Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Find all the facts before you report them

JJ Russo

In the Josh Shaw story many people lost credibility whether they were directly related to the actual situate or not. Josh Shaw put the USC public relations staff in a horrible situation from the start by lying about how the story actually happened. He was the first person to lose credibility. The next was the University of Southern California for publishing the story in the first place. As a journalist you must get all the facts straight before you can publish a story. Yes, this was a more in depth situation where you would have had to do more research and digging just to be safe and if this staff did that they would have avoided this situation but they decided to take this athletes word of mouth and it came back to bit them.

Another example of a journalist losing credibility was one we talked about in class, Brian Williams. Brian lost his credibility after he exaggerated his role when he was in a helicopter during the Iraq War. Brian had over 9.9 million viewers a night and as one of those viewers, it was very unlike and unreasonable for him to do that with such a powerful position. This lead to him getting suspended from the station for 6 months without pay. Brian immediately apologized to the public when the news broke.

Next example is Brian Walski who took two photos and combined them together to make it seem like a soldier is yelling at a middle eastern man carrying a baby to stop with his hand out. Walski worked for the L.A. Times and had 20 years of working in the field under his belt. When this picture was brought to attention Walski wrote a letter weeks after explaining how hot the day was and not why he did it but just admitting to being caught red handed.

The scariest part about being a journalist is knowing that you go through so many years to build a reputation and in seconds it can all crash and burn. In these two situations, the men did lie and break the code of ethics for everyone in the field. What I found interesting though was where these two men are now. Brian Williams is back on his normal show and Brian Walski is working at a small owned company in Denver. As Aaron Brown said in class when he was giving the example of Jeni's ice-cream, the quicker you come clean with the truth, the faster the public will forgive you. In Brian Williams situation, he had many followers and people knew him more, when he apologized he realized his mistake but it is still 2015 and it seems that people have already moved past it. For Brian Walski's situation, he just wrote a letter and is not as powerful as a figure as Brian Williams so this is only what the public sees when they hear his name.

If you get caught lying to the public as a journalist, come clean immediately. If you want to avoid that last sentence, report the full and honest facts.

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