Rolling Stone: Journalistic failure


As if journalism didn’t get enough criticism before, the public now has more reason to wag its fingers at the news media.

Last year, Rolling Stone released an article titled “A Rape on Campus” that detailed the horrific events a student endured at the University of Virginia. Hot story, surely an interesting read, but too bad it was lacking one thing: facts.

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism published a report earlier this week stating the article was flawed, causing Rolling Stone to retract the article altogether.

Now Rolling Stone is not the first to commit this journalistic malpractice, but it still doesn’t excuse the mistake. Fact-checking is part of the ABCs of journalism. Obviously, it was not hard to check the facts, or else there would not have been a 13,000-word report on how the entire article was wrong. Minor missteps like this can greatly hinder the quality of work and credibility of the media source.

Incidents like these may not seem so paramount now; they are tiny pebbles thrown at a bullet-proof glass. However, imagine if publications continue to let these amateur mistakes occur? The pebbles will turn into full on boulders, breaking down the house journalistic works and credibility.

The public naturally has skepticism over the media as it is, and faulty articles will only increase it.

News: Targeting the young audience


Even I have to admit, I didn’t give two kumquats about news or media throughout most of grade school. As a kid, I remember the grown-ups would shoo me away during the 7 o’clock news. Three trillion go-to-your-rooms later, my curiosity for news dwindled and died.

studentnews.logoStudies, like those provided by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, say that letting children see or hear the news will cause a negative impact.

I concur with this statement; normal cable news is a bit ghastly for such naïve eyes. However, I don’t believe throwing a white sheet over the world events is any better.

It wasn’t until grade 8 or 9 that the white sheet was lifted for me, but what lied underneath was something new.

“CNN Student News is a 10-minute, commercial-free, daily news program for middle and high school students produced by the journalists and educators at CNN,” according to

This show condenses worldly news and makes it more appealing for a younger audience. The site also provides teaching materials to compliment the news clips.

Apart from broadcast news, there are other news outlets for the young viewer. TIME For Kids is a weekly magazine geared to motivate grades K-6 to read and inform them of real-world topics. The glossy magazine is available by subscription and produced by Time magazine.

Media should continue to find ways to appeal to the children and teens in interactive and creative ways such as these.

Women in media: Where are you?


Don’t get me wrong, Anderson Cooper is one of my favorite players in the news game, but where are the female reporters?

In the studies conducted by the Women’s Media Center, there was a huge lack of representation of women in the United States media industry in 2014.

“The American media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity,” said Julie Burton, president of Women’s Media Center.

The studies included all aspects of media: newspapers/magazines, TV/digital news, sports journalism, and entertainment/film to name a few.

Amongst all categories, men ruled the media. More specifically, white men were the largest represented demographic.

Gender representation in a newspaper newsroom, years 1999-2013

Gender representation in a newspaper newsroom, years 1999-2013

As an Hispanic, female reporter, what does that mean for me? I already have two strikes placed upon me; right off the bat, I’m at a disadvantage.

Gender disparity in journalism leads to a loss in content quality. For a media company to best serve its audience, it needs to appeal to the public with a variety of voices and topics.

An article on the winged-eyeliner or ailments to menstrual cramps just doesn’t seem as credible coming from a male than a female.

The way a news story comes together is also heavily affected by the gender of the reporter. For example, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas analyzed how many front page stories of The New York Times included female sources in January and February 2013. A whopping 19% of the sources came from females. Nothing shocking here; with such a high volume of men in the media, it only seems natural that they would gravitate towards a male source.

So, to put this in perspective, imagine a headline about a treatment for hair loss. If all the sources for this headline are male, how will this article appeal to women? This privation of women sources can lead to bias in the media; as if there wasn’t enough already.

Transgender teen gains attention


Seems to be that 14-year-old Jazz Jennings is jazzing up the journalism world, but why?1426265888_jazz-jennings-zoom

CNN explains the details on how Jennings, a transgender teen, is taking the media by storm.

An ad for Clean and Clear was just released starring Jennings. She also has a YouTube channel and is currently creating a reality show for TLC called “All That Jazz” about her and her family dealing with life problems from a transgender teen perspective.

So why is she trending? Jennings is one of the few publicized stories of transgender people, making her the current icon of mainstream America.

The media have the power to mold the opinions of the public. Gay rights and gender equality are just some of the many issues that are raging in America. I believe that journalism can be used to give a voice to those who have not been heard before and give these issues the opportunity to find solutions.

If CNN, ABC, and other major television networks would produce more stories about the minorities in this country, I believe that eventually these groups will get the exposure and respect they deserve.

There’s always another side to the story


As I placed my items on the grocery store conveyor belt, I glanced over at the gum
and magazine rack.

GL10C1A_2015Upon all the fashion and sugary goods, I found a picture of President Obama’s contorted face on the cover of the lovely Globe: In small print next to Obama’s face, once you get past the bright yellow “psychopathic rages” and “egomania” accusations, reads “making crazy faces in healthcare video February 2015.”

Globe is infamous in America for its questionable headlines and material, so naturally I was skeptical about these allegations. I quickly Googled “Obama makes faces” and stumbled upon this quirky video of Obama teaming up with BuzzFeed to remind millenials of the deadline for Obamacare:

The clip is called “Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About,” which features Obama taking selfies and making bizarre faces in the mirror. I realized that the picture from Globe was the same one as this screenshot of the video. 

As stated before, Globe is notorious for creating tabloids, but what if you did not know that first hand? What if you were in America as a traveler, and happened to see this crazy headline? You might believe it and go on to share the news.

The media are there to inform the public of what is going on beyond their backyard. However, we cannot be sponges and simply absorb the information. I believe that we should always yearn for knowledge and have some skepticism when it comes to media; the more we investigate, the more media literate we will become.

Kid-friendly YouTube available


Mom, Dad, not to worry; Little Johnny won’t be accessing those Happy Tree Friends any more. YouTube has now created a mobile app called YouTube Kids that will provide age-appropriate content on a simplified platform so even the youngest of children can use it.

YouTube Kids is available for Apple and Android devices for free.

The app allows kids to surf through various channels and playlists in the categories of Shows, Music, Learning, and Exploring. There is also a search bar to browse upon other videos, including a voice search component for those still learning their ABCs.

“We realize every family is different, so we’ve built options into the app that help you control the experience for your kids,” writes YouTube on their official blog site.

These options give parents the ability to broaden or constrict a child’s access and use of YouTube Kids:

  • Timer – Parents can set the timer to shut down the app at a certain time; keeps little Sarah and John from watching Sesame Street at 1 am on a school night.
  • Sound settings – Parents can silence the background music and sound effects on the app, keeping all that onomatopoeia to a minimum.
  • Search settings – in case they do not want the kids to wander off the safe viewing on the main screen, parents can turn off the search bar

Kick the media where it hurts


It is easy to point out the flaws in current media when there are women in bikinis eating burgers seductively.

But what if we spoke up? What if women (and men) would stop accepting these images to get better, more realistic content? One company has already imposed this idea. In 2004, Dove launched Campaign for Real Beauty to “provoke discussion and encourage debate.” Its first ad revealed women that were not frosted by makeup or stick thin; they represented a different definition of beauty.

 From then on, Dove has repeatedly produced ads such as this to continue to diminish the falsehood of beauty the media has engraved in us.

Speaking as a journalist, I know the power that can come from my words. I am aware of my ability to influence the minds of the public. However, as a consumer, I also have power. I have the capability to tell the media that their gender stereotypes are just no good.

Media have the power to mold us. Advertisers and producers will only feed us the content they know we will consume. As the audience, we can control this harsh media diet. If we stop accepting these false images of beauty and concepts of perfection, the media will have to get creative. If we demand for natural beauty, pro-feminism, and equality then we may finally start to receive it.

At some point, writer’s block strikes


Writer’s block. At some point in every journalist’s career, they will run into some kind of writer’s block.

Quite the agonizing experience, truthfully. We want to write but the words are just not presenting themselves onto the page. So where does this condition come from?

There are a few possible symptoms that come from this diagnosis. Sometimes a topic for the article is hard to find. Other times, we do not have enough information to write a thorough story. Or maybe the topic is so captivating, that we just cannot find the proper way to start the article. And then there are times when we just do not have the motivation to write, which leads to procrastination; but that is a different story.

Whatever the reason may be, writer’s block can be caught by an innocent writer at any given time. However, there is hope.

To cure said writer’s block, a journalist can look at what is popular in the news or pop culture to get a topic idea. He or she could also re-interview their subjects or conduct more research to add to their article. If you are overzealous about writing your article, come up with an outline and brainstorm the skeleton of the article

Ironically enough, I experienced writer’s block creating this post. I have typed up and erased all of these sentences countless times, to the point that I reached a minor level of anxiety. My cure was simple: Get up, walk away and come back to it later. Once I returned, the hindering writer’s block disappeared … until next time.

Half research, half writing, all journalism


Reporting on current events seems very simple from an outside perspective. Ask some questions, write down the answers, and then post the article on a medium: BAM, journalism.

Au contraire, the process of creating a well-saturated news story requires far more work and effort from the journalist. The goal of journalism is to deliver the truth by any ethical means necessary, which may require more than a basic Q&A.

Before conducting an interview, a journalist will usually prepare a list of questions or topics to discuss with the interviewee. Journalists are researchers. These discussion tools are a condensed version of all the research and inquiry the journalist made about the news topic.

Take for instance the recent CNN article about a ‘Hunger Games’ tour in Atlanta. Before writing this article, the journalist probably had to research what the “Hunger Games” was and why they had a tour set in Atlanta. He or she probably had to look up the company that was producing the tour to contact. The journalist may have also had to go to Atlanta and experience the tour for themselves.

Journalistic research can be a simple keyword search on Google or an elaborate voyage to an unknown place just to get a better synopsis of the topic at hand. Perhaps this is part of the reason why journalists, such as myself, fall in love with this field of study. Journalism combines our thirst for knowledge and love of writing than can lead us to an ambiguous quest.

Social media: From tweets to articles


In recent news, Harry Potter star Emma Watson announced her recent casting as Belle in Disney’s upcoming, live-action movie “Beauty and the Beast.”

As I read the Entertainment Weekly article, I wondered how did she release the news? Watson made the news public via Facebook as fans cheered across the Internet.

I, a young and ambitious journalist, had to wonder if this was acceptable in the news media. Is it ethically correct for journalists to use social media as reliable and trustworthy sources when reporting?

Continuing my search for answers, I found another example of social media being used as news sources. Surprise, surprise; Watson is the shining star in an “Entertainment Tonight” article.

This time, Watson used Twitter. Fans constantly tweet at A-list celebrities such as Watson and, on occasion, receive replies from them. It appears that Watson was having a little Q&A session through tweets, speaking about her HeForShe campaign and giving young women advice.

I concluded that social media as news sources are not entirely unethical. Watson has her social media accounts displayed for public viewing. Moreover, Watson has given consent for us to see these updates; allowing us to share and converse about them.  Because there is permission from the original source, a journalist can use Watson’s tweets and posts as fuel for a news story.

However, what if this consent was never given? What if an Einstein computer hacker helped a journalist enter right into Watson’s Facebook and essentially leak her private posts?

If this were the case, the journalist would be ethically unjust. A reporter cannot simply use information without consent from the source and without verifying that information.