The Hardest Things About Journalism: No. 5

By Andrew Gibson

Please know that this post is a time capsule.

I’ve only completed one year of college and just one media internship at KCNC-TV in Denver.

In fact, I haven’t even declared an emphasis at the Missouri School of Journalism yet.

That makes me about as much a journalism expert as I am a Kansas Jayhawks fan.

My reason for writing this post is so I can look back 10 or 15 years from now and see how my reporting strengths and weaknesses have changed. I’ll probably have no trouble with Associated Press style by the time I graduate from the Missouri School of Journalism, but right now it’s somewhat overwhelming.

So, if it sounds like I’m pretending to be a know-it-all, please realize that’s not my intention.

I’m only 19.

Without further ado, here’s the first post of my series “The Five Hardest Things About Journalism.”

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Offline success in the online age

Image Courtesy of ChocoNancy1 on Flickr

By Nicole Garner

It’s become a common practice for journalists to tweet from the field, find sources through social media and engage with audiences through their online profiles. But what happens when you work for a media outlet that doesn’t have a social media presence?

This summer, I interned at WEIU TV, a news station in Charleston, Illinois, which didn’t jump on the social media bandwagon until after I arrived. The news director hadn’t used any form of social media before and was hesitant to start Twitter and Facebook pages for the station (for reasons unknown).

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If It’s Allowed On TV, Is It Allowed Online?

By Andrew Gibson

Have you ever seen the episode of “Family Guy” in which Peter Griffin goes on a musical rant about the Federal Communications Commission supposedly ruins all of his fun? The lovable cartoon dad does his best Ethel Merman impression and sings about how the FCC ruins his fun by censoring crude humor on TV. He goes so far in the episode as to start his own “scandalous” network that challenges FCC regulations. It’s hilarious, really.

But in matters like this, it takes a gavel and dark robe, not a song, to make serious changes. In 1978, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation that the FCC could ban indecent material from broadcast airwaves between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The commission established this “safe-harbor” period in response to an angry father who wrote the commission after hearing George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” monologue on the radio while driving with his young son. According to the decision, TV and radio are “pervasive” enough to reach children, so the FCC has grounds to ban indecent content during hours when they’d normally be awake.

Fast forward 33 years. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could redefine how much authority the FCC has over TV and radio airwaves. Soon to be in question is whether the commission can punish broadcasters the first time they air a fleeting expletive — which is an unscripted, indecent word spoken once — on TV or radio. Below is a screen shot from a New York Times article about the case, called FCC v. Fox Television Stations:

The Supreme Court ruled the FCC could punish broadcasters for airing a single fleeting expletive when it heard this same case in 2009. But the following year, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. Here’s a screen shot from a Los Angeles Times story about its decision:

Next on the Supreme Court’s agenda, then, is an appeal by the FCC, which will try to prove its policy is not “unconstitutionally vague” and that it still protects viewers from indecency during safe-harbor hours.

If you’re like me, this is probably confusing. So, let’s take another route: rewind to 1978, and then fast forward again to 2011. But this time, think about your computer monitor, not your TV screen. While the Supreme Court prepares to decide what should be allowed on TV and the radio, here’s a look at what is allowed online.

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Lessons from journalism on the big screen

Credit: E Vön Zita

By Andrew Gibson

Movies are meant to entertain. Journalism’s duty is to inform. So, when you look to Hollywood for an accurate portrayal of a newsroom, you should take it with a grain of salt.

But the best journalism films move beyond shallow thrills and sensationalist scandals to underscore the truths of the industry.

Here’s what you can learn from three of the best flicks in the genre (spoiler alert).

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The left and right of news sites

By Andrew Gibson

The debate will never end.

Many say mainstream media are liberal. CNN faced criticism for being too friendly to now-President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign.

But others fire back, saying the media lean right. Watch Fox News, they say.

The Washington Post has a completely different take on this dispute. It goes like this: Why let people speculate?

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Welcome to the age of #TfN

By Addison Walton

It’s been quite the last few weeks for social media. First, Facebook+Journalists has become a great way for journalists to connect on the world’s leading social networking site. Then Google launched Google+ into its beta phase and people around the world are “hanging out” and learning of the benefits of this new tool.

Of course, Twitter got in on the action as well. It has developed tools and guides to make newsrooms run more smoothly and information flow more accurately. It’s called Twitter for Newsrooms or #TfN for short.

Designed to unite journalists across multiple platforms, #TfN has a very simple yet effective mission statement. “Twitter and #TfN can be a common ground — and we know Twitter is a tool all journalists can use to find sources faster, tell stories better, and build a bigger audience for their work.”

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Free journalism training through… Facebook?

By Andrew Gibson

Twitter has been in the news a lot lately.

When Keith Urbahn tweeted the first news about Osama bin Laden’s death, “over 300 reactions to the original post were spreading through the network” within two minutes, according to SocialFlow.

And Weinergate wouldn’t even have existed without Twitter.

So, what about Facebook?

Perhaps that’s a question best saved for Vadim Lavrusik. Facebook hired the Columbia University journalism professor and former Mashable community manager to lead its journalists program, of which the“Facebook + Journalists” page is an integral part.

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