Monday, September 30, 2013

On online comments

Popular Science
Popular Science (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was having a hard time commenting on Robertson's "comments" post (oh the irony) so I decided to make my own thread. It seems to me that online comments, especially anonymous comments, are proof that marketplace of ideas has failed. As proved by Popular Science, who shut down their comments because they distracted from the discussion of science, claiming that, "even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests." This shows that truth does not always win. In fact, it's so overshadowed by bullshit that publications like Popular Science are taking away their marketplace of ideas entirely. Milton weeps.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, September 27, 2013

Colonial Newspapers: Links from Today's Classes

Growth in newspapers
Growth in newspapers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
All those Franklin presses.

News fronts from Colonial newspapers.

Eric Burns "Infamous Scribblers"

"Scribblers" Reviewed
Enhanced by Zemanta

Dodger Fan Killed After Giants Game

Using what the Father heard from the son, without any other soruce. Is it ethical?

NYT Correction on Yamauchi obit...

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media

"He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth."

""It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn't happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president."

his views? "I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it's not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity."

Removing readers' ability to comment...

Ethical, or not?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Heres a doosey...

Just another way to get the whole world watching... and following. Really sad and disappointing to take something so useful and use it for tragic theatrics.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

British Colonies in America by the Numbers

               U.S. Historical Populations


Country               Immigrants Before 1790                     Population 1790

Africa                              360,000                                                                          757,000

England                           230,000                                                                         2,100,000

Scot-Irish (Ulster)           135,000                                                                            300,000

Germany                         103,000                                                                            270,000

Scotland                           48,500                                                                            150,000

Ireland                                8,000                                                                       (Incl. in Scot-Irish)

Netherlands                       6,000                                                                             100,000

Wales                                4,000                                                                               10,000

France                               3,000                                                                               15,000

Jews                                  1,000                                                                                 2,000

Sweden                                500                                                                                 2,000

Other                                50,000                                                                            200,000

Total                              950,000                                                                           3,900,000

Notes: At the time of the revolution, some colonists of English ancestry had been here for five generations. Also, the growth of the British colonies in America was impressive. In  1700, there were 20 people in Britain for every American colonist. By 1775, the ration was 3 to 1.

American Exceptionalism: We Will Talk About This in a Bit


Hey guys, in honor of punctuation day, I thought I would share all this COOL punctuation knowledge. Thanks punctuation, for helping people end their sentences for thousands of years!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Current Ethical Problem: "Native" or "Branded" Content

Which is just another way of describing PR or advertising masquerading as editorial content.

The New York Times recently highlighted a sometimes controversial new practice in advertising -- sponsored content on news sites, also known as "branded content" and "native advertising."

From iMedia Ethics.

As the Times explained in its April 8 report, many sites including Mashable, The Washington Post and BuzzFeed "all use some form of branded content." The content is paid for by advertisers but sometimes written by the site's staff and "almost indistinguishable" from news content. The Times quoted well-known writer and former Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan as calling this type of content "corporate propaganda."

While many view these types of content as a re-tread of advertorials, Mashable editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff rejected that label.  Ulanoff told the Times "these are not advertorials...I know what an advertorial is. These are pure editorial."
One such example of this sponsor content gone wrong came from The Atlantic earlier this year.  In January, The Atlantic unpublished and apologized  for a piece labeled "sponsor content" that promoted Scientology. The ad/article even included a comment section.

iMediaEthics asked the Times if it plans on ever hosting this type of ad.  Corporate Communications manager Stephanie Yera told iMediaEthics by email:

"It is a priority at The Times that our readers are able to clearly distinguish advertising messages from our news and editorial content.  For this reason, we tend not to accept native advertising or branded content."
Enhanced by Zemanta

If You are Interested in the Ethics of the Obit...

...check out the Portraits of Grief honoring the victims of 9/11.

Or check this movie about a writer helping a fire captain compose eulogies for firemen who died in the twin towers. Among other things, it's a lesson in interviewing.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jay Rosen Explains Horse Race Journalism to the Australians (Plus Gives Props to Twitter and Beyond)

Is This an Ethical Lead? Seriously

The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey.
The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 8:35 a.m., and I’m naked in Barbara Buono’s bathroom. If you haven’t heard of Barbara Buono, don’t worry—you are not alone. Buono is the Democratic nominee for governor of New Jersey, but she is being almost comically overshadowed by her Republican opponent, Chris Christie—the savvily obnoxious, wildly popular governor who in several weeks is expected to annihilate Buono at the polls by 20 points or more, and then, presumably, focus on running for president in 2016.
So what am I doing naked in the guest bathroom of a gubernatorial candidate? (The bathroom, like the rest of her home, is tasteful, if unremarkable: butterfly prints on the wall, a boombox on the sink.) A few days earlier I had interviewed Buono for the first time. Having heard that the 60-year-old state senator kept up a rigorous exercise routine, I asked if I could go jogging with her. Rather than demur or laugh it off, she agreed without hesitation. And so, on a muggy Tuesday morning in late August, we ran five miles near Buono’s Metuchen, New Jersey, house—for the record, she is in fantastic shape—and afterward I asked if I could wash my face. Hospitably she told me to go ahead and take a shower.
It’s possible that, in agreeing to run with me—to say nothing of letting me bathe in her home—Buono was just being a good sport and humoring a pain-in-the-ass reporter, but she may also have had other incentives. One is that her opponent is famously obese, and going on a run with a reporter may have struck her as an easy-enough opportunity to highlight their contrasting levels of physical fitness. (In the interest of balance, I asked Christie’s press secretary, Kevin Roberts, if the governor might be up for a jog. “We’ll have to see what the schedule looks like,” Roberts replied.) But the more likely explanation, I think, is the simpler one, and it’s also probably the reason Buono was willing to let me spend so much time with her over the course of several days last month: at this point, she needs just about any kind of media attention she can get.

The rest of the story.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Ethics of Sports Journalism

Elsewhere in sports reporting, The State tells its sports columnist he can’t cover University of South Carolina football. Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post thinks “This is ridiculous.” Freelancer Staci D. Kramer tweeted: “@thestate publisher giving a source coverage control damages, detracts from all @McClatchyCo journalists.” Zak Keefer with the Indianapolis Star wrote, “Sorry, Coach Spurrier, but reporters are allowed to ask questions (gasp) you don't like.”

This is from Muck Rack.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blogging on Syria from the Middle East: Ethical Reporting?

My former Journalism Adviser is currently in the Middle East reporting for his own Blog.  Is he doing a good job? Check it out here:

Thoughts about Obit Writing: Is There an Ethical Contradiction Here?

This is from, which I find useful. However, do these two grafs fit together?

As we are reminded throughout The News Manual, news is about people and it is people who make much of the news. However, we report the things which they do day by day and week by week, a little bit at a time. It is sometimes good to gather together all the things done by a person, and write a round-up of their contribution to society. But when can we write such a review of a person's lifetime?

We can choose an occasion such as their retirement, or their 70th or 80th birthday. However, people who contribute in a big way to society often do not really retire at all, and many remain active beyond the age of 70 or 80. For this reason, the time to sum up somebody's lifetime's work is usually when they die. Such a piece of writing is called an obituary, or usually by its abbreviated title - an obit.

It serves the same function as a speech delivered at a person's funeral - it marks the proper respect due to the person who has died and gives them a proper send-off.

It would be unthinkable to bury the dead body of someone who has been a member of our family, without saying some words about them.

If a newspaper, radio or television station wants to be part of a community, it must mark the deaths of notable figures in that community. It must deliver those funeral speeches, as obits.


Be honest

Nobody is perfect, and it would be dishonest to write an obituary which ignores the mistakes a person has made, and overstates the things they have done well. If you do this once, then your praise becomes worthless. What good is it to be praised by a newspaper, radio or television station which praises everyone?

An obituary should be a balanced account of the good and bad things which a person did. For example, the obituary of the former President of the United States, Richard Nixon, will need to include the shame and scandal of the Watergate break-in and the cover-up which followed, but it will also need to include the brilliance of his foreign policy.

There is a story of a priest delivering a funeral address. He spoke of the dead man as if he was perfect, exaggerating his good points and making no reference to his bad points. Finally, the dead man's son threw himself weeping on the coffin. "Dad!" he cried, "I had no idea you were so great!"
The priest's description was not accurate. People who knew a man should recognise him in the obituary which you write.

(Personal note: At my own dad's funeral, there was so much BS being spoken by the speakers, I got up and reminded the audience that my dad persevered in spite of all his failures, which was the lesson I thought his assembled grandkids and great grandkids should take away. My thoughts were greeted with stony faces by everyone outside the family. And a little later the preacher got up and more or less pointed out that my dad was very sad sometimes because his son was going to hell.)

Should Unemployed Journalists Hire Out as Obit Writers?

It is so suggested.

Speaking of business models, I think obituaries are just one of many areas where entrepreneurial journalists can develop healthy businesses taking a different approach to life’s storytelling opportunities. These certainly will present some ethical challenges. You won’t have the independence from news sources that most journalists cherish and protect. But you can insist on accuracy and you can encourage dealing honestly with ups and downs of life. Journalists for hire will need to develop appropriate ethical guidelines and be transparent about them. But ghost writers have been dealing with these issues for years.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Dart Center Tips for Interviewing Victims of Trauma

It's quite a detailed discussion. Whenever I read this, it always raises the same question: Should such empathy and compassion be extended to all interview subjects?

Definite Ethical Implications Here, Including for Interviewing

First the longterm trend

Another way of slicing the data in a 2012 survey.
Here's the partisan breakdown.

Submitted for Your Consideration Source Newspaper Association of America

Friday, September 06, 2013

This is Not What I Mean by 'Slippery Slope.' I Mean Possible, Not Inevitable

The False Laugh and the Echoed Emotion: From a Thinker about Interviewing I Admire

Who's Got the Last Laugh Now?
Who's Got the Last Laugh Now? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Funny Chocolate Joke on Black Chalk Board
Funny Chocolate Joke on Black Chalk Board (Photo credit:
From this The Center of the Onion is What You Want

 I try to do everything else that I can to make sources feel comfortable enough to talk with me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t ask questions. It means I ask lots of questions. But what I mainly try to do is to be a great audience. I egg them on; I nod; I look straight into their eyes; I laugh at their jokes, whether I think they’re funny or not; I get serious when they’re serious. I kind of echo whatever emotion they seem to be sending to me. I do whatever it takes to get them talking.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Why, This Little Robot Would Make a Darn Good Reporter

ASIMO is an advanced humanoid robot developed ...
ASIMO is an advanced humanoid robot developed by Honda. Shown here at Expo 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 From this story in the Economist

Takayuki Kanda of the ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories in Kyoto says that collaborative, humanoid robots should generally be no larger than a six-year-old, a size most adults reckon they could overpower if necessary.
....It turns out, for example, that people are more trusting of robots that use metaphors rather than abstract language, says Bilge Mutlu....He has found that robots are more persuasive when they refer to the opinions of humans and limit pauses to about a third of a second to avoid appearing confused. Robots’ gazes must also be carefully programmed lest a stare make someone uncomfortable.
....When a person enters a room, robots inside should pause for a moment and acknowledge the newcomer, a sign of deference that puts people at ease....It is vital that a robot of this sort is not perceived as hostile, but as having its owner’s best interests at heart....One way to do this is to give robots a defining human trait—the ability to make mistakes. Maha Salem, a researcher under Dr Dautenhahn, programmed a humanoid Asimo robot, made by Honda, to make occasional harmless mistakes such as pointing to one drawer while talking about another. When it comes to household robots, test subjects prefer those that err over infallible ones, Dr Salem says.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Is This Ethical Interviewing?

Hierarchy of the U.S State Department. Click t...
Hierarchy of the U.S State Department. Click the image to enlarge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Associated Press reporter asked the State Department on Thursday if there had been a "group spine-removal procedure" following President Obama's decision to seek congressional approval for a military strike on Syria.
Seemingly perplexed over how Sec. of State John Kerry could call Obama's move "courageous," the AP's Matt Lee asked State Dept. spokesperson Jen Psaki, "What is courageous about asking permission for something that you say you don’t need [to ask permission for]?"
Psaki replied with a pro-forma answer, reiterating Secretary Kerry's support for the president's decision, before being interrupted by Lee.
"Was there a group spine-removal procedure at the White House over the weekend?" Lee asked. "I don't understand. How is this courageous?"
Psaki replied, "Well, Matt, obviously the president has the authority to act without the cooperation of Congress. But the president and the secretary strongly agreed that when the administration and the people's representatives stand together, that strengthens our case and makes our case even stronger internationally."

Enhanced by Zemanta

When Journalists Start Pursuing, Ethics Too Often Get Left Behind

Interesting read based a bit off of the first chapter of From Milton to McLuhan. 

"Perhaps reporters should follow the advice of the authors of "Doing Ethics in Journalism," a book that helps guide young reporters through ethical decision-making. Its authors suggest that among the questions reporters might ask themselves before taking apart the misdeeds of others is how they (the reporters) would want to be treated if the tables were turned. Surely part of that answer would be: "I'd like to be able to know who my accusers are.""

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Photos of children in wartime, is it ethical? A case study on Syria.

I've noticed there have been a lot of photos of dead or horrifically maimed children in recent days, such as this one featured in WaPo (click at your own risk, it's not particularly bloody or gory due to to the fact that chemical weapons were used, but it's immensely disheartening and difficult to  look at).
In any case, it got me thinking about the ethical issues. There are already some qualms about photographing dead people and publishing them, but in war this seems to be suspended. However, children are often used for inflammatory purpose and often the family of these children don't know that they're dead. Is it ethical to be publishing these images? As minors, they're under the protective care of someone else and, if the children were living and in the US, parental or guardian consent is required to take children's photos in a lot of cases.