Amid the crossfire of unrelenting criticism of the national news media, there are individual reporters just trying to do their jobs.
Sopan Deb, culture reporter for The New York Times and Christopher Daly, formerly of The Washington Post, make their cases on writing with YOU, the people, in mind.
Is it possible for American news giants to make every reader of our diverse nation feel spoken to? Let’s talk about it.
Given the diversity and sheer size of our country, it is unlikely that news giants can capture unanimity of thought. But after listening to these two news professionals, it appears serious journalists are serious about informing and connecting to their audiences.
On one hand, digital media can be breeding ground for unrelenting criticism of the national news media. On the other hand, digital media gives us one more place to exercise our great right to free speech, for both the journalist and the consumer.
Criticism from readers (and non-readers) is an inherent part of working in American journalism… One criticism I have for the trolls out there? Let’s please make your comments productive and respectful.
Interviews from a video report by Cristina Gallotto for BUTV10’s Inside Boston, at Boston University College of Communications Department of Journalism.
It has been about months covering The Boston Globe for my JO 304 NewsTrack assignment. Today my assignment is to post about final take-aways. Coincidentally, an old professor of mine posted yesterday in BU Journalism’s Facebook group… in an almost perfect timing for this assignment:
Professor Zuckoff posted this link. The article found at this link is a Poynter report on the newfound plan for The Globe moving forward. A sort of “How can the Globe keep up with the times” kind of post, with commentary from high level journalists at the Globe.(Zuckoff is a big player in The Globe’s newsroom with years of experience churning out great work there. So this one is worth a read!)
The Globe plans to digitally reinvent themselves, an idea I have written about time and time again this semester, because digital participation by the Globe as it currently stands is not competitive. Here is their plan:
An Express Desk
An audience engagement team made up of reporters, editors and producers
A Super Department and “refreshed” beats
A separate print desk
An “enhanced” projects team
Reviving the digital storytelling team
The Boston Globe’s full memo on their plan gives some color on what led up to this point. A quote from that memo:
Let’s accept upfront that this will be a disruptive stretch, pretty much starting right now, despite all good efforts to prevent it. I don’t know any way around it. Transitions are inevitably rocky, but let’s put our heads down and collectively get to the other side.
We have such a team already, but it’s been hammered by attrition. We need to rebuild it, fast, and in the reconstruction, we need to devote ever more of our design and graphics firepower to the digital side…
In short, the Globe knows they have to adapt. It looks like this plan will get them there. For folks in JO 304 with me, this may be good news for us in a future job search… our digital skills will surely serve us well as newsrooms adapt in this way.
It’s great to see my hometown paper taking these steps to digitally reinvent The Boston Globe newsroom. it is encouraging, and I am rooting for the success of this plan!!!
I want to focus primarily on the use of sensitive videos from Idlib, Syria this week following Tuesday’s chemical airstrikes. I have developed a strong opinion of the coverage of Syria this week, and I am really happy with one Boston Globe article in particular about this breaking news story.
In the hours after this tragedy, Middle Eastern and international news sources had journalistic boots on the ground. They blasted out horrifying video of naked children and babies dying in the streets, taking their last breathes, foaming at the mouth, and getting tossed into the back of emergency medical trucks like sandbags. Many of these videos were wired to newsrooms across our country. When I was at work, the videos came in, and I was floored. I had never seen uncensored video so bloody. Why had I never seen videos so bloody? I am a journalist. Totally disconcerting, on so many levels.
Many news organizations shy away from graphic images. They sometimes do this because of organization-wide rules to respect young/unprepared viewers. Also, they edit out graphic content to keep their content appropriate (especially depending on the time and place a story breaks).
There are some ethical/judgement questions to consider when a news organization gets graphic or sensitive images in for a breaking news story: mainly “How do you comprehensively convey the urgency or seriousness of a situation that is clearly extremely graphic WITHOUT showing your viewers/readers the whole truth?” You cant always show everything, of course, and there are limits. But can we really select or censor images for a story but still maintain the whole feeling of a story? I don’t feel confident that the answer is “yes”. With a story like this one, where many children suffered and died, wouldn’t it be doing the story (and the Syrian people) a disservice to not show the children?! How do you handle this!
The Globe handled this story very well in my opinion. The front page of the story is a baby receiving emergency medical service. The Globe’s Ty Burr wrote a piece speaking exactly to my point. He wrote:
“Look at the photos coming out of northwest Syria: adults and small children stricken by poison gas attacks, foam streaming from their mouths and noses. Babies with gas masks clamped to their faces. Dead toddlers stacked in the back of pickup trucks.
It’s exploitative. It’s necessary. It rips through our numbness. It causes us to become more numb.”
The article continued to this:
“You don’t want to know? These photographs say: Tough. You live in the world, and this is a consequence of what is happening in the world. Specifically, this is what President Bashar Assad of Syria is doing to the people of his country. Such images hit us where it hurts, in our entitled, comfortable social solar plexus. They stop us in our day and urge us to take action, any kind of action. They cut through the noise.
Here is the link to the full piece: https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2017/04/05/images-from-syria-too-awful-look-and-too-important-look-away/GvGqTzOICn7IaroJTFrNzN/story.html
I really applaud this piece. It cuts to the point of the necessity of showing graphic images in breaking news story when it makes sense to. In the case of this Syria chemical attack, the children ARE the story. To cut them out because it is inappropriate for viewership is in many ways disrespectful and not combative enough… even, not truthful enough.
If the point of journalism in war-zones is to make clear the hardships and realities of living in a war zone, censoring that information is not productive and in some ways shameful.
A few photos that should be circulating widely within the American news media:
And a video exists on this link that has some images but is still more subdued: http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2017/04/04/suspected-syria-gas-attack-kills-dozens-including-children/4Gr5lvoPZuG13YnGMEvTHI/story.html?s_campaign=bostonglobe%3Asocialflow%3Atwitter
It’s important to be honest with people as journalists. Taking information away is a kind of censorship. Depending on the situation, it may be wrong. Especially, in the time we are living in now for American journalists, the more honest, the better.
The Boston Globe has experimented plenty with alternative storytelling. They utilize new media accounts and incorporate them well within their daily news grind. However, the Globe is no Mic or Vice. Nor would its readership want it to be. Though the digitization of news has revolutionized print media, the ideals behind a traditional newspaper persist. The Boston Globe uses Instagram, but the photos are classy and professional. The Globe is all over Facebook, but again, their professional standards that you’d see in print exist here too. And on Twitter, they really aren’t getting to fancy. The formula of @BostonGlobe’s tweets is pretty consistently: caption, photo, caption, photo. Below, I have included some examples of this, and I have compared it to the visual impression the Globe’s social media pages (or alternative storytelling sites) compare to those of newer younger audiences.
In the Instagram screenshot below, you can see that there are no videos on the Boston Globe’s page. Instead, there are a series of international and local, high-quality photographs. The page reminds me in some ways of Nat Geo, because their Instagram is famous for beautiful international nature/culture shots.
Similarly, The Boston Globe official twitter account does little to push the limits of news. Primarily, the Globe tweets a sentence or two, tags the appropriate people, and posts a corresponding photo that is aesthetically pleasing. Not much boundary pushing here in terms of alternative story-telling.
One thing to note is that The Globe deviates slightly from their newspaper content in their ‘alternative media world’. For example, alternative stories fit for a younger audience may find a home on Twitter. See an example of that here:
The above stories may or may not have made the cut for the official printed newspaper. It is clear that The Boston Globe prefers classy news all around. If anything,
At the end of the day, the city of Boston has a fairly conservative readership in terms of seriousness and class. It’s still a New England city rooted in Puritanical/Catholic norms. Alternative storytelling might not have a home here as much as it would in, say, San Francisco. As to serve their readership (and frankly, to remain classy), playing it straight is not something the Boston Globe deviates from very often.
Fulfilling a JO 304 assignment of posting a process-oriented video.
Introducing you to a kind of crafting that is very special to me!
When I was in middle school, a local jeweler showed me the basics of how to make earrings. Since then, I have been hooked on the creativity of jewelry-making. Particularly earring-making became my favorite pass-time, which led me to make my own company in 7th grade! I sold my earrings at craft fairs and did quite well for myself considering my age. I continued making earrings intermittently throughout high school and college, usually just for fun or to relieve stress.
A trip to Bogota, Colombia last year inspired me to reinvent my craft! Women in Colombia were sporting these BEAUTIFUL, full, colorful earrings. They just looked AMAZING to me and I needed to have them! I asked a jeweler in a city outside Bogota to walk me through how to make them, and I have been creating them in Boston ever since.
Here is a video tutorial explaining how it’s done. Enjoy it, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Have fun with it!
Last week the AP published a report that President Trump and his administration were considering mobilizing an illegal immigrant deportation force of 100,000 National Guard troops. Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded saying the report was “100 per cent not true” (aka ‘fake news’) and that he wished the AP had asked the White House first before going public. The AP claimed they did in fact ask the WH and Homeland Security, but that they got no response. The Trump administration is not following through with the deportation troop, as far as we know.
So, the story gets tossed. But the principal does not.
How does the media defend itself against statements by President Trump that the media is not trustworthy? How does the most reputable, longstanding local print news source of the Greater Boston Area partake in that dialog? It is delicate.
I attended a conference last week at which a NPR journalist tried to work with the audience on possible answers… but he concluded with the obvious “I don’t know.” No body really knows. The Globe, I think, is doing well.
The Boston Globe’s approach is to question the president too. See here in this article, where the Globe talks about Trump’s frequently used “they’re fake news” comment in their report on this AP story: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/02/17/see-pattern-beware-fake-news-label/TYbVp4SuTz0La1VJZdHnaJ/story.html
The Globe suggests that Trump and the administration use the phrase “That’s fake news!” as a way to hush unwanted criticism. They headline their piece, “See a pattern? Beware the ‘fake news’ label.”
The Globe asserts that Trump’s ‘fake news’ label HELPS him. The press and the people move on from strange stories, never quite sure what actually happened. The looming question of fake news incites fear, discomfort, and ultimately probably exhaustion. And that is how Trump wants it. He said so in his press conference last Wednesday that the press shouldn’t know everything, he openly asked the White House press corps for softball questions, and he verbally berated reporters who asked something more intrusive or challenging.
The Globe suggests that Trump slaps that ‘fake news’ label worked perfectly in his favor in the case of the AP story above. They write, “Now, in the AP’s case, this might be an evolving and quickly-changing story. But it’s also possible — although nearly impossible to prove — that the White House set up the AP by not responding to their inquiries and only denying the report after it came out. It is also possible that the AP got the story; the White House declined to respond; the story was published; and only then did the administration realize an immigration deportation force was a bad idea.”
It’s no secret that the ‘fake news’ label works in his favor. When the country is exhausted by this back and forth about fake news, maybe truth won’t matter any more. In that case, Trump will have won.
Sending another weekly thank you to The Boston Globe for your reports! Thank you for not giving up, not getting exhausted, and continuing to work. The work this paper does is important to New England and beyond. Our understanding of Washington depends on your reports!
To my readers, your time is precious, so thank you for spending some of it on my blog.