Tag Archives: ethics

Case Study 9: Fetus or unborn child

30 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Editor response:

Summary: The story is about a man, Subhas Chander, who set fire to a house and killed his 5-month pregnant daughter, her husband, whom he disliked because he was from a lower caste, and his 3-year-old grandson.

The debate: The debate is whether it should be three counts of murder or whether the unborn should be counted as a person.

The arguments: Timothy J. McNulty argues that it was four deaths not three and that the stylebook or the writer’s own personal belief was what made the writer say three. He argues that this is wrong.

A Chicago media critic said McNulty is doing the same thing and basing his reasoning on his religious beliefs.

Conclusion: Ultimately, none of us can completely separate ourselves from our personal beliefs. It is also evident that some stylebooks advocate certain religious or political beliefs, so perhaps using them as a guide in these touchy situations will always cause some stir because someone may not agree.

The best thing to do would be to use the legal sentencing to describe what happened even if it makes the headline a bit longer or avoid it all together. I am afraid we’d have to ditch the stylebook in this case.

Instead of saying, “Grandfather charged in blaze that killed 3,” the headline could read, “Grandfather charged in blaze with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of intentional homicide of an unborn child.” By saying it like this, it is an accurate and legal. People may argue that the fact that it is called a child is political and religious if it is not born, but it is the way the court has written it, so that is an option.

Another option would be to say, “Grandfather charged in death of pregnant daughter, her husband and 3-year old grandson.” In this way you avoid having to choose between child or fetus.

No matter what you do, people will find something wrong with it. Being politically correct can be so annoying sometimes. There are some things that are so controversial that there is no neutrality available when talking about them.

Facebook: The new face of journalism

30 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

“Everyone has one,” is what most will say about Facebook. It is the place where people go to connect, create an image and check up on other people. It is a place where you can collect every face you’ve ever encountered and follow their lives, and where you can post photos you took of yourself shamelessly.

This tool that has managed to connect the planet, except for the Chinese because they have their own version of it, is seen by journalists as a platform. It is a place where they can, as The Next Web website explains, create online communities and engage readers. Facebook is not a place for breaking news like Twitter, but it can still deliver news in a timely fashion and be updated constantly, it argues.

Facebook also allows you to receive notifications, and you choose who you share certain things with. In this respect, Facebook is a lot more private than Twitter.

It has become about building relationships with people and creating dialogue. It is a platform, not only for media, but for protests and other mobilizations of groups.

Vadim Lavrusik calls Facebook a “social newspaper.” He said Facebook helps journalists build their brand, and it helps disseminate information to a large group of people. It can also help tell a story in a multi-media fashion because one can embed videos and other links.

Journalists through Facebook can ask readers questions and involve them in the process of news and provide them with extra analysis.

As a journalist, with Facebook,  you can try to reach an audience of 800 million.

Facebook continues to grow and add applications and new ways to tell stories. You can update from just about anywhere with a mobile device. There is no telling what new things could come up in the future. Things we perhaps have never thought of.

It would be neat if in the future Facebook partnered with Skype to add interaction to the medium between journalists and the readers and audience. If Facebook adds a “live TV” type element, this would further help the timeliness of news and the presentation of it on the spot.

For my blog, I have added an application available under “share” where you can share my blogs on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t have a Facebook. As clever and useful as it may be, I think it is a shallow way of interacting with people. Nothing beats being in a place with another person face-to-face.

Facebook also brings many ethical concerns. Facebook boasts privacy and protecting your profile, yet at the same time is serves as a medium to give out information and leave nothing hidden. Ethical concerns include and are not limited to: conflicts of interests with readership and “friends;” because Facebook is about real time, sacrificing quality for the speed you can spread the information; and having readers contribute and not fact checking. Another concern is that most people communicate through typing. Most of the time email communication for journalists is discouraged because it could be anyone, which undermines credibility, and one cannot distinguish tone in a written message which could make portraying something accurately a problem. Facebook is no different.

I think Facebook could compromise the key values of “acting independently” and “accuracy” in reporting. I also think it cheapens what we do. Facebook and Twitter have strived to give anyone the power to publish, and that is NOT always a good thing.

Case Study 7: Ethics of Twitter journalism and people watching

19 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Twitter has encouraged a new kind of literary journalism.

The Andy Boyle report on the couple breaking up, ‘The Restaurant of Broken Dreams,” was fascinating. It is nothing we all haven’t walked by or witnessed ourselves. If we were to record bits of every conversation we hear while walking, riding the bus or going to the restroom, we would have so many interesting stories.

One time I was in the bathroom and I heard an entire conversation about a girl’s embarrassment when her atheist boyfriend decided to show up at her Methodist church, and he noisily walked in when they were in the middle of prayer.

I don’t think I was intruding on her privacy. Many people cite privacy as a big problem or violation in this type of journalism. My thoughts are that anything in public is free to use unless someone has an expectation of privacy. For example, if someone is on the phone and is trying to speak in hushed tones or separates themselves from a crowd in public, then obviously this person has an expectation of privacy. By law, there are other factors that determine expectation of privacy, such as the location of the person, for example, a residence or a closed items like posted mail.

If a person walks into a room talking on the phone like they are Julia Roberts or something, then obviously their conversation is like a show; something theatrical. This is free to be used because the person is not trying to withhold the information from you. The person knows there are ears all around.

Though the person may know others are listening, however, this does not mean recording is ethical. Recording is different from just hearing something in public. Recording has an extra element that is not on paper when the person who hears it records it. With a sound bite, a person’s voice is recorded and this means the person can be more easily identified. This is a problem if you have not asked the person for permission because it may be illegal in the state in which you live.

Photos were a bit much in this piece. A photo of the couple is creepy. A photo of the restaurant and where they were sitting is not. The couple knew people were watching them, and they game Boyle a show, so he took everything in a recorded it. Maybe it was wrong just for the simple fact that he was giving them the attention they wanted.

As this type of journalism grows and people make a name out of themselves for the stories they record and witness, the ethics of the whole ordeal will evolve. I don’t think what Boyle did was unethical after he took down the photo of the couple. Everything else was interesting, true and fair game. People are interesting. Things happen. Write about the moments that should not be forgotten.

And here, you see, I did it myself #UFtabernacle.