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In articles of substantive reporting, use anonymous sources?

Posted by on Apr 21, 2013 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments


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

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

Posted by on Sep 19, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


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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Poynter’s making sense of information

Posted by on Sep 16, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


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.

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Thoughts on the future of scholastic journalism

Posted by on Sep 25, 2009 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


What skills will citizens need in a future that requires deciphering information and communicating effectively? How can schools and their attitude towards the use of new and social media make a difference?

As the journalism concepts we teach expand to include new and social media, will our “fourth estate” guidelines maintain a foothold in the new communications “fifth estate”?

Can we trust new media to keep democracy vibrant and vital?

“What Values,” a live and online conference sponsored recently at Kent State University by several groups including The Poynter Institute and Online News Association, raised these and other questions about commercial media.

In one session, Poynter ethics group leader Kelly McBride highlighted recent findings of their Sense-Makers Project: Media credibility is at an all-time low; people feel that bias exists throughout the media and that media fairness and accuracy are at an all-time low. The study also noted trust in the media improves with important stories.

Questions this study raise apply also to scholastic journalism because new and social media are starting to appear in classrooms. Meanwhile, school officials are attempting more than ever to control student expression in new and social media they use outside the schoolhouse gate.

Questions for those of us in scholastic media, based on issues McBride raised, include:

• Do schools fail if they do not help teach students how to evaluate what they hear and see – before they repeat it using newly found social media? Can new and social media help educate students and increase their understanding of media and the communications process?

• How can we help schools embrace the strengths and weaknesses of new media to educate students? Can we avoid shutting down these venues as administrators often do with filters and Internet use?

• Can it be said student journalism/media involve life skills? How can we, as educators, help students effectively disseminate reliable information and question that which is not? Should life skills include “media literacy or crap detecting” as well as information verification?

• Can teaching students to make thoughtful use of social media help define the role journalism plays in a democracy? Will better educated students mean more questioning and aware citizens?

• Should we continue to place value in”objective-based” reporting or re-build the historical model of point-of-view media so readers choose what they want to hear? What does this do to our concept of democracy? Will relying on information people want to hear rebuild trust in media or begin the fracturing of democracy?  Will it re-energize civility? Or…will no one notice?

• What does a lack of trust in the media mean for the role of journalism at the scholastic level? If there is a lack of trust in scholastic media, why does it exist and how can it be fixed?

• How can schools best provide new skill sets for students to better participate in a democracy?

We need to quickly develop answers and approaches to these and other questions to best help our students in a changing media world.

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