Friday, November 30, 2007

Dangerous Job

This blog post is based on the article “Baghdad, Iraq: The Scariest Dateline in Journalism.” When I read the article I realized there were several things in it that were worth bringing into my post. The following are things that really stuck out to me while reading the article.

-87% of the 111 major news reporters surveyed said it was “too dangerous” to reveal oneself as a reporter (by carrying a camera or notebook).

-57% say that at least one of their local staff was killed in the last year alone.

- One broadcast editor says, “You want to go out and cover stories, but you cannot because of the threat of kidnapping or worse. It’s hard to hear commentators back home say, ‘The media isn’t covering the full story.’ Well, there’s a reason for that, and it’s not bias. And when journalists cannot cover a playground being rebuilt because it’s too dangerous to travel around the city, then that playground is not the primary story.”

These statistics are amazing, and quite frankly somewhat depressing. Iraq is such a dangerous place that 87% of the reporters surveyed said they are scared about doing anything that would give them away as a journalist/reporter. Can you imagine having that fear everyday in your job? Let’s say you are a mail delivery person. All you have to do is deliver mail to 100 homes a day. However, you can’t let anyone see you or figure out who you are. No uniform, no truck. You can’t just freely walk up to doors and slip the mail in the box. You have to sneak up there and slip it in and hope to not get caught. Would you be scared? I know I would be. Of the journalists surveyed in Iraq, 57% of them have experienced the death of a co-worker. Think of our post office employee again. Would you go to work still?

Journalists have a very dangerous job, especially those serving in Iraq. Every day they are placing their lives on the line so that those of us not in Iraq can see what is going on. There is a big call in our nation right now to support our troops, but maybe we need to add something to that saying. Support our troops and the journalists covering the Iraqi war. They are both doing the best they can in some extreme circumstances.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Citizen Journalism

A man was recently tasered to death at a Vancouver airport. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Wait till you the video!

…wait…what? Who would shoot a video of something like that?

Have you seen the video of Michael Richards (Kramer character on Seinfeld) ruining his career in a night club.

Oh! How about the hotel that was recently imploded? Review of video tapes have led the police to believe someone may have been inside the building when it fell.

Some quick thoughts there, but what do they all have in common? Each of these videos was shot by a citizen. Citizen journalism is becoming a much more common practice. More often now people have video capabilities on their cell phones which they almost always have with them. Digital cameras also have the capability to record and are becoming smaller and easier to carry around in a pocket or purse. With this increase in technology comes more citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism is not something you get a degree in or need any special training for. It is simply a citizen doing the job of a reporter. The three video examples above were all videotaped by someone who just happened to be in the right spot at the right time. They used their recording devices to capture a moment they felt was newsworthy. If Michael Richards had said the same things fifteen years ago there is a pretty good chance he would still have respectable career. Unfortunately someone caught his words on tape and then released that tape to the media for the entire world to see. That image of Richards in the club and the language coming out of his mouth is still very clear all because a citizen decided to record what was happening.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Responsibilities of a journalist

As we all know, journalists have a duty to inform the citizens for whom they are working. Through reporters writing their stories, the public is let in on many different meetings, debates, and other things that could affect their lives. Journalists and reporters hold the responsibility of informing the public and keeping a watchful eye on the public employees. Journalists serve as a sort of system of checks and balances. They gather the facts and check to make sure they are all accurate. If they find something wrong, they can dig deeper to get the whole story. In their articles they can relay what they have found to the public. The public, having now been informed, can choose whether or not to take action.

Ken Paulson, editor of the USA Today, recently addressed a group of journalists, lawyers, and other public citizens at an event held in Indiana. He stressed the importance of this civic duty that journalists hold.

"Framers of the Constitution guaranteed a free press that would take a stand for liberty and justice, and that mission has not changed."

Journalists are protected by the Constitution so that they can bring us fair and accurate news. It is a great responsibility to take on, but can be very worthwhile.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I know what is going on!

Some quick questions before I write this blog-

-Who are the top three presidential candidates for both the republican and democratic parties?

-Who jumped up and down on Oprah's couch?

-What brand of pizzas were recently recalled? Why were they recalled?

- Who decided to leave the underwear at home when going to a club?

How many of these questions could you answer? Chances are you could answer at least two, but ideally you'd be able to answer all four. As a nation we are becoming less aware of the news that is significant to us and instead are focusing on news that has no impact on our lives. Even the evening news anchors are telling stories about the latest Hollywood screw-ups right along side stories about the President.

Carl Bernstein, who is famous for the papers he turned over in the 70s concerning the Watergate scandal, recently spoke to a group of students concerning the news. He discussed the importance of actual news versus celebrity news. His concern is that journalists are spending too much time worrying about celebrities and their lives than they are worrying about important topics such as the war in Iraq. The blame cannot all be given to journalists however. They are only writing for their audience which seems to be more interested in the life of those living in Hollywood.

This was a short article, but definitely worth a read. I have posted the link below.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"News at 7"

Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois has come up with a new way to get the news to students. This will be done through a program called "News at 7." The news will be presented in a video format with two news anchors reading the articles. Students will be able to choose which types of news they want to have reported to them. Topics will range from things like hometown football team scores to the war in Iraq and latest celebrity gossip. The way it sounds, the student would receive a daily e-mail with their selected news in it. One of the goals of this program is to reach more students with the news. It is becoming harder to reach the younger generation. Whether they are too busy or just do not care about polotics, economics, and healthcare is still up in the air. This new program though would give them a chance to get involved.
The downside to this program though would be the fact that the users would have the option to choose what they want delievered to them. It is hoped that they will choose a variety of news to become a more educated citizen. This may not end up being the case however. Some people might use for just celebrity news and gossip. While this is certainly an option for the users, it would not meet the project's goal. Entertainment news does not necessarily help someone become a better citizen. Knowing that Britney Spears lost visitation rights to her children is not going to get a person very far in a discussion about the latest plans for healthcare reform. News at 7 sounds like a wonderful idea, but only when used for its intended purpose.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Actual NEWS feed on Facebook

Fewer young people are paying attention to the news and what is happening in the world around them. Why is this? I think it is fair to say that part of it is due to the young people spending their time differently. When teens are online they do not usually visit sites such as or their local TV stations. They tend to head for sites like or A recent article on discussed possibly placing some news stories on Facebook in an attempt to reach this younger audience and keep them informed.
“We should use online to try and get new audience to our websites. This is a no-brainer,” Kathy Schwartz Director of Marketing Operations at Pocono Mountains Media Group said.
Over the summer, Facebook added many new applications for users to put on their profiles such as daily Bible versus, aquariums, Top Friends, and videos. As far as I know there was never a news link added though. Schwartz has a good idea with adding this feature to Facebook. Newspaper readership is not very high in the younger generations. Since Facebook is where they are spending most of their time it seems that it would be very beneficial for a news organization to get involved on there too. I know I would add a daily news feed if it was an option. It is important for younger generations to stay informed, especially with an upcoming election.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Turmoil in Myanmar

Blogs have become a very important part of our media. Every day, more people are starting up blogs, whether to make a point or state their opinion on an issue. Ko Htike, a man from London has a blog that he has been paying a lot of attention to recently. His blog is focused on bringing the latest news to the world from the daily violence in Myanmar. Htike lived in Myanmar until seven years ago when he moved to London to study. Every day he gets up at 3 a.m. to update himself on what has happened. He blogs daily to let others keep up to date as well. Right now he is averaging 20,000 visitors on his site everyday. Citizens of Myanmar send Htike photos and video footage of the daily violence that is ravaging their streets. The citizens take the photos out of their windows at their homes for fear of being caught. Being caught recording these events could lead to death. Htike realizes the danger these people face, but he appreciates it. He feels it is very important that the world knows what is happening. Blogging is a great way to show others how you are feeling or what your thought is on a particular issue, but only if it does not endanger others. Journalists have a responsibility to bring accurate news to citizens, but only if that news does not put others lives in danger.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Journalism Laws- China vs US

In the United States, reporters are protected by many laws. The main law protecting journalists and reporters is the First Amendment. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no laws abridging freedom of speech, freedom of the press, peaceable assembly, freedom of religious establishment of free exercise…” The freedom of speech and press are the two things that allow journalists to do their jobs without a constant fear of being arrested for what they report. This does not mean, however, that they are able to write whatever they feel like. There are some restrictions with topics. Things that could be considered defamation, such as libel and slander, are not allowed. Sometimes the line between what is ok for reporting and what would be better kept to the reporter is not very clear. Reporters have found themselves being arrested for things they wrote, even when they felt they had done no wrong.

Zhao Yan is one of the most recent reporters who were arrested for one of their stories. Yan is a Chinese researcher for the New York Times. He was arrested in 2004 and served a three year sentence in Beijing, China. Initially he was charged with writing a report that then-leader Jiang Zemin's planned to step down as head of the military. Yan was acquitted of this charge, but later convicted of fraud. He was accused of taking $2500 from a man and promising to reduce that man’s prison sentence.

Had Yan been in the United States and tried printing the article, it is questionable whether his story would have been printed. It did deal with the military leader stepping down, but the Chinese were not at war during that time. A story about the leader of the military stepping down would not have that much of an impact on national security. Looking at it that way, it is likely his story would have been printed here and he would not face the prison sentence. However, because he was on Chinese soil, the protective laws he has here in the United States, did not carry over.

Yan was just recently released from prison and is glad to be back with his family. He plans to stick with his career in journalism.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Paper versus Online

Many of us are aware of the transition newspapers are going through, that is, the transitions from paper copies to online copies. In a world of convenience and immediacy newspapers are doing all that they can to keep up with their demanding readers. In our advancing technologically minded world, people want to know exactly what is happening the minute after it happens. Obviously newspapers are not able to keep up with this demand in their paper copies. By the time a paper came off the press, it would already be outdated. By posting information on websites, newspapers can offer readers the most up to date information available. All this leaves us at this question: is anyone still picking up the daily paper and reading through it?

A recent article from Business Reporter focused on Canada and the shift from paper copies to online copies occurring there. A study done by the Newspaper Audience Databank, Inc (NADbank) found that about fifty percent of adults are reading a newspaper on a daily basis. Another seventy-five percent of people stated that they read at least one newspaper during the week. The newspapers being read were actual paper copies, but the study also looked at people who were getting their news online. Twenty percent of adult citizens in Toronto stated that they got their news from online. While this percentage seems low compared to the fifty percent reading the daily paper copy, it is on the rise. More and more people are choosing to get their news online for a variety of reasons. Could this increased traffic to online newspaper sites mean the end of the daily newspaper? Probably not for a while, but it is hard to know with the way things have been going. Humans’ need to have the most current news immediately after it is available is causing a huge shift in the way news is being reported.