The pro‐life perspective is that if you show a woman that she has an 11‐week‐old fetus and she sees the movement, and that convinces her to keep the fetus, then isn’t that a good thing? Whereas a pro‐choice person would say she didn’t come in and know she was going to get a sonogram; there is no medical reason for it. So why are you offering a sonogram except to convince a woman not to have an abortion, which is what she really wanted to do?
Documentary filmmaker Raney Aronson as quoted in a fascinating case study in journalism ethics (by the Knight Case Studies Initiative at Columbia) called Frontline’s “The Last Abortion Clinic”: What’s Fair in a Video World?
This case takes students behind the scenes into the making of a news documentary for Frontline, produced at the PBS affiliate in Boston (WGBH). The case tells the story of the making of “The Last Abortion Clinic,” a 2005 documentary by producer Raney Aronson and her team. The documentary combined a legal story (developments in the abortion debate since Roe v. Wade) with personal stories—interviews with women in clinics who had confronted the abortion question in their own lives. It focused on the state of Mississippi, which had only one abortion clinic remaining. The case chronicles the evolution of a documentary from idea to finished form. Along the way, it highlights numerous editorial, logistical and ethical decisions Aronson faced in her quest to tell fairly a complex and value-laden story.
We must choose completeness over succinctness when tweeting breaking news, especially if it’s complex breaking news that’s easily misunderstood.
Sam Kirkland, New Orgs Could Have Done a Better Job Tweeting Shutdown News, Poynter.
Yes, yes and yes. Kirkland points to tweets from large media organizations (USA Today, The AP and The Wall Street Journal) on September 27, which state that the Senate “passed” a bill to avert the government shutdown. He writes:
Every editor should know how a bill becomes a law — but no editor should assume every reader does. That’s why some of the breaking news tweets before and during the government shutdown were incomplete and potentially misleading.
He points to large media organizations because the reach of their tweets is enormous.
The real story that day — and every day since, until Wednesday — was what House Republicans would agree to. Democrats in the Senate passing a budget bill meant little if it was dead on arrival in the GOP-led House, as the New York Times’ fantastic ongoing back-and-forth graphic showed throughout the shutdown.
So, the all-caps #BREAKING treatment perhaps made the Senate’s move seem more consequential than it really was, especially with wording that could be misconstrued as indicating the Senate’s vote actually meant the shutdown threat was over. Those three tweets weren’t factually wrong, but responses to them indicated at least some confusion from readers.
In a recent article in India Today, Vinayak Chakravorty argues that a new trend in Bollywood is the featuring of female actresses as journalists—a departure from the old days, when the typical journalist-on-screen set-up was a dramatic, male-dominated hero-vs-villain tale. Today, he points out through a series of examples, the on-screen journalist is most often a woman. Directors interviewed for the piece argue that it’s because the movies are inspired by the real women on journalistic frontlines. They reflect reality. What goes unsaid, however, is that until now, most of these portrayals of women have been fairly fluffy. Chakravorty writes:
What goes unsaid is the idea adds to the glam quotient. While the hero is busy saving the world, he needs an emotional prop. Plus, an account of drama seen through the female eye can be more analytical.
If the war correspondent in Madras Cafe managed to be in sync with the brutal reality the film exposed, she was still playing second fiddle to the hero, as is the case with most such depictions.
The article does point out that this stereotype is slowly beginning to change, or at least, directors are willing to be cognizant of it, and be careful to craft intelligent portrayals of the female journalist, attempting to give them strong roles above and beyond the typical female love interest for an on-screen hero.
In a post on Brown Girl, the South Asian American magazine for young women, Antara Mason appreciates this transformation:
This more realistic view of girls in the workforce is fantastic. In a post-Delhi Rape Case India, this change could not come sooner. We need to see more strong women on screen, not to mention more respect for journalism on screen. Apart from that, the more women are seen being taken professionally and seriously on screen, the more respect they will earn in the real world because of the effect media has on society.
FJP: Here’s a thought. I haven’t seen enough Bollywood journalista films to know how this evolving portrayal of women journalists actually plays out, but simply presenting women in strong and independent leading roles seems like a solution that is driven by the same impulse that created the glam-doll phenomenon in the first place. In my mind, female-journalist-as-heroine is in danger of being just as one-dimensional as female-journalist-as-love-interest, especially if the parameters of heroism are of typical Bollywood-style: dramatic, and based on a very simple definition of power: victory.
If, however, the strength of female journalists is portrayed in a nuanced manner, one that takes into account the realities of being a female journalist in India’s rapidly evolving professional universe, movies can have an incredibly powerful impact. Here’s an example: some weeks ago, the Times published this piece on the evolution of journalism in India and the precarious situations women journalists find themselves in on account of being women in male-centric society. It’s a fear of harassment that is valid, that media organizations need to acknowledge, and women ought to speak about without shame, argues, Ashima Narain, photo editor of National Geographic Traveler. It sounds like Bollywood has a chance to cast light on such realities: the fear, and the courage to speak about it and overcome it, which in turn could re-cast heroism as something more powerful and more nuanced than good-guy (or girl) beating bad-guy.—Jihii
I try not to downplay the fact that in science we use animal models and a lot of times they are killed. As scientists, we do this all the time, but it happens behind closed doors.
Greg Gage, co-founder of an educational company called Backyard Brains, to Wired, about RoboRoach #12, a kit the company is shipping that attaches microelectronics to cockroaches that controls their physical behavior. Wired, Cyborg Cockroach Company Sparks Ethics Debate.
RoboRoach #12 and its brethren are billed as a do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own “cyborg” insects. The roach was the main feature of the TEDx talk by Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo, co-founders of an educational company called Backyard Brains. After a summer Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to let them hone their insect creation, the pair used the Detroit presentation to show it off and announce that starting in November, the company will, for $99, begin shipping live cockroaches across the nation, accompanied by a microelectronic hardware and surgical kits geared toward students as young as 10 years old…
…Gage and Marzullo, both trained as neuroscientists and engineers, say that the purpose of the project is to spur a “neuro-revolution” by inspiring more kids to join the fields when they grow up, but some critics say the project is sending the wrong message. “They encourage amateurs to operate invasively on living organisms” and “encourage thinking of complex living organisms as mere machines or tools,” says Michael Allen Fox, a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.
Earlier this week Krissy posted about these Bluetooth-Controlled Cyborg Cockroaches. Reading through the reblogs I noticed a lot of comments such as this, “As a scientist, I find this fascinating and clever. As a mere human who reads too many books, I find it terrifying at the same time.”
Evidently, Protoculture Phantasm isn’t alone in their sentiments — Michael.
All journalism is advocacy journalism. No matter how it’s presented, every report by every reporter advances someone’s point of view. The advocacy can be hidden, as it is in the monotone narration of a news anchor for a big network like CBS or NBC (where the biases of advertisers and corporate backers like GE are disguised in a thousand subtle ways), or it can be out in the open, as it proudly is with Greenwald, or graspingly with Sorkin, or institutionally with a company like Fox.
But to pretend there’s such a thing as journalism without advocacy is just silly; nobody in this business really takes that concept seriously. “Objectivity” is a fairy tale invented purely for the consumption of the credulous public, sort of like the Santa Claus myth. Obviously, journalists can strive to be balanced and objective, but that’s all it is, striving.
Do not use illegal as a noun, and avoid the sinister-sounding alien.
A new entry in The New York Times’ stylebook on “illegal immigrant”.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of advocates against the use of the term “illegal immigrant” gathered outside The New York Times building in Times Square to deliver a petition of protest. Organizers said the petition, which asked the paper to stop using the phrase contained more than 70,000 signatures collected online.
And here is the new entry, (by way of Poynter, if you’re looking for context):
illegal immigrant may be used to describe someone who enters, lives in or works in the United States without proper legal authorization. But be aware that in the debate over immigration, some people view it as loaded or offensive. Without taking sides or resorting to euphemism, consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question, or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegally; who overstayed a visa; who is not authorized to work in this country.
Unauthorized is also an acceptable description, though it has a bureaucratic tone. Undocumented is the term preferred by many immigrants and their advocates, but it has a flavor of euphemism and should be used with caution outside quotations. Illegal immigration, because it describes the issue rather than an individual, is less likely thanillegal immigrant to be seen as troubling.
Take particular care in describing people whose immigration status is complex or subject to change – for example, young people brought to this country as children, many of whom are eligible for temporary reprieves from deportation under federal policies adopted in 2012.
Do not use illegal as a noun, and avoid the sinister-sounding alien.
Jonathan Peters and Frank Lomonte in The Atlantic’s College Journalists Need Free Speech More Than Ever:
This is not your father’s journalism industry.
NBC News has a Storify page, the New York Times has a Tumblr, and PBS has a Pinterest board. The Associated Press has built a partnership with dozens of news companies to collect royalties from aggregators. The Wall Street Journal has produced original videos for YouTube, and the people formerly known as the audience can submit photos to CNN through its iPhone app.
In short, the two argue that today’s college journalists are being asked to fulfill community needs for professional news, but are not provided with the legal assurances of safety that professionals are afforded.
For years, they explain (and applaud), there has been a growing consensus that journalism programs ought to become something like teaching hospitals for news production:
* In a 2010 report on sustaining democracy in the digital age, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy concluded that colleges and universities needed to enhance their roles as “hubs of journalistic activity.”
* In a 2011 report on twenty-first century journalism, the New America Foundation challenged journalism programs to become “anchor institutions involved in the production of community-relevant news.”
* In a 2011 report on the changing media landscape, the FCC Working Group on the Information Needs of Communities recommended that foundations fund “journalism-school residencies” for recent grads to manage “efforts to produce significant journalism for the community, using journalism school students.”
* In a 2012 letter to university presidents, leaders of six of the nation’s largest foundations argued that journalism programs must “recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital roles as news creators” and that “universities must become forceful partners in revitalizing an industry at the very core of democracy.”
But they worry about the impacts of such legislation as Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, a 25-year-old Supreme Court decision that has been extended to college settings by four federal courts of appeals covering 16 states. It states, in short, that educators may regulate school-sponsored speech “so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” An open invitation to limit free speech.
Peters and Lomonte make two suggestions:
Read the full piece here.
FJP: This is a discussion I’ve had both in college, when I was editor of our campus news magazine, and in J-school. I’ve seen undergraduate students repeatedly hesitate to produce hard-hitting pieces that criticize their university because they can’t rely on their work for the school publication to remain uncensored by the school administration. In J-school—and I’m lucky enough to attend the big C, which has the resources to protect its students in certain cases—legal protection is certainly not available in the same way it is at many news organizations. Yet in both places, I’ve witnessed students repeatedly called upon to produce professional work and serve well-reported, fact-checked news to their local communities.
What worries me the most, however, is a potential cultural byproduct of these limitations: I worry about the impact these constraints have on the development of a student’s ethical framework and confidence as a reporter during his or her most formative years as a young journalist. How many potentially brilliant investigative journalists are we discouraging by limiting their opportunity to freely practice at the university level? Happy to see The Alantic cover this, and happy to see California, Illinois and Oregon’s statutes.—Jihii