Category Archives: Newswriting II

For my News II class we are required to write a new blog post every week. Here are some of the ones I have written.

A Little Bit About Photojournalism

In my Ethics and Media class this week, we had a 30 year veteran of photojournalism come in and discuss ethics of his profession. His talk opened my eyes to how truly amazing images can be in relation to the news. It made me want to look a little bit deeper into not only the ethics that photojournalists adhere to, but also the importance of photography in the media in general.

Photojournalism is a type of journalism that depends on images to tell a story. It is an important aspect of the news media because the photographs, a lot of the time, summarize a story that has been written. For people who don’t necessarily like to read, the pictures can be what conveys the news. Images can allow people to relate real life scenes, and what it must feel like to be in that actual place at that actual time, to the stories that they are reading.

Dillon Westbrook talks about A Brief History of Photojournalism explaining that photojournalism distinguishes itself from other forms of professional photography  by its adherence to the principles of journalism: timeliness, accuracy, fair representation of the context of events and facts reported, and accountability to the public. A photojournalist cannot be held to the demands of the photographic subject, but rather they must be concerned with producing accurate news for the public.

Our speaker claimed he’d never let the subject of one of his photos see the picture after he took it. With digital photography, people want to see the pictures you took of them. This is a big ethical no-no for him because it is giving them the opportunity to say they don’t like the picture and want him to take a new one. It’s up to him and his editors what photos are appropriate and should run, not the person in the image.

The speaker in our class also claimed that he would never set up the image just to have a photo. For example, if he were covering a marathon runner, he’d ask the runner to run their usual route and he’d follow ahead in his car and get the photos as the person was running, rather than just having the runner run up and down the street by their house. He also told of a time when he was covering workers in the middle of summer and he stood around at the construction site for an hour waiting for a photo, which turned out to be a man taking a drink of water, rather than just asking the worker to take a drink of the water for his picture.

Also when talking about Ethics, the issue of altering photos arose. In the article Photojournalism Ethics: “The Problem Seems To Be A Lot Deeper” Donald R. Winslow covered how altering images is a huge ethical problem that many photographers and editors are violating. “We need to examine the ethical issues involved in ‘photo opportunities,’ in picture editing and design, and in graphics,” Dr. Julianne Newton, visual journalism professor at the University of Oregon, said. Journalism is based on accuracy which includes the accuracy of images. “If you can’t use the picture as it is, don’t use it,” John Long, NPPA’s chairman of the Ethics and Standards committee, said.

With all the talk of ethics and the importance of photojournalism, I was interested in seeing some of the best photos that photojournalists have captured. After all, what is a blog about photojournalism without any pictures in it?


World Press Photo of the Year: 1994 James Nachtwey, USA, Magnum Photos for Time. Rwanda, June 1994. Hutu man mutilated by the Hutu ‘Interahamwe’ militia, who suspected him of sympathizing with the Tutsi rebels. About the image Nachtwey says his specialty is dealing with ground level realities with a human dimension. He feels that people need photography to help them understand what’s going on in the world, and believes that pictures can have a great influence on shaping public opinion and mobilizing protest.


Malawian boy running after 4×4
“I took the photo while on my one-month stint in Malawi Africa where I mainly worked in orphan day-care centres, also visiting Mulanji Hospital. The photo was taken from the Mulanji Hospital four-wheel-drive ambulance, travelling on the extremely rough roads from village to village, visiting the sick who were unable to reach the hospital.” Photo taken by Cameron Herweynen.


Bhopal Disaster
This photograph from December 4, 1984 shows victims who lost their sight in the Bhopal poison gas tragedy as they sit outside the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India.
(No citation of photographer given)


Hhaing The Yu
Hhaing The Yu, 29, holds his face in his hand as rain falls on the decimated remains of his home in the Swhe Pyi Tha township, near Myanmar’s capital of Yangon (Rangoon), on Sunday, May 11th, 2008. Cyclone Nargis struck southern Myanmar a week ago leaving millions homeless and has claimed up to 100,000 lives.
(No citation of photographer given)


Aftermath of Earthquake in Balakot, Pakistan. 2005
This image was taken about one month after the earthquake in Pakistan. People were still coming down from the mountains trying to find shelter and were suffering from trauma. Winter was on the way and the need for shelter was urgent. This father with his child had been collecting food. I spent ten days in Balakot documenting the situation after the quake. People were still digging for their family members.
(No citation of photographer given)


Sichuan Earthquake
A man is crying while he flips through a family album he found in the rubbles of his old house.
(No citation of photographer given)

How do you all feel about these photos? Do you believe they portray a story? Do you think any of them could be considered controversial? What do you think makes a really excellent photojournalism picture?

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Bloggers Block

The dreaded, irritating dilemma that a lot of writers face is the writer’s (or blogger’s) block. I write blogs for at least three of my classes, so there are times when I run out of ideas, just like now. So, I’m going to give you some tips on how to com up with blog topics!

Darren Rowse dedicated a post on How to Choose a Topic for Your Next Blog Post. Here are some tips that he shared.
1. Identify a Need: Choose a concrete topic to write about and identify needs you’re aiming for the post to fulfill and questions that you want the post to answer.
2. Picture a Reader: To avoid writing another theoretical or abstract topic, keep the readers situations, needs, questions and challenges in front of you and picture them in your mind when you’re choosing or writing a topic.
3. Break Out of the Echo Chamber: Do avoid regurgitating similar topics that other people are posting, find a way to put your own unique spin on the same topic, and pose different questions that gets the reader to think.
4. Write Something that Matters to You: When something matters to you, it shines through in the way you communicate about it and this has a way of engaging readers who also believe the topic matters.
5. Write Something Topical: Writing a topic that is currently popular or a lot of people are searching for information on is definitely something to keep in mind when selecting a topic to post on.
6. One Topic Per Post: Posts that really hone in on one particular topic and communicate one main idea tend to do the best.
7. Plan Ahead: pretty self explanatory.

Blog Ideas I Found
Chris Brogan wrote a post about 100 Blog Topics I Hope YOU Write. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Ways to Save a Bad Time at a Conference
2. How Women Use Social Media
3. A Hard Look at My Media Habits
4.Ten Guilty Pleasures
5. Media Topics That Need More Coverage

Tim Taylor also gives different ideas for blog posts on his post Can’t Think of a Blog Post: Here’s Suggestions. They aren’t so much related to journalism, but they are still some great ideas. Some of my favorites are:
1. How Long Has It Been Since You’ve Laughed and What Does Laughter Mean to You?
2. What’s Your Favorite Website and Why?
3. What One Thing Did You Hear Or See Today That Caught Your Attention?
4. What Are Your Favorite Words and Why?
5. Name Your 10 Favorite Outfits of All Time

If you feel like you’re still having trouble blogging, you may want to check out this video. Hire Jenna Marbles and she’ll whip your blogging butt into shape.

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It’s Friday, Friday! This Blog Was Due On Friday!

Everybody is looking forward to the weekend, weekend.

In case you have been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, I am referencing the YouTube music video called Friday (could you have guessed?) by Rebecca Black that is causing quite a senesation. Whether you love the video, the song, her voice, or hate it, no one can deny that this girl is taking the media and YouTube by storm. Rebecca Black has been interviewed on shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Good Morning America.  

Rebecca Black – Friday (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Duration: (3:48)
User: trizzy66 – Added: 2/10/11

While this video and song show nothing more than a young girl with a big dream, it didn’t take long for the criticisms of this song and of Rebecca herself to appear. According to the article “Rebecca Black’s GMA Bullying: Best Friday Ever” written by Meghan Casserly, comedian Tosh.O “got into the ridicule game, and soon enough, things on the web started to turn mean. Some particularly rabid commentors suggested that she ‘cut herself’ and ‘get an eating disorder.'” One blog that I follow regularly, StoolLala, considered the song something of an ‘ear abortion.’

Black’s criticisms had been building up for the past weeks until it reached a peak on March 18th when the cyber bullying turned into an actual confrontation for the teen on national television, instigated by a grown woman.

As Casserly explains it best, Andrea Canning of Good Morning America “embodied a real life mean girl as she stared down the bright-eyed eighth grader.” After Canning asked Black to perform the National Anthem on command, she asked the girl if she thought she was a good singer. Black replied “I’m not the worst singer,” unshaken by the mocking tone of her interviewer. “I think I have talent on some level.”

Whether you believe Black has any talent as a singer or not, it is disgusting to me that people feel the need to say such awful things to this girl. I agree with Casserly that it should be Canning, not Black, ashamed of her actions – and the videos circulating online today.

“Black is a little girl whose mother paid for her to make a music video, like so many moms pay for their daughters to have glamour shots taken at the local mall. Canning, on the other hand, is a 38-year-old woman who bullied an eighth grader on national t.v.”

Here’s the video so you can decide for yourself:

Rebecca Black – Good Morning America
Duration: (5:38)
User: TheJinlLong88 – Added: 3/18/11

It is my opinion that Canning overstepped a serious boundary in journalistic interviewing. It’s one thing to be skeptical of someones fame, but that’s not what Canning is doing. In my opinion, Canning was being a real-life ‘mean girl’ to an eighth grader on national television.

What do you think? Did Canning just do her job? Was she bullying Rebecca Black? Why do you think this girl has become so popular, whether to laugh at or because you actually like her song? Is it okay for her to be subjected to this bullying?

I believe, since there is freedom of speech, that if a girl wants to make her video public on YouTube, she has to anticipate the reprocussions it might bring. Though I’m definitely not a fan of this song, I’m even more against the bullying of an innocent girl who was trying to do something she loved to do.

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#besomebody

In this blog post, I would like to take the time to draw some attention to my all time favortie blog, #besomebody

How It Started

This blog was started by a man named Kash Shaikh. He is the External Relations and Social Engagement Leader for Fabric Care at Proctor & Gamble. He’s a self-proclaimed digital leader and brand builder.

When it comes to Kash, I have never personally met another person who has been able to influence and motivate a vast number of people through a small, yet powerful idea the way that he has.

The #besomebody hash tag was something he had started putting on the end of most of his tweets just to signify how importnant it was to him to be the best he could be. He took this idea and turned it into something huge, and now I see #besomebody hash tags all over twitter.

You can learn more about Kash in his About Me section on this blog.

What Is #besomebody?

To me, #besomebody is to be understood exactly the way it sounds. BE SOMEBODY. Do something significant and meaningful with your life. Be the best person you can be! Don’t take your life for granted and do something meaningful to you, and to others.

To Kash, #besomebody is a lifestyle. “It’s owning your life and claiming your dreams.”

Blog Posts

All of the blog posts are related to something motivational. They are about bettering yourself as a person in all different aspects of life. There are posts about being healthy and staying fit. There are posts about love life, working hard, career goals and rediscovering yourself. This list could go on and on. The #besomebody vision is the motivation behind the inspiring blog posts.

Why I Love It

This blog is one of my favorites for a number of reasons, but mostly because it’s one of few things that lights a spark inside of me. I sometimes forget, as many of us do, that I am capable of great things. I can live the life I CHOOSE to live. Everyone has those days when they are lacking motivation or need some inspiration. This blog is one of  the first things I turn to when I need some positivity in my life.

Hopefully, it’s something you’ll learn to love too. 🙂

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Having Trouble Writing Effective Headlines? Me Too!

I’m a senior, and I just switched my major to journalism this past fall semester. Almost halfway through my second semester of nothing but journalism classes, I have written a plethora of stories and blogs. Yet, I still feel very incapable of writing good headlines.

Do I think my blogs are interesting and worth reading? Yes. But, I don’t think my headlines showcased or promoted that interest to other readers.

The Four Tasks of a Powerful Headline

In the post, Headling Writing Basics: What Every Headline Should Do and 9 Proven Ways to Do It, Dean Rieck explains that there are four tasks of a powerful headline.

1. They attract attention:

You can do this by appealing to your reader’s self-interest by announcing news, offering useful information or by using powerful words. The size and placement of the headline can also help to stop the eye.

2. Select an audience:

A headline helps select your best prospects. Just attracting attention isn’t good enough. You must attract the attention of the right people for the right reason.

3. Deliver a complete message:

Studies have shown that 8 out of every 10 prospects will read absolutely nothing but the headline, which means your headline alone carries 80% of the responsibility of the success or failure of your advertisement (or story).

4. Draw the reader into the body copy:

To draw in readers to the body copy, your headline can arouse curiosity, ask a question, make a provocative statement and other different strategies have been used. When done properly, these strategies will urge the reader to continue.

How to Engage Your Readers

Stuart Brown discusses how to engage your readers through your headlines in his blog How to Write Great Headlines. Whether you’re a journalist, blogger or social bookmarker, it is essential to have great headlines to capture the attention of your readers. In this post, he also gives good and bad examples of headlines within the different tips he mentions.

1. Mention key words and hot trends.

People love to read stories about topics they are interested in. Some trends last longer than others, but if you’re writing about a hot topic, be sure to drop those key words into your headline.

2. Use superlatives.

The use of a superlative is a good way to get clicks on your headline. If you want to hype up your headline, there is no cruder way than to drop in a superlative or two. So, if you must, drop in the words “best ever” or “worst” or “coolest” or “longest” in your headline. It just might do the job.

3. Summarize it all in one sentence.

This sort of headline works great for science or technology findings. Give away the result of the article in one short sentence and you might pique the reader’s interest enough to click through and read the entire article.

4. Pose a question, or an opinion addressed as a question.

Leading questions can make great headlines in certain cases when stories are speculative in nature. The lead-in question can even be loaded or controversial which will grab the reader’s attention.

5. Use lists to gain interest.

Even though it is a fallback headline, and is tawdry, lists can be popular additions to social bookmarking. You’ll most likely gain quick interest, and at the very least, readers will be interested to see who got the number one spot.

With all of these beneficial tips, I’m hoping to improve my headlines throughout the rest of my journalism career. I know writers only get better with practice, so for each blog and story I write from now on I am going to try to improve my headlines with each one. This isn’t only for my self satisfaction, but for the benefit of my readers. And in my opinion having people read my work is most important to me in a journalism career.

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The Change in Journalism

As many of us know, websites like Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Youtube, and especially Twitter are becoming integral parts of our lives as aspiring journalists. Facebook can connect us to potential sources, LinkedIn allows us to search for jobs or potential employees and Twitter is quickly becoming the most frequently used site for journalists who want to give live updates and reports on events. The development of these sites over the years has caused a shift in the journalism profession. With this shift, we ourselves have to learn to adapt as well.

What is Social Networking?

Social Networking is the way people in the 21st century communicate today. In broad terms, it is the grouping of individuals into specific groups. And even though it is possible to have social networks in person, it is becoming the most popular online. People have always social networked, but the internet has opened up a way of doing it globally.

Facebook:

Facebook is one of the most popular networking sources in the world with over 100 million active users. Facebook can be used to search for groups related to a story you are covering, to put you in touch with sources and can be used to search for events.

Twitter:

Twitter is a service for groups to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers. Twitter is used to track interests and trends, get advice, administer quick opinion polls, and it is used for peer group access. The most important thing Twitter is being used for though is live tweeting. Many journalists will go to events and report them live via twitter.

As journalism changes, so must you.

Brent Cunningham and Alan C. Miller discuss that as journalism changes, so must you. They make an interesting point that anyone with an internet connection, Facebook, or Twitter account can contribute to the public conversation. But does this make them journalists? “These microblogging services that make this new media reality so full of potential also make it fraught.” The PEW survey they mentioned in this post indicates that 70% of respondents feel overwhelmed by the amount of news and information from different sources, and 72% think most sources of news are biased.

How do we distinguish credible information from raw information? Misinformation from propaganda? We have so much information coming at as from so many different outlets, how do we know what to trust? If all information is supposedly created equal through all of these mediums, why will anyone seek out quality journalism, especially if everyone thinks it is biased anyways?

Gatekeepers to informants.

Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC Global News Division discusses how social networking is changing journalism in the Oxford Social Media Convention. He suggests that journalists are going from being the gatekeepers of information to sharing it in the public space and this is why citizen journalism is something that needs to be taken into account. But he doesn’t see the internet as being a place where the news comes from. He could see a new objectivity evolving. But to him, objectivity was once designed to deliver information that people could trust. He believes that the delivering of news itself is just as important as the emergence of the news.

One quote from Sambrook that stuck with me was this, “Information is not journalism. You get a lot of things when you open up Twitter in the morning, but not journalism. Journalism needs disciple, analysis, explanation and context. That makes the difference.”

Citizen Journalists

Citizen journalism is a term that keeps popping up. And many questions keep being asked of them. Are they real journalists? Can anyone post something and be considered a journalist? Where is the line drawn on citizen journalists and professional journalism?

It can get really confusing knowing what information to trust and what information to disregard with so many media outlets available to the public now. Vadim Lavrusik describes in The Future of Social Media in Journalism that these social media tools are inspiring readers to become citizen journalists by allowing them to easily publish and share information on a larger scale. Bloggers will no longer just be bloggers, but will be relied upon as credible sources.

Trends in Social Media Journalism

Lavrusik discusses in his post some trends that are being noticed throughout the journalism community. These trends also have examples given with them at The Future of Social Media in Journalism.

1. Collaborative Reporting.

There has increasingly become a merger between the source and the content producer. Because of this, more journalism will happen where the witness of the news becomes the reporter.

2. Journalists as Community Managers.

News has become more of a conversation that journalists telling people what they think they need to know. They are being required to do as much listening in the community as they are broadcasting information to them.

3. The Social Beat.

For many people, social sites have become their landing place for news. A journalists future beat of coverage will need to include the social web.

4. Social Stories.

The way users engage content as editors think through the outline of a story. Taking social data and conversation and making sense of it will likely become a way of creating story packages.

5. Online Curation for a “Time Poor” Audience.

Online curation uses a combination of reports and social information to integrate into a journalist’s work flow.

6. The Social Network as the New Editor.

Each of the different personalized social news streams are helping readers decide what is most important and what they need to read.

7. Beyond Twitter and Facebook.

News outlets are beginning to realize that news value is not measured in clicks, but in an engaged and participating audience. Journalists will need to start taking advantage of other platforms and online communities.

8. Monetizing Social.

The missing link in engaging readers across many social platforms is justifying sources that aren’t easy to monetize. To many outlets though, the justification is the increase in traffic which they can sell ads for on their sites.

9. A Social Newsroom and the Personal Brand.

More newsrooms are hiring community engagers and social media producers. It’s not unlikely that the future newsroom will be filled with socially savvy people whose full-time job is to keep track of the pulse in the community.

10. A Mobile Social Experience.

Mobile phones are helping journalists quickly produce content on the go.

There are so many different things to consider in the debate between the changes in journalism. Are citizen reporters really journalists? How do we distinguish credible information from gossip? How do we keep up with the changing trends in the social media world, and how is thing going to impact the world of newspapers and magazines? Cunningham and Miller conclude their article As Journalism Changes, So Must You in a way that I find most beneficial. “Sustaining serious journalism in the digital age is a topic of much discussion and experimentation, most of which focuses on the product – the supply side of the information equation. But there will be no solution without demand from a citizenry that understands and values quality journalism.”

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A Comparison of Ethics

There I go again with a lame, non-attention grabbing title to this blog. I really need to work on that. Moving on though…

In my Ethics and Media class this week, we were discussing the different Codes of Ethics for journalists, advertisers and PR professionals. During an in-class assignment, we compared and contrasted the different codes and discussed why they are so important. We also discussed why they needed to be the same, and why they needed to be differnet in some ways since not all of the codes from every profession can apply to every journalist, advertiser, or PR professional.

What is a Code of Ethics?

For those of you who don’t know, A code of ethics is a set of guidelines which are designed to set out acceptable behaviors for members of a particular group, association or profession. Journalists, advertisers, and PR professionals each have their own separate code of ethics. These guidelines set by  different professions are very similar to one another, but also have their differences in relation to their actual profession.

Similarities

Some of the major points that are similar throughout all of the codes are: truth, honesty, accountability, fairness, respect and avoiding conflicts of interest.

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) says that advertising shall tell the truth, and not mislead the public. AAF also has honesty in its code of ethics. In my opinion though, truth and honesty are essentially the same thing. If an advertiser isn’t being truthful, then they aren’t being honest either. Same with PR professionals and  journalists.

All of the codes of ethics expect their professionals to be held accountable for their own work. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) code of ethics say that journalists shall admit mistakes and correct them promptly. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) also holds independence as a professional value saying that they are accountable for their own actions. Fairness, respect, and avoiding conflicts of interest are other values held throughout the different codes.

Differences

While most of these generalized and broad expectations of these different professionals are held throughout all of the different codes of ethics, there has to be some variances between them to adhere to the different jobs of the professions. For example, the American Marketing Association (AMA) values Citizenship in its code of ethics. Neither AAF, SJP, or PRSA have anything about citizenship in its codes. To AMA, citizenship is fulfilling the economic, legal, philanthropic and societal responsibilities that serve stakeholders in a strategic manner.

AAF has Guarantees and Warranties as a part of their code of ethics which neither of the other professions discuss. The Guarantees and Warranties code says that advertising of these things shall be explicit, with sufficient information to apprise consumers of their principal terms and limitations and that advertisement should clearly reveal where the full text of the guarantee or warranty can be examined before purchase. This is necessary for advertisers, but not necessarily a code that could apply to journalists.

Advocacy is a professional value of PRSA. Their code states that they serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those they represent. The other professions don’t necessarily advocate as much as PR professionals do. It is especially important for journalists not to advocate and to provide alternative viewpoints in their work.

Minimizing harm is valued by the SPJ. It is necessary for journalists to treat sources, subjects, and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Journalists have to work very closely with their sources, and they also have the duty to seek the truth and report it. PR professionals and advertisers don’t necessarily have to work as closely with people about subjects that could be very sensitive. This is why it is more necessary to have minimizing harm as a value for journalists rather than advertisers and PR professionals.

Should there be one governing Code of Ethics?

I don’t think there should be one governing code of ethics for all of these different professions. I think all of them have the same general guidelines such as honesty, integrity, truth, respect and accountability.  But the jobs vary too much in some aspects to have one code of ethics apply to all of them. For example, journalists don’t need the code of bait advertising or price claims like the AAF has. Each code of ethics has specified what they expect of their professionals, and it is unreasonable to have one combined code of ethics that apply to some but not to all of the professionals in their respective jobs.

Codes of ethics are a necessity in every profession for many reasons. When an organization or profession has a set code of ethics, and it is perceived as an integral part of the organizations culture, when it is understood and when it is followed and enforced, it can provide protection for the organization. Why a code of ethics is important accoding to G.R. Claveria of eHow is because a code of ethics prevents unjust treatment, promotes goodness for everyone, brings out the best in individuals, holds people socially responsible and creates higher standards.

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