Oconee County Observations

The Writer
The writer of the blogger on Oconee County Observations is Dr. Lee Becker. His profile that he posted on the site shows that he holds a Ph.D in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although his first degree was in journalism, he is not a professional journalist. He says that he enjoys blogging. As a communication and journalism major, he enjoys writing and he blogs for this site because according to him, blogging “is one of my hobbies” (2015).
Purpose of Site
The Oconee County Observation site is a Special Interest site that can be accessed by logging on to http://www.oconeecountyobservations.org. The purpose of this site is clearly written on the top of the page, right after their name on the website. Their purpose is stated as “news and comments about developments in Oconee County, Georgia.” They report news in the county from the meeting of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to concerned citizens of Oconee county. The site uses this medium to inform and influence the citizens of Oconee County and to rally them to support or oppose a particular project proposed by the county. For example, the widening of US Road 441 in the south of the county. There is a bias in this site. Dr. Becker clearly stated that his “experiences and aspirations for the county have influence on what I post here.” The model of journalism that is exhibited on this site is that of Interest Group journalism where the writer points to a conclusion and this conclusion is geared to persuade a particular audience, which in this case, the citizens of Oconee County in Georgia.
Use of SPJ’s Code of Ethics
As a non-professional journalist, the writer in Oconee County Observations, Dr. Becker, reports the county’s information to his audience, but does not for the most part, adhere to the Standards of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. One of the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics is to “Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting”(SPJ, 2016). Dr. Becker’s writings are influenced by his own opinion and aspirations, and persuading his audience to see things the way he sees them.
Same Standard For Professional and Non-professional?
In my opinion, everyone reporting news should be held accountable for what they report, whether they are called professionals or not. They should all try to seek truth and report it. However, with the various new media technology and the rush for everyone to be the first to report “breaking news,” writers are not patient to verify all information before reporting it. That is why it is important for news consumers to beware of who they get the true news from. Professional journalists have fallen short of living to the ethics of their profession. It is therefore not surprising that non-professional journalists like bloggers will also find it difficult to hold on to the same professional standards.
References
Becker, Lee. (2015). Oconee County Observations. In Oconee County Observations. Retrieved
January 23, 2016, from http://www.oconeecountyobservations.org
Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2016, from
http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Mistakes, False News, and Errors

For as long as journalists have been reporting news, mistakes have been made, either in the whole story, part of the story, or other details of the story. Even in these mistakes, journalists are held to a higher standard in the code of ethics by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Report Now, Apologize Later?
In this age of information flying right and left from professionals and non-professionals journalists and consumers of news need to consider the authenticity of every story before sharing with others. Mistakes are not unexpected in reporting the news, but at the same time, the need for journalists to verify the authenticity of any story is important at this time that new media technologies make stories go faster than ever. News agencies have at one time or the other, reported news that were not correct and later retract their story. Although journalists are required to abide by the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, they still fumble sometimes. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics includes “seek the truth and report it, minimize harm to their sources, act independently for the interest of the public and be accountable to the consumers. For an event of deadly, Kovach and Rossenstiel (2010) state that “this is an event that we want to know about instantly while events are still unfolding, and given that, we might forgive a certain amount of uncertainty and confusion.”

Expect More Evidence?
Although social media is competing with professional journalists in releasing breaking news, journalist the public still expect more evidence to verify information before it is reported. The fact that journalists are required to “seek truth and report it,” In as much as the public looks forward to breaking news from social media, they still know that there is no code of ethics that bind those who use social media for breaking new. The public, therefore hold journalists to a higher standard, expecting them to have more evidence before making their stories public. When CNN, Fox News, Boston Globe and the Associated Press reported erroneously the arrest if the Boston bomber, the New York Times (2013) stated that the FBI issued a statement to news agencies that they should “exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”

Who is to Blame?
The journalist is held by a higher standard of abiding by the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. It may be easy to blame journalists for this trend of false news and mistakes in delivering the stories, but it is understandable that journalists are responding to the culture and demands by the society. The demand and availability for instant news is made possible by social media and communication technology. I believe that our instant message culture is to blame. People demand the news now, as fast as possible, without waiting on the long process of verifying the news before it is shared with the public.

References
By BILL CARTERAPRIL 17, 2013 The F.B.I. Criticizes the News Media After Several
Mistaken Reports of an Arresthttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/business/media/fbi-
criticizes-false-reports-of-a-bombing-arrest.html?
Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). The Tradecraft of Verification. In Blur (pp. 36-50).
New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA

Sources, Credibility and Social Media

Online Article by Nicholas Bakalar

In the New York Times of January 8th, 2016, Nicholas Bakalar published an article titled “Having Friends Is Good for You, Starting in Your Teens.” The url for the article is http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/08/having-friends-is-good-for-you-starting-in-your-teens/

I used several processes to evaluate the credibility of the source of this article. My conclusion is that this article is credible based on the different criteria that I used. In evaluating the source of this article, I see that this article is published by a nationally recognized journalistic paper, The New York Times. I also checked the credibility of Bakalar and found that he has written hundreds of articles on scientific subjects and humor for The New York Times, Discover, National Geographic Magazines. He has also published various books. His resource for this article is from National Academy of Sciences which is a reputable scientific organization. He has a long career spanning more than two decades. . The information in this article is recent and has no evidence of the author’s bias. This article is written by a journalist who according to Kovach & Rosenstiel (2010) could be referred to as The Journalist as Credentialed Expert. Bakalar may not be a scientist, but he has had a long career reporting scientific findings that he could be referred to as a reporter-source. Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) stated that, “most journalists build credibility for their stories through the sources they rely on for their information” and I see that this journalist has done extensive research and quoted reliable sources like the National Academy of Sciences.

Explain why you trust or not trust information originating from “non-professionals” such as bloggers

I do not trust all non-professional bloggers, but I trust information originating from non-professionals such as bloggers when the information appears on a trusted website such as The New York Times and The Huffington Post. These bloggers may not be professionals, but they do extensive research and quote trusted authors or organizations. An example is the study by the National Academy of Sciences that Bakalar used as his source in this article. I also trust non-professional bloggers who have experience in what they write about.

How has social media influenced the spreading and receiving of information?

Majority of people get their news from social media. Social media has been instrumental to the fast transmission of information on a large scale. Many people have access to the same information at the same time and sharing these information has also been easy and convenient, whether on the cellphone or on the computer. Friends and families share information among themselves and people get to see or hear about events in real-time. True and false information have been spread on social media sites. Information from all sources, including social media need to be researched for reliability before the information is accepted as true and before being spread to others.

References
N. Bakalar. (2015, January 8). Having Friends Is Good for You, Starting In Your Teens. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/08/having-friends-is-good-for-you-starting-in-your-teens/

Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). The Tradecraft of Verification. In Blur (pp. 36-50). New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA.