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Bias, Ethics, and the First Amendment

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Nicole Petraitis

on 28 September 2016

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Transcript of Bias, Ethics, and the First Amendment

Bias, Ethics, and the First Amendment
First Amendment to the Constitution
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
, or of the
; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble
, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
What is "Bias"?
How does bias appear in everyday interactions?
Types of Media Bias
Bias by
: leaving out one side of an issue
Libel (aka slander)
Definition: Publication of a false statement that injures someone's reputation. (Publication includes broadcasts and electronic journalism.)
Libel is a CIVIL complaint - you can't go to jail for it, BUT...
Punishment is normally a fine - as high as $20 million!!

Do Now: Journal Entry
September 22, 2016
The First Amendment to the US Constitution gives Americans the right to "free speech".

What constitutes "speech"?
What limitations, if any, should there be to this Consitutional right? Explain your answer.
Are students protected under First Amendment rights?
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
Basically, the Tinker rules says students retain First Amendment Rights in school unless school authorities can reasonably show that exercise of free student expression leads to
"substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities."
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)
The students lost the case.
The Supreme Court sided with the school district, stating that:
the newspaper was part of the curriculum,
a faculty member taught it during school hours,
students received grades and academic credit,
the faculty adviser exercised control over the publication and the principal had to review it.
Morse v. Frederick (2007)
Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986)
The Supreme Court ruled that the school district was within its right to prohibit the use of vulgar & offensive language.
The Supreme Court sided with the school officials for three reasons:
First, that "school speech" doctrine should apply because Frederick's speech occurred "at a school event"
Second, that the speech was "reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use"
Third, that a principal may legally restrict that speech—based on the three existing First Amendment school speech precedents
It's Complicated......
You Make the Call!
Working with a partner, complete the "You Make the Call" handout in your journals.

Be prepared to discuss your responses!
Good morning!
Do Now: Browse the newspaper by accessing the replica edition of your choice. Complete a reading log for any article you read.
(noun) prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.
(verb) cause to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something.
Bias by
selection of sources
: including more sources that support one side of an issue over another
Bias by
story selection
: pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with a certain agenda
Bias by
: pattern of placing stories in a newspaper to either highlight or downplay information
Bias by
: when a story has only one interpretation or includes a reporter's subjective comments
Do you think it is possible to keep bias out of reporting? Why or why not?
Is there a place for bias in journalism? If so, should the journalist make his or her bias clear?
Can we print that? Should we? Will we get in trouble if we do?
Breaking it down...
What we
to do.
Invasion of Privacy
What we
What we, as a publication,
are going
to do.
How do you prove it (and win)?
Must demonstrate a convincing combination of the following 5 points:
Spreading false reports about someone that injures their reputation
Must be able to prove that he or she is clearly the person being defamed.
The defamatory material must be shared by a 3rd party (not a private letter or message).
Must prove one of two things. Either:
the report was published without resonable care (Private)
Reckless disregard:
the reporter knew the information was false but published it anyway (Public)
How much money do you deserve if you win?
Compensatory Damages:
Compensate any real injury (loss of business, etc.)
Punitive Damages:
Above and beyond compensatory as a form of punishment (pain and suffering).
How do you avoid a libel (slander) lawsuit?
Check your sources. Beware the one-source story.
Understand criminal procedure and terminology.
Edit carefully. Possible consult a lawyer.
Keep your notes - this should be a universal policy.
Keep a log of your efforts to check the story.
Always seek comment, reaction, or rebuttal from whomever you're writing about, even if all you get is "no comment."
Realize that correctly quoting a source about the person you're writing about does not shift the blame away from you. Accuracy & truth are not the same thing.
Invasion of Privacy
A reporter's behavior while gathering the news (Misrepresentation, Trespassing, Surreptitious use of camera or recorder)
Public Disclosure:
Publication of accurate information regarded as private
Make sure it is newsworthy and accurate
False Light:
Portraying someone inaccurately to the point that they are embarrassed and a reasonable person would be offended.
Truth and consent is your best defense.
Commercial exploitation of an image or name (Most common in advertising)
Do not use names or photos without permission
NOT the same as vulgarity, profanity, or bad taste.
Difficult to define, but includes:
Whether a reasonable person applying community standards would find that the item appeals to sexual interest.
Whether the material depicts or describes in an obviously offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined as obscene under state law.
Whether the material lacks literary artistic, political, or scientific value.
Rarely occurs in HS journalism
Does NOT enjoy First Amendment protection (Bethel v. Fraser)
Focuses on the moral elements of journalistic behavior
Code of Ethics: "Society of Professional Journalists"
Three strong statements:
Seek the truth and report it as fully as possible
Act independently
Minimize harm
Other areas: Plagiarism, Fairness, Photojournalism
Ethics are guidelines, not standards
Personal choices between right and wrong
What's the Policy?
A policy is a statement that defines a publication.
Serves two purposes:
Tells the audience the ground rules for the publication, usually published on the editorial page.
Sets standards for staff operation, providing a framework for troubleshooting management problems and consistent guidance for the publishing process.
Good policy statements include:
Ownership - who owns the publication?
Basic purposes of the publication
Access - determination of content, including staff editorials, guest editorials, letters
Accuracy - how corrections are to be handled
Editorial board - its makeup and duties
Legal limitations on publication advertising acceptance
"Society of Professional Journalists:
Code of Ethics"
Read through the Code of Ethics with a partner for your assigned part.

Be prepared to explain to the class:
What does your code/behavior state?
How can a journalism ensure they abide by this code?
Why is this code important to the field of journalism?
Do The Right Thing!
Working with a partner, decide as a newspaper whether to cover the two stories that follow based on the six steps below:
1. Define the ethical problem.
2. Decide what facts you need to make an ethical decision.
3. Identify who is involved, what the relationship of you and your newspaper is to that person (or people) and what obligation that involves. This includes everyone affected by the decision to investigate, write, and publish the story.
4. Develop & evaluate other actions you might take, other than to write a story.
5. Think about the ethical questions raised and their likely consequences. Do these questions and consequences support or undermine any alternatives you devised?
6. Make your decision.
Story A: A teacher is arrested for shoplifting a bottle of perfume. A student is arrested for shoplifting an expensive sweater. Will you cover these events? How?

Story B: The principal's son has been caught cheating on a standardized test and is probably not the only student who did so. Will you cover the event? How?
Finish this sentence:
"A journalist must be . . . ."
View the video and complete the Ten Questions in your journals.
Wednesday's Example of Media Bias

Choose an article to read and respond to the questions at the end in your journals.

Include the date and title of article.

Be prepared to discuss your responses!
September 28, 2016
Do Now: In your journals:
Answer in your journals!
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