Reporting Grief

Can a journalist successfully report grief or a tragedy if it is relatable? How can the journalist ethically minimize harm while remaining unbiased?

 

Journalists are expected to separate personal biases while gathering information and generating reports for the public.

In respect to ethical standards in journalism, journalists are required to maintain a balance between the public’s right to know and potential harm and discomfort the news may cause.

If the current events in the community involve relatable grief or tragedy, maintaining that balance can be a challenge.

Personal experiences that mirror current events within the community can impact journalists who will impact their report. Some impacts include unintentional influence, over exposure, or bias.

It would be difficult to report a story that is relatable with tragedy or grief involved. For example, if a journalist is a resident in a community with an increase in police brutality, it may be difficult to report ethically a story that involves police brutality.

I was informed that there are professional and ethical obligations required by journalists. There is a delicate line between being assertive versus aggressive and informational versus bias.

It is imperative for journalists to gather information respectfully, accurately report the truth, show compassion, all without bias.

A successful, responsible, journalist can report sensitive issues and topics in the community with the public’s best interest.

Reporting issues that will have a direct impact on people within the community is necessary, and the public has the right to a report without bias.

There is no room for carelessness or an agenda in journalism and journalists should avoid misinterpretation, fact check the truth and present it to the public.

To minimize harm journalists should sensitively create a meaningful report without bias.

Mission

Upholding the journalistic principles, adhering to ethical standards, and maintaining social responsibility will contribute to my success in journalism. My ultimate goal is to publish a magazine directed toward young adults. I think there should be an outlet dedicated to reporting positive reports on young people striving for excellence.

While promoting values of trust and fairness, this magazine will aim at educating young people on various topics not easily explained in other forms of media. I want to create the magazine that I needed growing up allowing input from the current generation. My goal is to discuss the topics that the younger generation believes needs more awareness.

I would like to work with professional writers and other reliable sources to create a concept where we allow submissions from readers. I want my magazine to be fair in allowing the youth to voice their opinions on various topics while gaining accurate knowledge. “Objective reporting is a desirable ethical value and seen as a means of achieving the truth” (Berry, 2009).  This collaboration will allow objectivity. The interests of the audience will be the primary influence on the discussion topics.

I would like to report on the important current events in various communities that affect young adults. Avoiding plagiarism means that all of the magazine’s contributors need accreditation. Careful consideration of its content must meet the community’s standards of decency.

I want readers to contribute to my magazine trusting that none of their work will fall prey to misuse. This caution allows credibility and reliability while upholding the truth. The omission of important information and fabricating details can easily ruin my magazine’s reputation. Sending contributor’s notification for edits for grammatical errors ensures credibility. Maintaining public trust is imperative; working with various members of the community for their input helps this relationship. As far as a conflict of interest, I will provide a statement in the magazine that will explain that there will be no compensation or for contributors to this magazine. I want the youth to contribute freely; expressing their opinions, concerns, and views, without pressure. I want to ensure the motivations behind the submissions aren’t corrupt, and the magazine is honest.

Modern journalism rules and standards for social responsibility include the absence of bias, reliable facts, and serving and safeguarding the public’s best interests. Journalists must always remain accountable to the public. A strict adherence to the highest standards of ethics and freedom from the control of those who wish to control the story is of the utmost importance to continue to serve the public.

Controversial Issues

Issue Characteristics Commonalities with other controversial issues Differences with other controversial issues
Institutional Racism A system of inequality based on an individual or group’s race. Groups have formed to seek justice/change (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People-NAACP, ect.) An ongoing issue, impacting minorities, resulting from generations of inequality.
Global Warming A continuous increase in the weather’s climate. Commonly discussed topic in media; deemed a national issue Does not affect just a single group of people but every living thing world wide
Women’s rights Promotion of legal and social equality between  women and men. Groups have formed to seek justice/change (National Organization for Women-NOW) Resulting from the inequality toward women past and present
Animal Research Federally funded science conducted through the use of animal models or cells. Groups have formed (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-PETA) with strong opposing arguments but is considered an ethical practice Science is supported on many levels and involves government funding; proven to be beneficial.
Welfare/Public Assistance Minimal, public aid offered to all citizens. Strong opposing arguments (mainly from the upper class) but is deemed ethical and necessary Beneficial for low income families

 

What is the role of controversial issues in journalism?

A controversial issue creates the opportunity for open discussion. Journalists are required to educate themselves for the purpose of educating the public; eliminating ignorance. “Inform yourself continuously so you in turn can inform, engage, and educate the public in a clear and compelling way on significant issues.” (Poynter, 2014)

How does the coverage of such controversial issues test the journalist’s core commitment to accuracy in reporting the news?

Covering controversial issues challenges the journalist to detach themselves and report solely on the facts. This means the reporter needs to research and become educated enough, allowing a honest report, free of personal feelings and bias.

Does the coverage of such controversial issues warrant intrusion into the private or personal lives of newsmakers? If not, why not? If so, how far should journalists be allowed to go in reporting on the lives of private individuals? Of public figures?

“Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.” (SPJ Code of Ethics, 2014)

The goal of reporting is to expose the truth. However, a successful journalist should be capable of achieving this without little to no intrusion into personal lives. If the person is not directly involved in the controversy, their personal lives should be avoided.

Are there any controversial issues that justify censorship of the media by external entities such as governments or the court system? If so, identify those issues. Would news media be wise to self-censor themselves to pre-empt possible government censorship and regulation?

I think animal research warrants censorship. There are many aspects of animal research, including the actual science being conducted, that is sensitive and may be difficult to translate to the public (explain in a way that makes complete sense). While there are publications and resources offered to educate the public, that are just as many groups (including extremist like PETA) that negatively influenced the public.

 

References

http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/1751/guiding-principles-for-the-journalist/

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

 

ACCURACY

Accuracy is constituted to be the freedom from error or mistakes. Accuracy is the overall representation of the truth and is the correctness of information. Accuracy is imperative when perusing the truth and maintaining a trusted relationship with the public is the goal. This can be accomplished by ensuring credibility and validity from received information.

To determine if information is accurate, the journalist should create a system that allows diligent and thorough verification. The use of a checklist is an example of how a journalist can stay organized and review information for any oversight of errors. Double checking and fact checking sources, researching the facts, and colleague collaboration also helps determine accuracy.

As a story editor pursuing accuracy, I will remain attentive to errors or mistakes that may be present in all future work submitted. I plan to collaborate with other colleagues; ensuring team work on any project. I plan to execute an accuracy checklist, keeping track of correct spelling and grammar issues, correct quotations from sources, as well as correct terms of use. I will ensure factual information corresponds with any pictures or additional media that is used along with story; as all stories must maintain fairness and balance without bias.

To determine the accuracy of information, it the journalist should create a comparison to other sources of information, evaluated it for validity, and test it to ensure accuracy. After these steps are taken and the information is thoroughly reviewed, the information is not subjective which proves it to be accurate.

 

 

Sources

NPR Ethics Handbook- Standards of Journalism (2015)

http://ethics.npr.org/category/a1-accuracy/

  1. Garment (2014). 3 Ways to Test Accuracy -Plotting Success

http://www.plottingsuccess.com/3-predictive-model-accuracy-tests-0114/

 

Ethics Case Study and Analysis

Incidents occur pretty frequently in journalism as a result of poor ethical decisions. These incidents snowball pretty quickly catapulting journalists into scandals. This usually occurs when the journalist fails to uphold the principles of journalism. There are core principles that act as the blueprint for journalism providing steps on how to remain honest, trustworthy, and loyal to the public in news reporting.

On June 8, 2007 an anchorwoman found herself in the middle of a scandal because she failed to maintain distance between her personal life and the news that she reported. Shortly after Antonio Villaraigosa (the mayor of Los Angeles, California) announced the separation from his wife after 20 years of marriage, Mirthala Salinas (the anchorwoman on the “52 Telemundo” news channel in LA) covered this story and reported the marital split. This was an ordinary story until the LA Times reported that the anchorwoman Salinas omitting key details involving herself in the split between Antonio Villaraigosa and his wife. It was reported that not only was she involved in the scandal but she was romantically involved with Villaraigosa in an affair that lasted 18 months prior to the announced split. Salinas reported this as a” ridiculous political scandal” omitting those specific details. After the LA Times released their report Salinas responded by saying “I hope that everyone can understand and respect my desire to maintain my privacy when it comes to personal relationships.” This request for understanding may have been taken into consideration if Salinas was not a journalist, but given the series of events, this is inexcusable.

As a result of this scandal, Salinas was suspended, reassigned, but later resigned, leaving her position entirely. This was most likely because of her compromised credibility and integrity while receiving negative public backlash. Kelly McBride who was the ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute made the statement “There really is no question that this is unacceptable,” she went on to express that “You can’t sleep with your sources. This one sort of transcends the boundaries in any ethical newsroom.” Kelly hit the nail right on the head.

This scandal involved a journalist whose selfish choices conflicted with the first principle of journalism; reporting the truth without bias. Her first obligation was to report the truth and maintain loyalty to the public; besides avoiding that situation entirely, Salinas should not have been the journalist to report that story. Additionally, the principles involving independence both from journalists and their sources and from the monitors of power were both dismissed. These were poor ethical decisions as this report included falsified information and purposely omitted key details, leading the public astray.

A journalist has the duty to remain independent in reporting and to avoid conflicts of interest; both perceived and real. There is a great importance in adhering to the principles of journalism. Journalists are personally responsible for providing the public with the truth when reporting in all aspects.  It is the journalists’ duty to serve the public and the public deserves the truth and without personal bias. Poor ethical decisions were made and as a result there was public shame and the anchorwoman ultimately cut ties with her position. The imperative role of the journalists includes upholding the truth, loyalty to the public, and independence from related sources.

 

References

The LA Times

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-mayor4jul04-story.html#page=1

Society of Professional Journalists

http://www.spj.org/rrr.asp?ref=77&t=ethics

 

Research and Accuracy Issues

Research and Accuracy Issues

It is common for Journalists to make mistakes when creating news stories, especially in today’s fast moving generation. Errors happen whether in print, online, or live broadcast and there is a proper protocol in addressing these errors. After reading the article “Why Journalists Make Mistakes & What We Can Do About Them” I realize that the worst thing a journalist can do is ignore an error or address an error inappropriately. The best practices journalists can engage in to avoid errors are to fact check and research thoroughly before printing a story. It is very common for a journalist to put out information as it becomes available (even more so before information becomes available) and this is the main reason errors occur. To handle an error after it has occurred in any mode of communication in the news is for the journalist to simply humble themselves, offer an apology along with the factual information that was omitted or presented in error. This provides the public with the factual information while building trust.

It is the journalist’s duty to take more care in reporting stories even with deadlines and speedy competition. Consistently editing and updating stories can compromise the accuracy and integrity of a journalist as well as an entire news outlet. This can cause mistrust between the journalist and the public. There are distinct differences between errors made due to the lack of factual information and careless mistakes made because of speedy priorities. The ability to continually update news stories is changing the way journalist approach writing in that journalist become careless and this is made evident through careless reports an unaddressed errors. The ability to consistently correct news stories has taken away any accountability for error. If there is no ownership of error because of the convenience of updating, then this harshly changes the approach in writing.
We live in a generation where social media can twist a story or quickly spread information that does not contain facts and omits truths. The way information is quickly spread through social media has affected journalism challenging the journalist in which they should strive even hard to uphold journalistic integrity instead of contributing to practices other than what is expected.
The difference between an ordinary person reporting the news and a journalist is journalistic care according to the “9 Principles of Journalism”. According to these principles, the first principle of Journalism states that “a journalist’s first obligation should be the truth.” (Pew Research Center) As error corrections are a direct reflection of speed, it is very much possible for a journalist to adhere to the 9 principles while working on a deadline.

The emergence of technology and resources has directly affected accuracy and approaches to research. For example, the internet has proven to be in favor of the public more than ever as journalists are challenged every day to provide factual information or receive public backlash. The use of social media and the speed of news dissemination have also impacted journalism. Journalists have become more concerned about the speed in which they can inform the public rather than the accuracy of the information being presented. As a result these errors are exposed quickly than in times past.
The public basically shares in the same resources to fact check and research current events that journalist have and this contrast greatly from the way news reporting occurred in the 1980s and prior. In generations past, the public mainly relied on news outlets that they felt could be trusted and mainly in forms of print. People found information out by word of mouth but did not possess all of the tools to independently research facts that we have today. Granted there were ways to fact check but it wasn’t an idea so accessible and widespread like the tools provided for researching information today. For example, the reports on the Martin Luther King Jr assassination in 1968 omitted important information in the conviction of James Ray. It wasn’t until almost 31 years later in 1999 that the omitted facts on the conspiracy and assassination of MLK were presented to the public in which multiple people including “government agencies” were indeed held accountable for the assassination. (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) In the 1960-1970s there were limited resources to challenge this faulty report that was initially presented to the public; this is a completely contrast in how news is reported and accepted today. The use of social media tools for research contrast in how news reports occurred in previous generation. There would have been many questioning the details on the assassination and with widespread information, the omitted details would have come to light sooner than later. More people are accessing information and this pressures reporters and journalist to provide more accuracy in research and detail.

As mistakes occur there are many ways in which a Journalist can approach these errors for correction. Whether information is presented falsely or if information is omitted there is a proper protocol in addressing each error. As time moves forward many new advances in technology, including the internet has helped expose errors. With the use of social media the public has become more engage and interactive in the news than ever before. This is not a negative thing. As the Journalist upholds the principles of journalism, approaches news stories with care and integrity, and humbly admits fault when error occur, this creates trust between the public and the journalist and also improves accuracy issues.

References
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
http://www.archives.gov/research/mlk/select-committee-report/part-2a.html
9 Principles of Journalism
Pew Research Center http://www.journalism.org/resources/principles-of-journalism/

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