Sportswriters in conflict of interest?


Sportwriter and NFL reporter for CBS Sports Jason La Canfora brought up a very interesting point with a tweet he sent out last night after the Thursday night’s game between Indianapolis and Tennessee.

I had never really even thought of the idea that reporters and players and coaches might share the same agents. In fact, I never even thought about the fact that reporters do have agents. It may not seem like a big deal to many, but it brings up a huge question in terms of conflict of interest.

Conflict of interest is one of the main points in any discussion of professional ethics in journalism. It’s essential for journalists to be out of the story (depending on the type of story, mostly that is the case). Journalists are taught to avoid conflicts, whether real or perceived. And when there is unavoidable conflict, they need to disclose it.

Reporters sharing agents with players and coaches nearly discredits any story that that reporter writes about the player or coach whom he shares that agent with. As unbiased as the story may be, it doesn’t matter.

This is a rather interesting topic of discussion to me because of my prior writing experience. I used to write for a community website about the Tennessee Titans. My job was to write articles about the team, whether objective or subjective, positive or negative, anything I could come up with. During the time that I worked, there was no real conflict because of the state of the website. It wasn’t exactly professional because we weren’t getting paid to do it. It was merely my thoughts written in type, with one editor making tweaks.

That “job” didn’t necessarily prepare for me for the conflicts that I may face if I pursue a career in journalism. I do now understand that there are situations where those conflicts are unavoidable. But when they are avoidable, it is important for me to eliminate myself from the equation in the fairest way possible.

Toronto mayor takes turn for worst


A current article on reads, “ Toronto’s Mayor is Stripped of Some Power”. After openly admitting to using drugs such as crack cocaine “in a drunken stupor” and using offensive and sexual language.

After this stunt, I would have expected to see Mayor Rob Ford leave office, but he claims that he will not be leaving his job any time soon. Despite this, he continues to make more mistakes when speaking to reporters and acting on impulse.

Mayor Rob Ford is clearly not too concerned with walking on eggshells. Although he wants to keep his job, he fires back at reporters with offensive responses that are hardly ever thought out well.

When asked about the sexual relations he had with an escort, he claimed that the woman was not in fact an escort, but rather a family friend. He explained that such “allegations” had “hurt his wife.”

 He is embarrassing the residents of Toronto and refuses to step down or take a leave of absence. According to sources, most members of the city council support the idea that Ford take a leave of absence, but he has refused, leaving the other council members powerless and helpless.

 We can only hope that he gets back on the right path and fixes his mistakes before he destroys his career.

Questions within a national story


We’ve essentially been beaten to death by the Miami Dolphins scandal involving Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. I’ll spare the details in order to get to the journalistic side of the story. This story raised several questions and kind of put a dent into the integrity of sports journalism, or at least some are saying that.

When the story broke, everyone went into a bit of an outrage, whether they were taking Martin’s side or Incognito’s. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. That’s where problems begin to brew. Yes, everyone has the right to their own personal opinion. But when that opinion is thoroughly thrown across everyone’s faces, the thin line of professionalism is crossed.

As journalists, we can’t allow that to happen.

This story wore that line even thinner. Sportswriters began to draw conclusions hours after the initial story was told. Most didn’t care that there were infinite amounts of questions to be answered by all different kinds of sources. As journalists, we are told to report the truth. And though these journalists may have just been tweeting out their thoughts, they needed to be aware that they are the guides for the masses. Everything they say is taken into account by the public that is reading their thoughts. Stating your opinion on a subject that is incredibly premature in nature defies all counts of logic that journalism entails.

In addition to that, journalists were beginning to take sides without even considering the personal aspect that the story consisted of. Bullying is a very serious topic, one that should not be taken lightly by anyone. Not everyone has been bullied, and I myself can’t speak on the subject, but writers were talking about the people in the story as if it was a joke. As if Martin was a big crybaby and Incognito was just a product of his employers.

No one really knew what had happened or what was going on. Still, many journalists found  themselves knowledgeable enough to speak their thoughts without thinking of the repercussions. This story easily raised more questions about journalism than it may have solved.

Misunderstanding others’ opinions


On Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen faced allegations that he himself made a racist comment, when in fact he was expressing the views of some of the subjects of his article.

The exact quote he used was that “people with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.”

The problem is that Cohen was trying to convey the sentiments of a particular group of people separate from himself, but readers confused this with a statement of his own opinion.

This is one hardship of journalism.  If we are writing about controversial topics, we are going to have to express others’ opinions that we do not share (or that we do share but do not wish to disclose).  How do we avoid being called “racist” or “sexist” when we are only retransmitting someone else’s message?

The task is not an easy one.  Some readers automatically perceive what they read to be the opinion of the author.  These people might be stubborn and hard to convince otherwise, no matter what you do.

With people who don’t jump to this conclusion, journalists can be overly clear that they are not the ones with the thoughts they are writing or speaking.  Stress your sources.  In situations when you might be tempted to write “many believe that” or “some think that,” reconsider this.  Instead, wherever possible, insert the identity of the party, such as the name of a group or a specific individual you are quoting.  This should take as much suspicion off of you as possible.

Still, no matter how hard you try, it is difficult to tell how readers will view others’ opinions you write about.  People, like journalists, are always looking for drama.  The more scandalous an issue, the more scandalous it would be for you to express your own unpopular beliefs.  People tend to see what they want to see, which is not always what is actually there.  Unfortunately, to maintain your professionalism, you cannot write in block letters “I DO NOT AGREE WITH THE STATEMENTS THAT I QUOTE IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE” at the top of your story.

Just as fiction authors do not necessarily share the same experiences as their narrators, journalists do not always hold the same opinions as their articles’ subjects.  As the saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.

One of the cardinal rules of journalism


When it comes to writing and journalism, there is an almost unspoken rule that reigns among the industry workers, one so obvious but also so grave, and desperately avoided at all costs.

Plagiarism, that scary word we learned in middle school when we started writing papers, still sends nervous little shots down my spine. My teachers always warned me about it, explaining the huge consequences of stealing someone else’s work. It always made me think twice before copying and pasting those paragraphs off of Wikipedia…

It wasn’t until I entered high school and had to write research papers that I learned how serious plagiarism really is. The realization came with maturity and a new-found common sense that wasn’t quite present in my braces-laden prepubescent years.

Later when I discovered my love and appreciation for writing, I realized how wrong it’d be to steal someone else’s words, or to have someone steal my own. Majoring in journalism in college has only cemented this strong belief of mine.

As silly as it seems to be harping on and on about why plagiarism is wrong, you’d be surprised at how many people copy others’ work. I know fellow students who see nothing wrong with copying a few sentences here, and paraphrasing a few there. And when I say paraphrasing, I mean switching around a few words to make it seem a bit different.

But it’s not just students who are plagiarizing their college papers. A freelance writer for the local newspaper The Press and Journal plagiarized her column from The Guardian, The Daily Mail, and The Spectator.

Carly Fallon’s story about the upcoming winter season has whole paragraphs that are completely taken word-for-word from other writers. And then paraphrasing was taken to a whole other level of definition-changing.

Sentences such as “When the first snowflake hits the ground, everything transforms. Trains seize up. Schools close,” were ‘paraphrased’ into “And then, when the first snowflake hits the ground, everything transforms. Schools close; trains seize up.” The lazy senior might look at this as simply paraphrasing, but really it is just straight out plagiarism.

Fallon was fired from the paper, and I’m sure utterly humiliated. Did she really think she could get away with copying a WHOLE story, from not one, not two, but THREE writers?

Moral of the story is: write your own stuff. If you can’t come up with anything from your own brain to spill out as words onto your laptop screen, you should probably pick another career.

Is journalism still important?


With news media changing faster than you can tweet, Tumble or post about it … it is hard to weigh the importance of journalism in this Digital Age.

Print journalism is going through a difficult time: facing deaths of newspapers and media outlets. Is journalism at risk as well?

Many people ask: “What is it that journalists actually do? How do we define a journalist? How is a journalist different than a blogger?” Traditionally, journalists go to the scene themselves and write, narrate, or shoot what is happening. They investigate and publish stories.

In our modern Digital Age, journalists have the ability to do more with the power of technology. We really had a hands-on experience in this through the Scavenger Hunt project in our CNJ 208 reporting class. They filter the clatter of the Internet by gathering all of the relevant articles in one story. They use these powerful new ways of communication to bring attention to important issues, whether they reported first or not. They live-blog and retweet the revolutions by introducing raw facts.

There is a need for professional journalists, not because they know how to write, but because they follow the rules and journalistic ethics, and they are competent about many topics they report on.

Journalism is still relevant, but it has definitely changed.

Facebook users would be large country


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network now has 1 billion friends.

“Just so we’re clear: As of Sept. 14, one in seven people on this planet has been classified as an active Facebook user,” said Zuckerberg. “If Facebook was a country, it would have the third largest population, right behind China (1,347,350,000) and India (1,210,200,000), and ahead of the United States (314,500,000).”

A recent Pew study showed that the percentage of all Americans getting news from Facebook and other social networks has tripled since 2010. And the proportion of social networkers who regularly get news there has more than doubled.

The percentage of young adults getting news socially has increased from about 20 percent in 2010 to about 33 percent in 2012. The median age of Facebook users is now 22. That’s down from August 2008 when the median age peaked at 26. In January of 2006, the median user age was 19.

We don’t realize how much Facebook has impacted our world, so much so that it is taking over.

Tweets may cause cancellation of trip


Plans for students at Ohio University’s journalism school to travel with the United States Soccer Team to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, writing for and about the team, may come undone thanks to the students’ tenacity.

On Monday, students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism learned of the trip and a lot of them tweeted about it. On Wednesday, several students contacted the U.S. Soccer Federation to start asking questions. And now, the U.S. Soccer Federation is thinking otherwise.

The program seemed a sure thing on Monday when the school held a press conference announcing the team-school partnership.

“It is still in the works, actually. There has been a lot of excitement from our students,” said Associate Professor and Institute for International Journalism Director Yusuf Kalyango.

But nothing is yet confirmed, he said, and the whole thing could fall through.

Journalism students being journalism students ran with the story and contacted the federation for details, resulting in bad news of “it may not happen now.”

Kalyango did hold the press conference with journalism students, but he didn’t expect them, or the journalism school, to then report on it. But they did.

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ABC News is going back to school


ABC News is going back to school.

The network announced Wednesday that it was opening five college campus bureaus in September at journalism schools around the country.

The multimedia bureaus will be staffed by undergraduate and graduate journalism students who will report stories for the news division’s online offerings as well as its broadcast news programs.

With resources and mentoring provided by ABC News, multimedia newsgathering bureaus were established at each of the universities. Modeled on a network news bureau, the college bureaus are staffed primarily by juniors, seniors and graduate students selected by ABC News and university faculty and fully equipped with state-of-the-art camera equipment, computers and edit software.

ABC News on Campus provides an opportunity for students to report on stories in their areas and produce a wide array of content for ABC News digital and broadcast platforms. These college digital bureaus will extend the news gathering reach of ABC News throughout the country. In addition, they will enable ABC News to nurture bright, beginning journalism students, give them hands-on training from some of the most seasoned news professionals in the business.

I think it’s a great program that they are starting because employees will be able to learn so much through this, as well as it gives students a chance to have a feel about what it is to be a journalist.

Typhoon Haiyan reporters risk their lives


Typhoon Haiyan was one of the powerful storms to ever be recorded and is believed to be the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall in human history.

With 10,000 deaths already confirmed by local officials and the reports of many that are left homeless and hungry, it is pretty clear how dangerous and destructive this storm actually was.

With storms and natural disasters, although it may be extremely dangerous, someone has to be the reporter to go to the location and actually report what is going on to benefit the world’s public knowledge and awareness. The reporter could potentially risk his or her life for the sake of reporting information.

A Filipino reporter named Atom Araullo has become an Internet sensation for being a strong reporter and actually going out in the mist of the typhoon to make live reports. He was beaten up by 379 km/h winds, according to NASA.

The reporter was reporting for ABS-CBN News and is now considered a hero on social media for being the brave reporter to face the storm.

The footage of the storm that Araullo reported live has gone viral on YouTube and has been viewed more than one million times.

Hours after the broadcast, Araullo was trending on Twitter.

The cameraman who recorded Araullo is also being recognized even though there is no information on his identity.

Because one reporter broadcast this information competitive stations also sent reporters to this dangerous natural disaster sight to report.

Jamela Alidogan, who reported live from the storm’s hardest hit city, Tacolban, and shared her horrifying story of how she almost did not survive the storm while reporting about the typhoon.

She told her story about how she went to the second story of a building and hung from the metal ceiling beams in a closet with many others for about an hour to remain safe until the ceiling actually started to give way. The roof eventually collapsed and there was a loud noise. She managed to hide in one of the closet shelves while the eye of the storm was just above her. She was prepared to jump, but decided to wait for help until the water and winds died down.

“I have covered armed conflict, but there is nothing like this, nothing as incredible and scary as covering a natural disaster like Typhoon Haiyan,” Alidogan stated in her report.

Reporters have an extremely important job of supplying news stations and the public with information that in situations like a national disaster is scarce and powerful. Reporters risk their lives to supply this information and it just shows the importance and necessity of the news as a source of information. Just one piece of footage of something this detrimental can summon millions.

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Immediacy in reporting has a price


The immediacy that consumes news reporting is beneficial to viewers and readers.

However, is it beneficial to the reputation of journalism?

Probably not. However, there is no other way to do it – except for the advance-prepared profiles such as death stories and obituaries.

Working in a rush maximizes mistakes — mistakes for which journalists are deeply criticized.

For example, three minor children filed a lawsuit in July against Fox News Channel.

Fox had accidentally broadcast their father’s suicide earlier that year. The children, ages 9, 13 and 15, claim the footage of their father’s suicide caused them to suffer emotional distress.

Their 32-year-old father had allegedly hijacked a car, so the high-speed chase was being streamed in real-time by Fox. However, when the man got out of the car to shoot himself, the cameras were still on him, broadcasting the tragedy.

According to the suit, there were rumors going around the children’s school that day that a man had committed suicide on TV and the video was circulating the Internet.

However, it was not until the children got home and watched the video that they realized they were watching their own father’s death.

Both Fox News and anchor Shepard Smith issued apologies for the broadcast, claiming its broadcast was the result of human error.

Perhaps these mistakes are something we can prevent by hiring more equipped journalists. However, it may just be a terminal flaw of journalism as a result of the pressure for immediacy.

The value of celebrities in news


I often wonder why so many people obsess over celebrities and why famous people generate such high value in today’s news cycles.

I understand why entertainment magazines value celebrities and their gossip as news worthy. It is entertainment and that’s what the magazine is all about — the entertainment industry.

But it seems absurd, (at least to me) that CNN, Fox News, and so many other worldwide news organizations take the time to inform viewers about the lives of celebrities or, at least, contribute to the gossip about them.

So how did entertainment news and gossip become world-wide valued hard-news stories? And why are people more interested in the lives of celebrities than what’s actually going on in the world?

Celebrities represent people who are much prettier, better dressed and much wealthier than the average person. From a young age, we are predisposed to celebrities by watching TV shows and listening to music. We develop an appreciation for these artists and we become obsessed with our favorite people. Because we love our favorite actors or musicians we become eager to learn more about them and what goes on in their lives and less about our own. We focus more on when the next Britney Spears album comes out and less on doing homework and which college we’d eventually like to attend.

When we develop an interest for the characters we watch, and the actors that play them, we become obsessed and want to know everything there is to know about them. Entertainment news and gossip provide insight into the lives of everyone’s favorite celebrities. Many people consider celebrities to be their friends and, thus, want to know more about them. They show that celebrities, too, are normal people just like us who also experience heartache, destruction, and disaster.

The rise of the Internet, the invention of television and radio, as well as a slight decrease in education have all contributed to the role celebrities play in our mainstream news.

Regular news is often boring, negative, depressing and often hard to follow. Most people don’t take the time to follow or keep up with the news because it makes them feel bad. Celebrity news is entertaining, comical, relaxing and makes people feel good knowing that celebrities go through tough times just like we do. Celebrity news gives people a chance to break away from their own lives and into the lives of someone else.

But while entertainment news is interesting and provides a relief from our own everyday lives, when put into perspective, all celebrity gossip and entertainment news has done is dumb our society down by making Miley Cyrus more important and newsworthy than Congress or the president.

It seems outrageous that our news feeds would be filled with news of Kim Kardashian’s due date and Kate Middleton’s baby name than on our continued involvement in the Middle East or the ever-increasing interest rates of college loans and growing student debt.

In the long run, both beauty and fame fade (and it happens fast). By focusing and including celebrity gossip in our mainstream news, we are sending a message to younger generations that nothing matters as long as they’re famous and pretty.

But, as many of us know (at least I hope many of us know). life is not defined by how beautiful or famous we are, it is defined by the impact we make on society and the love we spread.

Being smart and intelligent is much more valuable than being famous and/or beautiful. Beauty and fame are easily disposable. Cultural significance and positive change last longer and are much more respected.

With this, I propose a change in celebrity gossip and the value they hold in our news. If the news reported on how political policy affected those in the social elite rather than just their physical appearance and wardrobe, then their coverage would be legitimately solidified. We live in a society that holds physical appearance as the only important value; if we are not beautiful or skinny, then we are not important. We need to re-evaluate and re-focus news on the things that matter — such as education.

Sure, the news holds negative and depressing stories, but that’s because our world is filled with such things. We are only hurting ourselves and our value of intelligence by dumbing ourselves down and distracting ourselves with the lives of celebrities instead of trying to improve our own.

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Conspiracy theories and the media


Recently, conspiracy theories have become very popular.

A conspiracy theory can be thought of as the belief that authorities and government officials are responsible for some type of (destructive) unexplained event and that the official explanation or story cannot be trusted. Often, those who believe in one conspiracy tend to believe in others.

Those who believe in conspiracy theories are often characterized as irrational, unbelievable, and/or all around nuts. An intelligent, very well-liked person with credibility can quickly and easily become irrational, disliked, and lose their credibility just by being labeled a conspirator in mainstream media.

The easiest way for officials and the media to brush something off is by labeling it a conspiracy theory. When conspiracy theories do arise, officials and media outlets are extremely quick to dismiss certain types of views, point fingers, and label anyone who believes in this “outrageous idea” a conspiracy theorist.

Back in the day, the mainstream media served as a watchdog for government, exposing and uncovering hidden secrets (Think Nixon and the Watergate scandal). To many people today, it appears though, that the mainstream media only tell us what the government and big corporations want us to hear. Most people consider the media to be the biggest conspiracy of all, lying to society about what’s really going on overseas and/or in our own backyard.

So if we can’t trust our very own news media for answers or to further investigate questionable scandals then who can we trust? Many people turn to conspiracy theories for answers because it appears that those conspiracies provide answers to many of the questions the mainstream media often avoids.

Many conspiracy theories hold some value of truth but more often then not they hold an extremist viewpoint and can be considered false. But what happens when these conspiracy theories turn out to be true? As we know, the media tends to get a lot of things wrong and blur questionable facts. When the mainstream media labels something a conspiracy theory and then later, it turns out to be true, does this further discredit our very own media and give more credibility to conspiracy theories? Let’s take a look.

Remember Fukushima, the nuclear power plant that erupted in Japan? Back when it happened, the mainstream media coverage insisted that the nuclear radiation was nothing like Chernobyl and that many residents could soon return to their homes. Overall, the media declared Fukushima ‘no big deal.’ Many “conspiracy theorists” called this one — declaring Fukushima uninhabitable due to nuclear radiation. As it turns out, a few months later The New York Times released an article in which “broad areas around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades ….”

How about the U.S military attacks on Libya? At the beginning, those who saw this coming and spoke up about it were called kooks and whack-jobs. (The majority of Americans never saw this coming) Even recently, the mainstream media still denies that NATO is currently arming and training Libyan rebels. In order to be less responsible for the bloodshed and still achieve their goals, the U.S and EU have developed, trained, and equipped “rebel groups” within the country and have used them as the ground forces for this campaign. The New York Times admits ” the learning curve for the rebels, with training and equipping, was increasing. What we’ve seen in the last few weeks is these two curves have crossed.” Now, many prominent officials are already calling for the U.S and EU to provide occupational forces.

How about the popular conspiracy that the increasing amounts of fluoride in our water is actually bad for us? For the first time in 50 years, the feds have just now reduced the “recommended amount” of fluoride in our drinking water. A CNN article reported that the federal government is now saying that high levels of fluoride in the water have now officially been linked with fluorosis-a condition that causes spotting and streaking on teeth.

How about the idea that cell phone use can cause cancer? Startling scientific research has now found a connection between the two. A recent CNN article states, “At the highest exposure level — using a mobile phone half an hour a day over a 10-year period — the study found a 40 percent increased risk of glioma brain tumors.”

This last example involves the conspiracy that the U.S government provides weapons for Mexican drug cartels. This idea has been around for a long time, yet nobody has taken the time to listen to or investigate the theory. Now, it is a matter of public record. The government has, indeed, facilitated the transfer of thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

A CBS News report discusses the opposition that many ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) agents admitted to allowing thousands of guns to be given into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. “One Project Gunrunner source told us just how many guns flooded the black market under ATF’s watchful eye …. For months, ATF agents followed 50-caliber Barrett rifles and other guns believed headed for the Mexican border, but were ordered to let them go.”

It’s hard to determine whether these are just common mainstream media mistakes or if the media actually hides the truth for as long as they can until the government (or unavoidable research and explanation) allows them to admit such truths.

The mainstream news media never hesitates to label an absurd theory as a conspiracy-and those who believe in it-as conspirators. The label alone is enough to discredit anyone-no matter how smart, intelligent and credible they really are. But these examples have shown that conspiracy theorists have often times been correct, even if the media has not admitted or accepted these theories right away.

So does this mean we should discredit the mainstream media and credit conspiracy theories instead?

Not necessarily.

All I’m suggesting is that the mainstream news media seem to be quick in labeling theories that discredit the government as conspiracies. By doing this, the majority of people discredit these theories and sometimes these theories turn out to be true. Of course, not all conspiracy theories are true and, quite often, most of them are absurd. But the fact remains, that there seems to be some layer of truth in conspiracies that arise and instead of discrediting them because the mainstream media has told us too, we should further investigate and come up with our own conclusions.

As these examples have shown, when the media is quick to disbelieve and discredit someone as a conspiracy/conspirator, it is in our best interest that we do our own investigating for the truth.

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War zones dangerous for journalists


The bodies of two French journalists were returned to France on Tuesday. They had been kidnapped right after conducting an interview on Saturday in Mali.

Both reporters worked for Radio France International and they had been interviewing a Tuareg rebel near the town of Kidal.

Because of France’s decision to intervene in Mali, the French military secured the area around Kidal, which is why it was thought to be safe for the French journalists.

Both were shoved into a car by four men and were found dead soon after.

An Italian journalist was returned home safely recently after being abducted as well.

He is La Stampa’s war correspondent and entered Syria in April. He had been kidnapped for months before finally being released.

It has been reported that Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. The government has expressed their opposition towards professional journalists, citizen and international alike.

According the Committee to Protect Journalists, 32 journalists have been killed and at least 12 abducted in Syria in the past 12 months.

These kinds of things happen all the time with journalists. War zones are an extremely dangerous place in general, but journalists are at times targets. This can be traced back throughout history and it only seems to get worse.

With this being said, why do journalists continue to go overseas to these overly dangerous areas?

It is simply this: the world deserves to know what is going on in these war zones and it is a journalist’s job to do so.

Personally, I don’t know how these reporters do it though. I don’t think I could ever have the courage to do so.

Being that I would like to become a photographer after college, I have been asked if I would be interested in doing war photography. The answer is no because of these tragedies that occur in these countries with internal conflict.

Journalists have to be strong people in order to report about things of this nature, but actually having to go to the place and live there for long amounts of time in order to get the story takes a large amount of bravery.

I look up to the photographers who go over to these zones of conflict and take pictures of what’s going on and I have nothing but respect for the ones who have lost their lives.

Journalism isn’t dying, it’s changing


Every holiday party or family get-together, it’s always the same thing. My relatives and their friends ask about boys and school. While my love life has fluctuated more than Oprah’s waistline (no offense, O) my college career has always been steady and focused. When asked about my major, I proudly reply, “Journalism,” which is always met with faces twisted in horror and concern.

“But honey, journalism is a dying career! Everybody knows that.”

Cue my usual exasperated sigh and excuse to beeline towards the snack table. I can feel their worried glances on my back. Poor thing. She needs to study a real major. 

I know my Com School peers have experienced similar fright-filled responses. But do not fret my fellow journalism majors, as I’m sure you know, there is no need to switch over to something “more reliable” like engineering or accounting … we all suck at math anyways.

It is true that the journalism industry is currently going through major changes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s dying out and that reporters are going extinct.

On the contrary, BLS data shows that the number of help-wanted ads for “news analysts, reporters, and correspondents” has increased by 15 percent compared to last year. More people are telling BLS that they have careers as news analysts, reporters and correspondents compared to a year ago.

The Digital Age isn’t taking away journalism jobs, instead it’s simply modifying the description. These help-wanted ads now use words such as “digital,” “Internet” and “mobile.”

And what’s wrong with that? This isn’t the first time journalism and media have withstood major change due to technology. From the emergence of the radio in the twenties to the television takeover in the fifties, journalists have adapted when it comes to times of major change through medium.

As history shows, when technology advances and culture changes, journalists develop new skills to keep up. Journalism hasn’t died out and won’t die out because of this willingness to understand, adapt and learn.

The common idea that “everyone’s a journalist,” due to the prevalence of blogging online, is an inaccurate notion. The news and media industry needs educated journalists capable of interpreting the news and delivering it in the unique way only trained writers and broadcasters can. That’s not to say that raw talent is non-existent, but not everyone has the needed skill set acquired through education.

I believe that journalism will continue to strive in this Internet-centered period due to the fact that young journalists are capable and equipped to handle the shift. They lack the dated habits of their older counterparts and join the industry with a strong grasp of today’s environment.

Instead of collapsing careers, journalism’s changing ways are creating more jobs and opportunities, available to the people who are skilled and opened to them.

So maybe our world is studded with tablets and phones and our eyes are more constantly met with screens than with paper. We will always need people to report and interpret life’s happenings, no matter the outlet. From town crier to Tweet and everything in between, journalism has evolved along with the world and will continue to do so in the ever-changing future.

How do blogs affect news?


For starters, bloggers are the lucky ones. They have a lower standard to uphold and can therefore speak freely, with bias, opinion and all of the forbidden aspects of news writing.

Bloggers can speak without regard, because they have no boss. Their only standards to uphold are their own.

In journalism, it is frowned upon to use your boyfriend, best friend or cousin as a credible source; however, bloggers are free to use all three of these people – making their information easier to attain.

Although bloggers have the easier job, their work complies with news writing with a funny cycle.

If a person’s social media news feed is fluttered with their friend’s opinions on a certain topic, this will encourage users to want to know the facts. Fortunately, when people want the facts, they refrain from blogs and turn to the news.

If these users are equally as inspired as their Facebook friends were by a certain topic, they may take to sharing their opinions as well – thus continuing the cycle of blog-inspired news readings.

However, because blogs can be more entertaining than hard news, it becomes a struggle for news sites to compete. With the need for pictures, videos, colorful sites and interactive features, online news sites are compelled to comply with their new competition: the bloggers.

This competitive edge has led to website design, live news feeds, use of color, trends and advertisements on online news sites. News sites also broadcast on social media in order to compete with bloggers by featuring “share” buttons at the beginning or end of each online story.

Additionally, the interactive features on news stories have dramatically increased since social media has taken off. The incorporation of user comments, user photos, and overall user input allow online news sites to stay in the running against bloggers.

So, a little competition has pushed online news to new heights. And, no matter how much easier or controversial a blog story may be, no body of writing can replace the facts and credibility that is the news.

Videos as web stories: Where is the text?


The Internet is great for news because we can use it to tell stories in multiple forms, like both text and video.  Video can complement and enhance text stories, adding new information and content.  However, a problem I have been running into lately is having online stories that are only in video form.

For example, on CNN’s website, there are many news stories that are only video.  Granted, you can find the corresponding text version elsewhere on the site, but how hard would it be for CNN to pair the two together on the same webpage?

On my Facebook News Feed, people post human-interest stories that catch my attention, but to my dismay, often the stories have no text to accompany videos.  This is especially problematic when I am in a public setting, like a classroom (before class, not during…), and I am unable to watch or listen.

Sometimes, it is just an inconvenience and I can easily perform a Google search and find a text version of the story. This is generally the case with straight news stories.  It’s harder when the stories are not straight news, because these are the more unique stories that cannot be found on every news website’s homepage.

Often, I don’t have the time or patience to watch a video.  I’d rather have the story in front of me, where I can scan it and quickly get important details out of it.  With videos, it is difficult to locate the important details, and when you try to skip around, it usually ends up taking longer to watch with all the buffering and/or freezing that ensues.  Plus, videos generally require you to watch ads before the story, which is beneficial for the host site’s pockets, but is not in the interest of saving time.

Because it can be so complicated and frustrating to play videos, I usually don’t watch them at all.

Even though there are undoubtedly Internet users who prefer stories as videos, I think having a story only in video format can be detrimental to a story’s success.  Having a news story only in video format will lead viewers to other websites.

And the last thing a journalist wants is to lose readers to another similar story.

Lack of protection for a reporter


The Washington Times is preparing a lawsuit after federal agents invaded the Maryland home of award-winning investigative reporter, Audrey Hudson, and confiscated her notes.

The agents had a warrant, but it was for unregistered firearms that belonged to her husband. Only after they left did Hudson realize that some of her notes, which included interviews with confidential sources, were missing. The notes pertained to her reporting on problems within the Department of Homeland Security’s federal air marshal service.

During the raid, a Homeland Security agent asked Hudson if she was the reporter who had written the air marshal stories for The Times.When she was interviewed, she said, “There is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter. This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.”

The Coast Guard, which orchestrated the raid, says there was no wrongdoing.

The Times says the search and seizure was unconstitutional because the warrant was specifically for firearms and communication related to the acquisition of firearms. The damage is done, however; the department had Hudson’s notes for more than a month.

Media can inspire relationships


Back in 2012, a woman by the name of Elizabeth Wisdom posted a picture of Crater Lake in Oregon on her Instagram page.

This picture received 221 “likes” and various different comments. One of the comments which said “gasping I miss this place” was made by a man Elizabeth had never met. Because of their common interest in the lake and the public aspect of Instragram they decided to exchange phone numbers to chat.

Elizabeth decided she wanted to meet this man Denis face-to-face so she flew out to New Orleans to meet him. She Instragrammed a picture of Denis when she met him to document their weekend spent together.

From their comments back and fourth, it seemed that they were attracted to each ohter. As their relationship progressed Denis Instragrammed a picture of Elizabeth to document when they started to date.

Nine months later, Denis took Elizabeth to a barn near her home in Texas where she always dreamed of having her wedding. There he proposed to her in front of a “timeline” of their Instagram dating life which he printed out and put on the wall of the barn. The two are currently organizing their wedding.

It is amazing how social media networks can bring people together. People can post messages and images that others can relate to which in situations like this bring similar people together. If it wasn’t for Elizabeth’s hashtag on her Instagram about the Crater Lake, Denis would have never found Elizabeth.

I find this situation to be a rare occurrence because many people who meet on the Internet or on social media are taking a huge risk of the dangers behind their relationship. They have to take the chance of the possibility of talking to someone they don’t think they are talking to and sometimes maybe even a criminal or pedophile.

The movie and show “Catfish” is a prime example of this new relationship era. The show documents cyber relationships with the intentions of  bringing the two individuals together in person to see if the person they have been speaking too is actually the person that they thought.

Most of the time, the person is someone who lied about their identity. People who use media networks to “date” need to be extremely careful of all the dangerous people in the world today.

This dating is potentially dangerous and emotionally heartbreaking if you are talking to someone who lied about their identity.

It creates a world of people who do not know how to talk face to face. It creates a virtual world where people don’t interact in person and it is like love is evolving into a video game where they speak through typing.

Media networks bring people together in a sense, but essentially bring people physically apart due to lack of face-to-face connections.

For more information on Elizabeth and Denis:

Shooting at LA airport dominates news


Early this morning, Friday, Nov. 1, a lone gunman went on a shooting spree at the LAX Airport in Los Angeles. It dominated national news coverage throughout the day.

The gunman, currently unnamed, appeared in Terminal 3 at LAX with a black shoulder bag. He then proceeded to take out an assault rifle and started shooting near the screening area and in the airport.

It was noted that the airport police acted quickly and tracked down the shooter and took him into custody. Unfortunately one man who worked at the airport was killed while more than 10 others were wounded.

Witnesses said they heard more than 20 shots fired.

This story, once again, brings about the topic of gun control in America. To think that any one person has access to an assault rifle is terrifying, but not knowing whether or not an airport, move theater, or school is safe is debilitating.

Many Americans are living in constant fear or what might occur during their trips to the mall or movie theater and when these incidents continue to happen, this fear grows stronger and prevents us from doing certain activities.

In order to feel safe in our environment, it seems as if drastic safety measures must be taken, such as metal detectors and pat downs. This should not be the case and it is certainly not the best solution. 

There are numerous articles that have been written about random mass shootings that discuss simple measures to prevent these tragedies from occurring in our neighborhoods. Although these articles are helpful and useful, they should not be necessary.

The real concern is the issue with mental health, which I spoke about in my previous post. In order to prevent these mass shootings we must first understand where the motive comes from and start from there. Hopefully the real solution is found and people can stop living in fear.