Can we ever ensure source identity?


Earlier this week, President Barack Obama’s tweets got hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), which has recently hacked other high-profile accounts as well. Though the hack was minor, it is still discomforting.

Disregarding the danger that other countries could infiltrate American government technology, what is disconcerting is this reminder for journalists, and everyone, to be cautious with sources.

If you are interviewing Barack Obama in person, you can probably be sure that it’s really him.  But if you ask a random person on the street for an opinion, can you really be sure he’s giving you his correct name?  Even if you had the time, how would you begin researching him?

How can we tell that our sources are who they say they are?  If they are not high-profile, how can we tell if our sources are real at all?  I wish I had an answer to these questions, but I don’t.  I do have some ideas about how to have the best chance of having reliable sources, and they’re basically common sense.

If possible, meet with your source in person. If you can’t, a video chat or phone call would be the next best things, respectively.  At least you can make judgments about authenticity of speech.  Relying on only textual (i.e., email) communication should be a last resort, but sometimes, you cannot avoid it. Use your best judgment and be careful.  The same goes with using websites and online information. These points are pretty obvious to any journalist, but they are important to remember.

This brings me back to the constant fear that sources, especially online ones, may be unreliable.  The best we can do is always be wary of this possibility, and the chance that, for instance, a website may have been hacked or someone else may have authored an e-mail.  If someone can hack the president’s Twitter account, imagine what else can be hacked.

Steps to being a good journalist, part 2


A good journalist also needs a few of other interesting characteristics.

According to the article: ”Journalism – Facts & Directory,” one specific characteristic a journalist must have is to be resourceful. “Resourcefulness gives a person the ability to be able to always find a solution to difficult situations that can sometimes be at a dead end. Being a committed journalist is also important. There are sacrifices that must be made in a journalists’ personal life at times in order to get work done.” This is not only describing resourcefulness but also the virtue of sacrifice.

Sometimes journalists have to put things aside so a good story can be accomplished. Finding stories, news, or anything interesting to the public is something that can take time, even more if the journalist is making the correct steps and gathering the necessary evidence to support the story.

Apart from these characteristics, I believe a good journalist should be considerate. He should know how to talk to people about certain things and how to correctly approach the situation. There are going to be lots of times where a difficult situation will come up, and a good journalist must know what to do and how to handle it without affecting those around him.

Speed and accuracy is also crucial. It is not enough to write well you have to also be a fast writer. This is where many aspiring journalists have problems. They might do well in writing classes and show a good grasp of the news, but when it comes to deadlines they suffer.”  This is also a very important point. Journalists need to be fast and aware at all times, because in one minute your story might be taken, or worst, stolen.

If you as a journalist are not capable of being quick, even if you have the best story, it can lose impact if it is not shared rapidly and through the correct sources. 

Journalists need to know how to work fast, under pressure, but maintaining the accuracy present at all times. “There will be times where editors may yell and you will find yourself in a high-pressure environment, you may have problems with co-workers under similar stress.”

The article also mentions how good journalists turn in a clean copy and do not depend on the editor, which means “they must posses decent spelling and grammar skills.” Also, confidence is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Confidence will get a journalist the answers wanted and it will give he or she the sufficient strength to “take that extra step in order to get his or her story written.”

Steps to being a good journalist, part 1


Journalists have to keep a lot of things in mind if they want to be the best at what they do.

After reading several articles, I concluded that one of the most important things of being an outstanding journalist is to be one step ahead and always be prepare to cover a good story anywhere you go. The article that caught my attention, titled “How to Be a Good Journalist,” gives us seven simple steps to be a good journalist:

The first one would be to enjoy writing. Writing is not always easy, and journalists have to know which is the best form of language to communicate with the public. Journalists need to know structures like the “inverted pyramid” and how to apply them in a newsworthy story. Like the article states “if you don’t enjoy writing, reading, meeting new people, being under pressure, well then you’ve come to the wrong career choice, journalism is all about writing.”

Another step they say would be to carry a journal around to write about anything that pops into your head. “Most well known journalists had diaries when they were younger to practice their writing skills.” I believe writing is something that will get better by pure practice, and the more you do it the better journalist you’ll become. A journal about anything that happens in your life is the perfect practice to improve writing skills.

Step three: Carry a camera with you. Why? to illustrate your stories or articles and give the public something different to see other than paragraphs of words.

Step four would be to carry a pencil or a pen with you plus a pad at all times. A good journalist has to be prepared for unplanned breaking news that he or she wil need to cover. Even if you are not on working hours, you should always remember that the best reporter is the one that will get it all or at least some good information in good timing and with good quality.

Step five the article states it should be the willingness to meet new people. This can be the most challenging but at the same time the most interesting and fun part of being a journalist. In this career you will meet many new personalities and types of people you never knew you would encounter with. As a reporter, it is your job to learn how to obtain information from people in a fast way without breaking any rules or harming anyone.

Step six is to be honest and truthful to your audience. This means that no matter what you have to communicate that you are 100 percent sure is the true version of what happened. To accomplish this, a good journalist will support the story with evidence so that the audience can rely on it and actually believe the words written.

Last, but not least, a good journalist needs to be in touch with media at all times. Reading,watching, listening to radio, all of these activities are necessary for a reporter because he or she has to always know what is happening around the world. Also, by reading a lot new vocabulary will emerge for the journalist to use in his work: “A comprehensive vocabulary can help bring your stories and poems to life, enabling you to better describe the world around you.”

Social media can sway opinions


Two black customers at the high-end department store Barney’s in New York City claimed to be subjects of racial profiling by the store’s employees.

According to the Huffington Post, Barney’s has been criticized for profiling African-American customers. Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillip were separate victims who recently have been examples of Barney’s profiling instances.

Christian sued Barneys after he was accused of fraud after spending money at Barney’s when he bought a Ferragamo belt in April.

Phillips filed a notice that she will sue after detectives stopped her outside of Barney’s after she made a high-end purchase of a Celine bag in February.

The CEO of Barneys, Mark Lee, apologized and claimed they have hired a civil rights expert to address the situation.

This situation is not only hurtful to Christian and Phillips and the people who could relate to this situation, but it is hurting Jay-Z and his fashion collaboration.

Jay-Z, who grew up in a life of crime in Brooklyn, is now an international star and rapper. He is very aware of civil rights. He is thoughtful and thinks about his  labels and if they would be considered racist.

He also stood up and spoke about the killing of Trayvon Marton, a black teenager who was killed because he was mistaken to be dangerous just because of his race.

Jay-Z is currently in the processes of collaborating with Barney’s to create a jewelry line and clothing line for the holidays in which he would not profit in anyway. Twenty-five percent of the total profit is planning to benefit economically challenged students to help them pursue an education.

There has been discussion in the news and social media because many of his fans believe that he should not continue his collaboration with Barney’s because of their racial profiling.

Saturday, Jay-Z announced that he had been “demonized” over his new collaboration and has been under pressure from all ends of social media to end his involvement with Barneys.

There have been Twitter remarks made to Jay-Z about this situation.

An online petition was even made to convince Jay-Z to drop his partnership with Barneys. This petition spread all over social media. This petition has received 13,670 signatures.

On top of all the social media recognition about this heated petition, people have been criticizing Jay-Z for not speaking publicly about his thoughts on the issue. This has even landed him on the cover of the New York Daily News.

Yesterday, Jay-Z spoke out. He stated, “I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys.”

Because Jay-Z has such fame and such a large following, any news about him could and most definitely will cause a social media uproar with people sharing their opinions. If the news was not as established as it is today, people would be unable to retrieve all the information and they wouldn’t have the capability to share their opinions within social media networks. They also would not have been able to gather so many names on a petition.

In my opinion, social media are great for advertisers and for sharing news within seconds, but they also allow for a platform of negative opinions to be shared, petitions to be made, and people’s lives and reputations to be tainted.

After understanding what Jay-Z is going through, I began to think about how peoples lives would be changed drastically if social media did not exist because people would make more of their own decisions.

Social media is essentially creating a persuasive stream of comments that are unnecessary and that just simply complicate people’s lives.

There is news being created that is simply stemming from what people say on social media. If social media was eliminated this whole era of news would be eliminated.

Glorifying murderers in news reports


In Newton, Conn., at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 28 people lost their lives to a gunman.

Tragic; however, this is only one of the many school shootings that have occurred in recent years. It remains a mystery where or how these people develop the desire to massacre.

However, critic Roger Ebert provided some insight last year to the phenomenon.

“Events like this, if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia,” said Ebert.

“The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

These murderers, who would otherwise die unknown, become famous. We all know their names, hometowns and family history. We, as Americans, follow their trials diligently and go over their personalities a hundred times over.

This obsession is lead by the media. The media digs up these stories, the shooter’s history, and conducts interviews with their friends and family — thus giving the shooter what he or she originally intended. His or her voice is now heard. Their message of hate has been broadcast by our own American media.

When the Sandy Hook shooting occurred in December 2012, some media networks started to focus on the children and not the shooter. This was monumental, and is how all tragedies should be approached.

However, the media have since gone back to their old ways – most notably by putting the “Boston Bomber” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Although the magazine was boycotted by some drugstores and supermarket chains, it was still heating up newsstands.

The caption read, “The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster,” framing Tsarnaev as the victim.

Why they would do this remains a mystery; however, according to reports, the controversial cover nearly doubled sales.

If the media would like to help Americans and protect them from more tragedies, it must take a different approach. By being careful not to glorify shooters, the media should focus on the victims and their families – ensuring that the shooter’s message is not heard.

Twitter hires first head of news


Twitter just made a big move by hiring Vivian Schiller, NBC News’ chief digital officer, as its first head of news and journalism partnerships. She also has had prior experience at CNN, The New York Times, and National Public Radio.

Schiller will be the person who connects Twitter to prominent news organizations. Twitter executives have been saying for months that they want to help media companies distribute news and now they have the right person for the job.

It is also said that she was hired due to the fact that there have been complaints about Twitter’s Board of Directors being mostly made up of white men. Her hiring adds diversity to the company.

Twitter has been hiring a number of prominent people to be heads of other departments like music and sports.

I get the feeling that this is just another step towards social media taking over journalism. A head of news and journalism partnerships at a social media company is already very different from how social media have been operating in the past, not to mention the fact that high profile people, like Schiller, are leaving their high profile jobs, like at NBC, to work there.

I also feel that this is a strategy for Twitter to be on top of all other social media sites. If Twitter is hiring people to make stronger relations with other companies, then that means it will have the support from multiple diverse organizations.

Journalism is a important part of society, and if Twitter is taking that leap to make it a prominent part of their site, then it will be more widely used by people.

School violence, media, stolen lives


In less than a week, two U.S. students are accused of murder and two teachers are dead.

Violence around the nation has spread inevitably leaving sorrow among families from both sides. The suspects’ families do not seem to understand why their kids dirty their hands with somebody’s blood. While the victims’ relatives look out for answers to help them build a clear explanation of what really occurred.

Monday, tragedy struck a middle school in Sparks, Nev. A 12-year-old boy opened fire against two other students and killing 45-year-old Michael Landsberry, a popular math teacher and member of the Nevada Air National Guard.

But the brutality does not stop there. Tuesday, two calls reporting two missing people, one a student and the other one a teacher, erupted a massive search. Wednesday morning Danvers Police Department in Massachusetts found the dead body of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher. Philip Chism, a 14-year-old student remains behind bars accused of manslaughter for Ritzer’s death.

Why is there so much violence in our kids nowadays? How is it that young kids embed their minds with bloody thoughts? Does TV or other news media have an influence on them? Do video games make up a great part of the problem? Could a legislation aimed to restrict gun acquisition ease violence?

Believe as you are reading these questions to yourself, you must also be thinking that most of the answers should call a yes. But unfortunately, the solution does not depend only on us.

For instance, different gun legislation has been battled in the Senate and House of Representatives. However, legislators seem to not find a solution in which all of them agree with.

As a matter of fact, it is not just a legislation aiming for fire gun restrictions that would calm down the nation. It also depends on the parents who buy their kids brutal video games. Kids who are exposed to domestic violence at home are in danger of becoming bullies or bullied by somebody else. As you read this, many young people are still seeking for their inner entity and when they finally find it their parents would not be there.

Why? Ask yourself that question.

Immediate news is likely bad news!


Breaking news is a tough thing to cover. When a shooting takes place or someone tries to run down the White House, or a terrorist event such as 9/11 takes place, media outlets are quick to rush reporters to the scene.

But to what extent does the effect of immediacy play on the role of factual evidence?

There was once a time when news reporting was all about factual evidence. A story couldn’t be reported or published  without having all the facts and have them correct. If some facts were questionable, it was wise not to include that part of the story. If the story was controversial or facts came from unreliable sources then, the story most likely didn’t get published.

But today, the mainstream media is all about immediacy. When a breaking story takes place, such as a shooting or terrorist attack, each media company rushes to get their reporters to the scene first. Once the reporter is on the scene, the camera turns on and the stream of false information begins.

For instance, 9/11 endured countless errors. To be short,  one error said that the Pentagon had been bombed, when in fact, a plane had crashed into it. Another error indicated that Capitol Hill had been bombed when it hadn’t.

The JFK assassination is another example. Many reports went back and forth declaring Kennedy dead, then alive, then in critical condition. Another report said that Lyndon B. Johnson had been shot, though that was false. NBC radio even made the first unofficial ‘official’ announcement declaring Kennedy dead well before it was publicly known.

Another example involves the sinking of the Titanic. Fake telegraphs indicated that the ship had not actually sunk.

The last example involves the Truman election. Following the 1948 election, the Chicago Tribune front-page headline said, “Dewey defeats Truman” though the opposite was true.

So what does all this mean?

Personally, I would rather read about a breaking news story AFTER all the facts have been gathered. There’s nothing worse then stringing people along by either, not having accurate information or not having any information at all.

When media outlets release false, incorrect reports it does nothing more than harm their reputation and their credibility. When they make mistakes, reporters either have to clarify, correct or retract their story in order to protect the media company’s reputation. You would think, after having a few incorrect stories, or releasing stories with false information, that media companies and reporters would be more inclined to double check their facts before releasing future stories.

But this is not the case.

In fact, more media companies and even more reporters are so concerned with being the first ones on the scene, that they forget to check the quality of their facts or they simply lose focus on finding accurate evidence. They would rather interview someone on the scene that knows absolutely nothing about what’s going on, report about it, and then update or correct their previous statements.

When media companies do this, I lose interest. I’d rather wait to hear about a story with all the CORRECT, factual information, then to keep following a story (for days, weeks, or even months) to figure out what’s really going on. When reporters keep changing their information, it becomes that much harder to keep up with what reports are true, what reports are false, and what reports are somewhere in between.

In order to fix this, I think media companies should go back to the basics. They should allow the amateur reporters to release false information on Twitter and Facebook, while they collect the facts and focus on releasing stories with factual evidence instead of being the first to report it. If just one company did this, that company would be seen as the most credible. They may not be the first ones to release the story, but at least they would be the only ones releasing the story with hard, factual evidence, thus making them, the only media source reliable, and credible enough to believe their story.

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It’s our business, baby


To write or not to write … for journalists, this is something that is never pondered. It’s not even a question: journalists write, and write, and write and — you guessed it — write. They write about everything and anything and a true and noble journalist always writes the truth.

Knowing this, I was a bit shocked to learn that a reporter in Massachusetts was fired for writing a quote in his story about a young soccer star who transferred schools.

The athlete explained that she left her old school, Mount Greylock, because socially, it was like “the movie ‘Mean Girls’.” Because of that school’s cliques and drama, she transferred to McCann Technical School despite its “somewhat inferior academics and athletics”, she added.

The reporter, Isaac Avilucea, posted on his blog that the sports editor at the North Adams Transcript not only approved the story but even praised it on Twitter.

It was after Editor-in-Chief Mike Foster received calls from angry school principals and parents that he decided to fire Avilucea.

The editors then addressed the story in an editorial in which they deeply apologized for it. They explained that it was “unjust” of them to publish a story with statements that were “simply wrong”.

What I find appalling is that what is truly “unjust” here is the fact that these editors are calling a quote from a source erroneous, and even went as far as firing the reporter who wrote it.

What’s a journalist if he or she does not write the facts, supported by evidence? A well-rounded story is one that includes quotes from sources. In this case, a story about a young athlete who transferred schools obviously needs a quote from that young athlete about why she transferred.

But then I tried to reflect on the other side of this. Journalism can be seen as a career with beauty and romance, dating back to World War I times when reporters would venture to the dangerous fighting fields in various exotic locales and come back with dramatic stories.

Though this is true, journalism has also always been a business, and still is. Newspapers make money through advertisements and from the people who buy and read them. In smaller towns, it is especially important to have strong public support and continuing circulation.

Because of this, I can see why the editors the North Adams Transcript did what they did. Firing Avilucea and publishing an apology most probably mended things with those who were offended by the story, I just wish they hadn’t called the statements wrong, because they were opinions.

What could’ve nobly solved the problem and saved the angst (as well as Avilucea’s job) is if Avilucea had included comments from the schools themselves. His editors should have urged him to so that both sides could be shown and they’d have the chance to defend themselves.

This story just reminds journalists that we must always write the truth, but remember we are running the risk of losing our jobs in a career that though filled with beauty and nobleness, is also a business.

Revisiting the Manti Te’o hoax


Remember when that star college football player had a long-standing internet relationship with a girl he never met?

Then that girl died and it was a huge deal that he had to deal with those circumstances, especially after his grandmother had died recently? How he used to talk with that girl on the phone when she was in the hospital? And that girl turned out to be a fake account ran by a friend of Te’o’s? Yeah, good times.

The details are long and take some time to read, but to say it’s worth it would be an understatement. It was one of the weirdest stories that I’ve ever came across and everyone else would say the same thing.

What was looked over throughout all the weirdness, though, was some of the best investigative journalism that had been seen in a while. Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey of Deadspin worked their butts off to get to the bottom of an intriguing, yet ridiculous, story about one of the nation’s most popular names.

They did the research. They made the calls. And after all was said and done, after a process that took months of investigation and years of backtracking, they did what they set out to do. They got to the bottom of it all, and they found the truth.

Though it may have resulted in Te’o looking bad and helpless, the story was needed to clear the air of mystery. Journalism doesn’t always spare everyone, nor should it. Journalism is supposed to report the truth. And that’s what Burke and Dickey did.

Now if only every other journalist could follow suit.

The state of investigative journalism


Investigate journalism is an interesting and polarizing topic within the media and within society. It raises questions of ethics, while quibbling with the laws set in place by government. Though it’s a different story in different countries, the worries are similar.

In Britain, members of the news media are skeptical as to whether investigative journalism can survive. Or, worded better, whether it can succeed.

“It’s not a case of can investigative journalism survive. Of course it can,” said Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. “Will it survive with us as a body of people depends on our editorial will, it depends on the law, it depends on having the nerve to keep on doing it because that is the path to editorial and commercial success.”

For journalists venturing into investigative journalism, the law is a big obstacle. But if the public is for this type of journalism, then journalists can be protected. In Britain, at least, the public is on their side.

A poll determined that more than half of the British public believe that investigative journalism has a positive impact, while only 12 percent believed it had a negative one.

Investigative journalism is more important than we may think or believe. It pushes boundaries that are put up for a reason. While at times it may go too far, we need that type of news for our society. Not only so that the truth can be presented, but also for our society to continue to be stimulated.

Log in to Facebook … to a beheading?


In May, Facebook banned the posting of graphic content to address the problem of videos of beheadings.  However, Facebook is now easing this ban, allowing certain content, such as decapitations, to be posted as long as the goal is to raise awareness of the horror, not to promote violence.

When I first read this, I was taken aback because I had skimmed over the part about raising awareness. That made Facebook’s decision easier to understand … for a moment, until I thought about how futile these videos would actually be at raising awareness.

Facebook is a social media website. It is a place for people to connect with each other.  Facebook has never had such a serious nature, or any serious nature at all, so users are not expecting bloody, gruesome videos.  Users’ first thoughts would not be that the videos are trying to fight violence, because that doesn’t make much sense.  Instead, most sane users would be horrified and disturbed.

I believe that Facebook is using this “raising awareness” standpoint to save face in the business and legal worlds.

I don’t understand why Facebook suddenly decided that it was okay to allow videos of people chopping heads off of others. Nor do I understand why this violence is acceptable, yet videos depicting nudity, drug use, and pornography — which are at least milder than decapitations – remain banned.  I’m not sure what Facebook is hoping to get out of lifting the violent video ban, but the company’s explanation just doesn’t add up.

Mental illness, media in today’s society


Just yesterday, a young boy who was attending a middle school in Nevada, wounded two students, shot and killed his teacher and then proceeded to kill himself in a random act of violence.

This is a devastating story as a little under a year ago, 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Although the shooter was much younger in this case, the concept of mental illness is still at the forefront of our minds.

Is violence directly linked to mental illness’ and ‘are all mentally ill people potentially dangerous’ are the questions circulating through the news media and in every household after the recent shooting in both Nevada and Connecticut.

Many researchers, psychologists and news programs immediately turned to the idea that untreated mental illness and our countries failing mental health system are the main reasons these massacres occur.

We ask ourselves many questions; are these mass murders preventable? If our society was more accepting to responding to the issue of mental illness, could we prevent school, mall, and movie theater shootings? Many of us are afraid to reference mental illness as a cause for violence, as we do not want to insult or put blame on those who do in fact have a mental illness.

There are certain disorders, which can create manic behavior, while other mental illnesses are harmless to others. By accusing those with mental illness, we are successfully convincing the public that all those who suffer from one are dangerous and capable of killing others. This idea, of course, is false, but our country faces the challenge of preventing these issues.

Lost internships hurt journalism


As summer rolls around each year, aspiring college level journalists compete for internship opportunities at all different prestigious companies to “get their foot in the door” for their future career.

These students go through rigorous interview screenings and have to compete with an ample amount of peers for coveted opportunities so they can some day “make-it” in journalism.

A major powerhouse in the journalism field is the major company Condé Nast.

Condé Nast is the company behind some of the most glamorous and high-end magazines and digital platforms in today’s modern journalism industry.

Some of the best journalists in the industry dominate Condé Nast and have become known throughout the world. Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, and Graydon Carter, the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, are just some of the many examples of amazing Condé Nast editors.

Fortunately, I was very honored to be one of the approximately 260 Condé Nast interns last summer. I made it through a Skype interview and numerous e-mail conversations until I finally took the position to work under the fashion editor, fashion assistant, and stylist at Condé Nast Traveler.

Besides the two-hour commute into the journalism hub of New York City in my “Condé” appropriate up-to-par outfit and running around the city in heels only someone in the office would understand, I really benefited from this internship.

I went to amazing seminars, learned what it is like to be an editor, had great opportunities to network and learned the details about the company itself.

As an intern, I can honestly say it is a true shame that it is official in 2014 that the Condé Nast internship program will be shut down.

According to WWD, an intern, Lauren Ballinger, who interned for W in 2009 and another intern, Matthew Leib, who worked for The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010 have filed a lawsuits against Condé Nast for “being paid below the minimum wage during internships.”

What I do not understand is why Leib would intern for the company two summers in a row if the rules about getting paid did not change and he was unhappy enough to sue.

I am curious to know if these two interns allowed their names to be released in the press because I would believe this would taint their reputation if they are trying to pursue a career in this industry.

Competitive companies like Hearst and Fox Searchlight Pictures were also sued by interns for a similar reason.

I am truly in shock that a student who had the same amazing opportunities I had at Condé Nast would complain about not getting paid when they were honored with such an amazing “foot in the door.”

These two interns jeopardized many future internships for students who could have learned and benefited from Condé Nast.

I am curious to find out how this lack of an internship program will affect the hiring process of this generation and future generation of interns. I wonder if the students who were too young to intern before the program shut down are at a disadvantage at some day getting a job at Condé Nast.

Hopefully, they will start this program up again with repercussions to protect the company against lawsuits with paid internships. I hope future interns can have the amazing experience I was “lucky” enough to have had at Condé Nast.

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Is Twitter fair game for reporters?


In a world where it is normal to know what a complete stranger is doing at any given time, thanks to social media, where do we draw the line with reporters?

If Hilary Clinton tweets about her latest trip to Hawaii, it is only fair that news sites have access to it — as the whole world is watching what she does. But, for the average Joe, is it ethical for reporters to share our posts in stories on, for example, underage drinking?

Say high school senior John Smith tweets, “So Drunk!” Is it okay for a reporter to quote Smith in his or her story?
After all, Smith did decide to share his business with the whole world by broadcasting it on social media.
Social media are, by definition, web sites that are used by a large group of people to share information. Therefore, the very purpose of Smith’s post is to share with a large group of people that he is “So Drunk!” However, having his underage intoxication shared with the entire world was probably not Smith’s original intention upon writing this post.
So, by putting it in a news story about underage drinking, it is taking it out of its original context, and could be judged as unethical.
On the other hand, let’s say a student at the University of Miami shares his or her views on ObamaCare.
It is fair to think that, because these tweets are being put on social media, the user who posted them wants them to be shared.
If a reporter is writing a story about students for Obama, this tweet would fit perfectly into his or her story. Likely the purpose of this post was to have it referenced to and shared further.
In this situation, it could be viewed as ethical to feature it in a story, whereas in a situation where it would humiliate or harm a user like John Smith, it is unethical and should not be done by reporters.

The ‘unusual’ element found in news


On Oct. 10, “the most beautiful night” for Venezuelans took place in Caracas.

A group of girls showed their best looks to engage the jury and have the chance of becoming “Miss Venezuela 2013” and, therefore, represent the country internationally in 2014 in the Miss Universe competition.

After the night ended, Migbelis Castellanos was chosen as Miss Venezuela 2013.

This headline appeared in every newspaper of the country, Twitter and Instagram went crazy from the beginning of night to even a week after it happened.

Radio programs, TV shows and newscasts had the winner and the four finalists as guests.

For Venezuelans,  it seems everything else pauses on this night and they are able to escape reality for a while. This event is so powerful in this nation, that has the ability to unify a divided country.

During the “most beautiful night,” it doesn’t matter your political tendency or your social class, everyone is watching. Citizens are all happy to celebrate one more year of one of the things Venezuelans do best, beauty contests.

One of the elements of a good news story is unusualness. This element help journalists to chose whether a story is sufficiently important and interest to show the audience.

One thing is that the dog bites the man and another much different is that the man bites the dog. The first one is a normal behavior that might not deserve to be published by media because it’s a common situation, everyone already knows that a dog can bite a men. However, a man biting a dog its something rare that doesn’t happen often and society should be aware.

For journalists is necessary to find the right angle that develops that touch of uniqueness that can draw peoples attention and also gives society a valuable reason to hear the story.

The main purpose of journalism is to inform society of important things happening around the world that can affect them in some way or another. However, the way journalism functions varies from one country to another. This happens because each society, city and country is different; even each person is different and unique.

Journalism in Venezuela has become a rare thing and in the last five years has turned around completely.

This began with the nation’s political situation and censoring of freedom of expression. Venezuelan journalists in first place have to be very careful on how they communicate things without being subjective or biased by the government.

Another important fact is that with so many bad things happening every day, deaths, corruption, insecurity, bad economy, and more sad things have become the daily life, the common behavior of society. Headlines and news story are always about the same topics and normally are hard to digest.

This has caused a rare phenomenon that people have stopped watching or reading the news. They prefer to not be informed of what is happening.

I’m a Venezuelan and I can tell you how many times I have heard “change the channel or turn down the radio I don’t want to hear anything about the situation in Venezuela.”

People can’t be 100 percent uninformed. As much as a person wants to be far from bad news, the information will always come to you in some way or another.

We live in a world full of media platforms and news will get to you no matter what. Even trough the most basic form of communication, person-to-person communication.

The flip side of the Venezuelan situation is that when good things happen like the selection of the new Miss Venezuela, it becomes a rare situation and gets more attention than a political or economy story.

Normally, in journalism, a story like selection of the new Miss Venezuela might not even be published on the front page of a national newspaper or be the opening story of a newscast because it is not unusual, is something that happens every year.

The case of Venezuela shows how journalism varies depending on the needs of a society, and how something so common as electing a beauty queen every year can become an unusual news story.

Social media taking over journalism


You can ask 99 percent of the people who own a cell phone if they have either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or all three on their phone … and nine times out of 10, they will.

Social media have taken over our lives and they have also taken over the life of traditional journalism.

We are living in the digital information age where nearly half of all Americans get some form of local news on a mobile device and 46 percent of people get their news online at least three times a week.

What’s more, online news sources officially surpassed print newspapers in ad revenue in 2010. Thanks to online news, we’re getting more breaking news than ever before. And thanks to social media, we’re getting news as it happens — sometimes even before news organizations have a chance to report it.

Are more people turning to social media for breaking news? And can we trust the news that social media delivers to be accurate and factual? The changing face of news delivery and how social media may end up leading the charge is extremely evident and all we have to do is look at our cell phones to see it.

News should focus more on environment


Our country has endured many environmental dilemmas, but are we acknowledging them enough and if so are we acting upon it?

Our immediate concerns and interests — such as finances, the stock market or the government shutdown — make us forget about the importance of focusing on our oceans and wildlife before resources are soiled.

An article on CNN titled, “Lionfish infestation in Atlantic Ocean is a growing epidemic” is an alarming report about our Caribbean fish and reef depletion. The article has a statement reading that the lionfish invasion is probably the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic will ever face. Stories like this should be headline news compared to some of the seemingly less relevant stories.

If this really a huge crisis, why is the cover story of that day a scientific report comparing the addictiveness of Oreo cookies versus heroin in lab rats, while this huge ocean crisis was just a side story?

Lionfish can wipe out a coral reef with their aggressive appetite and humans are to blame for their presence in waters. Often, pet owners release their animals into the wild, which started the bloom of lionfish in our waters. Humans are at fault for the majority of our invasive exotic species and environmental issues in general therefore it should be constantly made clear that it is our responsibility to correct these issues.

We are all concerned about the debts that our generation may have to face financially, but there are many more patches to fix above our money conflicts. The meaning of a dollar will be futile when we struggle to find fresh fruit and fish in the markets because we are poisoning our resources.

On CNN, I read two recent articles last that were not highlighted enough on other news sites, but should have been addressed. Reports pertained to two species of deep-sea animals that washed up on California shores last week, an 18’ oar fish as well as a saber toothed whale. Rarely are specimens like these encountered or recovered, especially in the same week. Global warming and ocean pollution is thought to be the culprit.

Enormous oil spills have occurred, radioactive material has made its way into our waters and there are many environmental issues that are going unreported and are unknown to many people.

Miami graduate, Colin Foord, co-founder of Coral Morphologic, explained that Miami itself has a lot of environmental dispute which is swept under the rug and generally is forgotten about and not released to the public.

I understand that not everybody wants a constant reminder that each day we are killing a little piece of our planet, but it’s true. I feel that if we presented these topics even more in our news, perhaps more action would be taken in response to our burdens. We are so focused on what’s popular and our journalists write in a way to draw in a juicy story, but the most important stories should be those that can save our future generations and our planet.

Realize the U has the swagger back


The Miami hurricanes won their sixth straight game this season against the Tar Heels, showing the NCAA and sports analysts we have our swagger back. Even with the collegiate infractions, skeptic news media reports, and a few injured players, the U has certainly opened analysts’ eyes this season.

This season, the boys in green and orange have reminded ESPN and other sports journalism organizations that the University of Miami is not to be reckoned with. However, last month, reports on “Sports Center” stated that the University of Miami was off to a good start due to an easy schedule and doubted that the team would remain dominant.

Steve Levy stated that the Hurricanes cannot be considered top dog before playing our biggest games such as Florida State, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech, which we have yet to do.

Several sources have doubted our No. 7-ranked team and the abilities of our star backfield. Running back Duke Johnson and quarterback Steven Morris have endured reoccurring injuries throughout the season but, according to Tim Keeney from Bleacher Report, Johnson is already cleared and set to play this upcoming week, as is Morris.

Aside from the injuries, the uncertainty about this team has comes from our past several years performance as well as the recent scandal.

The last two years slipped through the cracks when the Hurricanes were denied bowl game potential due to the recruitment scandal resulting in booster Nevin Shapiro’s arrest. Since that time, “Sports Center” reporters joked that we should turn our focus to the basketball team, assuming football would not bounce back.

The morning of Oct. 22, the punishment for the hurricanes was announced and they will no longer receive a bowl ban, but will lose nine scholarships. Associated Press football reporter Tim Reynolds said, “the NCAA has been told Miami accepts its sanctions. This saga, by and large, ends today.”

With the eligibility, the team can compete to show the analysts that they are the resilient team Miami has needed for years.

Reporters should finally be viewing the team as the powerhouse football team it used to be. This season is the Hurricanes are their most promising team since 2003 and all players, fans and analysts are anticipating the rivalry at Florida State University.

Even though most reports have predicted that Florida State will come out on top, a win for Miami is significant in proving to the reporters that the hurricanes have the swagger back.

Social media bullying takes lives


Bullying is a social problem that, according to experts, comes directly from home. For some people, it is a way to gain self-confidence by hurting others and getting some attention.

This week has been a very tough one for a Florida family that lost its daughter in September. Twelve-year-old Rebecca Sedwick jumped off to her death on an abandoned cement area in Lakeland, Fla., after been cruelly bullied by two girls.

Based on reports, 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw and 12-year-old Katelyn Roman started brutally bullying Sedwick almost a year ago. Both suspects were arrested this week after Shaw confessed on a message posted on her Facebook profile that said: “Yes IK I bullied REBECCA and she killed her self but IDGAF.”

The girl said she did not write such message and mentioned someone had possibly hacked her Facebook page. While the other suspect accepted she bullied Sedwick and showed remorse.

The alleged abuses started when Guadalupe began dating Rebbecca’s former boyfriend. The two girls were once friends, but having feelings for the same boy soured their relationship.

This story has indeed lift up a national emergency call to beware of bullies. Many parents around the country have raised campaigns to raise awareness announcing the existence of bullying.

However, many are questioning if parents do really influence their kids’ behavior?

In this case, the answer seems to be yes.

Not long after Guadalupe’s arrest, her stepmother 30-year-old Vivian Vosburg was arrested Friday afternoon, after authorities released a video that showed Vosburg beating two kids while she called them obscenities.

Polk County Sheriff Graddy Judd, mentioned that it was unbelievable that this woman was the same person that at least told two media outlets that her daughter wouldn’t do something as bullying.

He also said, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Rebecca would have been 13 this weekend, but the continuous abuses took charge of her conscience leading to a dramatic turn.

Many media outlets also reported that police confiscated the laptops and cellphones of at least 15 girls connected to the bullying saga.

Horrible messages such as “nobody cares about you,” “I hate you,” you seriously deserve to die,” were found on these computers that apparently nobody knew of.

But, is it cyber bullying a new problem that parents must be aware of?

According to Sergio Llanes, a psychologist specialized in bullying and domestic violence, more than half of the population does not know about cyber bullying. Most parents never check up their kids’ electronic devices. In a sense, this makes them more prone to be verbally and mentally abuse to he point like Rebecca. The girl felt lost and beaten down that in her mind the way off was to end with her life.

The victim’s mother sent a message to other parents on Facebook.

“I am doing my very best to make sure that other parents are made aware of how serious of a problem bullying is and I hope you are proud of me and satisfied with my progress. I am also working hard to make sure those that wronged you pay the price for what they did to you!!” she wrote.