Thursday, March 25, 2010

Journalism and Faith

I can't help but feel that religion is extremely individual and personal for each human being. People interpret things in different ways. That's probably why I sometimes cringe at news stories or articles based on religion. Yes, I feel it imperative that we learn of others' faiths. But, I feel that the majority of stories have somewhat negative connotations. This is not anything foreign to the news community. Usually, if it bleeds it leads. Meaning, people watch the gruesome stories, the adulterous stories, the criminal stories. Maybe society would learn more about each religion if we did focus more on the good. I am not saying that all stories on differing religions need to be rainbows and butterflies. However, an informative piece here and there wouldn't hurt. I feel that this article here in TIME magazine does a good job of covering the facts of Mormonism - and when they insert opinions they make it clear they are just opinions. I think learning is so much better than bashing one's religion.
"Many people about whom journalists write are inspired by their faith and use their faith in dealing with the challenges and tragedies that they face," (Mind, 81). This reminds me of a recent story covered by KSL and Entertainment Tonight among others. Marie Osmond's son committed suicide this past month and the funeral was held in Provo. President Monson spoke at the funeral and his words were directed to the family. Reporters were there. Cameras were not allowed inside. KSL's religion & arts reporter, Carole Mikita, attended the funeral and then reported on it that day. I thought she did a great job showing how the family's faith got them through their loss. She didn't go into little details and the story was not focused on the suicide, but on the service. I think this story is what most should aim for when dealing with similar situations.
I also feel that a piece of our conscience will be in all of our stories. We have discussed in previous class periods how we cannot fully check our biases at the door when covering a story. Religion is no execption. Personally, I am not one who is dying to read the latest religion piece, honestly, I find them somewhat dull. I agree with what was said in class: Religion is a hard-to sell story. Journalists only like to talk about things they can prove. Our job description is based on finding and reporting the facts. Therefore, it's hard to tell of things people say they know from a higher source.
I thought the statistic shared in class that 81% of Americans said that prayer was an important part of their lives was a little surprising. From personal experience, I feel that I would not have chosen this major without some divine intervention. I feel that in a medium that has taken such a hard hit in recent years, journalism needs good, honest people in the industry. I can't help but feel that I am supposed to meet people from different backgrounds through this career. I know I would not be here if it weren't for my Heavenly Father putting people and various opportunities in my life to get me this far. In one way or another, He has helped me in each story.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mesa in March

Why do I live in Provo? Everytime I leave home to head back up to school after Christmas break I ask myself this question. But, I have not been to Mesa in the month of March since my senior year of high school...three years ago. (Man, I'm getting up there). I found after our little trip this past was even harder to leave.

The weather was beautiful. We just beat the orange blossoms...bummer. Sunny with a high of 75.

There was one point in our eventful drive that I will never forget. We were driving through the canyon between St. George and Vegas. Kate was reading "The Last Lecture" to me and we both were crying our eyes out. Just bawling. Great book - go get it. We made pretty good time both ways. Except for the dam traffic...we were at a dead stop for about 10 minutes. Kate did some investigating...

The little Sherlock decided it was due to road construction...right she was!

We even got a litte giddy at our first QT sighting.

It was so wonderful to be welcomed home by these two!

Oh how I have missed them!

We made it safely to the Hink household, but as I pulled out of their driveway I felt something wheel was veering to left. I didn't think anything of until the next morning when my entire car was lopsided. Turns out...bad flat tire. We drove over 700 miles and it happened when we got home? Tender mercy. I was so grateful! Could you imagine...Katelin and Kylee pulled over on the side of the road somewhere between Kingman and Wickenburg...bad news. I may be ignorant, but not stupid...I double-checked and made sure the Triple A card was in my wallet before we left. Still, that could have been no bueno. Needless to say, Douglas spent an hour teaching me how to change a tire. He's the best.

Next up...Nicole and Sam's Wedding. They looked beautiful! Just beaming. They could not have picked a better day to get married. The weather was prime. Remind me to get married in March.

Colee and I played softball together throughout high school. She is one of the best girls I know. I remember watching her practice and thinking, "Is this girl for real?!" She worked so hard, yet had so much fun. Every day is brighter with Nicole. She is a party. She comes from one of the best families I know. They are such great people. During long weekend softball tournaments I felt as if they were my own. Lisa and Marv are so supportive, loving, and welcoming. Cliche, I know...but I feel honored and blessed to have them in my life. was great to see some of our good friends who got back from their missions. He's baccckkkk...the one and only Micah Yetter.

Ladies and gentlemen...your 2007 3-Pt. Basketball Shootout State Champion...Jesse Blair. He's nicer than ever.

Hellooo Senior Prom Dates!

So great to see Mal Pal.

And...the happy married couple.

You made such a beautiful bride, Nicole. Sam Shreeve, you are one lucky guy. I could not be happier for you two. Everything turned out just as I had hoped! Well...another one down...they're dropping like flies.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ethics in Journalism

Each journalist must have a personal code of ethics in order to obtain any credibility in the field. We all have a conscience, which helps us to know right from wrong. Even if our personal compasses do not point due north in every decision, when we work in the field of journalism our integrity is being watched and therefore, cannot be compromised. A journalist's conscience plays a huge role in his/her day-to-day life. Personally, I think a journalist should already have a plan if a decision arises. Yes, it's a deadline-oriented field. Yes, it's an extremely stressful industry. But, if this is your path, then you know of possible circumstances that can arise. It's best to already know how you will respond if the opportunity to plagiarize comes about. Here are some predesigned guidelines. Sure, when you are under a crunch you may be tempted to take a short-cut or use someone else's work without proper citation. I feel if you have your mind made up those thoughts are less likely to enter.

Newsrooms need not only a diversity of races, but also a diversity of backgrounds. Each individual brings something unique to the table. We all have various backgrounds. Did we grow up in big city, or a small suburb? Everything in our past shapes us into what we are today. Here are some diversity guidelines that some newsrooms have already adopted. If you have a newsroom full of people with similar mindsets, how is that going to help your audience? Your audience is most likely a wide array of various people with differing backgrounds. A newsroom should almost be a small sample size of the targeted audience.

I feel that every journalist is responsible for ethical journalism. Every person that works to print a newspaper or works to get the newscast on throughout the day should be dedicated and work toward high ethical standards. I also think an ethical journalist has the public's best interest at heart. Bob Woodward is one that comes to mind. Because newsrooms are not democracies they are dictatorships, news directors must be ethical journalists. They are ultimately in charge.

I agree with most of what was said in class. I thought this presentation was extremely informative and it made me think of new ideas as well. I also feel that ideally, newsrooms should be a place where diversity and conscience can thrive. I do feel that our appearance, personality, and qualities could stop us from rising in this profession. It is the role of citizens, not consumers, to watch what they support so specific ratings increase and journalists know where they stand.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Watchdog Journalism

One of the main duties journalists fulfill is that of a watchdog. This is one of the first and most important things I learned in my beginning journalism courses. Journalism is viewed as the fourth branch or entity of the government in addition to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Journalists have the responsibility to find the truth for their audience. This entails asking the tough questions and conducting investigations. We must question those that make influential decisions that will affect society. I liked the quote by comedian Finley Peter Dunne shared in class regarding the purpose of journalism to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." I hadn't heard this before but it makes sense. However, this phrase does aid in the misunderstanding of the watchdog principle. The Committee of Concerned Journalists says, "The concept is deeper and more nuanced than the literal sense of afflicting or comforting would suggest. As history showed us, it more properly means watching over the powerful few in society on behalf of the many to guard against tyranny." Here are some examples of the watchdog principle misunderstood. We truly are in this business to help people, to give a voice to the voiceless. We must inform the public when powerful institutions are not performing up to par as well as when they are excelling.

In the end, I feel that all reporting is investigative. It's part of our job description. We must be curious. We must consider other alternatives. There are two sides to every story and we must cover them both. However, there are particular stories and involve more undercover work than others. Some suggest that with the decline of newspapers investigative journalism will cease to exist. An article I read suggests the increase of online-only outfits focused on investigative journalism will prove most successful.

I enjoyed this presentation and class discussion. Personally, I feel that it's essential to have an independent audit for all parties. A balancing check can only help. I have pondered on the thought posed in class, "Can we ever stop being journalists?" I feel that it's extremely difficult to put down the notepad of facts and pick up the hat of advocacy. In relation to social media sites...we do need to watch what we blog about, what we highlight in our Tweets, and what we post as our Facebook status.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ideology and the Journalist

"Objectivity. Detachment. Impartiality. Many journalists wear these credentials as a referee in a football game might wear his pinstripes to indicate his neutral role on the playing reality - journalists can no more disconnect themselves from their worldviews and value systems than can anyone else," (The Mind of a Journalist, 61). In class, we discussed how journalists, or anyone for that matter, cannot be truly objective in any situation. I agree with the notion that our experiences, backgrounds, upbringings, etc., affect us in such a way that we really never can check our biases at the door. Many newsrooms have Codes of Ethics, such as this one that states, "He/she is, and must be, basically objective, especially in his/her interpretation of events in daily life and in attributing to each news item the location, space, importance, interpretation that it truly deserves." Ironic, huh? I think so. How are newsrooms supposed to require their reporters to be objective, when it's essentially impossible? I think they should encourage their journalists to find the facts and be as balanced as possible. Michael Perlstein said regarding objectivity, "A nobel goal, perhaps, but a goal that can never be attained," (Mind, 63).
Sociologist, Herbert J. Gans described eight different journalstic values (I have linked some examples):
1. Ethnocentrism - Viewing the world through the lens of your own culture. Onmy study abroad to London, England, we talked alot about trying to break down those barriers that cause us to judge different cultures. We must learn to be as open-minded as possible.
2. Altruistic Democracy - Writing articles on "government for the people by the people"
3. Responsible Capitalism - Threats to this value are seen as news
4. Order - Crime is a big news story because it's a threat to Americans who value order.
5. Moderatism - Americans fear extremites like fascism or communism.
6. Leadership - Journalists can focus on poor leaders as well as heroes who lead others out of trouble.
7. Small-Town Pastoralism - longing for simpler times, nostalgia.
8. Rugged Individualism - living the American Dream
These are all reasons why reporters choose the stories they do.
Is the media as a whole biased? FOX News has said they are conservative, to offset the other news stations' liberal views. But, John Goldberg, who currently works for FOX but used to work at CBS for years said that there was rampant bias in CBS, more so than FOX. People may argue that the media is too liberal.
Personally, I think that ideology should be recognized. Clearly, we are not going to get rid of it, so people must be wary and take it into consideration.
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