By RYAN GRILLE
Yesterday saw one of the greatest scientific achievements of the decade: the first direct photograph of a black hole. Specifically, the photograph showed the supermassive black hole located in the center of Messier 87, a galaxy 53 million light years away from Earth. Previously, any representation of black holes were artists renderings. This photograph, taken by a network of connected telescopes entitled the Event Horizon Telescope, represents a major breakthrough in the history of astronomy.
However, not everyone was impressed by this new photograph. One journalist in particular, Heather Schwedel of Slate, wrote an article entitled “We Need to Admit That the Black Hole Photo Isn’t Very Good.”
In the face of an extremely important moment for cosmological studies, Schwedel complained that the photograph is “too blurry” and “just not that aesthetically pleasing,” Apparently, she is unaware of the amount of painstaking work that went into trying to capture the photograph in the first place. An excellent video by Vox explains all the variables that went into this groundbreaking project. It shouldn’t come as a purpose that the result isn’t perfect since it is the first of its kind.
These kinds of snarky and cynical articles anger me because they undermine genuine human achievement. Its possible this article was intended to be deliberately infuriating as a way to increase clicks. Clickbait journalism is not just annoying for not providing genuine news, but for undermining it. The black hole photograph should be considered an accomplishment. Maybe more reporters like her should be able to show more respect.
By RYAN GRILLE
CNN recently issued a report about the Mormon Church opening up baptism to children of same-sex couples. This marks a change from the church’s previously anti-gay policy regarding baptism from 2015. The article, written by Daniel Burke, is an excellent example of how to report on hot button topics.
First of all, the report involves a religious organization, namely the Mormon Church. Religion is a very controversial topic for many in the United States and it can be difficult to write about it without imposing personal beliefs. This article does a great job of writing about the issue without making a position statement. For example, it writes about the church’s policies and how others felt about it without the author making his own opinion about the matter known to the readers.
Secondly, it is a well-written article from a journalistic perspective. The author names his sources for his information and features quotes from various individuals. In addition, the author also includes several points to help readers who are otherwise uninformed to have a clearer idea what is happening and why.
For example, he clarifies the official name of the church, as well as establishing the background information regarding the change in policy. Specifically, he details the church’s previous 2015 policy and why the church decided to change its mind.
Overall, CNN has earned its reputation and one of the most reputable news sources in terms of the quality of its reporting. Anyone who is studying journalism should take time to read and study their article, and this report is a good example of why.
By RYAN GRILLE
This week, the charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped. Smollett was arrested for staging a fake hate crime in Chicago. The FBI is currently undergoing an investigation into why the charges against Smollett were dropped. The news has resulted in many angry reactions from various sources, including President Donald Trump.
The entire Smollett saga represents a failure of both journalism and the ability of people to remain skeptical. When the story first broke out, there were several people who were skeptical about the validity of Smollett’s claims. However, the skeptics were widely criticized for downplaying the apparent tragic incident. The focus of the media became the attack and how it was a reflection of the current social issues facing the country.
However, this narrative began to unravel rather quickly. It became apparent that Smollett’s story had several holes and inconsistencies. Eventually, Smollett was arrested for filing a false police report. It was soon discovered Smollett had actually hired two African-American brothers to stage the attack. As a result, there was public outrage all across the internet.
Several lessons can be taken from the Smollett incident. Firstly, it is important to remain skeptical about all claims until all the facts are in and they can be properly analyzed. Secondly, you should never run to anyone’s defense simply because said person has a political or social ideology you agree with. People like Smollett may take advantage of the current social climate in order to further their own selfish goals. Hopefully, this entire saga will serve as a wake-up call for many people.
By RYAN GRILLE
Recently, two major scandals involving big name music artists were in the headlines. The first involved a heated CBS interview with R. Kelly after he was indicted for several counts of sexual abuse. The other involved a documentary series presented by HBO entitled “Leaving Neverland” that led to a revaluation about Michael Jackson’s legacy in the news media. Both were excellent examples of the power of journalism in public discourse.
The interview with R. Kelly was conducted by Gayle King for “CBS This Morning.” Throughout the interview, R. Kelly tired to defend himself from the charges made against him. The most memorable and most widely reported incident occurred when Kelly had an emotional breakdown. King was able to keep her composure while Kelly was throwing a tantrum. This led to widespread ridicule and disgust on the Internet. King’s interview with Kelly, along with her follow-up interview with Kelly’s girlfriends, are an excellent example of a reporter’s power to influence public opinion.
HBO’s investigative documentary focused on allegations of sexual abuse made towards Michael Jackson. Specifically, it focused a few key witnesses most notably Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Both men and their families gave testimonials that included graphic details on how Jackson groomed and abused them. Crucially, the documentary uses video and audio recordings, as well as several photographs, to back up the claims made by the interviewees.
The documentary resulted in many articles and outlets condemning Michael Jackson for his actions and questioning his legacy as the “King of Pop”. Despite this, many hardcore fans of Michael Jackson have attempted to rally against the documentary and discredit the claims made against him. While it is still up in the air as to the documentary’s long-term effect, the conversations it has opened up have been dominating the Internet.
By RYAN GRILLE
By now, many have heard of the terrifying new phenomena on Internet. According to news media reports, the “Momo Challenge” involves several videos on YouTube encouraging children to harm each other and commit suicide. The videos are accompanied by a photograph of a terrifying creature that appears to be a woman with bird like features. As a result, parents across of the nation have been terrified for their child’s safety and have been calling for stronger regulation of Internet content.
There’s just one problem: the “Momo Challenge” is a hoax.
To begin with, if such a challenge were to exist, it wouldn’t last long anyway as YouTube is very strict with its policy involving content promoting violence. Also, the infamous image of Momo is actually a sculpture created by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa entitled “Mother Bird.” As a result of this panic, the Internet has responded with several memes involving the supposed challenge, mocking those who were gullible enough to believe it existed.
The fact that many parents were fooled into believing this challenge existed represents not only a failure on their part to do their own research, but also a failure on the part of mainstream news media. Several videos and articles related to challenge have only fed into the fears of parents. This kind of misinformation can potentially do even more harm than good. As I previously stated in my post about the vaccine crisis, it is the responsibility of journalism to spread the truth and set the record straight and this incident is an unfortunate example of journalists failing to meet that standard.
By RUAN GRILLE
The 91st Academy Awards were broadcast live on ABC last Sunday. It was the first Oscars ceremony since 1989 that did not feature a host, as Kevin Hart withdrew from hosting following a controversy emerging from anti-gay statements he had made in the past. As they do every year, the media covered the event from various angles.
As the event featured many celebrity appearances, special attention was given to the fashion seen at the ceremony. One notable fashion moment was Melissa McCarthy’s bunny dress while presenting the Oscar for Best Costume Design. There were also many opinion pieces that commented on how the Academy Awards are a reflection of current trends in the larger Hollywood film industry, as well as the artistic merit of the films nominated. Notably, there was debate about whether “Green Book” was truly worthy of its Best Picture win.
The music press also reported on the musical performances at the ceremony, especially that of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of “Shallow”. On the political side, there were articles both praising and deriding the identity politics of the event. Notably, Donald Trump responded harshly to Spike Lee’s acceptance speech after he won an Oscar for “BlacKkKlansman”.
So why do the Academy Awards receive so much coverage?
The easiest answer is that the Academy Awards are arguably the most important and prestigious awards ceremony for film. As such, entertainment reporters cover the event thoroughly in order to gain stronger views. Despite this, the Oscars have been steadily losing viewers every year, despise this year’s viewership increasing 12 percent over last year. Essentially, the entertainment media cover the Oscars in much the same way sports media cover the Super Bowl, although admittedly not as zealously. Among the general public, however, there is an ever-growing antipathy towards the Oscars. Time will tell how the media will react to the Oscars in the years to come.
By RYAN GRILLE
British comedian John Oliver has become a leading figure in late night television in recent years. His HBO series “Last Week Tonight” has garnered critical acclaim and receives millions of views on YouTube. His most recent video, which was part of the first episode of the sixth season, touched on the Brexit controversy and the serious consequences it could have on the United Kingdom. This video is a perfect illustration of how Oliver entertains and informs his audience.
First of all, John Oliver’s videos are highly researched.
The sources used to explain the situation at hand are often presented as a
graphic on screen or even brought out as physical items. For example, during
the video, he produced a physical copy of Theresa May’s Brexit transition plan.
In addition, Oliver uses video footage from other media in order to more fully
illustrate his points. For example, he will use footage of a local news station
reporting on Brexit to legitimize his points.
Primarily, however, his show is concerned with comedy.
Oliver not only uses each topic in order to craft a joke, but he often uses
humor in order to get across important information to his audience. In this
video, for example, he uses a Dutch boy band in order to further illustrate the
EU’s response to Brexit. This approach keeps his audience entertained while
supplying them with information.
While John Oliver’s content is informative and entertaining, it is certainly not flawless. One major criticism that can be lobbied against him is that his content is extremely left leaning in its discussion of politics. Also, while his videos are highly researched, he has been known to make a few errors from time to time. This can mainly be attributed to the format of his show being only 30 minutes in length and thus being forced to simplify a lot of information. Despite this, John Oliver’s content has not only impacted real legislation, but has also managed to build up a large fan following.
By RYAN GRILLE
A measles outbreak is occurring in Washington state, resulting in Gov. Jay Inslee declaring a state of emergency. The outbreak has occurred largely due to the recent anti-vaccination movement that has been growing in the United States. The outbreak has also spread to Oregon. The news media are covering this outbreak through several lenses, each of which is important to focus on.
First, the news media are covering the anti-vaccine movement and how it has become a modern health crisis. News organizations are issuing reports about the safety of vaccines and why it is important for parents to vaccinate their children. This is an excellent example of what reporters should do. They should keep the public informed with proper factual information in order to keep their community safe. A misinformed public can, and has proven to be, extremely dangerous.
Another element that the news media are focusing on is the political side to the issue. Lawmakers in Washington state are looking to pass a bill making it illegal to refuse to vaccinate a child for personal reasons. The news media are covering the topic while examining the public reaction to these proposals. Reporters should keep the public informed about the politics of their local government.
Unfortunately, not all reporters are handling this situation properly. Less credible news outlets are publishing misinformation both about vaccines and the lawmakers involved. In today’s social media climate, it is not only important for reporters to check their facts and maintain a high standard of ethics, but news media consumers should also be alert about the news they receive. The handling of this measles outbreak could potentially save, or endanger, the lives of many, and it is important to cover the issue thoroughly.
By RYAN GRILLE
As the championship game of the NFL, the Super Bowl is easily the biggest sports event of the year. Not surprisingly, this results in a massive amount of attention from news media outlets.
This year, the big game saw the New England Patriots defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, making it the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever. Naturally, the sports media reported on the game and the athletes involved, especially Tom Brady. But, of course, there is more to the Super Bowl than just the game.
The halftime show sponsored by Pepsi saw pop band Maroon 5 performing alongside rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. There was also a surprise appearance by the characters of SpongeBob SquarePants in memory of the show’s creator Stephen Hillenburg. The entertainment media widely reported on the performance, including several articles commenting on singer Adam Levine revealing his nipples on stage. Several articles also commented on the quality of this show, many discussing it in a negative light.
Most bizarrely, however, was the news media reporting on the various Super Bowl commercials. Several articles commented on the ads, including debating which ads they enjoyed and which ones did not work.
This may seem trivial, but there are reasons why the news media would want to report on both the halftime show and on the advertising. Not only are several news outlets connected to the corporations that provided the advertising, but these articles are also written with the awareness that these topics are of major interest to viewers.
Put it simply, the news outlets are simply writing these articles in order to generate revenue. While these topics may seem big now, they are soon quickly forgotten until next year’s Super Bowl and serve as nothing more than a distraction to bigger and more important issues.
By RYAN GRILLE
CNN issued a report on Monday morning regarding the fate of Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. The article, which was written by Devan Cole and Kevin Bohn, has several key features that I find interesting.
First of all, the topic is extremely relevant to current situations. In the aftermath of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, many people online have been wondering about Trump’s upcoming State of the Union address, especially after Nancy Pelosi advised him to give his speech in writing. This article will certainly gain the attention of many who have been following these recent events.
The story involves confirmation that Trump will not be giving the address on Tuesday through an aide of Nancy Pelosi. It is interesting that the name of the person who confirmed this information has not been disclosed. It is possible the person did not want their name to be made public and preferred to remain anonymous. This is also an example of a news network taking advantage of having an exclusive source.
I also applaud the reporters behind this article for not injecting their own personal opinions. One of the problems I have with many cable network reporters nowadays is that they tend to sensationalize the news and try to manipulate the audience into feeling a certain way. This article just tells the news like it is. It also clarifies Pelosi’s role regarding the State of the Union so that the reader has a stronger grasp of what is happening. Overall, this was a simple but great example of excellent reporting