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“Deadlines and Dilemmas: Media Ethics on the Job”

From Rebecca Taylor

by Cheyenne Schoen

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It is important to be ethical when working in the media because…

  • Reporters, even early in their careers, have significant power.
  • Reporters, even rookies, enjoy significant autonomy in the field.
  • Reporters, even rookies, have great discretion to make editorial decisions.
  • Reporters operate under tight deadlines.

The consequences of being unethical in reporting can include:

  • Job loss
  • Career loss
  • Impact on news organization
  • Impact on the subject
  • Impact on the profession

Tips:

  • When dealing with the survivors of victims, knock once or twice and then leave a business card. Most survivors want to have the chance to say something about their loved ones, and will likely call you when they can.
  • Figure out what footage you can get or angles or perspectives you can take that other news stations don’t have.
  • Reporters must be able to shoot and edit video.
  • If you are unsure if something is acceptable to air, run it by your editor and ask if they are okay with it.
  • Be able to express your sentiment with covering certain stories that you may feel differently about than your editors.
  • You’ll be asked to conceal information a lot – don’t do it for favoritism.
  • Always keep your editors informed about what is going on.
  • If you are using footage from your archives, you must indicate that it is footage from the archives.

Duties as journalists:

You have a duty to be fair and accurate, honest, to avoid conflict of interests and to minimize harm.

Your duties are owed to: your profession, readers (audience), employers, the source and society.

Questionable reporting techniques:

  • Hidden mics/cameras
  • Reenactments
  • Faking natural sound (such as an ambulance)
  • Video deception
  • Improper editing

Minors’ names should not be published without the consent of their legal guardians. Likewise, the victims of sexual assault should not be named or described in a way that reveals their identity.

Rachel Rippetoe

 

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The only reason I went to Larry Buchanan’s session on coding, mapping and reporting was because of the phrase “at the New York Times” attached to the end of its title.

I’ve always loved finding free templates for things like graphs, timelines, and calendars on the internet because they make me feel smart and techy without having to actually do much work, but coding felt like it belonged in the scary dark side of the web right next to hacking and Bitcoin. It was jumbled up letters and numbers that I didn’t understand and was always mildly terrified of. But then I saw the work that Larry did for The New York Times… and I knew it was something I had to learn.

As I’m writing this blog post, I’m struggling with how to describe the things he showed us accurately, and it just occurred to me that I can’t. The point is that the stuff Larry does is uniquely digital. It tells a story in a way that can’t be told in print. It takes you to the arctic and shows you exactly what the melting glaciers look like (in HD). It shows you every single home that was foreclosed in Detroit during the housing recession and it adds up all the money that was lost. It highlights every single crack (I am not exaggerating) that was recovered in a famous but decrepit church in New York City.

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The craziest thing: He does it in 15 seconds or less. No long article to read, no 3 minute video to listen to; all you have to do is scroll. Which, according to Larry, is what every American loves to do now: scroll. The analytics show that they don’t click on things and they don’t finish articles, but they can scroll through a feed and look at stuff for HOURS.

In theory, Larry should scare the shit out of me. As a person who loves to write and tell stories through her words and other people’s words, I feel like this guy has me beat. I mean some of his pieces didn’t even need an anchor paragraph let alone full written stories. The ones that did had the articles attached at the very bottom.

Yet Larry isn’t replacing us he’s supplementing us. He’s taking a boring local story about recovering an old church, one I probably wouldn’t read, and making it into an art piece I’d tell my mom about and anyone else who might listen.

I was sitting on my hands trying not to jump out of my seat as The New York Times graphic designer showed us all the work he and his team produced. This kind of stuff is perfect. It silences all the nay-sayers that say real journalism and real reporting are dying. It’s visually interesting and engaging but at the same time requires some real reporting too.

The most exciting thing about Larry is that he isn’t some highly functioning tech wizard. He wasn’t a computer science major in college. He studied journalism and taught himself how to code, thinking it would make him some money free-lancing. He never could’ve guessed it would eventually get him a desk and a byline at The New York Times.

I decided after listening to him speak, hearing about what he does, and seeing what he does, I want to be a Larry. I want to delve into the deep scary world of coding because no online template can produce the kind of visual art that Larry produces.

Here are some online tools and programs he told us about for coding, mapping, and learning how to code. The New York Times actually uses a lot of them.

For coding: (the obvious ones) HTML/CSS/Javascript, GA-Dash (for learning how to code, Raw, R (he calls this one scary but powerful), Quartz Chart Builder (for graphs)

For mapping: QGIS, Mapbox, Tilemill, Natural Earth, and Open Street Map

Other advice: focus on formatting for phones and tablets because that is what your readers are more likely to be using. Similarly, cut vertical videos for mobile phones so that readers don’t have to flip their device. Also, when working with data and interactive digital media, use google docs for a spread sheet instead of Excel because Excel doesn’t transfer as well to anything.

Here’s the website he showed during the session with all the samples I saw of his work. Be sure to check out the visuals he added to the Justin Bieber and Skrillex video the NYT put out a while back. (Bieber says some dumb stuff about music)

Ben Arthur|

It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure in New York! From the amazing tours, to the sightseeing, to the delicious (and often overpriced) food, it’s been a trip to remember.

Although I am sad to see the conference come to an end, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much about journalism in a three-day span. Honestly, there was NO better way to top off all that that I learned than with one last session about the different journalism-friendly apps and websites available that I can utilize back on the Bluff!

I highly encourage all Beacon staffers and aspiring journalists to check out all these cool tools:IMG_2347

APPS

  • Snaplight- Gives you the ability to highlight text in screenshots. Super useful if you see cool quotes in articles that you want to share!
  • TapeACall- For $7.99/year, you can record your calls. Can come in handy for those of you that struggle with transcribing phone interviews. I know I do at times. Just be sure to ask permission before you start recording! 
  • PCM recorder- Audio recording app
  • Skype recorder- Records skype calls
  • AudioNote- Allows user to take notes while recording audio
  • Reuters TV- Makes it easy to customize your own news broadcast
  • Snapseed- photo editing app (Google)
  • Oneshot- Highlights area of texts from screenshots (Similar to Snaplight)
  • Giphycam- Creates ‘gifts’ that you an include with your tweets and other social media postings
  • Hyperlapse- Creates time lapse videos (if you don’t already have the built-in feature in your phone)
  • Bubbli- Creates panoramic/360 images
  • Printicular- Allows you to print pics straight from your phone
  • EverNote- You can save just about anything in this app. Photos, files, videos, links, you name it.
  • Instapaper- Any cool or interesting articles that you found browsing on the internet that you want to save for later? This app is the one for you

WEBSITES

  • Otranscribe.com- As reporters, the tediousness of transcribing interviews is not new to us. This website helps you to streamline that process 
  • rapportive.com- Displays all of the email sender’s social media profiled (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

These are just a few of the many that stood out to me! The complete list can be found in the slideshow at this link.

 

Ben Arthur|

IMG_2329When I got off the subway, I couldn’t contain my excitement of being in Manhattan. It was my first time being in the city in nearly 10 years.

As I scurried up the steps and looked towards the sky as I emerged above ground, my jaw dropped. NYC was more amazing than what I remembered!

The high-rise buildings seem to brush against sky. Central Park is in one direction. I whipped my head in the other towards Times square, its bright lights radiating in every which-way.

One of the hardest things for me to fathom about Manhattan is that it is truly a city that never sleeps! It’s non-stop. Everyone always seems to have somewhere they need to be.

Strangely enough, I began comparing to this phenomenon to what you see in sports. In many different sports, game action comes quickly and with a blink of an eye, you can miss key plays (think basketball or volleyball). How in the world are you supposed to keep up with everything?

This is where the first CMA session I went to comes into play: Tweeting Live Sports

As a Sports Reporter, I got great tips about how to do game coverage like a pro. Here are some of the takeaways I got from the lecture:

  • Tweeting is live coverage; Multi-way communication, so don’t forget to interact with followers
  • Tweeting should be your observations from the game or sporting event (Story ideas can come from these observations!)
  • Don’t just tell your followers what’s happening, SHOW THEM (video, images, graphics,etc.)
  • Reporters should tweet during the game with their account, the main sports account or main news outlet account should only  RT the most important developments
  • Know the hashtags of opposing teams & use them (to get their followers, duh!)
  • Know the twitter accounts of all the coaches & players and @ them in tweets that involve them (You can get some of their followers if they RT you)
  • If you can’t answer why you’re posting a certain tweet, than it’s unnecessary!

A recap of CMA NYC ’16 day one lecture from Henry John Latta
By Cheyenne Schoen

It’s my first time in New York, and from the first step off the metro I’m in awe of its grandeur and dazzled by its vibrancy. The city pulses with life, because the city is full of lives. A whopping 27,857 people fill this city per square mile, which is about the number of people that lived in my entire hometown. Talk about culture shock!

With all these people going about their busy lives around me, I can’t help but think that each new face has a wealth of stories behind it — struggles, strifes, accomplishments, talents, fears. I want to know each person’s story, to ask them questions and get at the heart of who they truly are.

Luckily, my first workshop of CMA NYC 2016 helped me with that! It taught me how to maximize my interviews in order to get to the important stuff.

Here are a few take-aways:

1. Don’t do long introductions or explanations before asking questions.
Trying to impress your interviewee with your personal accomplishments or prior knowledge of the topic? Don’t. Unless what you’re explaining has to do with the question, it’s best to leave these things out of the questioning process. The entangled intro “sets the stage for a loose encounter”, where the interviewee will realize you’re not as efficient as you could be.
2. Beware of adequacy and safety.
A certain amount of push is involved with interviewing. Don’t stick to the safe questions! There is a balance between attacking someone and asking questions that get you absolutely nowhere. Find a way to be professional and ask certain questions and don’t be timid about asking them.
3. Don’t ask two questions in one.
I’m definitely guilty of this! Asking two questions “leads to either one of two non-answers”. Ask them separately. Two-in-ones signal to the interviewee that you’re not engaging in a particularly sharp exchange. Instead, ask hard, clear questions.
4. Understand the PR-person behind the subject.
Be aware of what your interviewee may have been told by their PR person. Lots of interviewees have agendas. Try to know what their agenda/priority is so you can recognize their avoidance of your questions and address that avoidance later.
5. Ask follow-up questions!
Know when you need to ask a follow-up. These should be carefully thought-out, crafted questions. Be aware of what people are saying to you as they answer so you can bring their answers up again later on in the interview. You have a “built-in bullshit meter”. Allow that to guide your interview, and ask questions like, “What do you mean by that? How is that so? Can you give me some specific examples of that?”
6. Don’t rely too heavily on digital equipment.
Interviews are old-fashioned tools. Interviewing is a “performance art”, where you and the interviewee are “on stage in a naked situation” (naked…meaning somewhat vulnerable). Phones can transcribe and record, but they can’t ask the questions for you.
7. What do you hear?
Focus on the small nuances of the interviewee. Examples: When someone hesitates with an answer, are you hearing the bits and pieces that might lead to a different story?
8. The leading question: To be avoided, except when it isn’t
Leading questions are potentially unethical, but depending on the situation, they must be asked sometimes.
9. Cross-examination
How do you frame the question so you can get the most out of your interviewee? Do you ask a soft or a hard question? You must be agile in guaging your interviewee’s responses and understand what communication techniques to use to get the most out of them.
10. The curse of the sideline reporter
The public thinks sideline reporters are very good journalists because they are not pushing or probing and they are also very likeable and popular. There is an expectation for all reporters to be like sideline reporters, and while it may work for them, it isn’t necessarily good interviewing in a news situation.
11. Entry points
List of questions you bring to an interview is simply a guideline, and can be adjusted depending on how the interview veers. There is no reason a story can’t change. If we stick to the lines of questioning, the interviewee will know and see what’s coming. Look for different entry points to the story or else you could leave something important behind.
12. There is no such thing as a boring interview subject
Don’t let your guard down, even with what you think are the less important interviews. Get from everyone the best quotes you can. Any one-on-one interview will teach you as much as the next.
13. You are the equal of the person you are talking to.
There is no need to be timid, or to feel that you are the “second person”. As a professional journalist, you are doing a professional job and so are they. Some people are cautious or overly respectful, which leads to a passive approach.
14. Fear interviewer’s remorse.
Think: “When I go back and type this transcript, will I have enough for the headline, quotes, story, etc. ?” If you have writer’s block, you haven’t come back with enough material. To avoid interviewer’s remorse, ask: “What did you mean by that? Could you give me some examples?”
15. Be nice, be fair, be sensitive.
If someone is uncomfortable, react to that in a fair and sensitive manner. There is no reason why one can’t back off something if there is distress or discomfort during an interview. It is part of our professional role ethically to back off in this case.
16. Don’t ignore the trivial ramblings of an interviewee.
The little tidbits said by the interviewee can be tremendously revealing about a person, especially for writing a feature or profile. “Little stuff can be just as valuable as the bigger stuff.”
17. Know-nothing situations: Own them!
If you have no idea what the interviewee does, tell them that! Ask them to explain it simply. It will show them that your wheels are turning and it will help you to understand the situation fully.
18. Always end with a, “Hey, if I need more, can I call you back?”
Allows you to go back and get the facts if you see there is something you didn’t get the first time.

19. Be prepared for someone to criticize your work.

They have their own area to protect. Be prepared to stand your ground, but in order to do this, you must be sure you did a thorough reporting job on the story.cmanyc16

#WhyIBeacon starring Lydia Laythe

We’re going all-digital promo:

IMG_7427Beacon reporters Rachel Rippetoe, Cheyenne Schoen, Hannah Sievert (not pictured) and News Editor Clare Duffy got their journalism on at the local Society of Professional Journalists Build-a-Better-Journalist conference at U of Oregon’s Turnbull Center.

Highlights included sessions on deceptions in campaign ads, fact checking, one-on-one student resume critiques and a panel featuring journalists involved in covering the mass shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg last fall.

A few social media-related resources mentioned along the way:

Buzzsumo – Enter your website’s url and see which of your stories are most talked about in social media

Alltop.com– tells you the most talked about stories from various sites

Nuzzel – tracks what people you follow on Twitter are talking about

Gramfeed– Search Instagram by location and time

Resources for Fact Checkers:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • CIA World Fact Book
  • Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (university real estate data)
  • American Presidency Project
  • Criminal Justice Project data sets
  • Wayback Machine/Internet archive – clips of campaign ads
  • Storyful’s Multisearch

 

 

 

 

 

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