Monday, May 2, 2011

Myths, Media, and Managing Relationships

Kirstie Zontini

A good journalist needs to distinguish his or her self from every other writer or blogger by checking, again and again, their facts and sources. What was once a common practice I think now has been corroded by the constant need to publish quick news clips and stories. The readings for this week covered the topics of myths and fact checking, insensitive journalism, and is actually worth covering for a story. These reading made me stop and think about how I want to act once I officially enter the
journalism world.

"I retell this story not to deflect blame-factual errors under my byline are mine alone-but as an example of how hundreds of myths got reported in the early day of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath."

Hundreds of myths is right! It was so easy when “eye witnesses,” officials, and government leaders were reporting facts that had been passed down person to person and finally into the hands of the media. I understand where the journalist was coming from because we place a lot of trust in our sources especially if they are government officials, but part of our jobs is to dig deep and uncover the truth. I think a lot of times we assume any bit of information we receive is truth and in the world of Twitter and breaking news, we feel the need to share that with the world. Yes, the journalist went back spending weeks researching the mistakes and myths printed in his stories but it raises the question….Why are we rushing? Every time we print a retraction or get caught with a source that divulged false information, we lose creditability. The public sees us in a different light. If a few extra steps were taken to verify and double check, those news sources with the consistent accurate information would be able to move forward. People want a reliable source and I feel like they would be willing to wait a little longer if it meant the story would be a little better.

Aretha Franklin said it best, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” What it means to the subjects we cover in our stories is a lot. This article was really interesting to me and made me stop and think. Yes, we have a job to do, but our job often involves a lot of people’s feelings. Disrespecting or being rude or over aggressive towards the subject in a stories makes me think about a disrespectful, rude, over aggressive doctor. Would you want them treating you? Would you want them breaking awful news to you? Of course not! My mother told me you catch more bees with honey and when I have gone out to report on stories I try to remember that. I really felt bad when I read that Don Nibert’s wife broke down when she say a picture that was taken without their knowledge. It is easy to become unaware of how you are treating others but that doesn’t make it right. Reading about Maureen Kanka who felt she got out of the media just as much as they got out of her made me realize that sometimes it is better to work together with the subjects in your stories.

Just Say No and Et Tu Nightline?

E!News, in my opinion, is home to every and all things entertainment related. If I want a story about and actress, singer, dancer, director, writer, athlete or reality star I can turn to them. More often than not, I can also now turn to CNN, MSNBC, HLN, FOX or even CNBC for most celebrity news if it is big enough. The reason I think of this is not only because of the readings but also because of the most recent celebrity to grace the popular cable news stations, Charlie Sheen. He was recently on CNN, NBC, and ABC to name a few. Charlie Sheen in my eyes has no effect on my life, my country or my freedom yet we made him news. The readings also pointed out other huge national news stories that were focused on the one person like the Michael Jacks or Kobe Bryant trail. The public does tend to eat up this “celebrity” focused type of coverage but that doesn’t mean we should continue throwing it in the spotlight. As a journalist we not only need to cover what people want to know but also what they should know. Charlie Sheen doesn’t affect gas prices or public policy, but the protests in Libya or the death of Osama Bin Laden Celebrity news has it’s own network to shine on it is our responsibility to think about whether the stuff we cover is really news.

Let's end with this fun video of all some of Charlie Sheen's interviews on different morning shows.

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