Chapter 8 Worksheet

Audio clips: Used in stories when sound plays an integral part in a story, such as a dramatic or controversial excerpt from a speech or interview.

Backpack journalism (or converged reporting): Journalism that converged reporters participate in; versatile reporting in which journalists utilize many different platforms to tell a story, with the aid of tools that fit inside of a backpack, such as a laptop, a satellite phone, digital cameras, and microphones. With this type of journalism, reporters are able to act as reporter, producer, editor, and engineer.

Content convergence: In which the final story is presented in multimedia form, combining text, photos, audio, video, blogs, slide shows, etc.

Converged reporter: A journalist that produces stories across multiple platforms, from newsprint to blogs (See backpack journalism).

Cross-platform journalism (or multimedia or media convergence): Type of journalism used to compete on the web, incorporating both text and multimedia.

Currency: How current a story is.

Footer: The very bottom of a web page. Usually contains links.

Home page: The gateway to online news in the same way that the front page is a gateway to the printed newspaper; links users to every related page, so it must be comprehensive, yet easy to navigate.

Interactive extras: Provided on online news sites for fun; ranges from webcams, slideshows, blogs, animated graphics, audio files, interactive quizzes, surveys, etc.

Links: Embedded within blogs and online stories; allow users to connect directly to relevant Web sites. Links can also be organized into a list or index.

Multimedia package: A multi-dimensional profile that combines text, photos, audio, video and graphics to communicate information as effectively as possible.

News-gathering convergence: In which reporters, editors and photographers collaborate on story production; journalists multitask in multimedia.

Newsroom convergence: In which a newsroom contains journalists from different media (TV, radio, newspaper, online) all share the same work space; encourages cross-platform cooperation.

Page depth: The way in which an online news page fits on the screen. The more complex the site, the deeper the home page (and the more readers will have to scroll).

Photo gallery: An assortment of photos organized by topic. Most often these photos are usually thumbnails arranged in rows that users can browse, select, and view in any order.

Web package: Adaptation from a print story to web; usually optimized for the web with one-column, smaller images, hyperlinks, and other multimedia to enhance the story.


Journalism Ethics Panel: Recap

In 2003, CSpan aired a discussion among various journalists about ethics in journalism. Moderated by former NBC and CBS news correspondent Marvin Kalb, the discussion covered many ethical challenges that these reporters encountered in their long journalistic careers, from how to break news to what sources to use. Before opening the discussion up to the panelists, Kalb introduced ethics to the audience as something that is difficult to pin down. “Ethics is hard to define,” he said. “We know that it has something to do with morality; something to do with good or bad.”

The participants on the panel had a multitude of experiences to share, from newsprint to radio to television. However, despite the varying platforms that these reporters worked with, many were in agreement that the question of ethics had affected them in some way. Daniel Schorr, now a senior news analyst for NPR, was confronted with ethics when he was trying to decide whether or not to break a story back in 1959, when he was still a television reporter for CBS. The story was about a secret negotiation among Israel, Poland, and the Soviet Union to allow annexed Jewish people in the Soviet Union to make the trek to Israel. However, in order for this to take place, the negotiation had to remain secret.

Schorr decided not to ship the film (which contained footage of the Jewish people on their way to Israel) to the news agency. Despite this decision not to break this piece of news, Schorr admitted he wasn’t sure if there was any hard and fast rule for ethics in the news. “I’m not sure what the ethics are in journalism.”

However, it appeared that everyone on the panel agreed that news with the potential to harm others should not be published. What was considered news, however, seemed to have different focal points for the various panelists.

Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation, emphasized the role of the audience in determining what was newsworthy or not. Schieffer claimed that “news comes out because it is in someone’s interest for it to be out.”

David Broder, a Washington Post columnist, recounted his experience at the Post when the newsroom learned about then-presidential candidate Bob Dole’s affair with a woman. “There was a very spirited discussion, back and forth, about whether or not the Post should publish that story,” Broder said. “If we didn’t publish it, somebody else would. And it was.”

Broder made it very clear that he felt Dole’s affair was not news.

Panelists also emphasized the importance of considering a source’s motive before publishing a story. For Karen Jurgensen, an editor at USA Today, anonymous sources are often kept out of stories. “We prefer not to use unnamed sources, and if we do, the editor of course has to know who it is… and characterize who that source is.”

With anonymous sources, it becomes difficult to understand the character of the person sharing information, and along with that, the motive becomes muddled.

Margaret Warner, a senior correspondent with NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, reflected on her past interactions with sources who leaked information. “What was really interesting was what was the motivation of the leaker,” Warner recounted. She also felt it was important to be critical of leakers and other sources, and that one should be quick to ask, “Why is he or she telling me this?”

Overall, the discussion provided a decent look at the different ethical dilemmas that journalists have faced in the past. From the talk, viewers could understand that reporting on “the truth” is often very difficult – especially since it has the ability to do real damage.


Chapter 7

A. The five elements required for a plaintiff to succeed with a libel charge are:
1. Statements must be false because of facts that are wrong or unverifiable.
2. Statements must be defamatory.
3. Statements must be published.
4. The plantiff must be identifiable in the statement.
5. The defendant must be at fault either through negligence or malice.

B. Four defenses available to counter a libel charge are:
1. Truth – verify that your statements are factual.
2. Consent – with permission from a person, you are allowed to print your statment about that person
3. (Fair Report) Privilege – fair report privilege allows you to report on things said in official governmental proceedings
4. (Opinion) Privilege – if you make a clear distinction between facts and opinions, you are allowed to print the statement.

C. Match the offense below (A-L) with the correct way to avoid it. See 1. for example.

a. contempt of court
b. trespassing
c. sedition
d. libel
e. invasion of privacy
f. breach of contract
g. plagiarism
h. fabrication
i. lapses in ethics
j. bias
k. bad taste
l. blunders and bloopers

The offense How to avoid it:

1. B Try to reason with police who want you out of the way. As long as you’re in a public space not cordoned off by police, you have a right to be there (but police may detain you anyway).
2. D Publishing something you can prove is true is the best way to inoculate yourself against this charge.
3. H Keep in mind that to your sources and readers you represent all of journalism. Start manufacturing facts and they’ll think poorly of all of us – and that’s bad for everyone who depends on the truth.
4. F Don’t promise anonymity unless you plan to keep your word. Because courts will consider a verbal deal you make with a source as an enforceable promise, you should also define the terms of such deals carefully and clear them with your editors.
5. A Invoking a shield law may help you, depending on which state you’re in (and assuming you’re not in a federal court).
6. I Don’t accept gifts, become involved with your sources unprofessionally, or expose yourself in other ways to charges that you might have a conflict of interest.
7. L Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
8. C You can’t be tried for this in the United States.
9. G If somebody else said or wrote it, put it in quotes. Period.
10. E Avoid dragging ordinary people’s personal secrets into the spotlight.
11. K Apply the breakfast test: If it’s going to make your readers choke on their waffles, you’re probably crossing a line.
12. J Check your agendas at the newsroom door. Working as a journalist requires telling all sides of a story.

TRUE OR FALSE (T) (F)

It’s legal to reproduce copyrighted images or illustrations simply by reproducing them at a reduced size. (T)
It’s legal to reproduce copyrighted images or illustrations so that you can comment on them journalistically (and this is generally done at a reduced size). (T)
You need not credit the author when everybody knows where an image came from. (F: while consent is not crucial, it is best to obtain permission from author/publisher)
It’s best to select the most pivotal passages of a novel to republish in your review. (F)
“Fair use” dictates that if a work is newsworthy you can republish large pieces
of it. (F)
Punitive damages are never sought in copyright infringement cases. (F)
Once an image is uploaded to a Web site, it’s automatically in the public domain. (F)
If a trademark isn’t enforced, it loses its value. (T)
Use “jell-o” instead of “gelatin dessert.” (F)
Use adhesive bandage instead of “Band-Aid.” (T)
The word “zipper” used to be “Zipper.”(T)


Chapter 5

Alleged: Common qualifier in a crime story that, for many editors, seems to imply guilt.
Appeal: When a person convicted of a crime asks a higher court to review the conviction, the sentence, or the court proceedings for legal errors.
Arraignment: In a misdemeanor court case, the defendant appears before a judge to hear the official charges.
Arrest: The act of being taken into police custody; the beginning of a crime court procedure (such as a misdemeanor or felony).
Beats: A specific topic or institution assigned to a beat reporter (in contrast to a free-floating “general assignment” reporter).
Cheerleading (or “being a homer”): Taking a side when covering sports. As a reporter is to remain fair and objective, cheerleading should be avoided.
Civil cases: In which an individual or group moves against a defendant to resolve a dispute, recover a right, or obtain compensation for an injury.
Command (or command post): During a fire, the command is a location where the fire batallion chief is coordinating the operation. This is usually a marked car parked beside the fire scene, often with a flashing green light.
Conflagration: Word used to describe a raging destructive fire that’s large (several city blocks) or uncontrolled.
Contempt of court: Result of a judge believing that someone has disobeyed a court order or undermined a trial procedure.
“Deep Throat”: The anonymous source that helped reporters expose the corruption that plagued President Nixon’s administration (see: Watergate).
Fast-fact sidebar: Used to encourage readers to attend events such as city council meetings, sports events, movies, etc. Gives readers the event title, the location, the time, and where to go/who to contact for more information.
Feature obituary: Obituary that tells the life story of an ordinary person rather than that of a prominent citizen.
Felonies: Serious crimes (such as murder or rape) with more severe punishments: payments of fines and/or imprisonment for a year or more. Some states sentence convicted felons to death.
Game stories: News reports that recap who won and what the highlights were.
General assignment: Journalists who are on “general assignment” are free to cover stories of different nature from day-to-day. These journalists are not assigned to a specific topic.
Grand jury: Used in important felony cases, prosecutors convene special juries to meet in secret, examine the evidence, and decide whterht to file charges against a suspect.
Indictment: Occurs when a grand jury decides to file charges against suspect in a felony case.
Judgment: Occurs after a trial in a civil suit; if the plaintiff wins the case, the judge orders the defendant to either do something, to stop doing someting (i.e. an injunction or restraining order) or to pay charges.
Man-made disasters: Disasters caused by humans, such as oil spills, plane crashes, nuclear accidents, etc.
Misdemeanors: Minor offenses (such as traffic violations or loitering) that are punishable by fines and/or short jail terms, which are usually a year or less.
Multimedia package: A story package often found online that combines photos, video, audio and text to capture a story (in this case, a speech) in a compelling, multidimensional way.
Natural catastrophes: A disaster that is the result of natural causes, as opposed to manmade causes. This includes events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes).
Open-meeting (or “sunshine”) laws: The entitlement of reporters to be able to attend all public meetings of government agencies and report what goes on in said meetings.
Plaintiff: In a court procedure, the plaintiff is the party instituting the lawsuit.
Police log (or blotter): Many publications run these in order to itemize the week’s most notable law-enforcement activities.
Public information officer (PIO): Good source for journalists on the crime beat. The PIO can keep the reporter on the up-and-up for breaking news on the crime beat.
Sports analysis: Feature story that explains a topic within sports, such as how steroids work, background on a new coach, or what the new stadium will cost.
Sports columns: Type of sports story in which a sportswriter expresses his or her opinion.
Sports features: Feature story about a particular topic within sports, such as a history of uniforms.
Sports profile: Type of feature story within sports that gives readers a glimpse of an athlete, taking readers behind the scenes, providing a close-up look at athletes’ behavior both on and off the playing field.

2. Name 5 different “beats” that reporters may be assigned to cover:
Obituaries, accidents and disasters, crime, courts, and sports.

3. Read in The Morgue “Church Bus Crash on Turnpike Kills 3” (Textbook Page
226) and “For Those Cut Off, a Life Primeval” (Textbook Page 227)

1. Why do the stories seem so different?
The stories seem so different because the New Orleans story is written in a sensory, narrative style covering a natural disaster whereas the bus crash story is written in a more immediate style. Both use detail, the New Orleans story definitely has more of a mood to it – especially in conveying emptiness.

2. When would you use the writing style for the church bus story, and when would you use the writing style for the New Orleans story?
I would use the writing style for the church bus story in stories about disasters have more definitive facts and statements. I would use the writing style for the New Orleans story in stories that discuss the impact of a disaster on a community, as it is more personal.

3. Is one story more powerful than the other? Explain your answer.
I feel that the New Orleans story is more powerful because as a reader, you get to know a few of the people interviewed and begin to empathize with their situation, especially given the amount of sensory detail in describing their living conditions.

4. Does one story provide more information than the other? Explain your answer.
I feel that the bus crash story provides more information than the New Orleans story because it gives figures about the deaths, the time of the crash, the depth of the canal, etc. The New Orleans story, on the other hand, does not have as many figures, instead opting for descriptive, sensory information.

5. Which story do you think readers would prefer to read? Why?
I think readers would prefer to read the narrative style of the New Orleans story because it really brings people into the personal experiences of those living in a post-Katrina New Orleans.


Chapter 4

Advance: Story about a scheduled event
Anonymous sources: A source who is reluctant to be named or quoted in a story because of the effect it may have on their jobs or even their general life. Editors often discourage the use of anonymous sources.
Attribute: To attribute is to identify where a quote or idea originated or came from.
Backgrounder: An interview in which a reporter informally picks an expert’s brain on a topic being researched.
Bar chart: Compare two or more items by depicting data as columns stacked side by side.
Close-ended questions: Questions that yield dull answers and often only warrant a yes or no response. Interviewees are limited in the way they respond and don’t have much room to expand upon their thoughts.
Dialogue: Used to capture a conversation between two speakers.
Direct quote: State exactly, word for word, what someone said within quotation marks.
Indirect quote: See paraphrase.
Margin of error: The plus or minus percentage that indicates the range within poll results are accurate.
Mean: The simple arithmetic average. Used to calculate the averages of values that don’t fluctuate too dramatically.
Median: The middle value in a series sorted from smallest to largest. Used to average a series of values that contain irregular extremes.
Off the record: Information that cannot be told in any form.
On background: Information that can be used in a story and run as a quote but cannot have the source identified.
On deep background: Information that can be used, but the source nor the quote cannot be revealed.
On-the-fly chat: Fast interview where a reporter fires off questions to a newsmaker (such as a politician or athlete) as they whisk through a public place.
On the record: Information in which the sources agrees that anything said during the interview can be printed and that the source’s name can be used.
Open-ended questions: Questions that reveal thoughts and feelings that explain why and how things happened.
Paraphrase: Summary of what a source said without using exact quote. Also called an indirect quote.
Partial quote: Used when a direct quote is too long or awkwardly phrased. Partial quotes are clauses, phrases or even just powerful words used in a story.
Percentages: Statistic out of 100. Percentages are used to compare the sizes of two different things, or to show how much something increases or decreases over time.
Phoner: Interview where a reporter telephones an interviewee for fast facts to plug into a story.
Plagiarism: The act of using someone else’s words without attribution.
Polls:
Press conferences: In which there are many interviewers with one interviewee. Reporters take turns tossing out questions and all of the interviewers share the answers.
Press releases (or news releases): Sent in by bureaucrats, event organizers, and public relation experts in order to promote something or to clarify a statement.
Q&A: Interview printed verbatim. Can be edited for brevity as long as the meaning is not distorted.
Review: Reviews describe music or drama as if it’s happening now. Additionally, reporters must always review their notes before ending the interview session (to look for gaps) as well as after the interview session in order to add further observations, clean up illegible scribbles, and mark the most noteworthy passages.
Sample size: In statistics, the larger the sample size, the more accurate the survey.
Softball questions: Big-picture, nonthreatening questions. Used to help
Sources: Where a reporter gathers information. Sources must be carefully selected, checked, balanced, and cultivated for tips and ideas in the future.
Walkaround: Interview where a reporter accompanies the interviewee as he/she does the newsworthy thing being written about.

Finding and fixing common errors in quotations

1. Where is the comma placed in a quote? Should the word “said” be capitalized in an attribution?
The comma is placed at the end of the quote, right before the end quotation mark and the attribution. The word “said” should not be capitalized in an attribution.

2. Why would you avoid mimicking someone’s embarrassing dialect or use of swear words in a quote?
A reporter should avoid mimicking someone’s embarrassing dialect because it can come across as embarrassing or racist. Additionally, a reporter should avoid using swear words in a quote because it runs the risk of being offensive and defamatory.

3. Where does the question mark go in a quote?
In a quote, the question mark goes inside the quotation mark – that is, unless the reporter is asking a question about quoted material. Then the question mark goes outside of the quotation marks.

4. Give an example of the use of an ellipses in a quote. Why would you use it?
Example of use of an ellipses in a quote:
“Advertisements… contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. A reporter uses ellipses to indicate deleted words, phrases or sentences.


Democratic National Convention Blog

This past Tuesday marked the kick-off to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. In many ways, this convention is seen as the prime opportunity for Democrats to answer the challenges posed to the party last week at the Republican National Convention. With Tuesday only being the first night, the DNC already had two high-profile speakers lined up: Julian Castro and Michelle Obama.

Julian Castro, current mayor of San Antonio, Texas, was being touted by many within the party as the next rising star of the Democratic party – which was similar to the way in which President Obama was seen during John Kerry’s convention. Castro, with his wide grin, did a great job of energizing the convention crowd. He had excellent emotional appeal when he shared the story of his grandmother’s struggle when she first came to America. With this inspiring story falling in line with many of the immigrant stories of the previous speakers in the DNC and the RNC from the week previous, he added onto the continuous narrative of the American dream – though it was never really referred to as the “American dream.” This appeared to be a strategic move, because while Castro, like the politicians before him, had spoken about grasping the opportunity of America, he made a real effort to distinguish himself, the party, and the President from the Republican party’s idea of the American dream. His strongest line of the night was when he had said that opportunity created today should result in shared prosperity tomorrow, with emphasis on “shared.”

This then gave him the opportunity to highlight the differences between Mitt Romney and the American public, and how Mitt Romney is essentially out of touch with many Americans. He was very direct in opposing Mitt Romney, who is a believer of trickle-down economy. Castro, like much of the Democratic party, made a point of positioning Romney as a very privileged man. According to Castro, Romney had once suggested to a crowd of college students that in order to start their own business, they should borrow from their parents if necessary. In response to this suggestion, Castro quipped, “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?”

Castro’s speech was centered on the idea that everyone comes from different backgrounds, and that some have more advantages than others. However, in spite of our differences, Castro pushed the importance of all Americans caring for other Americans. That is, Americans should not sever ties with one another in order to get ahead.

Current First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage with a sense of elegant power. She, like Ann Romney last week, was posed with the task of humanizing her husband. She was able to do this by recounting the way in which President Obama has managed to make time for his family all while having to make tough decisions as the leader of the country. She described the way in which he continues to read letters from the American public about their struggles, and how he makes his decisions because he understands what those Americans are going through.

Because Mrs. Obama is tasked with humanizing her husband, she did not explicitly put Romney on blast, though you could tell she was drawing distinct differences between her husband and candidate Romney. Her strongest line was easily when she had said that when you walk through the door of opportunity, you do not slam it shut but instead hold it open so that others may have the same opportunity. The First Lady did an excellent job of keeping the DNC’s message consistent.


RNC Commentary Comparison: Fox News and MSNBC

Within minutes after the balloons had dropped, political pundits of both Fox News and MSNBC had plenty to say about the convention, though each network had a different spin and approach on the events that had just transpired.

Fox News, a network known to lean more toward the political right of the spectrum, was quick to praise the Republican National Convention.  Additionally, when Greta Van Susteren’s show On the Record was airing, she interviewed numerous Republican members of Congress, many of whom also were predictably in favor of the speeches made at the convention.

The pundits at MSNBC, however, were far more critical of the convention, especially in regards to the Clint Eastwood spot. But while they were being more critical of the content, the commentators around the table were far less serious than that of Fox News. That is, MSNBC had Comedy Central writers join the likes of Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews in weighing in on the impact of the convention’s speeches. While these writers write for the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and can be seen as more well-versed in politics than the average comedy writer, the fact still remains that comedy writers do not convey the same level of seriousness as interviews with members of Congress.

A few days after the big event in Tampa, the news networks were still abuzz over the potential effect of the Republican National Convention on the polls. Mike Huckabee’s program on Fox News, aptly titled Huckabee, devoted a fair chunk of his Saturday airing to praising the convention. Huckabee had noted Marco Rubio’s eloquent speech about being an immigrant. He also reinforced the Republican ideals of individual liberty and responsibility. However, it was strange to see him comment on the speech that he himself had made at the convention. He seemed to get back on track when he noted that the United States is in danger because of a lack of leadership, and he went on to lightheartedly comment that Obama would not have much to say at the Democratic National Convention. He then brought in Ed Klein, the author of The Amateur, a book that details how former president Bill Clinton had said that he didn’t view President Obama as a good leader. Their conversation was mostly speculation over Bill Clinton not fully backing President Obama.

Rachel Maddow on MSNBC took a less speculative approach on her program, The Rachel Maddow Show. However, because MSNBC leans more on the left side of the political spectrum, the program was more nit-picky over slip-ups like Marco Rubio saying America will choose “more government over more freedom.” These slip-ups served as a segue into the Romney-Ryan ticket not having any campaign events lined up for this Labor Day weekend. Without explicitly saying it, Maddow was able to imply that the Romney campaign was slacking when they should instead be campaigning fiercely, given that many candidates experience a bounce in the polls after their respective party’s convention.

One of the largest differences between Fox News and MSNBC’s commentary of the Republican National Convention can be found in the attention given to Clint Eastwood’s bit between him and the invisible Obama. Fox News appeared to skip over that all together while MSNBC ended up giving the act a little too much coverage. Beyond that, there was a real slant from both networks on what was given serious discussion and what ended up being essentially mocked – and that leaves little room for a more complete picture.


Republican National Convention Blog

With large, tiled screens and a consistent background of red, white, and blue, the Republican National Convention was well underway this past Tuesday evening. A host of familiar faces took the stage to say many positive sentiments about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney – and perhaps even more negative statements about current president Barack Obama. Among the names who took the podium were Rick Santorum, Artur Davis, Nikki Haley, and Ann Romney, all of whom made speeches that fit nicely under the theme of the night: We Built It.

“We built it” was a saying echoed by all presenters, and was intended as a response to President Obama’s statement that “If you have a business, you didn’t build that.” In between each speech there were carefully stylized videos with everyday Americans telling President Obama that they built their small businesses and that they aren’t just “a bump in the road.” Every speech seemed to open with a story about how the speaker’s parents or grandparents first came to America. There were ongoing themes of personal responsibility and the American dream – the idea that if you work hard, you will succeed.

It was interesting to see so many women and people of color grace the stage. I personally felt it was a good move not only to appeal to those specific bases, but also to improve the image of the Republican National Convention as more than just a gathering of old, rich white people.

At first I was confused as to why I wasn’t hearing anything about what makes Romney specifically different from Obama, but then I realized that this was the Republican National Convention – almost everyone at the convention was largely in support of Romney, so in essence, while the convention serves to make official the party’s candidate, the convention is mostly a rally in which the ideas of a smaller government and personal responsibility continue to be spread by everyone who takes the stage.

That’s not to say that there weren’t decent speeches that night. Ann Romney did an excellent job of humanizing her husband, candidate Mitt Romney, a person who is seen by many in the media as a “robot.” She talked a lot about Mitt’s dedication and hard work he puts into everything he does. It was also really interesting hearing about their life as a young, married couple in college. For many in the audience, she appeared to be a crowd favorite, and I’m assuming that was due largely to her sharing her personal stories of breast cancer and multiple scoliosis – but also because she was light on the combative language that so many of the other speakers seemed to be adopting.

Rick Santorum, while usually a fan of the combative language, also proved to be an interesting speaker. His “hands” motif was really interesting and fit well with the theme of hard work and personal responsibility. He, like many other people who graced the stage, also shared a personal story at the start of his speech about his family coming from humble beginnings. I felt that this was a move more toward the center, and personally a way for the larger public to more easily identify with members of the Republican party.

However,  when it comes to making an effort to identify with the working class, I feel Ann Romney truly made a wonderful, touching speech, and if the signs in the crowd were any indication, she is a sizable reason as to why so many people were on board with the Romney ticket that night. But will that translate to the larger public? Only time will tell.