Validating a Source’s Tip

image The above screengrab from a Twitter account of a journalist has caused me to write this post. The tweet started the rumor that President Benigno Aquino collapsed hours before this tweet was posted and became the basis of subsequent news stories about the health of the president.

Hence the post is a “news” tweet from a journalist, it was taken seriously by other colleagues in the media and the general public. Is there anything wrong with the content of the tweet? Is it fair and balance? Yes, it has taken the side of Malacanang through Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Edwin Lacierda. But is it appropriate?

From my point-of-view as a former mass communication instructor and a journalist, the “news” tweet lacks prudence and further investigation. It was posted in haste to go ahead of competition or it was just a mere desire to share the information without validation. Getting the side of the affected party to balance the delivery of the news is not validation. A journalist has to investigate in order for his facts to be valid. When a second source tells you the information is not true, then go back to the first source who broke the “news” to you and re-validate. If the first source can prove the information he relayed to you is true, then ask again the second source for rebuttal. Go back to the affected party to explain their side–whether the incident will be totally denied or get an explanation of the alleged incident.

This “news” tweet may had been a product of manipulation of the media to create a scenario aimed at stirring public opinion. In my media ethics class before, i had emphasized on “sourcing” the need to: 1.) Ascertain the truth of the source’s assertion; and 2.) Determine if the source is not polluted and beneficial to the information. If you validly determined the correctness of the information and there is proof to it, then proceed to Step 2. If the source falls under the description stated in Step 2, care in handling the story is required in order for the journalist not to be dragged into the motives of the source. If in the first place you have proven the information is not true, a journalist may stop right there and NEVER publish the wrong information. Otherwise, the journalist has fallen to the bait of the interested party in spreading rumor.

The aforementioned tweet have stirred a rumor and unnecessarily drew attention from the public and the officials concerned whether the post was in good faith or not.

Radio News Scripts Format

Please find below the Radio News Script formats that are commonly and widely used in radio newsrooms around the world.

There are three (3) basic news script formats for radio: Script-Only, Script Clip, and Wrap/Voiceover.

The Script-Only is an equivalent to the News Item (N.I.) format or Read-Only format for TV news script. The whole script is to be read by the news anchor without any voice clips.

On the other hand, the Script-Clip has a voice clip any where in the script where it shall be appropriate.

The Wrap/Voiceover format includes the lead paragraph which shall introduce the voiceover report (canned or live) of the reporter.

TIPS:

  • Just like the TV news script, radio news scripts should also have its SLUG as shown at the upper left corner of the script .
    (title of the newscast) Afternoon News/March 1, 2005 (date)
    (title of the story)NightClub fire/script-only (script format)
    (writer/reporter) Kenneth
  • Use one-half crosswise paper for radio script to avoid unnecessary noise created by the paper when the anchor is changing scripts.
  • As a rule, voice clips should be introduced before playing and again after it is played.
KENNETH GALANO HAS THIS REPORT FROM CITY HALL…
  =====================================
  VOICE REPORT: NIGHTCLUB FIRE/KENNETH (1:00min)
  CUE IN: They’re angry at the government over…
        CUE OUT: The fire is one of Argentina’s worst disasters.
                        Kenneth Galano reporting from City Hall.
  =====================================
  KENNETH GALANO REPORTING FROM CITY HALL…
  • Cardinal Rule in Writing for Radio:
    IT’S SPOKEN (“Write for the ear, not for the eye”)
    USE CONTRACTION (to make it more conversational)
    USE SIMPLE WORDS ( say “bad breath” than “halitosis”)
    PUNCTUATE FOR SOUNDS ( ? ! / 🙂 )
    AVOID SOUND CLASHES (Wilma and William watched the window washers walk with Walter)
    PUT A PRONUNCIATION GUIDE (“noo-mo-nia” for Pneumonia)
    BREAKDOWN SCIENTIFIC/TECHNICAL TERMS (ex-tra-ter-ri-to-ria-li-ty)

That’s all folks.

Ethics in PhotoJournalism

The prezi below is one of the lessons about Photo Journalism in my Media Laws and Ethics class at the University of San Jose-Recoletos. Due to “student-demand” (clamor of some students), i’ve extracted this slide from my secret room in this blog and published it here.

I began by telling the class that since there was no Code of Ethics of the local press photographers in the Philippines, so i decided to dig on the National Press Photographers Association’s (in the USA) Code of Ethics (Slides 1 – 5).

Next slide shows the images from the short-film “One Hundredth of a Second” which i made a film-showing and discussion with the class.

I zoomed in to the third image at far left in Slide 7 showing a 1994 Pulitzer Prize winner by South African photojournalist Kevin Carter (13 September 1960 – 27 July 1994). Carter photographed a starving toddler in Sudan in 1993 while the latter was crawling to reach a feeding center. The picture appeared like Carter was waiting for the vulture to prey on the dying toddler. Carter was heavily criticized for taking pictures and didn’t extended a helping hand to the child. He explained that it was his call of duty to document the scene. He had previous instructions not to touch the kid because of transmitting disease. Though, he revealed he shoo away the vulture after waiting for 20 minutes. He was haunted by the girl’s fate amid criticism against him. He committed suicide at the age of 33, three months after winning the Pulitzer for Feature Photography.

I asked the class without explaining the info above the following questions:

  • Take the shot or help the girl?
  • Ethical or not?
  • Conscience or profession

Some contended that photographers should apply the “Shoot first, edit later” rule to decide what pictures are appropriate for publication. “Edit later” doesn’t mean altering the image but merely choosing which is right for publication. Deletion in photojournalism is considered manipulation.

In cases like Kevin Carter’s, some opined that is already the personal decision of each and every photojournalist. However, Paul Martin Lester, professor of communication at the California State University has recommended “Six Ethical Philosophies” to guide photojournalists when taking shots. Please continue reading each philosophy along with the slides. 🙂

Common Broadcast Terms

It’s been a while i am not in a classroom. I miss the noisy class. I miss presenting what i had invested much time just to provide good insights to the class. It’s my power point presentations and Prezi presentations that are found in a “secret” place on this blog. I had provided passwords to my students to get access to that secret place.

Here’s one of my presentations that is worth sharing to all students who are interested in the broadcast industry. It’s the Common Broadcast Terms that you can hear from broadcasters and technicians in TV and Radio stations. I compiled it from my own experience in the broadcast industry and from a US-published handbook on TV Production.