah Harl

Over the course of this class, I have become increasingly frustrated with reporters who think they have the right to stick their nose in everything, simply because they work for a newspaper.

One such paper is the Providence Journal, of Rhode Island, who will argue before the Supreme Court that thousands of pages of jury questionnaires should be made public in the case of the 2003 nightclub blaze that killed 100 people.

Because Providence is such a small town, and virtually everyone knew someone affected by the 100 deaths that occurred when pyrotechnics used inside the building started a blaze, the court used a 32 page questionnaire to help select their jury.

Even though the case never went to trial, as the nightclub owners pleaded no-contest, the Providence Journal is still demanding that these questionnaires be released.

Despite the fact that the questionnaire asks very personal questions about potential jurors marriage, and medical and criminal history, the Journal still feels these questionnaires are somehow newsworthy.

The Journal claims that they want to use the completed questionnaires as a teaching tool for the court, as a sort of guide for how long or extensive jury questionnaires should be.

But, the Journal was provided with a blank copy of the questionnaire. This blank questionnaire would suffice just fine in teaching the court--although I'm not sure the Providence Journal is really the best teacher for the court systems of Rhode Island.

Essentially the Journal is trying to make news out of nothing. A questionnaire that is not newsworthy or necessary to be seen by anyone besides the court, that wasn't even used because a jury was never called in this case.

But because they are journalists, they feel they have the right to whatever information they want.

Journalists should all take a step back and consider the things they demand they should have a right to see. And as the people we should seriously consider how much access we give them into our personal lives. Pretty soon they will be telling the Supreme Court they should be able to read my diary as a teaching tool for Simpson College.

Get over yourselves journalists, and stop using self-righteous reasons to demand access to material you have no need to see.


Citizen journalism is essential

By: Sara Crouse

Everyday citizens are accidental journalists by time, place, and manner, whether they chose to live by the journalists’ code of ethics or not.

In the 21st century news stations and newspapers have become dependent on those citizens who witness breaking news. They have come to rely on the details through firsthand experience often captured by cell phones. Digital cell phone footage has proven to be quite a resource, but not without the careful editorial overlook of the material.

Everyday journalists are providing news consumers with something essential, and that essential item is immediacy. The people of today’s world want to know what is going on around them at all times. The world is far too fast paced to wait for the next morning’s paper. Perhaps the old TV show Early Edition needs to become a reality.

In all honesty though, it doesn’t matter whether we trust the everyday person to record the news for us. We simply enjoy the immediacy and even the feeling of authority by being news gatherers.

Not to mention, who doesn’t like knowing that his/her version of capturing the event could potentially show up on the nightly news? You must admit, it would make you feel special.

Breaking news through cell phone footage is around to stay.


Burried information

By: Shauna Agan

An article on MSNBC.com caught my eye today. The headline read, “1 in 5 young Americans has personality disorder”.

Reading through this article, several things seemed wrong to me.

First off, never in the article is young adult defined. Is young adult anyone under the age of 30, or is it anyone under the age of 25? What constitutes of a young adult?

Second, the source of all the information isn’t even told until halfway through the article. Furthermore, there is no link to the source making it harder to find all the information and not just the information shared in the article.

Although the headline is very catchy, it is not necessarily accurate for the article either. Reading into the article, it is explained what these disorders are, and the label personality disorder does not exactly sum it up. Disorder maybe, but not necessarily personality disorder.

When I traced the source of the article back to its root, I found out the source that this article is written about is a much broader scheme than just personality disorders. It is about mental health conditions in college studetns compared to non-college individuals.

Finally, although I understand the article is meant to just tell the facts and get the information to the public, newsworthiness comes into question. The source of the information was just published recently, but the information is based from 2001 and 2002. This also should have been noted higher up in the article to let the reader understand where the information was coming from.

Sometimes a journalist buries information such as this into the article to make his or her own article look more newsworthy and credible. However, I don’t believe any good journalist should have to do this. If the true story is good enough, they wouldn’t bury information throughout their story.


Suicidal blog not taken seriously

By: Erin Floro

I read an article in People magazine today that made me sick to my stomach.  A 19-year-old college freshman suffering from bipolar disorder was upset over a girl.

Abraham Biggs posted a suicide note online and had a live Webcam running as he overdosed on pills.  He was posting his feelings of depression on a blog.  People who were reading his blog and watching his Webcam were encouraging him to do it and not doing anything to stop him.

This continued on for 12 hours before someone called the site's monitor who told police.  By then, it was too late, Abraham was dead.  

I understand that many people probably thought this was a joke but it wasn't necessary for bloggers to type comments such as "Stop giving the attention whore what he wanted", and "Go ahead and do it." 

I don't see how people can be so cruel when someone was in a time of need.  


Media Matters too small

By: Adrian Aitken

Through out the semester I have used Media Matters as a source for my blogs. The web site provides good and interesting information regarding on how the media reports the news. For the most part I have agreed with their standings until now.

Recently a blog was published on the page informing readers about how MS NBC brings on Christopher Hitchens as an analyst when he disagrees with everything Hilary Clinton does. MS NBC has the right to bring on anyone they wish when asking for expert opinions because the station does so fair and balanced. For every democrat they have a republican, and a dove for every hawk.

Also Hitchens has the right to disagree with any person he wants to. His points are valid and not superficial like her ineffectiveness is due to hair color or sex , but personality.

The problem eating away at the back of my mind is that this Media Matters has posted many blogs about how democrats are being treated unfairly in the media and should be equally represented. This entire semester has had nothing about republicans being abused by the media. This site needs to take some of their own medicine and become neutral.


Tiger and Barack

By: Quinn Albrecht

Note, this is not a political blog. I found an interesting article that was debating the idea that Tiger Woods and Barack Obama are the same person. Going as far as asking the question, "have you ever seen them together"? Like Kent Clark as Superman.

He also said that one of the reasons that America is accepting of an African American president is because of Tiger. Tiger has been in the right for a long time now and people are used to seeing his face on all media outlets.

This takes me to my point. The media has so much more control than they think. People talk about all the bad things they see on TV.

This could be something good for us and our country, stemming from our obsessive tube watching. Seeing Tiger on the news has taught people tolerance for other cultures.


Journalism outsourcing?

By: Taylor Browning

I never thought I would see the words 'journalism' and 'outsourcing' used together in a sentence. How is it possible to 'outsource' reporting and printing the news for a newspaper?

James Macpherson, creator of the Pasadena Now newspaper, fired his staff of reporters and hired people in India, over the Craigslist Website, to provide him with the news. Instead of paying a weekly salary, Macpherson pays for his news by the story which pays $7.50 for a thousand words.

Macpherson admits that news gets caught up in mistranslation as well as his sources, G. Sreejayanthi, claiming “I try to do my best, which need not necessarily be correct always.”

I cannot help but think about the terrible direction this would head in if larger newspapers attempted to 'outsource' for their news. Who knows, newspapers such as The New York Times could eventually become the 'Wikipedia' of newspaper journalism, with everyone reporting what they know without checking the facts.


Maybe there are too many blogs

By: Lexie Hagerty

I read an article on Time U.S. titled How Many Blogs Does the World Need? It instantly caught my attention and I am glad I read it.

The author, Michael Kinsley, argued that blogs are overflowing the Internet. The value of a single blog is decreasing because of this overflow.

I would agree with this. As much as I like reading an ordinary person's perspective on a specific subject, what exactly makes that person's perspective credible or important.

Soon, everyone is going to be blogging. To make things easier, why don't we just get on a national T.V. station and ask the world a question, give them a number to call, and wait for each individual response? It's too much, correct?

I think so. Soon, Internet users are going to notice this overflow just like Kinsley. The users will become bored of the blogs resulting in the the brilliant idea of the blog becoming a media source of the past just lik,e the newspaper.


Get both feet on the wheel

By: Kayla Miller

It was hard not to blog about this one. I was surfing the web, looking for random information when I came across this article from CNET news: Man with no arms caught driving car with his feet. WHAT! Now, that's an article that's hard to avoid.

According to a British newspaper, The Sun, the driver, Zing Shen, was pulled over but was stunned the cops issued him with a public safety summons. He must think cops believe it's completely normal for people to drive with their feet!

Although this man is from Beijing, the media knows that this story would catch the viewers attention to know that a man is actually able to drive with his own feet.

Also, I'm glad to know the journalist of the CNET article, Chris Matyszczyk, had a sense of humor throughout the article. When he states, "... I cannot help but wonder just how often he uses his blinkers." and "I heartily recommend that Mr. Shen come to California to open driving school." And to know that he ended off his article with this, "... if you could learn to answer a cell phone and hold it with your feet while driving, that would enhance road safety, wouldn't it?" only makes the article that much better.

The article is worth the read.

That's the way journalism should grab our attention at all times: find stories and add humor.


The frontlines of journalism

By: Sarah Harl

Many journalists, in their drive to bring information to their fellow citizens put themselves in danger on a regular basis.

Thankfully, in the United States, we enjoy the privileges of a free press. So, if an American journalist writes a piece not well received by the rest of the nation, the worst he may have to endure is an inbox of hate mail for a week, until all is forgotten.

But when a controversial piece is written in many other countries, the journalist can end up in jail, for weeks at a time.

These journalists deserve recognition and thanks for bringing attention to controversial topics, despite great danger to themselves.

Perhaps whiny, pampered American journalists can take some lessons from their foreign counterparts about the real trials and tribulations of being a journalist.


An outsourcing nightmare

By: Katie Anthony

As we all know by now (especially those of us who have taking Communications 101 with Brian Steffen or Julie Summers) outsourcing has become quite the issue in the United States.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before outsourcing hit the world of journalism and, well, media in general.

James Macpherson puts it very bluntly when he says, "In brutal terms, it’s going to get to the point where saving the industry may require some people losing their jobs. The newspaper industry is coming to a General Motors moment — except there’s no one to bail them out." He goes on to say that it would be "irresponsible" for newspapers not to seek offshore options for help.

The jobs seem to be going strongly to India where they are being paid less than 8 dollars for every 1,000 word story.

So, perhaps outsourcing saves the US some money, but the question at issue is this: Are the stories about the American lifestyle (being written in India) as believable and effective as stories written by people who actually live the American lifestyle and in this culture?

Many would say that sending these stories to India is a cop-out in order to save money. Sure, they save money, but if they're losing part of their audience in the process, they're really not gaining much in the long-run.


Parents get into the gaming loop

By: Allison McNeal

Parents are now embracing a new technique to see what games are out on the market for their children.

Aol is releasing a new Web site called PlaySavvy.com, which allows parents to look at new video games that are being released.

The new site offers parents a guide to games, from ratings and reviews to connecting with other parents about making informed buying decisions.

According to MediaPost.com, the main attraction is Gaming 101, which "explains the rating system for games promulgated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board as well as how to use parental controls on different game systems such as PlayStation and the Xbox."

Gaming 101 also provides tips on which online games and sites are safe for children.

"Parents are often not aware that games have ratings on them," Libe Goad, the editor in chief of PlaySavvy, said. "There really still is a huge lack of knowledge about game ratings and what they mean. People just don't pay attention sometimes."

PlaySavvy's main target group are toward mothers, who they believe primarily run the household and pay more attention to what entertainment their kids are being exposed to.

Game systems, age and content are all displayed on this site, along with reviews and recommendations supplied by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that allows parents information and advice about media and entertainment choices.

Another feature allows parents to conduct a question and answer session with a panel of AOL women who work in the gaming industry.

Even though PlaySavvy is about selling, a huge concern of this site is safety.

The site will carry advertising geared to its target audience "by creating appealing campaigns around the content," said Goad.

Advertising on the site will resemble AOL Games, which can include spots from major consumer brands.

In addition to advertising, PlaySavvy's buying advice also encourages parents to get games or game systems their kids really want.

Parents and children can both profit from PlaySavvy by giving parents the needed information about a game and allowing kids to receive the game of their dreams.


Scam advice

By: Sarah Keller

In today’s society it is common to be worried about being scammed out of money. Especially in recent months when the economy has been so bad, and people are feeling the crunch to make a little extra cash for the holidays. So how do you make sure that you are not being scammed? With helpful hints from the Dolans at Wallet Pop they make it easier to look for signs of a scam being in operation.

The Dolans talked about how there is a new scam over the internet going on and how people should make sure they do no give any of their personal information out via e-mail. If someone receives something from a mortgage company or their bank they should be cautious because it could very likely be a scam. People should contact their bank or mortgage companies before e-mailing any personal information.

The article also talked about how you should not cash a blank, unexpected check you receive in the mail because it is probably a scam to get money out of you. The article said that you should never have to pay a fee in advance for a credit card either because more than likely it is just another way to receive money out of someone.

I found this article to be very helpful; it gave out many usual hints on how to avoid scams being played on you. If I had not read this article I would not have known about any of these scams. I believe this article to be very useful information for anyone, especially in today’s society, it is well worth the time to read it.


The black culture of Black Friday

By: Sarah Harl

A recent New York Times article closely scrutinizes the tragic story of this year's Black Friday, in which a Long Island Wal-Mart temporary worker was trampled by crowds after unlocking the doors to the store.

The article pointed out that 10 years ago, the day after Thanksgiving didn't even crack the top 10 as far as big revenue shopping days.

But thanks to newspapers that on Thanksgiving Day come stuffed to the brim with advertisements, media outlets that send camera crews to cover the events, and articles and blogs written about the best way to utilize Black Friday sales, the day has become something of a cultural phenomenon.

And one that speaks to the darker side of America, no less.

The story reports that 81% of Black Friday shoppers were shopping for themselves, not for others.

And in their rush to save $100, people trampled a human being to death, and even continued to run in the store as the paramedics were trying to help the man.

This cultural phenomenon, which the media has done a large part to help create, has now turned deadly in the most senseless of ways. People are being trampled to death at Wal-Mart and shot at Toys 'R Us.

It is time the media rethink its endorsement of Black Friday until the American people can learn to show more respect and restraint.

The media will not be able to control what at what time a store will open, or what sort of deals they will offer.

But they can choose not to show up with a camera crew. They can choose not to write or run articles promoting the most effective use of strategy at the mall.

And they can choose to take some responsibility for the monster that they helped to create.


The Huffington Post skips out on the recession

By: Kathryn Lisk

In a time when everyone  from Wall Street to Detroit seems to be suffering from an economic downfall, most companies are looking at cutting budget. This is far from a problem for The Huffington Post, who recently received a $25 million fund from Oak Investment Partners.

This is especially surprising in the journalism market considering the lack of support newspapers have been facing lately as the Internet continues to boom.

Huffington Post hopes to use the extra cash to continue growing nationwide and expand their coverage. Many currently view the HuffPo as a left wing team who reports mainly on politics with a left wing bias. The proceeds will help build up other sections including style, living, media and green. 

A economic boost like this shows how our world is changing. Investors are no longer willing to take a chance in the American automobile market like General Motors because the risk outweighs the reward. Instead, an online journalism business gets the check. 

Maybe journalism isn't such a risky career after all.


Go (Red), save a life

By: Sarah Harl

Today is World AIDS Day, and a blog by James Boyce left me reeling this morning.

Today, on World AIDS Day, 4,400 people will die of AIDS in Africa.

Tomorrow 4,400 people will die of AIDS in Africa.

On Christmas, on Easter, on your birthday, 4,400 people will die of AIDS in Africa.

But now, some companies are making it easier than ever to support The Global Fund, which helps provide treatment to those suffering in Africa.

(Red) products are showing up everywhere: From Gap t-shirts, to ipods, and cell phones, to Starbucks coffee, who today is giving 5 cents of every coffee sold to the Global Fund.

And the great part is that (Red) products don't cost consumers a penny more. It didn't cost me one extra cent to choose the (Red) Razor over the pink one.

But in doing so, someone in Africa suffering from AIDS received the pill that drastically changed their quality of life.

So kudos to the companies and marketing firms that are making the purchase of these products possible.

And kudos to anyone who has purchased a (Red) product to help people who so desperately need it.

So today, on World AIDS day, take that Starbucks study break (maybe two!). And that ipod you were going to get dad for Christmas? He'll love it in (Red)! And while you're at it, get your self a nice t-shirt, in (Red) of course!

Because today 4,400 people will die of AIDS in Africa. But if we all commit to buying (Red), maybe next World AIDS day that number will be lower.


Investing in the future

By: Sarah Harl

The recent economic woes aren't just hitting individual pockets hard this year.

What about advertising and marketing companies, who are put in quite the spot during an economic downturn.

On the one hand, they are just as strapped for cash as anyone else, and cutbacks in spending must be made to ensure they emerge on the other side of the recession as unscathed as possible.

On the other hand, it is difficult to promote people spending money if they are not seeing ads and marketing campaigns to encourage them to spend money.

The current market is one that calls for innovation and change, not relying on the same marketing plan that has been used for the last 20 years.

Marketing and advertising companies must be creative when tightening their belts during this time of hardship. People still have to be inspired to spend money if we are ever going to pull out of this recession.


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