"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible;
to be credible we must be truthful." - Edward R Murrow

"What's everybody's business is nobody's business - except journalists." --Joseph Pulitzer

Who doesn't remember the tragic and disturbing story Josef Fritzl keeping his daughter in his basement dungeon for over 20 years? As journalism evolves reporters are digging deeper and deeper into personal lives. We are investigating and hoping to find out as much as possible. We want to show and educate the world on what we know, but sometimes journalists forget the emotions that come with a story like that.

As a journalist I am to be objective, but does that mean that I should lack compassion? It seems as though some journalists will do anything in order to get a story. And there are some stories that will wreck lives and relationships.

Thing of Tiger Woods. Journalists just kept digging deeper and deeper to find out what happened. His personal life has been exposed, and is that fair? Would we do this to someone we knew personally? Would we have shown this of the normal guy off the street? Would we do that if Tiger Woods had been a family member, or a close friend? What if we were that person?

I am guilty of being stoic and determined at times. I'm not saying that getting an interview and story causes me to overlook the feelings of others, but when there's a hot topic story that I have good interviews for, or a strong stance on, I may neglect the feelings of the audience while reading the story. Knowing that certain audience members may feel uncomfortable at times, but as long as I am being objective and accurate I feel like I am doing fine.

I can never be emotion-less with someone I am interviewing. I wear my heart on my sleeve and always have a smile. My voice and happy nature is so bubbly that in order to be taken seriously I am sticking with print. But reading it in print is not always going to convey the message in the way one would hope.

Are journalists becoming less caring of others? Are we giving into sensationalism? Was it necessary for everyone to know about Tiger Woods or David Letterman? Just because they are public figures does that mean that we deserve to know every lie they tell? Does their fame automatically give a journalist the right to publish stories on their personal life? Would we do this with any average person?

The reason I even started on this topic is an article I just saw on Fark.com.

"Single mum had sex 191 times with boy, 12"
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/02/27/single-mum-had-sex-191-times-with-boy-12-115875-22072646/

The article seems like it required investigation and a lot of legal work. Does this woman, who is now seen as a criminal and a pedophile deserve to have her photo there? And did anyone think of the reprecussions that this may have on that boy? Even if the boy isn't mentioned; it won't be hard to find out who the boy was.

I was reading an article in the local newspaper about 5 teenage girls that got into a car crash. It said that the driver was driving her father's truck, and then downward in the article it said the name of the person whom the car was registered to. That completely destroyed the anonymity of the girl. If that isn't the name of her father (which, if it's her father's truck I am sure it is), then it's someone who is close to her, and that will make it easier to identify the girl as well as the other teenagers in the crash.

I'm not saying I wouldn't cover these stories, and I am not saying they shouldn't be covered. But I think the format, media, and way that the stories are presented, as well as who the reporter decides to interview and how much time he or she decides to take in order to make the article accurate vs. being the first one to get the story out.

Cheers.

"Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine." -- Walter Cronkite

Read Users' Comments (4)

4 Response to ""What's everybody's business is nobody's business - except journalists." --Joseph Pulitzer"

  1. Emma says:
    February 27, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    This is so true, I have recently been asked to comment on a scandal at school to do with one of my peers. The reporter asked questions that seemed too pushy and in your face. The reporter in question was going to put my answers and this girls story in the paper. They will be publishing which school she goes too and what her last name is. Now they don't use the first, but still, it won't be hard for anyone with two brain cells to realise who this girl is. As an aspiring journalist, I'm trying to learn the ways of the warrior that I must become.

    Thanks for the update, really enjoyed it.

  2. Anonymous Says:
    February 27, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    In terms of Tiger Woods, he's not only a public figure but a worldwide sports figure and head of numerous campaigns. When one thinks of Tiger, they think of Nike and vice versa. He is a public figure and with that comes public scrutiny. The same goes for David Letterman, who has decided to come out with his affair. It is the mere fact that Tiger denied his affairs at first and blocked the media that spurred such attention.

    In terms of the mother, there are different laws in the UK. Sex with a minor is a federal offense and her record is open to the public. It is not a private sector, as the school is, and her record is open to whoever asks for it. So I don't think it required a lot of legal action, just a journalist going through the local arrests and sentencing can pick up on that story.

    In terms of the car accident, it does not immediately identify her as well. Many fathers have different names from their children. I have read the article you talked about, in Lee I believe (saw it in the BDN). The girls were illegally driving, weren't wearing seat-belts and were speeding. I think the fact was that "Hey, look the car is demolished, these kids are alive but why the hell aren't they being charged?"

    And reading below, the mother of the driver and multiple friends have posted comments. There is no anonymity in a town such as Old Town, everyone knows who got into the car accident. You can see them in the school, all bandaged up.

    I'm not bashing your blog, but you must remember that unless the journalist is an editorial or column writer, they don't wear their hearts on their sleeves. It makes it seem that the journalist is irresponsible and does not know how to be unbiased. I'm not a journalism major but I have been interviewed for a student's paper/article and they were very stoic, which I appreciated. No one wants a journalist to get caught up in a story, an interviewee can quickly steer the questions into their favor that way.

  3. Nikky Raney says:
    March 2, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    In response to anonymous;
    I think that during a one on one interview a journalist should show actual emotional and an understanding for the other person; instead of sitting there and asking question after question like a robot.
    I think interviews should be conducted in this fashion, but I never said that the article itself would have the emotion within it. Wearing your heart on your sleeve during an interview does not mean that the article turns out that way, it is just a way to get the interviewee feeling comfortable and to be able to gain a sense of trust.

    And as for comments, I read the article in the actual newspaper as opposed to on the web so I wouldn't know if the mother commented or what-not.

  4. Katy England says:
    March 2, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    It's my opinion, that you need to be able to relate to people to gain a decent interview. If you can't establish a rapport with interviewees you will end up bashing your head into the wall. Being a good study of human nature will only help you in this field. But with everything, it's a balancing act.

    You need to be aware of your emotions and how they can affect you and the story you are working from. Being objective doesn't mean you have no emotions - it means you have to be aware of how they could sway you and rise above it.

    Just a note of Tiger: I was very interested in the media's reaction to his one-sided press conference. They seemed more outraged about that than his infidelity, did you notice?

    Good post. I'd love to see more graphics or pictures here. But you're doing great!

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