The use of anonymous sources continues to raise issues within journalistic circles.
Given our recent post on the importance of substantive reporting at the scholastic media level, we find this article, Are you really willing to go to jail over your anonymous source? by Poynter’s Kelly McBride interesting and full of important discussion points for scholastic classrooms.
Given the need for more such reporting on teen-related issues, it should bring valuable discussion. Let us know how the discussions went.
For more information on the use of anonymous sources and disclosing sources, go to:
• Use anonymous sources with care
• Welcome to the sausage factory
• Anonymous sourcing
For another good look at what constitutes common copyright errors, look at the latest 10,000 Words by Mark S. Luckie. A tip of the Tweet to Poynter’s Ellyn Angelotti.
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.
Poynter’s Kelly McBride talked about Poynter’s Making Sense study of media this morning at the Poynter-Kent State Media Ethics Workshop. You can find a lot of usable information from this session at the workshop’s website.
Some key points:
• 31 percent of people say they want news from outlets with which they share a point of view
• 49 percent say they prefer news from sites with no discernible point of view
• Checks and balances are being created for fifth estate media distortion and misinformation which has a growing potential to become the “Big Lie.”
Video of all sessions will be available as the day continues, and live streaming is available now.
Essential to the distribution of information that strengthens the credibility of scholastic media and its integrity, whether by legacy media or multimedia, is sound information gathering and attribution.
Some interesting resources that can supply needed perspective and depth, build credibility and demonstrate leadership roles through reporting:
• Journalist’s Resource from Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy which provides access to sources for plenty of strong story ideas that can be localized.
• NewsU from The Poynter Institute. NewsU offers free (and some for pay) online courses where your students can learn everything from basic reporting skills to how to handle international reporting. Even better, the courses are not just all print, but cover extensive multimedia skills and topics. Students can self-direct through the courses or teachers can use them in class.
• The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press offers extensive research that can be used to localize stories. A link to a July 15, 2010 survey on political knowledge is especially interesting. Other Pew resources include Journalism.org which provides more research but also links to numerous resources, including the principles of journalism.
• Part 2 of a continuing series on missions of scholastic media and how to achieve them from The Center of Scholastic Journalism.
Credibility is a fleeting commodity.
A sound information agenda, using reliable sources, can go a long way to ensure credibility.