September 19, 2005

A few finds on fairness

From Freedom (a PDF file):

"We have a free press in the United States because of constitutional protection. We should have a fair press because of personal and professional commitment. The better we journalists are at making the press fair, and perceived as fair, the better chance we have of keeping it free."

As a member of the Student Voice of the Hill, part of my job is to show the viewpoints of the Seton Hill community.

While working at the Trib, my job was very different. I reported on the story and all the sources seemed to fit logically with the facts.

More often than not while writing Setonian articles, however, I begin giving student opinions as a separate section with a sweeping statement of introduction like, "Students feel (insert blah blah blah)."

I'm going to work on that in future articles. The voices of the student body should fit in with the story and should demonstrate the alternate sides of an issue without interrupting the flow of the article.

In the future, I hope to build my story around all the sources I interview, rather than the administration, as I am apt to do. It is the students' concerns I should highlight, rather than the official position of the university.

Though I usually begin with an understanding of the official state of the story, I want to "dig deeper" by poking around a bit more for more information (usually unofficial stuff) that I am always hearing. I usually discount this stuff, but I am growing to understand the value of gossip. Some shred of truth is usually in there somewhere, and it is my job to track down those rumors and ask the administration to either dispel them or own up to something.

As indicated in the quote above, this issue of fairness, goes beyond the sources reporters include. It is the way the sources, the facts and the overall tone of a piece is perceived by the audience.

I continue to work on this, and I think I am getting better. I reread my stuff and try to include pertinent information as it would logically and fairly depict the story.

But I guess that's up to my readers to decide. My judgment is a bit biased about my own work, I suppose. :-)

As a side note, Professor Klapak, Neha and I are working on student/professional panel discussions for October, November and December.

I am coordinating a discussion based on federal and state guidelines of the press's right to know versus the government's right to know, specifically in the context of Pennsylvania's "Right to Know" law and the Patriot Act.

My panel is in November if anyone wants to help out. I'll be making neat-o signs in reporter-style Courier New fonts, and I need someone with a keen eye to help me design them, along with some large visuals for that night. If you're interested, drop a line.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at September 19, 2005 8:57 PM | TrackBack
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