Ethics Blog

You know how journalists are supposed to cover the news in a fair and balanced manner? Well, they are, and they usually go about doing it in one of two ways. The first is to practice “objectivity” — the art of having no opinion. The second way, and perhaps the more popular option, is for journalists to disclose their biases and do their best to cover both sides of the story accurately.

Thanks to a great new invention called the Internet, readers, bloggers and other publications can hold newspapers to being fair and balanced. This was the case when the liberal blog ProgressNow Colorado called The Pueblo Chieftain‘s coverage of Colorado state senator Angela Giron unethical this spring.

In case you haven’t heard, Giron is a democratic legislator who represents the district Pueblo, Colo. encompasses. During the 2013 legislative period, she supported stricter gun-control laws that led some of her constituents to successfully petition for a recall election.

The executives at The Chieftain were not supporters of Giron’s work in Denver, so they too signed the recall petitions. However, the execs decided not tell their readers about their political position. To complicate things further, the newspaper’s general manager sent the senator an email asking her to rethink her position on the gun laws. That email exposed the paper’s bias and was interpreted as a threat by the senator.

What’s troubling is that blogs exposed The Pueblo Chieftain to be in a position where its coverage of Giron and the recall election were called into question. My hometown paper is certainly not the first to have online users expose potential unethical practices.

Today’s newspapers must truly be fair and balanced or not claim to be. A well-written editorial ran in The Chieftain after the scandal explaining how the executives’ political views don’t affect the newsroom. That information should have been presented as soon as the executives decided where they stood on the issue, not after being criticized.

“Why is today significant?”

That’s hilarious, I have thought over and over again as I watched big name corporations get hacked on Twitter. And, when I hear about mythical hackers taking over entire commercial websites to make a point, my mind registers it as a small prank in today’s digital age. However, the hacking of the New York Times on Tuesday changed that.

Tuesday’s cyber-attack means that world’s media organizations, no matter how unbiased and established, are not truly safe on the web. The New York Times reported the Syrian Electronic Army is taking credit for shutting its website down for several hours. The pro President Bashar al-Assad group hacked The Washington Post earlier this month.

It’s fascinating, in a terrifying way, to think that a foreign group can censor media in America. For a few hours these groups can make the world’s great watchdogs play dead. That does much more than reduce the 24-hour news cycle, it allows groups to hijack media organizations to make a statement, shows vulnerability and negatively impacts the country.

The last claim is not an over exaggeration. In April, stock markets dipped after the Associated Press’s Twitter account was hacked and lies about a White House explosion were sent out. That’s a real example of the danger of groups using trusted names like the AP, The New York Times or The Washington Post to spread falsehoods or take political stands. Furthermore, these incidents lead you to wonder, what else isn’t quite as secure at these media organizations previously thought? Are sources protected? Is content?

Denver Post Internship: List of articles

dp

💲 = Business,  ★ = Noteworthy clip

129. Rhinoceros at Denver Zoo bites woman on Hand
Aug. 28, 2013

128. Smoke shop robbers still at large, according to Crime Stoppers
Aug. 28, 2013

127. Craig doctor still in custody after appearing in court Wednesday
Aug. 28, 2013

126. Washington County’s beef is with unintended consequences of laws

Aug. 25, 2013

125. Two women plead guilty to abusing 6 year old, says Denver DA’s Office

Aug. 23, 2013

124. CSU student who died in Rocky Mountain National Park identified

Aug. 23, 2013

123. Loveland man assaults child in public park , according to police

Aug. 23, 2013

122. West Nile infects four in Weld County, health officials say

Aug. 23, 2013

121. Federal judge throws out Englewood sex offender ordinance

Aug. 22, 2013

120. Tumbling boulder briefly disrupts USA Pro Challenge near Aspen

Aug. 21, 2013 (more…)

Cliches to Avoid via Texas newsroom

cliche

A

  • a chip off the old block
  • a clean slate
  • a dark and stormy night
  • a far cry
  • a fine kettle of fish
  • a good/kind soul
  • a loose cannon
  • a pain in the neck/butt
  • a penny saved is a penny earned
  • a tough row to hoe
  • a word to the wise
  • ace in the hole
  • ace up his sleeve
  • add insult to injury
  • afraid of his own shadow
  • against all odds
  • air your dirty laundry
  • all fun and games
  • all in a day’s work
  • all talk, no action
  • all thumbs
  • all your eggs in one basket
  • all’s fair in love and war
  • all’s well that ends well
  • almighty dollar
  • American as apple pie
  • an axe to grind
  • another day, another dollar
  • armed to the teeth
  • as luck would have it
  • as old as time
  • as the crow flies
  • at my wits end
  • avoid like the plague (more…)

Interviewing: a guide for journalists + writers

book

From the book:

     Fifteen Key Steps

1. Arrange a couple of interview times.
2. Do your research.
3. Organize your question/keywords.
4. Organize your notepad and equipment.
5. Arrive at the interview early.
6. Get set up and check your equipment again.
7. Ask your icebreaker question.
8. Observe your interviewee and their surroundings.
9. Ask your first question.
10. Don’t forget to listen.
11. Ask the “easy” questions first.
12. Look for off-beat questions.
13. Make time to get anecdotes.
14. Gather essential background.
15. Check your notes.