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THE BASICS OF JOURNALISM Ileana Oroza January, 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "THE BASICS OF JOURNALISM Ileana Oroza January, 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE BASICS OF JOURNALISM Ileana Oroza January, 2010

2 OUR DISCUSSION TODAY  Independence  Verification  Fact checking  Multiple sourcing  Responsibility and integrity

3 THE ELEMENTS OF JOURNALISM  Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.  Its first loyalty is to citizens.  Its essence is a discipline of verification.  Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.  It must serve as an independent monitor of power.  It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.  It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.  It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.  Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.  Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news. Tom Rosenstiel, Bill Kovach

4 3. The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification  Defines objectivity, not as an absence of point of view, but as utilizing a “transparent approach to evidence”  Seeking out multiple sources  Asking all relevant sides for comment  Disclosing, whenever possible, all relevant information about the sources  “The method is objective, not the journalist”

5 SEEKING OUT MULTIPLE SOURCES  INFORMATION COMES FROM  PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE BACKGROUND OF STORY CONTEXT  OBSERVATION  SOURCES

6 SOURCING  THE QUALITY OF YOUR STORY DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF YOUR SOURCES  A GOOD STORY NEEDS A VARIETY OF SOURCES  FOR INFORMATION  FOR CONFIRMATION  FOR AUTHENTICITY  FOR AUTHORITY  FOR TENSION  FOR COLOR

7 YOU NEED A VARIETY OF SOURCES  PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES  PEOPLE HAVE AGENDAS  TO WRITE A RICHER, MORE NUANCED, MORE INTERESTING STORY, YOU NEED A LOT OF INFORMATION AND CONTRASTING POINTS OF VIEW  TO SHARPEN YOUR THINKING AND FOCUS BY TALKING TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW  TO GUARD AGAINST HOAXES

8 SOURCES  DOCUMENTS  PHONE BOOKS  PRESS RELEASES  GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS AND ARCHIVES  CORRESPONDENCE (INCLUDING )  VIDEOS  INTERNET  PEOPLE

9 PEOPLE AS SOURCES  OFFICIAL  GOVERNMENT  PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE CORPORATIONS NGOs  SOCIAL/CIVIC/RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS CHURCHES SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES POLITICAL PARTIES

10 PEOPLE AS SOURCES  UNOFFICIAL  THOSE AFFECTED BY GOVERNMENT ACTION  VICTIMS OF AN ACCIDENT OR CATASTROPHE  “CLIENTS” OF ALL TYPES  YOU CAN FIND THESE SOURCES IN “THIRD PLACES” THAT YOU SHOULD FREQUENT AS A JOURNALIST

11 PEOPLE AS SOURCES  STRIVE FOR VARIETY  POINT OF VIEW  AGE  ETHNICITY  SOCIAL POSITION

12 WHO MAKES A GOOD SOURCE?  THINK STRATEGICALLY  WHO WILL SUIT MY PURPOSE BEST?  WHO WILL HELP READERS IDENTIFY WITH THE STORY?  WHO CAN GIVE ME THE INFORMATION I NEED?  WHO IS LIKELY TO HAVE A GOOD ANECDOTE? AN UNUSUAL POINT OF VIEW? AN INTERESTING OPINION?  WHO CAN I REASONABLY GET?

13 WHO IS A GOOD SOURCE?  NOT ALL SOURCES ARE CREATED EQUAL. CONSIDER:  BACKGROUND  RELATIONSHIP TO THE STORY EYEWITNESS? DIRECT CONTACT? PERSONAL TIES?  CONTEXT DOES HIS STORY MATCH WHAT WE KNOW?

14 WHO IS A GOOD SOURCE?  NOT ALL SOURCES ARE CREATED EQUAL. CONSIDER:  RELIABILITY LEVEL/DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE EXPERIENCE POSITION/PRESTIGE AUTHORITY EG: NOT ALL JOURNALISTS ARE EXPERTS IN POLITICS  ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE  DOES HE SPEAK CLEARLY?  CAN SHE TRANSLATE TECHNICAL LANGUAGE?

15 WHY IS THIS PERSON TELLING ME THIS?  RELIABILITY  CONFLICT OF INTEREST?  TRANSPARENCY  MOTIVES/BIASES FINANCIAL IDEOLOGICAL WHAT DOES HE GAIN BY TALKING? WHAT DOES HE WANT TO HIDE?  CAN THE PERSON BENEFIT FROM MY WRITING THIS STORY?

16 WHY IS THIS PERSON TELLING ME THIS?  A JOURNALIST WHO DOES NOT QUESTION THE MOTIVES OF A SOURCE CAN FALL INTO A TRAP  A SOURCE CAN TELL YOU SOMETHING FOR HIS OWN BENEFIT, OR FOR THE COMMON GOOD. OFTEN, HIS MOTIVATION COMES FROM A COMBINATION OF THE TWO. Leonard Ray Teel Ron Taylor

17 WHEN EVALUATING UNOFFICIAL SOURCES, CONSIDER:  FEAR OF PRESS  LACK OF EXPERIENCE  THE RASHOMON EFFECT  VULNERABILITY/COST  PUBLIC SHAME  LOSS OF JOB

18 4. Journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover  Independence is “a cornerstone of reliability”  Even columnists and editorialists must be fair, accurate and honest  Transparency is key

19 SPJ CODE OF ETHICS  JOURNALISTS SHOULD BE FREE OF OBLIGATION TO ANY INTEREST OTHER THAN THE PUBLIC'S RIGHT TO KNOW.  AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, REAL OR PERCEIVED.  REMAIN FREE OF ASSOCIATIONS AND ACTIVITIES THAT MAY COMPROMISE INTEGRITY OR DAMAGE CREDIBILITY FAMILY FRIENDS BUSINESS ACQUAINTANCES  REFUSE GIFTS, FAVORS, FEES, FREE TRAVEL AND SPECIAL TREATMENT

20 SPJ CODE OF ETHICS  JOURNALISTS SHOULD…  SHUN SECONDARY EMPLOYMENT, INVOLVEMENT IN POLITICS OR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS IF THEY COMPROMISE JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY  DISCLOSE UNAVOIDABLE CONFLICTS.  DENY FAVORED TREATMENT TO ADVERTISERS AND SPECIAL INTERESTS AND RESIST THEIR PRESSURE TO INFLUENCE NEWS COVERAGE.  BE WARY OF SOURCES OFFERING INFORMATION FOR FAVORS OR MONEY; AVOID BIDDING FOR NEWS.

21 ANONYMOUS SOURCES  THE PROBLEM:  THEY WEAKEN A STORY  THEY DAMAGE YOUR CREDIBILITY IS HE LYING? IS SHE FLOATING A TRIAL BALLOON?  THEY MAKE THE READER SUSPICIOUS  BIG TROUBLE IF THE STORY GOES TO COURT

22 GROUND RULES  ON THE RECORD – Reporter can use all information provided.  NOT FOR ATTRIBUTION (A.K.A. “ON BACKGROUND): Reporter can use information but promises to protect the source’s identity during reporting and in the published story.  OFF THE RECORD: Information cannot be used in the story, even if the source is not identified

23 GENERAL POLICY  MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO GET THE SOURCE ON RECORD  DO NOT USE ANONYMOUS SOURCES TO MAKE NEGATIVE COMMENTS OR CHARGES  USE ANONYMOUS SOURCES ONLY WHEN YOU ARE CONVINCED THAT THE FACT IS OF OVERWHELMING NEWS VALUE AND THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO GET IT  TELL THE READER WHY THE NEWSPAPER HAS DECIDED TO GRANT ANONYMITY  ALWAYS GET EDITOR’S APPROVAL.

24 SOURCES  Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel: The Elements of Journalism  The Missouri Group: News Reporting and Writing  Christopher Scanlan: Reporting and Writing  SPJ Code of Ethics at  PoynterOnline at


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