'News Comments'

Weekly News Comment #12

A recent article by the New York Times focused on a single question surrounding the recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas: whether or not video footage of the attack should be released to the public.

While some advocate that the footage should be released immediately to inform the public of the terrible reality of such attacks, others argue that the footage serves no real purpose and should be locked away forever or even destroyed. Most occupy a middle ground between these two extremes, including the Rev. Stephen Curry, who likened the footage to that of the Kennedy assassination, but described the situation as being “too raw” for immediate release. Still others oppose the footage’s release for legal reasons, including a former Texas Ranger who suggested that it is still technically evidence in an investigation that might take years, and releasing it to the public might harm that investigation.

Overall, the article seems to suggest that while there are obvious issues with releasing the footage there is some journalistic and historical value to such evidence. While the families of victims in these attacks might be negatively affected by publishing explicit details, these details can also serve to make people angry or disgusted by the attack and subsequently take action to prevent future incidents. The fundamental question for journalists in situations like this is whether photographic or video evidence of such crimes adds anything to the story or is merely there to court controversy and attract viewers.

Weekly News Comment #5

A recent Vice article highlighted the upcoming expiration on Uber’s transport license in London.

Transport for London (TfL), the organization responsible for managing the licensing of all taxi corporations in the city of London, has found Uber unfit to have their license renewed, citing a “lack of corporate responsibility” that might lead to potential safety and security concerns for passengers.

The article also goes into some detail on Greyball, a tool developed by Uber to identify and deny rides to potential law enforcers in an attempt to avoid official scrutiny.

Though this does not impact Americans directly, and Uber has announced that it intends to appeal this decision, this is an important development for people to be aware of. Uber is a large company that has a presence in most major cities in America, and anyone who uses their services should be aware of potential threats to their personal security or questionable practices by the corporation itself.

The Vice article is short but very clear in its message. It outlines the criticisms that Uber faces and the practical concerns for readers in London who might be affected by this issue.

Weekly News Comment #3

A Nobel Peace Prize winner once hailed as her country’s Nelson Mandela has stood by as ethnically motivated violence and mass atrocities tear apart her country,” Aung San Suu Kyi, an advocate for democracy and internationally recognized humanitarian protestor, has remained quiet in response to Myanmar’s military crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in the country. She faces controversy and criticism for taking no apparent action despite reports of crimes being committed by the Burmese military as Rohingya refugees flee the country.

The opening line to this story is succinct and powerful, drawing a historical parallel that almost all readers can relate to and briefly explaining the severity of the situation in Myanmar. It gives readers the basic information they need to know – that there’s a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and not much is being done about it – while appealing them to read further if they’re interested.

The article later explains that Suu Kyi has blamed the atrocities on “misinformation… with the aim of promoting the interests of terrorists,” and although some images that have been circulating on social media about the situation have been falsely attributed, there is a great deal more evidence that suggests the military is responsible for this violence.

Weekly News Comment #1

President Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia resulted in public shock and anger after the President cited “both sides” as being equally responsible for the violence that occurred there. While some may accept the President’s noncommittal summary of the events as fact, many political commentators and news presenters were appalled and deeply offended by Trump’s apparent refusal to condemn the rally and his claims that the white supremacist groups that staged the rally and those groups that opposed them both contained “many good people” in their number.

An important question, one raised by a recent Vox publication, is how journalists and news corporations should deal with what they may consider to be a deeply immoral president, one who appears to condone or possibly subscribe to inflammatory and racist ideologies that contradict fundamental values of this country. Should things go back to the status quo, of journalists practicing restrained objectivity and political commentators entertaining both sides of the political spectrum on their programs, or should these people use the power afforded to them by the media and take a moral stance against the President, holding him accountable for the statements he’s made and not simply letting it slide as yet another controversy?

Any person, regardless of their occupation or political situation, has the moral obligation to protest any perceived injustices or abuses of power. Whether these comments are an injustice depends on individual perception, but as evidenced by their reactions to the President’s statements many people feel that the President has lost the moral authority usually associated with his office. This is not to say, however, that the fundamental principles of journalism should be thrown out as soon as an immoral President steps into office, as to do so would threaten the reputation of the media entirely and potentially set precedent for future abuse. If a journalist, or political commentator, or news broadcaster, or anyone else employed in the media disagrees with the president on a moral level, they should voice their opinions and their reasoning, but should not use their position within the media as a weapon against perceived injustice or otherwise sacrifice their journalistic integrity in the process. A journalist’s duty lies first and foremost with publishing accurate information, and while morality should also be considered wherever possible, it should not supersede their commitment to honesty.