Why I Chose to Tweet Normally through Tragedy

Library

I learned about the 9/11 terror attacks on my way to my job as a full-time journalist. I wondered why I was stuck in traffic during my typically smooth commute to the newsroom. I heard it on the radio. When I got to work, I wrote a story about a library. I don't remember which Oklahoma town the library was in or what the story was about—grant, fundraising, renovation, expansion—it makes no difference. What I remember feeling was useless. In the immediate aftermath of an event that … [Read more...]

Should Journalists Support Social Causes?

Gay marriage avatar

I'm finally starting to see photos of my Facebook friends again. There for about a week it seemed like all I saw was red boxes with pink lines where profile pictures used to be. Apparently my social media friends are quite a bunch of activists. Or are they? My friends were participating in a form of social media-based activism that some call slacktivism. Slacktivism is a combination of the words slacker and activism. The term is used to describe public support of a social issue or … [Read more...]

AP Changes ‘Illegal Immigration’ Stylebook Entry

Label

The Associated Press announced today that it changed is Stylebook entry on "illegal immigration." The new entry reads: illegal immigration Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission. Except in direct quotations, do … [Read more...]

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...]