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Credibility strengthened with
use of sources in opinion pieces

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Writers should show they have done research and interviews in opinion pieces just as they do in objective reporting.

Doing this provides credibility and authority to their views. It also shows audiences the students are informed on the issue.

Each opinion story should show sufficient research which has informed the writer’s viewpoint.

Include sources in opinion writing for credibility, verification

Guideline:

In opinion stories, writers should demonstrate they have done sufficient research and interviews to inform themselves of all sides of the issue for which they are writing and/or to allow for right of response from subjects who may be mentioned in the story.

Social media post/question:

Why do I need to include sources if it’s my opinion?

Stance:

The writer of an exemplar opinion story should have sources including in-person responses from stakeholders, sourced quotes from other publications or sourced background information.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Students often view the opinion pages of the newspaper as an easier assignment because the incorrectly assume all they have to do is write their opinion.

To maintain credibility with their readers and/or to show balance, publication staffers must show they have made every effort to inform themselves of all sides of the issue. They also must reach out to experts or stakeholders who may add to their story and/or who may be challenged by their story. Consider adding in, as one of your guidelines, that each opinion story should show sufficient research which has informed the writer’s viewpoint.

Resources:

Persuasive writing: Take a stand

How to write an op-ed or column

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time for informed civic engagement

Posted by on Aug 20, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

2018 is the season of the which

by John Bowen, MJE

Student journalists must learn to face key questions this fall, not only in terms of scholastic media but also in terms of informed civic engagement:

For example, which information inundating them deserves their belief and active support and which deserves their active skepticism:
• Which version of the truth about collusion in the issues surrounding election meddling?
• Which vision of what America stands for will prevail in the 2018 midterm elections?
• Which political, social, scientific, medical, cultural and educational positions most accurately present reality?
• Which skills will students develop so they cannot only tell the difference between information, misinformation and disinformation but act successfully on those differences?

Responding and acting on these questions – and others below – are among the SPRC’s mission this year.

In other words, when students question authority, as citizens or journalists, they must also question what authority said, authorities’ credibility and reliability and what authority has to gain.

Some call this skeptical knowing or learning. Not cynicism. Not the attack dog theory of media.

The watchdog.

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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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Students making content decisions – 1
Administrative review – 0

Posted by on Sep 16, 2015 in Blog, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoby Candace Perkins Bowen
Even media staffs that have been the well-respected voice of a large, diverse student body sometimes run into problems with administrators. And sometimes a few tweaks of the editorial policy or staff manual could get them through the rough spots and apparently back on track to publish what they know their readers need and want to know.

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User-generated content

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Foundations_mainEthical guidelines
sprclogo
Journalists should treat user-generated content the same as any content they create in terms of accuracy, verification, credibility, reliability and usability.

Given its growing use by various forms of media, student journalists should develop guidelines on how, when and why it should be used.

Staff manual process
Student journalists should establish a plan to vet all information and images before publishing them. All journalists should be trained in the use of this plan.

Suggestions
Before your students publish information or images from anyone outside the staff:
• Independently verify and validate it
• Positively identify sources
• Verify sources what sources say with other trusted sources
• Check for copyright infringement
• Verify the location 

Resources
How is User-generated Content Used in TV News, Neiman Lab
Guardian Launches Platform for User-generated Content, The Guardian
How Journalists Verify User-generated Content, Information on Social Media, The Poynter Institute
Ethics Guide: User-generated content (UGC) and Comments, Gatehouse Media (GHNewsroom.com)
Tools for Verifying and Assessing the Validity of Social Media and User-generated Content, Journalist’s Resource
How Storyful is Shaking Up News Reporting With User-generated Content, The Content Strategist
Accuracy and Accountability Checklist for Social Media, Mandy Jenkins at Zombie Journalism

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