Reporting controversy
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Reporting controversy. “ You ’ re not going to arrest violence on the streets by slapping handcuffs on the First Amendment. ” -- executive director of The Freedom Forum, Paul McMasters, 1993 “ What is history but a fable agreed upon? ” … Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Reporting controversy

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Reporting controversy

Reporting controversy

“You’re not going to arrest violence on the streets by slapping handcuffs on the First Amendment.”-- executive director of The Freedom Forum, Paul McMasters, 1993

“What is history but a fable agreed upon?”

… Napoleon Bonaparte

Reporting controversy

  • The parson, the geologist and the cowboy were all standing together and gazing for the first time at the grand Canyon.

  • “One of the wonders of God,” the parson said.

  • “One of the wonders of science,” the geologist said.

  • “What a helluva place to raise a cow,” the cowboy said.

Reporting controversy

  • So much for objectivity.

  • With that bit of pointed whimsy, Detroit newspaper executive Derick Daniels dismissed a bit of hard-core journalistic dogma: objective reporting is the one path to truth and reality. Interpretation and depth reporting have earned a place in the pantheon of journalistic gods.

  • There are two important reasons for high school journalists to engage in reporting controversial issues:

  • To report on issues and events of importance to them

  • To make a difference in the lives of their peers.

Reporting controversy

  • No longer do scholastic publications just focus on the trite and banal topics of prom, homecoming and school spirit.

  • High school reporters today are willing to take a risk, to challenge readers to think outside of their everyday boxes of cliques, soaps and gossip, and to examine ideas and issues meaningful to their everyday existence.

  • Folksinger Pete Seeger, in Little Boxes sang of “wooden houses, all made of ticky-tacky, all the same,” in reference to the lockstep society of the late ’50s and early ’60s. Many of today’s high school students are also locked into standardized, milktoast and robotic thinking and of looking alike.

Reporting controversy

  • They need journalism that challenges their ideas, their self-images, their lack of involvement. In short, they need to be led outside the paradigm of the ticky-tacky boxes they live in.

  • They need journalists willing to make a difference, willing to be unique, willing to say “we needn’t be or think all the same.”

  • These journalists are publishing thoughtful, in-depth and meaningful stories on important and often controversial subjects.

Reporting controversy

  • The challenge is to find a way to report these issues that is unique and meets the needs of the local readers.

  • Another challenge is find a way to make whatever topic you choose have a human interest angle. The only way to do this is to relate it to real people and situations -- anecdotes, description, storytelling, narrative -- ways to make a longer, statistic- and research-based piece come alive and grab the readers.

  • A third challenge is to involve multimedia in meaningful ways so content is served no matter the platform.

Reporting controversy

  • Consider these goals for investigative reporting from the Center for Investigative Reporting:

    • Alert the public to emerging issues, crises and trends, and to stories that are unreported or underreported.

    • Provide key information to citizens, the public-interest community and public officials in as many media outlets and forms as possible.

    • Monitor the unfolding story and solutions to the problems we uncover and, whenever possible, update our stories after they appear.

  • In-depth or controversial reporting is not superficial, one of the criticisms of media today.

  • Critics of the media argue, rightly so, that the lack of space or time or willingness to be thorough, forces the press to only cover the surface and to be sensational. Critics claim issues laced with subtleties cannot be explored properly under the constraints of speed and brevity.

  • Reporting controversy

    • Emphasizing in-depth reporting implies several things:

    • It means better reporting

    • It means the use of multiple sources and even reinterviewing them several times

    • It means careful research

    • It means asking more questions than you answer

    • It means the willingness to take the time needed to do a thorough job

    • It means combining the best of news and feature reporting, of using infographics and photography and other media to get the message across

    • It means being willing to take the risk to do something that will leave a mark on your readers.

    Reporting controversy

    • Evaluating topics and stories:

    • Is the topic of the story worth in-depth treatment because of its seriousness or relevance?

    • If the story is one long piece, does it have a full-fledged introduction leading to an internal lead or nutgraph?

    • Are scenes, anecdotes and other strong examples used to involve the reader in the story?

    • If the story is broken into several pieces, does each piece deal with a different aspect of the story? If shorter pieces, is each coherent?

    • Are charts and other infographics used appropriately and effectively?

    • Is the story free from grammatical errors and in accordance with the publication and AP stylebooks?

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