Author: Tanza Loudenback

Back to basics: Thoughts on the UVA/Rolling Stone scandal

It’s been a while. Apparently taking three classes, working as a senior reporter for the school paper, pursuing an entrepreneurial project, applying to jobs and still trying to enjoy my last semester of college is one way to neglect a blog. I haven’t posted since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January but I’m back—with quite a lot to say. An extremely cringeworthy journalism failure has just happened and I can’t help but wonder how one of the most notable culture and music publications will recover. If you’re a journalist, a writer, a college student, a sexual assault survivor, a professor, a college administrator, a politician—basically any participating member of society—you’ve probably heard about the epic misstep made by Rolling Stone’s editorial team in the reporting of a University of Virginia campus rape (the article has since been retracted). “A Rape on Campus” was published in November 2014 and within weeks major news outlets like The Washington Post were heavily and publicly questioning the validity of Rolling Stone’s reporting. It was obvious not all characters in the story were equally represented. The presence of pseudonyms …

The price of free expression

This week I made a short visit to San Francisco. I left full (thanks to all the oysters, bread bowls and Ghirardelli chocolates), tired and with a copy of the SF Chronicle in hand. On my plane ride back to Southern California, I read Thursday’s paper cover to cover. One of the opinion pieces addressing the Charlie Hebdo attacks that took place the day before drew me in. The writer mentions that Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper, had been warned by the government prior to both the recent attack and another of similar caliber in 2011 that some of their content was grounds for widespread criticism. Still, the cartoonists and journalists kept on feverishly. Most of their satires were directed at the perils of Islam. It’s no secret that Charlie Hebdo seriously antagonized the victims of their satire. In fact, “A recent cartoon depicted an extremist fighter bemoaning the ‘still no attacks in France’ and suggesting such a New Year’s resolution would be carried out by the end of January.” — published just days before the January 7 shooting that killed 12 …

The best hyperlocal sites on the web

*This post is an assignment for my “Journalism in a free society” course. This week’s assignment calls for a compare and contrast of my choice of three news organization startups (I used this list from the Columbia Journalism Review to choose which three to analyze). My focus here is on hyperlocal sites as I continue industry research for my own entrepreneurial news startup. This non-profit news organization caught my attention because of its remarkable roots. Founded by three soon-to-be college graduates in 2005, it was launched under the name The Common Language Project. The trio saw a need for a daily news website that provided an outlet for the high number of immigrants populating Seattle, Washington (about one-fourth of Seattleites are foreign born). A dynamic community of students, foodies, travelers, immigrants, healthcare workers and artists make up the voices behind this news startup. The Seattle Globalist has offices at the University of Washington where it employs a staff of nine writers and editors—most of whom are recipients of several prestigious journalism and media awards. The content: In short, their coverage aims to …

On the legacy of Ben Bradlee

The journalism world lost a revered editor last week. Ben Bradlee was executive editor of The Washington Post for 26 years. He oversaw the Pulitzer-prize winning Watergate coverage by Woodward and Bernstein. He led the controversial publishing of the Pentagon papers. He transformed a daily newspaper into one of the most vital tools of democracy in this country. There’s nothing I can be more grateful for as an aspiring journalist than to have an idol like Bradlee. He established what it means to be a journalist: he sought the truth and was determined to report it. Yesterday, my journalism class participated in a phone call with Jules Witcover, a famed ‘Boys on the Bus’ journalist who worked under Bradlee at the Post for about four years and called him a friend for many, many more. Witcover said Bradlee was “the greatest of all newspaper editors I’ve encountered in 65 years in the business.” What others said… Post columnist, Eugene Robinson: “He made you understand that journalism was not a career but a mission. He made you feel that how well you did your job was …

Exploring gender and the media: why we need equality

*This post is an assignment for my “Journalism in a free society” course to discuss gender and the media in 2014. Keep in mind this is a surface exploration of news media’s current practices regarding gender roles and representation in the media. There’s so much to analyze here, but I have time to address only a few topical issues… Our class discussion of gender representation in the media and in newsrooms comes at a prime time. Women are fighting vigorously on behalf of women’s rights on social, economic and political fronts. And in some cases, media coverage is the only leverage they have. The #HeForShe campaign, pioneered by Emma Watson, U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, is this month’s heartiest example of a push for gender equality. Watson’s speech, given earlier this week to a group of U.N. members, introduced the new campaign using a hashtag and urging supporters to take action online. The campaign, which asks males to commit to gender equality, was launched through viral media attention. The video of Watson’s speech has over 4.4 million views on YouTube. News media from The Washington …

A new era of new journalism

*This post is an assignment for my “Journalism in a free society” course to describe what my definition of journalism is today. “This is the most exciting time ever to be a journalist — if you are not in search of the past.” –Hodding Carter III As a fourth year journalism student, I’m fond of the phrase “going digital.” In the last 10 years, news companies and independent publications have made the great leap to online platforms, in some cases canceling out their print editions entirely (i.e. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer) to focus on a new frontier. A frontier that often favors short video clips, gasp-worthy headlines and loads—and loads—of quick, accessible content. When the non-partisan American press was birthed at the turn of the 20th century, journalists fought for a voice that would educate and inform the public in an objective, timely and democratic manner. Each time society has unveiled a new news medium (the telegraph in the mid 1800s, radio in the 1920s, TV in the 1950s) it became a distraction, throwing consumers off course, challenging what they knew to be true of …

This is why we fact check

“If your mother says she loves you…check it out.” A cardinal rule in journalism. But, the importance of this rule is increasingly lost among local, national and even international media. In the last few years, newsrooms have lost funding and cut jobs–and fact checkers are typically the first to go. If history is any indication, sustaining a reputable, ethically responsible publication requires fact checking at the most basic level. Famous incidents where fact checking was thrown by the wayside (i.e. Stephen Glass and Janet Cooke) have disrupted lives and disgusted readers. I spent the majority of my summer working as a fact checker for Orange Coast Magazine. As I called and emailed sources, scoured the Internet and researched records to check everything from dates to names to the cross streets of a statue, I realized I was helping to maintain the journalistic integrity of Orange Coast Magazine. And that’s important. The Society of Professional Journalists has made it clear that the duty of journalists is to provide information in “an accurate, comprehensive, timely, and understandable manner.” The group states one …

Is native advertising responsible journalism?

Branded content. Native advertising. Call it what you will but no matter what you call it, big time news publications are giving it a go in the digital world, and they don’t seem to be stopping any time soon. I was asked to watch the comic clip below for my journalism class last week from ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ and was surprised even by my own reaction. Two summers ago, I worked for a website design and marketing company that specialized in branded content and online marketing strategies. While at the company, I was generally in awe of the creative genius that they, and other advertising and marketing companies, had set forth creating branded content and marketing campaigns for clients.  Now, as a journalism student who reads the news for homework, I’m increasingly skeptical of native advertising. As a student and consumer who’s after genuine, truthful journalism, native ads feel like trickery to me. I understand that advertisers are exercising their creative aptitude, but what good is it doing to impose on a company’s editorial content and journalistic integrity …

The ethics of tragedy: MH17 plane crash

Yet another catastrophic airplane crash has killed 298 Dutch, Malaysian, Indonesian, Australian, British, German, Belgian, Filipino, Canadian and New Zealand [kiwi] passengers onboard a Malaysia Airlines flight that came down Thursday morning on the border of Ukraine and Russia. The crash site, a mere 36 hours after the incident, is already a familiar one as reporters and news crews use it as anchor images for their developing stories. One of these images, used by The New York Times shortly after the news broke, was of a young woman’s corpse at the crash site. It has since been removed. Yesterday, The Atlantic promptly addressed the issue, stating: “…when it comes to ethics—when it comes to the question of what readers actually need to know and see about unfolding tragedies. The bomb, exploding? The corpse, mutilated? The people falling from the towers? There is a fine line, always, between journalism and sensationalism. And the higher the speed, in general, the higher the stakes.” As journalists, we have a responsibility to report for the public good. Might we make it mandatory to consider—in crises …

NY Times: In defense of reporting abroad

This video is a model of superb investigative journalism by Nicholas Kristof and his team. They’re reporting on the devastating reality of 21st-century Muslim concentration camps in Myanmar and this video compilation of what’s going on there both tugs at the heartstrings and fires up the mind. Here is a column by Kristof explaining why he continually chooses to travel to and report in exotic, developing lands like Myanmar—and why he encourages American youth to do the same. His principal reasoning: “From afar, it’s often easier to see our own privilege — and responsibilities … it’s also shortsighted to insist that we solve all of our own problems before beginning to address those abroad.”