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.