Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Journalism within Politics

Erin Franczak

The readings heavily focused on the controversies journalists face during election season. Reporting and staying ethical while writing politics is a hard concept for many journalists who struggle to keep their opinions to themselves.  The four things that affect how well a journalist will succeed are mostly about biases, but there are other problems that can happen during an election. The most important is to be sure to get the facts right and to state them promptly and accurately.

The article "Fact checkers code of Principles" comes into play with this concept. I don't think that a lot of citizens realize the difficulty and accuracy needed to perfect fact checking skills. For an article about why fact checking is an important function of journalism, click here.

There are a set of codes that fact checkers should follow. Some examples of the codes listed are commitment to non-partisanship and fairness, commitment to transparency of sources, a commitment to transparency of funding and organization, a commitment to transparency of methodology, and a commitment to open and honest corrections.

When it comes to biases, there is the issue of balancing the time and energy fairly on each candidate. Some examples of this would be to give an equal amount of TV air time to both candidates. Click here for an article that discusses why this is beneficial to the public and the democracy. A newspaper editor should also be focused on being sure that the newspaper is focusing on the pros and cons of both candidates fairly. Even if it is accidental, it is unethical and does not represent the organization well.

Another example of bias is writing pieces completely based on the thoughts of the writer. The article "The Death of He Said, She Said" was based on the controversies of this concept. It referenced the concept of he said, she said as journalists focusing on quotes and phrases that resemble the original word choice to prevent opinion and unethical behaviors.

The article discussed one piece in particular titled "Trump Gives Up a Lie, but Refuses to Repent." The title alone is very opinionated. The article quoted the piece as, "It's headline read 'Trump Gives Up a Lie, but Refuses to Repent.' Not falsehood, which leaves open the possibility that Trump was merely mistaken, but lie, which suggests, accurately, that Trump had every reason to know that what he was saying about Obama's citizenship was false."

I personally believe that that type of journalism does not belong in an article that is based on fact. This type of journalism belongs in editorial columns and places where there is a disclaimer about the language of the piece.

The last ethical challenge journalists must face is what is appropriate to repeat on the news. This is an especially interesting circumstance because Trump has said many vulgar remarks during his campaign such as the locker room talk where he discussed rather inappropriate and disrespectful thoughts about women. When do you draw the line? The New York Times felt that, after much discussion, it was not inappropriate to reproduce.

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