To run or not to run?

In discussing the issue of whether a news outlet should run a picture due to its gruesome nature, or whether they should alter it to make it more “appropriate” for the public, or whether it should just not run at all – I always find myself on the side of running it raw.

In lecture, we specifically discussed how the NY Daily News altered the following picture to make it “runnable” on their cover.

NY-Daily-News-runs-doctored-Boston-photo-on-Marathon-Massacre-cover (1)

The original picture is below:

NY-Daily-News-runs-doctored-Boston-photo-on-Marathon-Massacre-coverThe news outlet had adjusted the picture, darkening the area where the woman on the left’s leg had been blown off. In my opinion, the picture does not vary so drastically between the two pictures that an alteration was justified. In addition, I don’t feel as if the picture was in any way too much for a person to handle. If something horrible happens, people have a right to know what happened. They have a right to see all of the pictures, all of the footage raw – exactly as it was.

There was also some questions concerning the picture below:

boston marathonIt’s definitely extremely graphic and possibly more than some could handle, but I don’t believe that any news outlet would be at fault for running it. Journalists are supposed to portray and depict stories exactly as that happened – not in a way that makes it easier for people to stomach. Some things that happen in the world are hard to handle, but part of life is learning about and experiencing things that aren’t easy.


Ethics in Journalism

I enjoyed Monday’s lecture for a number of reasons.

  1. One kid decided to get quite sassy (disrespectful, but irregardless entertaining) in class. It resorted to a lot of chuckles and clapping.
  2. We learned we had a final, only to have it cancelled a few days later (cue excited jumping up and down).
  3. We talked about ethics.

I like ethics. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s so intriguing. Maybe it’s because both of my parents are lawyers and my dad is now in charge of ethics at the company he works for, so I’ve been surrounded by ethics, but maybe I just find it interesting like people find birdwatching interesting.

Regardless, I feel as if there’s been a ridiculous amount of “ethical” issues in the journalism world. First, there was NBC buying a story source – aka checkbook journalism, which is not condoned by the SPJ, so obviously it’s unethical – not once, but twice. Then, of course right within our own area, there was a (what I feel like) huge outbreak of people criticizing a journalist who works for KPLR in St. Louis. The anchor/reporter, Melanie Moon, was under a lot of heat for her behavior in covering the trial for Ryan Ferguson, a man whose murder conviction in 2005 was overturned this past week.

Moon was extremely sympathetic towards Ferguson during the trial, which if she were simply a friend or family member would not have been an issue. However, as a journalist, this made her sentiments on the issue blatantly obvious.

Journalists are supposed to be objective, and Moon’s Facebook page (photo from her page posted below) and her actions were not reflective of that.

Photo from Moon's Facebook

Photo from Moon’s Facebook

An article from the St. Louis Dispatch has quotes from Moon saying things like, “This is a very unique story, and I got very close to him,” “There is a lot of emotion with it,” “It’s impossible to be objective on this. It was clearly and blatantly an injustice,” and most shockingly to me, “We’re people first and reporters second.”

In addition to her obvious bias, Moon got some facts wrong when it came to discussing the trial. Mizzou’s Joy Mayer, an associate professor and director of community outreach at the Columbia Missourian, wrote a piece on Storify discussing Moon’s lack of ethics and correct facts.

All of this contributed to Moon’s lack of credibility on reporting, or as Mayer preferred to call it, “her style of information gathering and sharing.”

While I feel this was a tragic example of journalism – it provided a great opportunity for those of us in the journalism school at Mizzou to witness a real-life example of what can happen when journalists stop being journalists. If you’re a sympathetic, emotional person, being a journalist can be hard and it can suck because it’s very hard to stay objective in emotional cases, but it’s important that you don’t let your feelings guide your reporting. Objectivity, correct facts and professionalism are key.

Journalism’s future

Journalism is constantly changing, constantly morphing. It seems as soon as “the next big thing” arrives, something swoops in and takes it’s place. Newspapers to radio, radio to television, television to the Internet and now the Internet to mobile.

That’s not to say the new medium completely replaces the others – all of the forms of journalism listed still exist, but while they might not necessarily die (that’s rather drastic), they’re certainly in a decline.

Mobile journalism, however, is certainly on a rise – and for good reason. It’s easy, efficient, effective, and, well mobile. It’s an extremely accessible form of journalism that makes on-the-minute reporting ridiculously easy. While smartphones aren’t quite as friendly as computers are in typing, designing and uploading information, they’re the next best thing and they don’t require wifi or internet access. All it requires is signal.

We recently went on a “mobile” assignment for class where all of the reporting we did was completed on our phone. We got an interview, took pictures, wrote a story and uploaded it all onto our blog (WordPress for me). I loved the assignment. It was easy, it was fun, it was enjoyable and it was quick. It took me maybe an hour to go to the event, talk to the people, draft a story and upload everything to WordPress.

Within the past year, Poynter published an article on 5 reasons as to why mobile will disrupt journalism like the Internet did. More and more frequently, people are getting their news on their phone – through updates, notifications, apps, emails, etc.

I’m curious to see what will happen to the future of other forms of journalism, such as television. Will they last forever? Will mobile overcome desktop and other forms of getting news? And also, what will come after mobile journalism?

Sustain Mizzou holds electronic waste drive, aims to better the environment

Sustain Mizzou, an environmental group at the University of Missouri, held an electronic waste drive on Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013, outside the MU Student Center in Columbia, Mo.


Sustain Mizzou’s Electronic Waste Drive was outside of the MU Student Center in Columbia, Mo. on Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013.

The purpose of the drive was to collect old or broken electronic items and to prevent them from being thrown into landfills.


An old keyboard was one of the items donated to this year’s Electronic Waste Drive outside of the MU Student Center in Columbia, Mo. on Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013.

“Basically, two percent of landfill waste causes 70 percent of all that toxic material that gets washed away, which is a problem,” said Hunter Maret, a senior at MU and the Electronic Waste Drive coordinator.


Hunter Maret, Electronic Waste Drive coordinator for Sustain Mizzou, looks at an old Yamaha hard drive while working the Electronic Waste Drive outside of the MU Student Center in Columbia, Mo. on Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013.

Jackson Hambrick, a junior at MU and the vice president of projects for Sustain Mizzou, said that Mid-Mo Recycling actually recycles in Missouri.


The Mid-Mo Recycling truck will take the donated electronic items from the waste drive outside of the MU Student Center on Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013, to the facility’s location on Brown Station road in Columbia, Mo.

“Other recycling places send it down to India or China where it’s melted down and puts toxic chemicals in the air, harming the environment and the people working,” Hambrick said. “This stays here following regulations.”


Jackson Hambrick, vice president of projects for Sustain Mizzou, works on paperwork for the Electronic Waste Drive outside of the MU Student Center in Columbia, Mo. on Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013.

The Electronic Waste Drive will continue through Friday Nov. 8, 2013, at the north corner of the Student Center by the parking lot.

The art of changing yourself

In class, we recently just finished our TV-style videos. An expansion of the 30-second video, this one included an additional interview (to make 2) and … narration. Upon learning that narration was an aspect of this assignment, a lot of my friends uttered a chorus of complaints. “I hate my voice,” “who would want to listen to my voice?” and “ughhh I sound so weird” were among the millions of reasons people didn’t want to record their voice for a video.

While I didn’t vocalize my similar issues with recording my voice – I definitely felt the same way. As a small(ish) girl, I’m blessed with a squeaky high voice. (Maybe it’s not that squeaky, but I think it comes across that way in recordings.) Nobody wants to listen to a squeaky high voice. It sounds silly and a little annoying. I know I personally prefer male voices in recordings for that very reason. There’s just something very nice about those lower registers.

Regardless, as I was recording my voice for the assignment, I found myself starting off a recording and then stopping myself and doing my best to physically lower how my voice came across. It still sounds kind of high, but let me tell you – it’s much better than how it was originally.

I began to think, though, that this is kind of how broadcast works. Everyone has their “reporter” voice that’s different from their day-to-day way of speaking. They change their voice for the sake of broadcast. People also change their looks. Women with long hair cut it to shoulder length or a little bit longer. If a news director doesn’t like your look, they’ll either not hire you or show you how to change it. The whole presentation of the business is appearance-based, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a true statement.

Broadcast encompasses presentation. It’s a major value to the business, and as a result, changing yourself is just a part of the business.

Finding a perfect sequence

I came to Mizzou dead set on being an anchor. In fifth grade I decided what I wanted to do with my life, and that was to be a broadcast journalist. “Like Katie Couric,” fifth grade me would tell people.

About a month into my first year at Mizzou I decided I didn’t want to be an anchor. I began working as a PA at KOMU and doing work at MUTV – which exposed me to the production side of broadcast, a whole world to which I was only vaguely aware of. Production had way more appeal than I expected it to have. I would get to create the shows and be more in control of what was going on than I would as an anchor or reporter. In addition to that, reporting for MUTV showed me that I really didn’t want to report – I would much rather be involved on the technical side as opposed to being on camera. It also meant I didn’t have to slather loads of make-up on my face as a career (which, in doing cut-ins at KOMU, I discovered I did not appreciate at all). 

Over winter break, I got an internship at the NBC affiliate in Memphis (where I live), WMCTV. This internship only furthered my appreciation for production. I was able to go out on stories to help gather footage and interview people (although I was not allowed on camera, obviously) and I was even able to help write the scripts for some of the shows. I really enjoyed being able to help do that. I also got to spend some time in the production room, where all the buttons dazzled the 7 year old in me.

Inside the production room at WMCTV in Memphis, Tenn.

Inside the production room at WMCTV in Memphis, Tenn.

Computers, screens and buttons in the production room at WMCTV in Memphis, Tenn.

Computers, screens and buttons in the production room at WMCTV in Memphis, Tenn.

Recently, though, I decided to change my sequence from broadcast to convergence – multimedia production. This surprised everyone who knew me. Of all my friends, I was the only one who had come into school with a single sequence on my mind and nothing was going to change that. However, as it came closer to beginning my sequence in the spring, I began considering how coming to Mizzou had opened my eyes to all of the possible areas I could focus my journalism major on and how the only broadcast class I was looking forward to was the production class. I know that we can’t always do things that we want to do, but I also didn’t want to force myself to go through 3 classes that would be torturous. As I began looking around on the sequences, I came across multimedia producing and it seemed perfect. I’m going to discuss the sequence change with Dean Kraxberger on Monday to ensure that it’s the right decision, but I feel as if it is.

This conversation was sparked by Monday’s lecture. I had decided to change my sequence to convergence – multimedia producing the Saturday before, and it was just a coincidental class. However, as the convergence professor, Judd Slivka, gave his shpeal on convergence and how students work at 3 of the 4 different newsrooms, I became even more excited about my sequence change.

The importance of storyboarding as proved by a horror b movie

Last night I watched a really horrible movie, Troll 2.

Troll 2

It’s one of those movies, though, that’s so bad you can’t help but absolutely adore it. Here’s the trailer:

It has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and if that’s indicative of anything, it’s that this movie is pure gold. But actually, Troll 2 was considered a really horrible film until about 15 years after it was made when it randomly generated a huge cult following who found its “horror comedy” B movie status appealing.

I discovered Troll 2 from a documentary one of my friends had to watch in his film studies class. The documentary, The Best Worst Movie Ever Made, was made by the main character in Troll 2. The documentary was well done and very interesting, but of course it had a fabulous subject.

Similar to my post last week – how does this relate to journalism? I thought about maybe taking a break from blogging about something with a journalistic twist, just for this week, but then I realized that Troll 2 was a terrible movie for lots of different reasons, one of those being how the story plays out.

The director and editors of the film, while I assume they probably used storyboards, did not utilize them very well. There were a few breaks in the plot where things happened for no apparent reason, they didn’t have a conclusion, there wasn’t any connection, there wasn’t enough explanation, etc.  And while for this type of movie an incoherent storyboard is acceptable since it diminished the quality of the movie which therefore increases the humor towards the film, in most other situations this would have been a catastrophe.

Storyboards are imperative. Without them, there is much more room for error, miscommunication, disconnect, and a number of other potential issues. Even within a journalistic piece, such as a package which is often not more than a minute or two, storyboards are necessary. They help organize the package and direct the angle of the story, the types of shots, how things should be edited, etc.

While horror b movies are a phenomenon and enjoyed by many, I highly doubt anyone wants to watch a package along the lines of a b movie.

Video Vacuum

Videos are the ultimate tool for procrastination.  Whether it be sitting on YouTube watching  how to’s on makeup/hair, technology “hacks” or a dumb vlogger, hours at a time can be wasted.

I can’t speak for everyone, but most have fallen victim to the YouTube vacuum. Just the other night, someone posted this video of a girl who talks for three minutes about whether or not dogs have brains on Facebook. … I still don’t know why I watched it, but alas, I did. I was so intrigued by (what appears) to be her lack of intelligence, I watched another video of hers, and soon it had been over an hour, I was on what was probably vlogger number seven and I still wasn’t even close to going to sleep like I had intended.

This is the beauty of video – especially ones that link to other videos. When you’re watching something interesting, you find other interesting videos, then you’re led to different accounts and before you know it you’re watching a 10 hour video of the Nyan Cat graphic and you can’t remember how on earth you got there.

Now, what does this have to do with journalism? Technically, absolutely nothing. But then again, journalists should aim for videos that create the “YouTube vacuum.” Videos need to be interesting, intriguing, and leave the viewer wanting to link to other videos or articles about the topic.


The art and deception of soundbites

The government shutdown Tuesday, resulting in lots of news coverage about Democrats and Republicans and their “refusal” to negotiate and decide on a bill that would fund the government.

With the extensive news coverage, soundbites have been popping up all over the internet. Quotes of government officials saying things concerning the shutdown whether it be against the other party or just in general context of the shutdown.

These soundbites have give the public a better idea of what is going on, according to the government officials.

The problem with soundbites, however, is that they can be taken out of context. If you include just a portion of what someone says, you might be leaving out (intentionally or unintentionally) information that completely alters the context of the soundbite.

There have been records of a senior White House official saying, “We are going to win this.” However, in another video President Obama says that when people’s family lives are at stake, this is not a game. Whether he agrees with the senior White House official or not, it would be inappropriate for Obama to make this out to be like a “game.”

Republicans have been in agreement with the inappropriate level of making the shutdown a game, with all that matters is being which party “wins.” John Boehner made that clear in the video below.

The line “This is not a damn game” has been used frequently in articles as a quote/soundbite from John Boehner.

As government officials continue to speak on behalf of the government shutdown, more soundbites will be made available; however consumers of news stories must remember that there are normally words before and after the quoted statement, and those words could easily change what was said to a whole different meaning.