Blog Essay Class 11

Re: Josephi’s article about journalism in the global age – The readings from this week were particularly interesting because I am pretty fascinated by censorship and media ethics, particularly in other countries. In this article, Josephi outlined the 3 elements comprising a shift that is breaking down the accepted norms/theories of journalism. The 3 elements of this shift are “call[ing] an end to romancing democracy,” globalization, and the increasing gap between theory and practice (particularly concerning “objectivism”). According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement? I think that western media is dominated by infotainment and lots of interpretation, but superficial interpretation. The ubiquitous presence of “talking heads” and pundits only amplifies this. 

The article goes on to discuss literacy as a markers for later development of media and journalism (p. 582). The newspaper readership trends present in other countries persist even today. Typically, newspapers were thought to be reserved for the elite, urban and highly-educated members of society (especially in Mediterranean countries). 

Re: media ethics beyond borders – This article (by our own Dr. Rodgers, no less!) talked about the implications of a press release from our own university about microwaving a sponge to kill microbes and bacteria. This information ended up having dangerous repercussions because people didn’t wet the sponge before microwaving it, thus starting a fire. Despite the fact that this article discusses media ethics, I don’t think the writers of the UF press release intended to do any harm, they just left out an important piece of the puzzle. However, harm is still harm and it reminds me of the SPJ code of ethics: Minimize harm. Journalism that intentionally or unintentionally harms readers/audience is obviously not good journalism and not the ideal we are going for. The example of the UF/sponge press release fits under a couple of the ethical issues below:

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

1. Seek Truth and Report it

2. Minimize Harm

3. Act Independently

4. Be Accountable

 

Dr. Rodgers makes a good point that bears repeating– that these media guidelines were developed in the “predigital” age. Things have clearly changed a great deal since those guidelines were first developed, and I don’t think anyone could have predicted to what degree the digital age would completely revolutionize our world and mass media at large. 

Re: Ch. 19 – Rhee discussed the fact that some Korean journalists shared political views with some high-ranking government officials and eventually left journalism to join politics. This is a definite ethical concern, but think about how many ties our media organizations and journalists here in the States have to political groups. What about the Koch brothers, which we were just talking about in class last week? How do political agendas and groups influence the content and business decisions of a newspaper/media organization? Warren Buffett also owns a sizable amount of newspapers in Virginia among other places (here’s an article I submitted to the Media is Plural Tumblr). I tried to read this chapter by comparing and contrasting it to media in other countries. I think this practice of politically-involved press/journalists is widespread and common. It has a great deal to do with financial incentives and corporate ownership. Coupled with the fact that in today’s world, print media doesn’t enjoy the widespread circulation/popularity that it used to (by virtue of being replaced by digital media), these newspapers really can’t afford to turn away the big-name sponsorships.

The chapter also says that at one time, Korean journalists were more concerned with being publicists/advocates (p. 351) than providers of factual information. It reminds me of the problem we have here in the U.S., where some “articles” resemble press releases and vice versa and it almost becomes impossible at times to tell the two apart. How could this practice be harmful to the public? With certain topics such as those that are scientifically or health-related, this “press release” style can influence people to change their behaviors and purchases to fit some new information they read, but in reality it may not be completely true–or could be spinned by public relations professionals.

Keeping in mind the earlier reading about news media in 18th century Paris, I remembered that obtaining the latest news in Paris during this time meant going to the Tree of Cracow in the middle of the city. Newspapers were banned by the government, so news was delivered by street singers and poets, also known as “nouvellistes de bouche” (gossipers/newsmongers).

The two societies are similar in the way that both governments exerted power over the media. The power of the press then fell into the hands of the people, like in 18th century Paris when the people made it their responsibility to deliver and disseminate the news orally because of a newspaper ban. In Korea, citizens “relied on Internet media as a main source of information and opinion. Readers and writers on the internet could have access to diverse sources and channels of news” (p. 362). The digital media, particularly the internet, has empowered the Korean people, much in the same manner that the oral news traditions empowered the French.

DQs:

According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

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3 thoughts on “Blog Essay Class 11

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers

    Good. And notice all the discussion denigrating the Koch brothers who may or may not buy some newspapers, vs. another billionaire, Warren Buffet, who has purchased several newspapers. Why the differences in responses?

    Reply
  2. jcrinkley

    I would agree that our worlds and our cultures are based largely on as much gathered information as we can get our hands on. We are curious by nature and I think that drives us to “know” our world by attempting to experience as much as possible. Rarely do we stop to interpret because we are so preoccupied with the gathering. Once in a while we all pause for brief intervals to evaluate the data that we’re using to form our view of the world, but I don’t think we find the same satisfaction in this as we do in the looking and finding new information.

    Those guidelines you included in your post, because they are fairly broad and philosophically well intended, still hold true even in the digital era. The one that media professionals and even independent media contributors have lost sight of in recent years is the “Be Accountable” principle. We’re so fixated on getting information out there quickly and getting that “scoop” that we don’t fact check or verify our sources as strictly as we once did. I think that people believe that because corrections can happen in instantly that it isn’t as important to be completely accurate. What they fail to understand is just how quickly damage can be done.

    There is such an incredibly small percentage of consumers who understand how tainted our journalism and media is by political and corporate forces. People outside the media believe that we have built this perfect utopia based on freedom of speech where every article or feature story is completely fair and true to all parties represented. They fail to realize that capitalism is based on greed being a positive attribute with profits and net worth being the most important facets of any organization no matter its responsibility to society.

    I wonder if we the people will figure out how to use the internet to curb some of the adverse effect capitalist forces have on our media exposure … before the corporations figure out how to keep us from effectively employing the digital tools at our disposal.

    Reply
  3. flyfluency

    Chang Liu
    flyfluency@ufl.edu
    In reply to your question that how do political agendas and groups influence the content and business decisions of a newspaper/media organization? Sure through agenda setting and framing. Except for that, there might be some PR strategies like setting unnoticeable tones in the news releases and influence the readers’ opinions in a subconscious way, and intentionally target the voters in the middle. Here, interpretation of the facts in a favorable way to the political parties, and managing the unfavorable in a skillful way play an important part in this process. However, I wonder if there is black PR like that in China, operating with the search engine system and deleting the negative contents toward the political groups.

    Talking about the politically implicated media contents, I would argue that we can’t really avoid the powers influencing the media such as the business power, political force and government control, etc. The reason is simple, we can’t figure out a way to support the media agencies without these forces. Media in the United States and other likewise countries are controlled mainly by the business giants. That is the unavoidable result of free market economy. And that situation doesn’t turn out better when it goes to China and other authoritarian countries, where media institutions and their operations are tightly controlled by the state. And in turn, it is the state that feed the media companies.

    To answer your development question, I would agree that both the press releases and readers become more and more raw material oriented. It’s on one hand because that people are fed up with being indoctrinated, and on the other hand we are entering a fast-food age when even though there are some comments at the end of the news stories, people tend to end up reading when they finish the facts part. Also, a growing number of people report themselves getting news information from their families’ and friends’ twits or buzzes. Those new format limits the number of words so it’s only enough to cover the facts in the news releases from social media.

    Reply

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