All Posts Tagged With: "Journalism"
Working for ‘exposure’ is sometimes a raw deal
Like so many other starry-eyed hopefuls, I started a band in my freshman year.
Starved for music venues and promoters that would give us the time of day, we naively agreed to play a show for a production company. These were the terms we accepted: the band was responsible for selling tickets to the “showcase” concert at $10 a piece. Twenty or so artists were crammed onto the same bill and asked to compete against each other for the most ticket sales. The incentive? Set times (both length and placement) would be determined by which band sold the most tickets. It was unpaid. In exchange for our trouble, we were promised only exposure .
A Ryerson graduate shares some advice
I’ll never forget my first week of journalism school.
Fresh out of Queen’s University’s English program, I entered Ryerson University’s Master of Journalism program in the fall of 2010 with a stint as co-editor of the Queen’s Journal and two solid internships—at the Kingston Whig-Standard and Maclean’s—under my belt.
Ryerson’s serious-looking website promised a hands-on, “rigorous and intensive” program. I was only 21, and I figured I’d be competing for lucrative paid internships alongside people with diverse but equal, if not better, experience. It was called a ‘master’s degree’ after all.
It wasn’t meant to be. During my first reporting class, the instructor mentioned in passing the “lede,” basic newsroom shorthand for the first sentence of an article because it (surprise!) leads the story. One of my classmates raised her hand. “Um, what’s a lede?”
Hard to know which celebrities have ghost-tweeters
About 290,000 people follow Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Twitter, perhaps to read what he has to say about the country’s affairs or to glean a little personal insight into what makes him tick.
Thing is, most of the messages that are sent from his account aren’t really his.
Harper only “occasionally” sends out tweets himself, according to a spokesman.
Much like many other high-profile Twitter users, most of the short-form messages that appear under Harper’s name and avatar are actually crafted by ghost-tweeters charged to work social media on his behalf.
“I assume if it’s an institutional individual — if it’s a CEO, if it’s a big personality, a singer, or it’s a politician — then they are not doing it themselves,” said Greg Elmer, director of the Infoscape Research Lab at Ryerson University studying social media.
Scaachi Koul: it’s more depressing to hear this girl complain
When I graduated last month, everyone told me that it was the beginning of the rest of my life. This, they told me, was when it would all start becoming really difficult, and it would show what I was made of. I would come into my own.
But why didn’t anyone tell me I wouldn’t get everything I waaaaaaaaaaant?
Taylor Cotter, a 22-year-old American writer and editor, already has a job, an apartment, a 401k and financial autonomy from her parents. But she’s sad. She’s sad because things are working out for her. Cotter, you see, never had to struggle for her success the way others have had to. From her blog post on The Huffington Post:
Why master of journalism degrees are big news in 2011
Carmen Smith used to think she didn’t need graduate school. And why would she? Even before finishing her bachelor of journalism degree at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., Smith was the publisher of a women’s magazine called Belle, which she founded.
But she changed her mind after an academic adviser told her about a new master’s in journalism program offered at King’s College in Halifax that could help her do better with her own publication. “I really thought it was interesting to see how they were developing their program around entrepreneurial journalism,” Smith recalls. “That’s why I came.”
Smith, now 22, is one of a growing number of wannabe journalists heading to master’s programs in Canada. Before 2000, there were only two degrees available in the country, at Carleton University and the University of Western Ontario. Today, there are six, with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University both gearing up their own programs.
Freedom from Pain shows global War on Drugs hurting patients
A documentary made by University of British Columbia journalism students aired on Al Jazeera’s People & Power on Wednesday.
Freedom from Pain, which can be streamed here, shows how patients in developing countries suffer without access to legal painkillers, in part because the global war on illegal drugs like heroin has made legal opiates hard to find.
Students from the school’s international reporting class went to India, the Ukraine and Uganda for two weeks each.
In the Ukraine, they met a former KGB officer who was dying of end-stage prostate cancer and who slept with a gun under his pillow in case of unbearable pain. They showed how a young man risks jail to sell him narcotics.
The student reporters even get the executive director of the UN Office of Drug Crimes to admit on camera that his work causes pain and suffering for patients.
The first UBC International Reporting class won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting for their documentary Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground.
Peter Klein, who has worked for NBC’s 60 Minutes, 20/20 and Nightline, oversees the International Reporting course and was recently promoted to Director of the UBC Graduate School of Journalism.
Could we all please just respect journalism ethics?
Maybe it’s because I just finished my final paper for Ethics of Journalism class (the BEST class I have ever taken, I might add, and an important one to boot) but I feel like lately, I’ve been seeing an elevated number of sketchy ethical, journalism-related situations cropping up.
I was perusing my feed on my newly-acquired twitter when I spotted a story posted by CBC Ottawa. Apparently the Kanata Kourier Standard in Ottawa (clearly a standards-setter for journalistic and grammatical excellence) has decided to stop publishing a weekly column by a local city councilor. The column has been running for thirty years, and Councilor Mary Wilkinson is upset because, she told the CBC, “she uses the column to inform constituents and generate feedback about upcoming issues”.
OK, so maybe it was a little bit abrupt for the Kanata Kourier Standard – it hurts me every time to type in that second K – to pull the column without informing Councilor Wilkinson, but I’m more concerned about the fact that the column existed in the first place. Journalists should, as Bob Steele, journalism ethics professor for the Poynter Institute says, “Act Independantly.” They should, “Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise your integrity or damage your credibility” he tells us.
Thanks Bob. Now, as an important role of the media is to inform the public so they can make solid decisions and maintain a democratic society, I would suggest that such a close relationship with a politician is an association to avoid. I see the merit in a guest column, perhaps, in the editorial section, preferably when the need arises for a response by the politician to a specific issue. However, this relationship they’ve cultivated was a little too close for comfort. I applaud the KKS for pulling the plug.
According to CBC, publishing weekly columns by local city councilors was practiced across the city in community papers, until the Ottawa Region Media Group decided to use the space to, you know, cover more local news. What an idea.
Councilor Wilkinson, still bitter, suggested the city could consider discontinuing advertising with the Kourier Standard. Hey, editor: make amends with the rude councillor by replacing her advertisements with column inches on city hall. Give the public something real to chew on – instead of letting politicians spoon feed their messages to constituents.
If you’re looking for work experience, consider going somewhere new
As a part of the Journalism program at College X, students go on four-week internships during their first year (for the second half of March and the first two weeks in April). Second-year students have always done a six-week internship in January and into February.
This year, they’ve changed the rules a little bit. Six weeks has been shortened to four weeks. And frankly, I’m delighted.
I guess Instructor A and B were getting some freaked-out students. (“I have no family out of the area. I need to stay here in City X.”) Well, there’s 11 of us and only one newspaper in the whole town and three radio stations.
As for me, I dished out $1,000 so I could stay at a nice bed & breakfast down the street from the news office, in Town X where I’d previously attended high school and had a couple friends. Generally, I got great stories: people stories, which is the best kind (to me) that a small town newspaper can offer. Although my experience at that news office was a good one, I always felt very out-of-place. There was only one other full-time reporter there who was a woman and she worked evenings so I didn’t see her much.
Otherwise, I was in an office of men. The editor? Male. Both the copy editors? Male. The other two full-time reporters? Male. The sports reporter? Male. Male, male, male. Which makes it look so strange to me that I only have three males in my journalism class.
I had assumed I’d be going back to the same news office this year. I knew the place. I knew some of the people, although several of my friends had since gone to university. But I decided to take a chance and look into accommodations in another town. I do know a few people there and yes, my aunt works in that town… but mostly, I know very little about this town (which I will refer to as UniTown X). But Instructor A once told me, “There’s no better way to learn about a town than being a reporter in it.” So, I’ll keep that in mind while working there.
UniTown X is a university town — and not much else. The newspaper is a weekly instead of a daily, which will likely be a bit different. There is an editor and one other reporter- and she’s a she! And guess what: I’ve found a tiny place to rent for the month of January- only $325 per month! It’s not the Ritz, by any means, but as long as I have Internet access, I don’t even need much else. (Although food is a necessity.)
This post, albeit lengthy, does have a point, I promise. If you’re in college and looking for a place to do your internship, consider going to a town you don’t know much about. If everyone just stuck to their hometown, nobody would go anywhere! Nobody would live anywhere else! Life is too short for that.
- photo by rabbleradio
… or something like that
We all want to make a difference, right? Serve as society’s watchdog through the employment (oops, poor word choice) of fair, balanced and honest reporting. So what happens when there’s nothing to watch? We make it up, of course!
The Saint John Telegraph-Journal issued a front-page apology yesterday for their July 8 story claiming that Prime Minister Stephen Harper pocketed a communion wafer at the funeral of former governor general Romeo LeBlanc. The incident, affectionately named “Wafergate,” was acknowledged to be a complete fabrication.
“There was no credible support for these statements of fact at the time this article was published, nor is the Telegraph-Journal aware of any credible support for these statements now.”
“The Telegraph-Journal sincerely apologizes to the prime minister for the harm that this inaccurate story has caused.”
“Our reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras, who wrote the story reporting on the funeral, did not include these statements in the version of the story that they wrote. In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them.”
So, kids, if you want to be a journalist, (or, more specifically, an editor) start by reading Stalinist-era back issues of Pravda, paying special attention to the 1953 Doctors’ Plot. Eliminate copy editing positions and instead invest in ministers of public enlightenment and propaganda. Keep a watchful eye, a sharp pencil and remember: sex and sensationalism always sells.
Just when you think those Chi-squared tests will never come in handy…
The first study regarding the dangers of texting and driving was just conducted. Hurray!
In a revolutionary breakthrough (I’m thinking man-on-the-moon-type miraculousness) it was found that drivers who text are 23 times for likely to get in an accident. Pioneers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute compiled the data, which included 18 months of video surveillance of long-haul trucks.
Next up, a $5 million study to investigate the correlation between collision rates and driving with your eyes closed, and another analyzing which type of soda best fits most automobile cup holders. Boy, we sure do live in an exciting time!
So to all you math majors: look alive during your related rates lecture, and try to stick with it through analytical geometry. You, too, could soon play a role in these momentous statistical achievements.
The public health pros are clearly taking some spending advice from their chums at Virginia Tech. A study published in the Journal of Public Health reveals that the many consumers believe that cigarette packages that bear the words “filter” or “smooth” contain less harmful cigarettes than those packages that do not. (Same goes for cigarette packages in lighter colours.) Seventy-five per cent of respondents believed that cigarettes in packages printed with a charcoal filter posed less health risks than those without the illustration.
Other than demoralizing public health officials’ opinion of the general public, this study has prompted some to advocate the implementation of plain, standardized packaging for all cigarette brands. Apparently, public health financial resources are best used to study smokers and play around with Adobe Photoshop; actually helping people quit is clearly just a bunch of “hot air.” Researchers’ subsequent tobacco-related plans include actually giving individual smokers $5 bills from which to light their cigarettes. So, if you’re studying public health, make sure your cheque-writing skills are in order and familiarize yourself with the latest Adobe Creative Suite updates.
Keep reading the news to see just how far you can go.
Team also finds a computer hard drive containing “sensitive” U.S. gov’t data
A team of journalism graduate students at the University of British Columbia may have found a computer hard-drive full of sensitive U.S. Homeland Security information in Ghana last semester, but one of those students says he doesn’t want the public to lose sight of the real story: the immoral shipping of discarded or broken electronics from North America to developing countries.
In a PBS Frontline documentary set to air tonight Tuesday at 9 p.m., the grad students, led by UBC associate professor and former 60 Minutes producer Peter Klein, follow the “shadowy” industry of electronic waste disposal from China to West Africa to India, with surprising results.
While in Ghana, a country listed by the FBI as one of the top 10 sources of global cybercrime, the students purchased five hard drives in an open-air market, according to journalism grad student Blake Sifton. The group had the drives analyzed, and while the first four were empty, the last one contained confidential information about multi-million-dollar defence contracts between the Pentagon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and military contractor Northrop Grumman.
Responding to the students’ investigation, the FBI said it’s concerned companies such as Northrop Grumman (wrongly) think their discarded drives are wiped clean by software before being recycled. The military contractor say it’s looking into how the hardware and data ended up in the country.
But Sifton says he hopes the main point of the documentary isn’t overshadowed by the “sexy” story of misplaced U.S. security data. “The flow of electronic waste from the western world to the developing world is a very, very important story,” he says. Unless consumers are extremely careful of where their electronic waste ends up, “a small child or pregnant woman is going to be burning it to get the metal out of it.”
He says the by-products industry created by the western world’s discarded computers, televisions, cell phones and electronics is surprisingly large, and hurts both the environment and the health of locals in the developing countries where that garbage ends up. “Companies here in Canada will say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to recycle your broken or used electronics locally and safely,’ and then they put it into a shipping container and ship it to Hong Kong.”
The international reporting project was funded by a $1-million donation to the university’s journalism school from Vancouver’s Alison Lawton, a donation made on the condition that students focus on under-reported issues. For professor Klein, having that kind of monetary support was an important piece of why this story is now being told.
“One of the mantras of my class is that we don’t want to be parachute journalists,” he says. “You don’t want to have a preconceived idea about your story, and just find pictures to match.” He says this important piece of reporting is a perfect example of what a young reporter with a video camera and an entrepreneurial sense of purpose can accomplish.
“University is not the real world,” says Klein. “If you are 25, and you just graduated from journalism school, and you’re unencumbered and want to do stories, then you can do it. You can find a really cheap ticket, spend some time on the ground, report on a story and do some really interesting enterprise reporting.”
Clip from Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground:
The documentary airs June 23 on PBS’ Frontline/World’s season finale at 9 p.m. EST.
Three-month gig at The Huffington Post makes big bucks at a charity auction
Media outlets are jettisoning jobs left, right and centre, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any high-profile, top-tier journalism internships available. You just need enough cash.
Imgaine what it would be like to arrive at either the New York City or Washington, D.C. offices of The Huffington Post, ready to start an internship that cost you (or your wealthy relative) a whopping $13,000.
One (lucky?) student is about to find out. Provided, of course, that some other student doesn’t outbid them on the auction website charitybuzz, where the next bid for the job placement is set at $15,500.
The winner must be at least 18 years old, and can choose to work at the online news website’s head office in NYC, or at their political bureau in Washington. The internship is being offered by site founder and Greek heiress Arianna Huffington.
Funds from the auction will go the The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and if the top bidder lives in Connecticut, he or she will even have to pay sales tax on the internship.
With interns that eager, who needs employees?
Mainstream media discovers error only after prankster steps forward
I love this story. An Irish university student decided to test whether or not the media are upholding accuracy in the Web 2.0 era. So he posted false information on Wikipedia to see what would happen.
On March 28, French composer Maurice Jarre passed away in Los Angeles. Within hours, Shane Fitzgerald posted a series of fake quotes on Jarre’s Wikipedia page. (See Fitzgerald’s edits here)
Over the next 48 hours, the false information was deleted by Wikipedia editors, only to be re-posted twice by Fitzgerald.
The student now claims he meant no harm and was simply “testing” the media. However, if this were the case, why did he anonymously vandalize the Wikipedia page three times?
One of the quotes falsely attributed to Jarre was: “One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head and that only I can hear.”
Despite not being cited, this quote was picked up by media outlets around the world, including The Guardian. It was a golden quote. Here’s a man who just died talking about how he will be remembered. Every obituary writer should have known that the quote was too good to be true.
As any first-year university student knows, Wikipedia is not a source. It is a resource. I use Wikipedia to assist with research and background information all the time. All accurate information on Wikipedia is cited. It is those citations that are the online encyclopedia’s greatest service: it makes it easier to find primary sources.
There are lessons in this story for both university students and the mainstream media. The obvious lesson is that one should always dig to find the true source of information. Wikipedia should never be consulted as a primary source (unless, of course, the research paper is on Wikipedia itself).
There are troubling questions raised by this incident. How many times has the mainstream media already been duped by false information on Wikipedia? Has this occurred before where information on Wikipedia was cited by the mainstream media and then the mainstream media failed to ensure that this false information was “true?”
(Before someone gets all philosophical on me, I know the very concept of truth is a matter of academic debate.)
Remember, it was not the mainstream media that caught the error. The error only came to light after Fitzgerald came forward and publicly declared the quote to be false. Fitzgerald himself, as he pointed out, could have easily used the mainstream media’s use of the quote to convince people that Jarre really made the statement. Nobody would’ve been the wiser and Fitzgerald would be remember for something he didn’t state.
We live in a brave new world. The Internet and Wikipedia are both a blessing and a curse. I know, after having read this story, I’m going to be more vigilant about information I get from Wikipedia, and the mainstream media.
Fake (and cheesy) quote added to online database, reprinted across the globe
DUBLIN — When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phoney quote on Wikipedia, he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.
His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.
The sociology major’s obituary-friendly quote – which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer’s death March 28 – flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper websites in Britain, Australia and India.
They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free online encyclopedia twice caught the quote’s lack of attribution and removed it.
A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud. So Fitzgerald told several media outlets they’d swallowed his baloney whole.
“I was really shocked at the results from the experiment,” Fitzgerald, 22, said Monday in an interview a week after one newspaper at fault, The Guardian of Britain, became the first to admit its obituary writer lifted material straight from Wikipedia.
“I am 100 per cent convinced that if I hadn’t come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up,” he said. “It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact.”
So far, The Guardian is the only publication to make a public mea culpa, while others have eliminated or amended their online obituaries without any reference to the original version – or in a few cases, still are citing Fitzgerald’s florid prose weeks after he pointed out its true origin.
“One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack,” Fitzgerald’s fake Jarre quote read. “Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear.”