The Faceless Face

Anonymous sources are risky. On one hand anonymous figures can damage a journalistic outlet’s reputation. On another hand anonymous sources are the lifeline of a story. So what does a reporter do if he needs to disseminate information but the only way to do so is through an anonymous source?

Brennan Dubose, an aspiring broadcast journalist and Columbia University Communications graduate student, has had his share of experiences where he was faced with the choice of using an anonymous source or not. “There had been a couple of instances where I have had a source that wanted to speak freely on a topic but did not want their identities revealed. For video footage I just recorded and presented things other than the subject. If the subject were to speak I would only use the voice in the video.”

This method is used a lot in the media today. If not in the same manner as Dubose mentions there are also other methods of documenting an anonymous figure. Some news outlets actually broadcast a video showing the unnamed from behind, with a blurred face, or only parts of the body, along with the voice. In other cases another method is to manipulate the subject’s voice along with blurring his or hers image.  Some stories are so exclusive that an outlet sees it as more advantageous to go with an anonymous source.

An American Journalism Review article reported on an Ohio University Journalism professor that conducted a survey amongst a number of editors. The results found that most of the editors “said competition forced them to use unnamed sources”.

The article goes on to say that “Defenders of confidential sources say they bring to light important stories that otherwise would never surface. If used carefully, they say, unnamed sources are a valuable tool.” As Dubose informs “sometimes its better to just get the story; nameless source or not. Then just go extra hard to support that information and get more than enough information from the source so that you have a way to cover your behind should your superiors look to you with concern.”

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‘Blogging: Is It Progressing Journalism Or Degrading It?

A blog, by definition, according to Dictionary.com, is “a web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other web sites”.  This entity has evolved from simple and innocent social interactions into a major information hub.  The accessibility of blogging is a major advancement for the journalism world, but the fact that there is no limit to who may practice brings about a detrimental factor.

            Kera Simpson, a 22 year-old working mother of two, a confessed “blog-feign”, chooses to collect her entertainment news from random blogs. The issue that persists is that many of these alleged reliable blogs that she frequents often supply information that is poorly researched, and low in truth.

“A lot of the information I get from certain blogs ends up being false. Even though they may be written with journalistic style, like having articles embedded, sometimes those articles are from other blogs that are not credible.”

But these are the very sites that many people frequent and choose as a news source. According to the Are Bloggers Journalists? article(http://blog.journalistics.com/2010/are-bloggers-journalists/), “audience size is growing for many, and collectively bloggers have a reach equal to or greater than traditional media across many categories.”

“For me, I think I learned my lesson because a lot of the blogs that I read are written by people who just have an interest in the topics. They are just writing freely, and including a lot of opinions. From now on I’ll stick to magazine sites or sites of official writers.”

Many of the bloggers Simpson described are probably unaware of the fact that even though they may feel they are simply rewriting something they read or that they are only expressing their opinions, when one has an audience and they are spreading libelous information, that individual can be sued. According to a New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/12/11/are-all-bloggers-journalists) piece, they “can’t claim the protections afforded to journalists” unless they are affiliated with a “newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system.”

The nature of blogging isn’t the source of controversy on whether it is to be considered real journalism or not. The issue is the practitioners of blogging and the way they choose to appropriate their voices.

 

The Preservation of the Photographer’s Rights

   The capturing and usage of photos and images has become a very controversial topic in both the media and entertainment. Many figures in these industries have had their rights violated due to the release of images or photos that have compromised their images. Although there are now many legalities and stipulations for photographers, there are great advantages behind the work of a photographer, and the photographer’s rights deserve to be protected.

   Justin Dixon, a licensed security guard, is a fan of the spontaneous photographer-those that capture things through phones & Ipads, that happen by chance at a random venue. “As a security guard I’ve had to break up a lot of fights. Sometimes people have accused me of harassing them and other times there have been people who claim the fights ensued because of bullying. Luckily, I deal with a lot of teenagers so when these altercations happen, kids tend to use their phones to tape the situation.”

   In the article ‘The Photographer’s Right’, the author makes a point that many people are probably unaware of. “Members of the public have a very limited scope of privacy rights when they are in public places. Basically, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, rest- rooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes.”

   Dixon elaborated on this fact as well. He explains that some of his co-workers, when dealing with physical altercations on the job, ask people passing the situation to put their phones away and that they cannot record what is going on or their device will be confiscated. “That’s mostly because those guards are doing something they have no business doing and they don’t want to get caught.” But to ask those individuals to put their devices away or have them confiscated is a breach on their rights.

   Andrew Kantor, a writer for USA Today, wrote an article on photography rights, and he mentions a situation about a Penn State student that was taken into custody for allegedly “obstructing an investigation, by taking pictures of the cops while standing on a public street.”

   Looking back on so many videos that have gone viral over the past few years many of them show unnecessary excessive force from police officers and even violent altercations and disasters. Had it not been for the acts of spontaneous photographers there would be a lot more injustices that are just overlooked because of lack of proof.  Photojournalism seeks to do the same thing as broadcast and print; expose the truth. For that reason photographers, even amateurs, need to maintain certain protection and rights.