FINAL EXAM–JOURNALISM —SPRING 2018
You should answer the five essay questions as thoroughly as you can and email your answers to me before by or before 1p.m. on Thursday May 24. Do not copy the questions. I know what they are. Just number your answers.
- “Fake news” is a term that is being bandied about a lot these days. We’ll define it as
false information that’s disseminated under the guise of news reporting, usually to influence political views, or as a joke.While President Donald Trump frequently accuses the news media of disseminating fake news, he has told many falsehoods publicly himself. They include the following:
“We are the highest taxed nation in the world.” (At least 12 other nations tax citizens at a higher rate)
“Between 3 million and 5 million illegal voters caused me to lose the popular vote.” (There is no evidence of significant voter fraud)
“The murder rate is our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” (It was higher in the 80s and 90s)
“The previous administration enacted an open-door policy to illegal migrants from Central America. “Welcome in. Come in, please, please.” (President Obama deported millions of illegal immigrants, many of them from Central America)
Should newspapers, online news sites and television outlets report these statements, given that they are untrue, and if they do are they guilty of disseminating fake news?
- In “The Journalism and the Murderer” Janet Malcolm writes about “the canker that lies at the heart of the rose of journalism.” She concludes that to get the information they need to tell their stories, journalists may have to resort to deception and manipulation of their subjects. This seems to trouble Malcolm a lot. Does it trouble you? Feel free to discuss the relationship between writer Joseph McGinniss and Jeffrey MacDonald that Malcolm describes in the book and any other deception cases we discussed in class.
- You are a reporter for the New York Eagle, a tabloid known for its colorful and provocative front-page photographs. You are writing a story about a Brooklyn woman whose husband has been arrested and charged with sexually molesting her 12-year-old daughter. The woman allows you to come to her home. In her living room she talks to you frankly about the sexual abuse that she says has occurred and about the impact it has had on her and her daughter. The daughter also talks to you, providing details of the sexual abuse she has endured. You have a photographer with you, and the mother allows you to take photographs of her and the daughter sitting on the sofa, where the daughter’s face is fully visible and identifiable. He also takes photos of the daughter in profile, where you can see the general outlines of her body and face, but where her face is in the shadows and is not identifiable.
When you go back to the office, you learn that your editor plans to make this the next day’s lead story and to run a photograph on the front page of the paper. She shows you the photographs the photographer has taken and asks your advice about which photograph she should use. What would you advise her to do and why?
- You are a reporter for The Daily Deal, an online news site, and a friend of yours, who works in the travel industry, gives your name to a travel agent who is working with the government of South Africa to promote American tourism in that country. As a result, you are invited to take part in an all expense paid weeklong press junket to South Africa. Your travel expenses, hotel, food costs and travel within the country will be covered by the South African government and the travel industry. The idea is to expose American journalists to the delights of South Africa. But you will not be obligated to write anything about your trip unless you choose to. You’ve been dying to visit post-apartheid South Africa, and the timing of the trip fits your vacation schedule. You could easily sign up for the trip without mentioning it to your editors at the newspaper. They need never know that it was given to you free, and it would be your choice whether to offer a travel piece to the paper (for which you would get paid several hundred dollars by the paper). Do you go on the trip or not? Explain.
- The final element of journalism listed in “The Elements of Journalism” says that citizens, like journalists, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news. In a time when the Internet has opened numerous possibilities for uncovering, reporting, sharing and commenting on the news—in addition to the information that is made available through traditional news sources such as newspapers, what responsibilities do you as a citizen have, if any, for following the news, contributing to the coverage of the news, and critiquing the news?