All posts tagged: The Atlantic

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 …

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 …

Is tragedy becoming the new beat?

It’s difficult to accept, but we live in an era of senseless violence. Horrific events such as the Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech massacres, the Aurora movie theatre shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and, most recently, the mass shooting that killed 6 and injured even more in Isla Vista, Calif., are begging to bring to the forefront arguments involving gun control, mental illness and a slew of other issues. Journalists have always covered wars and mass deaths, but as of late, tragedy is being redefined. Tragedies have become less about where the violence occurred and in what context and more about what we can do—as progressive people—to stop this violence from happening. Massacres are becoming far too commonplace. When is enough, enough? Unfortunately, there are many who believe that these mass killings are indirect works of the media. People like this Thought Catalog blogger believe killers strive for attention and journalists give them the stage upon which to become a star. This is a cry from sects of the American public for journalists to remember their ethical standards in a time of tragedy. Journalists should continue …

A list of good journalism

Just like sports players have their ‘fantasy league’ teams, writers deserve their own list of industry MVPs. Sure, there are Pulitzer winners each year but some of the best work by the average Joes and Janes of journalism often goes unnoticed. The other day I stumbled upon an article: “Slightly more than 100 pieces of good journalism” by The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf. In the short introduction, I learn that Friedersdorf sends out a bi-weekly email containing great journalism recommendations for readers. (Sign up here). Then, each year, he compiles the pieces he’s highlighted into a “Best of Journalism Awards” list. This list has become my manifesto for good journalism. What I like most about Friedersdorf’s list is that he doesn’t interject his opinion. He provides a publication, article title, author and a short excerpt—leaving further exploration and judgement up to readers. The cool thing: No. 1 on the 2013 list? Center of the Universe, the piece published in Orange Coast Magazine that I recently blogged about. A small reassurance that I, too, have an eye for good journalism. It’s resources like this list of worthy journalism …

The Hunter S. Thompson in all of us

Before “Fear and Loathing,” “Hell’s Angels” and pioneering “Gonzo journalism,” Hunter S. Thompson was just a strapping young journalist committed to the craft. (See: Before Gonzo: Hunter S. Thompson’s Early, Underrated Journalism Career) As he is indicted into the 2014 Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame today, let us remember his humble beginnings. Beginnings that may seem familiar to many junior journalists today. Even while his career evolved into a mere caricature of his life—exuberant, exaggerated, eccentric—he began as an eager reporter. (Sadly, his charismatic character still tends to outshine his undeniable journalistic and literary abilities.) Atlantic writer, Brian Kevin, set out to chronicle some of Thompson’s earlier work to prove he was more traditional than many tend to believe. We learn that as an apprentice he traveled the Western Hemisphere churning out travel guides, straight news stories, book reviews and essays—anything he could get his hands on. Thompson positioned himself as a jack of all beats. During his time as a freelancer he experienced, absorbed, learned and practiced. What more could you ask of an aspiring journalist? And so, Kevin yearns …

The balancing act of digital journalism

Like many these days, I get my news online. Twitter and Facebook feeds provide me with bite-sized chunks of information that I can click, read (sometimes skim) and share or send to others. Thus, when an Atlantic article popped up in my Facebook feed today entitled “My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation,” I clicked and read. What I learned made me realize that the future of journalism (and the rest of the world) is in the hands of these students. Some who can’t even hold a conversation… Paul Barnwell, a high school teacher and author of the Atlantic article, said that through projects aiming to practice the skill of conversation he is “focused on sharpening students’ ability to move back and forth between the digital and real world.” Barnwell notices a lack of intellectual discussion, online and in person, among his students and the millennial generation as a whole. Think about this: his class is surely comprised of future lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, government officials and most importantly (for the sake of this blog) future journalists. …

Fraternities Under Fire

This piece by Caitlin Flanagan was recently published as The Atlantic‘s cover story: The Dark Power of Fraternities. Not only does this piece investigate the depths of fraternity life and its casualties but it delves into some of the discrepancies over college tuition, admissions and student loans. The investigative reporting in this piece is an impressive mixture of intensive research and first-hand observation along with a strong thread of narrative profiles. Notable words: “Articles like this one are a source of profound frustration to the fraternity industry, which believes itself deeply maligned by a malevolent press intent on describing the bad conduct of the few instead of the acceptable—sometimes exemplary—conduct of the many. But when healthy young college students are gravely injured or killed, it’s newsworthy. When there is a common denominator among hundreds of such injuries and deaths, one that exists across all kinds of campuses, from private to public, prestigious to obscure, then it is more than newsworthy: it begins to approach a national scandal.” “The thing to remember about fraternities is that when Kappa Alpha …