Friday, October 28, 2011

Michael Lewis meet John Milton

The name of of the story is California and Bust.

It's by Michael Lewis,  Moneyball author (and also Blind Side and many others) and presents (in the best feature style) a California future that is very bleak, indeed, actually terrifying to the point of hopeless. And then he concludes:

When people pile up debts they will find difficult and perhaps even impossible to repay, they are saying several things at once. They are obviously saying that they want more than they can immediately afford. They are saying, less obviously, that their pres­ent wants are so important that, to satisfy them, it is worth some future difficulty. But in making that bargain they are implying that, when the future difficulty arrives, they’ll figure it out. They don’t always do that. But you can never rule out the possibility that they will. As idiotic as optimism can 
sometimes seem, it has a weird habit of paying off.

And I'm thinking: John Milton would have loved you, man.

An Old Journalist Friend Dies. I Contribute to the Eulogy


Been thinking about this but don't have anything *fine* to contribute. The
thing is with many journalists, you start thinking about them as a brand
that you have come to know, rely on and take for granted. The byline is a
kind of guarantee that the information is solid as is the judgment about
what matters and what doesn't. Choosing the lead, the focus, the frame - you
don't want to spend your "news" time second-guessing the reporter, battling
with the story. Over time you learn who you can trust and who you can't by
which I mean the news story that leaves you unsettled rather than informed.
A matter of trust. So it was with Phil. I "relaxed" into anything he wrote,
if that makes sense. Same thing with writing style. Certain journalists you
know you will enjoy reading the piece for reasons other than content. There
will be pleasure in watching the writer's mind operate when it comes to word
choice, to sentence shape, to metaphor. To be read with confidence, pleasure
and - just that moment before jumping into the old word salad - with
anticipation: oh that's fine. That's an epitaph. Or, to put it another way,
his byline mattered to me as a reader of journalism at those moments when
reading is optional - the headline or to begin the story, just the lead or
the rest of it? (Or perhaps ignore the story altogether and go straight to
the sports!!) I am going to read this right now, all of it, because of the
name at the top. Think how few reporters of whom that can be said. But a
specific story or  moment -  no. Which is a kind of compliment.
Different Publications, Different Point of View

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ethics in Broadcast Journalism: Was it ethical for Fox News Chief Roger Ailes to make this remark about Sarah Palin?


Fox News Chief Hired Sarah Palin "Because She Was Hot"

Roger Ailes says his network tops its rivals because they "just are better television producers."


The Associated Press published a 1,500-word piece Wednesday about Roger Ailes and his still-ongoing career as the head of Fox News, but this 11-word quote from Ailes is sure to be the part that gets everyone talking (or at least clicking): “I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings.”

The AP story, written by national TV columnist Frazier Moore, doesn’t elaborate on the Palin hiring or her career as a Fox News pundit, but it does offer a few other potential pull quotes from Ailes (although none as sexy as his Palin admission).

On why Fox News succeeds: "The consistency of our product. I think we do better television than the other guys, and no matter how we do it, they don't seem to catch up. We seem to out-invent them and think ahead of them, and have better story ideas, better graphics, better on-air talent. We just are better television producers."

On the News Corp. hacking scandal: "I've stayed away from this News Corp. issue because it's not a Fox News issue. I know nothing more about it than I'm reading in the press, and I don't discuss it with Rupert [Murdoch]."

On CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: "Wolf Blitzer is an excellent reporter, but he's not a star."

And on what he’s learned as he gets older: "I don't rise to the occasion when there's no occasion. … When there IS an occasion, I will do what I have to do, and I will win. Is that mellowing? I tend to see it more as picking my battles a little better than I used to. That's probably the best thing I've learned: to save it for when you need it, because when you need it, you have to win."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


So a couple of weeks ago, I posted the SPJ's Code of Journalism Ethics to disprove Altschull's outdated assertion that no set of ethical standards exist. I thought the SPJ was thorough, until I came across the code of ethics created by the New York Times for their entire staff here:
It is the most thorough code you will probably find anywhere, ever. It is obviously too exhausting to read, but just skimming it will give you an idea. It is probably also good to have as a source for any ethical questions.
Lovely links to suit today's lecture

A steam-powered cylinder printing machine

the Franklin printing press

James Gordon Bennett

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hot Chicks of OWS: Would You Consider this Ethical Journalism?

Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street from Steven Greenstreet on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Journalist's Guide to Verifying News Tips on Twitter

(all of our problems are solved!)

When information appears on social media, it's tempting for news organizations to race to report it first.

Resist that impulse. You'll have a more complete story -- and one you won't later regret -- if you follow a few steps from digital journalists Mandy Jenkins and Craig Silverman.

Jenkins, social news editor for the Huffington Post, and Silverman, editorial director of and editor and author of Regret the Error, shared their advice during their presentation, "B.S. Detection for Journalists," at the recent 2011 Online News Association Conference in Boston.

Here are their tips for verifying information found on social media:

Step 1: Check the person's credibility:

-- On Twitter, check when the account was created. Be suspicious of brand-new accounts.

-- How frequent are the updates? Is this a regularly used account?

-- Do they have a photo? If they haven't bothered to add one to the account, that might be a sign that it's a fake.

-- Do they have friends or followers? Do they follow others? Do they have any random followers, - namely watch out for "random, porn spam bots?"

-- Are there interactions between this account and others? No interaction may be the sign of a fake account.

-- Check the account's Klout score to assess the level of interaction.

-- Google the Twitter account's name, or handle, along with "spam," "scam," "spammer" etc. to see if others have complained about this account.

-- See if you can find other accounts online with the info you have. Search the username or use Identify in a Firefox browser, or HoverMe in Chrome.

Step 2: Follow up on the tip

-- Ask for a phone number and call the person.

-- Ask if they witnessed what they reported first-hand, or if not, how they heard about it.

-- Ask what they witnessed, how they saw it and when

-- Ask who else may have the same information

Step 3: Check the credibility of the info

-- Check earlier tweets or updates. Did they mention something about why they were on the scene? Is there anything leading up to their news tip that makes sense or puts things in context? Do they indicate plans, location, etc.?

-- Do any follow up tweets or updates make sense in context?

-- Does it read authentically? Misspellings, bad grammar, typos can also be a sign of a real person.

-- If there is an image attached, check to see if it has geolocation data or exif. Read more about verifying images here.

Step 4: Corroborate the story

-- Check the scanner or police sources to verify

-- Back it up on a Twitter search to see if other social accounts are reporting the same thing

-- Use the "Andy Carvin method:" Ask followers to help verify the information

Step 5: Evaluate your options. Ask yourself:

-- How urgent is this information?

-- How important is the tip to the overall story? Is there a story without it?

-- Is it worth the risk if it is wrong?

-Stellar Cassidy

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Does Twitter Censor?

Claire posted at her blog on the possibility that Twitter censors tweets. She raises two points: Are they doing it and, if they are, is it unethical?

Here's a blog post that suggests it's not a matter of ethics because of the way the standard Twitter algorithm was constructed. I don't know if this info is accurate. And even if it is, you could argue about the assumptions - the ethics - built into the original algorithm.

So what a sweet sweet topic that we will continue to pursue.
iPhones and Journalism Ethics:
Take a look at the short article below. Is it ethical to report a verbatim text message in a story? Should it be considered private property or public domain? How do you suppose this reporter attained access to the text? Does a text have the same rights as a quote? What is off the record when it comes to text messages?

Margie Phelps speaks in front of the Supreme Court, which ruled this year that Westboro's controversial sidewalk protests are protected as free speech, as is her recent anti-Jobs tweeting. (AP)

It may seem like all of America is sad to hear the news of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ death at age 56, but Westboro Baptist Church can find a reason to hate anyone, and Jobs is no exception.

Margie Phelps, daughter of rogue church’s pastor Fred Phelps, tweeted their plans to picket Job’s funeral FROM HER IPHONE.

She wrote that Jobs went in hell. He served himself and not God, and he taught people to sin, Phelps said.

Phelps defended her use of Jobs’ technology, saying “Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell. God created iPhone for that purpose! :)

The Phelps family makes up the majority of the small, Topeka, Kan. church, which is not affiliated with any Baptist body. Westboro, known for protesting funerals of soldiers and celebrities, is condemned by Christians across the U.S. for their blatant, unapologetic hatred and judgment.

The Washington Post’s On Faith reported on Westboro’s plans to protest Jobs funeral, including tweets from the rest of the Phelps family arguing they use Apple products for the glory of God:

The iPhone-wielding Westboro members seemed unable to find any irony in their embrace of the technology of a man they condemn. One church member even suggested that God was using Jobs to help advance the message of Westboro Baptist Church: “God used Steve Jobs to create amazing STUFF for WBC to preach,” wrote Shirley Phelps-Roper.