Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Media, Let's Be Open

Kate Fickell

1. AP, NPR Curb Use of "Obamacare" Term
- Editors Say Association With Law's Opponents Persists: AP and NPR have decided to cut back on the term Obamacare since it can't be contended as neutral. The other name of the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, seems promotional if people can't actually afford it. Obamacare was created by opponents but has even been used by the president himself. How most of us understand the law is determined by how we feel about it. Some news outlets say it is all right to use the term as long as you reference its formal name. Steve Liesman stated that "29% of the public supports Obamacare compared with 22% who support ACA. Then 46% oppose Obamacare and 37% oppose ACA. So putting Obama in the name raises the positives and negatives."

Rob Rogers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazatte

2. Is media bias to blame for lack of Gosnell coverage? Or something far more banal?
- The trial of doctor Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia stayed in the shadows until last week when his testimony came out of an abortion clinic. There was little media coverage outside of Philadelphia and Tim Graham stated that "this is a story that threatens the abortion rights agenda." Gosnell is accused of killing seven newborn infants and one mother. Media representatives said that other stories were taking up their time and the lack of courtroom access would limit TV interest. Some commentators stated that media attention on "illegal late-term abortions, unlicensed staff and unsanitary procedures and conditions at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society" would strengthen the case for keeping abortion safe, legal, and affordable. Many of the newspapers wrote about lack of coverage on the trial with editorials and TV covered it with commentaries. Outlets were aware of his trial because of his coverage in his 2011 arrest.
- Instead of covering Gosnell, a young Arizona woman by the name of Jodi Arias was covered because she was accused of killing her boyfriend. A spokeswoman for HNL said the viewers were gripped on the Arias story and they wanted to "respond and deliver to viewer interest." TV coverage is allowed in this case. Once readers began emailing The Post, they (and other media outlets) started to cover Gosnell a little more.  Martin Baron, The Post's executive editor, stated that "this was a case that resonated in policy arguments and national politics." Click here to see the impact of unsafe abortions over the world.

3. The media has made Kim Davis a conservative martyr, missing the bigger picture
- Kim Davis, a county clerk from Morehead, KY, was jailed Thursday for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse. Around eight news outlets have been giving full coverage and posts about this arrest. An elected official broke the law and is being punished, but should all of the media outlets cover it to that extreme? Greg Sargent, a Washington Post writer, stated that "if anything, the more important story here is how little of this sort of resistance we're seeing." Most states were following the new laws to legalize same-sex marriage and Sargent hadn't heard of an instance of noncompliance. The discussion of Davis' case helped the debate over gay rights and religious liberty. Her tale has even made its war onto the presidential campaign trail, which has fueled more coverage and conversations.

The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser
One Man's Journey From Eternity to Here
The Homophobic Hysteria of Tim Wildmon and the American Family Association

4. Friends, Followers and Retweets : Journalistic Objectivity in the Digital Age
- Sometimes the people we add on Facebook aren't really our friends in the traditional sense but can be valued as connections. Should journalist's be worried "about how linking [themselves] to [those] people would affect the unbiased image [they've] cultivated"? The Associated Press released new guidelines stating how staff members should avoid retweeting opinions without quotes. But, there will never be an objective reporter because of personal experiences that shape the way they see the world. The backgrounds of each reporter influence the questions they ask and the struggle with this is when to disclose details about themselves. Grammar and verification still matter on all forms of social media, it should also be unbiased and meet certain standards. Readers decide who to trust or not to trust based on its history or philosophy. Journalist's are becoming a brand of one and may decide to share personal information to build that trust with readers. If you are transparent with your biases, then you will be more creditable than if you hide them. You can't let opinions divert your research from the truth. Some ways to stay transparent online would be to not 'like' Facebook pages but you can still visit them, not 'following' organizations on Twitter but grouping them for easy access, or not sharing personal opinions on something you are covering. Keep your friends diverse, connect and listen to all different opinions and interests of users, and evolve and understand what it means to be connected. (From the writings of Meg Heckman: link to her Twitter)

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