Wednesday, February 25, 2009

D is for Deliberate Decisions

This week’s blog is parlay to an assignment concerning deliberate decision making. These decisions must be in the sentences I write and in a group of controversial photos I would choose to run if I were an editor.

Thank goodness I just had an ethics course last summer at MSU and I would consider myself to be an ethical person. And so on to the photos. The thing about controversial photos is that one must consider who will be at the “breakfast table” in the morning. It’s all about audience.

Photo series - The suicide of Pennsylvania treasurer R. Budd Dwyer: I would chose to run the first photo and potentially the second, but the third and fourth are far too graphic to run in the paper. The fourth photo is completely unacceptable to be printed. The copy cat phenomenon is very real and when photos/stories about suicide are published, the suicide rate goes up, which is so sad. I think, ultimately, I would not run any of the photos and just a mug of Dwyer because I think the story could be told just as well.

Below are the questions asked of us and my answers follow:

Which of these photos, if any, would you publish? Why or why not? The only photo I would publish would be the boy grieving over his dog. The photo is not gory and the dog’s face is not seen.

What criteria do you use to make a decision? The message conveyed is one to pet owners and drivers alike, to be more careful. Unlike the other photos this one does not convey graphic images and human death.

Under what circumstances would you run the photos? I would run the photo small on the page so that it would still send a message, but not use this horrible accident to sell newspapers.

Consider whether the event happened locally. Does where or how you play the photo have any
bearing on your decision? If this happened locally many readers would probably recognize the boy and his dog, which would help to make the story have more impact. On the other hand, they would probably know the person who killed the dog as well, which could cause undue hostility, if the event was an accident.

Specify one photo that made you wrestle with your decision the most and talk about the many issues you wrestled with the most on making that decision. I did have a hard time choosing to publish this photo, because I don’t think the boy’s grief should be publicized.

I had a difficult time deciding about the Mardi Gras photo as well. I was so disgusted by the event and though the women’s face was obscured seeing her almost naked body being groped by so many men was so demeaning. I don’t think she should face further harassment by having this photo of her published. However, the men should be brought to justice for this horrible act. This photo sickens me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

C is for Column Corrections

This entry has to do with editing of course and it is a little story about me as well. One of my new adventures has been into the world of writing columns. Though I only have a few to my credit, I was so excited to see the first one in print. I remember digitally leafing through the paper until I found my column and there were a couple of sentences after what I had written that told my job history at the paper, my current location and my hometown. Well, almost…

Interestingly enough, my column answered all of these questions, well at least the last two. I am not sure who wrote it, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the paper was nice enough to give me a shot at a column and I should not point out mistakes! Right? Wrong. Well, being from a small town helps, where everybody knows your name and subsequently where you’re from even if the paper says differently.

As for the mistakes, the first was my hometown, which was said to be New Era instead of Shelby. And though they are within four miles of each other, kind of like that pesky r and f key on the keyboard of America, it is still a mistake. The second said that “she is obtaining my degree”. I think that may have been a cut and paste from the piece, where the “I” was changed to “she” but not the “my” to “her.”

And just because the paper made a mistake, doesn’t mean I love it any less. Hey we’re all human here folks, and if you’re not, keep an eye out for the Enquirer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

B is for Believable Blunders

B is also for the Fresno Bee this week, which we discussed in our editing lecture. As human nature goes, except for in the world of editing and potentially politics and law, we generally like to trust our neighbor. We fill our phone conversations and e-mail inboxes with the little stories that make-up our lives. Yet, sometimes that trust is taken too far and we are hoodwinked, thrown into the crossfire of pranksters and shown to be gullible lambs. This is especially catastrophic, though sometimes quite humorous, in the world of journalism.

Case in point, the Fresno Bee, who had the wool, or should I say the gills, pulled over their eyes. A fish story they chose to run, a fish story two old ladies spun, and in the end the Bee’s attempt for truth was undone. Oh my puns have just begun. Okay I’ll stop, but wasn’t that fun?

Speaking of fun, the women told a Bee reporter that their story involved a goldfish named Charley, who was owned by one of the women and found by the other. The “finder” placed an ad in the Bee that can be read here on The story seemed too good to be true, thinking about how fragile goldfish can be, but the Bee ran it. The next day they revealed it was a hoax; a joke planned by the women to have a bit of fun. Needless to say the Bee had one in its bonnet, but seemed to run the correction in the spirit of good fun.

Journalists have a reputation to uphold, and cannot sink down to the level of those pesky tabloid reporters who hang out with Batboy, a multitude of talking cats and the alien ambassador to Mars. Sadly all of this unbelief makes it difficult for readers and journalists to tell the strange but true in the face of so much of the strange and false.

Here is a site with some of the biggest journalism hoaxes of all time, it’s a bit lengthy, but entertaining…hmmm…what does that say about us?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A is for AP Accidents

Welcome to my first blog post. In this new adventure in editing, I will attempt to tie-in editing mistakes in the news with my new-found editing knowledge. And now after reading that last sentence, I will attempt to not use the word editing more than once in sentence.

Okay, so last week I was checking the Associated Press for news updates to see what was going on in the world. A story that caught my eye, sadly, detailed a man in Los Angeles who killed his entire family and then himself. The reporter stated that the man and his wife had just lost their jobs and did not want anyone to take care of their children. It is so heartbreaking to see those in desperation choose death instead of trying to face their problems. I am not being critical at all, because I have no idea what kind of pain that they must have been feeling. I just wish that things like this never happen.

As I was reading, the story went on to note other similar occurrences. My sadness continued as I read each case, until I came to the third paragraph from the end. Another murder, but in this case it was about a man's "ex-wire" and her eight relatives. Now I can't be 100 percent certain, but I believe the writer meant to say "ex-wife." Now the f and the r are very close to each other on the keyboard, and wire is a word and correctly spelled, but a quick re-read might have picked this up. I know our minds are wonderful things and they interpret many words even when misspelled, or spelled correctly, but last time I checked, marrying a wire was not legal in any state ... and I know California is pretty liberal. Please note that my cynicism is only for the editing error and not at all towards the horrific nature of the article. The article is still uncorrected as you can see by the link. also has a piece where the AP missed the mark on a story about a man who found out he had a brain tumor. The story first ran stating that he found out "he had a brain." Yes, the omission is an accident, but the sad nature of the story is lost.

Dear AP,

We look up to you. We buy your books and follow your style.

Thank you for letting us know you are human after all.


Meanwhile I'll leave you with a thought. Were you that kid in school who looked for copy errors in your textbooks for extra credit? If so, I think we'll have a fun trip from A to Z, if not, it's never too late to join the editing debate. :o)