Journalism has no official code of ethics, but this topic is one of the most important aspects of the profession. One wrong decision, even a small one, can get you fired. In this chapter, I learned about the three ethical philosophies that journalists may have: duty, final ends or consequences and specific acts. The ethics of duty state that journalists are only concerned with the newsworthiness of an event, and they will report it no matter what. With final ends/consequences, the “end” of an event can justify the means of a person’s actions, and journalists consider anything that they have to do to accomplish their goals ethical. For specific acts, it basically states that each situation is unique and must be approached differently. Although I would think the ethics of specific acts sounds the best, the other ethics can come into play as well.
I thought it was interesting to read about how journalists handle invasion of privacy. Even though it may seem reasonable to conceal the names of crime victims and child abuse victims, those people coming forward may cause other victims come forward and receive help. I also think it’s interesting to see when the names of juvenile offenders are concealed and when they are revealed. When the stabbing at Franklin Regional High School occurred last year, it wasn’t long before the name of the teenage suspect, Alex Hribal, was released. Now there are stories being released, like this one from WTAE, that are covering if Hribal will stand trial as an adult or juvenile.
In general, I think every situation has to be approached differently in regards to ethics. The only thing that I think is set is stone is that plagiarism will never be acceptable. Besides that, journalists have to consider their loyalty to the public, the people in their stories and themselves. Making the right decision can be difficult when you don’t know what the right decision is. Every situation must be approached in a different way, and I think the confusing flux of ethics will always exist for journalists.
The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University (SHU) held the 2015 Ethel LeFrak Holocaust education conference from Oct. 25-27. This year’s theme was “The Holocaust and Nostra Aetate: Toward a Greater Understanding.” Many presentations were given, including the Rev. Patrick Desbois’ “The Holocaust by Bullets” keynote speech, and the Nostra Aetate Award presentation to Mary C. Boys.
Desbois, who recently appeared on 60 Minutes, is a Catholic priest who has researched the Holocaust and attempted to improve relations between Catholics and Jews. He is the founder and president of Yahad-In Unum, an organization that identifies and commemorates mass execution sites from World War II.
In his speech, Desbois discussed mass executions during the Holocaust, adding that many grave sites were never documented. He also made parallels to genocides in today’s world.
“What I thought was really important was his argument that we have to be very conscious when we are in positions of ‘well, it’s not me,’” said Jennifer Jones, assistant professor of communication at SHU. “He said it’s a disease that we can all fall into, and no one should think they are above that happening to them. I think his words really caused an interruption of the way people think.”
Desbois’ work is also shown in an exhibit in the Harlan Gallery in the Seton Hill Arts Center. Along with “Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Syzk,” Desbois’ “Holocaust by Bullets: Yahad-In Unum, 10 Years of Investigation” is featured.
His exhibit shows the fieldwork that he did with his organization to collect evidence of Nazi shootings of Jews. Both exhibits are available to the public until Nov. 12.
“I think he is very passionate about his work, and that made the speech so much better,” said freshman Megan Snyder. “I thought his speech was very in depth about what happened, and although it was a terrible event, it interested me when he talked about what he discovered.”
The Nostra Aetate Award was given to Mary C. Boys, who is the dean of academic affairs along with the skinner and McAlpin professor of practical theology at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Nostra Aetate is a 1965 statement from the Catholic church about its relationship with other religions, including Judaism. The award acknowledges a person’s scholarly work regarding Catholic-Jewish relations, along with a result of interfaith understanding and promotion of awareness of religious values in society.
“This is an honor for me personally, but more importantly, these kinds of events are excuses for people to gather about a really important issue,” Boys said. “Nostra Aetate started something very important. A lot of work has been done since then, and we still have a lot of work to do.”
In Boys’ speech, “Dare We Hope,” she discussed the messages sent in Nostra Aetate and offered her own rewrite of the fourth section of the document. She also allowed audience members to ask questions or comment to continue the conversation.
“If you want to be an educated person in the world today, you better know something about religion, because when it’s misused, it can be a horrible source of justification for violence,” Boys said. “Maybe you don’t feel religious spiritually, but you shouldn’t be ignorant about religion. People who are ignorant about religion can then be led to some very ignorant things.”
Desbois and Boys were only two of the many speakers who discussed Catholic-Jewish relations in regards to the Holocaust, Nostra Aetate or a combination of the two.
“I felt like a common theme throughout all of the presentations was to respond to suffering and injustice, and that it needs to be done now,” Jones said. “We have the luxury of thinking ‘what am I doing now,’ and we should move out of that luxury to engage in real action.”
Snyder said although she only attended Desbois’ presentation, she wishes she could have attended more events because she considered it very educational. Jones said she is proud to be at SHU because of the work that everyone in the Holocaust center does, and she considered the conference a great experience.
“What I took away from this is action really matters,” Jones said. “I think the lesson for all of us is that every thing we do, even if we think it doesn’t matter or even if it’s something small, it does matter.”
“That’s it: 45 words setting forth the basis for a free press in the U.S. It’s deceptively simple, for no other constitutional amendment has generated as much controversy or as many cornerstone judicial opinions giving meaning to its provisions.”
Chapter 21, titled “Media Law,” opened with the statement of the First Amendment and this quote from The Missouri Group on page 443. I don’t think there is a better way to sum up the chapter than the way this quote did. Although the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, journalism has tremendously grown over the years, and it has to be interpreted time after time for different situations. If I learned anything from this chapter, I definitely know that journalists have to be careful about what they write.
Libel is something that I learned about in both my journalism and law classes in high school. I remember learning that in order to convict someone, the statement has to be defamatory, false, and published with the knowledge that it’s false. However, libel can become a really tricky thing in certain situations. I never knew that public officials have absolute privilege when they are in office. Although reporters have the qualified privilege to report what they say, it can be difficult since the officials might be lying. I also found it interesting that public figures are better protected than public officials when it comes to the Actual Malice Test.
I thought the section about invasion of privacy was interesting, especially since this is becoming a more prominent issue with the advancement of technology. I think some people forget that anything we do, especially online, can be viewed by anyone, even if it’s “private.” In today’s world, journalists can view public social media pages and quote from them, but some people might not like that. I’m sure journalists face a lot of criticism from people, but I respect them for having to make the right decisions about online information while dealing with the backlash that could come from this. I also greatly respect journalists because many of them are willing to face jail time rather than give up the names of their sources. This profession takes true dedication, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that.
Although journalists are guaranteed freedom of the press under the First Amendment, there are still many situations in which they have to be cautious with their work. I believe the best way to avoid controversial situations is to always write the truth and make sure it is the truth. Sometimes writing about controversial stories is necessary, but being truthful is the best thing a journalist can do in those situations. Every story must be approached in a different way, but all stories should be written truthfully.
As the semester continues, I think my blog posts have been consistently improving. My depth and riskiness sections have continued to grow, and I was able to include more posts in my intertextuality category this time. I was also able to start a discussion on a classmate’s post for this portfolio. Although I am hoping to have even more discussions for my next portfolio, I am happy with the continual improvement of my blog posts and portfolios.
I think my response to the Article Model was a good example of depth. Although the prompt said we only had to touch on a few of the given questions, I tried to incorporate all of them into my response while analyzing the article. Rather than a simple one paragraph response, I wrote four that consisted of multiple, thoughtful sentences.
My most in depth response for this portfolio was for NR&W 16. This chapter was very lengthy, so I tried to respond to all of the general aspects of it, making my response longer than usual. I began with a quote from the chapter, analyzing it and then giving my own thoughts about what I learned in multiple paragraphs.
Finally, I believe my response to NR&W 20 can be classified in the depth category. Although I have not learned a lot about public relations yet as a communication major, I was able to easily understand and relate this topic to real life opportunities. I spent a lot of time in this response talking about how my journalistic ability will benefit me as a communication major.
My first example of riskiness was NR&W 7. I was not familiar at all with the concept of news releases, so I was a little unsure about my ability to create a response that demonstrated my understanding about this new topic. However, I took notes and made sure I completely understood something before I wrote it. I ended up learning a lot about news releases, which could benefit me since I am a communication major.
Another response that I consider to fit in this category was NR&W 11. Although I already knew about the inverted pyramid and chronological styles of writing, I had no idea what news narratives and the focus structure were. I had a little bit of trouble differentiating them from the types I already knew at first, but I believe I was eventually able to do that well in my response.
In my post for Article Inspiration 1, I included hyperlinks for both the article I found and the home page for its website.
Another post that I included a hyperlink in was NR&W 14 (3 of 3). My response focused on sports beats and reporting, and I discussed an article from ESPN about this year’s wild card game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. I included the link to this article so people could have access to what I was writing about.
My final example of intertextuality is my response to NR&W 19. This chapter was about investigative reporting, so I talked about the journalists who exposed President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. I included a link to an article about the two journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They discussed what is was like for them to be investigative journalists during this time.
Rather than wait for another classmate to post on my blog, I decided to comment on a few of my peers’ posts. My comment on Alexi Sakalik’s NR&W 11 post allowed us to have a discussion about inverted pyramid and chronological writing styles. We gave our opinions about both writing styles and when we think they should be utilized.
I decided to include my Revised Homecoming Preview in the timeliness category. Even though I did not post my original preview on my blog, I did have to go back and make changes to it so I was able to post it before the second day that my event occurred.
For the rest of my responses, I made sure I posted everything before the class time that they were due.
Similar to my last portfolio, I believe all of my responses fit under at least one of the categories above.
I believe my third portfolio shows how much my responses have improved, and each portfolio I create becomes better. Rather than simply responding, I am becoming better at relating what I have learned in the textbook to real life examples of journalism. I am also learning more about how my knowledge of journalism can benefit me as a communication major. This motivates me to learn as much as I possibly can and constantly improve my writing. Along with that, I have learned more about different writing approaches for different types of stories. I believe that my blog posts will improve even more as I continue to improve my journalistic writing ability.
“The importance of accuracy in investigative reporting cannot be overstated. It is the essential element in good journalism of any kind. But in investigative reporting especially, inaccuracy leads to embarrassment, to ruined reputations and sometimes to lawsuits.”
I think this quote from The Missouri Group on page 405 really shows how serious investigative reporting is. Journalists have to be 100% sure they’re right when they print an allegation. If they’re wrong, they can ruin their own reputations along with those of the people they’re writing about. Along with that, journalists can be sued for libel if they print anything that’s untrue. I’ve also always thought it’s amazing that many journalists would rather go to jail instead of naming anonymous sources.
The book mentioned the Watergate scandal that eventually caused President Nixon to resign before he could be impeached. Journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worked extremely hard when they began to realize how serious the scandal was. Woodward and Bernstein’s story was turned into a book and movie, and since last year was the 40 year anniversary of the book, they did an interview with CBS News. In the interview, journalist David Martin said “The stakes were, you were either writing history or you were writing your own professional obituaries.” Although not all investigative stories are as serious as exposing a presidential scandal, if you get something wrong, it could affect your entire career.
Although I had a little bit of knowledge about investigative reporting from watching All the President’s Men, this chapter made me more knowledgeable about the process that these stories go through. I definitely have an appreciation for the journalists who are able to do investigative reporting well.
Homecoming Preview: Seton Hill continues basket raffle and bake sale throughout weekend
By Paige Parise
Seton Hill University (SHU) will continue its annual parents’ association basket raffle and bake sale on Friday, Oct. 23. Tickets and baked goods will be sold in the second Maura solarium from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m., and tickets will also be sold at the block party and homecoming football game on Oct. 24. Winning tickets will be announced at the game, and winners do not have to be present to win.
Tickets are $1 per ticket, $2 for three tickets or an arm’s length for $5. Many prizes are donated by parents, which include pairs of Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers tickets, Vera Bradley items and handcrafted jewelry. The event began on Thursday, and work study student Mel Francis said they were not too busy and are hoping for more people to stop by.
The money that is raised from the event goes toward SHU students in some way, including the monetary gift for the president’s award at convocation and a stipend to the graduating class advisor.
“It’s generally used to enhance student spaces,” said Beth Kepple, administrative assistant for student services. “The last thing we used it for was when the multicultural and international office moved upstairs, and we purchased some things for their student lounge.”
Kepple said even though there is no plan yet for this year’s funds, she recommends stopping by since the money “goes directly back to students in one form or another.”
“We’re hoping for nice weather and lots of ticket sales,” Kepple said.
Coverage of the event will continue to take place on Twitter throughout the weekend.
Chapter 20 focused on writing in public relations, and since communication is my major, I felt like focusing on this chapter would be beneficial for my future. Since I haven’t had the opportunity to take many communication courses yet, I learned a lot from reading this chapter.
The basic goal of public relations is to create a beneficial relationship between organizations and the public. I like that there are many different areas to choose from in the field of public relations, so I won’t be stuck doing one specific job after college. I think taking journalism courses will benefit me as well. If I would ever have to write news releases, I could write them in a way that’s beneficial for both the journalist and my company. Also, I think I would be able to balance sending a positive message about my company while remaining objective.
Another thing I love about public relations is the number of different media platforms that are available in modern society. I could see myself being someone who spreads the company’s word through social media. Many sports teams have employees who work predominantly with social media. I follow the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. New media is creating new ways for organizations to connect with its consumers, and I’m excited that I can possibly play a role in this change.
Overall, I think this chapter was very beneficial for me to read. I now have a better idea of what to expect when I take communication courses about public relations in the future. Taking journalism courses has already helped me learn valuable skills that will be helpful in my future career. I am confident that I will be able to combine my skills of communication and journalism in my future career, and I am glad that I learned more about doing this by reading this chapter.
“First, not all the news is deadly serious. Second, audiences expect and welcome variety. Third, good reporters in any medium need imagination, writing skill and flexibility.”
This quote from The Missouri Group on page 330 does the best to summarize this section of the book. Chapter 16 focused on crime, accident/fire and court stories, along with writing obituaries, which are all types of local stories. Journalists have to be prepared to cover a variety of stories and be able to write in different ways.
The more creative style of writing can sometimes come with writing obituaries, when journalists are writing the last chapter of someone’s life. Although the basic information like the funeral time is necessary, a better obituary can be written by talking to family members and friends. Being able to show the personality of the deceased and what they will be remembered for is good journalism.
There are a lot of similarities between writing crime stories and writing accident and fire stories. It’s important in both situations to talk to victims if possible and witnesses, along with getting the correct names, ages and addresses of people interviewed. Getting the facts and making sure they’re correct is probably the most important job of the journalist in these situations.
When it comes to court stories, I couldn’t believe how much work goes into covering them. Obviously, it’s important to write carefully to avoid libel (statements that are untrue). However, I had no idea how much work actually goes into sticking with a court story. After the first story, there are so many follow-up stories to write, from the first court appearance all the way up to the verdict, and possibly sentencing and appeals. They involve a lot of work as well because there are so many issues that can arise. I give a ton of credit to journalists who cover these stories, because they have to be dedicated and educated.
This chapter taught me a lot about covering local stories. When it comes to all of them, the most important thing is to get the facts correct and be careful about how you present them. When I see these types of stories in the future, especially court stories, I will have a greater appreciation for the journalists who write them.
It’s not often you hear about a love triangle between zoo workers, so whoever wrote the headline for the article definitely took advantage of it! The headline grabbed my attention because it sounded so bizarre. That’s what made the story newsworthy too; it was so strange and bizarre, and people love hearing about that kind of stuff. I think the lead was great too, since it summarized the fight and who the people were.
Although I thought the article itself was good, the photo seemed a little out of place to me. Since it was of the woman who performed the assault, it was relevant to the story. However, it’s not that exciting since it’s just her leaving the courthouse. The cutline did a good job of summarizing the story, but it seemed a little long to me, since it was three sentences instead of two.
Overall, I think the article was written well. It included all of the important information in very few words, and the author eliminated wordiness by saying the quotes rather than introducing them. Both of these aspects show that the author is a pretty good journalist. The word “nasty” was put in quotations because it was something the judge said. Since it’s an opinionated word, the author wanted to make sure readers knew it was the judge who said it. Also, even though it was brief, I thought including the opposing view made this article more credible.
Since this event was so strange, it definitely makes it newsworthy. I give a lot of credit to whoever wrote the headline, whether that be the author or someone else. It grabs your attention, and then the article itself is clear and concise, which shows the journalistic ability of the author. I’ll remember the elements of this article when I’m writing in the future!
Since I enjoy watching sports, especially hockey and baseball, it was interesting to read about sports beats. Even though a journalist may report for local teams, it’s still important to have an objective view. Obviously, the focus will be on the local team, but it’s still necessary to recognize and acknowledge when the opposing team does something right. I think the TV broadcasters for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates do a good job of this. They praise their teams when they do well, but if their teams are playing terribly, they acknowledge that and give credit to the opposing teams. Although they want their teams to win, they still report objectively.
I thought it was interesting to see the different perspectives that ESPN had after the Pirates lost to the Chicago Cubs in their wild card game at the beginning of October. One article I found focused on the Cubs, and only included interviews from Cubs players and management. Since the Cubs won the game and ended the Pirate’s season, I understand why articles would focus on them. However, this writer was very biased toward the Cubs. He only included one quote from a Pirates player, Sean Rodriguez, and then used interviews from Cubs players to explain why Rodriguez was wrong. To get a fair argument, this writer should’ve interviewed people from the Pirate’s side, rather than just throwing in one quote from one of their players. Even if I wasn’t a Pirates fan, I still would’ve asked myself, “What do the Pirates have to say about this?”
As our textbook said, a good story recognizes the losing side too, not just the winners. Getting both perspectives is important for an objective and fair story. Although it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be a sports journalist, I’ll definitely be more appreciative of the ones who actually write good stories.