Saturday, November 30, 2013

Everyone’s 15 Minutes: Local News

Meg Omecene

Everyone’s 15 Minutes: Local News

Like clockwork, the week before a play opened at my high school, there would be a buzz in the auditorium. Bethany was inside. Had she brought a photographer? 

Bethany was not some reporter from People Magazine or US Weekly. No, of course not. Rather, she was the local from the Pine-Creek Journal, there to create a hard-hitting piece about whatever was the unique quality of this season’s production.

The following Wednesday, some lucky junior or senior would grace the cover of the Pine-Creek Journal. His or her face, caked in makeup and marred by a microphone, would smile at the entire community for the ensuing week. From Panera to the gym to the library, everyone knew the star of the cover.

Of course, the thrill of the high school thespians is just one aspect of local journalism, and I feel like I know this niche well.
Photos like the above appear frequently in community journalism- and these students had a thrill to see their face in print. (Photo courtesy Pine-Creek Journalism)

I think that the “Hyperlocal Heroes” has a bias that discredits it. The person who wrote the piece seemed to have an overly critical view of small-town journalism, but I think that is flawed.

He says that the stories are good if you need to talk about something at dinner, but what is wrong with that? In a small community (and therefore small market), people generally genuinely care more about their neighbors.  

While a story about a senior’s Eagle Scout project is probably not the most exciting thing to write about, the people or the community that the project services do care to hear about it. They want to know about those around them; why not choose to write about it?

However, sometimes I do not think that Miss Bethany The Reporter was always a true journalist. 

Sometimes, I think that people who write local news behave more as public relations personnel than as reporters. While an Eagle Scout project would have a large article about it, showcasing how great the students of my community are, it was not as if the community was lily-white and sinless.

When the athletic director at my school was charged with a repeat DUI offense, there was not a word printed in the paper. When the class president blew a .25 on a breathalizer at a party, that was passed over. When there was outrage over the athletics department receiving money that had been intended for academic use, there was no story.

Although those events are all newsworthy -- especially for a small market -- they would never be written about in the paper. Our local news acted purely as something that could be shown to people considering moving to the area. “Look how great we are here!” The paper cannot afford to lose the support of the community by exposing less-than perfect aspects of the community. 

I think I would have a really hard time acting as a small-town journalist. It would be so hard to set aside loyalties to show what is really going on in a community -- as dirty as it can be. Public relations is where my strengths lie.

User-Generated Content: True or False?

Hannah May 

Instagram, Shutterfly, Picasa, Flickr. These are only a few of the colossal amounts of photo sharing websites there are in today’s digital world.  Every day photos are posted to these public websites and are used by others however they choose, free of charge.

Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, LinkedIn, Google+. Similarly to those listed above, these social media sites not only offer photo sharing but also promote more user-generated content in voicing public opinions via tweets, Facebook statuses or social sharing.

With around two million tweets per day and about one million Flickr photos shared per day it is safe to say that some may be hesitant to believe what they see on the web.

With millions of user-generated content available on the web, it poses as a threat to professionals if they choose to use this information when publishing for their own company.

The initial challenge organizations face when considering posting user generated content: 
authenticity and copyright.

The main question: Where is this even coming from?

Just because a photo is shared to Flickr, for instance, does not mean that the individual user abided by Flickr’s rules. Stock, edited and altered images can be leaked to these websites, which leaves professional news, PR, advertising stations to be unable to use them.

This leads into the statement we have all been told since day one but may not always follow: Do not believe everything you see on the Internet.

Do your research, verify your information. But how?

That is where professional journalists from the Associated Press, BBC, CNN and other outlets chime in to teach the naive on how to exhaustively verify your research.

The Nieman Reports recently issued a full-sweep news package on teaching the art of verification which collaborated the advice given from the above news organizations.

When cross analyzing each news organization's verification strategy, there is one rule that can be found similarly among them all: Always contact the person who uploaded or provided the material. Check the source as much as the information.

For a dramatic example of this effect let’s pose myself as a college student, working on a Photoshop project for a photograph class. The main objective of the project is to edit myself into a war-related scene, completely irrelevant to my current life in my small college town. I upload the image to Flickr. A journalist comes along the photo and sees the devastation in my face in the horrifying war scene. The journalist then uses the photo in an article.

Problem: The journalist did not verify his source.

Solution: Get whoever has posted the material on the phone. One simple phone call to my 20-something-year-old self and the professional journalist would chuckle that they were about to publish my college-created Photoshop image.

The extensive amount of photo editing programs also poses as a threat to media professionals. We now verify the use of photo manipulation in the mix, along with verifying written content and photo sources.

One way to avoid challenges dealing with photo manipulation is to use photos that are generated under an ethics code that formulates what can be cannot be done to the image. These codes will specify that there is no alteration or digital manipulation of the photograph.

Now that you have a quick preview into the vast world of manipulated content that is posted on the web every day, it is utmost important that if you take away one thing:


Monday, November 25, 2013

Good Night and Good Luck... There's Something About the Name Edward

Photo Credit:

Cidnye Weimer

"Good Night and Good Luck" is a movie that every journalist, reporter, producer, writer etc. should watch. It tells the story of famous CBS report Edward Murrow during a historic time, the Cold War. During this time of fear, Edward Murrow was challenged with the task of reporting the truth in the most ethical way and getting the message out to the American people while Senator Joseph McCarthy was inducing  widespread panic by claiming that more than 200 people were Communists.

According to the RTDNA Code of Ethics, it is most important to gain the public's trust, continuously seek the truth and be accountable, all of which Murrow diligently followed. Sometimes it can be difficult or scary for journalists to seek out the truth and be accountable for their actions, but Murrow understood that informing the public was the most beneficial and important thing he could do. The American people deserved to know the truth and deserved to be informed.

Murrow said "A nation of sheep will soon have a government of wolves." He is absolutely right. Our duty as reporters is to help the public know the facts so that they can make up their own minds.

Defying the rules
Murrow was told multiple times not to run the story. He was even told, “The story you are going to run tomorrow is without merit. These are very dangerous waters you are trying to navigate,” yet he did it anyway. The tricky part or rough waters that most news organizations delve through today are related to saving face. 

It is important to remember that sometimes your job or your company doesn't come first, but instead the truth and information you owe to the people is the No. 1 priority.

The Name of Edward
Watching this movie reminds me of a more recent case, the case of Edward Snowden. Edward Snowden is a former NSA contracter and CIA employee who leaked classified information to the press because he believed the public deserved the truth and the right to know. 

Similar to this historic case of Edward Murrow, Snowden put his job and his life on the line in order to serve the public and he believes that telling the truth is not a crime. "Though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense," wrote Snowden. "However, speaking the truth is not a crime."

Continuously seek the truth. That is what is most important.

Overall Murrow demonstrated the most admirable traits of a true journalist. What is the motive or reason for telling this story? What outcome will come from it? You have to remember to follow the codes and do your job for the right reasons. Is it better for McCarthy to continue to induce panic and widespread lies or is it more important to tell the truth so the public knows what's right and what's wrong?

Murrow did the right thing and is still an inspiration to this day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

April Fool's Day is Every Day with Twitter

Marc Krauss

It is interesting to see the amount of false information being put out to the world through Twitter today. What is even more interesting is the amount of fake news that is perceived as real and therefore spread through the social media world for all to see. It appears today that more and more people are turning to Twitter to “break news.” But in their efforts to be he first and the fastest, they are forgetting one very important rule: accuracy. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have been on Twitter and came across a bogus “breaking news” story. Maybe I am following the wrong people, but even respected journalists and news organizations have been accused of it. It is becoming a large problem in social media. 

The emphasis for news being spread via social media should be on accuracy, not speed. Instead of being first, how about you get it right? Is it looked down upon in today’s society if you you take your time to come to conclusions and do your homework and get the news right? Is that not the sexy and impactful way to use the medium?

Well, I would rather be the last person to be right than the first person to wrong. Allowing yourself the time to do the homework with a story or case will undoubtedly allow you to get things right. Those who jump to judgement or those who are looking to be groundbreaking, often are the ones who are wrong.

Boston gathers at Fenway Park to remember those lost in the tragic Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

How about the tragic Boston Marathon bombing that took place in April earlier this year? The only relevant news information I found via social media was that a bomb had actually exploded. After that, I didn’t know what or who to believe. There were stories about how many bombers, where they were, how many affected, etc., and most of them were completely wrong! 

This article explains how to avoid this issue the next time a large breaking news story takes place. The issue with Twitter and other social media is that it is so up-to-date. I mean, you can refresh your feed every 10 seconds to find new stories. Using Twitter for news issues doesn’t allow for all the facts to surface. Too often the real news is found by doing hours of research and studying. Social media platforms don’t conform to this kind of diligence.

Twitter is definitely a double-edged sword when it comes breaking news.

Murrow in Shining Armor

Catherine McKelvey

Good Night, and Good Luck.

I must admit, as an aspiring journalist, it is extremely refreshing and comforting to relish in the fact that journalism, at its roots, is clean and rests upon a solid foundation of truth, responsibility and honesty.  Gotta love seeing the good guys in action!

"Good Night, and Good Luck," a film directed by George Clooney, is a stunning example of the workings of ethical broadcast journalism.  

The plot of the film follows Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch hunt" of Communists in the U.S. and the ways in which CBS, alongside its anchor, Edward Murrow, handled exposing the truth concerning a widely controversial political issue.  

Cartoon courtesy of Herb Block
A film set in the Unites States during a period of untamed fear and paranoia concerning Communism, "Good Night, and Good Luck" focuses primarily on one news station's approach to expelling certain allegations made by U.S. Senator of the time, Joseph McCarthy.  

Edward Murrow, a journalist working for CBS, implemented himself into a sticky situation amid his attempts to seek the truth and report it to the public.

After airing a broadcast in which Murrow openly opposed the beliefs of the senator, McCarthy insisted that he too have a say in the matter and have his words heard as well.  Weeks later, McCarthy appeared on CBS and accused Murrow of belonging to a Communist organization in his past, accompanied by several other false allegations.  Murrow, during his next broadcast, expelled such allegations, alerting the public that he has never associated himself, in any way, with Communists or Communist organizations.  

Murrow's Actions:  Right, Wrong, Ethical, Unethical?

As a broadcast journalist, Murrow should have adhered to and followed the RTDNA Code of Ethics.  This code specifically outlines the codes and values which should have guided Murrow in his decision-making process.  In my opinion, Murrow was undoubtedly guided in his decision making and chose the ethical route.  

The code states that professional journalists in Murrow's field should seek truth, recognize that their first obligation is to the public, present news fairly and without bias, embody integrity, act independently and always remain accountable.

As illustrated in the film, Murrow sought to truthfully inform the public.  He acted independently despite concerns from CBS sponsors and even stood by his actions and choices when faced with the reality that he was going to lose his spot in the network and, ultimately, his job.  Murrow, on all accounts, was guided by his code of ethics.

He depicts a shining example of a broadcast journalist who seeks the truth and reports it.  His first responsibility was to the public, and he defended his actions until the very end.

Faced with the predicament of pleasing sponsors of the network that employed him versus exposing the truth and adhering to the public, Murrow chose the path which is oftentimes less traveled.  Murrow exposed the truth and took a stand against the dishonorable actions being carried out by a U.S. senator of the time, all for the sake of informing the public. 

Good Night, and Good Ethics

Cody Linn

Good Night, and Good Luck is a movie about choices made by Edward Murrow late in his career with CBS. Edward Murrow was essentially in a sparring match with Senator Joseph McCarthy in which Murrow and his CBS team deliver a  blow to McCarthy’s momentum in his ‘fight’ on Communism. After this deliver by Murrow, McCarthy demanded to have a rebuttal on the show.

Three weeks later Senator McCarthy delivered his rebuttal. During McCarthy’s rebuttal, he repeatedly downed Murrow’s character. McCarthy claimed that Murrow was a part of several Communist organizations. Senator McCarthy never disputed any of the facts that Murrow presented in the newscast he delivered three weeks prior to McCarthy’s address.

Ultimately this this left Murrow in a sticky situation.

What should he do?

Should he defend himself against the false claims and risk his job for calling out a senator’s false claims and point out is falsehoods against Communism or just let it go? Ultimately, he chose the first option and I feel this was the right option.

Calling out injustices

No matter how powerful a person is, if they make false claims against you in the national spotlight, you must stand up for yourself. You must let the truth be known that the claims made are in no way, shape or form true. If you do not, you may seem like a walking mat and people will just walk all over you.

To back up your claims you should follow Murrow's example and give a theory as to why the person is making the claims. He said that anyone that did not agree with McCarthy’s ideals would result in McCarthy claiming that they were Communists. You must help give reasons as to why you are essentially being called out.

I have first-hand experience with this as I have been bullied by many people in my life. I have just realized in the last few years that no one left me alone until I started to stand up for myself and it has worked.

This article is about standing up for yourself and why to do it.

Courtesy of AmericanThings

Where Murrow went wrong

The part where I feel Murrow went wrong with his ethics was when he knew he was on thin ice, and he decided to try to get even with CBS and take out his revenge instead of sticking with his contract. He talked with his producer about getting back at CBS and I feel this is ethically wrong.

If another employer sees this, they will not be pleased. If you do this to someone they work for and they make you angry, who would want to hire you? If you could be a possible detriment to their company; why would they take the risk on you doing the same thing all over again? They will probably not hire you and you will have severe difficulty finding another job.

This article is about what not to say to your boss and it could get you fired.


There is a time and place to defend yourself, but there is a point of going too far. You must know when to pick your shots and take advantage of that. But on the flipside, if you know you are on thin ice do not embarrass the company by taking out your revenge on them. That is just being plain, old unethical.

Good Night and Good Luck

Jillian Hartmann

Good Night and Good Luck is a journalistic inspiration for every reporter, anchor, producer, director and TV viewer. Edward Murrow, one of the biggest American broadcasting icons, was determined to speak his beliefs about Wisconsin's U.S. Senator, Joseph McCarthy.

Murrow is a one of a kind reporter who seeks for what is best for his company and the nation. As a reporter, you're the face of the company. Although there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in broadcasting, the most important aspect of a broadcast is the reporter delivering the news to the viewers.

The public designs a trust, a connection with news reporters because they are the people who are telling them what's what. If the public were to lose trust in a reporter, then they would lose trust in the news station and turn into a different broadcast. The public trust and the fearless act of exposing the truth are key components in broadcasting and both of those were challenged in this movie.

Edward Murrow. Photo Cred:
Throughout the movie, McCarthy is constantly accusing people of being Communists without proof. Murrow doesn't believe that this should be happening and he wants to get the truth out to the public. Murrow decides that it would be best to exploit McCarthy for what he is doing wrong. Morrow puts his career and the CBS station's reputation on the line to expose the truth on McCarthy.

Sure enough, Murrow's discrimination on McCarthy leads to an accusation that he, too, is a Communist. Murrow knows that it is all lies purely designed to scare his team away from the investigation so in response, the news team goes further into the investigation. Murrow and his team dig deep to expose the truth about McCarthy because both Murrow and his news crew believe that the public has the right to know the truth.

By digging the dirt, investigating the facts and forgetting about the consequences, Murrow and his TV crew were successful in delivering the truth to ensure the public's trust. Their desire to broadcast the truth knowing there could be consequences behind reporting the story was irrelevant when it came down to doing the right thing.

Below is a Youtube link to Edward Murrow's actual news broadcast on Joseph McCarthy.

Reporting the truth comes with a price and in this case, the price was far greater than expected. This investigation inspired generations to come in the broadcasting business. By going into a story with the desire to find the truth without being biased on whether it shines someone or something in a negative light is important for a reporter.

Murrow and his news crew influenced me to be the best reporter I can be, to report not only the best news but the truth. Without the news, the public wouldn't know what's going on in the world. As journalists, we have the responsiblity of making the public aware on what's happening. Every minute of everyday, news is happening and it's our jobs as journalists to investigate it and report it to the public. Although there might be challenging stories to report on, just know the truth will always set you free.

Below is a link to the SPJ Code of Ethics on seeking the truth and reporting on it.

Ethical Issues in ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’

Ross Dickerhoof

When examining history for the purpose of academia, particularly when history is being filtered through the lens of fiction as in the case of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” it’s important to look at things with a critical eye rather than a romantic one.

With that in mind, I ask the following question: As his story is presented in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” did Edward R. Murrow make ethical decisions in his presentation of the cases of Milo Radulovich and Annie Lee Moss in order to speak out against McCarthyism?

 Photo from

What Murrow Did Right

According to the SPJ code of Journalistic ethics, it is our journalistic duty to “give voice to the voiceless,” and one could certainly say that those who were accused of being Communist sympathizers in the McCarthy era were the voiceless. Milo Radulovich was discharged from the military without trial, and it would only seem right to give them a voice against a cruel authority. Murrow knew that this would be an unpopular opinion to hold in the public eye given the paranoia of the time period (“We’re gonna go with this story, because the terror is right here in this room”), especially on such a major network that prides itself on its image, but he went ahead with the story.

In addition, the SPJ code advocates the “open exchange of views,” even if the journalist in question finds those views repugnant. And Murrow did this as well, by promising that “if [McCarthy] feels that we have done violence to his words, he will have the chance to respond.” He made good on his promise, and allowed the senator to speak freely until the following week, when he responded to McCarthy’s criticisms. This shows Murrow’s willingness to allow a dialogue between the two (which was probably revolutionary for the time), even at the risk of having McCarthy make a fool of him.

Lastly, even though Murrow was repeatedly threatened with the possibility of having sponsorships pulled, he continued with the story and did not give into pressure. Even though this may seem reckless on his part, this is covered in the RTDNA code under the call for advertising to not restrict, censor or determine content.

Where Murrow Stumbled

For the most part, Murrow’s ethics seem pretty ironclad. However, there was one major area where Murrow can be found at fault: his accountability to listen to employees with objections or ethical dilemmas regarding the subject (as covered in the RTDNA code).

When Don Hollenbeck raised the reasonable matter of fearing for his career and livelihood (since he had prominent ties to communist organizations and had been called a “pinko” by the media for quite some time), Murrow refused to listen to his objections and continued to report on McCarthy-related cases anyway. This led to the tragedy that was Hollenbeck’s suicide, which may have been avoidable if Murrow had took the time to balance his journalistic calling with the fears of his associates.

In Summation

All in all, I think it can be said that Murrow did make ethical decisions in his reporting and criticism of the McCarthy era. While he did make some judgmental errors, and those errors should not be forgotten, it is safe to say that Murrow is a journalist well-worth imitating.

Expose the Truth? Get Me a Cigarette First

Spencer Giblin

Red Scare

"Good Night, and Good Luck" is the true story of Edward R. Murrow and his public stand on national television against the questionable actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was a politician in the time of our nation's Cold War with Russia. The fear of communism and communist sympathizers was at an all time high during this point in history.

This movie told the story of a well-known public stand against corruption and questionable actions made by people in power. Murrow took McCarthy head on, and directly as many told him not to do. Not only did he challenge a public official's integrity and honesty, he chose to do so on national television in front of the whole country.

Murrow worked for CBS. The broadcast network received leaked information about Lieutenant Milo Radulovich and his discharge of service, due to potential security risks that he and his family brought upon the military. He and his family were accused of being communists/sympathizers, and he was promptly removed from active service. Murrow and others believed that McCarthy's tactics and decisions were wrong, but no one had the courage to stand up against these political powers whom seemed almost untouchable.

The dilemma for Murrow was whether or not to take the story public. To challenge a prominent senator in the United States government for corruption on national television would be a rough day at the office for any news team.

The movie goes on to describe the outside pressures from other newspapers and the military after Murrow's initial show was run. Two military men approach George Clooney's character of CBS producer Fred Friendly. They inform him that it would be in the best interest of CBS to cease any and all shows or stories about the Senator because Milo was in fact a security risk to the nation. No reasons were given. However, the simple fact that they said so should suffice...right?

(Edward Murrow -- Photo Courtesy of Hub Pages Political/Social Issues)

The Truth Will Set You Free

I feel this movie accurately described and depicted a sensitive time in our nation's history. Our war with Russia had made everyone scared to challenge anyone in a position of power, for fear of backlash and repercussions. Murrow took the stand with CBS as someone who refused to let the corruption slide, but this was not without moral dilemma.

Murrow believed that the public had a right to know. He held truth and integrity to the public above all his other moral standards and ethics in journalism. He knew what could happen if he stood up against a prominent figure. He knew he was putting his job at risk. He knew he was putting the station at risk. More importantly, he knew that their simple broadcasts about this issue could start a whole different war with the United States military. He knew that Milo had been wrongfully discharged, but who would believe him?

Murrow wanted to inform the public of this injustice. Against all of the pressures, he and CBS chose to go through with the special series of broadcasts. In them, Murrow would challenge McCarthy's actions, his words, and his overall presence as a nation's senator. He would play crucial parts of McCarthy's speeches and break them down for the public to understand. He questioned everything about McCarthy, and he did so in order for the public to know the truth.

To criticize and accuse someone who was calling out communists in our country during the Cold War and Red Scare could have been equated to journalistic suicide. Challenging McCarthy could have led to McCarthy trying to convince the nation that CBS and it's employees were all communists or communist sympathizers. 

Is it right to protect yourself and you company for the sake of hiding the truth from the public? Murrow didn't think so. I'd like to think that if I were in his position, I would have done the same thing. I consider myself a moral and ethical person, and my responsibility to the public and to the truth trumps many things when I write an article or a story.

Eventually Joseph McCarthy and Milo Radulovich were both allowed to give their perspective of the story and the events that took place. The truth was finally revealed, and Milo was reinstated. Murrow and CBS took it upon themselves to expose the corruption. They stepped back and looked at the bigger picture, which is always something that's hard to do as a journalist.

What is the endgame? Where are we taking this story? Who will it affect, and why? All of these are questions true journalists expose themselves to every day. Edward Murrow was no different, and I could only hope to have half the courage he did at the time this all happened. He was a hero in a nation's time of fear and doubt. He took the stand for truth and justice when no one else would.

Edward Murrow was journalistic ethics, personified.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Good Night, and Good Luck

Alexis Bartolomucci

I watched Good Night, and Good Luck for my government class in high school and watching it again as a student studying journalism, I definitely watched it with a somewhat similar viewpoint. There are some similarities with watching it in a government class and a journalism ethics class because both classes are about what's ethically correct and how much someone can get away with.

Photo Credit: Reed Diamond-Live Journal Post

Not Afraid to Speak His Mind
Edward Murrow seemed to never have any question on what to say during his broadcast. At one point of the movie he even speaks about the Freedom of Speech. Murrow is not someone who is afraid to say what he believes in, especially if he is speaking about something that is a major issue at the time: McCarthyism.

He has his doubts on whether or not he should say some of the things on air because he could be seen as biased, which no one wants from a journalist. He is questioning the ethics of what would be best for the company, but he follows through on what he thinks is best for the nation as a whole.

Murrow vs. McCarthy
Throughout the movie, McCarthy is constantly accusing people of being Communists without any proof. Murrow does not believe that this should be happening and he wants to get the truth out to the public. He is unsure of what would come about if he decided to broadcast what the majority of the newsroom thinks about McCarthy and his actions.

Murrow and his news crew do have a meeting to discuss what they think would be ethically correct to broadcast, given that McCarthy is the one sponsoring it, and they at first agree anything related to McCarthy would cause controversy and it isn't a good idea. Although at first everyone agrees that it's ethically wrong, Murrow decides right before the broadcast that it would be best to go against McCarthy and exploit him for what he is doing wrong.

Am I Making the Right Decision?
It was a debate in the movie between CBS employees and the editor about if what the crew decides to produce is the right choice. In the end it seems that Murrow had made the right decision on sparking debate with McCarthy because he is later being investigated for all the accusations the station made against him. Journalists have to be aware of the rules and other ethical issues when deciding if they will produce a story or not, especially when it has a large affect on the country and the public.

The ending is one of the most powerful scenes because Murrow's speech addresses journalism and how journalists have such a big responsibility on informing the public on important issues happening in the area. The audience wants to hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and that's what journalists are supposed to do, but they still have to think ethically.

This movie, although set in the 1950s, is still completely relevant to journalism today. Every day journalists are faced with numerous problems and have to decide what is ethically best for themselves, their company and the public.