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J1100 Notes on Patterson Book

by: Ashley Albers

J1100 Notes on Patterson Book JOURN 1100 - 01

Ashley Albers
GPA 3.3

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all my notes relating to the second book of the semester, the one written by Patterson
Principles of American Journalism
Thomas, Ryan James
Journalism 1100, Principles of american journalism
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This 17 page Bundle was uploaded by Ashley Albers on Thursday January 21, 2016. The Bundle belongs to JOURN 1100 - 01 at University of Missouri - Columbia taught by Thomas, Ryan James in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 61 views. For similar materials see Principles of American Journalism in Journalism and Mass Communications at University of Missouri - Columbia.


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Date Created: 01/21/16
The Source Problem 12/01/2015 ▯ Source Dependence  Journalistic accuracy is compromised by dependence on sources  Public officials are the primary source of news  “most news is not what has happened but what someone says happened” News flows from the top down (“cascading model”) o Administration (white house, state) o Other elites (congress, ex officials) o Media (journalists) o News frames (framing words images) o Public (polls, other indicators) ▯ Why do Journalists use sources? Credibility o Official sources lend authority to story Predictability o Public officials are consistent source Accessibility o Relatively cheap and easy to attend press briefing Objectivity o Journalists cant put their own opinions so they require credible ones ▯ ▯ The Problem  Journalism became more “adversarial” during the Vietnam war and Watergate era  Journalist willing to challenge high ranking officials  The barriers to adversarial journalism o Journalistic norms o Risks losing access o Time and financial constraints ▯ The Solution  “He said, She said” journalism o you go shopping for juicy quote o get two opposing sides  well adapted for 30 minute picture based newscasts  added elements of fiction to the news o drama o conflict o narrative structure (rising and falling action)  shifted control of story from newsmaker to journalist ▯ The Response  Politicians adopted a defensive posture o Spiro Agnew: first person to directly attack media (“silent majority”) o  By 1990s politicians had adapted to the new style of journalism and began to use it to there advantage o “attack Journalism”  Political wordplay o “death tax” (Estate tax) o “Obama care” (affordable care act) o “bailout” (TARP program) o “The cure for propaganda is more propaganda” ▯ ▯ The waterboarding case  2010 harvard study examined reerences to water boarding in 4 major newspapers  news papers called it torture in 80% of stories before 2001  after 2002 less than 5% used the term torture after bush administration described it as “enhanced interrogation technique” Focus on Coverage: More focus on policy and positions versus personal lives because their policies are what will effect us not their personal drama ▯ ▯ The Consequences  Policy statements are largely ignore, attacks are highlighted o Especially there around elections  Cooperative efforts are sidelined o Stem cell research: didn’t have much coverage until mentioned in between republican and democrats during an election  Overwhelming emphasis on conflict over substance o Climate change o Healthcare reform o Teaching evolution in public schools o 2004 presidential election ▯ ▯ The “Memeogate” case  During the 2004 presidential election, CBS news aired several allegations regarding bush’s air national guard service o Claimed he rode on his name (father)  Allegations based on memos allegedly from bush’s former commander  Questioned authenticity because of dates; CBS was unable to verify original source of the document or authority o Ended up ruining reputations and careers ▯ ▯ The Seduction of Power  “Power rather than truthfulness, is the operative standard”  “Indexing” – aligning coverage to the range of elite political debate o i.e. 2003 Iraq coverage versus 2006/07 coverage o elites in agreement so less coverage ▯ ▯ “The Democratization of truth”  “Motivated Reasoning” – believe what they want to believe o i.e. 2010 survey found Obama reduced troops when he actually increased them  people believe something endorced by a source they trust  “he said she said” journalism leads people choosing to believe preferred side versus the truth ▯ ▯ Problem with Objectivity  Objectivity was once considered a rigorous process of verification  Objectivity has become synonymous with balance  Balance can lead to “false equivalency” ▯ ▯ Can journalists be too critical?  Magnifying fatual inaccuracies leads to increased public mistrust of both politicians and journalists o This can lead to cynicism and apathy towards the political system  When important inaccuracies do arise, the public is less inclined to pay attention  Normative disputes are “factually unimpeachable” o Abortion o Role of government o Capital punishment ▯ ▯ The Way Forward  “cannot be found in the practices of the past”  journalism operates under a set of contradictions o neutrality versus investigation o fair mindedness versus critical edge  “journalism needs a new paradigm, one that involves a different way of thinking about what constitutes a reliable source” ▯ ▯ ▯ THE ANONYMITY PROBLEM ▯ Why do journalists give source anonymity?  A story of great public significance could not be reported otherwise (i.e. Watergate – consequences for the person spilling the beans)  Source is at risk of losing job, reputation, life (i.e. victims of abuse)  Has information but vulnerable to those in power ▯ Why is anonymity a last resort?  If the source of information is not provided it cant be independently verified (TRUTH)  An attack based solely on an anonymous source denies the accused the opportunity to confront is or her accuser (JUSTICE)  Anonymity allow individual to accuse political opponents without fear or accountability (DO NO HARM) ▯ What are most common newsroom policies on anonyimity?  At least one editor knows the source o Prevents fabrication  Story must be important or of great significance  Should be last resort o Can you get info through other sources  Reason for anonymity should be explained in story ▯ Anonymous sources are often overused , particularly in national security reporting  i.e. anonymous source from bush administration before Iraq war (NY Times)  what went wrong at the times? o Daniel Okrent described problematic institutional practices  “hunger for scoops”  “front page syndrome” (very definite narrative)  “hit and run journalism” (publish and forget about it to move on to the next big thing)  “coddling sources” (revealing liars?) ▯ The Sunday Times Snowden Case  In June the Sunday times in Britain published a story claiming Chinese and Russian intelligence had gained access to Snowden fires  Story quoted several anonymous British government and intelligence officials claiming that the leak endangered the lives of covert operatives ▯ THE ANONYMITY SOLUTION  Boeynik (1990) recommends 7 guidelines for using anonymous sources o Promise of anonymity must be authorized by editor o Anonymous sources should be used only for a just cause o Used only as a last resort o Should be fully identified if possible if not explained why not o Proportionality – balance of potential harm and benefits o Can only be used with just intentions by reporter, media, and source o Just means – use of anonymous source requires independent verification by second source ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ THE GENDER PROBLEM ▯ Women are underrepresented as news sources in most countries  Canada is only one who came close to equal representation (47%) ▯ Armstrong (2004) found:  Female sources appeared less, and when they did appear were quoted less often and short quotes  Stories in which males are identified in the headline were more likely to appear on front page  Women write about women, men source men ▯ (institutional underrepresentation may relate to source underrepresentation) ▯ What are caused of gender bias in sourcing  Leads to inaccurate reelections of societies and reinforces a lower public status for women  “symbolic annihilation” (George Gerbner)  women’s perspectives and issues important to them are less likely to make it in the news  sexism in the news (youtube video) ▯ to counter:  journalists should make a conscience effort to include women’s voices in the news  if a story requires exert sources, seek out a qualified man AND woman o  Structural changes in institutional level for women management option ▯ ▯ ▯ THE RACE PROBLEM  Studies from 1980s and 1990s found African Americans were overwhelmingly portrayed as criminals in local TV news  More recent research found similar negative portrayals of Latino immigrants and Muslims o Possibly because lack of exposure in news sources  Racial minorities are underrepresented as news sources on many prominent TV news programs  Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, were virtually non-existent as anchors, reporters, subjects and sources ▯ ▯ THE CLASS PROBLEM  “Most ordinary people never come into the news except as statistics” (Herbert Gans)  views of elites (politicians, academics) dominate the news  working class people are underrepresented as news sources  reporting on labor issues has declined dramatically while business sky rocketed  only 7% of sources in two prominent nightly news programs were working class  why does it matter? o Majority of population is working class o Policy preferences of working class citizens are often different from wealthier citizens o Working class most directly impacted by economic policies and crises CONCLUSION  Anonymous sources often overused in government reporting due to institutional practices  Strict ethical guidelines should govern the use of anonymous sources o Motive, harm versus benefit  Sources of news are overwhelmingly white upper-class males; women minorities and working class are underrepresented  The number diversity and range of sources is regarded as a proxy for news media quality  For journalist to successfully serve democracy they should seek diversity o Pattersons Argument (so far)  The information problem o The public deeply misinformed on key policy issues o Dangerous problem  The source problem o Reliance on official sources o “he said, she said” journalism without independent corroboration  the knowledge problem o what is the trade off between skills and knowledge Is journalism fulfilling it’s responsibilities?  Patterson says not quite o Calls for knowledge based journalism o Contemporary journalism filled with “untrustworthy and pointless” information o Information overload o o Knowledge based journalism  Cant blame an apathetic public  “talk show” model of journalism takes over in 1990s more opinion than ever before o this model appeals to herd mentality in audience  leads to polarization of audience in “cyber ghettos”  political blogs haven’t helped o o “Bias”  no evidence exists of partisan bias in mainstream media  the real bias is towards negativity o the public routinely over-rate crime rates o this has spread cynicism in the electorate o o Journalism at warp speed  Accelerated news cycle is threatening quality of journalism  Getting it first is no substitute for getting it right o o Our model at Mizzou  Professional skills in the context of a broad based liberal arts curriculum  What are liberal arts? o Knowledge essential to be free  Liberal as in possessing liberty o Classically liberal arts was: grammar, logic, rhetoric o Now: Arts (fine arts), humanities (history, literature, philosophy) Sciences (Biology, chemistry) Social Sciences (Economics, Political Science)  What is the value of the liberal arts o It is intrinsically good o o Patterson says content/context is essential o o The Past and the Present  Journalism can be very good at describing the present o News Values (proximity, timeliness, prominence, etc.) o Our focus is often on what is happening  Journalism can be not so good at describing the past (past doesn’t describe present?) o In other words, in providing context o What are the underlying issues? What factors have led us to his? What trends and patterns? How do we get from A to ? o Problem of “parachute” journalism  Parachute in without actually understanding problem and or community and leave when issue loses interest (Mizzou/ Jonathan Butler)  The nature of newsgathering and the pressures on journalism/ists contribute to the problem o Time, resources, manpower, pressure to fill time (could prohibit good stories because worried about time) o o What this means  Journalism focused on “breaking news” and dramatization o Infortainment – blurring of lines between journalism and entertainment (have to keep people interested)  The problem comes when journalist “make a moles mountain, and of mountains mole” (lippman) o Should look at issues that actually matter  Case in point: medical and science news o The latest breakthrough vs. the state of the science o “new hope” and “no hope” (losing middle ground our context) o o A multifaceted problem  In part a problem of pressure but also a problem of knowledge  Very much focused on the “who what when and where” but not so much on the “why” – and that’s the problem  “connecting the dots” versus “collecting the dots” o explaining the issue for audience  the problem of using news values as sole criteria o leads us to seek out and report conflict for its own sake o or, ignoring, long term issues until they appear to have immediacy o o Framing  Episodic vs Thematic Framing (is anyone responisible?) o Episodic – single event oriented; isolated incidents  About poverty leads audiences to consider impoverished individuals responsible o Thematic – context; broader narratives  Causes to consider structural/systematic issues at fault  True also of crime and race inequality issues  Important to understand that framing is not necessarily a negative thing - it simply “is” – all stories must some how be framed  So framing is not a matter of bias! “media bias” is a term used by unsophisticated  Not everything requires thematic framing but stories that ffect how people function in democracy must have context Why this matters?  Hutchins commission o Social responsibility of the press  Journalists are called to provide “a comprehensive and intelligent account of the days events in a context that gives them meaning” o Connecting present and past  Journalism is a role with democratic purpose o Positive externalities: journalism is full of them  If you don’t use journalism you wont benefit from it o Journalism education has democratic purpose o o What do journalist’s (& Students) need?  Donsbach and Fiedler o Awareness of relevant history, current affairs, and analytical thinking o Expertise in the specific subject being reported on o Knowledge of the processes of journalism o Awareness of ethical standards o Mastery of practical skills (5 LEGGED STOOL; REMOVE ONE LEG AND IT DOESN’T WORK) o o Ways of knowing  Journalists primary tools: observation and interviews o Observation: What you see o Interviews: what others see  All accounts are partial, which is why good journalism is based on multiple sources  Other tools o Documents, archives, public records o Research o o Take home Points Many explanations for journalism problems – Patterson pinpoints education More to journalism then skills o Knowledge is what helps us to provide context and “connect the dots” o “reporting the facts” is not enough – context is king o o o o Back to Needs and Wants  Key question or behavioral economists is “are humans fundamentally rational beings?” o Are we able to consistently and precisely discern our own interests and act upon them?  The answer is no but that doesn’t mean humans are fundamentally irrational – rather than we exist in a state of “bounded rationality” o Limited info, cognitive capacity, time (When or brain tries to process we have to try and create conditions for our brains to act rationally)  Cognitive ease o In the absence of fact people select statements simpler and more memorable when faced with choices of false statements  Salience o Tend to disregard information until made salient (important, relevant)  Goal of journalism: to reduce cognitive burden and increase issue of salience o Use of listicles and cards (listicles some only read bolded main point/ google card)  Ways of reducing confusing / creating ease of salience o Sticking to basics but be distinct (fresh, novel) Research suggest when given a diet of substance audiences will gravitate toward it – problem of supply not demand o 2013 project for excellence in journalism study found that quality was a key factor as to why they were turning away o appetite for long-form journalism online o public trust builds public loyalty (i.e. NPR fan growth)  increasingly an economic question o produce excellent journalism to bring audiences back o o Summary  Journalism as public service  Supply and demand is complex process – not linear one  Research indicates broad demand for public interest in journalism, problem of supply  Ease and salience key to reaching audiences – new and creative ways of doing this  o o Democracy cant function without journalism  What democracy needs from journalism o Information dissemination o Accountability o Representation o Deliberation  How does journalism meet these needs? o Info, analysis, and explanation o Investigation o Facilitating conversation and connection o Generating social empathy o Encouraging accountability  Metaphors guiding journalism o Watchdog o Mirror o Marketplace  Role of the first amendment in facilitating these ends o o “Informed citizens do not spring forth from birth”  journalism has obligation to inform  and to cultivate an appetite for information o remember john Nichols and how audiences are not “nitwits” but are “starving” o Historical evidence indicates longstanding public appetite for news – a “new habit” across age groups  Part of everyday life  However greater choice threatened journalism monopoly on attention  Gradual fracturing of the audience starting with cable news o Worrying Trends  Only 45% said they enjoy keeping up with the news


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