Discussion #3

Part 2:

(a) How should journalists respond to inaccurate, false statements from a source?

(b) How should journalists respond to their audience that propagates the inaccurate, false information?

Explain your position.

(a) Journalists should always vet their sources — especially when interviewing someone who gives a lot of statistics or easily-falsified information. I always make it a point to go through all of my source’s quotes to make sure that everything is clear and accurate. Now, I’ve never had a source provide me inaccurate information, but if I ever did, this is how I would respond:

I would tell my source about their incorrect information to see if they even knew what they were saying was false. Sometimes people just misquote information, we should give our sources the opportunity to correct themselves.

Now, in a situation where a source is blatantly lying to you and they refuse correct themselves, make it a point in the article to mention the fact that they were given the opportunity to correct themselves and they lied anyway.

(b) In most cases, journalists report on what happened — unless it’s an opinion piece, we’re not supposed to tell people how to think, we just tell them what to think about.

If the audience believes inaccurate information — that’s their choice. People can believe what they want because the truth is out there somewhere, see my Discussion #1 post.

I can’t make anyone believe something that they don’t want to — that’s their problem, not mine.

Part 3:

If a media outlet repeatedly publishes inaccurate, misleading information, should it be punished? Censored? Elaborate on what should be done.

If we start to censor media outlets, we enter the grey area of the First Amendment. I don’t agree with media outlets spreading false information — take Alex Jones and InfoWars for example — because it is harmful. But, until they start inciting violence, their right to do that is protected under the Constitution.

However, in the case of Jones above, he has been banned from some social media platforms such as Twitter and I do agree with that because Twitter does not act on behalf of the U.S. government, and as a privately owned organization, they have the right to ban him.

How do we prevent people from believing false information? I don’t know. I can only hope that people have the willpower to find the truth and that some day hate-mongers will no longer have an audience to inject false rhetoric into.

Discussion #2

Part one: reporters must consider their audience when deciding what to cover, but who should determine what’s important? Should the audience dictate to you what they think is important, or would you or the editor know more about what us important to the audience? Explain your position.

Part two: In covering most stories, which of the 5 W’s and H do you think are the easiest to obtain? Which are the most difficult? Why?

Part one:

As a general guideline, the audience decides what’s important to them. A reporter might come up with an idea for a story, but the audience might dictate the angle that is taken.

The reporter may care about the basket-weaving club, but if no one else — or very few people — cares, then it would be more harmful to run it because it turns readers away from the publication.

The audience knows what’s important to them and they ultimately dictate what a publication writes because they control readership.

That’s the way it should be. Publications are supposed to be for more than just the reporters and editors — that’s why blogs exist.

Part two: 

When covering a story, the “what” is usually the easiest part to obtain because otherwise a reporter would not know what they were looking for a covering.

The “why” or the “how” are often the hardest elements to obtain because they aren’t as black and white, or clear-cut as the “who, what, when, where.” “Why and how” have more nuance and usually require more investigating to uncover.

Discussion #1

“With all the media ‘clutter’ out there today, how do you go about sorting out (a) what is factual (b) what is biased (c) what is important to you as a consumer (d) and what is important to you as a member of society? How do you personally go about verifying what you consume?”

In my opinion, if you want to find out the truth in all the media “clutter,” sometimes you have to work for it. For some reason, some media outlets today don’t rely on actual facts when they report on certain situations and that’s not good journalism.

(A) How do I go about sorting out what is factual?

I look at a couple of factors when reading news — credibility, objectivity and accuracy — the cornerstones of journalism. First, if the sources are mostly unnamed in a story, then I have reluctance to trust it. For example, look at all the tabloids. Their stories are almost exclusively told by “a source close to” said person. In my mind, I just assume they’re made up quotes — not credible. Secondly, how objective is the media outlet? If I’m reading a news story, then I don’t want someone’s opinion. I want to see a situation from multiple angles, so, if a liberal news outlet is only using liberal sources, or a conservative outlet is only using conservative sources, then I am less likely to trust them because they are relying on confirmation bias and that has no place in real journalism. Lastly, is the information I’m being presented accurate? There are a couple of ways to check this: one is by reading articles by multiple news outlets. My go-to is either The Washington Post or CBS News because they are generally neutral and I don’t feel like I’m being sold an agenda. If I notice there are a lot of factual errors in a story, then I won’t trust that outlet, simple as that.

(B) How do I go about sorting out what is biased?

Like I said above, what kind of sources are they relying on? Can I count on this outlet to give me unbiased information?

(C) What is important to me as a consumer?

That’s easy — truth, good reporting and a willingness to always do better.

(D) What is important to me as a member of society?

The same as above.

All in all, in today’s news, it can be hard to decipher what is real and not real. But if you really want to know the truth, it isn’t that hard to find.