Why Media Literacy Matters – Quality journalism and ethics, part 2

Journalists must not mislead.

Whether through words or images, they must always tell the truth.

In my previous post, I talked about ethics and why journalists must not manipulate their images.

People see the world, through the images and the stories presented by the media. The public has given journalists their trust and therefore they cannot mislead them.

The Washington Post photograph as it appeared on the Post web site (above) and as it was entered in the WHNPA contest (below).

The Washington Post photograph as it appeared on the Post web site (above) and as it was entered in the WHNPA contest (below).

Earlier this week, the White House News Photographers Association released a statement saying that they would disqualify a Washington Post photograph that recently won an award in the WHNPA annual contest.

The photographer entered a photograph that was digitally altered.

Editors at the Post discovered that the altered image was different from the one originally published.

The Post has a code of ethics that prohibits photo manipulation.

As I have previously stressed, even journalists need an understanding of media literacy.

They need to know how their work influence the public.

There is a need for professional ethics education.

Education programs are important because they serve to provide guidelines to help people make ethical decisions.

People who have a desire to work in the field of journalism need to be taught how to correctly use the tools.

However, guidelines and codes of ethics are not enough. Even Enron had a set of values and rules that was supposed to emphasize integrity and respect. Yet, the company lost its way and allowed unethical behavior to destroy the company.

An organization needs to have a code of ethics and conduct but they also need leaders who promote ethical behavior by setting an example.

Kudos to the Post for taking action.

Why Media Literacy Matters – Quality journalism and ethics

In a previous post I talked about the importance of quality journalism and why journalists also need media literacy education.

Photojournalists need to remind themselves about the ethics of journalism. This applies to both contests and published work.

Allen Murabayashi wrote an article titled, “Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?”

In another article, Murabayashi explains that the next two photos are the World Press Photo of the Year 2012. The top image is the submitted image that won, and the lower image is how it was first published.

According to Murabayashi,

“The range of emotions expressed (anger, grief, despair), the position of the people and bodies, and proximity of the photographer to the subject make it an incredible moment in time. And because of these elements, this photo was deservedly named the World Press Photo of the Year. It also looks like an illustration.”

Like Murabayashi, I also prefer the “original” image better.

This is not the first time an entry has been manipulated.

Brian Patrick, an award-winning photojournalist, manipulated an image he took of a wildfire in 2009 that he submitted to the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association’s annual photo contest. For more information, visit http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/161983/sacramento-bee-fires-bryan-patrick-for-photo-manipulation/

This is also not the first instance of photojournalists manipulating their images.

Patrick was fired from the Sacramento Bee on February 4, 2012 for the violation of ethics by digitally altering photographs. Patrick had digitally altered photographs on more than one occasion.

In April 2003, the Los Angeles Times fired Brian Walski, a photographer who covered the war in Iraq for the newspaper. According to Kenneth Irby of the Poynter Institute, Walski was fired on April 1, 2003 for submitting a photograph that was a composite of two different photographs he had taken.

Patrick Schneider is another photojournalist that was fired for digitally manipulating photographs. Schneider altered images on more than one occasion. According to Sherry Ricchiardi, on August 15, 2003, the North Carolina Press Photographers Association revoked three awards that were given to him, ruling he had improperly manipulated images in the editing process.

To ensure that photojournalists do not alter photographs or report stories that deceive the public, news organizations and the NPPA have established codes of ethics that they must abide by. Credibility is the greatest asset of journalists. It is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way (electronically or in the darkroom) that deceives the public. The preamble of the NPPA Code of Ethics states that photographs can cause great harm if they are manipulated.

Falsified images are unethical because they deceive the viewer.

Even journalists need an understanding of media literacy. They need to be careful and ensure that accurate information is shared. They need to know how their work influence the public.

As I said in a previous post, most professional journalists are trained to report truthfully and have a strong grasp on media literacy. However, they are human and can make mistakes.

It does not hurt to reevaluate the importance of media literacy training.

It is the responsibility of journalists to inform and educate the public on important issues that affect their lives and the world. But in order for journalists to accomplish this task, they must have the trust of the people.

People see the world, through the images and the stories presented by the media. The public has given journalists their trust and therefore they cannot mislead them.

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References

Irby, K. (2003, April 2). L.A. Times Photographer Fired Over Altered Image. Poynter Institute. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/9289/l-a-times-photographer-fired-over-altered-image/

Ricchiardi, S. (2007). Distorted Picture. American Journalism Review, August/September. Retrieved from http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4383

Murabayashi, A. (2013). Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?. Retrieved from http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/02/why-do-photo-contest-winners-look-like-movie-posters/

Murabayashi, A. (2013). Darkrooms are Irrelevant and The Truth Matters. Retrieved from http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/02/darkrooms-are-irrelevant-and-the-truth-matters/

National Press Photographers Association. (n.d). NPPA Code of Ethics. Retrieved from             https://nppa.org/code_of_ethics

Integrating media literacy into all content areas

Media literacy education is about teaching people to become critical thinkers and effective communicators.

One of the best ways to incorporate media literacy education into the classroom is through constructivism, a theory that focuses on learning beyond the classroom experience.

According to Gabler and Schroeder (2002), the theory is about providing students with ways to connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world; it focuses on how students can create meaning in what they are learning.

By bringing media into the classroom, students can be given the opportunity to see the subject from a different perspective. For example, photojournalism is one of the many tools of the media that can potentially help encourage creativity among the students and show them that something fun can have a powerful effect on society.

Constructivist teaching gives teachers a chance to teach lessons that are student-centered and gives students a chance to be expressive and collaborative (Gabler and Schroeder, 2002).

Project Look Sharp, a media literacy initiative at Ithaca College published a guide in 2008 to help educators of all subjects and grade levels integrate media literacy into their curriculum.

12 Basic Ways to Integrate Media Literacy and Critical Thinking into Any Curriculum, by Cyndy Scheibe and Faith Rogow, explains that it is more effective for educators to integrate media literacy into their curriculum than teaching it as a stand alone topic.

The 12 Basic Ways to Integrate Media Literacy (Scheibe and Rogow, 2008) are:

  1. Practice general observation, critical thinking, analysis, perspective-taking and communication skills.
  2. Stimulate interest in a new topic.
  3. Identify how students’ prior ideas about a topic have been influenced by media messages.
  4. Use media as a standard pedagogical tool.
  5. Identifying sources for erroneous beliefs about a topic.
  6. Develop an awareness of issues of credibility and perspective.
  7. Compare the ways different media present information about a topic.
  8. Analyze the effect that specific media have had on a particular issue or topic across different cultures and/or historically.
  9. Build and practice specific curricular skills.
  10. Facilitate use of a range of media formats to express students’ opinions and illustrate their understanding of the world.
  11. Use media as assessment tools.
  12. Connect students to the community and work toward positive change

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References

Scheibe, C. and Rogow, F. (2008). “12 Basic Ways to Integrate Media Literacy and Critical Thinking into Any Curriculum”. Project Look Sharp. Ithaca College.

Gabler, I.C. and Schroeder, M. (2002). Constructivist Methods for the Secondary Classroom. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Why Media Literacy Matters – Photojournalism and Diversity

Teaching about racial diversity through photojournalism.

Media literacy teaches critical thinking and communications skills such as photojournalism.

Photojournalism is a universal language that uses photographs for storytelling and allows people of all races and cultures to find the things they have in common.

Below are two examples of how teachers used media literacy education to help their students learn about different cultures.

In a lesson about stereotypes, students in South Korea reflected on how media images of race and stereotypes had influenced their own reactions toward other people. The students also learned how producing stories about things they felt were important could make a difference in the ways they interacted with other people (Yoon, 2010).

Mary Guerrero, a teacher in the Lawrence Public School system in Massachusetts, used a photojournalism project to influence how her students perceived themselves and their city. She designed hands-on projects that engaged her students in their surroundings and encouraged them to express themselves. Her students discovered aspects of the city that they did not know existed, which reminded them of the similarities between different cultures (Marinell, 2008).

Photojournalism is one of the many tools of the media that can potentially help encourage creativity among the students and show them that something fun can have a powerful effect on society.

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References

Marinell, W. (2008). Voices Inside Schools. Capturing Authenticity, Transforming Perception: One Teacher’s Efforts to Improve Her Students’ Performance by Challenging Their Impressions of Self and Community. Harvard Educational Review, 78(3), 529-548.

Yoon, J. (2010). “Media literacy education to promote cultural competence and adaptation among diverse students: A case study of North Korean refugees in South Korea”. Temple University.

Why Media Literacy Matters – Thanksgiving holiday

Pilgrims, Indians and turkey.

That is what most Americans think of when asked about the origin of Thanksgiving.

Mark Brumley, an educator and the moderator of the HP Teacher Experience Exchange, suggested that students research various websites to learn about the true account of Thanksgiving.

A Google search reveals the feast at Plymouth as the most popular result.

The media only perpetuates this holiday myth.

The pilgrims did not celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday that we observe today.

Google reveals several different origins for the holiday.

Some people believe that the tradition was not even recognized until the mid 1800s when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving.

Others believe that it was President George Washington who first proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789 to be a holiday.

As Brumley stressed, “this is the perfect time for a media literacy lesson”.

It is important that people recognize how media messages have influenced their view of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberry sauce. Turkey.

Farmers in the United States produced around 681 million pounds of cranberries in 2011. $465 million worth of fruit.

Turkey genocide.

46 million turkeys will end up as dinner.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2009 around 250 million turkeys were raised for slaughter. That is $4.5 billion in revenue.

Advertising only encourages people to partake in this activity.

There is another rumor that is perpetuated by the media.

Turkeys are not responsible for drowsiness.

Media literacy will help people understand how media messages are used to promote (and profit from) Thanksgiving. It will also help people analyze the conflicting views about the origin of the holiday.