Posts made in September, 2010

Making a list…

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The Center for Scholastic Journalism’s Candace Bowen, in response to a request on the JEA listserv, started a wish list for administrators  that would make student staffs’ lives easier and more effective.

We would encourage you to check out that list and add to it.

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Supporting the SPLC by shopping eBay

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By bidding on several items on eBay within the next four days, you can help the Student Press Law Center and purchase parts of journalism history.

Journalism teacher Jan Ewell placed on eBay several The New Republic magazines containing articles that led to Stephen Glass’ discrediting as a journalist. These are the articles mentioned in the movie Shattered Glass.

Ewell said the magazines are no longer available from The New Republic or the library services that index or sell the magazine. To search  for the magazines on eBay, open eBay.com and search for 120623945822. That will get you to one of the magazines and you can find the others by clicking on a “see other items” link that allows you to see what else the seller is offering.

Magazines for sale are:

• Stephen Glass.  “Probable Claus: A neurotic society turns on Saint Nick.” The New Republic January 6 and 13, 1997.

• Stephen Glass.  “Holy Trinity: How St. Paul, St. Peter and St. Warren made deficit-cutting the new gospel of American politics.” The New Republic January 27, 1997.

• Stephen Glass. “Rock the Morons:  Celebrating the inaugural with Rock the Vote.” The New Republic, February 10, 1997

• Stephen Glass.  “Don’t You D.A.R.E. The anti-drug program called D.A.R.E is popular, well-funded and widespread.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work—and say so can get you in big trouble. The New Republic March 3, 1997

• Stephen Glass.  “Writing on the Wall:  The battle over motivational ‘art,’ corporate America’s hottest and cheesiest new fad.” The New Republic March 24, 1997.

• Stephen Glass.  “Spring Breakdown: A lost weekend with conservatism’s drunk, dejected and angry younger generation.” The New Republic March 31st, 1997.

• Stephen Glass. “Cheap Suits: Larry Klayman’s zest for litigation against the Clinton administration has made him the heartthrob of the blue-haired Republican Ladies everywhere.” The New Republic October 6, 1997.

• Stephen Glass.  “On the Hill: Kicked Out: The GOP gets nasty with immigrants—again.” The New Republic October 20, 1997.

• Stephen Glass.  “No Free Launch: The scientific fictions behind the crusade against plutonium satellites.” The New Republic November 3, 1997.

• Stephen Glass. “Washington Diarist:  Ratted Out” (Column)  The New Republic, December 22, 1997.

• AND TNR’s page 8 “To Our Readers” revealing the results of their investigation.”  June 29, 1998.

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The power of choosing the right words – and images

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Whether it’s news about a tornado that hit New York City recently, the use of mosque in stories about the World trade Center or just how scholastic journalists refer to those they report, choosing the right words, and knowing their various meanings, is just another example of ethical decision making.

Consider these articles as classroom guideposts on content and ethical issues:

• In Six Lessons for Journalists and Consumers in Statue of Liberty Tornado Photo, a Making Sense blog at Poynter, Steve Myers urged journalists to be skeptical when presented with being “scooped.” Points he makes include “Check your source” and “apply a critical eye” because if we don’t “our readers will.”

“It’s hard to pick up on subtext in e-mails,” he writes. “It’s even harder to do so on Twitter, where earnest, nutjob and ironic tweets all look the same — especially to strangers.”

• Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark, in one of his Writing Tools pieces, talks about the language use, in particular the difference between denotation and connotation. Word associations, he quotes himself from The Glamor of Grammar, “The fair choice of words is one of the most important and common challenges in American speech, writing and politics.” Clark stresses that word choices can be loaded even when the reporter does not intend to create an editorial view.

• To tie it all together, teach from this 2005 post by Clark, Red Light, Green Light: A Plea For Balance in Media Ethics.

“Language, we know, reflects reality, but also helps define it,” Clark wrote then. “The words we choose will determine how journalists and the public see the world ethically.”

His words apply today, if not even more so.

The power of words is immense. Let’s learn to empower to our sense of freedom by using words to enlighten and illuminate accurately, not to trivialize or sensationalize.

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Making sense of media: It’s not time for death knells

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As part of his Ender series, author Orson Scott Card titled one book Speaker for the Dead. Ender, a child who had vanquished an alien threat to humanity, left Earth and spent time speaking for the dead, talking of people’s  lives, their hopes and fears, their successes and their failures.

Although some would currently argue otherwise, Ender could not yet speak about the death of journalism, especially as it concerns print media.

Journalism is not, and will not be, dead. Print is not, and will not be, dead.

Morphed, mutated and changed: maybe.

And, because of these potential changes, we need to speak about –and guide – students through its transformation by making sense of that process and keep the best standards of the fourth estate, or legacy journalism, alive.

One way to make sense of the changes media are undergoing would be to follow Poynter’s Making Sense Project. That’s easy enough to do by going to the Kent State Poynter Next Ethics site, clicking on Today’s Archives and then clicking on Kelly McBridge’s nearly hour-long session. Questions raised, ethical and political, are well worth your time.

Some points McBride made in her session:
• We are finding a lot of new players in media and they don’t always have the same sense of traditional values we do.
• The lines between journalism and the rest of media are very, very blurry. Jon Stewart is a classic example as a news source to a whole generation. The “rest of the media” includes infotainment and a growing “fifth estate” which encompasses new, social and citizen media.
• We are no longer able to trust that information itself will abide by any sense of standards.
• Citizens are going to need a new set of skills regarding information just to be participating members in a democracy, consuming as well as creating information.

For example, under the heading of  “why are we so worried” about changes in the ways people access information, McBride cited Sarah Palin’s Facebook page as an example of fifth estate media that requires special skills people would need to understand.

She said the Palin site is “very well managed” so those who go there receive highly controlled and laundered information and views, nothing controversial or opposite of her views, according to information gathered by Slate. “People who get information from Sarah Palin’s Facebook site have a very distorted understanding of who they are as a group,” McBride said, “because the information is managed. It’s not the information Sarah puts out; it’s this community and how they understand themselves that’s been massaged to fit some of the political agenda Sarah Palin has. It’s distortion, if not outright deception.”

The Making Sense presentation raises important issues and questions worth our consideration, and classroom time for discussion.

While the existing business model of print journalism fades and changes, traditional journalistic principles need to live as the base for continued legacy media and new media for the future – not only as used by its practioners but for its consumers.

In that way we will not speak of the death of journalism. We will participate in its adaptation.

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Celebrate Constitution Day by seeking answers

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Today we celebrate Constitution Day as all schools are mandated to by federal law.

To focus this celebration of the Constitution’s 223 birthday, let’s ask ourselves and our school officials a few questions:
• If we don’t train our students to practice and believe in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, how can we possibly expect the coming fifth estate (journalism’s and civic journalism’s use of social media) to fulfill their mission of civic involvement and awareness? Without freedoms, while they are in school, as citizens they will barely be media literate.
• Are comments on social media and in response to articles in the media becoming ruder because people in many communities have no outlet to expression themselves freely, with responsibility, while in school because of censorship?
• Along the same lines, do people feel they have a right to anonymity in making online comments because it is the only way they could express themselves during their school years? Is the reason many youth favor anonymity of online comments stem from a lack of ability to freely discuss issues in our schools?
• Should we be educating students to be consumers of news, to be media literate, so they can engage in public discourse and intelligently handle discussions in a democracy?

In celebrating our democratic heritage – and future – today, let’s highlight the importance of free and responsible student expression. In so many ways it is the key to another 223 years of our freedoms.

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