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Weeks 1-13 Study Points from The Elements of Journalism lectures. Issues in Journalism. Week 13 (Nov. 14-21). Monday Chapter 8 lecture Cain blog assignment due Essay assigned Wednesday Reading assignment: Chapter 9 Quiz. Raising Cain!. Some selections from student research:

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weeks 1 13 study points from the elements of journalism lectures
Weeks 1-13

Study Points from The Elements of Journalism lectures

Issues in Journalism

week 13 nov 14 21
Week 13 (Nov. 14-21)
  • Monday
  • Chapter 8 lecture
  • Cain blog assignment due
  • Essay assigned
  • Wednesday
  • Reading assignment: Chapter 9
  • Quiz
raising cain
Raising Cain!
  • Some selections from student research:
  • (Haley Chouinard)Cain's words are entirely contradicting his actions, and it is this contradiction that is turning this story into an example of Argument Culture. In Cain's quest to deflect from his own scandal he is even claiming that he was set up by a "network of enemies." He made those claims on Fox News and the Daily Kos posted a video of the broadcast. http://www.dailykos.com/tv/w/002913/
raising cain1
Raising Cain!
  • (Kevin Robinson)
  • The Cain controversy, like most other media issues, has become a shouting match between liberals and conservatives. On the left, sites like Huffington Post are inundated with videos, like this one from Rachel Maddow condemning Cain and his staff
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/rachel-maddow-herman-cain-lin-wood_n_1087997.html?ref=media
raising cain2
Raising Cain!
  • (Allison Smith)In the later stages of the discussion, focus has turned from Cain himself to his wife, who will be interviewed by Greta Van Susteren, according to Mediaite.com. This focus on the story is more entertainment-worthy than anything else, as demonstrated by the comments which were posted under the blog. Many commenters respond by saying things like "the wife is the last to know."
  • http://www.mediaite.com/tv/gloria-cain-shoots-down-allegations-to-greta-van-susteren-herman-would-have-to-have-a-split-personality/
raising cain3
Raising Cain!
  •  Will Isern:
  • Herman Cain has called the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him an attack by the Perry campaign. He has called them a fabrication of the "liberal machine". He has called them a "high-tech lynching" by the news media. He has called them preposterous and baseless. The only thing he hasn't called them is that which they likely are, true. Truthfulness aside however, the media's handling of the scandal has gone a long way to highlight the argument culture of today's news media, has brought forth some good examples of journalism, and has provided some obvious examples of bias for critique.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pohc5rYeCJw&feature=player_embedded
engagement and relevance
Engagement and relevance
  • Storytelling and information are not contradictory. They are better understood as two points on a continuum of communicating. (page 188)
  • …Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. That purpose is to provide people with information they need to understand the world.
engagement and relevance1
Engagement and relevance
  • The first challenge is finding information people need to live their lives.
  • The second is to make it meaningful, relevant, and engaging. (page 189)
  • Relevant, engaged, interestings
  • It’s a responsibility as critical as verification and independence from outside interests.
engagement and relevance2
Engagement and relevance
  • http://www.npr.org/2011/09/09/140293993/slain-priest-bury-his-heart-but-not-his-love
engagement and relevance3
Engagement and relevance
  • What stands in the way of news being delivered in a compelling way?
  • Laziness, formula, bias, haste, ignorance, cultural blinders…lack of time, training.
  • Writing a compelling story outside the usual formula or crafting a riveting video piece outside the usual dictates of a news cast involves effort and commitment.
engagement and relevance4
Engagement and relevance
  • Good journalistic presentation is the always the result of solid, deep reporting that adds the detail and context that holds a good piece together.
  • Yet, even with time and commitment, getting the audience to read, listen and watch is becoming more difficult. Some say people want shorter stories. Others argue the stories need to target audiences and be more compelling. (Page 190-191)
engagement and relevance5
Engagement and relevance
  • The Lure of Infotainment:
  • Engaging, often salacious, gossip-driven, celebrity-driven, funny, obnoxious, sappy, addictive… and it gets audience.
  • These are the classic gimmicks of tabloidism: the news as revealed truth, as sex, or as celebrity scandal. (page 192)
  • http://www.tmz.com/videos/
engagment and relevance
Engagment and relevance
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0kKDVaHyzk
  • http://vimeo.com/24741759
engagement and relevance6
Engagement and relevance
  • Trying to attract audiences by being merely engaging will fail as a business strategy for journalism.
  • 1. News programming fixated on trivia and entertainment withers the appetite and expectations for anything else.
  • 2. Destroys a news organization’s authority to deliver serious news and drives away audiences who want it.
  • 3. You’re not playing to your strengths.
infotainment or journalism
Infotainment or journalism?
  • http://abcnews.go.com/US/gabby_giffords/humor-determination-key-congresswoman-gabrielle-giffords-recovery/story?id=14944407
week 12 nov 7 11
Week 12 (Nov. 7-11)
  • Quiz on Wednesday (Chapter 7 only!)
  • Assignment: Read Chapter 8 for next week and Monday, Nov. 14 quiz.
  • Blogs and tweets due today on The New York Times
  • Check-in
journalism as a public forum
Journalism as a public forum
  • New technology provides an incredible opportunity for a world-wide forum tailor-made for good journalism.
  • Providing a forum for criticism and compromise is critical for a free society.
  • But new technology also can distort, mislead and overwhelm the functions of a free press.
  • The forum is fueled by the increasing power of citizen journalism and the blending of journalism and conversation.
journalism as a public forum1
Journalism as a public forum
  • Journalism must provide a public forum for public criticism and compromise
  • But today it’s often the “Argument Culture”
  • Media gives voices a platform but many times the result is: Polarization, oriented to one class over another, lacking verification and diminished level of reporting
  • A shouting match
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFQFB5YpDZE
engagement and relevance7
Engagement and relevance
  • Engagement: Storytelling versus information: They are a continuum of understanding.
  • Data and narrative all go together when it comes to disseminating information
  • But most journalism today is a mixture
  • The key to meeting journalism’s responsibility to serve the public interest is to engage and be relevant
  • http://www.pnj.com/section/special
engagement and relevance8
Engagement and relevance
  • Journalism is storytelling with a purpose
  • “The first challenge is finding the information that people need to live their lives. The second is to make it meaningful, relevant and engaging.” (pg.189)
  • Journalists must do their work in a way that makes people take notice.
  • Compelling journalism can reach a vast audience
  • http://www.pnj.com/section/special
9 engagement and relevance
9:Engagement and relevance
  • Journalists must make the significant interesting and relevant
  • But does that mean emphasizing news that is fun and fascinating, and plays on our sensations? Or should we stick to the news that is the most important?
  • Should journalists give people what they need or what they want? (pg. 187)
  • Is the choice news or infotainment?
engagement and relevance9
Engagement and relevance
  • Presentation is key in order to be compelling. But when resources are cut and news rooms lose personnel, the output can be marginal.
  • But the Internet offers possibilities in producing and providing compelling stories that can reach vast audiences.
  • Use of video, digital images/graphics and non-traditional sources of information can be helpful
how to engage
How to engage
  • Take a complex issue that people need to know about: Politics
  • Tell a story that provides perspective and compels you to want to know more
  • Provide substance by using interesting storytelling approaches
  • Infotainment strategy can work in traditional journalism… to a point. It has to be relevant.
  • People want substance
a radio program
A radio program
  • This American Life engages in storytelling of complex issues with humor, verve and a unique blend of irreverence and courage.
  • Take tomorrow’s election for example.
  • http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/417/this-party-sucks
monitor power
Monitor power
  • Investigative reporting is an important tool
  • Today journalists see watchdog as central to their work (pg. 143)
  • This role differentiates journalism from other forms of communication
  • “Comfort the afflicted and…(pg. 141)
  • The concept is much more nuanced
  • Monitoring institutions: reporting the good and bad.
  • Constant criticism is meaningless if you lose your audience
wiki leaks
Wiki leaks
  • Iraq war documents published on web site
  • Used by mainstream media
  • http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/w/wikileaks/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=wikileaks&st=cse
  • Is this the traditional watchdog role?
  • Is this investigative reporting?
  • Is this meaningful information/criticism?
  • Does the public’s right to know outweigh the impact on the military?
  • http://www.mediaite.com/online/the-weekend-of-wikileaks-begins-embargo-ends-and-the-torrent-of-classified-info-starts-to-seep-out/
  • NPR fires news analyst Juan Williams
  • “He was explicitly and repeatedly asked to respect NPR’s standards and to avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects in public settings, as that is inconsistent with his role as an NPR news analyst.”NPR CEO Vivian Schiller
  • Should news people be allowed to express “strong personal opinions.”
  • http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/10/22/kurtz.reliable.sources/index.html?iref=allsearch
  • http://www.mediaite.com/tv/rachel-maddow-on-npr-as-election-issue-will-gop-go-after-big-bird-next/
investigative forms
Investigative forms
  • Original investigative reporting
  • Digging through documents, employing police-style work, anonymous and on the record sources
  • Digital analysis taking larger role amassing documentary evidence (pg. 146)
  • Interpretative investigating reporting
  • Uses same enterprise skills as investigative reporting but brings together information in a “new, more complex context that provides deeper public understanding.”
  • Wiki leaks, Pentagon Papers, “America: What went wrong?” (pgs. 146-147)
  • Approach criticized as unbalanced
  • Defended for bringing change
  • Reporting on investigations
  • Widely used reporting that piggybacks on the work of other investigators, primarily government officials.
  • Audits, inspector general/congressional reports on spending or programs provide fodder for news.
  • Critics say the info is valuable but can be subject to spin from the agencies producing the material.
the watchdog role weakened
The watchdog role weakened
  • The explosion of “I-team” units in the ‘80s and ‘90s has subsided somewhat but still around.
  • But… what are they investigating?
  • Sweeps topics: breast implant health concerns, consumer ripoffs, car repair schemes
  • Canned investigative reports
  • Watchdogism becomes amusement
  • Talk radio “investigative reporting”
  • Public wants investigative reporting but hates duplicity
  • Investigative reporting as prosecution
  • IR is like a criminal/civil prosecution as you make your case to the public
  • IR assumes wrongdoing
  • Advocacy reporting: IRE
  • Honest, open-minded approach
  • But approaching every story as an expose can be overreaching or confuse the public
going to far
Going to far?
  • http://benchmark.clerkofcourts.cc/CaseDetail.aspx?txt=gaston&ps=50&m=name&aka=0&s=4&caseid=400807
  • http://benchmark.clerkofcourts.cc/Search.aspx?txt=gaston&ps=50&m=name&aka=0&s=4
  • http://www.co.okaloosa.fl.us/xjailwebsite/InmateSearch.aspx
the end of investigative reporting
The end of investigative reporting?
  • Advances in technology threaten the watchdog press
  • Corporations owning media outlets (General Electric, Walt Disney etc) have assumed the status of nation states
  • The corporate owners of news outlets do not favor investigations of their actions
  • The independent voice monitoring institutions is stilled
the end of investigative reporting1
The end of investigative reporting?
  • Will corporations bear the cost of watchdog journalism or have the will to do so?
  • Print and online entities from the left, right and center purport to monitor the media today
  • Nonprofit competition: The Center for Public Integrity is created in 1990 by Charles Lewis
  • Mission: Compete with and monitor the press
  • See how broadcast news media covered itself
chapter 5 independence from faction
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • “Journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover.”
chapter 5 independence from faction1
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • Who is a journalist?
  • What separates the journalist from the political partisan, the activist and the propagandist?
  • “As the media landscape broadens and evolves to meet the need of a more inclusive and activist public … what makes something journalism?” (page 115)
  • Truthfulness, commitment to the public and watchdog role.
chapter 5 independence from faction2
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • What about opinion journalism?
  • Isn’t neutrality a key part of journalism? (page 115)
  • No. Not a core principle.
  • The difference between journalism and propaganda= Holding true to the facts and accuracy. Pursuing the truth wherever it goes despite your political leanings, philosophy or bias.
chapter 5 independence from faction3
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • Principle 4: Journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  • Independence of mind (page 119)
  • Opinion in editorials may be based on point of view… but the facts are still the facts.
  • Those that only care about opinion and not the facts are propagandists or activists. They are not journalists.
  • You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
chapter 5 independence from faction4
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • The question is not: Who is a journalist?
  • But are they doing journalism? (page 120)
chapter 5 independence from faction5
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • Reporters as activists
  • The conflict of interest test
chapter 5 independence from faction6
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • Independence reevaluated (page 1264-131)
  • The journalist as activist undermines journalistic credibility: George Will, William Kristol, etc.
  • Media personalities who are really political operatives. Best described as “media activists.” (page 127)
  • The best example: Fox News
chapter 5 independence from faction7
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • Rupert Murdoch’s Fox is “focused heavily on argument and ideology.” (page 127)
  • Creating “balance” by giving airtime to conservatives
  • But… who is running Fox? Roger Ailes, a political operative from the Nixon and Bush administrations.
  • The partisan press reinforces the preconceptions of the audience and abandons the watchdog role over the powerful. (page 128)
chapter 5 independence from faction8
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • The partisan press is all about the Journalism of Affirmation (page 128)
  • Speaking to like-minded people and not necessarily following the facts because it runs contrary to preconceptions.
  • The blurring of journalistic identities: political operatives become news people. Is that a bad thing?
chapter 5 independence from faction9
Chapter 5: Independence from Faction
  • Independence from class or economic status
  • Class isolation of journalists is a threat because the public sees them as an “elite” or a part of the establishment: The Mainstream Media.
  • Independence from race, ethnicity, religion and gender.
  • Do hold allegiance to core principles of journalism or are you held hostage to your situation?
journalism of verification
Journalism of verification
  • “The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification.”
  • It is what separates journalism from “entertainment, propaganda, fiction or art.” (page 79)
  • Verification is the central function of journalism.
  • Getting the facts straight about what happened.
journalism of verification1
Journalism of verification
  • “[Journalists] are in what we call the reality-based community…That’s not the way the world works anymore …When we act, we create our own reality.” (page 30 TEOJ)
journalism of verification2
Journalism of verification
  • Campaign spokesman Brian Rogers told Politico.com on Friday, "We recognize it's not going to be 2000 again," when McCain wooed the press with his "Straight Talk Express" campaign. "But he lost then. We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it."
journalism of verification4
Journalism of verification
  • The role of verification in society
  • Journalists don’t always articulate its importance as it is seen as a no-brainer to get the facts right.
  • But note Walter Lippman’s quote:
  • “There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the information by which to detect lies.” (page 80)
journalism of verification5
Journalism of verification
  • Discipline of verification under pressure:
  • Publish first because you can always correct it later.
  • Publish news simply because it’s already “out there” in this new media system regardless of its worth or relevance.
  • The UPI motto: “Get it first, but get it right.”
journalism of verification6
Journalism of verification
  • The Lost Meaning of Objectivity (page 81)
  • Fantasy world: Journalists are unbiased
  • Real world: It’s much more complicated and that’s a good thing.
  • Realism emerges with the inverted pyramid as a way to divorce bias from verification in the 19th century.
  • 20th century media thinkers say cultural blinders can distort “realism” and notions of objectivity are naïve.
  • “…the journalist is not objective but his method can be. The key was in the discipline of the craft, not the aim.” (page 83)
journalism of verification7
Journalism of verification
  • What is the system of verification journalism employs to report news?
  • Is it an exact methodology like a chemistry experiment that can be replicated time after time with guaranteed results?
  • Not exactly but it needs to be based on standards and practices.
  • “The notion of an objective method or reporting exists in pieces, handed down by word of mouth from reporter to reporter. “ (page 85)
journalism of verification8
Journalism of verification
  • Journalists have techniques of verification (Investigative Reporters and Editors methodology) but not much of a system testing “the reliability of journalistic interpretation.” (page 85)
  • Unless journalists communicate to the public how they reach conclusions, report facts and present “truth” the public will be skeptical.
  • That’s a danger to journalism and healthy public debate on problems.
  • Bottom line: There must be a professional method employed
journalism of verification9
Journalism of verification
  • Journalism of assertion vs. journalism of verification
  • Internet influences weakening methodology of verification
  • Less time spent on gathering facts and more time spent on reusing and reinterpreting already reported facts.
  • Herd mentality
  • Balloon boy
journalism of verification10
Journalism of verification
  • Gore example. (page 87)
  • Journalists run the risk of becoming more passive receivers if they continue to process all the data coming in.
  • Fairness and balance can help counteract the problem.
  • But each has a trap for the journalist (page 88)
journalism of verification11
Journalism of verification
  • A need for a system of objective method of verification all journalists can agree on. (page 89)
  • 1. Never add anything that was not there
  • 2. Never deceive the audience
  • 3. Be as transparent as possible about your methods and motives
  • 4. Rely on your own original reporting
  • 5. Exercise humility
journalism of verification12
Journalism of verification
  • 1. Never add anything that was not there
  • “Journalism’s implicit credo is “nothing here was made up.” (page 90)
  • Narrative devices, embellishing of facts, reporting things that were not said, reporting things that happened out of sequence for dramatic effect, using composite sources and staging photographs/video.
do not add the case of jayson blair
Do not add: The case of Jayson Blair
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/11/national/11PAPE.html?pagewanted=3
  • In an article on March 27, 2003 that carried a dateline from Palestine, W.Va., Mr. Blair wrote that Private Lynch's father, Gregory Lynch Sr., "choked up as he stood on his porch here overlooking the tobacco fields and cattle pastures."
  • The porch overlooks no such thing.
  • He also wrote that Private Lynch's family had a long history of military service; it does not, family members said. He wrote that their home was on a hilltop; it is in a valley.
  • The article astonished the Lynch family and friends, said Brandi Lynch, Jessica's sister. "We were joking about the tobacco fields and the cattle."
  • Asked why no one in the family called to complain about the many errors, she said, "We just figured it was going to be a one-time thing."
do not deceive
Do not deceive
  • False photographs
  • Changing quotes
  • Manipulating video sound bites
  • Messing with chronology
  • Fudging facts
  • http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-november-10-2009/sean-hannity-uses-glenn-beck-s-protest-footage
be transparent about method
Be transparent about method
  • Want to stand for truth? Then explain your method to your readers/audience. (page 92)
  • Reveal your sources and methods of verification.
  • Then the audience can judge your motives, the process followed and the validity of the information.
  • This signals respect journalists have for their audience. Reinforces public interest mission.
  • The problem with anonymous sources
  • The reason we need them
  • How to protect everybody involved if we use them
  • Misleading sources is wrong: no bluffing or deception
  • But what about undercover reporting?
  • The test: Must be vital info, no other way to get the story and reveal to the audience why you engaged in deception.
rely on your own original reporting
Rely on your own original reporting
  • Do you own work. Get out of the herd mentality of reporting because “it’s out there” already and we have to get it. (page 99)
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECwPAzqj4SA
journalism of verification13
Journalism of verification
  • We fail the audience when we make factual errors, typos and jump to conclusions.
  • Don’t assume anything
  • We must be self-correcting and watchful over our own product and methods.
who journalists work for
Who Journalists Work For
  • Journalism is a business
  • Corporate incentive programs
  • Bonus pay for news executives based on profits, not quality of journalism
  • This shift has impacts: Loss of faith with news consumer, plummeting newsroom morale and restricts journalists’ ability “to provide the news “without fear or favor.” (p.52)
who journalists work for1
Who Journalists Work For
  • In this climate of profit over public advocacy, a journalist’s devotion to pursuing the truth is not enough.
  • Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens
  • This covenant with the public trust is vital
  • It is based on the belief that the journalist’s work is not slanted, shoddy or influenced by the media outlet’s owner or financial interests
who journalists work for2
Who Journalists Work For
  • “The allegiance to citizens is the meaning of what we have come to call journalistic independence. “(p.53)
  • Pew Survey: 80 percent of journalists surveyed said the core principal of journalism was making the viewer, listener, reader “your first obligation.” (p.53)
  • http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=315
who journalists work for3
Who Journalists Work For
  • In interviews with psychologists, 70 percent of journalists “placed audience” as their first loyalty above employer, themselves, their family and their profession. (p. 53)
  • This code of loyalty to the public has caused friction in newsrooms around the nation.
who journalists work for4
Who Journalists Work For
  • Journalistic independence becomes isolation and disengagement from community (p. 57)
  • Moving away from the covenant of loyalty
  • Journalists moving up the chain, business decisions to target specific demographics (the richest or biggest audience) and ignoring others.
  • Smaller circulation but more affluent customers for advertisers
who journalists work for5
Who Journalists Work For
  • The Wall
  • Advertising, circulation and the business of running a newspaper/broadcast outlet is firewalled from the news operation.
  • Risk of having no firewall: Advertisers dictating news coverage. Integrity challenged by the public
  • The Citizen as Customer runs contrary to the mission of journalism
who journalists work for6
Who Journalists Work For
  • If the wall fails, then what can be done to bolster the allegiance between citizens and journalists? (page 69-75)
  • The owner must be committed to citizens first
  • Hire business managers who also put citizens first
  • Set and communicate clear standards
  • Journalists have final say over news
  • Communicate clear standards to the public
who journalists work for7
Who Journalists Work For
  • “The allegiance to citizens is the meaning of what we have come to call journalistic independence. “(p.53)
  • Pew Survey: 80 percent of journalists surveyed said the core principal of journalism was making the viewer, listener, reader “your first obligation.” (p.53)
  • http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=315
who journalists work for8
Who Journalists Work For
  • Journalism in the public interest is eroding due to tensions between the newsroom and business side.
  • Layoffs, downsizing, efficiencies = poor morale, lack of resources to cover news and dispensation of journalistic propriety.
  • Bad economic times resulted in layoffs but when “good” times returned jobs were not restored.
who journalists work for9
Who Journalists Work For
  • The notion that investing in good journalism would result in better circulation or larger audiences never caught on in the boardrooms of the corporations that owned news operations.
  • Tightening the belt to increase revenues began a death spiral regarding audience.
  • “It was a … strategy of liquidating the industry.” (page 66)
who journalists work for10
Who Journalists Work For
  • “The allegiance to citizens is the meaning of what we have come to call journalistic independence. “(p.53)
  • Pew Survey: 80 percent of journalists surveyed said the core principal of journalism was making the viewer, listener, reader “your first obligation.” (p.53)
  • http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=315
who journalists work for11
Who Journalists Work For
  • As more readers went online, more companies that had cut newsroom budgets actually suffered… news entities that invested in newsroom personnel fared better in the online shift. (Page 67)
  • But overall, covering news on behalf of the public interest is a controversial proposition in news companies.
who journalists work for12
Who Journalists Work For
  • The rank and file of the newsroom will fight for the public but the results are mixed depending on the corporate philosophy of those in the boardroom controlling the operation.
  • A mixed record depending on where you work.
  • The commitment to journalism varies and is always in jeopardy depending on market situations and the economy.
who journalists work for13
Who Journalists Work For
  • Maintaining the journalistic mission to stand up for the public requires news operations to work cooperatively with the business side of the company.
  • The authors cite these characteristics of companies that have made the transition.
who journalists work for14
Who Journalists Work For
  • They are:
  • 1. The owner must be committed to citizens first.
  • 2. Hire business managers who also put citizens first.
  • 3. Set and communicate clear standards
  • 4. Journalist have final say over news
  • 5. Communicate clear standards to the public
ch 1 review
Ch. 1 review
  • What is the primary purpose of journalism?How did journalism "free" Poland and other Soviet-bloc nations? What's the problem with trying to define journalism today?Define the Awareness Instinct.What is the first task of the new journalist/sense maker given the mind-boggling amount of information and news-delivery technology available today?What was Walter Lippmann's take on the public's interest in accurate news and the role of the press in a democracy?Define the theory of the interlocking public and give a pertinent example.What happens when journalism focuses on the expectations of the expert elite or writes stories aimed at the largest possible audience?List the "three major forces" that the book's authors say are eroding journalism's ability to build community, promote the interest of citizens and monitor the activities of government and powerful special interests? What's the danger to a free press posed by each of these forces?
first essay
First essay
  • 1. You would think the pullout of all combat forces from Iraq would have dominated the news. After all, with more than 4,000 dead and tens of thousands soldiers wounded so far in the war, not to mention trillions spent, the conflict has impacted all Americans. So which factors were at work, according to Tom's analysis, that pushed the massive coverage of the mosque over the withdrawal from Iraq? 2. Do you agree with the emphasis placed on the mosque by a majority of news outlets? Why? If not, which of the other stories analyzed this week: the economy, elections, Iraq etc. should have been given more news hole? 3. What kind of personal insight about news coverage did you come away with after reading Tom's analysis? Which factors do you think drove the coverage of various stories? Is this process fair? Is it logical? Does it serve the American news consumer? 4. Consider the review of top stories in light of the 10 Elements of Journalism (the list is on the back of the front cover of the text and is explained in the preface of the text) and answer this question: Did the decision makers who made the mosque story number 1 heed any of the 10 Elements of Journalism? Which of the elements did they honor? Which ones did they ignore? Defend your point of view.
the elements of journalism
The Elements of Journalism

Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth… (p. 36 TEOJ)

But what is truth?

Is it accuracy?





truth the first principle
Truth: The first principle
  • The definition of news sometimes leaves “truth” in a muddle.
  • Why were Tiger’s indiscretions “news.”
  • Glen Beck’s D.C. gathering
  • Lindsey Lohan…
  • News is what ever is newsworthy on a given day: Tom Brokaw.
  • Failure by journalists to define what they do leaves the public with the notion the press is hiding something or deluding itself. (pg. 41)
truth the first principle1
Truth: The first principle
  • “[Journalists] are in what we call the reality-based community…That’s not the way the world works anymore …When we act, we create our own reality.” (page 30 TEOJ)

Oil plume lingering in Gulf, study confirms

  • Published: 8:19 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
  • New research confirms the existence of a huge plume of dispersed oil deep in the Gulf of Mexico and suggests that it has not broken down rapidly, raising the possibility that it might pose a threat to wildlife for months or even years.
  • The study, the most ambitious scientific paper to emerge so far from the Deepwater Horizon spill, casts some doubt on recent statements by the federal government that oil in the Gulf appears to be dissipating at a brisk clip. However, the lead scientist in the research,

WASHINGTON | Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:25pm EDT

  • WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Manhattan-sized plume of oil spewed deep into the Gulf of Mexico by BP's broken Macondo well has been consumed by a newly discovered fast-eating species of microbes, scientists reported on Tuesday.
  • These latest findings may initially seem to be at odds with a study published last Thursday in Science by researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which confirmed the existence of the oil plume and said micro-organisms did not seem to be biodegrading it very quickly.
anatomy of a lie
Anatomy of a lie
  • http://biggovernment.com/abreitbart/2010/07/19/video-proof-the-naacp-awards-racism2010/
  • http://www.naacp.org/news/entry/video_sherrod/
  • http://biggovernment.com/abreitbart/2010/07/19/video-proof-the-naacp-awards-racism2010/
  • Fox coverage:
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/23/fox-news-shirley-sherrod_n_657512.html
journalistic truth
Journalistic truth
  • Facts are subject to revision and journalists realize that… but that’s the “truth” we are seeking – a functional or practical form of truth.
  • “It is not truth in the absolute or philosophical sense. It is not the truth of a chemical equation. Journalism can– and must– pursue the truths by which we can operate on a day-to-day basis.”(pg. 42)
journalistic truth1
Journalistic truth
  • To find truth journalists sort it out… realize it’s a process sometimes… it takes time to parse true and false… lies and facts…
  • We must follow procedures and ethics regarding coverage.
  • A transparent process and training reveals the “functional truth” (pg.42)… the facts of an arrest, the outcome of an election…etc.
  • But is accuracy enough?
journalistic truth2
Journalistic truth
  • Accuracy is not enough. Though it may be the beginning, it’s just the start of a process.
  • “It is no longer enough to report the fact truthfully. It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact.” (pg 42)
  • For journalists this means getting the facts straight and making sense of the facts.
  • It should be about finding meaning, not just data.
journalistic truth3
Journalistic truth
  • The Steen case and it’s layers are a good example of this process.
  • The story begins as a tragic, but simple cops story.
  • It evolves to encompass stories about the life in the Pensacola ghetto and flaws in police procedure.
  • The coverage gets mired in stereotypes (bad cops and drug dealing black people).
  • The coverage needed context and nuance besides the facts of the story.
journalistic truth4
Journalistic truth
  • That doesn’t mean that accuracy doesn’t matter.
  • Accuracy is the foundation for: Interpretation, context, debate and all of public communication (pg. 43).
  • If those debating, arguing, talking have the wrong facts, the outcome is flawed.
  • That’s the problem with cable news shows and talk radio… and websites devoted to “interpreting” the news.
journalistic truth5
Journalistic truth
  • It’s best to understand journalistic truth as a process that takes time. It takes subsequent stories and efforts to refine the facts and correct errors and impart meaning.
  • It takes experience, a sense of history and knowledge about a subject and the courage to uncover the story, wherever it leads.
  • But can it be done?
truth the first principle2
Truth: The first principle
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0KQWTBljjg
  • “The Truth … was a complicated and sometimes contradictory phenomenon, but seen as a process over time, journalists can get at it.” (pg. 44)
journalistic truth6
Journalistic truth
  • The payoff in pursuing the truth with a clear objective, experience and desire to get the facts straight: “Getting news that comes closer to a complete version of the truth has real consequences.” (pg. 45)
  • The public begins to form attitudes as news is broken given the context in the way the facts are presented.
  • So accuracy is key. Then meaning.
journalistic truth7
Journalistic truth
  • Is the substitute for “truth” fairness and balance?
  • Both terms are difficult to define. At least truthfulness can be tested on several levels.
  • A “balanced” story may be unfair to the truth.
  • It could lead to a distortion of the facts.
  • Global warming. The anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. All examples of story that could include unfair balance.
journalistic truth8
Journalistic truth
  • What forces are working against a journalist’s professed search for the truth?
  • In the continuous news cycle, journalists are shoveling out information without sufficient time to check things out creating a journalism of assertion rather than verification.
  • The pursuit of big stories to gain mass audiences at the expense of context and clarity.
  • The rise of news sites that aggregate stories and let the public sort out rumors, speculation and spin.
journalistic truth9
Journalistic truth
  • The instinct for truth today is crucial.
  • Paradox: Even with all the outlets for information at our disposal, finding truth in some ways takes more work than ever before. (pg 48)
  • The press needs to sift out rumor, spin and the insignificant so people can know what to believe and to trust.
  • So it’s verfication first and interpretation later is a good way to answer the question: Where is the good stuff?