Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Media and commercial interest

The separation between newsrooms and advertising departments of news media is getting blurred these days. A few factors may be driving the trend: the migration of advertising revenue from traditional media to online media; the increased number of publicly traded news media; and the recession. The combination of the factors demands media companies to employ new ways of generating revenue to keep their business afloat.

In the mid-2000s, a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press report found that a majority of journalists believed increased attention for the business side of journalism was damaging the news quality and another survey found that a good majority of media workers believed journalistic standards had worsened (Stoll and McManus, 2005). Journalism in small communities may be more in danger. A study found that advertising sales persons at chain-owned newspapers and small papers were more apt to choose the options that hurt editorial independence to please advertisers (Soontae and Bergen, 2007).

Some industry observers propose people around news media, whether journalists or advertisers, should work together, creatively. Martha Steffens, journalism professor at University of Missouri, writes because in-text advertisements do bring in the revenue to sustain quality journalism, people in the media should "control" the practice rather than ban it at all (2007). Robert Niles, editor of Online Journalism Review, says advertisers are not necessarily attempting to control the day-to-day coverage. Rather, they want their advertising to appear close to an article on a certain subject (Pompilio, 2009).

Others are more cautious about the blurred distinction. William F. Woo, journalism professor at Stanford, thinks news media have a social contract. They enjoy First Amendment protections, free public airwaves and postage and tax benefits. In return, they ought to offer the best journalism (Stoll and McManus, 2005). Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at Poynter Institute, says she is concerned journalism may lose credibility from the audience as the business side tries new ways of making money. It will get more and more difficult for the audience to distinguish what is the work of independent journalism and what is the product of advertiser's influence (Pompilio, 2009).

Works Cited

Pompilio, Natalie. "A Porous Wall." American Journalism Review 31.3 (2009): 32-7. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=41877979&site=ehost-live.

Soontae, An; Bergen, Lori. "Advertiser Pressure on Daily Newspapers." Journal of Advertising 36.2 (2007): 111-21. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=25299478&site=ehost-live.

Steffens, Martha M. "Why Ads Stayed at the Bottom of the Page." Journal of Mass Media Ethics 22.4 (2007): 353-5. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=27441557&site=ehost-live.

Stoll, Michael; McManus, John. "Downward Spiral." Quill 93.3 (2005): 10-1. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=16648839&site=ehost-live.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ethics in Photojournalism - Roman Vishniac

Roman Vishniac is a photographer most famously known for his book "A Vanishing World." It consisted of pictures of pre-war Eastern European Jewish life. Up until recently these images were believed to be a true represtation of the region.
This caption reads: "The father is hiding from the Endecy. His son signals him that they are approaching. Warsaw, 1938."
It almost certainly never happened. These pictures and many others he published together came from different rolls of film. The subjects probably didn't even know each other.
A curator named Maya Benton uncovered the truth. She noticed he had obviously chosen the images that advanced the impression that only poor, pious, embattled Jews populated the shtetl. He furthered these views by aggressive cropping of images and completely fabricated captions. She investigated further and with the help of Vishniac's daughter was able to look at work that had not been published.
She found this image which she recognized a familiar face of a smiling girl with shoes
It was Sara from this image where Vishniac claimed she stayed in bed because her parents couldn't afford shoes
He had distorted the view of the region he photographed by editing and publishing choices as well as his completely made-up captions.

Today visual journalists follow the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Social Media Ethics-Bradford,Washington,Gonzalez,Megee

Social Media Ethics: A new guide by the Radio, Television, Digital News Association
Things to consider: Image and Reputation
Be careful when registering for social network sites. You must pay attention to how the public may interpret Facebook info and descriptions

Be transparent and accountable: do not post anonymously or use an avatar that cloaks your real identity on newsroom OR personal web sites-you must be responsible for everything you say. If you comment anonymously this will compromise this principle.

Truth and Fairness: Twitter's character limits and immediacy are NOT excuses for inaccuracy and unfairness. Remember that social media has online archives. Make sure to correct and clarify mistakes whether they are factual mistakes OR mistakes of omission.

Privacy: Social networking sites usually offer a privacy setting. Using material made public by someone on their site is different from prying information from a password protected site. A journalist should consider whether accessing "private" content is in line with the RTDNA guidelines of undercover journalism: does the author have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Is this story of great significance/newsworthiness?

Ethical Scenarios
The Fort Hood Killings : When an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people at Fort Hood information was tweeted, supposedly from inside the post, with factual mistakes. Journalists passed along the tweets and cited the original posters as their sources. Live, breaking news will frequently lead to reporting of rumors. Journalists should source information and correct mistakes as quickly as possible. Be sure to remind the public that the information is fluid AND could be unreliable.

2) A news editor "friends" a neighbor he meets at a block party. A year later the neighbor has decided to run for mayor and the news editor receives a phone call from the incumbent's press secretary suggesting the coverage will now be biased since the editor supports the challenger. Should the editor "unfriend" his neighbor to avoid an appearance of bias? Or, should he "friend" the incumbent as well?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Social Media and Ethics

It is becoming an increasing problem in the workplace that journalists are using social media in a non-professional manner.

Such as on the social networking site, Twitter, where people can post their most random thoughts in 140 characters or less. The problem comes into play when journalists leak possible stories before their editors give the go ahead.  The statesman requires a logo on their twitter icon to show that they are associated with the paper. Journalists are representing their employer 24/7 on the Internet. Now, reporters’ most random thoughts are connected to their employer.

Facebook is also very popular with journalists. As reported on the Huffington post, and other news sources, Facebook is changing their “fan’ button to “like.” Though this is mainly for corporate purposes. It is a name change, and not a change in function the. Facebook feels like it will be easier for people to connect to corporate pages by liking them instead of being a fan of them. Becoming a “fan” implies loyalty, whereas “like” does not.

Through this change in simple terms, Facebook expects that more people will use the button – more people are inclined to Like a page or organization, rather than become a Fan. For a journalist it could imply bias if they are a fan of one organization, yet not another and could upset sources if they research a resource beforehand.

Huffington Post link 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Offensive Images

• When and how to publish graphic/offensive pictures is the subject of much debate, as is what justifies altering the editorial content of a photograph.

• Trying to decide if and how to publish graphic images should be handled on a case by case basis.

• Audience should always factor into the decision-making process, as it is the purpose of a free press to inform citizens and to maximize truth-telling through authentic reporting, while minimizing harm.

Key Questions to ask:

• Is it freedom of expression, or is it unnecessary provocation? Will the publication of the image jeopardize a law enforcement investigation?

• Is there an acceptable middle ground between showing the truth and minimizing the harm of insult?

• Are there any alternatives to publishing the picture(s)?

• How does/do the image(s) relate to the viewing audience and/or the individuals involved in the crime?

• Should you consider explaining your rationale to your readers and viewers?

Real World Application: What would you do?

• When caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were republished in early 2006, after Muslim leaders called attention to the 12 images, it set off rioting throughout the Islamic world. Embassies were burned and people were killed. The cartoons originated with a conservative Danish daily newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.

• After the rioting and killing started, it was difficult for media in the Western world to ignore the cartoons, and every time a major protest broke out, the more likely it was that the cartoons would be published. The violent reaction made it difficult not to show audiences what all the fuss was about. What if each publication set off a new wave of protests?

• Would you publish the image(s)?

• If not, by what means would you inform the public?

What would you do – continued:

• In this case, publishers are dealing with a federal law enforcement issue, and one that could possibly result in more violence between countries. While there may not have been one specific entity telling reporters not to publish, issues of national and global attention should obviously be handled with extreme care.

• Some critics said Western media trivialized the cause and exaggerated the reaction. Only a few thousand of the billion Muslims worldwide rioted. And this was only the latest manifestation of a long history of bullying and humiliation of Muslims by Europe and the United States.

• It could be argued that deciding not to publish the cartoons is not cowardly self-censorship but considered good judgment. After all, they were readily available on the Internet. A responsible journalist’s intent should be to inform, not to offend.

• There are several options for you, the media outlet. You could publish all 12 cartoons on the front page, or show them in connection with riot scenes on your newscast. At the other extreme, you could simply describe one or two of them. Many newspapers and broadcasters made reference to one picture of Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban. Or you could provide a link to a website where they could be viewed.

Ethical Decision:

• The New York Times decided not to publish the images, understanding why the drawings would be provocative and instead used word descriptions saying: "One cartoon depicts Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a bomb. Another shows him at the gates of heaven, arms raised, saying to men who seem to be suicide bombers, 'Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins.' A third has devil's horns emerging from his turban…”

• The Mercury News opted to publish a picture of a German newspaper with one of the offending cartoons (which was reproduced at less than 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 inches.) After some public backlash, the newspaper apologized to readers the next day but noted rightly that the images "are so much a part of this ongoing story."

-Kristina Kenney

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Patrick Schneider: Where is the line?

In an ideal world, knowing where to draw the line in terms of what is acceptable in photo manipulation would be as easy as saying don't do it, at all. However, in a world of digital photography where electronic image sensors actively attract dust and automatic white balances give faulty colors, post-processing is often a necessity. Those needs transform what would be a stark line into a fuzzy mess.

In 2003 the North Carolina Press Photographers Association rescinded three picture of the year awards it had given to Patrick Schneider of the Charlotte Observer. After concerns were raised by by other photographers, an examination had found that his contest shots had been altered significantly enough to change the content and scene of the photos. Those images are compared before and after manipulation by Poynter here.

The problem lies in deciding what types, and what amount of manipulation is ethically allowable. Schneider has made the argument that the techniques he used when editing his photos were processes, like dodging and burning, that had been used since the dawn of photography in the dark room, only transferred to the computer. On this point, he is correct. It should be made clear though, that there is a long history of image manipulation that occurred before the invention of digital processing. Just because something is possible in the dark room does not make it acceptable. Schneider's manipulations, in at least the image whose background was removed, took those simple techniques to an extreme that effectively changed the photo's content.

Just after he was stripped of his awards, Schneider appeared on NPR's All Things Considered talking about what he had done. It appears as though he was making no attempt to maliciously deceive his editors or the public. He was simply unable to resist the desire to manipulate his photos to give them more impact. He even acknowledged that his edits went over the line.

"I know that I probably went too far on some of my burns, and my paper has made our standards clear," said Schneider in interview with Poynter's Kennith Irby during NPPA's 14th annual Women in Photojournalism conference in 2003. "I will no longer tone my background down that far."

As a reaction the Observer, and papers across the country, tightened its photo ethics guidelines. The paper also gave Schneider a stern warning to not manipulate any more images, at all.

Three years later, in 2006, Schneider altered the colors in a photo of a firefighter silhouetted against the sun atop a ladder. When the change was discovered, he was fired from the paper. In reality, the manipulation in this image is not extreme or malicious, but Schneider's history made it the straw that broke the camel's back.

In the end, Schneider's case has come to serve as a warning to other photojournalists. Any manipulation, not just malicious, can get you in serious trouble and cost you your career. One must only use manipulation software for the simplest of edits. In general, if you are making an edit to actively give an image more impact stop take a step back. You are likely far closer to that fuzzy line than you should be.

Dan Rather and CBS

On Sept. 8, 2004, Dan Rather reported on 60 Minutes for their Wednesday edition that a series of memos critical of President George Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record had been discovered. The memos were found in the personal offices of Lt. Bush's former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B Killian. The authenticity of these documents quickly gathered suspicion by a small group of conservative bloggers. They initially based their reasoning that the memos were proportionally printed and displayed other modern typographic conventions with limited availability on military typewriters of the time. This led to claims that the memos were forgeries. The accusations then spread over the following days into mainstream media outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Chicago Sun-Times. CBS and Dan rather initially defended the story. The insisted that the documents were authenticated by experts. After contradiction and curiosity, CBS found that the memos had been forged. After the incident, Dan Rather said he was pressured into reporting that their story was incomplete and misleading to the public.
CBS then forced Dan Rather to resign from his current anchor position, which was quickly followed by a suit from Rather. On the petition was Leslie Moonves, chief executive, Viacom's executive chairman, Sumner Redstone and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS. According to SPJ Code of Ethics, journalists should be honest, fair and courageous. They should also seek truth and report it accurately. CBS failed to get proper and accurate sources for their story. Another point on the code of ethics would be having accountability for stories. Dan Rather worked for CBS and was a high profile journalist. After the controversy, he immediately put the blame on the CBS executives. As journalists, we are responsible for our reporting and what we make public to the media.

By: Lauren Bickford and Cassie Delgado