Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Think Before You Post

By: Katie King

Diversity and stereotypes are prevalent issues that our society deals with on a daily basis.  Looking at how the media covered the Ferguson case, many ethical dilemmas arose and decisions were criticized because journalists didn't take the extra time to think over the consequences before posting what was happening in the moment. 

There was an issue with transparency and reporting information while remaining independent of opinions and biases.  Politico quotes Noah Rothman arguing "the press is no longer serving as objective chroniclers of the proceedings," and that the media "appears to believe it is an active participant in the events in Missouri." 

I believe the issue comes from being too close to the situation and getting caught up in the moment.  When you are asked to cover controversial situations, like Ferguson where violence is happening all around you, as a journalist it is hard to come to conclusions in the quick manner that everyone around you expects to have their information. With the high demand for live information from society, journalists are under pressure to report and often forget to focus on their ethical codes and dilemmas, and this is where it can get dangerous.

One of the important things to stress before posting coverage is to be considerate of the stakeholders involved and whom might be affected by what you are saying happened.  Especially in scenarios like Ferguson where harm and tragedy are involved, what you post could seriously hurt or cause conflict to people or groups.  Spending extra time to make sure that you are minimizing harm could save you much criticism on what you cover and how society views your perspective.  Your coverage will appear more credible and people will be more willing to work with you if you are reporting accurate and unbiased information.

We reviewed an article looking at how Ferguson would have been covered in different countries around the world.  Chinese President Xi Jimping says that America just bring stability back and would focus on preventing extremists from taking control.

Looking at potential solutions, one that seems to stick out is adding more diversity to the newsrooms.  Diversity in the newsroom adds to the variety of coverage being reported.  The percentage of minorities in the media has made a slight change over the past decade, according to the ASNE Newsroom Consensus.

By looking at the ways that the black press cover stories and present the black community in a positive manner, it can help other journalists learn how to report on stories in communities they are not used to focusing on.  Black lives matter and should be considered equally in the newsroom.

Controversy has appeared on social media claiming that the media reinforces stereotypes.  Twitter coverage on the Ferguson case showed criticism for how the media portrayed Michael Brown.  The image below on the left was released after his death.  Many people began commenting as to why the media decided to use that image and began posting dual pictures of themselves with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to criticize the media's decision.

Photo by morningsidecenter.org

At the time, journalists reporting had an issue of not taking the time to think of the different perspectives and how their style of reporting was going to affect the black community and others involved in the situation.  Adding diverse opinions to the mix limits the problem of only looking at things from one side.

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