Rachel Smith Videoblog #1

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Reassessing Opinion for Journalists

For years journalists have wrestled with the idea of not voicing their own opinion in their stories.
Technically, journalists are giving up their freedom of speech.
If journalists are involved in the stories that they are writing about why are they not allowed to voice their opinion in what they are talking about?
The example given was Occupy Wall Street and all the writers involved must not include their lives in the stories.
Also, if a journalist “likes” a politician on Facebook, must they like all other candidates?
Is it not time to admit that we live in an age where it’s appropriate for journalists to also have an opinion? We as people also need to recognize that these people are not drones who report the news on a daily basis.
Journalists have been fired for voicing opinions and one example is CNN Senior Editor and Middle East expertOctavia Nasr was fired for having posted a sympathetic remark about an alleged terrorist on her Twitter account. Regardless of the fact that this man was a terrorist, why was this grounds for firing Nasr?
If we are to keep assuming that journalists do not have an opinion, does this not prevent our culture from moving forward intellectually?


Staleness in the News

The look of televised news programs are similar from station to station. The basic news program consists of a lead anchor, or anchors, and a team of reporters who present prepared video and sound bites to the viewing audience.

Recently, at the National Press Club luncheon, Harvey Levin, creator of the celebrity news website TMZ.com, exclaimed to his listeners that broadcast news delivery is "stale."

Levin discussed how broadcast journalism has used the same formula to present viewers with the information for the past 40 years and suggested "you don't need the middleman as much anymore." Aka limit the time the anchors and reporters are used.

Levin suggested new stations focus their cameras on the newsmakers themselves. Levin discussed how the newsmakers are much more compelling than the anchors or reporters, and by focusing more, if not solely on them, televised news programs can freshen their look and increase their appeal to viewers.

Levins speech raises an important point about broadcast journalism: What is the importance/role of anchors and reporters? Do viewers require an individual to present and summarize information the newsmakers, other sources used, and video footage can be edited to display.

Anchors and reporters bring character to the news. They help build the credibility of a station and maintain accuracy in stories. Without them, it could be difficult to air hard news stories such as crime, politics and other controversial topics in a way that removes biases and is accurate. Anchors and reporters are very much needed, but news stations should remain open to new, more interesting and compelling ways to report the news.

photo by roger4336 from creativecommons.com


ACLU Sues LA Sheriff's Department

Female Photographer Morro Bay, CA 17feb08

Are security issues enough to prevent a picture from being taken? No, says the American Civil Liberties Union. In fact, they believe so strongly in the right to photography that they sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Thursday, saying the law department has been harrassing both amateur and professional photographers who take pictures in public places.

The First Amendment Center published an Associated Press wire report on its website detailing the harrassment. According to the report, sheriff's deputies have harrassed many different photographers within two years, by stopping them, frisking, and in some cases threatening arrest. The photographers in each case had been taking pictures of public buildings, parks, and facilities. The problem with that, according the deputies, was that taking pictures of public spaces is a sign of a possible terrorist threat. One photographer was even asked if he was "in cahoots with Al Qaida" before being frisked.

Has it really gotten to the point that all photography of public spaces is suspicious? Then, wow, we have a lot of trouble. Teachers taking pictures of class trips to the zoo. College students taking pictures of their first trip to Washington D.C. Middle school students taking pictures in the gym at their public school dance. The difference between these scenarios and the cases being described is simple: the photographers are alone. They stand out.

Photography of high-risk public property is not itself a threat, and should not be treated as one. The ACLU has a list of photographer's rights on their website and advice on what to do if you are stopped or detained while taking photographs. Freedom of speech is not limited to simply the freedom of speaking or writing. It provides the freedom to see.

Photo/Mike Baird, creativecommons.org


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