Posts

11/23/15 RN

The best ways for publishers to build credibility through transparency

I found this article to be beneficial in terms of being a writer and reader of journalism. I know most of us really wonder how truthful journalists can be and how much of what they say is truth and how much is simply propaganda. After looking at how different new sources can report on the same topic in such different ways in class, it really makes me question who can trust and who is actually being transparent. I enjoyed the link that this piece made by stating reporters job is to report the truth, therefor they themselves should also be truthful. I think it’s awful that people feel the need to twist facts to engage their audience, often altering the truth but it is so prominent in todays media. I think the best point made is to create credibility be as tranpsparent as possible. I think this is great advice because the more that is out there and openely known, the less there is to create false ideas about. I also thought the below list was helpful:

  1. Show the reporting and sources that support your work
  2. Collaborate with the audience
  3. Curate and attribute information responsibly
  4. Offer disclosures and statements of values
  5. Correct website and social media errors effectively

https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/strategy-studies/transparency-credibility/

 

Do Times Journalists Pay Attention to Readers’ Comments?

I think that this is an interesting topic. It seems like today everyone has an opinion about absolutely everything and its no surprise to me that these reportes state that their stories often get hundreds of comments. I mean someone can post a single picture of a cat on facebook and get a million comments, so its only natural a story with real content get some. I find it refreshing to hear that journalists so high in their profession still take time to see what the readers are saying since its them they are writing for. I think its cool that these journalists in particular said that there comments help with follow up stories and help them at times gain sources. Maybe, its a bit of inspiration to comment more since those comments are being heard.

http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/do-times-journalists-pay-attention-to-readers-comments/

 

Do You Trust Rolling Stone?

After focussing pretty heavily on The Rolling Stones rape at UV story throughout this semester and finding so many errors in their reporting process for that story i find it slightly difficult to be able to sit down and read a story from them and take it as facts, although this is often hard to do when reading any news source completely. Honestly, everyone makes mistakes, but to me atleast, a mistake as big as the UV rape case is one that causes me to question the credibility of Rollings Stones entire writing/editorial process. Yes, the subject lied… a lot, but she was a young girl looking for fame. The writer, editors and fact checkers are professionals with a sole job of reporting truth. With so many holes in the story someone along the line should have said “hey, this doesnt add up” and the story should have been halted then and there, end of story. For them to go back and place blame on the subject is very dishonorable since it’s their job to check facts out. So while i strongly believe everyone does make mistakes, i feel like this one was a little too large to ignore and the company should look into enforcing more intense procedures for fact checking.

http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2015/04/06/do-you-trust-rolling-stone/

 

Lyin’ Williams

This article examines a pretty well known story of Williams being over seas reporting and being around close to the same time helicopters had been shot down. In reality he was behind them, but as time progressed his story changed putting him in the helicopter that was attacked. While i do believe that he may have exxagerated the story to help make it more dramatic while honoring a veteran, i dont buy that he forgot. He talked about the incident correctly in the past, and during such a traumatic event he would have remembered the details. I really dont have much to say other than how dumb can someone be? You’re on national tv reporting a story that you have previously spoken about in a different way, you think no one is going to notice? Come on!

http://thesak.tumblr.com/post/110195051742/lyin-williams

 

What We Should Ask About Williams’ Mistake

I like how this article was formed in a more step by step format showing how the corrections and/or the consequences progress. I also think the medical perspective is important, although i dont buy it in these instances. Everything else about this article basically alligned with the previous in terms of facts stated. I think its important this showed the consequences because we often are unaware to how things like this play out. I think suspension without pay was a good start, but if there is continued evidence of this happening on key details consitently i think he either needs his brain checked or fired becuase he is creating serious credibility issues for himself and his parent news organization, i mean he’s not seeking truth, he’s just reporting fictional stories.

http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2015/02/06/what-we-should-be-asking-about-williams-mistake/

 

11/16/15 Class RN

 

Native ads aren’t as clear as outlets think

This article addresses something that I think is very relevant in today’s society and that is branding things so people think they are consuming one thing, while in reality it is something published with different intents and often times the consumer is unaware. While I think this is a problem, we all know corporations are out for one thing, and that is economic success, and many achieve conveying there products through native ads. I think that while it is a very widespread issue that creates problems it is hard to monitor because it is just out there in so many forms and is often times hard to even differentiate from other types of ads. I think the most important quote from this article is as follows: “The gravest threat is to the media themselves,” said Bob Garfield, co-host of On The Media and a MediaPost columnist. “With every transaction, publishers are mining and exporting that rarest of rare resources: trust. Those deals (with advertisers) will not save the media industry. They will, in a matter of years, destroy the media industry, one boatload of shit at a time.”

 

Editorial Guidelines

I think that these guidelines seem pretty common sense but it is a good thing to document for future reference. I think that its interesting that there are these guidelines and how some companies can follow them yet still create ads that are often able to be confused for editorial items. I oftentimes encounter ads that work to look like editorial items in magazines like Cosmopolitan and find myself starting to read them until I come across the line that states its an advertisement. Below is the link with the full list of guidelines for future reference. http://www.magazine.org/asme/editorial-guidelines

 

Yet again, ABC has disclosure problems

While it is seen unethical is the journalism world to pay subjects of stories and interviews, I don’t see how people are surprised by the act. In todays society money talks and in most cases is the only way to get people to talk. We often hear of media paying celebrities for photos of their wedding or newborn baby, so what’s different in paying subjects for personal photos? While I do agree that it may have been proper for the payment information to be disclosed to the public I wonder and question if it would have changed anything? I don’t believe that the output, or input of information would have changed greatly and I don’t think that it is that big of a deal. Im interested to hear others opinions on this topic and what others think the issue with the payment may be?

 

Cooperating with the Government

I think this case study posed an interesting argument on when cooperating with government is needed and who is responsible for the majority of the cooperation. In the prison standoff mentioned in the article I don’t think that the government was asking anything unreasonable by urging media not to publish names in hopes of protecting all parties as one of the major codes of ethics is to minimize harm. I think that in other scenarios that cooperation can be a bit more cloudy because someone will know something and leak some information and people will want to know more. I think as long as the request is reasonable than it should be respected to the extent that it will do more good than harm to not disclose all information immediately. I also think in regards to people creating rumors around lacking evidence is something that will inevitably happen and media can avoid this by disclosing enough information that the story line is clear without producing harm.

 

Michigan Needs a New Voice: Challenging Censorship in the Wolverine State

This article goes along with a case that we discussed earlier in class, therefore a lot of the background information on this issue was previously discussed in the RN. I think the act that is being discussed in Michigan is of grave importance as I agree with the author that the majority of schools administrations does look down upon on the importance of journalism in schools. I think the common sense approach is honestly common sense, but in both public schools and universities common sense is a thing often forgotten. In regards to the particular article mentioned about the hookah pen article, it provided no harm to anyone and actually addressed a legitimate concern. Personally, having many experiences in high school where my speech was limited in both yearbook, and broadcasting I see how it is a rising issue, and how even the faculty that advises these groups suffer from the reach of the faculty too. I think that if this act passed it would be a reassuring action for all young journalists, and I would hope other states would follow.

 

Terrorists Strike Charlie Hebdo Newspaper in Paris, Leaving 12 Dead

 

I think that this article is just another example of extremists in our world today that threaten the safety of all in their surroundings. Im not sure if there are more crazies now than in the past or if they are just covered more in the media today than in the past? Regardless, it is quite frightening that we live in a world with people like this. I think what these two Paris born Muslims was unthinkable, even if Hebdo offended them. I mean come on, Hebdo offends everyone at some point.

 

Political Polling’s Unfavorables Are on the Rise

This article made me more aware of the corruption and how politicians use polling to advance there cause. honestly, prior to this article I kind of just took polling as an honest representation of peoples opinions and never thought how it could be used to alter opinion. I also found it interesting how such a big operation, like Gallup, found their own practices so corrupt and came clean about them. I cant believe that they were noble enough to withdraw themselves from reporting on the presidential race in fear of credibility.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/gallup-poll-2016-presidential-primary-fivethirtyeight/409531/

 

Horse Race Coverage & the Political Spectacle

This article was quite lengthy and addressed many of the ideas mentioned in the above piece. Due to its length I will post the link for future reference also. I think that horse racr journalism has come to be the only way to report on politics today because everyone wants to strike it big with there story I think that the most important idea in the entirety of this piece was as follows:

63% of the campaign stories focused on political and tactical aspects compared to just 17% that focused on the personal backgrounds of the candidates, 15% that focused on the candidates’ ideas and policy proposals and just 1% of stories that examined the candidates’ records or past public performance.

http://bigthink.com/age-of-engagement/horse-race-coverage-the-political-spectacle

Notes for 11/9/15 Class

Zacchini v.Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Company

The facts: A free lance reporter recorded footage of a performer doing a stunt and the footage was aired on TV, then the performer tried to sue the broadcasting company because he felt footage of him was his property.

• The issue: Do the First and Fourteenth Amendments immunize the Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co. from damages for its alleged infringement of an entertainer’s state-law right of publicity?

• The rule: The first amendment protects free speech, while the fourteenth protects property, the question that lies within this case is does the rule protect the defendant or the respondent.

• The holding: The amendment mentioned above do not allow the media to broadcast a performers act in its entirety without their consent.

• The rationale: Broadcasting part of a performance is considered newsworthy, therefor broadcasting entities are allowed to air pieces of a performance without permission, but the entire act was determined to be categorically different and requires the consent of the performer.

“Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Company.” Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 9, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/1976/76-577>

 

Lying to Get the Truth

This piece published on the American Journalism Review website, although quite long, presented readers with an interesting perspective on undercover journalism. I feel like in movies we always see journalists being portrayed as being ultra sneaky and always going  undercover, almost like spies, but in reality that’s not really the case. This article talks about how Silverstein creates a fake identity and company and takes on the lobbying groups in Washington. All the companies bought his alter-ego, and took the bait, and from the there a story was crafted on how lobbying is a big money business and it’s tactic’s are often questionable at best. His findings revealed some things that weren’t necessarily common knowledge, and made the public more aware of how business is done in Washington. Personally, I don’t think that the findings helped a lot, as it is noted that the company’s clientele remained loyal, but with the same facts in mind I also don’t see it being very harmful, it just happened.

The latter part of the piece focuses more on how this had an effect on public perception of journalists, and how other journalists and media officials responded to Silverstein’s undercover ventures. It is argued quite in depth that since Silverstein used sneaky tactics to gain access and was willing to lie about his identity for the information, how do readers know that he is also not lying about the information. Some more public figures like Fuller who was mentioned several times in the piece said things like “We would not allow reporters to misrepresent themselves in any way, and I don’t think we would be the hidden owners of anything,”. It is quite apparent that many didnt like the tactics used, and find undercover journalism to be un-sensational and cause for questions on validity to arise. Silverstein took to the criticism saying “I could have written about sleazy lobbyists. I’ve written that story before,” Silverstein says. “It was in the way that they behave, the presentation, that gives the story its impact. I think it’s in the public interest to present that story.”, basically saying that he regrets nothing and feels that he is doing the public good.

Personally, I don’t see that much wrong with the whole act of undercover journalism. Our country, along with all other nations, use spies all the time to spy on subjects that they think are being disloyal, so as journalists seek truth and represent the public, why can’t we as the public employ them to be our spies who look into matters? I also don’t necesarily think that this makes journalists less likely for the public to trust, yes maybe the people being reported may not trust them, but why would the public trust them any less? We always say media lies, so I think this just is another instance where we should decide for ourselves. The only fault I think Silverstein made was not going back for comments from the company, there is nothing less satisfying to read than a completely one sided story, and i feel that the companies input would have given a more rounded representation of the issue at hand.

 

The landmark Food Lion case

This was a rather short read, and basically just talked about how news gathering entities aren’t protected by the First amendment if they seek a job by using false information with intentions to only stay for a short time and use footage gathered at said job for a news story. The case that this claim was based off of involved two ABC employees seeking employment at Food Lion where they worked for two short weeks gathering footage and inside information on the way that the meat there was handled and sold. They aired the footage and claimed that Food Lion and it’s employees used unsafe and unsanitary practices in regards to their meat. Food Lion initially sought out to sue ABC for fraud, breach of the duty of loyalty, trespass and unfair trade practices under North Carolina law. The case went through several courts before “The court held that the lower court correctly declined to apply a First Amendment analysis to Food Lion’s breach of loyalty and trespass claims. The laws regarding employee loyalty and trespass were laws of general application, from which the press could not be exempt, and the application of those laws to the media would have merely “an ‘incidental effect’ on newsgathering,” the court found. (Ramussen)”.

 

Recording — State hidden camera statutes

For journalist, this, in my opinion, may be one of the most important reads out there. It provides a general outline of the laws that involve recording both audio of conversations and video surveillance. Since I think that these may be important things to know, I will provide an even more summarized version of these guidelines.

– If both parties openly consent to audio recording it is legal, this includes scenarios that the recording device is openly visible in which consent is presumed.

– In 38 out of 50 states, including Ohio, allow you to record a conversation to which you are a party without consent of the other parties. Federal wiretap statutes also permit this so-called one-party-consent recording of telephone conversations in most circumstances although state laws may have different laws in regards to wire tapping.

– The federal wiretap law, passed in 1968, permits surreptitious recording of conversations when one party consents, “unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State.”

-Most of the states permit the recording of speeches and conversations that take place where the parties may reasonably expect to be recorded.

– The laws of 13 states expressly prohibit the unauthorized installation or use of cameras in private places, although Ohio is not one of these. Be extra careful with this law as if convicted, you may be faced with a felony in some states.

https://www.rcfp.org/first-amendment-handbook/introduction-recording-state-hidden-camera-statutes

 

The Ethics of Undercover Journalism

This article seemed very similar to the “Lying to get the Truth” article we also read for class today. This article focused on O’Keefe and his very unorthodox tactics of gathering information and creating stories, with a even greater focus on how he did this in regards to trying to tap into a New Orleans senators phone to see if she was in fact ignoring her constituents calls. O’Keefe defended himself and the way he works by saying the following: “on reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation,” he also told Hannity he was operating in an established tradition: “We used the same tactics that investigative journalists have been using. In all the videos I do, I pose as something I’m not to try to get to the bottom of the truth.”. This piece goes on to mention that the motivation for O’Keefe to do these things are even more unorthodox and cloud the idea that he may or may not be a true journalist. The author also mentions a couple other cases of undercover journalism that we have read about for today. I think the most important information in this piece is in regards to when undercover journalism may be acceptable, since it is widely apparent many people dislike such tactics. It is stated in this piece which is a citation from Bob Steele, They state that deception and hidden cameras may be appropriate:

– When the information obtained is of profound importance. It must be of vital public interest, such as revealing great “system failure” at the top      levels, or it must prevent profound harm to individuals.

– When all other alternatives for obtaining the same information have been exhausted.

The Sunshine Laws

Attached is the link to the Ohio Sunshine Laws:

http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/YellowBook

and this link is a shorter, more summarized version of the laws since the one above is so extensive.

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/ohio/ohio-protections-sources-and-source-material

 

10/26/12 Articles

in the first article I read which discussed the use of the term “person of interest”, I gained an insight into how a word we so often hear in the news can have some serious consequences for those being named. Previous to this I never really considered the implications this term has on those being named, but after reading this article I can see how it may be concerning. Personally I think cops have the right to use this term when talking about people who may be connected to a high stakes crime like the murder/kidnapping discussed because if in fact the person is connected the public should be on the lookout. With that being said I will add that the police should try and confirm said persons alibi first and once they have cleared them make it very publically known in hopes that the person faces minimal harm. As far as reporters using the term, the reporters are in a sense just saying what the police have already stated but I do feel like they should give as much backup information as possible to allow the public to think for themselves. Overall I think it’s okay to use “person of interest” as long as it is done so cautiously and only when crucial to solving a crime in which people’s lives are at danger or another very high risk scenario. As with all journalism, a journalists job is to seek truth and report it, and if there is a chance someone committed a crime and the police are questioning them, then they are in fact a person of interest and should be reported as such.

 

The second article was quite lengthy and Concerned balancing the first and sixth amendment rights in high profile cases like O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart to name a few. It talked a lot about how when trials are in such a public light like the ones above, how it is hard to balance these two amendments because unconventional things get in the way and they are afraid that things like this may alter jurors opinions. It also talks about some of the screening processes for jurors like in Martha Stewart’s cases to find jurors that will be unbiased and how even when they go through those hoops the media stills can begin the way. It also talked a little about how special features that air about cases before the actual case occurs can alter jurors opinions and how it is a serious problem but often hard to avoid in our media driven society. Overall, this article made me aware of how much media can play in high profile cases and while they may just be making the public aware of the proceedings they may also be altering the outcome of the case and the court must take great strides to try and avoid this.

10/12/15 Articles

The first article read this week was accessed from poynter and discussed a fairly recent news story, on a newspaper publishing all the names and addresses of people who held gun permits. The article posed an argument and a counterargument discussing both the pros and cons of this article as well as the reasons in which it can be justified or not. One argument for the publishing of the article in concern, is that the paper did not leak classified information, it solely publicized a public record, while others argued that although it was public information, the paper had no reason to publish this information that wouldn’t have otherwise been accessed. There were arguments on both sides about how the article could pertain to citizen safety where one argued it would allow parents to know if their friends parents had guns in the house, while the counter was that it can provide a false sense of security and is misleading because it only shows houses with gun permits which may not include guns like shotguns.

Personally, I don’t think the paper had a good reason to report the information because I don’t see what purpose it serves, but I also don’t think it necessarily harmed anyone either, unless a noteworthy person may have been on the list. I mean, what does the common gunowner care if others know he/she has a gun in their home? It may even defer criminals, and if one does have a gun they are most likely proud of it and support gun rights. The only reason I am not fond of what the paper did is because it’s a privacy thing, this may not be a huge deal, but what might they publish next, and some people may not want the world to easily have access to their address.

http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/199218/where-the-journal-news-went-wrong-in-publishing-names-addresses-of-gun-owners/

 

 

 

The next article which was published on spj.org discussed whether children who are victims of sexual assault be named in the media. This piece was particularly concerned with two key points of ethics “seek truth and report it” and “minimize harm”, and while these points can seem cloudy at times they are important to remember, especially when dealing with minors.

The article itself points out 4 different sexual assault cases that were covered by the media, and in all of them the victim was identified and I found this naming very justifiable. I understand that children of rape have already been traumatized but often times, their stories are ones that are hard to hide. In cases like the ones mentioned where the sexual assault is amongst a kidnapping or other newsworthy episode that has already been made public and the child’s name has been released then, to me, it seems impossible to cover up the name once it’s been determined they’ve been sexually assaulted. In other cases, where the rape may have occurred in the home, and wasn’t otherwise known by the public then I think it should be the victims choice to be named if they are old enough to weigh the consequences and if they are too young, say under 10, then there name be kept private if it will not endanger others by doing so.

I know others may disagree with my opinion on this and the article does say how difficult and cloudy cases like this can be, but they do become very public very often, and trying to cover up something that has already been said just causes more speculations from the public in my opinion.

http://www.spj.org/ecs11.asp

 

 

After reading the next piece which was about reporting on suicides, I can really see the “minimize harm” code of ethic coming into play in a more broad way that doesn’t exclusively include the victim and those related but also members of the public who may be at risk of suicide. Like rape and personal information which we already read up on, suicide seems to be a very touchy issue in the public today, as it should be. This paper published by several organizations concerned about suicide addresses the media in the proper way to report on it without making it to sensational or covering it up to much. Like with anything, a newsworthy story will make the news, and suicides are often one of these things that can’t be hidden.

The paper emphasizes that the media shouldn’t use sensational words, or link suicides to trends, but rather discuss causes, signs, and ways to get help. They are concerned if the media uses exciting terms or shows graphic images it may encourage other mentally ill people to join in and continue “the trend”. The paper recommends not showing the family grieving but rather a police officer or other professional speaking about getting help and the signs to look out for. Just like with any reporting I think that this emphasizes using good reporting, clear and concise facts, and only information that is pertinent to the public.

For the most part I agree with what this article says and I don’t think the media should make suicide look cool, cause it’s not, but I also think that the media should show grieving families and such because it may show people at risk for suicide that it hurts other people.

http://reportingonsuicide.org/Recommendations2012.pdf

 

 

The second article from poynter we were to read this week told the story of a reporter in the 1980’s who sought to report on something not very accepted in public and her journey of deciding what was ethically justified and the best way to humanize a very ugly disease. Jacqui wrote about AIDS in the Heartland, two things that aren’t commonly paired and she followed two gay men in a time when being gay, and having aids wasn’t very fashionable. Being that both topics were so touchy Jacqui faced many ethical dilemmas and urged her editors to watch her very closely, which I thought was a very noble thing to encourage since often times writers are afraid of editors crushing their ideas. Jacqui also struggled with what was too personal to show, as she did follow these men for about a year and experienced some very personal things with them, she even fought for a picture of the two men kissing to show readers what it was truly like even though editors discouraged it in concern of losing readers. Ultimately Jacqui and her editors referred to the following three rules of ethics:

– Seek truth and report it fully

– Act independently

– Minimize harm

With regards to these three points, Jacqui arranged some deals with the subjects such as not publishing health records before the one man received a loan, and going over what she planned to write even though she wouldn’t show them her copy. She also agreed to leave certain quotes and people out as she, and the subjects deemed them too vulnerable.

Ultimately I think what Jacqui did was incredible! Not only did she report on such a touchy subject so eloquently but she also did it in a time where the themes of the story were quite controversial. Jacqui used her own personal morals, and the journalism code of ethics hand in hand and crafted a groundbreaking story that brought light to a terrible disease that required attention without causing harm to anybody.

http://www.poynter.org/uncategorized/2137/how-a-minneapolis-journalist-turned-a-difficult-situation-into-a-human-triumph/

 

The final article we read was on intrusive newsgathering and differed from all the other articles we read in terms of it regarded the actual gathering of news and not the publishing of news, although I’m assuming if one were to go to those lengths to gather news they would most likely publish it too. Honestly, I had no idea there were anti-paparazzi laws in some states since I’ve never been concerned with such laws, although I do see their importance. I guess they are important because where do you draw the line between collecting pertinent facts and stalking if such laws weren’t in place. I can see where this article is especially important to journalist who cover very high profile people, like actors, politicians and people who are just famous (like the Kardashians) because these are the ones we constantly see on the cover of tabloids. This article was fairly brief and didn’t go in to great detail on the law, but I’m curious to know if it applies strictly to journalist or if it covers people like private investigators too, and where this line is drawn?

https://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/digital-journalists-legal-guide/liability-intrusive-or-harassing-newsgath

10/5/15 Articles

SPJ: Open Doors: Accessing Government Record

The above article lists all the basic facts about FOI, or The Freedom of Information Act and how SBJ has created this resource called Open Doors, which aids reporters and honestly anyone in accessing governmental records. This article is definitely worth bookmarking and saving for later as it points out, and explains resources available that can help us obtain information for our reporting.

Overall, this article had so much important information that it was hard to summarize it all, but by bookmarking the link and placing it in my reporters notebook I will be sure to go back and look at it when I have questions. This piece addresses everything from what government records are public, how to obtain these, how to look into others, why we have this freedom and when it was granted, studies on various news agencies, and some red flags that may come up. With all that being said, below I will list just a few pertinent facts that I picked up are as follows:

– “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to Farce or Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” James Madison

– Freedom of Information (FOI for short) is the right to know what your government is doing how it spends your tax dollars, how it creates and implements policy, how it makes decisions that affect you.

– Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, which Congress passed, and President Lyndon Johnson signed in 1966. That law covers all departments, agencies and offices within the Executive Branch of the federal government.

– Personally, driving records, taxable properties, voter registration, court records, licenses, prisoners, political contributions and government contracts are among things to be considered public records.

– News organizations that are denied information they believe should be public are not afraid to file lawsuits or use other legal tools to force the release of that information.

In addition to these facts, I found the red flags and a-z to be among the most important information, yet to dense to directly report on. The link to these resources can be found below for further resources.

http://www.spj.org/opendoors5.asp

 

 

RCFP: Sunshine Laws

This piece was fairly plain and discussed sunshine laws, or laws that are nationally in place to permit the public access to meetings. As with any laws there are implications and legislation available to go around said law and that what this article is mostly about. Some important things to remember about the sunshine laws are as follows:

– Sunshine laws are in effect for all states, D.C. and government agencies.

– Using media to record said meeting is thought to be allowed implicitly within the law, although certain states have clauses put in place specifically regarding this.

– Chance social or ceremonial meetings do not fall under the sunshine laws, as well as meetings involving more personal issues like personnel issues, collective bargaining, and meeting with attorneys.

-The public and media may seek redress in court for violations of open meeting laws

 

SPJ: Red Flags

This piece is subsection of the first piece I wrote about and can be found through the same link. This article proves very important, and contains facts that are vital for journalists, and in my opinion, everyone who is a citizen of this great nation. This section of the larger Open Doors piece directly analyzes situations in which one should be concerned of their FOI being limited in some ways. Just to name a few, below are some of the ways that stood out the most to me.

A privacy coalition forms in your community or your state, perhaps in advance of an upcoming legislative session.

A government agency (or a local government) purchases a new computer system that stores information in a new format. (A format incompatible with yours.)

A government council, committee, or other decision-making body holds frequent “executive sessions” without fully explaining why.

Your local television station or newspaper does a big “Don’t Let This Happen to You” story warning about potential violations of people’s privacy.

While these are just a few of the issues listed in the piece, seeming very conspicuous and full of secrecy.

 

3 things journalists can learn from ‘Linsanity’

Unlike most articles regarding journalism ethics, and ways to improve writing, this article used a fairly popular sports star as the subject and showed all the ways, even if we love the guy, we as journalists can stereotype people without really knowing it. While this article doesn’t pose a ton of dynamic thoughts it makes you think about three simple facts in a dynamic way. These facts being:

– Be careful with subtly stereotyping, even if we don’t have the intent to be harmful.

– Don’t restrict our subjects into categories.

– Be careful with humor that may cross the line, if not with us but with the idea that a lot of people with different tolerations of humor will be reading your piece.

I think the three points they made and the examples they presented us with were great. We often think about these points in regards to hurting people and being intentionally hurtful, but we often don’t see how we can subtly do these in out everyday writing, and this article addresses this beautifully.

 

Drawing a Clearer Line Between News and Opinion 

Though I don’t find this article to particularly pertinent in my own writing, it does address how large organizations like The New York Times have recently been addressing the “News vs Opinion” fight for truth. As a reader who can at times be confused if what I am reading is solely opinion based or is news worthy, I think its important for NYT to try and create something for readers to differentiate the two. Personally though, I don’t feel like the Times is really passionate about this endeavor but is doing it more because of the pressure the public audience is placing on them. The thing I found the oddest about this article is the writer saying that this initiative isn’t as strong on their web based application, but upon opening this article I found it under the opinion section? Maybe this comment was the inspiration for the addition of this online section? Overall, I think it is important for publishing companies to be able to stand by a piece and openly tell readers its basis for being printed, or published, if the line between news and opinion can come off cloudy.

 

Attitudes and Mindsets Hinder Journalists

Without a doubt what resonated the most from this article was as follows ‘…journalism tries to make sense of the world. That is, it seeks to take the randomness of events and transform them into stories, narratives that allow us to understand what is happening. ” And while this article doesn’t summarize the article I feel as if it is something to remember when trying to be a great writer. Overall, this article just talked about how ones personal ideas can get in the way of their writing on backgrounds because of their predisposition. I think this is one of the hardest issues faced in writing since it is so difficult to disregard your prior thoughts and beliefs to write a clear and concise background without bias. The use of native americans as an example as a subject this is often an issue with was great because on the whole what we think of when we think of Indians is pretty uniform and I think we can all personally think how this may effect our writing.

 

 

10/5/15 Cases

Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens By and Through Mergens

The facts: A student organization wished to start an after school, noncurriculum, Christian student organization but the school denied them the same privileges and meeting rights as other school organizations stating that one cannot create a club without a faculty sponsorship.

• The issue: The students felt that by the school board denying them the privilege of starting a new, Christian based club violated the Equal Access Act, which required that schools who receive funds provide “equal access” to student groups seeking to express religious, political, philosophical beliefs.

• The rule: The Equal Access Act required schools to provide equal support for all noncurriculum clubs regardless of their religious, political or philosophical beliefs.

• The holding: It was unconstitutional for the school to deny the students right to form the club.

• The rationale: With regards to the establishment clause that states, congress may not make any law protecting the establishment of religion, the court stated “the Equal Access Act was constitutional because it served an overriding secular purpose by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of philosophical, political, or other types of speech”.

• The disposition: Affirmed the court of appeals decision.

 

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier 

The facts: A principal of a public school censored out two pages from a school sponsored, high school  newspaper names The Spectrum.

• The issue: In regards to the first amendment which protects free speech, the students felt that it was unconstitutional for the principal to limit the speech of the students through the school newspaper.

• The rule: The first amendment protects Americans freedom of speech.

• The holding: It was constitutional for the principal to censor the students newspaper.

• The rationale: Educators were free from the first amendment and allowed censorship as long as it was of legitimate concern and “inconsistent with ‘the shared values of a civilized social order.'”

• The disposition: The supreme court remanded the lower appellate courts decision.

 

 

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District 

The facts: In protest to the Vietnam War, a group of students met outside of school in a students home and planned a peaceful protest. This protest constituted of wearing black armbands to school, and fasting on two separate states. When the school heard of this they made it a rule that students are not allowed to wear these armbands to school. Three students wore them anyways and faced suspension.

• The issue: Is it constitutional for schools to limit the freedom of speech of it’s students when they are on school grounds.

• The rule: The first two courts felt that it was constitutional to limit students speech in school.

• The holding: It’s unconstitutional.

• The rationale: Schools may only interfere and limit students freedom of speech unless it directly interferes with the school day and learning processes.

• The disposition: Remanded.

 

Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser

The facts: A student at a school assembly, gave a speech nominating his friend for an elected office within the school. In the speech the student used sexually graphic and vulgar language. The school enforced a rule that they thought limited students free speech when it interfered with the school day and suspended the student.

• The issue: Can a school enforce a rule that limits free speech of a student giving a speech?

• The rule: A school may limit the free speech granted in the first amendment as long as it interferes with the school day which was established in Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

• The holding: Yes, as long as it legitimately poses a significant interference.

• The rationale: Burger stated “the First Amendment did not prohibit schools from prohibiting vulgar and lewd speech since such discourse was inconsistent with the “fundamental values of public school education.”

 

Curtis Pub. Co. v. Butts

• The facts: Butts ,who was athletic director at Georgia at the time, in an article published by Saturday Evening Post, a child of the larger Curtis Publishing Company, was alleged of conspiring with Alabama head coach Bear Bryant on fixing a game which was an untrue claim that had the possibility of gravely effecting the careers of both Butts and Bryant. The original claim came from the an insurance agent who was said to overheard a telephone call between the two public figures. Both Bryant and Butts sued for 10 million each, but settled for less in the end.

• The issue: The issue that this case concerned was, are news organizations able to be held liable for false allegations that are recklessly made and published against public figures.

• The rule: The ruling concerned the first amendment and established protection against defamation claims brought up by private individuals.

• The holding: Libel damages may be recoverable if the injured party is a non-public official; as long as claimants demonstrate a reckless lack of professional standards on the part of the organization in examining allegations for reasonable credibility.

• The rationale: The courts decision, in my opinion, was based off the ideals of protecting freedom of speech, and holding people who have the right to free speech to standards that protect the innocent.

• The disposition: The court affirmed the decision.