Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ambush Journalism

I hate relying on other people to get something finished. Unfortunately, this is a huge part of journalism. You’re constantly relying on people to “get back to you with an answer.”

I had a tough time getting a hold of someone this week for an interview, and I know some of my classmates had the same problem. I eventually contacted the person after numerous phone calls, two voicemail messages, one email and a visit to their workplace.

It wasn't difficult to reach this person because they didn’t want to talk to me, it was because they were busy... I think.

But it got me thinking... what do you do when you want to get a hold of someone who doesn’t want to talk to you.

Is it OK to track them down and ambush them into an interview?

Bill O’Reilly thinks so.

Sure, ambushing someone into an interview boosts the entertainment value of the show, but forcing someone to comment also rids the news organization of any credibility.

And just in case you ever find yourself being ambushed into an interview, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann provides you with a quick course on how to defend yourself from a "roadside O'Reilly attack."

Monday, September 20, 2010

To give coverage, or not to give coverage:

Part two.

Last week I blogged about whether or not the media should have given Terry Jones (the pastor who threatened to burn the korans to mark the anniversary on September 11) the massive amount of attention they did.

But he didn’t burn the korans and nobody cares anymore so let's move on.

Last week I heard that a Philippine journalist is among a number of people facing charges in regards to the hostage taking last month in Manila that killed eight people, including three Canadians.

“Typical. Blame the media,” I thought.

Then I actually looked into why the media and this particular journalist were under such scrutiny.

The gunman was watching the coverage on TVs inside the bus and when he saw coverage of his brother being arrested, he began firing. Also, a radio station apparently had the hostage taker on the phone for an hour before the shooting began.

So in this case was it OK to give coverage? I say absolutely not. The media perpetuated the situation allowing it to spin out of control.

Isn’t that obvious, though? It’s sort of mind boggling that major media outlets would pursue a story that would endanger people's lives for their own gain.

It makes me wonder how difficult it is for some journalists to step back and refuse coverage when a crisis is unfolding before your eyes and you want the exclusive?

Friday, September 10, 2010

To give coverage, or not to give coverage:

that is the question.

Last week I wrote a blog post about what I think journalism is and like I said in the post, I hope to learn what journalism is as the year goes on.

An interesting discussion on CBC's The Current this morning brought to my attention that journalists' coverage of certain events can have huge implications. The discussion was about Pastor Terry Jones and whether his plans to burn a stack of Karans to mark the ninth anniversary of September 11 is legitimate news or has the media coverage magnified a marginal viewpoint.

The media has given an idiot from Florida, who probably has no more than his 50 church members as supporters, a world stage to present his hateful message. This morning alone I saw coverage on Jones from three different news outlets. Have we given him exactly what he wants?

On the other hand, it's a captivating story that has ignited worldwide outrage and just about everyone, including the President, has spoken out on the issue. So, really, how can it not be newsworthy?

I don't have an answer.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is Journalism

As a Rhetoric and Communications major at the U of W, I was often asked the question “what’s rhetoric?” I always struggled with my answer, trying to give a clear explanation without sounding too university-ish.

Now, a journalism major, I didn’t think I would ever have to explain to someone what my major is.

Then Duncan asked us to write this blog entry about what we think journalism is, and the longer I sit here and think about it, the harder the question is to answer.

After pondering the question for far too long, looking up the definition on Google and asking my family members for insight, this is what I have come up with:

Journalism is researching, getting facts and interviews and then turning those into timely, accurate and truthful stories.

This may be an OK definition of journalism 30 years ago, when people only got their news from what we now call “traditional” news media sources. But I don’t think it’s a complete representation of what journalism is today.

We get our news—and information in general—just about everywhere: print, online, TV, Twitter and even through apps on our phones. We want our news constantly updated and we want it delivered conveniently, and a big part of journalism today is giving readers what they want.

So, after all that pondering I still don't have a concrete answer to what Journalism is. I do know it's constantly changing and it's not easily defined, though. I'm hoping this next year of school will make answering the question a lot easier.

I have one last question, which I was constantly debating in my head while writing this post, is Twitter journalism?

Image from www.nataliedee.com