Journalism’s bad reputation . . .


The dreaded news reporter is disliked by politicians, public figures and celebrities. However, a reporter is not doing his or her job correctly if he or she does not expose wrongful doings or any newsworthy items.

Being disliked is simply the price to pay for being a good reporter.

Thankfully, reporters are here to expose wayward public officials such as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the drug incident.

However, there are instances where reporters cross the line.

The incidents that forced celebrities like Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry to petition for more privacy rights are the result of reporters crossing the line, for example.

Jennifer Garner said in an E! Interview that she did not move to Hollywood so her children could be yelled at by photographers.

Another example involves Duchess Kate Middleton, who was photographed topless in her own backyard and had the image broadcast. It is another moment when reporters have crossed the line.

The pressure to find newsworthy stories may lead reporters to cross the line in these instances, making their stories unethical.

All in all, as long as the reporters do not invade the privacy of public figures, by snooping and investigating public figures, they are just doing their job.

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.

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.

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.

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 news media message about drugs


The news media make a big mistake when trying to communicate with our generation about the dangers of drugs.

They continue to say that X and Y drugs are horrible for you, but they do not face the reality that teenagers and college students are most likely going to experiment with drugs – regardless of what the media says.

It is as if the media have come to terms with the fact that teenagers are going to have sex, because they have modified their message by promoting safe sex instead of abstinence.  But they have yet to do so for teenagers with drugs.

Although most teenagers are too young to be sexually active, it is unrealistic to think all teenagers are abstinent. It is almost equally as unrealistic to think that our generation is not going to experiment with drugs.

Therefore, instead of slamming all drugs, the news media could try explain without bias what these drugs are actually doing instead of just saying they are bad. Because regardless of what the media says, kids are going to do them. So, in order to reach our generation about these drugs, they need to change their angle.

If the media takes a more realistic approach, kids might trust them more, which should be the ultimate goal of reporting the effects of drugs. If teenagers learn to rely on the media for information about the dangers of drugs instead of say, an older sibling, they will be in much better shape.

This is, of course, if kids and teens choose to do drugs at all.

Additionally, if the news media do not instinctively bash use of all drugs, when they do say that one is exceptionally horrid, teenagers might actually believe them instead of skipping the articles altogether.

Perhaps illegal drugs are an entirely different ballgame than underage sex, but if kids are going to do them regardless of the media, wouldn’t we rather them be safe?

Reporters can’t make everyone happy


Waiting to be served at the Rathskeller, I realized that the server I had was not pleased by my presence.

It didn’t take long to realize why. It was my most recent cover story in the The Miami Hurricane titled, “Loopholes allow for underage drinking at the Rat.”

Although every member of the Rathskeller staff willfully spoke to me, disclosing their encounters with underage drinkers, they were displeased with my story. Why?

Everything I said was factual and thoroughly researched. It is not my fault that these servers were exposed by the underage students they accidentally served.

However, as a journalist, I take the heat of their anger. They blame me, because that’s my job: to report the news as it is — even if people aren’t going to be happy about it.

Had I interviewed the dozens of Rathskeller-goers I did and found nothing but stories of a strictly enforced policy and failed attempts at underage drinking, I would have happily reported that. However, that is not what I found. Was I to report false cases of a strictly enforced policy? No.

Although these servers may be upset by story, it will benefit the entire student body, including them, in the long run, because the attention drawn to the poorly administered policy is to result in a wake-up call to servers.

In all honesty, I would likely shed a tear or two if the Rathskeller was closed, but it’s closing will not be the result of someone exposing the loopholes in the system. It would be a result of the policy continuing to go down the slippery slope it is currently on, because nobody had the guts to draw attention to it.

As a reporter, I am not a traitor to my community, but an investigator. A reporter’s job is to investigate polices, report the facts and expose what is really happening in any given community – regardless if it’s going to make people happy or not.

Is news a dieter’s friend or enemy?


Endless stories with wavering opinions on the newest, best way to lose weight are reported daily.

However, the information that is disclosed is never finite and usually contradicts previous reports by that same news source.

Among the most popular amidst ever-changing diet tips are super foods.

On Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” page, it features avocados as one of its brain super foods; however, on the same page, it tells dieters to avoid the vegetable altogether.

And don’t get me started on the news reports on breakfast.

News reports are so unreliable that dieting reports should consider discontinuing, considering dieting tips are not newsworthy in the first place.

However, does this fluctuating information simply mirror the rest of news?

Reports about the country’s financial status, governmental status and presidential status are constantly changing. The problem with the media is that, alike the American people, it cannot make up its mind.

So, for now, the government is shut down, we should not eat carbs at breakfast and should never allow an avocado into our bodies.

But this could all change by tomorrow.

Does unbiased journalism exist?


Americans have argued for decades that the news has liberal bias, and for decades, news organizations have denied such allegations. Journalism is, by nature and definition, free of bias. It strives for objectivity. But among all of these allegations must lay a grain of truth. Could the reporting of facts be a lost art?

Groups like the Media Research Center in Reston, Va., exists to “neutralize” the alleged bias in national news media.

Its mission statement says “The Media Research Center’s unwavering commitment to neutralizing left-wing bias in the news media and popular culture has influenced how millions of Americans perceive so-called objective reporting.”

In recent news, unsupportive reports followed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s faux-filibuster against ObamaCare Wednesday. While journalists did not generally praise the actions of Cruz, the filibuster by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis on abortion in June, was nearly applauded. Why?

The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney offered an explanation. “The media generally supports legalized abortion, while the media generally likes ObamaCare.”

Although this honest explanation generally makes sense, it serves as no excuse to insert opinions into reporting, because biased reporting cannot be classified as news.

However, it seems Americans are disenchanted with the honest reporting of facts, because poor explanations like the Washington Examiner’s lead the public to believe that the news should tell them what they want to hear – and if it doesn’t, they’ll turn to a source that will, the Internet.

Perhaps this alleged left-leaning media is in response to the increase of Americans getting their news information online. In a study reported by Right Side News, it is said that an estimated 84 percent of Americans get their news information online. This number has reportedly nearly doubled in the past five years.

How can a traditional, rule-following news channel keep up with the cunning and expeditious Internet?

Perhaps with bias, it can.

With fame, comes loss of privacy


Innocently walking down the streets of New York, actress Nicole Kidman was knocked to the ground by a paparazzo on wheels last week, according to the Associated Press. The actress was reportedly shaken but is now ‘OK.’

However, Nicole Kidman isn’t as innocent as she seems in this situation by walking down a public street in New York City, the ultimate site to be spotted. Although she was not deserving of the danger that occurred, she could not have rightly thought that such a scene would not ensue.

Theoretically, Kidman signed up for this kind of attention in 1983, the year she starred in her first film. Upon signing that first contract, she signed away a chunk of her privacy rights to the media, because fame comes only after giving up a certain level of privacy.

After all, would an actress really be a celebrity if she were solely known for her on-screen performance?

If America doesn’t know who they’re dating, what diet they’re on, and what brand they are wearing, they are just an actor – not a celebrity.

Perhaps that is the very thing that makes reality television so interesting.

Do you know what Jonathan Groff has been up to lately? That’s because he is an actor, not a celebrity. He is a Tony award nominee and has starred on Broadway and hit TV show “Glee.”

Although he is arguably more talented than, say Jennifer Anniston, for the time being, he refuses to hand over his confidentiality. America doesn’t know him and therefore, he lives freely to walk down the streets of New York without fear of stampede.

Groff would not be the star of a news story but Anniston is all over the place. We know her every move, because she’s a celebrity and not just an actress.

Whether she’s Nicole Kidman or Jenifer Anniston, these starlets knew what they were signing up for upon signing away their right to privacy and simultaneously gaining a ticket to fame.