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November 30, 2005

Final Blogging Portfolio

It is hard to believe the semester is almost over. This was my last semester of classes, and I am happy I was able to take News Writing. I recently found out that I will be student teaching next semester with a Journalism teacher at Southmoreland High School. I believe taking this course was wonderful preparation for next semester. I would love to get my students blogging, which is funny because I never thought I would even have a blog. Through taking this course and reading We the Media, I have realized that blogging is not something to be afraid of. Blogging is a way to put your thoughts and feelings down on paper, as well as have your voice heard like Gillmor stressed.

In News Writing I have also learned a new style of writing. This has been a major struggle for me since I am use to writing English formal essays. I have developed an admiration for journalists because I realize the difficulty in writing news articles. I love writing arguments and supporting them, which I am able to do in English papers. In news articles, the author must try hard to not include any biased feelings.

I have also realized the difference between television and print news. Both sources have their advantages and disadvantages. Television news is less time-consuming, and contains better visuals. But, I prefer print news because I believe it is more comprehensive and thorough.

Finally, I have gained interviewing skills, that will help in all aspects of life even if I do not become a journalist. As a teacher I will have to be in contact with other teachers, parents, and students. Knowing the right ways to interview people will help me in conversations with all the people listed above.

Below is my final blogging portfolio. I have grown to see the benefits and enjoyment of blogging, and I plan to continue doing the Admissions Blog while I student teach.

"demonstrates your intellectual involvement with the assigned readings"

Emotion in the Tribune Review- After reading the November 29th edition of the Tribune Review, I reflected on the effectiveness of emotional writing in feature articles.

Final Thoughts on We the Media- After finishing We the Media, I discussed Gillmor's discussion of copyright. I also provided my final thoughts on the assigned reading.

Chapter 8, 9, & 10- For these three chapters I focused on the information provided about the way pictures can be altered or distorted.

Everyone wants to Blog- I thought it was interesting how Gillmor gave examples of journalists who have got in trouble for creating personal blogs. I included why I think they should and should not be allowed to have personal blogs.

New Journalism- After beginning to read We the Media, I focused on how new technology is making it possible for the audience to have more of a voice in the area of news.

Blogs make the world a happy place- I created this blog for my informal presentation. I thought it was an extremely interesting section, because it focused on how beneficial blogs can be. When large corporations have blogs, the consumers are able to see more of the personality behind a company.

"should demonstrate your ability to examine a concept in depth"

Final Thoughts on We the Media

New Journalism

Blogs make the world a happy place

"demonstrate your ability to use weblogs to interact with your peers"

Blogs make the world a happy place

"demonstrate that your blog sparked a conversation"

Blogs make the world a happy place

"written early enough that it sparked a good online discussion"

Emotion in the Tribune Review

Blogs make the world a happy place

"the work that you do that helps other people's weblogs"

Print Journalism vs Online Journalism by Ashlee Lupchinsky- This has been an ongoing debate in the classroom. I received a checklist on ways to measure reliability of online sources, so I included a summary of the list.

Short Biography of Dan Gillmor by Katie Lambert- I commented to compliment Katie on taking the initiative to look more into the life of Gillmor. By knowing more about the author, you also learn more about the book itself.

Presentation Reflection- After Leslie posted a commented about my presentation, I visited her site. I realized that she put a great deal of effort into her blog entries, and I complimented her thoroughness.

"one blog entry on any subject"

The CARS Checklist- After numerous class discussions and reading Ashlee's blog, I summarized a checklist of ways to determine whether an online source is reliable.

I am very happy that I took this class, and I thank all my peers for a great semester. Good luck in the future!

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 7:27 PM | Comments (1)

Emotion in the Tribune Review

I have just completed my feature article, and also looked in the Tribune Review for feature articles. I chose the story "Flags, yellow ribbons out for unit," which is about a troop that is returning to America. This is a very emotional topic. My feature article is based on an interview I had with an international student who is adjusting to living in America for the first time, which is also a very emotional topic.

When I sat down to write my article, I was not able to convey the emotion that I got from the interview itself. I think one reason is because the facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures added to the interview. I don't understand what happened between the interview and putting my thoughts down on paper.

This did not present a problem in the Tribune article. I believe the author did a good job with quote selections. It was easy to see the emotion present, which is illustrated in the following quotes:
"I just cannot wait to see his beautiful face."
"Our prayers have been answered."
"Don't you ever leave me again."
All of these quotes make the article very emotional, which I think is essential to an interesting feature story. I think the Tribune article works because it uses emotions successful, and my article fails because it lacks emotion.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 6:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2005

Final Thoughts on We the Media

Chapter 11
I really enjoyed reading this book. I did not totally agree with everything Gillmor said, but I believe he provided a great deal of helpful information and also included comprehensive examples to support his claims. I also respect that in the concluding chapter he uses the word "persuade" many times, which shows he is admitting that he does have some biased feelings on journalism. Below I have some thoughts on issues covered in the final two chapters of We the Media.

In Chapter 11 Gillmor discusses cookies, which make it possible for an owner of a computer to look at sites that have been visited. Gillmor feels this is a form of surveillance, but he also argues it can also be beneficial such as saving time for a user. They can simply scroll down and click on a site they visit frequently. I also think another benefit is that parents are able to monitor what sites their children have been on. I have two nephews who are 7 and 10. My sister tries to always watch them, but it would be impossible to know everything they do. Both of them know how to use a computer and get on the Internet. Cookies make it possible for parents to see where their children have been, which I think is good. Many times on the news I have heard where adults lure young children away from home, after talking on the Internet. If parents are aware of the sites their children visit, maybe these tragic situations can be avoided.

"Fair use"
I think Gillmor brings up an interesting point about copyright and fair use. Gillmor states, "But the forces of control have moved the line. They believe fair use is something that can be granted only by the copyright holder if he or she is willing to grant fair use." This statement illustrates that some believe a writer should have concrete permission if they want to quote from someone else's work. One problem I see with this is when someone is writing a persuasive argument. A good argument should give both sides. If I am trying to prove something wrong, and want to use something someone has said and in turn dispute it, they may not be willing to let me quote something they have written. Is that fair?

Below I have included links to different, recent copyright cases. I thought it would be interesting to see examples of the issue Gillmor is addressing. How do you think Gillmor would react to the following copyright cases?
Simon Fuller- Fuller is claiming someone stole the format for his show.

Thomas Friedman Book- A dispute of whether or not permission was granted to include a picture on the front of his book.

George Orwell/ 1984- I thought this was really interesting. The Orwell estate is suing the British Government, for policies that resemble the ones created by Orwell for 1984.

Chapter 12
"My goal in this book has been to persuade you that the collision of journalism and technology is having major consequences for three constituencies: journalists, newsmakers, and the audience."

If the argument above is the purpose Gillmor wrote We the Media, I believe he succeeded. Through reading this book I now realize the shift in the structure of news. Through blogs, forums, camera-phones, more access to computers, etc., the audience can now play the role of newsmaker. When you write on a blog you are providing information that other people can see. On 9/11 when non-journalist people posted pictures and stories on the Internet, they were helping the rest of the nation by providing up to date news of what was happening. Through blogs, we the audience, no longer have to wait for Big Media, and have in turn become "we the media."

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2005

Chapters 8,9, & 10

Chapter 8
Goggle News
In Chapter 8 Gillmor discusses GoogleNews, which is a search engine for news articles. When you go to the site you can type in any topic, and you will receive news articles focused on that topic. I had never heard of this until this semester, but I have used it several times. When I was confused by the definition of libel, I typed it in and found real charges of libel. It was easier for me to understand through examples, than a definition in a book. It is also beneficial, because you can find more articles than what you would find by just looking in your local newspaper or watching your local news broadcast.

Chapter 9
Chapter 9 focuses on the fact that you can not always believe everything you see or hear. Although advances in technology have made the Internet and weblogs possible, which the book stresses the importance of, advances have also made it possible to alter pictures. The chapter uses different examples, and the group presentation mentioned the John Kerry/Jane Fonda picture. The picture was taken at a rally that both attended, but they were not there together. In the picture they are side by side, because two separate pictures were turned into one picture.

Another example of being leery about authenticity is the example of Kaycee Nicole. Nicole started a blog about dealing with leukemia. The chapter discusses how thousands of people went on her blog in support of her, and also to tell their stories. Eventually she quit posting and passed away. A little bit after her death a question was posed wondering if Nicole had ever existed. Finally, it was realized that in fact she did not exist. I think that even if that one person did not exist, the site was still probably beneficial to many other people who were really suffering from the disease. Although that is not the way the example was supposed to be used, I think it shows how another advantage of weblogs can be support. People suffering from this disease or those who had a family member or friend suffering, were able to receive support from others through a weblog.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)

Everyone wants to blog- Chapters 6/7

Chapter 6
In Chapter 6 of We the Media, Gillmor discusses how professional journalists are also taking advantage of weblogs. Many big news corporations do not want weblogs sponsored on their sites, but many journalists have created their own personal weblogs. In some instances this has led to major problems for both the corporations and the individual journalist.

I thought the example of Kevin Sites was really interesting. Sites worked for CNN, an organization that did not allow weblogs. Sites was forced to quit writing his blog because CNN “prefers to take a more structured approach to presenting the news. We do not Blog.” Gillmor feels that this hurt CNN, because they refused to see that new technology is changing news, and by not allowing blogging they are refusing to change with the times. I think this is a tricky topic, because I feel every individual should have the right to their freedom of speech. Sites made a personal blog, which would be part of his personal life and should be separate from his work life. But, I can also see the point CNN is trying to make. Sites is an employee hired to provide news. A blog may have more personal opinions than a straight news report. Someone reading Sites’ personal blog may disagree with something he has said, and then discredit his reports on CNN or CNN in general.

I am really unsure of what I think about this issue. We are all promised freedom of speech, but we need to realize it has to be reasonable. Like Dr. Jerz has said in class, he has freedom of speech, but as a Seton Hill employee he could not say bad things about the school. Although it may be an oxymoron, there are limits to freedom.

Chapter 7
Since blogs are becoming so popular, events that are shut off to the press are still being reported on through professional blogs. This creates a problem, because something intended to be off the record is now public. I love and agree with the comment made by Howard Rheingold on this topic. Rheingold was asked if thought speakers would be afraid to be to say certain things, because it may become public. Rheingold said, “I would think it would have a chilling effect on bullshit.” I think that is so true. If people know what they say might become public, then they will me more likely to tell the truth. What is so bad about that?

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 11:46 AM | Comments (1)

New Journalism- We the Media

Chapter 1
“The day is frozen in time, but the explosions of airplanes into those buildings turned new heat on a media glacier, and the ice is still melting.”- Dan Gillmor

In Chapter One of We the Media, Dan Gillmor explains the path of journalism throughout time. Originally the public had to wait for journalists to report on happenings. Through getting news this way the public had little to do with news making, and the news being received was from certain points of view, although journalist try to provide unbiased reports. The chapter discusses how 9/11 influenced journalism, which is illustrated in the quote above.

Through weblogs the public was able to publish first hand accounts, photographs, and provide news rather than wait for the journalists. One person in particular was mentioned, Glenn Reynolds, for his weblog reports about 9/11. A few weeks prior to 9/11, Reynolds started Instapundit.com. When the planes hit the towers, Reynolds grew tired of watching it over and over again on the television, so he began blogging about the issues concerning 9/11. Gillmor states, “He [Reynolds] didn’t expect to develop a following, but that happened almost immediately.” Reynolds' blogs received instant comments from others who shared his feelings and also those who disagreed with him. Whether people disagreed or not, Reynolds provided a way for people to step away from Big Media and look at an individual grassroots journalist making news.

Chapter 2
New Technology

Aside from weblogs, Gillmor also mentions other new forms of technology that puts the role of newsmaker in the peoples’ hands.

Gillmor asks the question; “Can absolute editorial freedom result in anything but chaos?” He then goes on to say that Wiki shows it is possible. Wikis were invented by Ward Cunningham. On Wikis the content is made by anyone who wants to contribute. One example is the Wikipedia, which is an online encyclopedia. In the past I have used this many times for research, and I didn’t really know how it was set up. I thought it was created by a small group of compilers like any other reference book, but through this book and class I realized that the Wikipedia is a web compilation of information from many sources. People (pretty much anyone) can provide information on a topic and post it to the site, and also people can edit each other’s postings. There are certain guidelines, and if someone puts something on that would be offensive or completely false, it would be removed.

Mobile-Connected Cameras
Cameras are becoming a very common, easily accessible tool the public can use to provide news. Last night I was out with a group of friends and family, and all night flashes from cameras were going off everywhere because of camera phones. Many cellular phones have normal and video cameras. For this reason people are able to have the means to record events that are occurring. News stations often show the pictures people send, such as when a month ago we got a great deal of snow. I was watching the 6 o’clock news and they were showing pictures from all the surrounding areas taken by the public, to really show how much snow there was instead of just showing how much snow was expected. Snow accumulation is not the only thing people are reporting, for often times you will see home videos or photographs people got of car accidents, riots, etc. Also, once again much of the footage shown from 9/11 came from regular people who took pictures of what was happening or rolled their video cameras as they were running away.

New technologies are making it easier for people to make their own news.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 11:41 AM | Comments (1)

November 15, 2005

"Blogs make the world a happy place": Informal Presentation

Chapter 4 Presentation: "Newsmakers Turn the Tables" in We the Media

Reeve's Library Seton Hill University
Seton Hill University Admissions

Here is a chance for your voice to be heard. Both the Admissions Department and Library have blogs. What topic would you like to see discussed? Do you have any suggestions to offer?
What do you want to see on the Admissions blog?

GM- General Motors
Ford Motor Company
The New York Times

Star Bucks/ Radio Shack/ Nike
Pepsi/ Toys R Us/ FedEx
Time Warner/ Google/ Avon

All the companies listed above are Fortune 500 companies. Have you ever in your life thought of something that could make one of these companies better? If you could offer a suggestion to one of these companies what would it be?

"Newsmakers of all kinds-corporate, political, and, I'd argue, journalistic- need to listen harder, and in new ways, to constituents of all kinds, whether voters, customers, or the general public." -68
How can corporations listen harder?
What can we do to have our voice heard?


"The least interesting feature of a corporate site, with few exceptions, is the typical 'Letter from the Chief Executive,' a content-free missive that does nothing to reveal the character of teh company or its leader."-71

Ford Mission Statement

Ford Blog

Admissions Blog

Which one is more personal and relatable?
"Blogging provides a unique means of providing your audience with the human face of your organization. Your customers can read the actual thoughts and opinions of your staff." -71

What does this have to do with me?
In We the Media it stresses the point that consumers now have the capability to make and find news, rather than relying on Big Mass Media. By commenting on corporate weblogs, we the consumers posses the ability to have our voice heard. We can use blogs to learn more about the individuals that compose a company, rather than just read promises and statistics created by an advertising department.

Celebrity Blogs
When a company has a blog, you learn more about the people who run and work for the company. In a celebrity blog, you can learn a little more about the real person, rather than the person created by the media.
Wil Wheaton
Ben Roethlisberger
No Doubt
Michael Moore
More Celebrity Blogs

While reading this chapter I had some difficulty relating to it. I think this chapter would be more beneficial to actual corporations. I do think it provided insight into how the general public can have a voice. In the middle of the chapter there is a list of guidelines for making corporate blogs, but I think these same guidelines could also be helpful to anyone who has a personal blog.
* "Tell the Truth." As we have discussed many times in class, the writer is responsible for anything they put on a blog.
* "Have a thick skin." Most of us have probably received comments form peers with differing views, but it is important to respond to negative and positive comments. Do not be offended, instead provide links to examples.
* "People trust stories that have quotes from many sources."

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 6:14 PM | Comments (4)

November 10, 2005

Blog Portfolio 3

Once again it is blog portfolio time. This time around I decided to blog after each reading, before class time. I thought this would be beneficial, because I would have more to discuss in class. The majority of my blogs focus on the course readings for the past few weeks, which was mainly reflection on It Ain't Necessarily So. Looking back at all my blogs I realize that they are very repetitive, and that each one focuses on being careful when interpreting statistics. After reading the book this is one idea I will never forget.

I noticed this time there was a decline in comments on my blog, and I also heard this comment from other students. I think because there were so many readings, more time was spent crating entries rather than commenting on peer entries.

Below is a list of the entries and comments I have posted since the last blog portfolio. I have included a brief explanation of what each blog is about.


“Clichés and Colorful Language” A look at the problems associated with using clichés in news articles.

Coverage- After reading chapter 9 and 10 in The Elements of Journalism I reflected on the problems associated with using clichés in writing. I focused on the difficulty not to use them since they are easier than coming up with original thought, and since they are so often used in normal conversation.

Timeliness- For this installment of blogging, I created each entry after reading the text and before class discussion. By doing this I was able to relate better to the classroom discussion.

“Final Reflections on It Ain't Necessarily So” This includes a final reflection on the book and a discussion of using outdated research.

Coverage- This blog focuses on the final chapters of the text and also my final feelings on the book. Through the book I was able to learn that statistics are not always reliable, and that methodology is more important than the statistic itself.

Interaction- Although I did not disagree with a peer’s response, I did argue a problem I found in the book. The majority of examples used by the authors are from the early 90s, which I believe makes their argument outdated.

Timeliness- Created and posted prior to the assigned due date.
“Chapter 8 and 9 in It Ain't Necessarily So” A discussion about the importance of methodology using AIDS and Breast Cancer research as examples.

Coverage- After reading chapters 8 and 9 I reflected on the problems with statistics. I focused on the fact that a statistic is only reliable if the methodology is included in the article.

“Are surveys and statistics really reliable?” A look at the statistics found when doing polls about school choice, youths and violence, the Holocaust, and Breast Cancer.

Coverage- This blog was created after completing the assigned reading of chapter 6 and 7. I focused on the examples used in the book to show readers that statistics are not always reliable, which was a major theme of It Ain’t Necessarily So.

Depth- Due to class being canceled I spent extra time in creating this blog entry. I included the specific examples from the book and expanded on them.

“Hunger Proxies” A look at hunger proxies and reasons why they do not work.

Coverage- After reading the text I reflected on the issue of hunger proxies. I think this is a very ambiguous topic, so I tired to include my own examples to make it more understandable. I tried to show that the statement made by Dan Rather was not accurate based on the actual study.

“Journalists are not Scientists” This entry focuses on the fact that journalists take the information found by scientists and choose what is exciting or shocking to publish.

Coverage- For this entry I discussed that a journalist is not a scientist. A scientist reports scientific findings in heir entirety. A journalist then looks at those findings and chooses the statistics that are the most interesting or shocking.

Depth- Instead of just giving examples, I included quotes from the book and I also included the questions that were asked in surveys, so that reader could see for themselves the ambiguousness of some of the questions.

“Feature Stories and Profiles” A brief compare/contrast between feature stories and other news articles.

Coverage- After reading about feature stories I created an entry on my personal feelings of features, and I also included an interview by a celebrity. The book discusses how celebrities always have positive, rehearsed answers to questions.

Discussions- After posting this blog, I received a couple comments from other people who have noticed the way celebrities have prefabricated answers, and Dr. Jerz also reflected on the reasons for this.
Timeliness- By creating this entry prior to class, I was able to receive feedback.

“Reflections on It Ain't Necessarily So” Initial reactions to the book after reading the introduction and chapter 1.

Coverage- After reading the intro and chapter one to the book, I wrote about my initial reactions to the book. I now realize that the book did not live up to my original expectations, because the book was more biased than I originally thought it would be.

“What is libel?” After having a hard time understanding what libel was, I found articles on the Internet about libel cases.

Coverage- After reading the AP Stylebook I was extremely confused about libel, so I tried to organize my thoughts by creating a blog entry.

Depth- Since I was confused by the book, I decided that I should look for actual examples of libel instead of just reading the definition. I included the articles I found on my blog.

Xenoblogging- As previously mentioned, I was very confused with this topic. Before class I talked to some other students and found they were also confused. I researched and found articles about libel and put them on my blog, hoping that they might help others. But sadly I do not think students are looking at their peers’ blogs, or at least not looking at mine.

“Crime Writing Exercise” A reflection on having a short time to turn jumbled facts into a complete and comprehensible crime story.

Coverage- During our lab, Dr. Jerz gave us jumbled facts about a prison break, and we had to turn it into a news story. After completing the exercise I commented on the difficulty of this exercise, which most likely is what real journalists do on a daily basis.

“Reflections on The Crime Beat by Dave Krajicek” A discussion on what details about a victim or suspect are important when writing a crime article.

Coverage- After reading the information provided by Dr. Jerz I created a summary of the article, and also commented on areas in which I did not agree with certain views in the information.

Interaction- In this blog I was able to show a disagreement with some of the information provide, but I was also able to see other students’ feelings through the comments I received on this blog.

Discussion- I received several peer comments for this blog. Some of them were complimentary, and some disagreed with my feelings. I think it is extremely helpful when you receive a mix of comments: some that agree and some that disagree.


“Another lesson from News writing confirmed” Through learning about journalism I was able to notice a reporter mistake during Bill Cowher’s press conference.

Wild Card- While watching a press conference with Bill Cowher, I was able to see an issue of journalism first hand, when a reporter asked a question that had already been asked. I think this entry shows how I am applying what I am learning in class, outside of the classroom.

"Wildcard Blog" by Katie Aikins- A discussion on the importance of reading.

"Peter Peter the Spousal Abuser" by Jay Pugh- I tried to provide details about the assignment to help Jay.

"It's About Time" by Johanna Dreyfus- A discussion on criticisms of It Ain't Necessarily So.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 5:04 PM | Comments (1)

November 6, 2005

Cliches and Colorful Language

Chapters 9 and 10 in The Elements of Journalism discuss the problems with journalists using colorful language or cliches. I thougth it was interstign when the book discussed in courtroom stories how often times the wardrobe of the lawyers, defendants, or witnesses are discussed. As I was reading the examples, they all seemed familiar to me, because I have seen suits worn by lawyers discussed. The author says this is unnecessary. As long as the lawyer is not in a swimsuit or evening gown, it can usually be assumed they will be wearing a suit or other professional attire. A journalist should comment on clothing only if it is unusual or necessary. When we worked on crime stories, we discussed how often times if a criminal is still on the loose it can be helpful to describe their clothing. Describing a lawyer's suit does not really serve a purpose.

The chapters also discuss cliches. The book provides a long list of some of the most used cliches. I often find it difficult to avoid cliches in my writing. Soemtimes a cliche already says soemthign that would fit into a paper perfectly, so why not use it? One reason is because using cliches are a form of laziness. A writer should try to be original and find their own words instead of the words of others. I think it is natural for people to use them in writing, because we often times use them in our everyday lives.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 4:48 PM | Comments (1)

November 3, 2005

Final Reflections on It Ain't Necessarily So

I just finished It Ain't Necessarily So, and feel that the focus of the book was to be leery of statistics you read about in articles. Chapter 9 discusses tunnel vision. On page 163 tunnel vision is defines as "the dangers posed by looking in only one direction for an explanation, hence ignoring alternative explanations that give a rounder, fuller picture of a subject." Examples to explain this are listed in the book. The first example is a claim that infectious diseases are killing more people. An experiment might have found this, but it is ignoring the fact that it is a great possibility that more people are getting infectious diseases because in general people are living longer. The fact that the average life expectancy is getting higher is actually good news.

When you read a statistic you need to be aware of the methodology that was used to find that statistic, and also look at the statistic free from tunnel vision.

In conclusion the book says that too much is wrong with journalism including;” error, neglect, ideology, interested motivation..." I believe the authors have proven that all of these can interfere with receiving unbiased reports. One problem I do have is much as the examples in this book, although varied and extensive, are very outdated. This book was published in 2001, but many of the articles used to prove points were from the 90s. Maybe the problems presented by the authors no longer exist. Did they have to find outdated articles to make their claims against journalists? I wonder why the older statistics were mentioned, rather than current ones. Maybe journalism and reporting have become better, based on the authors' standards, in the past ten or so years. I think it would be interesting to have an updated critique from these authors.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 5:34 PM | Comments (4)

November 1, 2005

Chapter 8 and 9 in It Ain't Necessarily So

Chapter 8
Chapter 8 discusses that often times when a startling statistic involves an increase in crime, rape, gun violence, AIDS, etc. it may simply be the increase is not showing a greater occurrence, but instead it shows an increase in reporting. A specific example is with rape cases. In the past and probably presently, sometimes victims of rape do not report the rape because they are embarrassed or they may feel at fault. Due to this the number of actual rapes is probably much higher than reported ones. Presently surveys are trying to make more people come forward when they have been raped, so current statistics may show an increase of rape, but it may just be an increase in reporting rapes.

A few weeks ago we discussed this in class. Just because more people are being diagnosed with AIDS, does not mean that AIDS is rapidly increasing. It may be that due to medical advances people are living longer with AIDS. Also more people may be seeking treatment for AIDS than in the past.

Chapter 9
Chapter 9 stresses that how a study is conducted is more important than who conducts it. The chapter discusses certain studies that have been criticized because someone taking part in the planning or funding of the experiment had a bias, which may conflict with the experiment. One example was a study that reported women who have abortions have a greater chance of getting Breast Cancer. One of the people who conducted the study was pro-life, so this person thought abortion was wrong. Did this affect the results of the study? Personally I do not see a problem. There was also a person who was pro-choice. If the study is done correctly the results come from the subjects studied and not from the people conducting the study.

The chapter places greater importance on how the study was done instead of whom it was done by. Poor methodology creates biased and unreliable studies.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 8:21 PM | Comments (1)

Are surveys and statistics really reliable?

Often times in news articles there are statistics derived from both experiments and surveys. The audience usually only sees the statistic such as 1 in 8 American children go hungry, but what they don't see is how that statistic was found. Chapter 6 and 7 in It Ain't Necessarily So discuss the problem with statistics and especially those statistics that arise from surveys.

School Choice Polls- The first survey discussed is one that was trying to determine whether people believed parents should have a choice in what school there child attends. More specifically, should federal money go to sending children to private schools? One survey reported in the Star Tribune reported that 60 percent were opposed to using public spending for sending children to public school, whereas another survey reported in the Christian Science Monitor reported that 61 percent felt money should go to helping public schools. On both of these surveys the questions asked could interfere with the answers. Some questions said the children would be sent at "public expense" and others said "public tax dollars." Someone reading the former might think it will be extra money out of their pocket, whereas reading the latter they might think it is already money they contribute so it does not seem as drastic. Also another survey began the questions with "how much do you support," which makes people think they have to support it. School choice Polls show how the questioning can interfere with receiving reliable statistics.

Gun Violence and Youths: In 1993 Louis Harris created a survey to determine how many teens have experienced gun related violence. The survey was done as part of a campaign to prevent firearm injuries. Therefore the person conducting the survey already believed teen gun violence was an issue, which would create a bias before the survey was even done. The results from the survey found that among the teens asked 13 percent had been threatened to be shot, 11 percent had actually been shot at, 4 percent claimed to be wounded by a gun shot, and 9 percent claimed to have shot a gun at someone else in their lifetime. By looking at these results it would appear that gun violence is a major threat to teenagers. Another official government survey done by NCVS found drastically less statistics: 1 percent were threatened, one-seventh of one percent claimed to be shot at, .02 percent claim to be injured by a gun, and only 1 percent claim to have shot a gun at someone else. Both surveys tried to ask the same questions, but the results were drastically different. One problem with this survey is who you choose to question. Violence prevalence is different from area to area, so the statistics for one group or one geographical area may be drastically different from a true representation of the country as a whole. Also in the one survey the principal was asked if students could be questioned, and like the book suggests if violence is prevalent in a certain school a principal might be more willing to let students take part, in hopes that it will decrease violence.

Holocaust- In 1993 a startling statistic was released by the American Jewish Committee which claimed that more than 1/3 of Americans doubted the reality of the Holocaust. This finding caused much concern throughout the country: “It was unclear whether a large portion of the American Population consisted of ignoramuses or anti-Semites-either way, the news was disheartening." Actually the American population consisted of people who answered incorrectly because of poorly worded questions. Many of the questions were worded as double negatives. When another survey was created, after the confusion of questioning was realized, only 1 percent doubted the occurrence of the Holocaust. This drastic change in stats shows the importance of how questions are worded. Johanna also addresses this topic on her blog.

Breast Cancer Debate: This book discusses how often times stats are published for shock value. The more startling a statistic, the more likely the audience is to be interested in it. A paper reported that 1 in 8 women suffer from Breast Cancer. As a woman, I find that to be very alarming and shocking. That would mean out of our news writing class several of my classmates will develop Breast Cancer. The National Cancer Institute clarified this statistic when they said lifetime risk is not the same as the amount of risk a woman faces at any one point in her life. In actuality 1.6 percent of women have the chance of getting Breast Cancer by age 50, 2.4 percent by age 60, and the closest statistic to the 1 in 8 was 1 in 24, which is much different than 1 in 8.

All of these articles, although limited, show that we can not always rely on the statistics we hear or read about. Before you become overly concerned by a statistic look into how that statistic was found. Was it found using a survey? Was it an experiment? Were the people questioned random?

Posted by JennaOBrocto at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)