April Fools’ Editions Reconsidered

Skull and crossbones

It's possible that I'm just a stick in the mud. I doubt it, but I guess it's possible. Regardless of why, I don't like joke April Fools' Day editions of student newspapers. In fact, I don't even like April Fools' Day jokes in the workplace. Maybe it's because I'm not funny. Perhaps I'm just entirely too serious about the collegiate media's role in information dissemination. It could be that I need to lighten up and quit taking my job as a college media adviser quite so seriously. It also … [Read more...]

Winning Doesn’t ‘Take Care of Everything’

golf ball

My 11-year-old daughter plays on a competitive basketball team. I'm only slightly biased when I say that her team is good. The truth is they're used to winning much more than losing, which their 16-4 record proves. After a particularly difficult loss, I found one of the girls crying in the hallway just outside the gymnasium. I asked her if she played the best she could play. She confirmed she had, and I agreed. Then I gave her a piece of advice I hope stuck: If they see you cry, they beat … [Read more...]

You Can Ask, But Don’t Demand

digital first

You can ask for anything. Want to review content before it's published? You can ask. Want media to hold off on a story until you're ready for the information to be released? You can ask. Want media to stop live tweeting a police standoff? You can ask. You can ask for anything. As I tell students, "they can't eat you." What's the worst thing that can happen when you make a request? You get told "no" and life goes on. It's when the request becomes a rights-limiting demand that I … [Read more...]

Tweet Creates Red Carpet-Worthy Oscar Faux Pas

Red Carpet

Seth MacFarlane's off-colored jokes and Jennifer Lawrence's dramatic trip up the stage steps were not biggest faux pas in relation to this year's Oscar awards. The most questionable moment was when someone at the satirical site, The Onion, posted an offensive tweet about 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, who was nominated for the best actress award.     The Twittersphere lit up after the tweet with some of the most common responses I saw urging people to unfollow The … [Read more...]

Capturing Trauma: The Ethics of News Photography

photography

A man falling to his death from the World Trade Center. A starving child crawling to a feeding station as a vulture circles overhead. A weather-battered woman pleading for help as she digs through rubble, searching for her infant after an F-5 tornado leveled her hometown. These photos are the product of photographers' split-second decisions about whether to click the camera shutter. Photographers have a big decision to make each time they go to an assignment—to shoot or not to shoot. … [Read more...]

Should Media Reconsider Gun Advertising?

gun

It's one of my favorite stories about the interactions between readers and journalists. A journalist friend of mine who sat across from me in the newsroom was having a heated discussion with a reader. The woman was unhappy with a story my friend had written for the morning paper. The woman ended up telling my friend that she was going to "cancel her subscription." My friend responded, "Damn. I was going to get 50 cents extra on my paycheck because of your subscription." It's not … [Read more...]

Should We Expect Truth?

Hollywood sign

I have terrible news. Manti Te'o's girlfriend isn't real. Oh, and Beyonce´ lip synced at the presidential inauguration. And have you heard that Lance Armstrong really was doping? This is the worst one... wait for it... I overheard a conversation the other day about how House Hunters is all set up in advance. That's right. Reality television isn't real either. It's seems the media are packed with examples of things we think are real that aren't and stories about people who've been … [Read more...]

May I Share Your Photo?

Question mark

Oh, the irony! That was the first thing I thought when I read that Randi Zuckerberg was angry because a family photo she posted to her "friends only" Facebook page was reposted on Twitter. It's ironic, of course, because Zuckerberg's brother, Mark, is the founder of Facebook, a tool we use multiple times a day to willingly share pieces of our private lives. Of course, Randi, like the rest of us, understands that what she shares online is no longer private information. Her argument was … [Read more...]

Critics Target NRA After Shooting App Release

Target

You've heard the old saying "timing is everything." While it may not be completely accurate in the media industry, timing certainly is important. The National Rifle Association recently provided a ripe example about the importance of timing in product release and public relations. The NRA released this week a target practice app geared toward children ages 4 and up. Target Practice users can test their skills at a variety of ranges and with weapons of their choice. They also can pay to … [Read more...]

Quote Approval as an Attempt at Media Control

Quote bubble

Would you rather have something scripted or nothing at all? It's not a new question in the media industry. Sources regularly ask to preapprove questions, conduct interviews via email, review quotes, or read stories before they are published. All of these requests are forms of prior review, meaning the individual wants to read or filter the information received through the media. Prior review is a form of censorship that almost always leads to prior restraint, an exertion of power to stop … [Read more...]