How Objectivity and Transparency Lead to Ethical Journalism
A simple search in the engine of your choice will bring up hundreds if not thousands of results on the topic of ethics and journalism. Some will be combined some will be separated respectively. It is apparent that that journalism is plagued with issues, especially those regarding ethical journalism.
There are ongoing issues in journalism as well as a lack of knowledge. With citizen journalism on the rise, the hardcore news reporter has to up their game in order to find their place in journalism all while remaining fully transparent, fair, and ethical in their reporting.
Ongoing Issues in Journalism
A recent report by the EJN which is actually comprised of essays written by professionals in the field provides us with a fisheye view of the most common problems and challenges journalists face and will continue to face in the United States and in other parts of the world. Three major issues that have been identified are as follow:
- How to report more responsibly on hate speech and intolerance.
- How to report on elected or public officials who advocate intolerance.
- Also, remember that the comments section online can become inundated with hate speech.
Publishing Photographs of Violent or Sensitive Nature
- Don't publish images just because they've gone viral.
- Provide additional context if you do decide to publish such images
Verifying Online News Stories and Sources
The EJN is strongly recommending the following:
- Journalists should be fully transparent about their intentions and ensure that their source understands the conditions of their interview.
- If interviewing a young or vulnerable person, a journalist should ensure the source understands the consequences of publishing the information they give.
Remaining Ethical In Times of Turmoil
The current political divide has found its way into journalism. Even watching the same story or reading the same story on two different news outlets you will receive different perspectives. Journalists should remain objective, unbiased, fair, transparent and always seek to tell the truth. The past year has truly put into perspective how fragile the state of journalism is.
Transparency is something that all journalists should practice, especially today when freedom of the press is being challenged. Just in February President Trump described the media as "the enemy of the people" while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. With this label dangling over every journalist's head, it is imperative to report ethically and truthfully.
Transparency and Objectivity
A journalist's conduct in public can speak volumes about how he reports the news. In order to remain completely transparent, objective, and fair a reporter must also portray these abilities in public. No matter how one feels about a certain topic, a reporter must remember that there are always two sides to a story.
Transparency is more than just an idea in journalism. Lately, it has become an absolute must. Verifying sources, giving credit to images and videos, and even disclosing to someone interviewed that their words will become public, is all part of being transparent in journalism. Collaboration in journalism is important in order to remain as transparent as possible.
Remaining objective even while your inner voice is yelling to do something, is a part of journalism that deserves a lot of respect. Today we see too many emotions flying high, but it is the reporter's job to remain cool and collected. When reporting on a story that may seem hard to be objective on, refrain from using adjectives in your stories.
While these are important in order to remain ethical while reporting on any story, Tony Rogers from ThoughtCo says, "Second, remember that ultimately, reporters are in search of the truth. And while objectivity and fairness are important, a reporter shouldn’t let them get in the way of finding the truth." Being transparent in all aspects of your reporting should cover objectivity just fine.
Reporting news is far beyond the blog post, personal essays, or writing a piece for your local op-ed column. Hard, factual news is what is needed in today's divided nation. Utilizing the tools available will enable you to report truthfully, fairly, and objectively, which leads to being an ethical journalist.
If you've encountered unethical reporting, how have you dealt with it?
Examining Celebrity News ~ Is It Newsworthy?
Every day we're inundated with celebrity news. Whether it is newsworthy or not is entirely up to the intended audience. In this case, that means you and me. Facebook has a news ticker on the sidebar, and if you click on each individual icon you'll get snippets of what is currently trending. Your choices are Top Trends, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment.
Each Facebook user can see the headlines presented in each category and pick which article they want to read.Because many people are tired of politics, and some aren't interested in science, they opt for the more entertaining choice -- celebrity news.
Celebrity News Topics
Image via Musicartists.org
Celebrity news consists of popular or well-known journalists, actors and actresses, singers, sports players, and other entertainers in the industry. Topics can range from real news which can also affect the general public, like during the California wildfires, in which many celebrities also had to flee. Other topics include the Kardashians/Jenners. Is it really important for the general public to know that Kylie Jenner gave birth to a baby girl on Saturday and announced it on Super Bowl Sunday?
Honestly, there are quite a bit of people who love celebrity news and gossip. It helps them keep up or even feel closer to their favorite celebrities. In a way some of these topics also allow the public to see these celebrities as real human beings. I mean we've all fallen flat on our faces at one point or another right? So did Kris Jenner -- at a Super Bowl party!
Others find comfort in knowing that they are not alone when it comes to abuse, sexual harassment or assault, by a figure of authority. We found this in news stories like when celebrities such as Rose McGowan, Asia Argento, and a plethora of other women finally called out Harvey Weinstein. The #MeToo movement became an even greater cause.
Identifying Celebrity Newsworthiness
What makes a story newsworthy? If you answer human interest, then you are correct. Human interest plays a major role in what is deemed newsworthy. However, other factors such as timing, significance, proximity, and prominence also are also taken into consideration when reporting the news.
Media college says, "Famous people get more coverage just because they are famous. If you break your arm it won't make the news, but if the Queen of England breaks her arm it's big news."
Let's face it, it's true. The public wants to know what is happening with their favorite celebrity, even if it's completely mundane and not necessarily news.
Victor Merina from Poynter.org attended a forum back in 2004. This was really when celebrity news became big -- standard even. The panel discussion was, Welcome to "Reporting on Celebrities: The Ethics of News Coverage," how appropriate for the times.
Answering the question, What is the difference between real news about a celebrity and non-news celebrity reporting, is simple. Real news about a celebrity is a story which can touch on all of the factors -- timing, significance, proximity, prominence, and human nature. Non-news celebrity reporting is when a story is published on the prominence factor, i.e., infotainment.
What Place Does Celebrity News Have in the Media?
Infotainment is where celebrity news resides. There are hundreds of websites and magazines dedicated to reporting solely on celebrities. It's not really a term I appreciate because historically, the term infotainment was one which discredited women journalists who were assigned soft news jobs.
However, today, it is used to describe stories like Kris Jenner falling into Crissy Tiegan's coffee table, Kylie Jenner giving birth, Uma Thurman forgiving Quentin Tarantino, etc.
"In an ideal world, media outlets would ignore the trivial banalities of celebrity meltdowns and focus primarily on the real world issues that concern us all. However, the media needs to give the people what they want in order to survive," said Larry Atkins from the Huffington Post.
However, we don't live in an ideal world. We live in one which celebrity news is consumed in droves by hundreds of thousands of people by the hour. Therefore, celebrity news whether it is real news or non-news will always live in magazines, social media, newspapers, television reports, and so on.
How to Treat and Present Celebrity News
Presenting and treating celebrity news should be left entirely up to the organization reporting it. It is true that many titles seem to be clickbaity. However, it is the title that draws in the attention of the reader. Without extravagant headlines, celebrity news would be moot. The media reports on different topics, due to the nature of celebrities, they too have become topics of interest.
The National Enquirer, in 2010, was in the running for the Pulitzer Prize. A tabloid magazine, in the running for an award, that only the most elite literary geniuses win. This is how different celebrity news is treated. It is, today, highly regarded and totally newsworthy regardless of its impact on the public, or lack thereof.
Over the past couple of years, people have begun to use fact-checking sites to verify stories. Sometimes they use these websites to verify headlines before they even click on the story. Perhaps many people are becoming attuned to understanding that not all celebrity news is newsworthy or even real. With most of the media being labeled as "fake news" it's no wonder fact-checking is a thing.. Perhaps over the next few years, celebrity news will be treated if not even presented in a different way. Maybe it will stick to entertainment magazines and websites only and not seep into the everyday news.
Former California Governor Suing Oil Companies For "Knowingly" Killing People
Former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wants to lead a coalition to sue oil companies for "knowingly" killing people all over the world. He announced this on Sunday on Politico's Off Beat podcast, saying, "When I was Governor of California, I watched over 5 million acres of my state burn."
Schwarzenegger saw first hand what fires can do to the forest. He believes that by suing these oil companies, it would encourage people to look to alternative fuel rather than mining fossil fuels.
He likened the oil companies to the tobacco companies. "This is no different from the smoking issue. The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it. Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that,” Schwarzenegger, a global environmental activist, said.
The former governor believes that everything containing or using fossil fuels should have a warning label on them. He includes gas station pumps, cars, lawnmowers, trucks, and other machinery using fossil fuels.
His announcement came as a shock to many, and other news outlets picked up this story as well.
Schwarzenegger has always been a political activist, and while some were shocked by his announcement on Sunday, others were not.
It's a well-known fact that Schwarzenegger that he and Trump do not get along. In fact, Schwarzenegger has been very loud in criticizing Trump and his agenda. He has done this throughout his campaign and during the presidency. He believes that Trump is loosening up gas and oil drilling reforms to suit his Russian interests.
“But the bottom line is that I’m a Republican, and I’m a true Republican, and I will always be a Republican. It’s a fantastic party, but they’ve veered off into the right into some strange lanes," Schwarzenegger said when he was questioned about whether he would ever become a Democrat.
There's A Growing List Of People Suing Big Oil Companies
Image via Flickr by Roby Virus Oil wells outside of Avenal, California.
Last week Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he was planning to sue big oil companies for "knowingly killing people all over the world". On Saturday, Newsweek reported that Schwarzenegger is not the only one in line planning to sue oil companies. He joins a list of nine U.S Cities, including New York City and Los Angeles.
Suing Big Oil Is Hard
Gillian Lobo, an environmental lawyer told Newsweek that even though there is ample proof of climate change, suing oil companies remains difficult.
“Climate change is [a] very unique problem, because it covers cross-border issues,” Lobo told Newsweek. According to Lobo, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact effects of climate change in court because many have yet to occur.
Lobo further explained that the Paris Agreement has also allowed for people to better understand the impact of climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
See Newsweek's video on How To Sue Big Oil below:
Oil Companies Being Sued
To name a few of the oil companies being sued for climate change are Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Total, among others. New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio said, “As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”
Many cities and even politicians believe that climate change is a serious matter and are willing to protect their citizens from it. Suing Big Oil is only the first step to hold fossil fuelers accountable for the damage they are causing. Schwarzenegger believes that Big Oil is premeditatively killing people.
"I don't think there's any difference: If you walk into a room and you know you're going to kill someone, it's first-degree murder; I think it's the same thing with the oil companies," he said.
If you've ever been to NYC and Los Angels, smog is everywhere. It's not as bad as it used to be 10, even 15 years ago, but it's still there. The cities have continued to try and go as green as possible, but with the amount of congestion, it is difficult for 100 percent participation.
Do you think Big Oil is purposely killing people?
Mass Media and the Child Audience - A Journalistic Study
Image via Pexels | Mass media is the way the public receives news, entertainment, and other information that they may be interested in.These mediums include, newspapers, television, radio, social media platforms, magazines, etc.
Mass Media is the source that the general public uses to get their news and information from. This includes television, mobile devices, computers, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc. For a long time the idea that mass media also needed a mass audience was very popular. “Because it was believed that communication did take place in a mass-like fashion, it was assumed that each media message reached everyone in the same way and was processed by everyone in the same manner“ (Potter, 2016, p. 60).
However, as the years went by, "Media programmers no longer think of the audience as a large general mass of all people. Now they think of audiences as many niches of smaller specialized sets of people as defined by their particular interests" (Potter, 2016, p. 59).
States of Media Developments
Media, over the past century has gone through many changes. With these changes came new patterns of development. These developments, also known as life cycle patterns consist of five stages, innovation, penetration, peak, decline, and adaptation.
Innovation, in mass media comes from a need. It’s the creation of something new. Potter (2016) says, “The innovation stage of a medium’s development is characterized by a technological innovation that makes a channel of transmission possible” (p. 106). It is up to the media programmer, to recognize a need in the audience and create (innovate) a new type of technology to help alleviate this need.
“The penetration stage of a medium’s development is characterized by the public’s growing acceptance of that medium” (Potter, 2016, p. 107). Once an innovation has been rolled out, the audience needs to be exposed to it and grow to accept it. However, if the audience doesn’t, it’s back to the drawing board.
When the initial innovation has reached its maximum penetration, it is at its peak. This means that the audience has fully accepted the new medium’s innovation. The innovation is successful and bringing in revenue. However, when a medium has reached its peak, it can no longer grow. This leads into the next stage which is decline.
When a new medium is developed and introduced to the public, it can cause a decline in acceptance of the older medium. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the medium is no longer beneficial, it just means that the public has found another way to get the same information.
“A medium enters the adaptation stage of development when it begins to redefine its position in the media marketplace” (Potter, 2016, p. 109). Adaptation is basically the end of a competition between two or more mediums. It means that people know this medium is there and it is used.
The Child Audience
Image via McDonald’s: The ad depicts Despicable Me’s characters in their Happy Meals. It also suggests when new designs will be available. This method encourages children to ask their parents for a McDonald’s Happy Meal at least once a week on Thursdays.
This Happy Meal ad from McDonald’s encourages children to buy a Happy Meal which includes a Descpicable Me 2 toy. Kamery (2004) says, “One of the primary reasons that markets for children's products have seen such growth is that children are becoming increasingly independent as consumers” (A Growth Industry Since the Mid 1990’s: Marketing to Children, pp.121-126 ). According to the APA, children are subjected to over 40,000 advertisements a year.
Advertisements aimed at children are nothing new. Many marketing strategies, since the 1990’s have been used to target children younger than eight years old. Some of these strategies include stealth techniques. According to Calvert (2008), “The new stealth techniques can also undermine the consumer defenses even of older children and adolescents” (Children as Consumers: Advertising and marketing, Vol. 8 (1)).
Lacking Cognitive Skills
Children lack the cognitive skills to make informed decisions. This leads to impulse buys more often than not. This can be especially true if the adult is affluent, because they can be easily influenced by the advertisements presented to their children.
The McDonald’s ad also has the potential to harm the child. With the United States’ obesity problem, a weekly trip to McDonald’s for a toy can cause children to gain weight at a rapid pace. This is why adults should be weary about what their children are exposed to. The more media literate both child and adult are, the less harm is done to the child.
Media Literacy and Children
With the innovations of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, children are more exposed to advertisements today, than ever before. Understanding the persuasive measures from advertisements can spare the child from harmful effects. Media literacy programs are in place in schools, however children younger than eight still don’t fully comprehend the persuasiveness behind the advertising.
Safeguarding children from harmful media content is a topic of much conversation in many marketing and research firms. However, with the lack of cognitive skills, children are still prone to negative content on all mediums. Is society doing enough? No, because children are the current brand loyalists and construe the majority of all current buys in the United States. As long as marketers look at children with dollar signs, they will continue to be exposed to negative and harmful content.
APA. (2018). Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/info/reports/advertising-children.aspx
Calvert, S. L. (2008). Children as consumers: Advertising and marketing. The Future of Children, 18(1) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/docview/1519298667?accountid=134061
Kamery, R. H. (2004). A GROWTH INDUSTRY SINCE THE MID-1990s: MARKETING TO CHILDREN. Allied Academies International Conference.Academy of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues.Proceedings, 8(2), 121-126. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/docview/192409705?accountid=134061
Potter, W. J. (2016). Media literacy (8th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, pp. 104-126, Ch. 6. Retrieved from: https://phoenix.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781483379340/cfi/6/38!/4/2/4/2@0:0