Posts Tagged ‘ journalism ethics ’

Journalism and women: much more to be said and done

My last post, on women’s progress in newsrooms (far below the proportion of women in journalism programs, thinnest at the top, especially at newspapers), left me unsatisfied. I wanted to say so much more. I wanted to talk about the sometimes outrageous treatment of women journalists and women news sources by some male journalists and the lack of outrage this treatment receives. (Compare this with the outrage over expressions of racial stereotyping. Both are wrong, of course. But when was the last time society called out Chris Matthews for his piggishness? Check out the video linked above for some primo examples of lascivious oink.) I wanted to learn more about, and discuss, organizations that push for more accurate and comprehensive portrayals of women in news stories. And I wanted to continue the conversation about how journalism professors can help prepare students for the obstacles they, or people they care about, may face in the industry.

The Women’s Media Center video linked above and here does a fine job of illustrating the lingering obsession with looks and charm among male talking heads (seemingly everywhere) and female talking heads (largely on Fox, at least as portrayed in the video). Accomplished women, young and old, sources and journalists alike, are reduced to a tone of voice, a bit of cleavage, a hairstyle. It’s infuriating. What to do? Write letters, send emails or let the Women’s Media Center do the job for you by filling out this form when you see, hear or read reductive portrayals of women that disregard their full humanity – like this absurdity from New York City’s WCBS-TV, which I found on the media center’s terrific website. Continue reading


Newsday coverage of Nassau County referendum was unbalanced

Nassau County residents’ resounding defeat of the proposed $400 million bond issue to build a new Nassau Coliseum was a clear indication of popular sentiment. Eighteen of 19 voting districts turned down the idea. Countywide, the vote was 57 percent against, 43 percent in favor.

And this despite Newsday’s best efforts to promote the deal. In the 10 days before the vote, Newsday published five staff-written stories that were solidly in favor of taxpayer support for the new arena and a nearby minor-league ballpark. Opposition views were mentioned in passing—or not at all.

  • July 21: “Labor unions step up push for Coliseum.” The story focused on the 3,000 jobs the development was supposed to create but didn’t mention opponents’ arguments that the number was inflated.
  • July 23: “Wang says new Coliseum key to LI growth.” This two-page spread reported on an interview at Newsday with Charles Wang, the billionaire owner of the Islanders hockey team. The Islanders’ lease of the existing Coliseum expires in 2015, and Wang had threatened to move the team if the referendum was defeated. The story focuses on Wang’s arguments for the deal. Opposing arguments are mentioned once – in the 27th paragraph.
  • July 26: “Wang: Privately funding Coliseum unlikely.” The story begins flatly, “New York Islanders owner Charles Wang said last night that there was no alternative to borrowing funds to build a new Nassau Coliseum.” The next 12 paragraphs described Wang’s address to “a friendly crowd of business owners and advocates.” At the end: three paragraphs quoting from an interview on WFAN with the county’s Democratic Committee chairman, who opposed public financing for an arena.
  • July 27: “Islanders ask fans to support referendum.” The paper’s coverage of a rally attended by “more than a thousand Islanders fans”—no source was given for that estimate—made no mention of opposition. Continue reading

The News Corp. scandal reflects the human condition

Watching the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal unfold makes me both happy and sad.

My first response was satisfaction. Rupert Murdoch’s relentless drive to dominate the news industry on three continents, his well-documented ethical compromises in pursuit of his corporate goals, his creation of the disingenuous and destructive Fox News Channel: Watching the leader of this ethically corrupt enterprise being called to account, at last, gives me grim pleasure.

But after that satisfaction came sadness. Murdoch’s modus operandi epitomizes the greed, selfishness and sense of entitlement that underlies 21st-century global culture. It’s the same me-first focus that led to the 2008 financial crisis and has since blocked any real reforms, the same want-it-all worldview that has widened the chasm between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of society over the past 30 years, the same screw-your-neighbor ethos that ends in suburban sprawl.

The refusal of both Rupert and his son James to take responsibility for the company’s wrongdoing is achingly reminiscent of George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s refusals to stand behind their aides and take responsibility for the errors and falsehoods that led the invasion of Iraq.

What really makes me gloomy is knowing that selfishness, greed and self-preservation are fundamental elements of the human condition, elements that more often than not triumph over grace and generosity. Greed ain’t one of the seven deadly sins for nothin’. Continue reading

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