5-1 Blog: Oconee County Observations

1. Who is the writer? Do you consider the author a “professional journalist”?

Lee Becker can be classified as a professional journalist he has several years of expertise in digital media and more than 45 years as a journalist. Specifically, he has been working in the blog analyzed for almost ten years.

There are three main ways to identify clearly what a professional journalist requires to be call like that. Lee Becker fits to the approach called “The normative approach” (Ward, n.a,); this is the strictest one compares to the other two, Skeptical and Empirical approaches (Ward, n.a).

The demands included in this classification are:

–   The Journalist must have highly developed skills. (Ward, n.a)

–   Need to have formal education (Ward, n.a).

–   The main capabilities that need to fill are (Ward, n.a):

  • Research skills
  • Facility with media technology in media
  • Knowledge about how institutions work.
  • Highly developed communication skills.
  • Commitment to accuracy, verification, truth, and so on

Lee Becker completes the qualifications required in this approach; he has a Ph.D. In Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin – Madison; also, he has a Master in Communication from the University of Kentucky and finally a bachelor degree.

2. What is the purpose of this site? Is there a bias?

He identified his blog as one of his hobbies, and adds that its blog follows the established tradition of the newsletter; also, recognized that his aspiration for the County influences his posts.

So, his main purpose is to inform the people in Oconee County, by providing accurate information regarding the main topics going on in there.   He strives to be accurate, fair and transparent; using links to document what known is (Becker, 2006). He states that he balances the news presented by recognize different points of view and portrays the people involved with respect.

However his personal aspiration for the County – as he established – may result as a bias in the way he reports the news; because of his own point of view about the ways he think Oconee County should be.

To be faithful in my opinion about the purpose and bias of the blog and by checking almost each of its entries, I would add that:

  • He tries to be accurate; he links and cites the info he gives to other sources.
  • The type of news he reports has a public interest and appear to be meant – reported for the wellbeing of Oconee County People.
  • He balances the information obtained by knowing both sides of the news.
  • There is no apparent lurid curiosity or sensationalism in any of his reported news.

3. Does the writer adhere to SPJ’s Code of Ethics? Does it seem like he takes steps to verify information and report truthfully and accurately?

First, he stated its blog follows the established tradition of the newsletter, which means that as the author of his blog, he seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and is accountable and transparent. Therefore he might be adhere to the Society of Journalist’ Code of Ethics.

Second, reading almost each one of his blogs I found a few characteristics that identify his adherence to the Code of Ethic, those are:

  • He seems to be accurate; he links and cites the info he gives to other sources.
  • He balances the information obtained by knowing both sides of the news.
  • There is no apparent lurid curiosity or sensationalism in any of his reported news.
  • Provide context.
  • Gather update and correct information throughout the life of a news story (Society of Professional Journalists’s National Convention, 2014).
  • Identify sources.
  • Support an open and civil exchange of views.
  • Balance the public need for information.

Third and finally, the only issue that I found disturbing is that he himself recognized that “his aspiration for the County influence his posts”, and of course this might be a reason for bias or inclination in the published news, which will be based on what he thinks is or not convenient for Oconee County.

4. In your opinion, does it really matter if someone reporting news is labeled as a “professional” or not? Should everyone be held to the same ethical standards regardless of their professional classification?

If people reporting on news will serve as a journalist whether they are professional or not, they must adhere to the same ethical standards regardless their professional classification.

We need to recognize and keep in mind that no matter which the news are, they have an impact on the society who read it; this effect may be miniscule or it may be profound, but it should never be considered insignificant (University Southern New Hampshire, 2013); So, it does not matter if you are professional or not, your reports will affect positively or not to people, to our society; in this sense those professional or not should be measured by the same guidelines and ethical standards. Accountability, accuracy, variety of sources, sources identification, impartiality, and many other requirements to inform must be present at all the time in news reports made or not by professionals.

Finally, the situation here is not about if you are labeled as a “professional Journalist or not”, is about providing accurate news, true, lively, duty to be good and which serves as shaping life (Popova, 2012) and of course following the guide we have as people who provides and reports information or news.

5. How does the rise of citizen journalists and bloggers change the way we receive knowledge and what we know? What are the advantages and disadvantages (or challenges) attributed to the presence of these new writers? Can “non-professionals” show good judgment, assemble information for balanced stories, and build up credibility?

The fact that the science and technology have dramatically changed the way we receive knowledge is undeniable. Digital advances have facilitated an active integration of citizen into providing information; therefore, they are serving now as knowledge providers. In the same way, technology has increased the participation of bloggers that produced a deep change on the way we traditionally received new information and in consequences, knowledge.

The current ethical issues differ of the ones we have before; the nature of journalism are deeply changing, interactive and immediate information is the new trend we all currently required. Citizen journalists and bloggers are displacing traditional journalism to a new concept, guidelines, and tendencies.

In the current stage, I personal think that there are more disadvantages/opportunities than advantages regarding this tendency. The main advantages and disadvantages from the presence of citizen journalist and bloggers into the role of providing and reporting news thru the new media are:


  • New forms of journalism are emerging.
  • Non-profit centers of investigative journalism are being developing.
  • Everyone has the power to be heard.
  • It is harder to hide misconduct and corrupt behavior; or better said is easier to expose them.
  • The information is not held by a few media.

Disadvantages / Opportunities

  • We are confronting new ethical problems, and we have not found, nor applied, a properly and ethical tools to be sure about produced news, regarding the accuracy, truthfulness and not bias news issues.
  • The existing Society of Journalism’ Code of Ethic is not suitable anymore for the today’ news production, which includes its immediacy and always on characteristics.
  • It has not been developed a proper guideline (Code of Ethics) which allow not professional to produced news properly. It has to be developed a new or modify code of ethics that would be applied on the new ways of producing news; ones that apply to amateur and professional whether they blog, tweet, broadcast or write for newspapers (Ward, n.a) or one that guide online or offline journalism (Ward, n.a)
  • Old journalism practices are being threatened. (Ward, n.a)
  • Accuracy and accountability are being affected by the demand of interactive and immediate information. Also, balance news, impartiality and gate-keeping lack in this new era of knowledge.
  • The economics of professional journalism struggles as audiences migrate online (Ward, n.a)
  • Shrinkage of newsrooms is creating concern for the future of journalism.
  • Lack of objectivity is present in this new form of creating news.
  • It is uncertain the way we will verify content from a citizen journalist.
  • Online news production are characterized by its immediacy, partiality, non-professional journalists and post-publication correction (Ward, n.a)
  • There will be vertical ethical questions about how the different layers of the newsroom, from professional editors to citizen freelancers, should interact to produce journalism (Ward, n.a)
  • The conception and the rules of anonymity will be applied equally on the different media platforms.
  • The rumor and subsequent correction tends to cause a great harm.
  • Clarification of the concept of “corrections”: Are we going to allow the constant corrections to be a way for inaccurate news production. How often should we accept it by the same source?
  • We need to find the ways to control, and in better cases avoid, sensationalism (Popova, 2012)
  • Good judgment, fact-checking, several information sources, sensibility are missing characteristics in this new tendency (Southern New Hampshire University, 2013).

Finally, a non-professional can show good judgment, assemble information for balanced stories, and build up credibility that’s for sure!!!. They only need to follow some guidelines that help them in the compilation, validation, structuring and presenting the news. Some of the principal signs that show if a non-professional is on the way to obtain credibility, show good judgment and assemble information balance are:

  • If they treat their work with respect and care (Robinson, 2013)
  • If they see every comment and tweet they send as their digital footprint. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They received press releases, product samples or have been invited to brand hosted events; that means that they are accountable for the information shared. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They are capable of saying, “no” to reviews items, money or opportunities because you recognize it is not the right fit. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They spend as much time interacting with their community as they do writing content. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They hold their-selves countable. (Robinson, 2013)

Rossy A. Calderon


Becker, L. (2006). Oconee County Observations. Retrieved December 2014, from http://oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/

Popova, M. (2012, April). The Atlantic. Retrieved December 2014, from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/eb-white-on-the-responsibility-and-role-of-the-writer/256005/

Robinson, A. (2013). INDEPENDENT FASHION BLOGGER. Retrieved December 2014, from http://heartifb.com/2013/04/15/7-signs-might-be-professional-blogger/

Society of Professional Journalists’s National Convetion. (2014, September). Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved December 2014, from Society of Professional Journalists: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Southern New Hampshire University. (2013). Southern New Hampshire University. Retrieved December 2014, from Southern New Hampshire University: https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4783065-dt-content-rid-10108906_1/courses/COM-510-15TW2-MASTER/COM-510-14TW2-MASTER_ImportedContent_20131105030838/com_510_module5_overview.pdf

Southern New Hampshire University. (2013). Southern New Hapshire University. Retrieved December 2014, from Southern New Hapshire University: https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4783056-dt-content-rid-10107992_1/courses/COM-510-15TW2-MASTER/COM-510-14TW2-MASTER_ImportedContent_20131105030838/com_510_module4_overview.pdf

Ward, S. J. (n.a). Center of Journalism Ethics . Retrieved 2014, from Center of Journalism Ethics : http://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/digital-media-ethics/


4-2 Blog: Mistakes, False News, and Errors

1.- Whether or not you think the modern trend of “report now, apologize later” by news agencies is a violation of the SPJ’s Code of Ethics.

The modern tendency towards choosing to report now and apologize later is clearly violating the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics; which function as our profession guide and is also an essential component that protects us from diverting our judgment and lose the central meaning of our role.

The main negatives issues that I see in this new tendency, “Report now, apologize later”, are:

  • The credibility of the media is negatively affected – Loss of credibility.
  • The harm caused by this action might be irreversible – To the families, friends, and communities.
  • Unverified reporting could have unintended consequences for its investigation (Carter, 2013) – Avoiding a transparent, objective and impartial investigation.

Certainly, about the called we have as a journalist who would be dismissed if we do the “Report now and apologize later” essentially are:

  • Verifies the information before releasing it.
  • Diligently seek out subjects of the news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

I believe it is also important, as Steve Buttry’s mentioned in “Journalists’ code of ethics: Time for an update”, we must seek for the truth, looking for fact-check, documentation, videos, eyewitnesses, etc. and not only “to balance the information” (Buttry, 2010) that might lead us to a “Parroting of dueling lies” (Buttry, 2010).

In the same way, in this particular issue and relating on Buttry’s recommendation, is important to highlight that a journalist must do its best to obtain a response to the allegations and if this is not possible the journalist should reflect it in its initial stories – the effort made to get a response (Buttry, 2010). In the end, the response should receive prominent play wherever it comes (Buttry, 2010).

2.- Should we expect (or demand) more evidence to verify information before it is reported to us?

As consumers we must demand accurate information all the time, and also, we should expect more proof than what once have from news organizations and other information sources claiming to serve the public (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010); however, is essential remind that in the age we live, the one that we are our own editors in “show me” versus “trust me” age of information, the act of evaluating evidence falls more directly on us as consumer (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010).

Of course, we must keep in mind that the nature of information and the context influence our level of skepticism (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010); and therefore the amount of evidences we might require from each report. In this sense, is relevant knowing that the importance of evidence does not rely only on its amount but in its quality too; there is a relationship, a link, a direct relation between the evidence and the sources.

In the end, even if we demand more evidence to verify information before reporting us, we must look for our own ways of verification. Finally, it is critical recognizes that looking for and knowing how to understand the evidence is how we can distinguish more reliable information providers from those less reliable (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010).

3.-  Who is to blame for this trend? Should we, as citizens, demand more from our news agencies, or are we, with our desire for immediate knowledge, the culprit?

The main factor that has been a trigger for this trend is basically what is calling the “New era of information”, “the new Media”, primarily “social media”. Everything goes faster day by day, including the news; the media have less chance to verify the news before the spread of it by others. The need of immediate information by us the consumer is undeniable, we have a share of responsibility for this situation.

But, none of these are excuse to spread unverified news or what the same is, “report now and apologize later”. As the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethic establishes “Neither the speed nor format excuses inaccuracy” (Society of Professional Journalists, 2014).

It is a fact that times are changing, the urgency of news is one of them; but, regardless this reality the accuracy of news can’t be the one suffering these changes. We, as media, need to adapt our processes, improve them in a way that serves the urge of immediacy of the “New area of information”. This is a challenge we have as a medium; our credibility is not in the game, so we must find an appropriate, smart, creative and different response to this new and challenging tendency.


Buttry, S. (2010, November). The Buttry Diary. Retrieved December 2014, from The Buttry Diary: http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/journalists-code-of-ethics-time-for-an-update/

Carter, B. (2013, April). The New York Times. Retrieved December 2014, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/business/media/fbi-criticizes-false-reports-of-a-bombing-arrest.html?_r=1&

Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information overload. In B. Kovach, & T. Rosenstiel, Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information overload (p. 207). New York: Bloomsbury.

Society of Professional Journalists. (2014, September). Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved December 2014, from Society of Professional Journalists: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

3-1 Blog: Sources, Credibility, and Social Media

Media: The New York Times

Section: World – Asia Pacific

Title: Chronic Diseases Are Killing More in Poorer Countries

Author: Sabrina Tavernise

Date: DEC 4, 2014

1. Explain the process you followed to evaluate the article’s sources. Did you determine the sources to be credible or not? Explain your findings in detail and state which evaluative criteria you used.

Looking for a history through the three possible sources indicated I choose an article posted in The New York Times which called my attention for its theme and the reflection caused in me when reading it; quickly came into mine a sense of inequality in the world and in societies.

The title which identifies the article context of the World section at The New York Times is Chronic Diseases Are Killing More in Poorer Countries, by Sabrina Tavernise, an article posted on December 4th, 2014.

I followed five main criteria to evaluate the credibility of this article, including: The authority of the author, the objectivity, the quality, the currency and the relevancy of the work (Frantz, 2014).

It is important to highlight that Sabrina Tavernise is an American journalist who writes for The New York Times and previously reported for the Times from Iraq, Lebanon, and Russia; also, she has countless works related social, health and political issues. Is important to concentrate in the relevance of her job, measured by the number of time her work has been cited by other journalist, mass Medias, and books; including the book Cultural Anthropology by Serena Nanda. She is frequently mentioned in articles written by peers.

She is a well-known writer and has gain credibility throughout her professional life. She received an honorable mention in the 2003 Kurt Schork’s awards for “her depth and human insight in covering Russia”. Kurt Schork Awards is a prominent event for the journalist that “often at personal risk, much work hard to report the conflict, corruption, and injustice. Their goal is to ensure what the world learns about – and better understands – the challenges faced by communities under pressure and may perhaps be spurred into providing help to the desperate” (Fund Kurt Schork Memorial, 2014); the prices exist since 2001.

Since 2000’s the main association she has been working with is The New York Times; with approximately 2,297 articles published, according to the newspaper itself. I did not find any books written by her; basically her job is focus in investigation articles.

Another important element to be considered is the reflection of objectivity in her reports, there is no documents or public information revealing any kind of entailment with political, commercial or particular activities; no particular brand is represented by her; nevertheless she might be an exclusive journalist for The New York Times. Another component is the currently of her jobs; out of date works, links without functioning were not found.

Specifically in this article, the references and the citations belong to credible sources, including Council on Foreign Relations and the New York Times itself. I also investigate about the topic in WWW sources that arrived at the same conclusion she did.

In addition, the information appeared in The New York Times a well-known newspaper that has suffer attacks related to errors in publication; even though it is a recognized and respected mass media, that has been distinguished for its reliability since 1835’s. Also, it is classified as a Professional Sites (Montecino)

Finally, for me the sources are credible; due to the last explained details.

2. Do you trust information originating from “non-professionals” such as bloggers? Explain why.

Of course, bloggers can be a trustful source; but, we must be aware of who they are, also assume that online information is false until verified. Is essential too to measure other elements, including:

  • The credibility developed by the blogger through the evidence of repeated, trustworthy interaction (University Southern New Hampshire, 2013).
  • Source must be identified according to its type: Source-less news, Journalist as Witness, Journalist as Credential Expert, Sources Witness, participants, Expert Sources and Anonymous sourcing. (Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, 2010)
  • Determine whether the source may be biased information (University Southern New Hampshire, 2013)
  • Ones need to identify the type of journalism they are practicing. (verification-Fact, Assertion, affirmation, interest group)
  • Each information posted must have at least two or more credible sources. (University Southern New Hampshire, 2013)
  • The information must be properly cited to give credit where credit is due. (University Southern New Hampshire, 2013)
  • The information must be well-organized, good grammar, etc. (Frantz, 2014)

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

Social media have revolutionized how people communicate in current days. Being connected 24/7 is a normal behavior after social media appear, there is no longer need to wait until tomorrow to receive the breaking news from around the world. One of the most powerful elements about this issue is that people believe in almost everything that came from social media. In the current days, people trust more on the internet rather than traditional media. This is something big!!! “People identify the internet as the most reliable source of information over television and radio” (Vis, 2014); even though the World Economic Forum identified “The rapid spread of misinformation online” as one of the ten issues highlighted for 2014 concerns. Wow!

Formal studies are being developed to seek the better understanding about the circumstances in which information has or may spread; one thing is sure, isolate specific patterns, users or types of content is difficult. (Vis, 2014).

Some patterns had emerged, the fact that the role of gatekeepers is central whether something goes viral or not; Industry research by face also shows the importance of gatekeepers (Vis, 2014). Internet memes are a further body of work focused on specific online content that often spread rapidly (Vis, 2014).


Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. (2010). Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. In &. T. B. Kovach, Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. (p. 207). New York, NY:: Bloomsbury.

Frantz, P. (2014, December). UO Libraries University of Oregon. Retrieved December 2014, from http://library.uoregon.edu/guides/findarticles/credibility.html

Fund Kurt Schork Memorial. (2014). Kurt Schork Memorial Fund. Retrieved December 2014, from http://www.ksmfund.org/home

Montecino, V. (n.d.). Virginia Montecino. Retrieved December 2014, from http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm

University Southern New Hampshire. (2013). Southern New Hampshire University. Retrieved 2014, from https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4783048-dt-content-rid-10107989_1/courses/COM-510-15TW2-MASTER/COM-510-14TW2-MASTER_ImportedContent_20131105030838/com_510_module3_overview.pdf

Vis, F. (2014, April). Social Science Space. Retrieved December 2014, from http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2014/04/how-does-false-information-spread-online/