Monthly Archives: November 2018

Principles of American Journalism Ch8

In the final chapter of Principles of American Journalism, I thought it was interesting how the authors discussed Edward Snowden:

“Just as important, in leaking to journalists, Snowden was submitting the information to the verification process, the objective method of journalism. Doing so would enhance the credibility and therefore the power of the information as well as ensure that some sort of filtering of such highly sensitive information would take place” (Craft & Davis 209).

Although I remember the situation with Snowden leaking information, I never considered how Snowden chose to leak the information to journalists, rather than simply putting all the information online. Regardless of how you view the Snowden situation, I think the authors make a fair point that his decision shows that journalism still maintains credibility, even with the distrust of the media today. There is a ton of information available on the internet, and what makes journalists significant is their ability to sort through that information, verify it, and make the public aware of why that information is important. Without journalism, we would have an overload of information, but no one to verify its truthfulness or help us understand its significance.

Another quote from this chapter that I thought was interesting discussed objectivity:

“Rather than try to play the detached, neutral observer, an engaged, independent journalist lets the facts take her where they may, demands answers to questions sources would rather not answer, and presses the powerful for the truth” (228).

The authors brought up a good point that journalists are human, just like everyone else. It’s impossible for journalists to be completely objective and completely unbiased, but they can try their best to put those biases aside and use the process of journalism to guide them. Journalism is about gathering the facts, and letting those facts guide your story. With the Watergate situation, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein let the information they found guide them, and they had to take the stance with their story that President Nixon lied. It wasn’t that these journalists were biased against Nixon – they just found evidence to support that he lied, and wrote that story, which was the truth.

Journalism is unique because every story is different. It requires a different approach every time, but still relies on the basic principles and method to guide it. Journalism will always face criticism, but at its heart, it’s a profession dedicated to reporting the truth, whatever that truth may be.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch8

Principles of American Journalism Ch7

In Chapter 7 of Principles of American Journalism, one of the quotes toward the beginning of the chapter about the First Amendment stuck out to me:

“Have any 45 words generated more controversy, engendered greater debate and resulted in more titanic legal clashes in our nation’s history?” (Craft & Davis 181)

I think it’s interesting how this one principle that has been a constant since the beginning of our democracy has been so complex throughout America’s history. As a journalist, even with freedom of speech, there’s still a lot you have to consider that the authors touched on, like libel and testifying about anonymous sources. However, despite all its complexity, we wouldn’t have journalism as we know it without freedom of speech, so as a student studying journalism, I am pretty grateful to have such a freedom.

I’m also grateful because in a way, I understand what censorship feels like. In high school, all of our articles had to be read by our journalism teacher, and then approved by our principal. We couldn’t really write anything too controversial, because the administration wanted our school to be portrayed in a positive light. Although I understand that from a PR perspective, my job as a journalist isn’t just to write about the good things. While editors will always ultimately determine what is written, they understand the principles of journalism and abide by them, not a PR agenda. I appreciate having the opportunity in college, and eventually the professional world, to report the truth.

Another quote from this chapter stuck out to me:

“We are often eager to repress speech we disagree with, and so we have built a legal system of protection to overcome that impulse” (196).

This is a great way to describe the purpose of the First Amendment. Although we might not agree with what someone says, that doesn’t give us the right to restrict their speech. If we simply repressed all speech we disagreed with, then we wouldn’t be able to acknowledge differing viewpoints and have discussions and debates about these viewpoints.

It also makes me think about how President Trump speaks (and tweets) negatively about the media, and particularly when media outlets say something he disagrees with. Although he might not agree with what everyone says about him, if he completely restricted people from saying those things, he’d be closing his mind to different viewpoints. The First Amendment also gives us the opportunity as journalists to hold those in power accountable, which is extremely important.

I think it’s also important to remember that although the First Amendment gives you the right to say (almost) whatever you want, it doesn’t necessarily protect you from the consequences of saying whatever you want. The First Amendment particularly protects people from the government taking action against you, so that means if you say something that could be taken as offensive, you could still be fired from your company. I don’t think enough people truly understand the First Amendment and freedom of speech, so it was helpful to read this chapter.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch7

Principles of American Journalism Ch6 + Code of Ethics

As I read Chapter 6 of Principles of American Journalism, I thought one simple quote summarized the whole chapter very well:

“Without truth, journalism isn’t really journalism” (Craft & Davis 147).

What makes journalism different than other types of writing is that it tells the story the way it actually is. If you start to make things up or exaggerate, then you’re not telling the real story. In a way, I think you could consider journalism as nonfiction writing, because it reports the facts. When you start to make things up, you’re writing fiction, and that’s not what journalism is. The primary role of journalism isn’t to entertain – it’s to tell the truth. And without the truth, you don’t have journalism – you have fiction.

I clearly remember when the Brian Williams scandal occurred. I was a senior in high school, and I was in the journalism class writing for our newspaper at that time. We talked about how Williams was in the wrong for making up stories because he clearly violated the principles of journalism. I like how the authors related journalism to being a doctor or a lawyer. If a doctor did something unethical, such as abusing a patient, in addition to facing legal penalties, people would no longer go to this doctor to be treated. Although journalists likely won’t face legal issues for making up a story, your credibility is undermined because you lied, which is the one basic principle journalists promise not to break.

When I took Dr. Jerz’s Newswriting class three years ago, we discussed the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, which I briefly touched on in a previous blog post. I think the four main concepts – seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent – summarize what journalists should aspire to do in their profession.

I also think it’s helpful that the SPJ code goes into more detail for each of these four principles, particularly with the fourth, which involves “taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public” (238). I’ve been fortunate that no big scandals have occurred during my time at Seton Hill, but this chapter was a good reminder that if I ever do face a tricky situation, I should be prepared to explain to the public my decision-making process. With a growing distrust in the media today, being transparent is extremely important.

I also thought it was interesting to read the Radio Television Digital News Association Code of Ethics, which is something I had not looked at previously. There are a lot of similarities between this code and the SPJ’s, as the main principles of the RTDNA’s code include truth and accuracy above all, independence and transparency, and accountability for consequences. Although this code is geared more toward specific mediums, the basic principles are the same, as they should be across the spectrum of journalism.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch6 + Codes of Ethics

Writing About Literature

Throughout our Writing about Literature course, there is a lot I have learned. One of the most prominent ideas I have taken away from this course is that there is not one “right” answer when reading and writing about literature. Although this is something I already knew, Writing about Literature is one of the first courses where I could really put this into practice through blogging about my ideas of a text.

Literary criticisms and theories are something new I learned in this course. In middle school and high school, we usually used the same techniques for analyzing literary works, so learning how to analyze a text using a specific lens was something new to me. I realized how reading and writing about literature through a particular lens can help you identify new ideas and ways of thinking about a text. For example, I wondered how Marxist Criticism could be used to write about literature, but I realized that you could use this criticism to write about the imbalanced class structure in 1984.

My definition of literature has also expanded throughout this course, specifically when looking at interactive fiction. Although we experimented with text parser games in my Media and Culture course, I tended to focus on the medium rather than the content. Although they aren’t what we traditionally consider as literature, these games tell a story and have complex ideas that can be analyzed through writing.

Source: Writing About Literature

News, Arts, and Sports Writing Portfolio 3

With the completion of my third portfolio for News, Arts, and Sports Writing, I am very content with my progress since my last portfolio. I greatly improved the discussion and timeliness sections of my portfolio, and I also continued to display depth, riskiness, and intertextuality in my posts. Although I plan to continue making improvements in the individual sections, the overall quality of this portfolio is a significant improvement as compared to my previous two portfolios.

Depth:

One post that exemplifies depth is NM: The Future (4 of 4). This post could also fit under riskiness, as I was discussing the possibilities for the future of journalism, which is always an unknown. I wrote in-depth about the possibilities of the future of journalism, incorporating multiple quotes from the text in multiple paragraphs.

Another post that fits well under the depth category is my Post-Election Story response. I found multiple articles from a variety of news sources following the midterm elections and analyzed the objectivity of those articles in comparison to where their organizations fall on the media bias spectrum. Specifically, I spent time searching for articles about similar topics from Fox News and CNN in order to compare them and any potential bias.

Although any of my posts about Principles of American Journalism could easily fit under depth, the one I am picking out for this category is my response to Principles of American Journalism Ch3. This post was likely my longest one about one of the chapters from the text. I chose a few quotes to discuss in detail, and I wrote about the importance of journalism in the digital age.

Riskiness:

One example of riskiness for this portfolio was my Pre-Election Story post. Although I have blogged about potential media bias before, this is the first time I had to search for articles about the midterm elections and write about them. I always consider writing about political topics a risk, as there is a lot of knowledge necessary to understand them, but I think I was successful at choosing a few articles to analyze.

My response to Principles of American Journalism Ch4 was another example of riskiness. This chapter of the text focused on the business side of journalism, which is something I am not as familiar with. However, I applied what I know about advertising with the Setonian to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of journalism as a business.

Going along with the text, my Principles of American Journalism Ch5 post also falls under riskiness. I considered placing this under intertextuality, as I discussed topics from one of my communication courses. I acknowledged in my post that I do not know the most beneficial way for journalists to connect with their audience through digital media, which is risky. However, I applied what I have learned from my communication course to discuss how these lessons can be applicable and beneficial to journalism.

Intertextuality:

My first example of intertextuality is my first post for this portfolio, NM: The Future (3 of 4). Similar to my final example in the riskiness section, in this post, I discussed what I have been learning in one of my communication courses and even cited a specific statistic from a paper I wrote that I thought was applicable.

In my first post for our second text, Principles of American Journalism Ch1, I wrote about my experience as a student journalist. I related my experiences working on my high school and college’s newspapers to specific examples from the text.

Finally, Principles of American Journalism Ch2 was another strong example of intertextuality. I wrote about how my journalism class in high school talked about the Rolling Stone article discussed in the text. Additionally, I discussed how as a double major in communication and journalism, I understand both ways to perceive the public that the authors talked about.

Discussion:

For my first two portfolios of the semester, discussion was basically nonexistent. However, I significantly stepped it up for this portfolio so I could share my thoughts with my peers.

For the first chapter of Principles of American Journalism, I commented on Annie and Steve’s blog posts. In Chapter 2 of the text, Caitlin and Chelsi both wrote about interesting quotes, so I left a comment on each of their posts about that chapter. Finally, I commented on Rebecca’s third post about the future section of The News Media.

I am definitely content that I improved my discussion section for this portfolio. Moving forward, I plan to continue commenting on my peers’ blog posts to participate in more discussions with them.

Timeliness:

Throughout the semester, my timeliness section has been another one of the categories that has needed significant improvement. For this portfolio, I definitely think I’ve taken a step in the right direction. My first few posts for this portfolio were early, and although I started to fall behind toward the end, I wasn’t scrambling to finish every single post at the last possible minute. I have definitely improved my timeliness significantly since my last portfolio, and I plan to improve this section even more for our final portfolio.

Coverage:

In addition to completing all of the posts required for this portfolio, I was able to categorize my posts under at least one of the above categories.

Conclusion:

My third portfolio was definitely an improvement from my previous two, and I plan to continue making improvements for my final portfolio of the semester. Writing my responses for this portfolio also helped me continue to achieve the course goals. By reading the Principles of American Journalism text and examining articles from a variety of news outlets, this has helped me “develop an appreciation for how journalism educates the public.” I also hoped to “examine the role of the journalist in a democratic society,” and reading Principles of American Journalism and the future section of The News Media has given me a better understanding of the present and future role of a journalist in society. With the end of the semester in sight, I will continue to work toward achieving these goals as I finish our second text and any other blogging assignments.

Source: Portfolio 3

Principles of American Journalism Ch5

In the fifth chapter of Principles of American Journalism, I was drawn to the following passage:

“The fundamental difference in terms of the goal of online journalism – from audience attraction to audience engagement – is more than just economic, however. It promises to reinvigorate the relationship between journalists and audience, a relationship that grew far too distant in the era of mass audience” (Craft & Davis 123).

In my Professional Development Seminar course for my communication major, we have been researching different contemporary issues, with digital media being a predominant topic. Recently, we discussed how digital media has changed the process of communicating with an audience. Rather than a one-way form of communication, where you send a message to your audience and that’s essentially the end of the process, digital media enables two-way communication, where you send a message and your audience is immediately able to respond back to you.

People want to know that they are valued by the companies and organizations they enjoy, and digital media allows these companies to respond to their audiences and let them know their feedback is valued. This can help build brand loyalty, and I think it can be applied to journalism as well. Journalists can individually create profiles on social media that allows them to connect with their audiences, and news organizations can use social media in a similar way. When audiences form a connection with journalists and their news organizations, then they’re more likely to continue reading the content from those organizations, and might also become more likely to pay for their content. I’m not sure what the best way is for journalists to use digital and social media to connect with their audiences, but it’s necessary to start somewhere.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch5

Principles of American Journalism Ch4

Chapter 4 of Principles of American Journalism focused on the business side of journalism, and this passage stuck out to me:

“But the amount of money people pay in subscriptions or at the newsstand doesn’t even come close to covering all those production costs. Advertisers pay the lion’s share. And they do it because they need to get their message out to customers. They need your attention” (Craft & Davis 107).

I think journalism is one of the most unique professions in existence because of its obligation to inform citizens about the truth. Most companies and organizations focus on persuading consumers to purchase their product, and while news organizations compete against each other, they aren’t trying to persuade the public to believe or not believe certain ideas.

However, at the same time, news is also a business. Professional journalists need to be paid for their work, and news organizations need to make money in order to distribute their content. Referencing the quote I selected, advertising is the predominant way news organizations make money. I know the importance of this from working on the Setonian. As a college news publication, we put our magazines on stands for free around campus, so advertising is our main way to receive revenue. Without ads, we wouldn’t be able to continue publishing the print version of the Setonian. Additionally, ads help us afford higher quality publications, like being able to publish in color rather than just black and white.

I think the way that news organizations make money will always be up for debate in terms of ethics, especially if the way they make money starts to interfere with the quality of their content. It’s difficult to balance, but I think the public has to understand that high-quality news articles don’t come for free. They have to pay for this themselves through subscriptions, or be open to the idea that advertising is a part of journalism in American society. Those who work in news organizations also must constantly try to balance making money with creating quality content true to the principles of journalism.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch4

Principles of American Journalism Ch3

In the third chapter of Principles of American Journalism, the following passage stuck out to me:

“In other words, even while the form of journalism changes fundamentally, the process changes only slightly – and its values don’t change at all” (Craft & Davis 69).

2018 is definitely an interesting time to be a journalist. We’re living in a time when digital media is utilized daily by the masses, and as journalists, we have to make sure we use that medium effectively so that our content reaches our readers. However, like the authors said, the only real difference between journalism in the past few decades and journalism today is the form and process.

Publishing an article online requires writing the article and then sending it to the online or digital editor, who makes edits, copies and pastes the article to the website, inserts photos and videos, and clicks a few other buttons before hitting “Publish,” which instantaneously publishes the article online. This takes significantly less time than print layout, which requires figuring out how to fit the text of the article and photos in layout software. And obviously, the way the articles look online is much different than how they look in a print newspaper or magazine.

Although the process of publishing articles is much quicker today, and the form is much different, the authors are right about how the values of journalists don’t change. Whenever I’m writing articles for the Setonian, I take the same approach with my writing, regardless of if the article is being published in print or online. No matter what the medium is, it’s still important to write about newsworthy information, conduct interviews with trustworthy sources on both sides of a story, and verify and fact-check my information. Just because it’s quicker to publish my content online, that doesn’t give me any excuse to become lazy and ignore the values of journalism.

Another similar quote from this chapter stuck out to me as well:

“Without journalism, what we have is lots of information from people wishing to persuade rather than inform” (73).

People often wonder what the role of journalists is in the digital age. However, I think this quote perfectly sums up what that role is. There is an abundance of information on social media, and without journalists, there would be no one to sort through that information and give citizens a better idea of which information is newsworthy and why. In addition to people wanting to persuade others, credibility is another issue that comes with digital media. Anyone can post anything, but if you see the information coming from a verified professional journalist or news organization, you know you can trust that source.

Without journalism, fake news would become even more of an issue on social media. It’s interesting to think about this in regards to President Trump’s comments about certain journalists and news organizations being fake news. Of course, no one is perfect, so not every news organization is going to cover every story perfectly. However, journalists are trained to search for the truth and then write articles to inform citizens. Without journalists, fake news would spread across social media, and no one would know what the truth is anymore. This is how propaganda spreads as well, so journalism is fundamental in our American democracy during a time when anyone can post anything.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch3

Post-Election Story

After the election on Tuesday, one of the articles I found was 5 key takeaways from the 2018 midterm elections from ABC News. This news outlet is in the neutral column on the media bias chart, and I think this article supports that stance. As the headline states, the article discussed the five most significant takeaways from the election, which included how Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans remained in the control of the Senate. It also discussed the historical significance of the results of this election, including the new all-time high for women in the chambers of Congress and other firsts in diversity.

I think this article was good at remaining objective while still giving the most newsworthy information. I didn’t think the language was biased toward either side of the political spectrum, and I feel like I learned the most significant information about the election results from reading this article.

I was also curious to see how CNN and Fox News handled coverage of the election. On the media bias chart, CNN is between neutral and skews left, but is more toward analysis. Fox News is listed as hyper-partisan right, and is farther down than CNN on the chart, listed under “selective or incomplete story; unfair persuasion.”

I found very similar articles from both outlets about the election results that discussed the candidates who made history with their victories. However, just the difference in the headlines was interesting:

Fox News: Midterm winners make history on Election Night, from youngest woman elected to Congress to richest governor

CNN: Women and LGBT candidates make history in 2018 midterms

Both outlets highlighted women in their headlines, but Fox News mentioned the richest governor while CNN mentioned LGBT candidates. It was interesting to see how these outlets thought different people were more newsworthy. Both articles actually mentioned most of the same candidates who made history, but the one significant difference was that CNN did not mention the richest governor at all. CNN actually ended their article with a “some firsts out of reach” section that gave examples of candidates who would have made history if they hadn’t lost, which Fox did not do.

I think both articles give mostly the same information, and both seem to be written pretty objectively, but it was interesting that the writer from Fox News thought the richest governor was newsworthy and the writer from CNN did not. Although this is just one small detail, I think it shows that these two news outlets that are classified as having particular political leanings do have different decision-making processes.

Source: Post-Election Story

Pre-Election Story

One of the articles I looked at before the midterm elections was from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which was published early in the morning on Election Day. The article was Voters Guide: Today is Election Day. Here’s what you need to know.

I kept in mind that the Post-Gazette tends to lean toward the left politically with their editorials, but this article was written pretty objectively. The article provided information about where to find your polling place and answered basic questions about voting. Additionally, the article identified some of the key races in the state, including state governor and Senate, and identified some of the more local races for the House of Representatives. Overall, I thought this article remained objective and gave helpful information, especially for voters in western Pennsylvania, where this publication is based.

I also wanted to find an article from one of the publications on the media bias chart, so I found an article from The Washington Post: Democrats hope for House win, Republicans look to hold the Senate in a final day of campaigning — but nobody’s quite sure. The article gave an overview about how many Senate, House and gubernatorial seats would be up for grabs in this election, and also talked a lot about President Trump’s campaigning techniques.

The Washington Post is in between neutral and skews left on the media bias chart, and I think article was pretty objective. Although it discussed the significance of the election, particularly for Democrats, I don’t think any of the language favored Democrats over Republicans in any way. Another thing to keep in mind is that the possibility of the Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives has been a big story leading up to the election, so I don’t think writing about that is biased, especially if you’re also mentioning how the Republicans could keep control of the Senate.

Source: Pre-Election Story