Tag: Tom Arenberg

In a Disaster, Media Heroism (aka Craziness) Has Its Limits

When a natural disaster strikes a community, residents go to shelter. Public safety workers and journalists go to work.

News organizations usually prioritize the safety of reporters in the field during such events. Often, it’s the reporters who will push the limits on safety in order to deliver vital news to the public. Ethical managers talk them out of it.

But there’s no shortage of instances of reporters subjecting themselves to the brutality of nature to report a weather story. Their aim is to show the public the truth about the conditions. Their critics call it reckless showboating. Read more.

Pay-for-Say: Buying Interviews Is a Bad Idea

Paying for information is a much frowned-upon practice in journalism. Fortunately, it rarely happens.

Except, of course, when a media organization pays for a newsworthy photo or video.

Or for breaking news tips from sources (think TMZ paying police officers).

Or to cover a source’s pre-interview expenses.

Or for subject experts to appear regularly on shows.

Or for coaches and athletes to do weekly programs.

Or for event broadcast rights.

The latest incarnation is emerging in the world of sports, where college athletes can now make money from endorsements, appearances and interviews. Read more.

Is This Champion a Quitter? Glad to See the Media Say No

Among a cascade of memorable Olympics stories over the years, I especially remember the tale of a guy who finished last.

During the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Great Britain’s Derek Redmond tore a hamstring muscle in the middle of his 400-meters semifinal and collapsed. He got up and, in anguish, began limping toward the finish line. His father rushed from the stands and onto the track, grabbed him, and propped him up as he tried to complete the race. Near the end, the father let go of him, and Redmond hobbled across the line on his own to a standing ovation. Today it remains a famous moment of determination and inspiration.

But really, he probably should have stayed down and let the medics come get him.

I contrast that story with the decision of four-time gold medal winner Simone Biles to withdraw during the gymnastics team finals last week at the current Games in Tokyo. After an unexpectedly flawed rotation on the vault, Biles said stress and mental health concerns prevented her from continuing in that and other events (though she did rejoin for the balance beam competition on Tuesday). Read more.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Careers in Journalism

A remarkable student finished my News Writing and Reporting class this past semester with an A-plus. She wants to practice law.
Another remarkable student also finished with an A-plus. He wants to work in sales.

Journalism is freakin’ doomed.

OK, two anecdotes do not a crisis make. But I wish — unrealistically, of course — that all the talent I see in my courses would want to choose journalism as a career.
Read more.

Warning: If You Get Chills Reading This, Keep It to Yourself

Got a great job for you. It’s in journalism. Never mind that if you take it you can’t publicly support a political candidate, donate to a political campaign, make money on the side without your boss’ approval, date someone you met on the job or accept a small token of thanks from a subject grateful for your hard work.

Here’s something else that many news organizations say you can’t do in your personal life: express a political opinion on social media. Read more.

In the Middle of Protests, Reporters Find News — and Danger — on the Streets

Hey students: Are you interested in a career in journalism? This exciting field offers not only low pay, long hours and no job security, but also the chance to go to dangerous places where everyone hates you. Sound good?

Recent street protests in Minneapolis and other cities have illuminated the risks that journalists face when they report from the scene of civic unrest. At least six reporters have suffered physical harm in Minneapolis, primarily from getting hit with crowd control ammunition, according to reports on the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker website. One photographer was permanently blinded in one eye from a rubber bullet, according to her social media post. In an especially alarming case – because a clearly identified journalist was singled out – a police officer used a baton to strike a cameraman. Read more.

Some Hopefulness for Local News. No, Really.

Local journalism in America is in “crisis,” according to a report last month from the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy and research organization in Washington, D.C. Pen America, a nonprofit free-speech advocacy group in New York, followed a week later with its report that local news across the country faces “decimation.”

I’d like to offer some optimism, please. Read more.

Local Charities: Soup Kitchens, Fine Arts and … Your Newspaper?

Everyone recognizes the financial distress of most news organizations today. But a speaker at an academic seminar I attended this summer – the founder of a nonprofit news website that covers Vermont – took it a dramatic step further: She believes it is no longer possible to make a profit from reporting news at the local and regional levels. Well, yikes.

That assessment drew disagreement from some other seminar speakers, but it’s nonetheless clear that journalism needs some new business models. One emerging model is the nonprofit news outlet, such as the one in Vermont and BirminghamWatch (which you are reading right now and to which I have donated). Read more.

The New York Times Keeps Making People Mad

It must be frustrating for The New York Times to do such exceptional journalism (for instance, here and here) and then to get beaten up mercilessly on social media because of its handling of a routine story. It’s a reminder that, of course, there’s really no such thing as a routine story, especially if you live in the middle of a political maelstrom, as the Times does every day.

The Times is catching some heat for its headlining and framing of a Wednesday story about contact between the Ukraine whistleblower and Congressman Adam Schiff. Some supporters of President Trump, who likely would have done this no matter how the story was presented, are distorting the article as evidence of collusion between the whistleblower and Schiff.

This unfairness aside, there’s no question the Times is having a real bad run lately. It has gotten justified public criticism for several things.
Read more.