Journalism Ethics - Student FAQs

The following is a follow up note I sent to students answering their questions after our Journalism Ethics lesson.

Thank you guys so much today!  That was the first time I taught that lesson and I appreciate the feedback, especially about the First Amendment video.  The information in that video is important to understand because The Freedom of the Press rights carry a huge responsibility which, in turn, is why the Code of Ethics is so important. I will try to find a better way to present that.

You had some excellent questions. I have provided answers and some links below to help you learn more about the questions you had.   

Is professional journalism a dying field?
This might be an interesting story for The Colonel to cover.  Survey students and ask where they get their news (Twitter, friends, SnapChat?) and how well-informed they think they are or care to be.  And why it is important to care?

Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News? By Bill Keller OCT. 27, 2013
Much of the speculation about the future of news focuses on the business model: How will we generate the revenues to pay the people who gather and disseminate the news? But the disruptive power of the Internet raises other profound questions about what journalism is becoming, about its essential character and values. This week’s column is a conversation — a (mostly) civil argument — between two very different views of how journalism fulfills its mission.

News and Guts seeks to build off the best traditions of 20th Century journalism, while taking advantage of the exciting world of 21st Century digital distribution and social media. Recognizing that the traditional silos of content between video, audio, and text are rapidly dissolving, New and Guts is developing projects that take full advantage of this new media landscape.

At what point does online “investigation” become an invasion of personal privacy?  
Another good idea for an article in The Colonel.  Find out if you can increase your privacy on Google.  If so, teach students how to hide their homes from Google maps, remove their names from Google search.  I use Google because well, it does seem to be  “The Circle”  (check out movie trailer here.  Book available in the library!)

How do you get in to professional journalism?

Is the press really free?  
This is an interesting question and is a lesson unto itself.  Yes, the Bill of Rights ensures a Free Press.
Committee to Protect Journalists - journalists are killed in other countries, even today!
CPJ defends the rights of journalists all over the world to work freely. We also focus on upholding the right of the press in the United States to report the news without fear of retaliation or reprisal. Our staff reports on press freedom violations, offers safety advice, and advocates on behalf of journalists everywhere.

HOWEVER, some may say the press is not truly free because  major news outlets are all owned by major corporations and some of those corporations can be traced to an individual or individuals who are partisan and some/all of the programming may reflect that bias or slanting of stories.  

The Media Ownership Chart is REALLY interesting….
Did you know that Viacom owns 160 cable channels that reach more than 600 million people worldwide?
Or that the Hearst Corporation owns 31 television stations and 20 U.S. magazines?
Or that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. owns (seemingly) everything? The company’s holdings include the FOX Broadcasting Company, FOX News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Daily News, HarperCollins Publishers, 20th Century Fox and the scandal-plagued News International. (And that’s not all.)
To learn more about which companies are currently dominating the U.S. media landscape, check out our updated media ownership chart. We’ve got information on all the big players in TV and radio; cable and telecommunications; print and the Internet. It’s not a pretty picture … and it shows the dramatic impact mergers and acquisitions have had in the last few decades.
Should you still report the truth if it harms the reputation of the newsmagazine/newspaper you're writing for?
Great question.  Here is what I think, if you try to run a story that harms the reputation of the news agency you work for, they will either scrap the story and/or fire you.   It may be about HOW your report the story, perhaps working with a journalist from another agency as an anonymous source (if you still want to work for that news agency).
Please stop in or email me if you have more questions or if I can help in any way!

-Mrs. K. Smith


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