Mayhill Fowler’s Election Coverage

In 2008 there was one journalist, a citizen journalist, that many candidates seemed to fear: Mayhill Fowler. In one instance Fowler attended a “closed” fundraiser where she was able to get a very exclusive interview with then candidate Barack Obama.

The interview, which Fowler completed despite the closed to media event protocols, captured Obama saying some choice words about small town Americans. Although the content of the interview is important, many questioned Fowler’s ethics, as well as the ethics involved in citizen journalism. Do they/should they still follow the same ethical principles that normally employed journalists follow?

In my opinion, while they should still follow some ethical standards in their practice, the same principles cannot always apply.

In a Huffington Post commentary from 2012, Tyler Mahoney writes that citizen journalists need to learn at least to be accurate in their writing. In the Nonprofit Quarterly, Rob Meiksins, also writes that because the internet is here to say, and citizen journalists are only becoming a larger group, there are some ethics that need to be followed.

Citizen journalists can’t be expected, like paid journalists, to follow ethical codes like SPJ’s or The New York Times Code of Ethics, but they need to follow some type of guidelines. For example, they should be expected, like other journalists, to report the accurate truth. There have been many instances in which citizen journalists just reblogged or posted something, without any system of fact checking.  If people only trust citizen journalists, and the citizen journalists are not trying their best to produce factual information, then the population is going to become a group of very gullible consumers.



The Importance of Transparency

In 2009, Joho the Blog published a post that discussed “transparency being the new objectivity” in the journalism world. This blog post goes almost completely against the thought that almost all journalists are ingrained with at the very beginning of their career, that objectivity is key in good reporting.

Joho has some good points though; how can one constantly be objective about everything? At some point, everyone has an opinion on something or other and to pretend that isn’t true is only deceiving the audience/readers/viewers. The American Press Institute published the article, “The lost meaning of objectivity.”

In the article, the institute writes the original meaning of objectivity in journalism was not to intend that journalists were free of bias but that journalists were  “to develop a consistent method of testing information – a transparent approach to evidence – precisely so that personal and cultural biases would not undermine the accuracy of their work.” The author continues that it is the practice that should be objective, not the person.

And this is kind of what Joho is saying in his blog post, although he provides a different solution. If a journalist provides the reader with the knowledge of the biases, their production can be viewed by the reader in whatever particular lens they choose to use with that knowledge (hypocritically or as whole-truth).

In the NPR Ethics Handbook, the principle  of transparency gets its own subsection, and one of the promises the outlet makes to viewers is to  “disclose any relationships, whether with partners or funders, that might appear to influence our coverage.” Expand on this idea and encourage journalists to disclose their political, social and economic affiliations, and behold a more transparent field of journalism. I believe this is what Joho meant in his blogpost, and to me, this makes the most sense.

Marcus Green’s Black Lives Matter Response

What a year ago could have been called a sensation sweeping the nation, has been exposed repeatedly in the media over the last few months and it is definitely more than a trend. What the public is seeing, is an institutionalized racism that is finally coming to light because of activists seeking equality.

In his article, “It Took Me Years to Believe That Black Lives Matter. Now Here’s What I Need From You,” Marcus Green discusses what it took for him to realize what the phrase and what the movement meant. The main focus in the speech was how racism in the country has stemmed from institutionalized racism and is fueled by the lack of acknowledgment.

One example of this could be in the recent events at the University of Missouri. Racial microaggressions and lack of response from the university’s administration led to outright protest from the students on the campus. These events are similar to those happening on college campuses around the country (Ithaca College and Yale University have both been in the news recently for alike controversies).

The media seems to be focusing on the administration’s lack of communication, but what is really lacking is their actual attempt at even approaching the issue at hand. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn’t change anything in the country except for the ability to sue for discrimination. The actual racism is so embedded inside of our country, that people don’t notice what is going on until is pointed out (like the statistics that opened Green’s eyes to the actual problems). And for the public to be able to face the actual facts, the media has to begin to report what is actually the problem.