November 2009 Archives

Fair Freedom

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"Press freedom is not conditioned upon fair and balanced reporting."

Robert J. Haiman, Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists


Something seems amiss in the fact that there are legal repercussions for bad drivers but not bad reporters; however, conditions of First Amendment rights are extremely complex when it comes to our "societal privileges."


From this news writing course I've learnt that journalism is capable of an exceptional amount of damage when attention to fairness and ethics is not dutifully paid.  Derek asks where reports should draw the line on pleading first amendment rights whenever confronted with abusing the freedom of press.  This is an excellent question, because whenever legal responsibility is not forced there is room for individuals to act inappropriately without fear of reprimand.  Still, I think there is enough public pressure placed on the news industry that fairness is held in high opinion.  The news depends on audience support; if a news organization exhibits a shady code of ethics, people are not going to stand behind it.  News is for the public, first.  Journalists should always strive for a respectable level of morality in their stories, if for no other reason than to be proud of the content of their work.  If we value our privileges we should not misuse them, advice sometimes easier said than applied.



Blah, Blah, Bland

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What can I say about The Cavalier Daily? Well, I'm not too excited about the setup.  I'm not sure what it is precisely that puts me off about it.  Maybe it's that the article spacing looks chunky.  (Is 'chunky' acceptable criticism?)  All of the photographs are at the top of the home page, which is boring as you continue to scroll down.  It is missing something by way of format that delivers a message of serious journalism, in my opinion.  Not intending to be too harsh, but the appearance lacked an appeal that would make me want to stick around and peruse the site.  

A few corrections that might lessen my disinterest:

·         Tighter (writing) word spacing

·         Article briefs below the title need to be given less presence

·         More creativity in photo/video placement


Clean, Crisp News Site

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For efficiency alone I'd give The Harvard Crimson two thumbs up! Every news section is neatly arranged on the home page, so that navigation is not a hassle. And the three clear columns give it a crisp appearance.  I liked that there was not an overwhelming amount of color, this way the images readily stand apart from the standard red text.


I, also, agree with the point Jessie made in her blog that Harvard's Crimson may not be over-the-top or spectacular in terms of multimedia design, but it is put together respectively well considering their physical newspaper is published daily.


On an altogether different note, in the opinion section, there is a cartoon that was cute, and probably rather funny if you were a Harvard student. If you're wondering what HUDS on lunch bag stands for, it simply means Harvard University Dining Services.  Anyway, it added some college humor and underscored the Yale/Harvard rivalry.





Don't Be Stubborn

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"A framing decision is based on values and perspective, not facts. So -- depending on the values and perspective a reporter brings to a particular story -- the story could turn out differently from one written on the same subject by a reporter with different values and perspectives on that subject." - Robert J. Haiman, Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists


This is closely related to a previous chapter in Haiman devoted to fair reporting on the basis of removing negative bias.  It is true that before you research an idea for an article you mentally begin to plot and chart its destination.  Sometimes, that presupposed story you're intent on sharing turns out to be something less wow worthy or insupportable or, simply, not what you expected.  The point is not to force your idea to work.  Whatever investigative reporting should yield is what should be reported, no slant.  Be open to a different ending than the one you were holding out for.  And if it should be unfruitful, be willing to lay it to rest.


Not So Impressed

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In my own opinion this multimedia news feature wasn't as fulfilling as it could have been.  Visually there is much to dote upon; however, the same visual technology imposed a level of frustration.  What I consider the "excessive interaction" on the site was slightly frustrating.  Maybe it was the internet browser I used to view the page's content, but my view was cut off on the left-hand side of the screen. 

A number of people might prefer to watch a video rather than read at length about one subject, myself included on occasion.  But, with a video or audio account of something you cannot easily move forward and backwards to pluck out whatever information it is you are interested in, so if the video/audio clip is lengthy you're still committing ample time to get the informative value out of it.  For instance, the clip on Arizona Star follows the garbage truck and you observe the noise and action of the truck, which aren't necessarily worthwhile subject matter.  If you choose to manually maneuver through a video to get to the good stuff faster, it might occur that you fast-forwarding over valuable parts.   Text can easily be skimmed first to pin-point areas of noteworthiness.  In this way text is actually more effective a delivering specific information.

Wondering in which cases presenting in text may be more beneficial to the reader?  Or when it may not?  A study on Eyetrack III sought to test how multimedia format influenced viewer accounts of story information.  Check it out!


Article Interactive Links

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A few interesting and informative sites/videos/charts, which give depth to the unemployment condition in fayette county.

Reporting UC Fraud and Misconduct in PA

Labor Force data for Fayette County, Pa compared over time

A History of Unemployment

Links Add Livelihood

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"As a companion piece, the auteur behind fantastical spectacles Mars Attacks!, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman and a host of other morbidly twisted movies is publishing The Art of Tim Burton, a 434-page tome packed with drawings, doodles, paintings and evocative concept art dating back to Burton's teen years in Burbank, California." -  "Concept Art Offers Peek at Tim Burton's Twisted Mind," taken from

I found that links were rather essential to this article, because the links allow you to truly experience the visual art that gives Tim Burton his reputation, something words cannot completely capture.  The links served the purposes of allowing viewers to peruse vivid photos, referring them to other sites capable of giving more depth into the subject of films Burton previously produced, and directing them to additional articles about his newest imaginative endeavor, Alice in Wonderland.




Baby Einstein Busted

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An article titled "No Einstein in Your Crib? Get a Refund" probably came as a big shocker to numerous parents who had purchased the highly advertised "Baby Einstein" videos.  Apparently, the company is extending refunds for the merchandise admitting, "Baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds." 

The major benefit, as I see it, to the online article is that if a person would not be familiar with the companies or campaigns mentioned - Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood or American Academy of Pediatrics - there are links immediately taking you to the site where that information can be know.  In traditional print this option is not a possibility.

There are also links to the themes of the "Baby Einstein" videos.  One was Shakespeare, a Times page devoted to theatrical and artistic endeavors related to Shakespearean works, with video and audio slides aplenty. 

Overall, online news is potentially far more informative and attention grabbing once the viewer is there, because so many additional opportunities to gain knowledge about a topic of interest are present.  Whatever you're looking for, basically, comes to you!


Portfolio Three

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Portfolio 3: I Need Some Coffee with My News


This is a more no-nonsense collection of entries than my previous two, but the lessons are still in the details.  Because my schedule, usually, only affords me the day before class to compose my blogs, comments are slimmer this time around.  Noticing this trend a few weeks back, I added two additional blogs reflecting on what I've encountered and learnt from my news writing experiences.  Journalism remains challenging and at a certain level inspiring.


Coverage  (Less in-depth, but fulfill the blogging purpose.)
            Editorial Attitudes

            Who said that?


Timeliness  (Examples of)

            Leaving an Impression

            So Sensitive


Interaction  (Entries of mine classmates commented on)

            Leaving an Impression LINK

            Editorial Attitudes 


Depth  (Subjects I found useful and pondered over longer)

            Interviewing Techniques

            Leaving an Impression


Discussion  (My contribution to classmates blogs)


Xenoblogging  (Blogs with links to further info reinforcing the subject, topic or theme)

            Interviewing Techniques LINK

            Playing Reporter

  • First to comment on Aja Hannah's Sorry Mom 

Wild Card 

            Playing Reporter


Previous Portfolios

            EXTRA, EXTRA! Portfolio 1 Hits the Stands

            Portfolio 2: The Coverage Continues


Other Student Portfolios

Leaving an impression

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"'Behave as a citizen and a journalist: Report, write and edit

as if you care about where you live.'"  - Geneva Overholser, quoted in Robert J. Haiman's Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists

Haiman points out that focusing on negatives is another form of bias.  Maybe news is so frequently guilty of taking the negative stance because it's easier.  Aside from the gloomy curiosity culture holds fast to, our tendency to lean toward fault-finding is not only a quick attention grabber but typically easier to pin-point.  This attitude, I think, falls under a category of decision making in which a person chooses to a) complain about something or b) correct it. 

Which do you think is the easier selection? A reporter's purpose is not to resolve or correct the "negative" in an article.  I'm not saying that. I only mean it's less difficult to find the fault. Think how challenging it can be to spot the good within the bad - see the silver lining. 

Is it more challenging to write a positive story?  It might be. But Haiman explains, "They are finding ways to tell compelling stories about success, achievement, discovery and victory."  People still believe what they see in print, and the focus of news impacts public understanding:

"Violent crime -- especially juvenile crime and violence -- has been dropping steadily since 1993. Overall violent crime declined more than 5% in 1999 and juvenile crime declined a whopping 11%. Juvenile homicides actually have declined 58% since 1994. And yet one-third of Americans believes that crimes by adults are on the increase and two-thirds believe that juvenile crime is on the increase. How could this be if the press was doing a fair and balanced job of reporting?"


By reporting the "good," reporters have the ability to impose a negative or positive impression upon their audience.




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