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Clickbait QT68

Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Guideline:

Journalists should present relevant information in context so the audience has adequate information on which to base decisions. Context is just as important as factual accuracy and can help readers fully understand an issue and its relevance to their daily lives.

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Senior quotes, wills:
Can harm students, damage credibility QT65

Posted by on May 6, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Senior wills, April Fool’s issues and senior quotes sometimes can be considered the three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

They  have minimal journalistic value and can quickly damage a staff’s –– and a school’s –– reputation and credibility.

Senior quotes present too much potential for damage and turn over too much control of your student publications to students who are not trained in legal and ethical considerations. Libel, innuendo, and bullying could be slipped into content, and it may slip past your editors or advisers, thus causing harm to students and damaging your publication.

Guideline:

Because senior quotes have minimal journalistic value and great potential for damage, they will not be used in school publications.

Social media post/question:

Senior quotes in your publications? 

Key points/action:

Students love senior quotes in the yearbook or newspaper, but what happens when a student slips something inappropriate in the quote? When does the editor decide what can and cannot go in? What if another student is bullied through a quote, and you don’t catch it? What if a double entendre slips in that no one recognizes? What if a student says something in September that they don’t want published in May? Can you guarantee every student will be equally represented?

Stance:

Senior quotes should be taken out of your yearbooks and replaced with better ways of telling student stories.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Senior quotes present too much potential for damage and turn over too much control of your student publications to students who are not trained in legal and ethical considerations. Libel, innuendo, and bullying could be slipped into content, and it may slip past your editors or advisers, thus causing harm to students and damaging your publication.

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Handling controversial ads/content QT51

Posted by on Feb 25, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Student media should not discriminate against advertising based on students’ personal beliefs.

For example, students should attempt to include advertisers from multiple perspectives. According to the federal court decision in Yeo v. Lexington, student editors have the right to reject advertisements and school administrators are not legally responsible for advertising decisions students make.

A potential advertiser proposes an ad for your student media concerning a controversial product or service — tanning salons, for example. It’s money, but you also know recent studies show the possible harmful effects of such tanning.

How do you handle the request? What obligations do you have in terms of social responsibility, ethics and health-related issues. Likewise, you may be presented with an ad for an organization many in your staff or student body do not support.

The best path to resolve those questions and face the issues is to prepare for them ahead of time.

Guidelines: Students should not discriminate against advertising based on their personal beliefs. For example, students should attempt to include advertisers from multiple perspectives. According to the federal court decision in Yeo v. Lexington, student editors have the right to reject advertisements and school administrators are not legally responsible for advertising decisions students make.

Question: Should there be a point when media don’t accept ads?

Key points/action: A potential advertiser proposes an ad for your student media concerning a controversial product or service — tanning salons, for example. It’s money, but you also know recent studies show the possible harmful effects of such tanning.

How do you handle the request? What obligations do you have in terms of social responsibility, ethics and health-related issues. Likewise, you may be presented with an ad for an organization many in your staff or student body do not support.

The best path to resolve those questions and face the issues is to prepare for them ahead of time.

Stance: While there are no quick and easy answers, you can build ethical room for discussion by anticipating the issues.

Reasoning/suggestions: First, is it a right v wrong situation? That’s easy. If a right v right ethical situation, then you should have a process of weighing issues.

Develop a set of criteria best suited to your school and its communities. Whose values are the most crucial to the communities? Harm no one? Free expression? Credible information and from which point of view?

Our recommendation is to develop an ethical guideline outlining your key values and then develop a checklist to help students through the decision-making process.

Resources: SPLC Advertising FAQs

Yeo v. Lexington

SPRC: Advertising

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

 

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Make it matter: Verification essential
as journalists seek truth QT46

Posted by on Jan 23, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments

by Kristin Taylor

One key component of every journalist’s ethical code is truth. Given that Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” their 2016 word of the year and the president has called venerable traditional news sources “fake news,” getting the facts right is more crucial than ever.

Verifying information is an essential part of the reporting process. Looking at real life examples such as the process NYT reporter Suzanne Craig used to verify Trump’s tax records will help to see the steps responsible reporters take to ensure accuracy.

Being accurate means verifying information gathering in the reporting process. Whether it’s how to spell a name or if the percentages the treasurer is giving you add up to 100, always question and check the facts.

One good method to corroborate “facts” you receive is to make sure others agree. Ask the same question to several sources and make sure you get the same answers. If you don’t, dig deeper.

You should practice identifying verifiable facts in article drafts and create strategies you can use to verify those facts, such as how to check quotes for accuracy without sharing the entire article draft with the source, how to use secondary sources to verify facts, how to check information with multiple sources to provide more context and how to verify images and information on social networks.

Some suggestions:

  • Set up multiple deadlines for stories so editors can watch reporters’ progress. This helps cut down on the last-minute rush to deadline when reporters run out of time to verify.
  • Be sure all reporters know what to say if a source – particularly a school administrator or an intimidating adult – asks to read a complete story ahead of time. Create a process wh
  • ere students can check quotes for accuracy without showing the source the whole piece.Ask multiple sources the same question to make sure their answers line up.

Guideline: Journalists should approach their reporting and interviewing with a healthy dose of skepticism. This doesn’t mean they should trust no one, but it means they should be aware of potential conflicts of interest or barriers to receiving accurate information. Reporters should always verify, even if the information seems incredibly obvious and simplistic. Verifying information is much like fact-checking. Students should seek multiple forms of evidence to confirm information.

Social Media Post/Question: Why is it important for students to verify information as part of the reporting process?

Reasoning/suggestions: One key component of every journalist’s ethical code is truth. That means being accurate, and accuracy means verifying. Whether it’s how to spell a name or if the percentages the treasurer is giving you add up to 100, always question and check the facts.

One good method to corroborate “facts” you receive is to make sure others agree. Ask the same question to several sources and make sure you get the same answers. If you don’t, dig deeper.

Verifying information is an essential part of the reporting process. Looking at real life examples such as the process NYT reporter Suzanne Craig used to verify Trump’s tax records will help students to see the steps responsible reporters take to ensure accuracy.

Students should practice identifying facts that can be verified in article drafts and create strategies reporters can use to verify those facts, such as how to check quotes for accuracy without sharing the entire article draft with the source, how to use secondary sources to verify facts, how to check information with multiple sources to provide more context and how to verify images and information on social networks.

Suggestions include:

  • Set up multiple deadlines for stories so editors can watch reporters’ progress. This helps cut down on the last-minute rush to deadline when reporters run out of time to verify.
  • Be sure all reporters know what to say if a source – particularly a school administrator or an intimidating adult – asks to read a complete story ahead of time. Create a process where students can check quotes for accuracy without showing the source the whole piece.
  • Ask multiple sources the same question to make sure their answers line up.

Resources:

The Time I Found Donald Trump’s Tax Records in My Mailbox” – Susanne Craig

American Press Institute’s guidelines for verification and accuracy

How do journalists verify? A Poynter Institute Media Wire column by Canadian researchers delves into the answers.

New research details how journalists verify information – Craig Silverman, Poynter

Tools for verifying and assessing the validity of social media and user-generated content – Josh Stearns and Leighton Walter Kille, Journalist’s Resource

FactChecking Day – Poynter

Fact-checking resources – SchoolJournalism.org

Are you a journalist? Download this free guide for verifying photos and videos – Alastair Reid

Should journalists outsource fact-checking to academics? – Alexios Mantzarlis

Journalists and their sources – Thomas Patterson (talk at Carnegie)

 

 

 

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Make it matter: Scholastic journalism
must do more than give facts QT45

Posted by on Jan 22, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Kristin Taylor
How can student journalists keep their publications relevant when information spreads faster than they can report it?

Professional journalists have struggled with this problem for years. Before the advent of the internet and social media, news producers — whether newspaper, radio or broadcast — were citizens’ primary source of information. News consumers found out about terrorists attacks and new government policies when they opened the morning paper or turned on the evening news.

In modern times, however, those gatekeepers have lost control. Now people have more information than they know what to do with. This flood of data creates a number of problems — especially in terms of helping people separate fact from fiction — but I want to focus today on the issue it creates in terms of engagement.

If news consumers have the facts about an event — or at least think they do — why should they care when the paper publishes a story about it? We hope they care because they trust traditional news sources to have a vetting process for their stories; unlike Tweets at 2 a.m., these stories have been fact-checked and include a variety of primary and expert sources to ensure truthfulness in a holistic sense. News literate consumers know the value of good journalism, we hope, and will therefore seek it out.

Beyond getting the facts right, good journalism has a larger responsibility to serve as sense-maker. “When most readers say they expect journalists to tell them what’s happening — whether that’s the latest outrages reported out of Kharkiv or city council in Kalamazoo — they mean connect the dots,” Ken Doctor writes. “No, they don’t want opinion — they want to know how the facts fit together to make an understandable whole.”

This is what sets major news sources such as the New York Times apart from local news sources, Doctor argues. “It’s authority,” he writes. “You read the Times to understand. Sometimes it does a better job of that than others, but its great success in reader revenue shows us its audience gets that part of the value equation. Yes, readers can get the facts of the Gaza War free in so many places, but they can’t get a volume of rich, contextual stories from both sides of the conflict elsewhere every day.”

In his essay “Journalism’s Moral Responsibility: Three Questions,” Bill Mitchell argues journalism has a moral obligation to cover important stories and help readers understand their importance. He poses three crucial questions:

  1. Do news organizations help citizens and communities, including political leaders, identify and respond to the most significant threats to well-being?
  2. Do news organizations pursue a well-grounded definition of what constitutes substantive coverage?
  3. Do news organizations take responsibility for how their work is pursued and how it is received?

The key, he argues, is to make important news salient. “In moral journalism, salient is more than important, interesting, or relevant. It’s more than selling a story that no one would otherwise read, or dumping it on an ignorant world with the righteous justification that it ought to be read. For journalists, Salient is a moral term, not a marketing one,” he writes. “Our moral responsibility is to cover significant threats to well-being, substantively, in such a way that our coverage leaps out, protrudes, and is strikingly and conspicuously prominent. So that it sears the conscience of our fellow citizens.”

He points to Laurel Leff’s research on the Times’ coverage of the Holocaust during 1939-1945. Leff found the Times did cover the Holocaust, but coverage tended to be on inside pages and was missing in editorial commentary and summaries of important news. In her report,

Leff writes, “Despite the detailed, credible information that was available, the American public actually did not know about the Holocaust while it was happening because mainstream American newspapers never presented the story of the extermination of the Jews in a way that highlighted its importance.” In other words, Mitchell concludes, “the Times had the story. It just didn’t make it salient.”

Mitchell’s essay aims at national and global news sources and news events on a much larger scale than those typical at a high school, clearly, but I believe this raises important questions for the moral responsibilities of scholastic journalists. If they want their reporting to matter — if they want their peers to read more than the humor columns or resta

Here are my suggestions for reworking Mitchell’s three questions for a scholastic journalism staff:

  1. Do you help members of the school community, including school and local leaders, identify and respond to the most significant problems affecting the community?
  2. Do you pursue a well-grounded definition of what constitutes substantive coverage, going beyond the who, what and where to explore how and why?
  3. Do you take responsibility for how your work is pursued

Although these questions are not a complete solution, they are a starting point for creating greater engagement without abandoning the most important stories.

Guideline:

Journalists should present relevant information in context so the audience has adequate information on which to base decisions. Context is just as important as factual accuracy and can help readers fully understand an issue and its relevance to their daily lives.

Social Media Post/Topic:

How can student journalists keep their publications relevant when information spreads faster than they can report it? Make it salient.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Staff members should not only fact-check their information but should also ask themselves questions such as “What does this story mean to my readers?” and “What do I want my readers to take away from this information?” This means gathering not only the 5Ws and H but also connecting dots for readers by helping them see related ideas, important relationships or significant background information. By assuming a topic is new to readers, editors can revise from the perspective of the audience and look for any holes that might be present.

Suggestions

  • Reporters should address all 5Ws and H. Training materials and checklists in the staff manual also should address helping readers understand what the information means and why it’s significant.
  • Part of the process may including asking members with no prior knowledge of a story to give feedback before publication or airing on whether the information provided is clear and paints a full picture of what is happening.
  • The staff manual should include material about how to solicit feedback from readers about what kinds of stories, details or information they need in order to better understand current events and make content salient.
  • Student media staffs should label analysis and opinion content so readers understand these are not objective news pieces.

 

Resources:

Good stories provide context, American Press Institute

Informing the news: The need for knowledge-based reporting, Journalists’ Resource

The newsonomics of how and why, Nieman Lab

Journalism’s Moral Responsibility: Three Questions, Poynter

10 essential principles from The Elements of Journalism, American Press Institute

“Context” is the new flavor for journalism, The Pomo Blog

Fast-Paced Journalism’s Neglect of Nuance and Context, Nieman Report

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