Scott Pelley response: Journalism ethics and the internet

I completely agree with his comments on journalism today. The urge to get information out first without fact checking is doing great harm to journalism today ( still remember that post-Boston fallout he talked about). From the NFL to all of the major news networks to mlesser known ones, everyone is guilty of passing on information that was innacturate, or even false for the chance to get it out first.

The internet has made information more accessible than ever before, but that also means that filters that were there, that should be, are not. As Pelley said “In a world where everyone is a reporter, no one is an editor.” We need to take a step back and make sure the information is right, not first. It’s possible, does this specifically. They never report a piece of news until it has been confirmed by multiple reliable sources. Are they first? almost never. But do they get their information right? Always.

Pelley ended that segment with another quote, “If you’re first, no one will remember. If you’re wrong, no one will forget.” From the Manti Te’o Scandal to Newton and Boston, those who got it badly wrong are by far remembered over those who got it first. It is better to be last but right, than first but wrong.


Singular their and gender pronouns

As years go by and more people speak up, gendered pronouns are continually and increasingly being brought into question. Another big step was reached earlier this week when the Washington Post announced that they will allow the use of the singular ‘their’, like in ‘the students must complete their homework.’

Now, while identifying within the gender binary myself, I have many friends who do not and therefore agree with this move on that basis alone, since, even if you disagree with the idea, doing so shows an amount of respect for the person who prefers it, who is indeed still a person.

Also keeping in mind that the whole world is not a tumblr stereotype and isn’t trying to push this kind of thing on others so much as seeking to be identified as they are.

However, I think this move is obvious in the first place, on grounds outside of those listed above. It’s proper grammer.

Try saying ‘The students must complete his or her homework.’ aloud. Mouthfull, isn’t it. It was long to type, too. Now say “The students must complete their homework.” Like above. Much easier, and still makes the same exact amount of sense. Peoples problems with the singular ‘their’ and their reluctance to use it has always somewhat baffled me, since the singular ‘their’ makes perfect sense and works in situations where you don’t even know the persons gender but feel that saying ‘his or her’ every time you refer to that person is a mouthful and a half. Which I do.

You can see the original article Here


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Trolls! Trolls on the internet!

In his latest post, Steve Buttry wrote a lengthy piece on on the light and dark sides of the internet. On one hand, he talked about the massive support he received after losing his job and during cancer treatment. On the other hand he talked of his experience encountering trolls, specifically ones on Facebook.

Steve questioned whether this new discovery had something to do with the growth of social media, or if it was just him noticing. Well, hate to break it to ya Steve, but it’s simply a case of you just noticing. The good and bad of the internet have been around since the internet itself.

That said, it’d be incredibly unfair to make any further jibes. He nailed everything he talked about on the head, from the insane support from seeming nowhere that people can receive from people who don’t even know them online or in person, to the trolliest depths of almost any political, religious, or even seemingly non-controversial conversations. Trolls love to invade conversations, and I have experienced both sides.

On one hand, I am part of an online community that has grown incredibly close since officially disbanding this past February. I have seen multiple people struggle mightily with various problems, both in mental health and personal problems. And every time, massive support has been thrown at them.

While trolls don’t frequently interrupt our conversations, I have seen numerous incidents of trolls over the course of my time on the internet, and nowadays I have learned to avoid or ignore them. That said, I know from the experience of some of the people I follow, as well as a particular incident within the aforementioned community, the damage they can do.

As for what causes trolls, Well, anonymity plays a huge part in it. You’ll find that a lot more people are willing to be outright A-holes when no one knows who they are. There are of course people who are nice even in anonymous conversations, but a lot of what trolls say are things no one would really say to someones face. In short, many have a cowardly approach in hurling insults, slurs and other vulgarities from a place where their targets cannot even reach them.

Do you have much experience with internet trolls? How have you dealt with them?


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Mizzou Students learn to write big on the fly.

The level of news covered by a student journalist can be, frankly, dull. You write article after article that you can be fairly certain very few people will probably read, about something no one probably cares about. After spending a year and a half on a student newspaper at my old community college, I know this all too well.

Well, it certainly hasn’t been that way for Mizzou student writers this semester, which has borne witness to several different protests, some of which garnered national attention and one, #ConcernedStudent1950, trended on twitter for several days in a row.

The Missouri State Maneater, a weekly paper with a daily online presence, has written as many as 60 articles in one week and has had many tens of thousands of page views, including a whopping 320 thousand page views during a one week period in November.

This quote by Kathrine Knott pretty well describes why the paper doesn’t get read, and the massive switch that resulted in those page views.

“It’s hard for people to prioritize The Maneater when you have a lot of classes, and everything like that,” Knott said. “From editors like myself to everyone. But with this situation and what’s happened over the last week and a half, no one was not prioritizing the paper.”

They weren’t the only news outlet to explode, as the nation took notice when student activist Jonathan Butler stated that he would not eat until the president of the university resigned.

The students on campus took over from there.

It’s rare that an event happens on such a scale that a weekly paper with an almost-but-not-quite daily online segment must transform into a daily story writing machine. To the paper I say Kudos for keeping up in the midst of school life. I can’t imagine how tough that would be.

Here’s the original article

And Here is a timeline of protests this semester at Mizzou.

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Wall Street Journal… Joins Snapchat?

According to Chris O’Shea of FishbowlNY, the Wall Street Journal has joined snapchat. Snapchat is a service that allows users to post pictures or videos which last only 10 seconds.

According to O’Shea, the Journal will be hosted on the Snapchat discovery page with 16 other publishers.

Honestly, I personally think this is just an attempt to cover more popular social media sites than anything. I can see instagram as being a great spot for them to post pictures, but while Snapchat is popular, content only lasts a few seconds. Not long enough to be worth it. In short, I don’t think this is a good idea.

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Minimizing harm: Journalism ethics vs the ‘1st’ mentality

Last week, The father of Kansas City Royals Pitcher Edison Volquez passed away. Before he even found out, ESPN was reporting on it. He was pitching when it was reported, so we don’t know how he found out. However, Steve Buttry of “The Buttry Diary” had something to say about that.

In his article ‘Minimize harm: Journalists should not disclose a death until the family knows’ discussed the fact that this was one of many circumstances where that should not have even happened. The reason? As a journalist, you do not report on a death until after the family has been notified. A staple of every code of journalism ethics in the country, and probably at least most of the world.

There are exceptions, but otherwise you do not. This was the basis for Buttry’s argument. And I wholeheartedly agree with him.

This whole issue brings up a bigger issue, the idea of pushing all aside to be the first to report a piece of news. In today’s world, with the ubiquitous use of social media, information travels faster than ever before. The response from some outlets? Get it out now!

While this mindset is rather predictable in the current environment and has been the goal of journalists for decades, the rate at which it comes out now can and does lead to misinformation and the violation of journalistic ethics as seen above.

“The Royals are saying that Edinson Volquez does not know about his father’s reported death.” Said Barry Svrluga @barrysvrluga

“I’m told that Fox is being respectful on reporting Volquez on the game broadcast at the request of the Royals.” –  Richard Deitsch @Richarddeitsch

“At his family’s request, the Royals didn’t tell Edinson Volquez his dad died before Game 1.” – Bleacher Report @BR_MLB

As you can see, some journalists and even major outlets such as Fox decided not to report the news until after he had been notified, but ESPN did not.

This isn’t the first time journalistic ethics have been broken or major mistakes made in the rush to break a story first. Take the story a few years ago with Manti Teo and his fake girlfriend.

Every single piece of information came from ‘Anonymous sources’ and the misinformation got so bad at points that no one knew which way was up or who did what where or when.

Journalistic ethics are there for a reason. They exist to protect people and journalists alike, and should not only be followed when convenient or easy.


Asking the tough questions

In a blog post published almost 2 weeks ago on the ‘Advance the story’ blog, investigative journalist Christopher Heath discussed tips for asking the hard questions in an interview.

“When faced with an interview subject who won’t respond to your question, ask it again, and again and again.  Play dumb if you have to and say, ‘I’m not understanding…,’” said Heath when asked by Journalist Debora Wegner who wrote the article.

“Get your question on the air… Be willing to point out the dodge and share how much you asked the question.”

I think these tips, among others, are sound advice. I also agree with his later comments stating that journalists should know their rights. Among these, he included the right to confront an official at a town hall meeting about a subject they constantly dodge.

Above all, he says that showing your process is important. A point I can agree on. You become more reliable as a journalist when people know how and from whom you obtain your information.

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Star Wars still popular (Like we didn’t know that already)

After the Monday Night Football game earlier this week, LostRemote reported that 17 million people tweeted about the new Star Wars movie after the trailer was aired at halftime. Proving what most fans already new, that hype for the new movie has not died and that Star Wars still gets many people excited.

At the same time it aired at halftime, it made its way to the internet, where millions more saw it and tweeted.

This tweet was typical of people’s responses following a viewing of the trailer, while others were more disappointed that they weren’t going by the established cannon outside of the previous movies (Books, games etc), a move announced by Disney sometime last year.

Nonetheless, the consensus seemed to be cautious optimism about the movie as a whole. For my part, I am also cautiously excited for the movie, though like many harder fans (Those not just interested in the movies), I would have preferred it to have continuity with the existing cannon, I will probably watch and enjoy it nonetheless.

In short, Star Wars is still popular, and a new movie comes out in December, what else is new?


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