Audio Rough Draft

So for my rough draft I have conducted an interview with two people from The daily Evergreen. Nathan Howard, the Managing Editor and Zack Briggs, the Former ASWSU Reporter. I felt these two gentlemen were going to be the best to interview for my subject considering their long background at the paper.

Since one of the main focuses of this over-arching project is the day-to-day challenges student newspapers face, I wanted to discuss some of the ethical challenges that come up to editors as well as some of the challenges that deadline reporters face (getting their story in within a short amount of time after an event takes place).

One of the difficulties I ran into with this draft was interview time; I have close to 20 minutes of audio even after my editing. Another issue that I have, that I intend on resolving by the final draft is background music. I couldn’t find anything that was suitable so far that wasn’t completely cheesy but will find something fitting by the end of this section.

So far I have to say this is my favorite portion of class; I have an odd interest in scanning audio files for minor details such as overused “ums” or “like’s”. I plan on making the audio for these interview for my final draft more crisp and more colorful with music. Hopefully, I can figure out how to loop music so that I can have a more streamlined audio content for this section.


The news that never truly was, get the facts straight

The Society of Professional Journalists ran a thread of tweets yesterday in regards to the incorrect reporting that was done yesterday on the supposed arrest/custody of a Boston Bombing suspect. 

After reports were actually confirmed that was in fact, no suspect or any arrests, this led to some backlash against many news agencies such as CNN and AP.

This prompted the SPJ to tweets quotes as well as links to their ethics code about breaking news reporting among other topics.


Testing Accuracy:

And my personal favorite:

The reporting was erroneous enough to prompt the FBI into treading the rare terrain of media criticism.

“Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”

Whoops. The AP explained that they had used a source who provided information under the condition of anonymity, which at times, can be a shot in the dark for reporters.

Apparently the anonymous official had stood by the information even after it was disputed which prompted the AP to report the details.

I’d have to say my favorite reaction was from the likes of Jon Stewart, who just tore into CNN.

These sort of mistakes have seem to become too common. I wrote before about this topic during the Sandy Hook tragedy. And like I said in the post before, you can delete or retract tweets and statuses all you want but when you put something on the internet, you should expect that it will stay out there. And it will be seen.

And it will be perpetuated. I made the mistake of doing this on Facebook yesterday by sharing this incorrect information with my 700 friends. Luckily I was able to quickly follow about the incorrect reporting and apologized.

Only hours after that, another tragedy happened. A fertilizer plant in Texas exploded– dealing incredible amounts of damage.

And almost immediately after the initial reports of the explosion, the conflicting reports of casualties unfolded on twitter.

Within maybe 20 minutes of those original tweets, CNN was getting on the scene coverage from affiliate saying there were at least 2 confirmed dead.

Hours later AP reported that between 5 and 15 people were killed in the blast:

And right now that’s where the reports stand. They aren’t precise and they aren’t exactly confirmed.

As SPJ puts it, journalists should show good taste… and shouldn’t

Continue reading

Overview: The Death of Aaron Swartz and The Anonymous Vendetta

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

From a very young age it was not hard to tell that Aaron Swartz was a prodigy. By age 14 he was apart of a working group that wrote up RSS 1.0.

He eventually went to Stanford but  left after a year explaining in his blog, “It’s got some great professors and I certainly learned a bunch, but I didn’t find it a very intellectual atmosphere, since most of the other kids seemed profoundly unconcerned with their studies.”

Swartz then started his own wiki platform called Infogami that eventually merged with Reddit in 2005. All before he was 20 years old. In 2006, Reddit was purchased by the same publishing company that owns Wired magazine.

Also an activist, Swartz co-founded Demand Progress an organization that focuses on civil liberties, civil rights and government reform. The organization was originally created as his response to SOPA and played a vital role in stopping the bill. 

Back in 2011, Swartz downloaded over 4 million academic journal articles from JSTOR to his laptop at MIT. According to an expert witness on his case, Swartz did not “hack” JSTOR, but rather wrote a handful of basic python scripts that first discovered the URLs of journal articles and then used curl to request them.

Being a research fellow at Harvard, Swartz already had a JSTOR account and additionally, MIT has an “open campus” which allows JSTOR to be accessed from the campus network. Within a few weeks into the downloading, Swartz was arrested by police.

This led to a grand jury indictment, although JSTOR decided not pursue a civil litigation against him, MIT pushed forward. Swartz was unwilling to plead guilty in his case, he did not see himself a felon.

Apart of the controversy of this case was that the articles that were downloaded were already free to begin with. JSTOR called his access a “significant misuse”.

According to the same blog by the expert witness, “at the time of Aaron’s actions, the JSTOR website allowed an unlimited number of downloads by anybody on MIT’s 18.x Class-A network. The JSTOR application lacked even the most basic controls to prevent what they might consider abusive behavior, such as CAPTCHAs triggered on multiple downloads, requiring accounts for bulk downloads, or even the ability to pop a box and warn a repeat downloader.”

Prosecutors such as Carmen Ortiz were persistent in pursuing Swartz and brought the case under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

“If convicted on these charges, Swartz faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million,” said Ortiz in a press release from 2011.

Swartz was found dead in his apartment January 11, 2013. It was reported that he hung himself and left no suicide note.

Shortly after his death , Ortiz defended her actions saying, that her office’s actions were “appropriate,” and that she had only been seeking a six-month sentence in “a low-security setting” rather than the 30 years’ jail that his actions might have attracted.

The prosecutors have received wide-spread criticism for their persecution of Swartz. The most dramatic response though, has been from hacking group Anonymous.

In a column for the Boston Globe, Swartz’s first lawyer expressed his frustration by saying,  “The thing that galls me is that I told Heymann the kid was a suicide risk, his reaction was a standard reaction in that office, not unique to Steve. He said, ‘Fine, we’ll lock him up.’ I’m not saying they made Aaron kill himself. Aaron might have done this anyway. I’m saying they were aware of the risk, and they were heedless.”

On January 26, Anonymous hacked the United States Sentencing Commission (known as Operation Last Resort) shutting down the website and leaving a youtube video explaining their intention and why they chose the USSC.

“This website was chosen due to the symbolic nature of its purpose — the federal sentencing guidelines which enable prosecutors to cheat citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial, by a jury of their peers — the federal sentencing guidelines which are in clear violation of the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishments.”

It was explained in the video that enough materials were obtained for multiple “warheads” that would be launched against the US Justice Department. The warheads apparently contain sensitive leaks.

After the site was restored, it was hacked again turning the website into an interactive game of Asteroids. Once everything was blown away, a Guy Fawkes face would be revealed.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

The over all goal of these hacks from Anonymous was to make their demands from legal reform known. And unless that happens, the faceless group is willing to cause “collateral damage” by releasing these “warheads.”

Integrity is what is at stake for journalism


Where does one begin to sort out the feelings of tragedy? Is it after they conceive the reality of it? Indeed it may be hard to conceive that a young man would go to an elementary school with the intent of killing children, shooting some of them as many as eleven times. Such senseless violence is unimaginable to me.

Yesterday, every inch of my body was filled with sadness, pain and disgust. But I also felt disappointment and a yearning for reliable reporting; something that none of us received until the day was just about over. Hard news has always been something that news outlets would race to get published first but nowadays it’s just who ever can get the first tweet out there without regard for fact checking, proper sourcing or ethical consideration.

That case alone is old news. I woke up to an update from ABC that there had been a mass shooting in Connecticut and I immediately found myself on twitter and facebook trying to follow all the sources I could. What I found almost as disturbing as the shooting itself was the reports of television reporters interviewing children that had just been evacuated from the school. Children who were asked to close their eyes by the police officers as they were escorted past the carnage of their deceased school-mates.

What I had also noticed was that the media had mixed up the identity of the shooters which was caused simply by hearsay and was not solid information. It also circulated online that the shooters mother was a teacher at the school, but that was devised by the media itself and was not true. Until yesterday I followed Slate magazine on twitter because I enjoyed their combination of humor with news and politics. But that quickly changed after I realized that they really suck at journalism, I mean, they are terrible. You can delete or retract tweets and statuses all you want but when you put something on the internet, you should expect that it will stay out there. And it will be seen.

The media displayed too many gaffes in one day. And no apology could make up for that. The coverage that was done yesterday completely defeated what journalism is supposed to do – provide the facts and make sense of a chaotic event in a form that is understandable. Not add to the chaos. Yesterday it seemed as if there was no such thing as solid fact and any bit of information that was crucial would suddenly change.

It’s obvious by this point to see that I am frustrated with how the media handled this tragedy yesterday. And it is because I felt helpless, at the mercy of a media that could not get its facts straight. I understand that that at times getting information that is necessary is difficult but journalists have an obligation to seek accuracy and to maintain honest and thoughtful integrity. It is a shame that social media -despite all it’s potential – has created a niche where organizations can report mistakes and think that they can fix them simply by deleting or retracting.

Journalism needs a higher standard than that.

Misinterpreted information will be quick to spread, with innocents caught in the crossfire

Earlier today there was a mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Within only an hour or so of the news of the shooting taking place, word spread quickly that the identity of the shooter was 24 year-old Ryan Lanza. It was around 12:30 in the afternoon when I got an breaking update to my phone from ABC news informing me of this. About an hour later I saw a Breaking tweet from the AP stating that the shooter was a 20-year-old, son of teacher there; older brother being questioned. The shooter is in fact the younger brother of Ryan Lanza, Adam Lanza. This error was because a law enforcement official mistakingly transposed the brothers’ first names. This error unfortunately had some dramatic repercussions on those who were not even involved with this tragedy. Such as the Ryan Lanza that lives in Newton who just coincidently had the same name of the shooters older brother. date:modify: 2012-12-14T19:41:58+00:00

Multiple media sites such as CBS, FOX, and Huffington Post had used this mans photo and although they were quickly taken down after learning the actual facts, the Internet had already bolstered this mistake. Even his friends such as Andrew Fletcher are receiving “tons of friend requests” because of this misinterpretation. This eventually caused Fletcher to unfriend Lanza. I cannot imagine the terrible day this man must be having and this is because of misinformation given to the media and in turn, to the public. This tragedy set the stage as example of how innocent people can be caught in the crossfire when the wrong information is given out. An in today’s world, regardless if information is correct or not, it will spread across the Internet into every nook and cranny for everyone to see and further share.

Edit: As it turned out, the Ryan Lanza featured in the photo above is the brother of Adam Lanza, the shooter. Although there was a Ryan Lanza on twitter who did have the same name and had to deal with spamming from the public.

UK Media Struggling With Ethics, Should The US have a Watchdog?

media-ethicsAccording to a report that was put out this morning by the AP, Lord Justice Brian Leveson  submitted a 2,000-page report that was originally triggered over a year ago by the phone hacking scandal. In this report Leveson suggests that Britain needs a new independent media regulator, Leveson went on to further suggest that this new regulatory body should be established by law.

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the idea for a new regulator to settle disputes, oder corrections and fines. But he believes that asking for legislative backing in law will mean “crossing the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land.” Or in other words, controlling freedom of the press.

As of now, Britain has what is called the Press Complaints Commission, which is a voluntary regulatory body for newspapers and magazines with representatives of the major publishers. But the PCC has been heavily ridiculed in recent years especially during the phone hacking scandal. Politicians, such as Cameron, calling for it to be scraped and replaced with something new in place.

The article states that Leveson does insist in his report, that  politicians and the government should play no role in regulating the press, which should be done by a new body with much stronger powers than the current PCC.

“What is needed is a genuinely independent and effective system of self-regulation,” said Leveson.

But how exactly would this new system be independent if it is put in place by legislation? Wouldn’t government ultimately have the final say with the new system’s decisions?

“The ball moves back into the politicians’ court: they must now decide who guards the guardians,” he said.

The United States used to have a volunteer non-profit watchdog organization known as the National News Council that was started in 1973 but dissolved in 1984. A short life for this org. but it lacked support from certain outlets that probably could have kept it afloat such as The New York Times. Nowadays only Washington, Minnesota and Hawaii have state-level councils. The NNC had no legal power but rather worked off of publicity, bringing bias into public attention.

I have written in the past about media bias. And here in the states it is something that has been running rampant and even more so now with the digital age where information is constantly being shared. Sometimes it seems as if media outlets take advantage of the First Amendment, never having to really worry about government involvement. But unfortunately there is no national watchdog to call out NYT, FOX or CNN on their mishaps. Sure the internet is full of hot-headed bloggers such as myself that can try to spread the word, but to have national representation could more likely put these outlets back into their place. If the media can hold everyone else accountable, who is going to hold the media itself accountable when they mess up?