Privacy questions remain unresolved


With the project we did for this week, a scavenger hunt that canvasses public records and other information available just by knowing the address, we have realized how much access we have to other people’s lives.

Of course it depends on the laws in each state. However, in Florida (where we will be at least four years) the Chapter 119 of the Florida statutes, commonly known as Florida’s “Public Records Law,” provides information on public records in Florida, including policies, definitions, exemptions, general information on records access, inspection, examination and duplication of records.

One always thinks that less regulation is better, there is a valuable transparency. The question is if laws should change as technology keeps moving on and developing? As we realized in the scavenger hunt, most of the records that we needed to look for were also available online. Should we trust the Internet that much? Does it mean that is available to anyone in the world who wants to access the website?

The dilemma is not too far from other simple things. Another thing that people have been discussing since 2015 is privacy rights and drones. Drones have become something more common through the years; whether it is for videos, reporting, visuals or just for fun (we even have drones in the School of Communication). However, currently there are laws to protect individuals against people stalking or spying on them in their homes but there are no federal laws in place that would protect individuals from being spied on by a drone.

Nobody knows where state law stands. Some argue that low-flying drones are trespassers. From the late 16th century, the common law took the position that property ownership extended infinitely into the heavens. Everything changed in the era of aviation establishing a limit. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1946 decision in U.S. v. Causby, it has been generally accepted that the property rights of a homeowner end 83 feet above the ground. That’s awfully close to the ground. Peeking in apartment window when recording high definition video from 100 feet up doesn’t present any sort of challenge.

Some suggested that property owners had to be granted control of the airspace to exclude any drones below a specific altitude; others said that there had to be an agreement with companies. It is still an unresolved matter, however, Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts introduced legislation last March that aims to create privacy protections and data reduction requirements about the information a drone collects, disclosure provisions for when data collection is happening and warrant requirements for law enforcement.

One in 8 Million, a new approach


When we talked about multimedia in class, one thing came into my mind: One in 8 Million.

One in 8 Million is a feature article about stories of different people in New York. The newspaper canvassed a large collection of different portraits of New Yorkers and attached them to their story in an audio piece.

Not only does it have a very user-friendly system, but also a very elegant and polished one, making it seem as if you are in presence of a true work of art. In black and white, they display many characters and a title for each story that catches the eye of the readers.

The stories are about one minute or two in length, however, they are accompanied by stunning professional pictures that show us the everyday life of the protagonists.  It is important to remark as well the impact the audio has on the reader, mostly because of how it was recorded. It has a lot of natural sounds, and one could even feel as they are talking to you.

I thought this format was very similar to the one we saw in class called “Snowfall.” I loved both pieces because I think they engage the readers in a completely different way. It is a more crafted piece, very detailed and woven into something bigger. It illustrates what the writer wants to say in various segments with a number of tools. In my perspective, it is an amazing way to use technology in a newspapers advantage, going further than using social media which has become more popular. I would love to see more stories like these ones.

Reference links:

Why have mass shootings increased?


After the Texas shooting last week, many of us kept wondering what is going on in the country. Why are the shootings in the U.S. gradually becoming more deadly ? All we have seen in the news lately include shootings, injured and people killed.

During the week, I read two different articles that somehow tried to address the issue with a lot of facts, information and in an appealing way. Both, The New York Times and BBC News, wrote an article on their websites titled: Why are U.S. mass shootings getting more deadly? Why U.S. mass shootings?

It seemed really interesting to me as a reader not only for the timing of the subject but also because it is such a controversial, broad topic about which it is hard to write .

The article in the NYT explains how America is different to any other country when the issue involves a gun and gun policy. The article stated that one of the main reasons the mass killings in the U.S. have been constant is because of the gun regulations. Although the newspaper explains fairly enough how it reached that conclusion, statistics and facts are presented vaguely. In my opinion, the story and analysis is really good but the newspaper could have presented the data more effectively using more than two simple graphics. Moreover, the newspaper fails to include multiple sources and just uses information provided by Adam Lankford, a professor from the University of Alabama.

On the other hand, BBC News did a similar piece in which it explained how the frequency of mass shootings has increased during the years. The news network gives us a little background to each of the shootings in modern history and dismantles factors that have changed during time. For this article, BBC News engages the attention of the reader in any way possible. The BBC offers various facts and information through explanatory videos, graphs, videos of each event, etc. Readers can even keep listening to the videos while they see other pictures or read the article. The network offers a really good analysis and provided evidence and visuals that help the viewer imagine the full context.

Helpful Links:

Man serenades dying wife in Puerto Rico


Among all the disheartening stories that have been covered about Puerto Rico since its devastating hurricanes in September, we find many personal experiences of people who suffered in their beloved land. This week, The Miami Herald featured one story about a Puerto Rican that was accompanying one of his family members on her last days. Many were sick from the contaminated water and mosquitoes that followed the hurricanes.

In the medical center, “generators hummed in the background, powering the ventilators and feeding tubes of patients who had fled nearby hospitals after Hurricane Maria knocked out power across the island.” But in the middle of this climate of nervousness and the preoccupied crowd, an old man took his guitar and started to play songs for his wife lying next to him.

Santos Candelaria also said he was playing songs to thanks the medical staff and volunteers that came to help his country in this crisis. This act from Candelaria reunited a small crowd of people singing proud to be Puerto Rican, but also people looking for support and hope.

There were a lot of things that impressed me about this particular story published by The Herald this past Thursday. First, is the fact that it focused on those little pieces that really change your perspective and make you smile. I realized that this could be one of the reasons why it is the center of the front page and essentially the day’s cover story. The second thing that called my attention was the use of multimedia in the article.

When you look the publication from the “front page” of The Herald it looks like a simple video and then you wonder why would they have that as one of the most important stories? Yes, it is a nice story but isn’t other news more controversial or shocking. The only thing that came to my mind was the fact that the video that was accompanying the piece was definitely a perfect video for social media. It was a short video, with images from the stories but titles that narrated what was happening. This is one of the formats that Facebook and many other websites have been using to advertise, promote a story and have a larger reach. It is a short story, with good visuals, that is appealing to the emotional, easy to understand and easy to instantly share.

I also noticed that although they had this self-explanatory video, the newspaper decided to also write a larger article with a more in-detail store for those who were looking for more information. It is also interesting because it makes us think of a balance between getting our news from social media and newspapers’ websites.

To see the original Miami Herald story, go to:

Cartel chief son: Netflix hurt reputation


William Rodríguez Abadía, the son of Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela, former head of Colombia’s powerful Cali drug cartel, says he was never a hitman and worked for his father as a lawyer while fighting a legal battle against the U.S. government.

Rodríguez Abadía decided to reappear and present himself to the public to declare the fact that his portrayal in the famous show “Narcos,” which has an audience of more than 3.2 million people around the world. Rodríguez Abadía, 53, and living in Miami, said that it’s “more important to clarify all the misunderstandings” and the more than 10 lies he said were broadcast during the third season of Narcos.

The Colombian who is hoping to obtain a special U.S. immigrant visa, claims he has been portrayed as a hitman and an assassin. Moreover, he emphasizes that a series like “Narcos” and others glorify drug trafficking. Rodríguez Abadía also said that he is not running away and that he has always admitted the mistakes he made in surrendering, accepting and serving his sentence.

This is not the first time that relatives of former drug traffickers complain to Netflix about the three-season show. Roberto Escobar, brother of Pablo Escobar, is seeking $1 billion from Netflix for the use of the late Medellín cartel chief’s image. Netflix has claimed that he was a public figure and that it obtained the information about him from court documents.

According to law, if the plantiffs are public figures, they have different defamation rights than a private person. There are specific restrictions applied to defamation claims with regard to someone who holds public office or chooses to be in the public eye.

Courts have upheld this rule based on the U.S. belief that the public should be able to freely discuss national issues without fear of any repercussions. If a public official or public figure believes that he or she has been defamed, he or she must prove with convincing evidence that the statement is false.

On one hand, I think that Rodríguez Abadía could have been portrayed in a different way, however, it is part of the public opinion. How many films have portrayed people not exactly as they are in life? Probably a huge number that we wouldn’t even imagine. I also consider that he has a motive to change the image people have of him in the United States, especially the most important newspaper where he lives.

Lastly, I also want to take into consideration the other side of the story that could include a lot of people who are famous because of an event or some other reason of which the public does not know. Many of them could have this false portrayal released out to a big number of viewers and are not able to sue powerful company as Netflix for damages.

Digital changes news consumption


This week, we are discussing in class how to create news stories that make use of media. Learning this skills is a new way to use technology tools to the journalist’s advantage incorporating more and new information to our online pieces. It is not only a way to make what we are writing about more visual, but it is also what catches “the eyeballs” of our consumers nowadays.

Digital content is the journalist’s last spicy touch to each of his stories, what makes the whole recipe complete. It is the pictures, videos and social media that sometimes make the articles are more appealing for people, especially younger generations.

The Internet and ,more recently, social media have been shaping the news landscape in many ways. People currently consume news and receive information in strikingly different ways than previous generations. The paths to a discovery of information are more nuanced and varied, one click away in a variety of devices.

News stories are woven into ways readers are connected to the world generally, mixing it with social connection, social action, and entertainment. Social media have also evolved a lot, now it’s about a lot of sharing articles, sharing of videos, sharing campaigns, and so forth. These companies are exposing users to more news than they initially would search for, making this mix of random and intentional learning greater.

Despite the fact that there is a lot of controversy and opinions on which news consumption method is the best and why I think one of the strongest points of getting your news from social media is the immediateness.

I spent last summer in Venezuela, where most of the news media outlets are owned by the government or they are banned. CNN in Spanish vanished from the channel list among many other channels that informed and reported the truth of the situation in the country. The only way people could get another point of view was through YouTube and more information about protests and attacks through Twitter. It is a really extreme example because Venezuelans are living in a dictatorship. However, is a different example of how a population can use social media for news consumption.

Behind the Weinstein story coverage


This week, one of the most popular news reports is about Harvey Weinstein. One of the richest, most famous and influential film producers of the 20th century has been accused of sexual assault for more than 30 years.

The Weinstein Company fired Weinstein, its co-founder, on Sunday after The New York Times released an investigation uncovering multiple allegations confirming he had engaged in sexual harassment. For decades, the producer was paying off sexual harassment accusers.

There is extensive coverage of the whole topic by The New York Times. The allegations uncovered by the newspaper came from actresses as well as former employees of the Weinstein Company and Miramax, the previous company that Weinstein and his brother founded. This list includes Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Emma.)

What is most interesting from the article to me, aside from the stories of these brave women and the amazing portraits that illustrate them, is the fact that the newspaper was dealing with a stunning blow to a huge producer. A personality who is known for defining American film and supporting liberal causes. The dilemma: Should we be the first ones to speak up and tell the story? To publish or not to publish.

Even though his alleged behavior became something like a Hollywood open secret and a public rumor, do we think that some of these women would have spoken up if The Times didn’t publish the story? I think that once again, as many of the decisions journalists need to make every day, the issue lies in a matter of principles. So what is our duty as communicators?

A journalist needs to make moral decisions day by day. If we take a look at the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics we realize there are some principles every professional communication needs to practice.

As the SPJ mentions in its statement, that “ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.” However, what is its limitations of the code and who states them?

Certainly, the story on Harvey Weinstein was a tremendous “risk” worth taken. Although it is difficult to release a shocking article on someone that famous and influential, the duty of a journalist is to report the truth to the public.

Challenges reporting breaking news


Last Sunday, there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas during Jason Aldean’s concert performance. A lone gunman unleashed bullets from the 32nd floor of Mandala Bay Casino and Resort.

The shooter killed at least 58 people and injured more than 500 others attending a country music festival below, according to officials.

The initially unknown shooter, now identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, fired shot after shot from his room at the hotel down on the crowd of about 22,000.

Terrified concertgoers were literally running for their lives. It has been the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

As one can see, this story was breaking news late on Sunday and early on Monday. However, most of the information was incomplete and unknown. It is a story that has been developing during the week. Each day adds new information that sometimes leads to new stories.

This is one of the challenges of covering breaking news. Sometimes you could get more information, details and sources than others.

The process begins with an alert that carries immediate, yet very limited information. That would be the first news on Sunday night. Next comes the news break, which includes the answer to main facts (who? what? when? where?), the source and the circumstances.This would be the stories from Monday and Tuesday talking about the details of the event, most importantly who committed the act and why.

Last, but not least, the updates and second stories that are stories carrying an earlier report by weaving together fresh developments, reactions, added context and analysis. These are stories like the ones about the gunman’s girlfriend, heroes that saved lives, interviews with the killer’s family.

Little by little, journalists get to weave the story, starting from the very basic and developing into the more complex details.

Earthquake strikes near Mexico City


During the three-week improvised break that we had, there were a lot of big stories featured on the news. One that caught my eye was the earthquakes in Mexico, mostly the second one which was closer to Mexico City, Puebla and Morelos.

Last week, on the same date as the anniversary of the second strongest earthquake in Mexico in 1985, the National Seismology Service reported a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter was located in Mexico City, however, it heavily affected all the surrounding states.

Streets were full of victims, people trapped under collapsed buildings, familiar streets divided by strands of red and yellow emergency tape; but most streets were plenty of fear.

Other than getting help from countries all over the world, the Mexican society has found a way to prove wrong to the socially divided mark. Citizens from up and down the economic spectrum have found a way to help others, seizing a sense of unity in an atmosphere of destruction.

I think that the coverage of the event overall was pretty good for different reasons. It was really immediate. A big part is thanks to the instant nature of technology, but also thanks to the people that reported and recorded it as evidence. Most of the newscasts and videos I watched got their visuals and content from social media.

There were also a lot of stations that either had correspondents in Mexico or they had affiliates that would send information. I think they had really good visuals and images from all over the place, and also good stories people liked to hear about. For example, the kids that got trapped in a school, soldiers coming to help, the dogs that could locate people to rescue.

An example of CNN”s coverage can be found at

Miami-Dade installing cameras in parks


Miami-Dade County is developing a project that consists of implementing high technology surveillance cameras in several public parks and spaces around the area.

The plan started by installing four cameras that take a 360-degree angle at Haulover Marina. Other than giving a wide and clear view, the cameras send the information through a private signal only available to government entities.

According to local crime statistics, there have been almost 50 car robberies in this location during the past year.

“Although it is important to protect private property, it is also important the safety of our citizens and mostly our children,” said Victoria Galan, public information officer for Miami-Dade’s Parks and Recreation Department.

For all these purposes, the cameras are able to recognize people and take a digital image of them. All the images are sent directly to the central offices of the county, later compared and identified as possible suspects. These parks are the first ones with this system and the county is looking forward to adding more to their list.

This story was reported by Sandra Peebles yesterday for Univision Channel 23. Peebles, currently teaching a class in television performance at the University of Miami, mentioned in her class how she did that story and the ethics a reporter needs to have when reporting. In agreement with what we said in our reporting class about the code of ethics, Peebles mentioned that, when doing this story, the county didn’t want her to release the information. However, she considered that it was significant news to any citizen who is near the area and goes to the park, prioritizing the safety of adults and their children.

Peebles also faced another obstacle with her story. Police said that, according to a jury, the reporter couldn’t say that the surveillance cameras had facial recognition due to the fact that the digital image or footage of the suspect wouldn’t be the only evidence to convict him. Police can use the new system as a tool, but not as the only proof.

Lastly, Peebles told the class that some television news channels have more strict ethic codes than others and that moral decisions some times lay on the reporter.