April 15!. Today. Storytelling exercise Discuss coverage of Boston attacks Lecture on objectivity Two debates. Boston Coverage. If you were the only crew on the ground, how would you cover this unfolding story? Breaking News Coverage Medium Use of social networks (using storify )
The stories journalists tell help the public make sense of confusing, threatening times.
If I were chronicling events directly affecting my family and me, would I alter the wording in any way?
Journalists should understand that their coverage ... must be about facts, not speculation and conspiracy theories that stir people into irrational action.
Early live reports of terrorist attacks are sometimes confusing and misleading.
“Objectivity is seeing the world as it is, not how you wish it were.”
Journalistic objectivity is a genuine effort to be an honest broker when it comes to news. That means playing it straight without favoring one side when the facts are in dispute, regardless of your own views and preferences. It means doing stories that will make your friends mad when appropriate and not doing stories that are actually hit jobs or propaganda masquerading as journalism.
Objectivity isn’t something a reporter IS, but rather something a reporter DOES.
Four characteristics of a "good" news story -- good both by professional and ethical criteria.
They are as truthful, unbiased, full and fair as possible.
Fairness is different from the other characteristics in several wayss:
Being ethical does not force a journalist to choose between truthfulness and fairness. It\'s not necessarily an either-or problem.
Fairness is related to keeping promises, as well as to protecting those who make themselves vulnerable by entrusting you with sensitive information.
* Providing sources an opportunity to reply to information about them. This can take various forms, from obtaining multiple sides of a story (which also furthers the goal of unbiased and full truth) to offering separate space for responses, such as on an opinions or letters page.
* Treating sources with courtesy and compassion, particularly those who are not used to dealing with the press.
* Following up important stories so that sources can show (and citizens can learn) how situations have been improved or problems addressed.
* Correcting errors promptly, completely and prominently.
Being "objective" is a method -- and journalists\' use of language is a central component of that method.
Ethical Journalists focus on providing news that corresponds to reality -- that is accurate in a way that includes but goes beyond getting the facts right -- by being bothcomplete and proportional
News should be complete in the sense that it is about everyone in our society, not just the elite (or the people whom advertisers are most interested in reaching).
Judgments about completeness and proportionality are by nature subjective.
So objectivity, these folks argue, involves methods and attitudes rather than some idealized, unattainable state of human nature.
But the methods and attitudes also can create problems for journalists. The article from Columbia Journalism Review titled "Re-thinking Objectivity" highlights the difficulties, which are especially evident in political coverage but are relevant in news reporting on other topics, as well.
* Lazy reporting
* Over-reliance on official sources
* Hesitance to probe for evidence that might contradict those official sources, for fear of being attacked as biased
The author urges journalists to work to develop areas of expertise. Amid all the babble, society needs smart and independent sense-makers ...
Let\'s look a bit more closely at some of the ways journalists "make news" -- that is, construct the news in particular ways that fit their own cultural or professional ways of viewing the world, but may or may not have a lot to do with objectivity, completeness or proportionality.
U.S. journalists, especially in the leading national media, tend to share mainstream American cultural values.
Journalists fit occurrences into standard formats or frames, allowing them to "routinize the unexpected."
* Politics and government, in particular, become dangerously oversimplified.
* Journalists covering political campaigns tend to rely heavily on what other journalists -- particularly those at elite media such as The New York Timesand Washington Post -- are writing. The derogatory term for this is "pack journalism."
Political campaign advertising has become hugely influential -- and journalists do a spotty job of assessing it for truthfulness or context.
"Character" -- whatever that is -- has become a stand-in for leadership ability.
In comparison with campaigning, actual governance is more important -- but a lot less sexy and exciting. So it gets less coverage ... another problem of proportionality.
On the other hand, when journalists cover government, they too often do so from an arrogant, critical perspective that portrays government leaders as incompetent, at best.
One possible solution, a communitarian or "civic journalism" approach in which journalists take on a greater responsibility for improving society.