Besides writing an award-winning piece that gained national recognition and awards, Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong decided to give back. They took their $10,000 prize money and paid for IRE training for their colleagues at The Seattle Times.
Horvit quotes Manny Garcia, the IRE Board President, “Mike and Ken have always been unselfish with their time and talent,” Garcia said. “They both exemplify what IRE is all about: equipping and training journalists world-wide to produce important investigative work. It speaks to their character and the quality news organization that is The Seattle Times.”
According to Horvit’s article, these two men are the second major award winners to do this sort of philanthropic work in the last few years.
This is important news to include these days. Why? The news about the news doesn’t always have to be critical, or negative or controversial. Gestures like this will keep journalism moving forward, steadily toward improvement. Reporting, writing and investigating are skills that can always be improved upon. I’ve re-discovered that just by keeping this blog. These two men, decided to invest in the important work that investigative journalists do every day. Honing their skills, and now making that practice available to others in the business through this training, is invaluable to the industry.
Journalism is not only learning about what we report, but how and why we report.
There is a quote by Thomas Griffith, a former editor for Time, Inc., “Journalism is in fact history on the run.” That would be something difficult to chase without the necessary skills. Berens and Armstrong are setting a good example in this industry and they are providing those skills to their fellow staffers. Kudos to them.
- Two Seattle publications win Pulitzer Prizes (bizjournals.com)
- 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners (themoderatevoice.com)
- 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners announced (twitchy.com)
- 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners for Journalism announced (economy4abc.blogspot.com)
The “Today” show for NBC decided last month to air an edited clip of the 911 call made by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman as you know is currently facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of Trayvon Martin. According to Carr’s article, the show edited the clip, which ended up making Zimmerman sound as though he was making racist comments. Carr called the edited clip, “…misleading, incendiary and dead-bang wrong…”
Carr goes on to say that while NBC took swift action after realizing the terrible editing, albeit a week after it originally aired and re-aired, which included an investigation, the firing of the producer in charge and an apology.
Carr points out that what the network didn’t do, was make an on-air correction. Not during any of the four hours of the show was there one second dedicated to a correction that would set the audience straight.
Carr states, “What is it with television news and corrections? When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves. But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads. NBC used all of the powers at its disposal to amend the mistake, except the high-visibility airtime where the bad clip ran in the first place.”
Carr reached out to Steve Capus, president of NBC News, and much to his disappointment, Capus agreed with Carr.
Capus stated in Carr’s article, “We did an awful lot of work after it happened. We did an exhaustive investigation, I did interviews with a lot of publications to get the message out, but we probably should have done it on our own air.”
Carr wraps up his article saying, “Give NBC credit for dealing with a big error that threatened to sow further mayhem on a very delicate story. It’s just too bad it failed to remember that the fix for bad journalism generally includes more journalism. The kind that goes on the air.”
I agree with Carr. The network absolutely should have aired a correction, especially given the very nature in the evolution of this case and its national attention.
When Carr mentions that television news never corrects itself unless it is to make a lawsuit go away, I cringe at the comment. Why is this the case? Does broadcast journalism hold itself to a different journalistic standard than papers and other forms of the news media? Shouldn’t this type of behavior, airing corrections on the same broadcast show that made the mistake, be included in a “best practices” standard? I certainly think it should. Considering the amount of people out there that still get their news from television broadcasts, I would think that keeping the public correctly informed would be a major characteristic and goal of any network.
I think it’s time that broadcast news, as it pertains to corrections, be held to the very same standards that the print media and online media follow. Journalism is journalism, and accuracy should be equally required across the board.
Carr speaks with Aaron Brown, a professor of journalism and former anchor. Brown states, “But given how high-profile that this screw-up was and the fact that it became a news story itself, I’m shocked that they didn’t correct it on the ‘Today’ show.”
Exactly Mr. Brown. In my view, you and David Carr hit the nail on the head.
- NBC apologizes for making Zimmerman sound racist in edited Trayvon clip (rt.com)
- Media Malpractice: Month after edited Zimmerman 911 call, no on-air correction by NBC (twitchy.com)
- @ NBC News president says 911 tape editing was “a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call” (mediaite.com)
- Trayvon Martin call was “mistake, not deliberate” – NBC (vancouversun.com)
- NBC News ‘In Shock’ Over George Zimmerman Error (huffingtonpost.com)
- NBC fires ‘Today’ producer over Trayvon Martin 911 call edit (digitalspy.co.uk)
- NBC News President Steve Capus: Zimmerman’s edited call was a ‘mistake, not deliberate’ (nextlevelofnews.com)
In an article for the New York Times, David Carr makes an attempt to defend journalism. His article is titled, “Fill in the Blank: Being a Reporter Is the _____Job in the World.”
Carr basically sums up the past couple of weeks in the world of journalism, and how there seems to be a lot of talk of dissatisfaction with the job. In his article he quotes a fellow writer Malcolm Gladwell from a speech he gave at Yale, “Newspapers are kind of dreary, depressed places. I would go the penniless Web route to get practice.”
Carr mentions the Fox Mole indirectly, and we all know how dissatisfied he was with his job. He also mentions a young journalist who was hired and decided to write-up a press release about his new position and posted it to Tumblr, he was fired within twenty-four hours of being hired.
And then of course, Carr mentioned this, “CareerCast included hundreds of jobs in its annual ranking and decided that being a newspaper reporter was the fifth-worst job in the land. Being a dishwasher and a taxi driver rated as better occupations.”
Okay. So it wasn’t a great month in the land of journalism, and I agree, albeit with very little experience, that newsrooms and newspapers are not what they used to be.
But. There is still glory to be found in this old institution. There are still aspiring young journalists like myself that are figuring out what our niche’s are. There is a whole generation of journalists up and coming that want to restore the industry to the standards we are taught, and all, I promise is not lost.
Who does CareerCast think they are anyway? The future of journalism is a bright one. Thanks to Carr, journalists from all walks of life have commented on the state of the job, and in reading many of the responses to his article, I am convinced that CareerCast is completely off base.
To answer his question: Being a reporter is the most amazing job in the world.
- Advice for the Young Journalist (publicgoodreporting.wordpress.com)
- Matt Welch: Why legacy-newspaper media reporters get their own industry so wrong (nextlevelofnews.com)
- “Newspapers are kind of dreary, depressed places. I would go the penniless Web route to get practice….” (shortformblog.com)
- SXSW: David Carr and the Curator’s Code (theverge.com)
Watling writes, “Alan Greenblatt explains in his story today that increasingly, government officials are asking him to prove his official journalist status before granting him interviews. Tides have turned and now it’s not just the reporter doing background research, but the sources are backgrounding the reporters.”
Greenblatt is a correspondent for NPR.org, and wrote about his recent experience of being asked to prove he is a journalist.
In her blog post, Watling brings up some very interesting points, she writes:
- What type of proof is enough?
- What if you’re not working for an agency that hands out press badges?
- What’s stopping you from printing up your own press badge and business cards?
- It’s not like you apply for a license to be a journalist and can hand out your license number to verify with the state, as electricians or plumbers do. (I hope nobody gets any bright ideas.)
- And it’s not like medical professions where you need a certain degree and set of training to perform the job; you simply do not need a degree in journalism to prove you know how to ask who, what, when, where, why and how, and then write it up accurately.
- Plenty of good reporters didn’t learn those skills in the classroom.
- And plenty of bad reporters have a degree but still didn’t learn to apply those skills well.
I happen to agree with her. Watling also mentions the recent court case involving a blogger, the judge ruled the blogger was not a journalist. So how is it determined that someone is a journalist? According to the judge mentioned in Watling’s article, it would be someone who followed these guidelines:
“Defendant fails to bring forth any evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist. For example, there is no evidence of (1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest; (4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted; (5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources; (6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others; or (7) contacting “the other side” to get both sides of a story. Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not “media.””
You can read the opinion of the court here.
Currently, the only things I have to show someone who questions my validity as a journalist is, my diploma, my business card and my Society of Professional Journalists card. (Needless to say I don’t carry my diploma with me.) So what if I fall into one or more of the categories she lists above?
I also shiver at the idea that an institution for licensing journalists could be created. Since when do we need a license to practice our basic freedoms, like speech and the press?
Watling also states, “Fortunately for me, as a working journalist and blogger, I can check off each of these seven in some way and when appropriate (i.e. I’m not going on background on most stories, and sometimes my blog posts are just an aggregation of pieces I think people should read). Whew. But what if you didn’t attend journalism school (No. 1)? What if you’re an opinion columnist/blogger whose job it is to be one-sided (No. 7)? What if your job includes curating a mass of content into a product that helps pull together a story from disparate sources (No. 6)? What if you’ve never been affiliated with a MSM news agency but instead set up your own news outlet (No. 2)?”
I’m not sure there is a simple answer here. Of course following the ethics of journalism and knowing the laws associated with the press are two very important things among many others, but there are loopholes. I agree with Watling, that it’s a kind of “New Media vs. News Media“, and all of this New Media is blurring the lines. There are a lot of great aspects of citizen journalism, but also some negative ones. Fact-checking and verification of sources etc, are both very important in journalism. I’m afraid much of that is lost on many “citizen journalists”. Yet still, there are a lot of “citizen journalists” out there that bring to light information and news that might otherwise be lost on the larger media groups.
This is a fascinating area for discussion. While many legacy news organizations struggle to find their footing in this digital age, there are other, newer organizations bursting onto the scene. How this plays out in the future, and what develops as the definition of a journalist or journalism will be something to watch.
This isn’t a winner-takes-all situation. I think there is plenty of playing room on the field.
- Figure out if Old Journalism Ethics Apply to Social Media, Eat Free Pizza, Earn Extra Credit! (nicolekraftosu.wordpress.com)
- Pulitzer Prize Ends Blogger vs. Journalist Debate (bigthink.com)
- Real Journalist Ignores Future of Many Real Journalists (arnoldit.com)
- Should News Bloggers be Considered Journalists? (newmediarockstars.com)
In an article written by Steven Greenhouse, for the New York Times, an interesting and no doubt controversial topic is addressed. Xuedan Wang, a former intern for Harper’s Bazaar, is suing the Hearst Corporation for violations of Labor Department rules with respect to hours worked and wages. Wang says that she worked there for four months and usually put in 40 hour work weeks, sometimes up to 55 hours a week, and never received any payment for her services. The premise for the lawsuit, according to the article is as such:
The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to
training which would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
Wang says that by treating her as an intern and not a regular employee, the Hearst Corporation denied her wages, social security contributions, as well as unemployment insurance and workers compensation benefits.
Interesting. First, let us take a look at her position at the magazine. She admits through the article, as well as in the lawsuit that she was an intern. Call me crazy, but intern does not mean the same thing as employee. At least the last time I checked.
As a student, I look forward to internships to help bolster my experience and advance my academic career. I see it as a way to get my foot in the door in a highly competitive field. I don’t expect to get paid for my work. I do expect to work hard. I do expect to be challenged. I do expect to receive credit for my time to put toward my degree from whatever institution I am interning with! I do expect to learn.
There are internships out there that pay for services provided by interns. Maybe Ms. Wang should have applied to one of those instead of an unpaid internship with Harper’s.
Secondly, let us look at this from a business perspective. How many times have people chosen a career path, gone to school, and when the time comes to participate in an internship, after a week, they quit, drop out, or change their major and move on to something else. Oh yes, it happens. There are medical students out their that have gone through all of their training, applied and get accepted to a residency program, only to find less than a year into it, that they can’t hack it. This is a business. Should companies be forced to pay their interns? Chances are, especially if this is the students first internship, they have had little to no hands on experience. It’s my guess that these interns will have to be taught the ways of the media world, and by teaching them, it takes away from the productivity of the regular employees who now have to juggle an intern on top of their other duties expected by the employer.
Why should an employer have to pay for a decrease in productivity, albeit temporary, when they are offering an invaluable experience to the student at the companies expense. I’m also thinking that the intern would represent a level of liability for the company as well. Accuracy issues, missed deadlines, production mistakes and it could go on and on. I’m not saying the companies out there should abuse their interns, but hey, the job should be tough, it needs to be in order to weed out those who have no business in the media business.
It sounds to me, Ms. Wang was not satisfied with the internship she chose. I would guess that she knew full well, the details of her internship. She knew going in, that it was a demanding position, and most importantly, unpaid!
I truly hope this lawsuit gets thrown out of court. If it isn’t, I worry about what implications may come from this and what impact it will have on the rest of us journalism students looking for the same opportunities.
What do you think?