Wednesday, August 31, 2016

r/SpeakYourMind or A Redditor's Take on a Journalist's Consciousness

Blake Dava

Within the profession of journalism, and the overarching industry of media, restrictions on content are everywhere. Just in the united states alone, TV and radio has the FCC, film has the PMAA and even video games have the ESRB to monitor content as it's published and to establish guidelines for future media in development. But a possible exception to this widely popular trend is the digital superhighway and its John Milton "total freedom of expression" ideology.

The internet has risen to become a top source of information and news, and has become a massive competitor to the traditional forms of media. According to a study done by, the average american now checks media on four separate devices or technologies.

This wide spread availability of media is only further enhanced by the usage of smartphones. In the same study, it was found that 69 percent of all Americans use their smartphones for their news throughout the day.

All of this indicates an increase in activity in the form of media that inherently has fewer restrictions placed upon. This begs a question that's unique, and precarious, for current journalists that previous generations haven't had to experience: How much is a personal consciousness worth in the midst of so many outspoken opinions?

Reddit, a popular blogging site, is an example of the endless depth of knowledge accessible to the general public. It contains subreddits, such as r/funny and r/askscience, which filter content and discussions down to more specific topics. But the most widely viewed part of the site is the Front Page, which takes the most upvoted content from all subreddits and displays it for every Reddit user to see. Sometimes it's comedic but other times is highly professional news being shared.

Just This morning, on September 1st, 2016 at 1:56 am, the front page had a link to a scientific journal regarding a breakthrough in Alzheimer's studies. This isn't internet garbage, or fluff content meant only to entertain. This is journalism, and it's being shared and discussed in a way no other media outlet can offer.

It's still true that the internet has its own forms of censorship, as websites like Facebook and Twitter actively monitor their content. Even Reddit has moderators to ensure that the subreddits all stick to their niche topics, but it's undeniable that the internet is "The Wild West" of news and media, and can offer an unprecedented potential for our freedom of speech. So for the reporters, and the journalists, and the editors that have to continually struggle for the attention of the audience, they have to fight an uphill battle. And I don't believe that a journalist's personal consciousness is going to be enough anymore.

It's easy to say that "Journalists have an obligation to exercise their personal consciousness"as Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel said in their book The Elements of Journalism, and this belief certainly still stands true. But with the presence of so many people able to say exactly what they think or believe, the value of one journalist's opinion could easily be lost in the swell of voices. So what can journalists do? There may not be a clear cut answer to this, but one solution is to maintain credibility where others cannot. Redditors are almost always exclusively anonymous, so a journal's greatest strength is the public's faith in their information being accurate.

A journalist's consciousness might be there bread and butter when they must make decisions for their work, but it's not a step ladder to stand above the rest of the world. We as an industry must maintain an ethical responsibility to deliver a higher quality of news than all others, but cannot expect ethics alone to keep us afloat in this sea of media. Simply making noise won't grab viewership and having an opinion isn't enough for people to hear you, but that's just my opinion.

What Makes a Journalist in Today's Society?

Robbie DiPaola

Journalists today have more on their plate than ever before as they have to meet deadlines while still trying their best to produce up-to-the-minute content that will both entertain readers as well as inform them of any news that they might want to catch up on.

Humans are curious individuals by nature and typically everybody in some form or another wants to hear about the latest and most current news. Whether citizens want to the read news about the upcoming election or find out the latest on their favorite athlete or celebrity,  everyone consumes news, sometimes without even knowing they are.

When the beginning of the chapter talked about the test a university did when it did not allow students to check any forms of news or communication outlets, it was amazing to see how disconnected from the world those individuals seemed to be.

This goes to show how important this news and information that we can sometimes take for granted is vital to our everyday lives and without it, we are essentially lost because we are out of touch with the rest of society.  Journalism is vital to how our society operates.

In today's world and the rapid growth of technology, it is easier than ever before to consider yourself a journalist. Citizen journalism, as it is being called, is becoming more popular every year.  You can easily crate a blog or website and report whatever you feel is important all from the comfort of your own house.  Citizens can research a topic, write about that topic while going off of what others have said and at the end of the day call that work your own.


With more and more people posting content today and calling it journalistic work, it is becoming less clear what the duties of a true journalist are and what it takes to become one. There really is no clear-cut set of guidelines or specific curriculum to follow, which has lead to confusion as to what the true purpose of a journalist is nowadays.

So with there being a wealth of information available in an instant, it is easier to lose credibility since there are mass amounts of content out there, it sometimes may be difficult to decipher what is true and what is false journalism.

Especially with the rise of social media outlets serving as the hub for breaking news, it is easy for anyone with an active Twitter handle or Facebook account to report "news" that turns out to be inaccurate and false.

The result of this is more and more distrust in media members today. You spend years building your reputation and credibility up as a reporter and a journalist and it only takes one slip up to cost you everything and for people to lose faith in you as a professional communicator.

There still are a lot of good journalists producing many good stories on a regular basis.  The problem is that these good stories tend to get mixed in with the bad content and cannot be found because of the amount of content produced.

Citizens, however, sometimes can be helpful allies to journalists in times of crisis and when a journalist needs to spread important news throughout a city or community quickly. While citizens sometimes cause more harm then help to a media member, they do need each other to thrive in this profession called journalism.

Walking a Tightrope: Ethics in Journalism

Nicole Dascenzo

In most professions, ethics are generally cut and dry. Physicians take the Hippocratic oath, lawyers adhere to ethics set in state bar associations, the list could go on. In journalism, ethics become much more of a subjective topic.

In the first chapter of the reading, one of the elements of what makes someone a journalist is listed as someone who has an "obligation to exercise their personal conscience," (9). While this might seem like common sense at first, journalists have to make ethical decisions every day. But what happens when one journalist's personal conscience differs from another's?

"Get off it!" 

One of the most profound examples I found was the car chase broadcast by Fox News, as detailed in chapter ten. The cable news station was airing a live broadcast of an Arizona car chase, supposedly on a delay, when the suspect ran out of his car, into a grassy field and shot himself in the head, which was followed by a series of muttered "get off it" demands from anchor Shepard Smith.

Such a graphic scene being shown to a significant number of viewers, all of whom did not give consent to the nature of the content, is clearly an ethical dilemma. If the broadcast was on a five-second delay, why was the suicide shown? Why air car chases at all?

In this article from Poynter, Al Tompkins argues that car chases need not be shown at all - at least not on a national level. This, in and of itself, is an ethical decision.

While this may not have been considered news to some, other publications such as Buzzfeed and now-defunct Gawker argued that it is the media's duty to publish and let the viewers make their own decisions. But, in some cases, isn't it our job to protect? Maybe not protect, but at the very least, give viewers the option to see graphic and disturbing content before shoving it in their faces?

I go back and forth on this, personally. While graphic content is unsettling, we live in a world where acts of violence seem to happen increasingly frequently. Some may argue that people are more desensitized to death today than ever, so would our stories have the same impact if we told the story without actually showing the story to the viewer?

Citizens and Journalism 

The reading finishes up by discussing the role of the citizens in journalism. They carry a role, interestingly more impactful than one might think.

The author argues that if citizens aren't satisfied with the content they are receiving, nothing is stopping them from demanding more desired content.

Typically, this would be accomplished through tweets, comments on articles and letters to the editor. But what if they take it one step further?

This is where citizen journalists come into play.

Social media is a huge part of many people's lives today, especially in terms of receiving news and gathering information. If a citizen isn't satisfied with the news they are reading, what's stopping that person from taking on the role of a journalist on their own?

And if they do take on this role, should they be expected to adhere to their own ethics code?

Without citizen journalists, we would likely not have content such as the video shot by Abraham Zapruder of President John F. Kennedy's assassination or the horrors experienced in natural disasters, all which help to paint a picture for the rest of the world.

But without careful consideration for ethics, those pieces can come at a cost.

Journalism: The Information Business

Cameron Fields

Entertain, inform and enlighten--all of these are facets of good journalism. Since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in circa 1440, the public has had an almost obsessive desire for information.

Whether it's reading about the city council meeting or the local sports team defeating its rival, readers want to know what is happening in their communities. People naturally want to know what is happening in their communities, as being knowledgeable isn't just a desire for citizens--it's necessary to be a functional citizen in society.

Imagine being in a neighborhood watch group in which you have to be cognizant of a potential threat to the neighborhood. If others around you started talking about the threat, but you had no idea who they were talking about, wouldn't you feel embarrassed? That's exactly what it would feel like to not know about the news.

With the advent of the Internet, social media and other advanced technology, people have searched for information with even more vigor. Readers constantly want to be in the know. Push notifications are the lifeblood of sports fans and Google is the ultimate information highway.

Image result for journalists tweeting

With information perhaps overloading society, however, how do today's journalists distinguish themselves from citizens? Citizen journalism is becoming popular, with Twitter and Facebook enabling users to post videos and pictures of news-related events.

Journalists can still be distinguished from citizens--the lines aren't getting blurred between the two. Rather, journalists and citizens are coming together to produce information that is beneficial for all.

For example, CNN brought Marquis Gibson onto its show during the aftermath of the shooting deaths of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Gibson was an eyewitness, and he brought insight about what happened.

Citizens' more amplified roles in the journalism field is causing some people to believe journalism is a dying profession. This simply isn't true, though.

The relationship between journalist and citizen should not be adversarial. Journalists sometimes need citizens to give insight on news in their community, and citizens need information about their community in order to function as a democracy.

Though journalism shouldn't be regarded as a dying field, it has its issues. Journalism, by its very nature, is in the business of providing people information.

Further, journalism doesn't have a content problem--journalists are still creating good stories--but a distribution problem.

The modes of distribution are more abundant than ever before. Before the advent of this era's high technology, newspapers, television and radio were the primary--and really the only--ways people got their news.

Sure, they could have heard something over the phone from their neighbor, or even by word of mouth.

But they didn't have the Internet. They didn't have the best mode of communication since, well, the newspaper. The Internet is able to connect people who otherwise wouldn't be able to connect. Theoretically, I could tweet someone who  fsirom Canada--and I could likely get a response back.

People are connected more than ever before, but this doesn't mean journalism can't continue to do its job: provide information to the public and let them do the rest.

Is Media Just for Entertainment?

Michael Galloway

Ethics are theory. Journalists have a lot on their plates including daily deadlines, breaking stories, employers and many more. Unfortunately, with all these pressures, things tend to be cut out. The easiest to cut, unfortunately, is our ethics-- which is a very unfortunate part of the profession, but in today’s society, it is not seen as uncommon.

When someone thinks of journalism, often more times than not, the word ethics does not come to mind. In fact, unethical probably is a more frequently heard answer. But why is this? Why do journalists have a reputation of being unethical?

Like I stated before, it is easy, right? That is where the phrase, “in theory,” comes in to play. Ethics, are morals, morals are a code of right and wrong. So just do what’s right, right? Wrong. Unfortunately journalists have had tendencies to cut corners, or make their stories more entertaining, especially in this ever-changing media environment.

With new advancements, such as Facebook Live, every average person is a journalist. Anyone with a Twitter account can now be a journalist, and with Facebook Live, you can live stream a story quicker than a news station can. So how does the media today get a chance to compete with that? To be more interesting than your friends, it is a constant struggle for your attention.

One way that media organizations are attempting to solve this problem is by adapting a more conversational vocabulary, and attempting to be more entertaining, such as sites like Buzz Feed. Another prominent media source that attempted this was Gawker media. Gawker was a blog-like site where the organization posted entertainment pieces.

In an interview CEO, Nick Deaton, discussed how his company presents news. He addresses the idea of conversational tones in stories and that he wants to present the argument for the readers. This comes into the realm of being biased and telling readers what they are supposed to feel about this issue. As a reporter it is expected to be unbiased and strictly present the facts.  Another ethical issue that Gawker has faced is deciding as to what is news worthy.

In the past year Gawker has faced a lawsuit against Hulk Hogan, in regards to Gawker posting Hogan’s sex tape on their site. The site lost the lawsuit being told that their story was an invasion of privacy and exploited Hogan. The lawsuit has thus put Gawker out of business. As can be seen in the video below.

These are unfortunately not uncommon issues in today’s media. The idea of ethics is not taken as seriously as one would hope it would. Ethical media is something that is hard to come by these days, unfortunately. From political to bias, to exploitation of sources, there are a lot of ethics issues due to a dying, big-company media world. The constant struggle for viewers'  attention is a large contributor of an emerging community of unethical journalism. Where will the media head next? Will ethics stay prominent in the journalistic world?

Can Journalism Sustain in the 21st Century?

Erin Franczak
Journalism has always been considered a necessary evil. It helps to keep politicians and the powerful at bay, but also breeds "untrustworthy money-driven, privacy invaders" with a few more negative connotations. This article demonstrates why defining journalism is important.  Even with some of these negatives, journalism thrived, that is until it met its match, technology, and was almost defeated, barely surviving.

Journalism began when society emerged. It may not have been considered news yet, but it was around.  To survive and thrive, people need to communicate. At this time, it may have just been considered gossip, but people needed it to survive. Even today, most start our conversations still featuring some form of information sharing. We also would not be able to function without news. The chapters read used the example of censorship. Why does a dictator first take away the news? Because that is how to keep leaders transparent and government in check.

When technology began to increase and gave way to social media, journalists struggled to keep up. They were used to being in control of the news, rather than watching the audience do their work. Instead of focusing on the new opportunities that can give way, some faltered on their ethics and principles.

According to The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, some journalists began to focus on keeping their jobs rather than respecting the code of ethics. This meant that they may have begun taking bribes or exaggerating stories or any other way to keep views attentive and cash coming in. This produced more problems with viewers distrusting the identity of journalism.

The chapters I read also mention the ways that journalism should have evolved within the times. Kovach and Rosential said that for journalism to continue, so must ethics. I feel strongly with this statement that journalism can once again flourish if the steps of this article are listened to and followed well.

The writers state that we are no longer just writers. We must take all the user-generated content and the information we receive and sort through it. We need to find the best information and help the audience to understand it. We need to organize entertainment, news, relevance and current events.

Journalists also need to focus on using social media to their advantage. One really great example is when Cosmo took to snapchat. They use just enough content to get the reader interested, but also don't overload the page. It makes me really want to buy a subscription to Cosmo, but I'm too broke. Cosmo also interacts with readers through Snapchat by adding little bits that say things like, "Share with the squad if all your convos take place on Snapchat because having a track record of your texts is stressful AF."

Something like this is going to be shared and more people will be checking out Cosmo on Snapchat and through their magazines. Other magazines and papers use this tool as well. I just tend to gravitate towards it because they are so interactive with the user. Twitter and Facebook are two other prime examples of using social media to get in touch with viewers. I am constantly checking USA Today's and Fox 8's facebook page. Iphone and Android apps are also another way to interact with users and get more of an audience.

So, in my opinion, journalism CAN sustain itself in the 21st century.

An Ethical Opportunity?

Madison DeChellis

Journalism can be beneficial in many ways but, what does it really take to be a good journalist in today's society? Where do you draw the line on what to post or what to leave out after a shooting or a bad accident? After reading, "The Elements of Journalism" I learned that journalism is an act of character, according to the text. With so many ambitious writers, blogs and social media platforms are becoming super popular and a way for young journalists to grow and build themselves as young journalists. This gives anyone the ability to speak their voice on whatever topics that interest them and connect with similar audiences. Although this is a positive part of journalism, it can also cause many problems in the media.

Too Good To Be True

A previous writer for the New York Times and now the Washington Post, Jayson Blair, started to become a very popular and upcoming writer. As time went on in his articles, dates, places and sources were becoming questionable and he had very similar stories to other writers. A lot of his information came from stories by other reporters. "Blair was not an aggressive, dedicated reporter but a troubled young man relying on deceit, plagiarism, and fiction to further his career at the expensive of everyone else around him"(269).

If anyone has ever seen the movie, "Shattered Glass," the Jayson Blair case is almost identical to journalist, Stephen Glass who puts on a show for everyone in his office. Glass made up numerous sources and went to every extent to make them look real, such as fake business cards, numbers, emails and even fake companies. Anything Glass could do to make his stories successful, he went to every extent to do. He even used his brother's number for a fake source. In the end, Stephen Glass was left a sad journalist who got himself into deep trouble with his not just his editor and co-workers, but his reputation was ruined within the journalism world. This case and Blair's case help expose ethical lapses and flaws in big newspapers and magazines.

The Judge of Journalism  

Everyday we choose which social media platform to get on, which magazine to read or which snapchat discover page we want to read. When we do this, we are trusting the judgment of the writers of these articles or posts. This is where the importance of ethics comes into play. Ethics are involved in every type of journalism and every decision or article journalists choose to post.

Whether you are on Twitter and see an article titled, "8 Surprising Things You Should Never Eat If Your Trying To Lose Weight," or "You're Doing It Wrong; Washing Your Gym Clothes," the article itself might not contain the information the title makes it out to be. Often times writers do this so you will click on the article, even though you might not want to read it. Also, many competing magazines and newspapers post similar things around the same time period so they can gain a similar audience.

Honesty in the newsroom is a major key in the journalism world. How you report news as a journalist determines the way readers view the newspaper or magazine you write for. "There has to be a culture in newsrooms that allows a journalist to have a free and open discussion," according to Linda Foley. As a journalist, the biggest thing I took away from the readings was the ethics and responsibility journalists have to succeed. Whether you are tweeting something or posting a status on Facebook, ethics always come into play. It's easy to publish something on your social media platforms without checking the facts or statistics. These are all examples of the importance of ethics in journalism in today's society.




Journalist: Watchdogs That Bark

Raquel Devariel

Journalism is a profession that grows and changes with society. As journalists, our roles are to adjust to the different media outlets that emerge on a day-to-day basis. Adapting to these changes makes the job challenging.

As we learn that with the click of a button and only 140 characters we can change or disrupt the lives of others, it is our responsibility to deliver accurate and precise information. Access to different forums allows not only journalists to express ideas and share content, but also allows the general public to become part of the conversation.

This shift in the industry has opened the doors to immediate interactions, but most importantly, it encourages us to act as watchdogs.

As explained by Shane Eisenman in his article Watchdog Journalism: Function and Future, “The practice of this function, called watchdog journalism, is a style of writing or broadcast aimed at identifying a current societal problem, either hidden or overt, and offering opinion on necessary action.  This style is intended to incite the readers into taking direct steps to change the agents or factors controlling the situation or issue.”

A great example of how journalists exercise this principle is the Jayson Blair scandal.

Blair was a journalist who started out as an intern and was sent out to the field to report on a mass murder that had occurred in Washington at the time. His articles kept making the tabloids and were often featured in the front page.

Not being seen on the field or in the newsroom, his colleagues and others from the industry began to wonder where Blair was getting these amazing stories that kept getting featured.

Following their instincts and acting as watchdogs led to unbelievable discoveries. It came to light that Blair was never in the field, and that he was plagiarizing stories that had already been written.

When action wasn’t taken for all that was happening, employees began to take advantage of technology and posted complaints that had been ignored on the Internet. This tactic led to the outcome that the industry was expecting, those who were involved got removed from their positions. Using the Web was effective.

“Along with others, they realized that the Web had assumed an important role in opening new channels through which values and standards could be questions and judged by the larger community, which depends on the integrity of the press,” Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel expressed in chapter 10 of “The Elements of Journalism”.

Without acting as watchdog journalists, Blair might had got away with his wrong doings.

However, the failure of this tactic often goes unnoticed which can lead to unwanted consequences like the financial collapse, explains Dean Starkman in his book “The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark.”

Photo from:

In the introduction of the book, Stakrman explains what happens when journalism watchdogs fail to bark saying, “What happens is the public is left in the dark about and powerless against complex problems that overtake important national institutions.”

It is with cases like these ones we learn that it is our duty as journalists to be watchdogs that bark using the tools that technology has provided for us.