Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Story Idea That Keeps on Giving

Open-air Initiation of K.K.K. under the Light ...
Open-air Initiation of K.K.K. under the Light of the Fiery Cross. From The Ku Klux Klan In Prophecy 1925. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Make it stop please. No, it won't.

The profession has yet to chisel the accepted rules of undercover reporting into stone, but a consensus has formed in recent decades that basically prohibits the direct telling of lies to get a story. So, when presumed Veritas operative Jaime Phillips allegedly lied to the Post about Moore getting her pregnant, and urged the reporters to write the story, she crossed the line. But what she’s alleged to have done—lied in the service of a story—is not without precedent in modern journalism. Reporters have posed as high school students, enlisted in the Ku Klux Klan, faked insanity to be admitted into mental hospitals and donned disguises while chasing stories. Jessica Mitford repeatedly pretended to be shopping for funeral services for a dying aunt while doing the research for The American Way of Death. In All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein confess to having lied to sources and to having impersonated one of the figures they were investigating.

Lying and breaking the law are rightly considered the dark arts of journalism. But that doesn’t mean reporters must pretend to be Boy Scouts in their work. Nearly every journalist practices “deception lite” techniques that don’t rise to lying, lawlessness or even misrepresentation. For instance, when interviewing, some journalists bluff their targets or play stupid to get subjects to volunteer information. Totally legit. Others deliberately create uncomfortable silences for their subjects to fill. Observing people in a public place without first making an introduction? OK. Entering an unlocked office or workplace during business hours without first requesting formal permission? Sure. Pretending to have been impregnated by Roy Moore decades ago? No.

Pig & Whistle - Tuesday Class - 5 p.m.

Attendance is voluntary since I can't mandate you come to a bar. First drink is on me. They have a large backroom which is usually unoccupied early in the day.

How to get there.

Ethics of Courage or the Courage of Ethics?

Link to website

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Your Final Assignment

A county locator map of California, with Lasse...
A county locator map of California, with Lassen County highlighted in red. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 The Job Interview

You are interviewing for a reporting job at the Lassen County Times. The editor sits you down, asks you questions about your education, background, work experience and career ambitions (the where-do-I-want-to-be-in-five-years question).

Now, he says, it’s time to talk about ethics, but, “I want you to take time to think about it first. I’m going to leave you in this room with your computer for half an hour while you write about what you think your greatest ethical challenge will be working for this newspaper. The key word is ethical. See you in half an hour.”

Write the essay and upload to Canvas. Due December 15.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Diversity in Newsrooms

The novel charts Hitler's childhood from the p...
The novel charts Hitler's childhood from the point of view of his satanic caretaker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
NY Times profile of neo-Nazi sparks discussion.

I find this provocative and disturbing. I'm glad someone said it, though I ... better read the article.

At the intersection of novelty and victimhood, we find stories of Nazis going to Panera, their ideas largely stripped of history and context. Much has been said about the “normalization” of such ideas — that by portraying Nazis as average, even sympathetic, people, journalists run the risk of helping to integrate violent ideologies into the mainstream. The thing is that violent, racist ideologies have spent lots of time in the mainstream. They’ve proven very destructive. The imperative of the moment is not just to debate about how to keep them at the margins, but to remember out loud why they belong there.

The danger, then, in an everyday portrait of the white supremacist next door isn’t in the normalization but in the populist ideology that’s buried deep in the narrative. Depictions of ordinary, small, powerless American life have proven an immensely useful political tool at times. These depictions have provided a packaging for executive power, a way to delegitimize war protests, and, of course, a justification for racism. Reducing a white supremacist to the features of his harmless life obscures the horror his ideas can unleash.

What Ezra Klein had to say.

The problem with the Times story isn’t that it’s about a modern-day Nazi. It’s that it doesn’t offer any insight into modern-day Nazis. Readers are, presumably, supposed to respond with shock upon learning that Nazis also bake muffins, own pets, watch sitcoms. But this is an old point, and it can be made with starker examples. Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, a painter, a lover of musicals, a talented mimic. It is childish, this late in human history, to be surprised that evil people are also people.

TPM's take.

Specifically at issue for many readers was Fausset’s lack of pushback against, or context for, the beliefs of Tony Hovater, a white nationalist from Ohio. “[I]n person, his Midwestern manners would please anyone’s mother,” Fausset wrote of Hovater.

How does this relate to newsroom diversity?


And Here. 

And Here.

Does it relate to the ethics of interviewing and basic reporting? Maybe.

The New York Times published a profile over the weekend of an Ohio man named Tony Hovater, a co-founder of the white supremacist Traditionalist Worker Party. The piece, by reporter Richard Fausset, was meant to say something profound about the banality of evil—This man shops for groceries! He has a Twin Peaks tattoo! He has both a wife and cats!—but it came across instead as an exercise in making evil sound banal.

Here's an example of a very different approach to interviewing a controversial figure.

I began to get nervous as the interview day approached. By the time I boarded a plane to Spokane, which is a one-hour flight from Seattle and is near the border with Idaho, a state that's almost 90 percent white, I was half sure that this interview was my worst career decision to date. Initially, I had hoped that my research on Dolezal would reassure me that there was a way to find real value in this conversation, that there would be a way to actually turn this circus into a productive discussion on race in America.

But then I read her book.

By the way, the neo-Nazi loses his job.

The 29-year-old New Carlisle, Ohio resident told The Washington Post that he, his wife and his brother-in-law had all been fired from the restaurant where they all worked, and that he had been forced to relocate due to financial reasons and concerns for his own safety....

Though the Times article did not mention the restaurant — Mr. Hovater had identified himself as a welder by trade — people appalled by his views learned that he worked there and began calling and leaving online messages.

And the piece has defenders.

The entire universe has agreed that The New York Times did a terrible thing a few days ago in running Richard Fausset’s portrait of a young Nazi from the Ohio suburbs named Tony Hovater, but I have to confess that, regardless of the universe and its opinions, I learned something from the piece....

Fausset and his editors at the Times wanted to discover some dramatic cause or origin of young Hovater’s turn toward fascism—a “Rosebud,” as Fausset says—that would presumably be something like an abusive father, or a divorce by his parents, or a drug problem, or some other terrible experience. The search for this sort of thing is a mania of the Times. It is an ideological tic. It is Rosebud-ism. It is the presupposition, based on nothing at all, that someone who turns to extreme and violent ideas must be impelled to do so by some external event, perhaps from long-ago, exactly the way that Citizen Kane’s journey into mogul-hood was distorted by an unhappy event of his childhood. It used to be that, every time a jihadi committed a jihad, the Times (and other papers, too) would go looking for drunk-driving arrests and bad experiences in school and other such matters, in search of the original cause.

But I think that a more typical reality is the one that we see in Fausset’s article. Someone is caught up by ideas—Murray Rothbard’s libertarianism, in this case. And one doctrine leads to the next, not necessarily through any logical connection or inner imperative, but merely because doctrines are intoxicating, and a penchant for intoxications of that sort may drift along from theory to theory, sometimes veering toward ever more exotic and thrilling ones, the way that somebody with a weakness with drugs may advance from marijuana to heroin....

I do not mean to draw too many deductions from Fausset’s piece. I do mean to say: lay off on the poor man! Fausset, I mean. He went to the suburbs of Ohio, and he did what reporters are supposed to do, which is to report. There was not enough of that during the political campaign in 2016. We needed more pieces, not fewer, on Trump voters and the new developments. We needed the reporters to be open-minded, and not judgmental. We have not lacked for attitudinizing during the last couple of years. We have lacked for reporting. Here is a reporter. It is good. Let him go on reporting, without feeling that he has to prove his anti-Nazi credentials every two sentences.

Monday, November 20, 2017

War Reporting


The most trusted man in America has doubts about the war

The First Iraq War

Pre Iraq War (2)

APRIL 25, 2007: "Buying the War"

BILL MOYERS: Four years ago this spring the Bush administration took leave of reality and plunged our country into a war so poorly planned it soon turned into a disaster. The story of how high officials misled the country has been told. But they couldn't have done it on their own; they needed a compliant press, to pass on their propaganda as news and cheer them on.
Since then thousands of people have died, and many are dying to this day. Yet the story of how the media bought what the White House was selling has not been told in depth on television. As the war rages into its fifth year, we look back at those months leading up to the invasion, when our press largely surrendered its independence and skepticism to join with our government in marching to war.

Sidney Blumenthal/2007: Walter Lippmann had witnessed firsthand (during World War I) how the "manufacture of consent" had deranged democracy. But he did not hold those in government solely responsible. He also described how the press corps was carried away on the wave of patriotism and became self-censors, enforcers, and sheer propagandists. Their careerism, cynicism, and error made them destroyers of "liberty of opinion" and agents of intolerance, who subverted the American constitutional system of self-government. Even the great newspaper owners, he wrote, "believe that edification is more important than veracity. They believe it profoundly, violently, relentlessly. They preen themselves upon it. To patriotism, as they define it from day to day, all other considerations must yield. That is their pride. And yet what is this but one more among myriad examples of the doctrine that the end justifies the means? A more insidiously misleading rule of conduct was, I believe, never devised among men."

The behavior of the press corps under Bush revealed a corruption more in line with Lippmann's analysis than Upton Sinclair's, although Sinclair's stress on the primacy of vulgar economics had its play, too. Indeed, Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, complained to the chief executive officers of major media corporations about reports and reporters, and the pressure fell down the chain of command like an anvil. Nearly every correspondent, producer, and commentator on every broadcast and cable network outlet was keenly aware of such interventions and adjusted accordingly. The cable network MSNBC's dismissal in February 2003, one month before the invasion of Iraq, of the popular Phil Donahue as host of a public affairs program that had raised skeptical questions about the rationale for the war was cautionary and symptomatic. An internal memo claimed that Donahue presented "a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war" while "at the same time our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." For crass reasons, jingoism became a criterion for presentation of news.

But economics did not explain everything. In 2002, the conservative Fox News anchor Brit Hume, well aware of the scent of fear in the air, declared ABC News unpatriotic: "Over at ABC News, where the wearing of American flag lapel pins is banned, Peter Jennings [the news anchor] and his team have devoted far more time to the coverage of civilian casualties in Afghanistan than either of their broadcast network competitors."

Hume's attack reflected the general conservative argument that the press was a bastion of "liberal bias," and was thus untrustworthy and even potentially perfidious in the war on terror. A conservative columnist, Andrew Sullivan, who later became a disillusioned administration critic, articulated most clearly the right-wing dichotomy of domestic good-and-evil in the immediate aftermath of September 11. "The middle part of the country -- the great red zone that voted for Bush -- is clearly ready for war," he wrote. "The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -- and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column."

Nieman Watchdog 2007

As the war in Iraq nears its fourth anniversary, and with no end in sight, Americans are owed explanations. The Senate Intelligence Committee has promised a report on whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence to justify the war against Iraq.  An explanation is due also for how the U.S. press helped pave the way for war. An independent and thorough inquiry of pre-war press coverage would be a public service. Not least of the beneficiaries would be the press itself, which could be helped to understand its behavior and avoid a replay.
Better a study by outsiders than by insiders. Besides, journalism groups show no appetite for self-examination. Nor would a study by the press about the press have credibility. Now and then a news organization has published a mea culpa about its Iraq coverage, but isolated admissions of error are no substitute for comprehensive study.
The fundamental question: Why did the press as a whole fail to question sufficiently the administration’s case for war?
More specifically:
Q. Why did the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau’s “against-the grain reporting” during the build-up to war receive such “disappointing play,” in the words of its former bureau chief?
Q. Why did the press generally fail to pay more attention to the bureau’s ground-breaking coverage?
Q. Why, on the eve of war, did the Washington Post’s executive editor reject a story by Walter Pincus, its experienced and knowledgeable national security reporter, that questioned administration claims of hidden Iraqi weapons and why, when the editor reconsidered, the story ran  on Page 17?
Q. Why did the Post, to the “dismay” of the paper’s ombudsman, bury in the back pages or miss stories that challenged the administration’s version of events? Or, as Pincus complained, why did Post editors go “through a whole phase in which they didn’t put things on the front page that would make a difference” while, from August 2002 to the start of the war in March 2003, did the Post, according to its press critic, Howard Kurtz, publish “more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq”?
Q. Why did Michael Massing’s critique of Iraq-war coverage, in the New York Review of Books, conclude that “The Post was not alone. The nearer the war drew, and the more determined the administration seemed to wage it, the less editors were willing to ask tough questions. The occasional critical stories that did appear were…tucked well out of sight.”
Q. Why did the New York Times and others parrot administration claims about Iraq’s acquisition of aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons when independent experts were readily available to debunk the claims?
Q. Why did the Times’s Thomas E. Friedman and other foreign affairs specialists, who should have known better, join the “let’s-go-to-war” chorus?
Q. Why was a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace accusing the administration of misusing intelligence by misrepresenting and distorting it given two paragraphs in the Times and 700 words in the Post (but deep inside), with neither story citing the report’s reference to distorted and misrepresented intelligence?
Q. Why did Colin Powell’s pivotal presentation to the United Nations receive immediate and overwhelming press approval despite its evident weaknesses and even fabrications?
Q. Why did the British press, unlike its American counterpart, critically dissect the speech and regard it with scorn?
Q. Why did the Associated Press wait six months, when the body count began to rise, to distribute a major piece by AP’s Charles Hanley challenging Powell’s evidence and why did Hanley say how frustrating it had been until then to break through the self-censorship imposed by his editors on negative news about Iraq?

The shortcomings of Iraq coverage were not an aberration. Similar failure is a recurrent problem in times of national stress. The press was shamefully silent, for instance, when American citizens were removed from their homes and incarcerated solely because of their ancestry during World War II. Many in the press were cowed during McCarthyism’s heyday in the 1950s. Nor did the press dispute the case for the fact-challenged Gulf of Tonkin resolution that led to a greatly enlarged Vietnam war.
The press response to the build-up to the Iraq war simply is the latest manifestation of an underlying and ongoing reluctance to dissent from authority and prevailing opinion when emotions run high, especially on matters of war and peace, when the country most needs a questioning, vigorous press.

During the War


What is OPSEC?

OPSEC is keeping potential adversaries from discovering critical Department of Defense information. As the name suggests, it protects U.S. operations — planned, in progress and those completed. Success depends on secrecy and surprise, so the military can accomplish the mission more quickly and with less risk. Enemies of freedom want this information, and they are not just after the military member to get it. They want you, the family member.


Sig Christenson San Antonio Express/2007 in response to media criticism

Everybody knows there’s a war on in Iraq. What they don’t realize is there are actually four wars – the one to defeat insurgents and terrorists, another to win support for America’s occupation among a majority of Iraqis and yet a third for hearts and minds among the president’s supporters in the United States.
The fourth is a war for reporters and editors: It is to find and report the truth while staying alive to file another day in Iraq. If we lose this war, you lose, too. Instead of seeing Iraq as it is, you’ll see it the way someone with an agenda wants.

RCFP 2009

Amanda Becker | Prior Restraints | Quicklink | October 16, 2009

A revised policy for reporters embedded with the U.S. military command in eastern Afghanistan released Thursday retreats from a more stringent version imposed last month, the Washington Post reports.
Last week, the Reporters Committee reported that the agreement journalists must sign in order to embed with a military unit had been changed to state that "media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action."
The revised policy released Thursday states that "media will not be prohibited from viewing or filming casualties; however, casualty photographs showing recognizable face, nametag or other identifying feature or item will not be published."

Wikipedia: Plot of Movie "Three Kings" starring George Clooney

 Major Archie Gates, a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier, is trading sex for stories with a journalist, Cathy Daitch when he is interrupted by Adriana Cruz, the television reporter he is assigned to escort.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Journalists in Movies and TV Show

Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black -"[T]he injunction against The New York Times should have been vacated without oral argument when the cases were first presented ... . [E]very moment's continuance of the injunctions ... amounts to a flagrant, indefensible, and continuing violation of the First Amendment. ... When the Constitution was adopted, many people strongly opposed it because the document contained no Bill of Rights ... . In response to an overwhelming public clamor, James Madison offered a series of amendments to satisfy citizens that these great liberties would remain safe ... . In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. ... [W]e are asked to hold that ... the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the Judiciary can make laws ... abridging freedom of the press in the name of 'national security.' ... To find that the President has 'inherent power' to halt the publication of news ... would wipe out the First Amendment and destroy the fundamental liberty and security of the very people the Government hopes to make 'secure.' ... The word 'security' is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security ... . The Framers of the First Amendment, fully aware of both the need to defend a new nation and the abuses of the English and Colonial governments, sought to give this new society strength and security by providing that freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly should not be abridged.

Heroes and Scoundrels page

Howard Good, "Journalism Ethics Goes to the Movies." But if movies are a source of ethics, it’s not because they express a fully worked-out moral philosophy. Journalism movies tend to be much better at starting a dialog about ethics than finishing it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As Leigh Hafrey, who uses novels and movies to teach business ethics at MIT, said, ‘. . . we can fill in the gaps in our knowledge of the events, our vision of the characters, our assessment of the action, with details drawn from our experience and inclinations.’ In the process – and here’s where student benefit greatly – we gain practice and confidence in answering ethical questions for ourselves.

The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture

The mission of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture, a project of The Norman Lear Center at USC Annenberg, is to investigate and analyze, through research and publication, the conflicting images of the journalist in film, television, radio, fiction, commercials, cartoons, comic books, video games, music, art and other aspects of popular culture demonstrating their impact on the American public's perception of newsgatherers.

British Film Institute Great Journalism Movies

While killer features such as Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) didn’t quite make the top 10, it was also tough to leave out the hilarious San Diego newsmen and women in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). In films that may not focus purely on journalism but had memorable journalist characters, Margot Kidder is the definitive Lois Lane in her four Superman films and the first two Die Hards would be poorer without William Atherton’s slimy Richard Thornburg.

Society of Professional Journalists A-Z List

The Performance (Citizen Kane)

The Review

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Fault Line Model: Wish I'd Seen This Earlier

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...
English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Shaking up the traditional news values

Bob Maynard envisioned a media landscape where journalists reinforced society by examining and explaining its Fault Lines in an effort to alleviate tensions that could eventually rupture along those lines. Unfortunately, modern American journalism is built around the conflict model and pseudo events. This flawed approach relies on tension between groups or events meant to garner attention to drive coverage. Following conflict and social media can result in stories that are likely to spark sharp debate, but this displaces other topics.

The conflict model tends to give weight to the loudest point of view, hence the use of social media as a justification for a story. Social media creates pseudo events as posts and tweets are used as counterbalance in coverage, or to suggest a widely held point of view.

Monday, November 06, 2017

The Student Photographer and the Professor

Comments from SPLC on incident.

New York Times - February, 2015

Significant questions have arisen after a large number of images were disqualified from this year’s World Press Photo competition because of excessive — and sometimes blatant — post-processing. After independent experts examined the images being considered for prizes in the final rounds, and presented their findings to the jury, 20 percent of the photos were disqualified by the judges. This was often because of significant addition or subtraction to the image content....

Lars Boering, managing director, World Press Photo

As of 2015 all participants are required to provide files as recorded by the camera for all images that proceed to the contest’s final stages. 

Contest rules 2017

Entrants to the World Press Photo contest must ensure their pictures provide an accurate and fair representation of the scene they witnessed so the audience is not misled.

This means that entrants:

Should be aware of the influence their presence can exert on a scene they photograph, and should resist being misled by staged photo opportunities.

Must not intentionally contribute to, or alter, the scene they picture by re-enacting or staging events.

Must maintain the integrity of the picture by ensuring there are no material changes to content.

Must ensure captions are accurate.

Must ensure the editing of a picture story provides an accurate and fair representation of its context.

Must be open and transparent about the entire process through which their pictures are made, and be accountable to the World Press Photo Foundation for their practice

Manipulation review

Entry rule 11 states “the content of a picture must not be altered by adding, rearranging, reversing, distorting or removing people and/or objects from within the frame.”

There are two exceptions to this: (i) cropping that removes extraneous details is permitted; (ii) sensor dust or scratches on scans of negatives can be removed.

The process for ensuring compliance with this rule takes place in the second-to-last round of judging. Entrants whose pictures remain in the contest and are eligible for the final round are contacted and required to provide the file as recorded by the camera. These files could be:

RAW file(s)

Full format JPEG file(s). These must be as delivered by the camera, and provided in a series showing at least three frames before and after the contest entry

For smartphones, the image captured with the built-in, stock camera app, emailed from the phone

Scans of film negative(s), provided as a contact sheet to show a series of at least three frames before and after the contest entry
Failure to provide these files will lead to the elimination of the entry, making it ineligible for the final round and a possible award.

Two independent digital analysts compare original files with contest entries to determine whether the content of any picture (either a single picture or frame in a story) has been altered. The guidance on manipulation describes and shows what alterations to the content of a picture are not allowed. The workflow of the manipulation review is provided here.

My Note:

RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

From National Press Photographers Association:

World Press published a research paper in November 2013 called "The Integrity of the Image" in order to examine "the current practices and accepted standards relating to the manipulation of still images in photojournalism and documentary photography." 

"We put out that paper to figure out whether there is a basic understanding, whether everyone understands that moving pixels around is a no-go," Boering said today. "But some people think it's perfectly fine to move these [Photoshop] 'sliders' around [in Levels and Curves], and that's much more difficult to have a standard because then you start to get into a thing called 'taste.' And you see that these images are also put into print, and they have worked the print file differently than the file they put on the Internet. These are the files where we need to come out with some standards.
 Otherwise, very fast we'll be entering into the 'art' world. But here at World Press, journalism is at the core."

Boering said most of the images thrown out this year either had things added to, or removed from, the photograph. "It's clumsy Photoshop, and it's too bad because some of the pictures were contenders right up until the end."

It wasn't solely a matter of adding or subtracting content, Boering said. This year the jury was also looking very closing at toning. 

"They looked to see if you make a photo so black that you lose information, and you don't see anything anymore," he said. "That is a line crossed."

The Evil that is Photoshop and Other Horrors of Manipulation, Digital or Otherwise

Erasing Rivals

Enemies Juxtaposed

Reality Subtracted

Color Coding

Improving the War


The Walking Pyramids

Seven Babies and Bad Teeth

He changed the color *of the sky*

Ten Famous Doctored Photos

12 Doctored Photos

No Real Women, Please

My Brush with Absolute Perfection

Flopping photos

The Migrant Mother

At The Oakland Museum

The Flag at Iwo Jima

We Should Never Have Trusted Photography in the First Place

Things We Don't Want to See (But Do We Need to?)

Grieving Widows

Oklahoma City

Dying Soldier

Marine Wedding

California's Paparazzi Crackdown

An Article on the Topic

Paying Subjects

Sanitizing the Reality of Death

Staged Events

Weegee's Night at the Opera

Did He or Didn't He? Capa, the Legend

A Question of Taste I Have Never Considered

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Guidelines for Final Paper - American Journalism Ethics

Auerbach covered the Lindbergh Kidnapping as a...
Auerbach covered the Lindbergh Kidnapping as a reporter/photographer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your final paper should be a straightforward term paper, 3,000-4,000 words long with standard footnotes and bibliography.

A wide range of topics is acceptable. One might take a general issue like plagiarism, protecting sources, invading privacy, cleaning up quotes, maintaining good relations on a beat, accepting gifts, identifying the race or ethnicity of people in the news, covering minority communities, identifying rape victims, sacrificing accuracy in the service of being first, sensationalism in the news then and now, treating New Age stories (pet psychics, astrology) seriously, refusing to treat New Age stories seriously, cooperating with authorities by suppressing information in war stories or crime stories or stories of “national interest.” One might choose to be extra provocative: Is it possible for television news to be ethical???

You might also tackle specific events – the Lindbergh kidnapping; the Janet Cooke fiasco; the run-up to the second Iraq war; famous undercover cases; the news media and Trump’s electon; the news media and Clinton’s defeat; the Duke rape case; the University of Virginia rape case – and probe their ethical dimensions.

I would keep in mind such things as: What are/the facts of the situation? What is/was the common ethical view of the situation by those most intimately involved in the situation? What is/was the common ethical view of the situation at the time by those outside the situation, the experts, the pundits, the public? To what degree do you think a more rigorous ethical analysis is needed? That is, once you have collected opinions about the ethical issue, tell me what you think, applying some of the techniques and ideas we have discussed during the semester. (This is, of course, a golden opportunity to talk about the strengths and the limitations of the Potter Box.)

Remember: To pass this paper, you must cite three journalists with whom you have been in contact – face-to-face, phone or email. They need not be currently employed as journalists, which means other journalism faculty are fair game.