Media Coverage of Violent Events

One recent violent event that happened was the bombing in Boston. The event happened during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. It was a tragic event, and no one saw it coming. The news coverage was constant from it, 24-hours, and never stopped. Almost like the event was being replayed again and again. This is damaging to society as a whole. As we learned in Media Literacy, repeating news stories over and over makes a society scared and paranoid that the event is going to happen to them.

Being from New Hampshire, the Boston bombing was a big deal hitting close to home. People in St. Louis were saying things like, “Why do we need to know about this?” It was almost as if they acknowledged it, but then moved on very quickly; like they didn’t care. Yes the event affected Boston, and the areas close by, but it was so huge that it was covered on national news. It was upsetting to see that people from other states didn’t care as much.

News in general is over played and repeated too much. The news seems to cover only violent and negative events. Why not focus on the positive? If news and the media covered on positive things, I believe society would be better. There wouldn’t be as much violence. We all are a visual society and want to see things for ourselves, or else we don’t believe them. But seeing violent acts like the Boston bombing does damage to people.

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Interactive: Plagiarism and Attribution

When going to the website provided to do an interactive situation based on credibility, I chose the seventh one: Plagiarism and Attribution.

The problem I was presented with is I am a reporter covering a story on cheating and grading problems in the country’s school system. I conduct my research, take my notes, and pay attention to how other news media are covering the situation. I have folders of notes and information I am going to use to write my article. After finishing my article, it is approved and published. But I soon get a complaint from another reporter claiming that I “lifted” several passages from her article and I didn’t give her attribution. I used them as background information because I thought it was common knowledge.

What do I do?

A. Apologize and have my editor print a clarification piece in the next paper stating where I got the information from.

At this point, I don’t feel the need to do anything further because I have determined it was common knowledge and I took care of the situation. The reporter threatens to sue myself and the newspaper because she doesn’t like my approach.

What do I do now?

1. I invite her and her editor to come meet with us so I can show her all of my notes and where I got my information from. I expect this meeting to provide a compromise to both parties agreeable to everyone.

What’s my evaluation?

If my mistake was an honest one, simply apologize and explain what happened. Sometimes when you have so many notes, these mistakes happen. Be sure to keep your notes organized and separate from what others have written. As long as I had no bad intentions, I have no reason to be outraged and I shouldn’t because that could create a further issue and ruin my reputation as a reporter. I will explain my mistakes and apologize, give the reporter attribution and move on.

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Theories of Moral Development

There are many different similarities and differences between Piaget, Gilligan and Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. Kohlberg and Gilligan both include only three stages: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional. Kohlberg’s focusses more on the ages of the different stages where Gilligan doesn’t give specific ages where these stages occur. She is more interested in the transition. Something that is similar between them is that between the pre-conventional and the conventional stage there becomes a bigger thought of other people. Wanting to gain approval and being aware of one’s own responsibility to others.

Piaget has four steps instead of three in his theory of moral development. They are sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operations, and formal operations. He was a good observer of children and their behavior. He could tell their thoughts and was able to come up with his theory that people’s perspectives change over time. This makes them look at situations differently and therefore change morally.

I do think that moral development happens in stages. You have to first understand the basics of anything before you can advance in it. Men and women do have very different values and strategies but I believe it is just human nature. We are built differently. There are some values that al humans hold, men and women, but we strive for different things so that would make us make different decisions. Every day with the decisions we make and moral actions we take we are developing. I don’t believe this process will ever stop in anyone’s life time. We are constantly learning, changing, growing and becoming better people. With this learning and developing comes moving to higher stages of moral development. There is only going up in these theories, unless you make a bad decision. In that case, you need to reevaluate your life and which stage you want to be at.

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Frontline: A Hidden Line

1.Define “privacy.” To what extent do public officials have a right to privacy?

Privacy is the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people. Public officials should have a right to privacy just like everyone else. Yes, they are in the public eye more than a regular person, but that doesn’t mean that their privacy should be completely lost.

2.What is the role of the news media in a democratic society?

Media plays a huge role in the news by shaping democracy. Media informs the people with inormation and keeps them up to date on current events. Politics uses the media in both positive and negative ways. In this case, to put this Mayor’s life out there and completely destroy his privacy.

3.When referring to the allegation that Mayor Jim West was pursuing underage boys online, why do you think editor Steven Smith differentiated between a legitimate news story and one that is not legitimate when he said, “If he’s [Mayor Jim West] engaged in this activity … we need to know that. If he’s not — there’s no story” ?

They needed to prove that he was engaging in underage activity because if he was, then that is a legitimate news story because it’s illegal. If the subject was 18, it is legal, but the act itself frowned upon in the community. The Mayor’s private life is not a story alone, although it is interesting.

4.How did reporter Bill Morlin justify the use of a concealed identity on as part of The Spokesman-Review‘s and the FBI’s “sting operation”? Why didn’t Morlin himself create the assumed identity to engage Mayor West online?

Bill Morlin needed to create the fake identity to trap the Mayor and have evidence. That is how he justified it. Morlin couldn’t make the identity himself because the Mayor wouldn’t have fallen for it. It needed to be believable to get information out of the Mayor and have him fall for the bait.

5.Under what circumstances, and by whom, is it appropriate to conduct a “sting operation”? (Consider different scenarios such as the media, the government or a private citizen with a suspicion about another private citizen.)

It is not appropriate for reporters to create this fake account to trap the Mayor. That is a police or detective’s job. It is an interesting story, but to intrude the Mayor’s private life should not be conducted by the media in their “sting operation.”

6.Why do you think The Spokesman-Review ultimately published so many articles on Mayor West’s alleged improprieties?

The Spokesman-Review published so many articles on the Mayor’s improprieties simply because it destroyed his life. By putting his private life on the front pages of newspapers would destroy him and everything that he stood for. It was interesting, and they knew that the public would be interested and therefore read it.

7.Is Mayor West a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

Yes, Mayor West is a sympathetic character because he is not the awful person that the newspaper made him out to be. He didn’t break any laws by chatting with these people online because they were over 18. It was shocking the the public that he was having intimate chats with men online, but he was finally expressing his sexuality. That belongs in his personal life and the public does not need to know.

8.Explain the title “A Hidden Life” from the perspective of:

#The Spokesman-Review: The Mayor’s private life was a great story to be published. The public would be surprised and want to read about his “hidden life.”

#Mayor West: His “hidden life” should have been private. To him, the public didn’t need to know and it was his own business.

#the citizens of Spokane, Wash.: This was huge news to the citizens of Spokane and they were disgusted by the Mayor’s “hidden life.”

9.In the final analysis, who benefited from The Spokesman-Review’s decision to expose Mayor West and his alleged improprieties? Who was hurt? Do you think the outcome was worth it? Explain your reasoning.

The newspaper itself benefited by exposing Mayor West. It was a scandal that everyone wanted to read about so their readership went up. The Mayor himself was the one who was hurt from this. His life was completely destroyed because the town voted him out of office, even though he wanted to continue to do what he loved. I don’t think the outcome was worth it because this man’s life was completely destroyed. He was already diagnosed with terminal cancer so he was enjoying his last days by being himself. Mayor West’s life ended sadly with the public eye looking at him like a pedophile.

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To Shoot or Not to Shoot?

The photograph I chose to analyze ran on the front page of the New York Daily News after the Boston bombing.


Should this moment be made public? Yes, it should be made public because it was a tragic incident that happened in our country. The Boston Marathon is a huge event, and people travel from all over the country to compete in it. This event was completely unexpected and killed some people while others were left injured, like the woman in this photo. Therefore, this moment should be made public.

Will being photographed send the subjects into further trauma? I don’t think that being photographed will necessarily send them into further trauma. But seeing photos of the event might spark some emotion because of how traumatic the event was.

Am I at the least obtrusive distance possible? No. This photo gets up close and personal. You can see all of the blood on the ground, and that the woman is missing part of her leg. You can see the expressions on their faces and the fact that the woman has to cover up hers because she can’t bear to look.

Am I acting with compassion and sensitivity? This photograph captures the pain and terror in the event. From the woman’s shocked face, to the blood, to the missing leg, everything is captured. It is not a compassionate photo to say the least but it captures the event entirely.

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Chapter 7: Case Study

In Case 7-C, “Bonding” Announcements in the News, the issue whether to accept a lesbian couple’s request for their commitment towards each other be posted in the “Wedding Book” page or not is discussed.

One micro issue asks if the paper should have accepted the announcement. Yes, the paper should have accepted and posted the announcement as is with the other wedding stories. The paper was already aware of it’s increased diversity in the county, so the paper needs to follow along with that. It could have been solved easier simply by posting it in the wedding section, rather than creating a whole new section for topics like that. It singles non-traditional ceremonies out and makes them the outcast.

A midrange issues states that gay commitments are no recognized by most state laws, so should the paper publish any arrangements that do not have legal status? Yes, if people want to share their news with their family and friends, let them. If that lesbian couple isn’t ashamed of themselves and is proud to share it with the whole town then so be it. More power to them. It is awesome that they are comfortable enough to be open about it, especially in a time where is wasn’t so accepted.

One macro issue asks how much should a secular entity like a newspaper reflect religious beliefs. It is important for media to be on the same page as their audience. And since most of their audience was religious, it is important to them that those views are reflected in the paper that they read. People choose specific media because it reinforces their beliefs and values. In this case, because homosexuality is not accepted by most religion, it offended readers and they canceled their subscriptions. The Herald has a responsibility to inform their readers with a non-biased view.

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Citizen McCaw

When Jerry Roberts commented that journalists “are in the truth business,” it made me think. When Wendy McCaw took over the Santa Barbara Newspaper, she completely changed everything about it. From the way reporters wrote, to the topics they covered. She slowly lost the newspaper’s reputation because the truth was no longer there. She was biased in how she wanted journalists to cover stories, and fired them when they did not do it her way.

This conflicts with the business of making a profit because she only had interest in herself. The Santa Barbara Newspaper was not in her interest when she made the decisions she did about what to cover. She had they money to buy anything she wanted, so she thought that buying a paper would be a good idea. Wrong, you can’t buy the news. And that is what McCaw tried to do. Her own interests were put first before the truth in the news was.

Citizens in Santa Barbara banned the newspaper and it lost many of it’s readers. People canceled their subscriptions to show that they would not support her efforts. The newspaper did a one eighty once McCaw bought it. People did not think it would ever be the same again. Editors and reporters agreed with the majority of people and quit their jobs– if they were not already fired– and tried to petition the paper. It turned into a huge legal battle, all because the truth was not being upheld.

The truth is the most important thing when it comes to journalism. Reporters have a responsibility of providing the unbiased truth to their readers. Wendy McCaw didn’t know a thing about reporting because she did not feel the truth to be that important. She tried to buy a newspaper but she could not run it effectively. The Santa Barbara Newspaper was not “in the truth business.”

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