Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Grid

"Dear Scared Journalist,
If you are a true journalist, the world is going to kick your a$$. If you are a true journalist, you are supposed to be having a hard time. This is how the world makes writers. It kicks their a$$ long enough that they start finally telling the truth. They just give up and start bleating out the little truthlets."
-Cary Tennis, Salon 

This is not meant to scare anyone by any means, but was included as an maxim that illustrates the campaign against truthiness and the plight of the contemporary journalist to combat trends toward sensationalism. This was written by Cary Tennis, a contributor of the Salon news page in response to a fledgling journalist's plea for guidance in a media-driven and tumultuous world. But more important than awakening the "scared journalist" to the reality of being a journalist, Cary Tennis also declared the responsibility of all those who find themselves in that inescapable duty and  what others may regard as the "opportunity to shape and create realities. (Guarding the News, 2013).

“Why do you we have to tell the people what they need to hear? Why can’ t the news be fun?”
-Ron Burgundy 

Although it may be just a movie trailer for "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, it illustrates a growing problem with the relationship with news organizations and their audience. According to Pew Research, there is an increasing number of those who believe to the news to be unreliable concerning accuracy and with a tendency toward bias. (Pew, Watchdog, 2013). Despite the public skepticism, the press has managed to keep its job as a public servant in preventing political corruption. Unfortunately with the conglomeration of news companies, pressure to fulfill public interest as well as the necessity to keep corporate happy, the coverage stories in media has seen a trend toward topics that promote the agenda of these corporations. This trend toward the belief that media should serve as a watchdog over the government is not new, but in the wake of the recent uproar  and citizen and international disgruntlement  over the NSA and surveillance have prompted a strong reaction by the public for an advocate. 

With the press, news reporters and journalism battling the tense fight between giving us what wewant versus what we need you might be asking, "what is there to do?" Unfortunately we can't storm news corporations and their news rooms wearing black masks and wielding guns demanding they keep their stories straight. That ethical debate needs to be won in our own homes with our part that includes seeking truth from reliable sources. Some of these tactics used to filter through media scum may seem familiar to some, but we wanted to ensure its proper distribution and use. 

First and foremost, our senses are important to us. For the most part of society, we use five senses on a daily basis without even noticing its employment. Other fortunate or unfortunate individuals may have more, but we wanted to bring attention to the importance of SMELL. In terms that John McManus has set, SMELL is an acronym for a guideline to better "detecting bull," in the media (McManus, ). In others words, this is a way to tell if you should post this story on Twitter or Facebook. 

S - Source - Who is providing the information in this article or story?
M - Motivation - Why are they telling me this? What do they want from me?
E - Evidence - What generalizations are being presented about this topic or subjects in the story?
L - Logic - Are the facts presented actually relevant to the conclusion or point of the story?
L - Left out - Is there anything missing that might change how we interpret the information?

For this experiment, we wanted to employ additional tactics to evaluate the effectiveness of news channel, newspaper or online news source. By effectiveness we mean the overall ability of a news source to inform and bring to light important topics rather than their ability to sell their papers based off of catering to wants. 

John McManus developed scorecards that quantitatively measure the coverage of print, internet, broadcast and wire news while exposing the qualitative value of these sources. What does that mean you ask? The scorecards will compare core news stories, or stories deemed essential to the life of a participating citizen of our global human community. These stories include politics, environment, education,