Teachable

Real world examples that offer “teachable moments” in journalism.

Simple Math – The Myth of the $450,000 Super Bowl flyover
By  Jamie McIntyre, lineofdeparture.com

Read here for a good example of how a TV reporter in Dallas, Texas provided a case study in getting it wrong.  He reported a widely circulated story that a flyover of Cowboys Stadium during Super Bowl XLV cost U.S. taxpapers nearly half-a-million dollars.   Good story.  Too good, in fact.   A responsible journalist would have dug a little deeper.   READ MORE at lineofdeparture.com

Reporting by Afghans Called ‘Propaganda’

By Robert Mackey, New York Times
September 22, 2010, 11:51 AM
If insurgents hope to spread fear through public murders or bombings, are journalists who report on those events spreading propaganda? That is the question raised by the arrests this week of two Afghans who shoot video and photographs for Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.  READ more at New York Times blog, “The Lede

Freedom of photography: Police, security often clamp down despite public right
By Annys Shin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 26, 2010; B02

“A lot of these guys have guns and are enforcing laws they obviously don’t understand, and they are not to be reasoned with.”  — Matt Urick, detained for snapping pictures of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s headquarters.

Courts have long ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of citizens to take photographs in public places. Even after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement agencies have reiterated that right in official policies. But in practice, those rules don’t always filter down to police officers and security guards who continue to restrict photographers, often citing authority they don’t have. Almost nine years after the terrorist attacks, which ratcheted up security at government properties and transportation hubs, anyone photographing federal buildings, bridges, trains or airports runs the risk of being seen as a potential terrorist.  READ MORE at Washingtonpost.com

RELATED STORIES:
Gallery of “offending” photos
Maryland prosecutors overstep on wiretapping law – Washington Post Editorial, Monday, June 21, 2010; A16
Traffic stop video on YouTube sparks debate on police use of Md. wiretap laws, – Washington Post, Wednesday, June 16, 2010

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Altered photos appear on BP site: READ MORE at Washingtonpost.com

More doctored BP photos come to light
By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 21, 2010; 8:54 PM

The search for doctored BP photos is on. And it’s a bit like finding Waldo in the famous game. On Wednesday, for the second time this week, a blog has identified an altered photograph about BP’s oil spill response on the company’s Web site.  READ MORE at Washingtonpost.com

Photoshop Mistakes:
Can you spot the evidinece that these pictires were digitally altered?
http://smilepanic.com/photoshop-disasters

Did a Post photographer cross a line to get a picture of John Hinckley?

The question posed in this article by the Washington Post ombudsman, Andrew Alexander — Did a Post photographer cross a line to get a picture of John Hinckley? — raises an interesting issue. But it’s NOT the issue discussed in the piece. The answer to the question posed in the headline is yes, the photographer did cross the line, both literally and figuratively. The better question is: “When should the government be allowed to ban photography in public places?” (Such as the Pentagon, for instance where all photography is banned even from nearby roads.) If, as the article asserts in a quote from Kenny Irby of Poynter, “[Ignoring] unjust demands and restrictions for the purpose of meeting the greater public good is a time-honored practice in American journalism,” then the real issue is whether St. E’s ban on photography is an “unjust demand.”
READ MORE at washingtonpost.com and decide for yourself.

Reflections on the use of anonymous sources.

Good discussion by the New York Times ombudsman (Public Editor) on the use and misuse of anonymous sources.   Note the link to to the Times policy.  READ MORE at newyorktimes.com

Things you know that aren’t true!
Many generally accepted facts are not true, or simply don’t reflect the nuance or the complexity of what really happened.   From a book review in the Washington Post:  “W. Joseph Campbell, a professor of communication at American University, busts some media myths in his book, “Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism,” coming in July from the University of California Press. ”  Read three of Campbell’s biggies at washingtonpost.com

Discussion topic: Should the press go EVERYWHERE with the President?
Obama breaches years of president-press tradition
Associated Press, Sunday, April 11, 2010; Washington Post A02
President Obama quietly breached years of protocol Saturday morning by leaving the White House without the press. READ MORE at washingtonpost.com
and see Dana Milbank’s column HERE and his discussion on NPR’s “On The MediaHERE.

Getting your facts straight
It’s important not to assume anything. Check and double-check your facts. This correction shows what can go wrong if you run with with your first impression.
READ MORE: washingtonpost.com

The Plagiarist’s Dirty Dozen Excuses
From:  Jack Shafer, Slate
The plagiarist attempts, … “to soften the charge against them by misdirecting your attention and by muddying the core issues.” These evasions allow the plagiarist to displace the key question of whether his copy was adequately sourced with the more delectable conversation about the plagiarist’s mental state, his sloppy work practices, the unintended effects of modern technology, and the “meaning” of originality.   READ MORE:

Avoiding plagiarism
From NPR’s On the Media “To Catch A Thief” March 19, 2010
With plagiarism detection software, media organizations can check articles for stolen content before they get published. However, hardly any news organizations actually use the software. The Columbia Journalism Review’s Craig Silverman says that it’s time for organizations to start investing in these programs to avoid future plagiarism scandals.  LISTEN OR READ TRANSCRIPT

The Inconvenient Question
From March 13, 2010.  The issue: was the reporter in this story out of line?  Or was an legitimate question to ask?  What would you do?
Sean Penn’s choice words — Washington Post, Names and Faces
A local reporter was evicted from an interview with Sean Penn at a Haiti benefit Thursday night after asking him a question that event organizers deemed out of bounds.  READ MORE