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