This presentation focused on the ethics of reporting on high-profile court cases. With case examples including George Zimmerman, Aaron Hernandez and Richard Jewell, the group explored issues with “trials by media” and coverage influencing court decisions. Including each high-profile case on the handout and asking the class what their impressions of each were was a good way to introduce the cases, though it did seem a bit rushed. I was a bit surprised to find how many people in the class still thought Zimmerman was guilty, even after he was acquitted. Based on the facts of the case, I thought the jury made the right decision. He may be stupid and prejudiced, but those things aren’t against the law in and of themselves.
Ultimately, I thought the group gave a lot of good information but needed more focus in their presentation. I agree with their conclusion that journalists need to follow guidelines that prevent them from compromising the audience’s perception of the truth in court cases. However, I feel that they would have had a stronger argument if they used fewer cases, or even just one, to support their conclusion.
This presentation started out strong with an enlightening, humorous video about internet privacy. The fact that it was done by BuzzFeed was a bit ironic, since the presentation was about the ethics of data mining and privacy on media websites. The group was correct to clarify that this is not necessarily a legal issue, stating that privacy is not explicitly guaranteed in the US Constitution.
Despite starting with data mining and targeted advertising, the presentation quickly changed gears to discussing the privacy concerns of mugshots on media websites, as well as their status as clickbait. This was somewhat jarring. While there were privacy concerns addressed regarding the mugshots, they were distinct from those addressed in the introductory video.
The group concluded that journalism is at a critical juncture where economic concerns and evolving technology must compete with the need to protect citizens’ privacy rights. While this group was engaging and presented good information (including an engaging handout with mugshots), the presentation felt somewhat disorganized and seemed to drag a bit.
This group focused on the ethics of using anonymous sources in news stories. They began with a worst-case scenario: that of Jayson Blair, who fabricated sources under the guise of anonymity. This led into a discussion of the arguments against using anonymous sources. However the group also gave equal time to arguments in favor, such as making the watchdog role of journalism easier to accomplish.
The group concluded that anonymous sources can and should be used when the situation calls for it, but advocated stricter rules regarding their use. They argued that anonymous sources should only be used when there is no way to accurately tell the story without them, which I though was a great rule of thumb. This presentation was organized well and very information rich. However, I did find it a bit dry, as it didn’t foster much discussion and there wasn’t much multimedia used.
The final group of the day discussed one of the most obvious modern ethical issues: citizen journalism. The group identified the different kinds of citizen journalism, and discussed issues such as lack of verification and poor editing. I thought the chart organization of identifying each type and presenting the issues endemic to each was an effective way to present the information. Ultimately, the group concluded that a code of conduct should be standardized for citizen journalists to follow. While I think that this scenario would be ideal, it doesn’t seem very practical, as it would be very difficult to enforce.
This was easily the most visual and interactive of the day’s presentation, with a colorful presentation, videos and audio, and an introduction that allowed the class to decide which of two stories was written by a citizen journalist or a “real” journalist. The handout was also a nice departure, presenting the basics of the presentation on a mockup of an iPad. This presentation had a lot of good information, and while I think it could have been a bit more focused, I would argue that it was the most engaging of the day.