Sunday, July 3, 2011

Moral minefields: legal and ethical dilemma

Josephine and Yale gave a rather interesting presentation on this topic. Their presentation focused on the legal and ethical dilemmas of journalists and I was rather intrigued by the case studies that Josephine brought up.

Yale's emphasis on the importance of a journalist's basic legal knowledge in order to stay out of trouble with the law finally made me appreciate the Media Law module that I had taken during a previous semester. Having to memorise all those legal terms and laws then seemed to make more sense to me after I attended their presentation because as Yale mentioned, journalists need to develop a broad understanding of defamation laws in the jurisdiction to stay out of trouble.

Three cases of how journalists have gotten themselves into trouble like becoming a prisoner of war, getting raped and even death because of mishandled legal and ethical dilemmas were brought up by Josephine. It was rather shocking to see the injustice that those journalists had recieved when they were merely doing their best to deliver the truth to audiences or trying to protect their sources.

In my previous entry, I talked about how it is a journalist's job to deliver the truth. However, when these journalist went all out to deliver the truth, they got killed, raped or became prisoners of war. Are these the consequenses of being a good journalist? It is kind of disturbing when you think about it.

I guess the question here is, how far would you go as a journalist to uncover the truths and report the facts even though you know that your investigation might get you into trouble?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Truth & objectivity: post modern casualties or victims of PR piracy?

Truth and objectivity. Two simple factors that hold the utmost importance in the line of Journalism but is yet often overlooked due to various reasons.

When writing a news story or an article, a journalist has the responsibility to report the truth and provide an objective point of view. However, these are often sacrificed. When writing for a magazine, like a health magazine, a journalist may promote a certain health product not because he/she honestly feels that the product is good but simply because the company might be an advertiser in the magazine. Also, many journalists often feel obligated to speak well or a certain company simply because of PR practitioners. Therefore, journalists should always keep in mind that while it is the job of the PR practitioner to maintain good media relations, it is the job of a journalist to report the facts.

Other reasons that could cause a journalist to write a bias article void of truth and objectivity would be when the issue involves topics like religion or even politics. However, in my opinion, the main issue that causes journalist to write an article void of truth or objectivity is personal integrity. It is the responsibility of a journalist to report the facts. Hence, I think a journalist should be responsible enough to keep that in mind when writing an article and not give in to any personal issues.

Most importantly plagiarism should never be condoned and a journalist should know better than to plagiarize because of all people, journalists should know the best what it feels like to have your work plagiarized.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Privacy: Where do you get it?

Privacy has always been a touchy issue in journalism. How much information is too much? Is it really news worthy? Is it ethical? the questions surrounding the issue of privacy when it comes to journalism never seem to end. People criticize the paparrazi and tabloids but than again it is a known fact that these tabloids sell and people do bother to read them.

Is it ethical? Well, in my opinion it depends. If reports are made regarding a politician's scandal I think the public deserves the right to know. Take for instance John Edwards scandal in 2008. The former senate was considered a strong condenter for the democratic presidential nomination. After he suspended his campaign, it was said that he was short listed as a candidate for vice president or attorney general. Edwards was always seen with his wife Elizabeth who campaigned for him even though she was battling terminal cancer however, it was soon reported that Edwards was having an extra marital affair with Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker that he had hired for his presidential campaign and they even had a child together. In this case, I think the public definitely had the right and need to know because Edwards was a politician that could have been voted President or Vice President of USA. However, the media went on to expose photos of the mistresses's house and pictures of the baby which I felt was pretty unnecssary and were obviously exposed because the media knew that public would be interested to know.

How about celebrities then? Should thier love life or marriages be splashed across papers and magazines and all over the internet? Well, as much as it is an ethical decision that journalists have to make when coming up with stories, I think celebrities should know that as public figures it s part of their "fate" to be closely watched by the media and to some times have their personal lives magnified and reported in the media. However, how much is too much? Should a line be drawn?

In 2006, a Hong Kong singer Gillian Chung was secretly photographed while she was changing backstage during a performance in Malaysia. Pictures of her changing and semi nude were splashed across a tabloid magazine cover. In this case, the public definitely did not have the right nor the need to know. It was unethical on every level for the magazine to publish the photos.

In conclusion, I think journalists have the responsibility to gauge how much is too much when it comes to reports on a public figure's private matters. Just because the public wants to know something does not mean that they have the right or need to know.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We’re All a Twitter! Journalism and its negotiation of online, the blogosphere and social media.

The face of journalism has definitely changed with the introduction of the internet, blogosphere and social media like Twitter and Facebook. The delivery of real time news has been made possible thanks to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. With websites like Stomp and The Online Citizen, people are finding it easier to voice their opinions about various issues. Citizen journalism also allows for more real time updates about events happening around the world. Not only have audiences realised that they are able to provide, receive and share news so much more efficiently on these sites, reknown news corporations are also starting to acknowledge this fact with the twitter accounts being set up by news companies like Straits Times, CNN and BBC.

A classic example of our social media like Twitter affects journalism would be the incident of the US Airways Flight 1549 that landed on the Hudson river on 15th January 2009.

(Taken from Janis Krum's Twitter account @jkrums!/jkrums/status/1121915133)

The picture above was the first picture taken of the plane that landed on the river and it was relased on Twitter in a tweet by Janis Krums on his twitter account @jkrums. The picture went on to be one of the most circulated pictures of the incident and was even splashed across various newspapers. This is a classic example on how citizen journalism can be more efficient and timely than mainstream media. It was thanks to this tweet that the story got out first hand.

Another recent example would be the 2011 Japan Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that occured on the 11th of march. The 9.0 magnitued earthquake caused a massive tsunami and the loss of thousands of lives. On the ground updates were given by many through twitter and tsunami warnings around the world were also shared through social media.

The credibility of news posted online may sometimes be questioned because almost anyone and everyone can post news online and we never know how credible the original source is. That being said, it cannot be denied that the introduction of social media has changed how breaking news events are recorded and covered and has definitely provided more diversity and timeliness in news reports.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Globalization VS Localization

This week's topic was especially important to me because verlin and me had our presentation based on this topic! Globalization Vs Localization.

While localization can be easily understood in journalism as referring to the local circle or industry of journalism globalisation in journalism may seem a little more complex to understand. We decided to base our presentaion on globalization because after reading up on the topic we realised how much impact globalization has had on the journalism industry.

There are pros and cons to the effect of globalization. On the down side globalization has allowed Transational Corporations (TNCs) to dominate the media industry which has in turn allowed them to exert their power on a global scale and causing media ownership to become more concentrated. Secondly, globalization has also caused the homogenization of messages that are delivered to audience. Hence, although there is a global audience, there isnt a global voice. The lack of diversity in news and the stardardisation of messages will inevitably cause the quality of journalism to suffer.
That being said, globalization isnt all that bad. Globalization has allowed countries with a smaller media industry to get stories from around the world without journalists actually having to be there. Take singapore for example, we can often see news reports from Reuters and BBC in our local news papers and that has allowed us to be updated about news around the world. Globalisation in journalism also helpes to break cultural barriers and allow people to be more receptive to different ideas, opinions and issues around the world. The reports on an issue in a certain country may lead to the discussion of the same issue in another country. Hence, globalization can help magnify issues going on around the world and get people to start talking about it.

To sum it all up, while it is hard to determine if globalisation is good or bad right now I believe that with the right attitude and improvements, globalisation can and will be good in the long run. However, in order to improve the quality of the effects of globalisation in the journalism industry, journalists should strive to provide quality hard news and the public should also play their part by demanding hard news instead of soft news.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Journalism as a Public conversation in the 21st century; what is the role of the citizen?

The role of the citizen in today's journalism industry has definitely become very much different than it was before. The introduction of the internet and tools like blogs and podcasts have allowed citizens to be more involved in journalism. While people may directly link the term citizen journalism to the internet, that is not totally accurate. Mainstream media like newspapers and magazines also involve readers in their journalism process but alternative media like blogs and podcasts have helped to magnify the involvement of citizens in journalism.

As said in the video above, "with the power of the internet anyone can get their story told to a worldwide audience." However, does that mean that just because most of us can now have a platform to tell our story, anyone with a blog or website should be considered a journalist? While the social media platform is definitely growing and people can easily get their stories out to the world, this priviledge should not be abused. It takes much more than a blog or a podcast for a citizen to be considered a journalist. However, it cannot be denied that the role of the citizen in today's journalism has definitely become more important and has helped many stories be delivered to the world in real time. It is thanks to citizen journalism that more views and stories can be heard and delivered to the world and offer people with a different perspective on issues.

The role of the citizen in a 21st century is no longer that of a consumer. With the power of the internet and simple tools like a mobile phone camera, citiizens of the 21st century have become involved in the journalism process. Although citizen journalism still has a long way to go in terms or determining the news value and credibility of their story, one major positive factor of citizen journalism that cannot be denied is the fact that it enables us to read news stories or opinions about issues knowing that it has not been framed according to how a newspaper or news corporation wants us to interpret it but is written simply based on someone's honest opinion.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Future of Journalism

When discussing the future of Journalism it is inevitable for the term alternative media to come up. Alternative media has definitely helped in changing the whole facade of journalism. Nowadays, anybody can play a part in journalism and this is thanks to the many platforms available on the internet for people to express their views. The introduction of blogs and social networking sites allows people from all walks of life and people from around the world to share their opinions with each other.

The thing about journalism today is people have so many more choices now as compared to before when there was only television, radio and newspapers to rely on. Now, with a simple search onon the internet, you can get much more information than ever. Alternative media has provided the public with a more open and vibrant platform to receive and share information and it has definitely provided mainstream media with tougher competition.

According to the dictionary, journalism is the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business. If that is so, does that not simply mean that in this day of age anybody can become a journalist thanks to alternative media? Especially with the introduction of blogs and Twitter where people can provide up to date reports and write their own news stories to share with people around the world. However, the question of reliability will always be a factor that needs to be overcome.

We do not know for sure if mainstream media journalism is totally dead. Afterall, there is the digital divide that prevents some people from getting their information online through alternative media. Hence, while alternative media has definitely influenced how journalism has evolved, i guess it is still safe to say that mainstream media will still continue to play an important role in journalism.