Homework for 402

English 402 is not all fun and games. Sometimes we have to write about things that do not pertain to our beat. And then I avoid responding to the topics because it’s mostly stuff that makes my brain hurt. I purposely don’t write these assignments down in my planner. (Shame, shame on me, I know.) But because I’ve realized that these assignments cannot just be “dropped,” I have to take an hour out of my free time to do this. And that’s how I learn: had I just been organized, and finished these assignments when they were due, I would not be suffering the consequences now. See what a tangled web we weave, kids?

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Ethics

It’s difficult to write a “brief summary” of issues that journalists and bloggers face today. The issues never stop, and quite frankly, as long as humans feel the need to nit-pick every situation the world faces and continue to have completely opposing views, journalism will continue.

The advances that media has seen within the last decade has transformed the world of journalism entirely. Humans now have the ability to change how they receive their news, when they get it, and what it says. It’s a change that some that are set in their ways about journalism, and others that are opening their arms to change, are having trouble finding common ground in.

The Society of Professional Journalists created a “Code of Ethics” in 1973. It’s a guideline containing redeeming qualities that they believe every journalist should uphold. It’s not something that regularly enforced, or legally binding. When one establishes themselves as a journalist, they are not signing their life away to the “Code of Ethics.” It’s just a guideline that merely sets standards in the field of journalism, and is held in high regard by many newsrooms across the country. The most recent “Code of Ethics” is from 1996, but still remains very relevant even in today’s evolving field of journalism.

In the case of the luge video, the family of the Nodar Kumaritashvili may feel uncomfortable seeing the video of their loved one being thrown from the track, but as far as I know of, news stations still remained ethical under The Society of Professional Journalists standards. Under the “Minimize Harm” section of the ethics it reads: “Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.” It’s true that the video of the Kumaritashvili is graphic, but that was the only thing shown. Videos and images of Kumaritashvili’s family while they are in distressed are not being shown, thus their grief is not being publicized.

Just because an image is graphic, and may make some uncomfortable while viewing does not mean that it does not deserve to be shown. In addition to finding a way to “ethically” show a video that which others find unethical, this news falls under another the “Seek Truth and Report It” section in which it guides journalists to “Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.”

Some groups or people may object to the showing of this video, but in accordance to a set of standards that are held high, this news story fits all the criteria.

The great thing about the “Code of Ethics,” is its encouragement of voicing grievances. So while many objected to the video, they were most likely given an opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter through the news station’s website.

The transformation of journalism from print to the web is one of the more genius, as well as complicated sides to ethics in modern journalism. It also tests the Society of Professional Journalists “Code of Ethics.” It’s a document that which was written before the radical changes in journalism, yet is still able to stay relevant. It just goes to show that the way we view and receive news may change, but the standards we create do not falter.

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Maps

Stores to help you organize
Map of the Big Five
Around La Salle: crime, real estate, health inspections. More than I want to know.
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Using manyeyes, I took a previously created data set (words associate with organization) and made it into a map. It’s non-traditional, but more focused on my blog topic.

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Online Law

Because online journalists are their own editor and representative, it is especially important idea that they have some knowledge about communication law (comm. law for short).

Two very important topics within comm. law are defamation and copyright.

According to Poynter Institutes NewsU course, defamation is injury to an individual or companies reputation caused by the publication of untrue statements. Libel is written defamation and slander is spoken defamation. For a defamation case to be won by the plaintiff, they must prove that the facts the defendant reported are untrue, there was carelessness in reporting, and/or the journalist had prior knowledge of the statement being untrue.

The best way to avoid defamation claims is easy. Always report the truth. And if you’re expressing your own opinion (which should not happen in a news story), make sure that it is clearly expressed that it is a statement of opinion, not fact.

It is especially important for online journalists to know and understand copyright law. Copyright law covers any “original works of authorship.” An idea cannot be protected under copyright, only the work created from that idea.

There is also the issue of fair use. Fair use is having the ability to use someone else’s work within your own, as long as you are giving the owner credit, and including criticism/comment about the work, not what it depicts.

There are a few simple rules that any online journalist should follow to avoid getting in trouble:

  • -Report the truth, and only the truth.
  • -Mark works of fiction as fiction.
  • -Education is key! Know what libel, slander, copyright and fair use are.
  • -Know that this is the internet, and anything that you publish can be seen world-wide.
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