Week 8: Maria Ressa, Facebook, and The Opinion Editorial (or OpEd). Post Due, Mon. Oct. 25

Interesting posts last week, students, on the omnipresence of Fake News and the value of the First Amendment.  Based on your insightful comments, it does seem we need media venues to do their part “protecting and serving” us.  At the same time, it’s also clear that the “Fourth Estate” needs help from a watchful “Fifth Estate,” which is society itself.  We all need to be wary nowadays of what news is “useful, relevant, and factual”.   In other words, journalists and the media entities they work for require informed, critical readers and viewers, just as much as we need them.  The fifth estate then is another “set of eyes” that helps keep our democracy vibrant and vital.

Over the next two weeks, we will be hearing and learning from several courageous journalists and citizens (company insiders) who play thoughtful roles as critics of media, government, and society.

Let’s first focus on Maria Ressa, co-founder of the digital media company Rappler and an outspoken critic of iron-fisted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. It’s important to note that Maria was co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize — a really big deal, especially for a female journalist.

Please listen to this interview of her as she explains her aims as a journalist and reveals her thoughts on the global assault on “truth and trust” by leaders such as Duterte, Putin, and Trump and the social media giant Facebook. She ends with some important points about the lack of women in powerful journalism positions today.

I also strongly recommend watching this longer documentary (A Thousand Cuts) on her unrelenting, courageous tactics to stand up to power in her home country.

Speaking out requires courage. Last week, as Melissa points out in her post, the story of the whistle-blower Frances Haugen was splashed across innumerable news outlets. A former, high-ranking Facebook employee Haugen quit her job at the company and explained why at a Congressional hearing.  As she alleges, Facebook’s own research showed that the media giant’s platform “amplified hate, misinformation, and political unrest” but did nothing to combat this fact.

Please watch her interview on 60 minutes.

Are the dangers of Social Media real?  This is one topic of great debate on all sides.  To find out what journalists are thinking, we can turn to the genre of the Opinion Piece, or OpEd.  Your next writing assignment will be to write your own OpEd on a topic important to you, but for this week I ask that you:

  1. Carefully “listen” to the words of Maria Cessa (in her interview and/or documentary)
  2. View the 60 minutes interview with ex-Facebook Employee, Frances Haugen
  3. Read the opposing OpEds: “For Teens, Instagram is a Cesspool” and “The Moral Panic Engulfing Instagram”
  4. Post a response that reflects your thoughts on Maria Ressa or the Facebook Debate.

Mid-term Note

We are now at the mid-point of the semester.  I have provided a mid-term grade based on your posts thus far. I have also graded completed student profiles.  Go to “Check Grade Icon” on the right to check on your standing in this course. Please complete any missing posts and/or your student profile assignment this week.

Week 6: The First Amendment and “Fake News” Post Due: Wed. Oct. 13

Hi Students,

Nice work interviewing your fellow students.   I’ve made comments for all of you on your documents (if you uploaded a PDF, I created a googledocs file you can review).  Please finish your revisions by (at which point I will give you a grade).  See GRADEBOOK link to the right. In general, be sure to provide a captivating title and a good photo or two. Also make sure your introduction brings out key characteristics of your interviewee. I’ve also copyedited your pieces, so also review and correct any punctuation and sentence errors I highlighted (part of being a good journalist is producing relatively “clean”, catchy copy “on deadline.”)  You will generally have an editor make varied corrections, cuts, and suggestions.  My central suggestion to all of you as journalists is to provide LOTS of KEY details (pertinent to your subject matter) to fully bring your writing to life.  Here is an excellent interview of Sean Saurez produced by Keyri that you can use for a model.

This week’s topic builds on our conversation of the critical role of the press (or fourth estate) for maintaining a vibrant democracy.  To review, the press needs to 1) offer a wide marketplace of ideas, perspectives, and information to help citizens make informed decisions. 2) The press needs to inform the public about “what matters” (i.e. what they SHOULD be paying attention to). 3) It needs to serve as a “watchdog” of politicians, businesses, and institutions. 4) It needs to inform readers about important people, places, and events across the racial and social spectrum and 5) it needs to mobilize readers/viewers to “thought” and “action.”  Let’s add one more: 6) IT NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH AND PROVIDE FACT-BASED, VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT ITS CLAIMS

Because of its importance, the right to a free press (and the freedom of speech) is enshrined in our First Amendment from the American Constitution, approved by all the states in 1789:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s interesting to note that freedom of speech and of the press are crunched together with other related rights: the practice of one’s religion, the right to assemble (protest) in the streets, and the right to tell the President he’s a jerk (!)

What I want you to think about this week is how well the First Amendment is (and has been) put into practice.

Do Americans have the legal right to criticize our government (and leaders of other countries)?  Yes we do.  This right was severely tested, however, when Julian Assange created a site called Wikileaks in 2010.

Since its inception, Wikileaks offers a platform to give whistleblowers a platform to expose hidden truths about various governments and institutions around the world.

Consequently, WikiLeaks has attracted a great deal of controversy from leaders and news organizations around the globe because the information it publishes usually creates a great deal of embarrassment and difficulty for international relations.  Most famously, in 2010, WikiLeaks released evidence suggesting U.S. forces committed violations of international law during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2016, it released leaked emails that revealed campaign strategies and internal memos within Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign that may have cost her the election.

It’s important to keep in mind that it is not legal for WikiLeaks sources to steal secret documents and submit classified documents to the site. However, thanks to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it is legal for WikiLeaks to publish these documents and share them with the public. It is also perfectly legal for you to read information found on WikiLeaks.  Despite First Amendment protections, founder Julian Assange is currently in a London prison, and American officials are dying to get their hands on him – and charge him with something to put him in jail (and shut down his site).  Here’s a trailer for an excellent film on the story and impact of Julian Assange and Wikileaks called “We Steal Secrets”.

Just yesterday, another investigative site (the Pandora Papers) posted highly embarrassing information on how the leader of Jordan and other wealthy people across the globe hide their vast fortunes from the public eye.  This is investigative journalism certainly doing “its job” as a watchdog. (Can you explain why doing so is so important?)

Does the First Amendment allow FAKE NEWS?  Facebook (and Twitter) famously allowed the spread of false information during Donald Trump’s presidency but finally kicked him off their sites for lying about the election results (that Biden didn’t win) and generally riling up his supporters with false assertions (leading to the Capitol riots).  More recently, we learn that for a long time Facebook has allowed false reports about the Covid Vaccine. Read: Covid Misinformation on Facebook is Killing People. (Can you delve more into this problem?)

What one is allowed to say and publish has been under constant scrutiny since our nation was first established.  The same is true with the ever-presence and danger of Fake News. Please watch the fun video below, to see how Fake News was an issue even during the Revolutionary Era. It’s also a good overview of our first media outlets (before CNN, Facebook, and Twitter).

POST ASSIGNMENT: In a paragraph (or two), post a comment on one of the above readings and/or videos (you could follow up on some of the questions I ask). In your post, try to also provide an example of your own, either of an interesting case involving the First Amendment (freedom of speech/press) or a case of “Fake News” that has gone viral . Due Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Week Five: Finish Student Profiles (Due: Monday, Oct. 4)

Excellent job students considering the true role and purpose of journalism: to expose the truth and, ideally, instigate action.  In other words, journalism is about “exposure” or “shedding light” on topics important for citizens to know about. It is in this sense that modern journalism emerges from The Enlightenment (more on this connection next week). 

In Daniel’s post, we learn of the “secret” rise of homelessness all across the nation and actions we can take to counter this problem.  Rugayyah, in turn, cites an article on the rise in Adolescent Depression, a growing problem that, as we’ll discuss, is enhanced by all-too-easy access to Social Media. Somewhat relatedly, Carolyn discusses how an Australian youth (Dylan Voller) featured in a Juvenile Detention program successfully sued Facebook for allowing users to publish defamatory posts about him.

In his post, Eric carefully examines the photo of a US Border Patrolman on Horseback “rounding up” Haitian immigrants at the Mexican/American border to show just how big an impact the media can have to affect public opinion.  Anderson also highlights this “watchdog” feature, pointing to how the media followed the sexual misconduct of our Governor (Andrew Cuomo), effectively forcing him out of office.  In a somewhat similar vein, Sean writes of how media coverage of the poor treatment of inmates at Riker’s Island put real pressure on our Mayor (De Blasio) to mitigate the crisis.

As these and other excellent examples you all provided reveal, the media at times does indeed “do” its job, calling for (in the eloquent words of Melissa): “truth to power, free, critical thinking, and analysis.”

Melissa also focuses on the importance of a host of independent media sites that “allow me to think for myself and draw my conclusions and formulate my own opinions.”

Her “go-to” sites include Consortium News, Substack (where you can create your own blog), the blog of Jonathan Turley, and the twitter account of Glenn Greenwald — all of which I highly encourage you to peruse.

To these, I add some of my own alt-favorites Democracy Now and Citizen (which covers neighborhood news) as well as an Art, Culture, and Politics site I created while in graduate school: CJASMonthly.

Next week, we will be focusing on the First Amendment and the History of Fake News, but I will hold off on this topic to give you more time to finish your Student Profiles.  Please be sure to have these completed by Monday, Oct. 4. 

REMINDER: Upload your interview here: googledocs dropbox. (To upload press “new” (on upper left corner) and “upload file” from your computer. )

Read the JournalismStudentProfile2021 for directions.

Here is a sample: Sample Profile Assignment 

 If you are having issues finishing this assignment (or reaching your interview partner), please contact me immediately (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu).

Week 4: Upload Student “Profile Interview” and Consider the Purpose and Role(s) of Journalism. Due Wed., Sept. 29

Excellent job, students, responding to the article on the terrifying conditions for journalists still operating in Afghanistan — especially female journalists. As several of you noted, protecting the “freedom of the press” is difficult anywhere but, unfortunately, is under threat in so many parts of the world.

For this week, I ask you to further think about what the role of journalism ought to be — and how it is often practiced here in America — and abroad.

According to Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, the primary purpose of the news is that it:

“keeps us informed of the changing events, issues, and characters in the world outside. Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed. The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.”

To further clarify the precise roles of the media (also known as the “Fourth Estate”), please read “Essentials of Journalism”. We’ll be exploring these “essentials” throughout the semester.

One example of the media as a political “watchdog” is a report by the New York Times last week that suggested the U.S. military used a drone missile to kill innocent victims in Afghanistan. At first the military denied this but yesterday admitted to making a serious mistake and “apologizing” for it (Read article HERE). Certainly, the pressure of the media, in this case, forced the military to “come clean” and admit the truth.

Another prime example of “watchdog” journalism is the work of Bob Woodward (who helped expose President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal in the 1970s). The story was turned into the famed film All the President’s Men (watch film trailer here) Woodward is still going at it writing THREE books about the Trump Administration and the Biden transition. His latest book is entitled “Peril”.

Please read this review of Woodward’s new work: PERIL. Consider the many interesting topics relating to the “dangerous” — often secret — actions of the Trump Administration that indeed put our nation in peril, time and time again.

Post Assignment: In a paragraph (or two), discuss an example from the media (an article or feature) that shows how the media is doing its job 1) serving as a social/political “watchdog” (keeping a watchful eye on American politicians and other prominent figures, our corporations and institutions) 2) encouraging public discussion on an important topic, OR 3) providing readers useful information to help make an “empowered decision”.

Alternately, post a response to what you found interesting in the review of Bod Woodward’s book PERIL.

A good way to do the above assignment is to follow features in the New York Times. Here is a link to access a free CUNY  New York Times Pass: http://cityte.ch/nyt.

POST DUE DATE: Monday, Sept. 27th


Interview Assignment: Now that you’ve read about the interesting new editor of Ebony Magazine, I also ask that you put into practice your own journalism skills by interviewing a fellow student and creating a profile of him or her. Read the JournalismStudentProfile2021 for directions. Also review this Sample Profile Assignment to use as a model. Another good question to ask in your interview is: What drew you to take a journalism course and what media/political/social issues concern you most?

This week I want you to contact your interview partner (you can get contact information by responding to their self-introduction under “our community”).

Discuss how you want to perform the interview (on zoom, email, or google.docs). The final assignment is due in two weeks. You can upload (and work on) this assignment in our googledocs dropbox. To upload press “new” (on upper left corner) and “upload file” from your computer.

Interview Due Date: Wed., Sept. 29

INTERVIEW PARTNERS:

Anna Lin and  Caroline Rodriguez
Jailyn Lavado and Steven Bachoo
Chala Jamison and Rebeca Reyes
Pending and  Sergio Tello
Darnell Black and  Keyri Jimenez
Kashfi SIDDIQUE and  Melissa Dos Santos
Eric Ayala and  Judley Leriche
Jasmine Henry-Alleyne and  Dominic Tuzo
Keyri Jimenez and  Sean Suarez
Mosche Carrington and Rachel Xie
Ruqayyah Yar and  Caroline Rodriguez
Anderson Lazo and Marina Rodrigues
Daniel Gayoso and Albert Frontela
 

Your First Assignment(s)

Unit 1: The Journalist at Work

Watch: Video Lecture

Accompanying Website: Essentials of Journalism

Read:

  1. Can Afghan’s Leading Broadcaster Survive the Taliban”

2) “Ebony Returns to Chronicle a New Moment”

3) “Did I Really Just Buy Ebony?”  Interview with Eden Bridgeman Sklenar

Post: 1) Discuss what you found most interesting about one of these articles. 2) In response to the Interview essay (“Did I Really Just Buy Ebony”), mention a writing strategy used by the author that you think will be helpful for a student journalist. Read your classmates’ responses prior to posting, so you contribute a new point.    

Create your free New York Times account

Due Date (Monday, Sept. 13): Next Week is Labor Day Weekend and most classes are cancelled for the week, so I will give you two weeks to complete this first assignment.

Welcome Students!

Welcome to City Tech and English 1151: Introduction to Journalism. This is an asynchronous class that only meets virtually. I will hold weekly office hours on Zoom (on Mondays 4-5 pm) and will post video lectures and assignments each Tuesday. You are required to complete your post assignments by noon on Mondays. We will also be keeping in regular contact via emails and twitter accounts, which I will help you set up.

Here is the Office Hour Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 870 2400 7673
Passcode: 205782

Office Hours Begin on Monday, Aug. 30

I can regularly be reached at: mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu

Professor Mark Noonan

——————————————————

Here are your duties DUE by next Monday (Aug. 30):

1.  Sign up for your OpenLab account with your name and a profile photo.  Log in, then join our course.  If you need  help,  contact the OpenLab Community Team

2. Look around our course site to familiarize yourself

3. Introduce yourself.  To write a new post, click the + sign at the top of the page. (It’s a small icon next to the class title and message box icon at the very top of the page). Fill in the subject heading with your name, then add your info and photo below.  After your work is complete, scroll down and check off OUR COMMUNITY under Categories (right side of page), then click Publish.

  • Paragraph 1: Include how you would like to be addressed, your pronouns, and any other info you’d like to share. This could include where you are from, where you reside now, your academic interests or major, any hobbies or NYC activities you enjoy, how you feel about beginning college. Feel free to be creative!
  • Paragraph 2:  Include a photo of something (place, space, person, pet, object, etc ) meaningful to you, and tell us about it.  You can paste the photo into the body of your message, or Add Media  to upload it to your post.
  • Before next class, check back to read your classmates’ responses and reply to a few. Getting to know each other, we start building our community.

4. In a separate email (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu), please let me know if you have any issues with technology and/or working space that may affect your ability to complete your coursework. 

We are all in this together!  See you soon!

Are the Dangers of Social Media Real?

Maria Ressa is the CEO of Rappler and is a journalist herself. During this interview, she discusses how she wants to fight for freedom for the Philippines where she was born. But has a fear that the social media platform of Facebook might lead its audience to the wrong aspect during the Philippines presidential election. Mostly the American platforms play an important role. She also expresses how especially Facebook can lead its audience to spread lies, anger, and hate.

Herself being a journalist she understands the role of spreading information, finding the truth, and protecting the people’s rights. Ressa does not understand how the role of a journalist can at some times be challenging and she states “It is more dangerous, it requires more sacrifices, just to do what journalists have always done.”

 

I do believe that every day more and more people get the hang of social media and with this technology that everyone is learning and using the platform of Facebook and I think Instagram also is an important social media regarding appearances which is also a big impact on its audience.

Instagram social media is all about appearances, having a perfect body, skin and etc. I am a user of this platform and all of these filters and women but also including men can get to be so perfect with no worries in their life when behind the phone it is another reality that they don’t show. This can affect their followers as to what that person is representing. such as how Facebook can state/publish misleading information and it has a very big audience that they can control. So I do think that social media is dangerous to anyone.

 

 

Are the Dangers of Social Media Real?

Social Media can both impact a community, the world, or even itself.

In this case, Maria Ressa a 58-year-old is pending a cyber libel case. In the interview, she expresses how social media companies are a big role when it comes to spreading the news. Ressa was concerned about the misinformation of her country the Philippines during the presidential election and how the algorithm of the American companies will mislead the world with incorrect information.

Yes, she is the CEO of Rappler and now is pending for the 6 years given for the cyber libel. Being a journalist is having the chance to discover the truth,  spread the word about misleading information and what is going on in the world that many do not see. I do think that social media no matter where you are it can affect you very quickly and it can be for a good or bad cause. Ressa states how “It is more dangerous, it requires more sacrifices, just to do what journalists have always done.”

And social media simply can mislead people about political information but now in days, Instagram is another platform that many use for posting perfect pictures making their audience think they have no problems and nice skin, perfect body with no stretch marks, and numerous ways women or even men have no flaws when in reality there is another truth.

 

Social media has both its ups and downs, just depends on how its audience manages it.

Facebook Debate Response

Whistleblower Frances Haugen has sparked a nation wide debate on the morals and behavior of the social media giant of Facebook. Haugen has expressed her distress for Facebook’s awareness of their role in spreading misinformation and literal physical violence in other uprisings in the world. Despite Facebook coming out and saying that they will combat the spread of dangerous misinformation, the team’s response has been proven to not be as effective. Additionally, Facebook has done its own research on the affects of the company on its users. These studies have concluded that when a user is presented with something that triggers rage, increased activity on the site always follows. When presented something that triggers joy, the user doesn’t engage with the platform as much. Knowing this Facebook uses this tactic to promote user interaction as much as possible to generate larger profits. Now, Francis Haugen vows to take legal action to get Facebook moderated by the government. This is either a very wrong step or useful experience for history. Handing out more power to the central government and giving them the ability to limit and censor speech sounds like a very unamerican move. However, big brother nowadays seems to not be the government but major social media networks like Facebook. Maybe having the government regulate major monopolies like Facebook may not be such a bad idea. But on the other hand, America grants its citizens free speech and just the very words of “hate speech” is a non-American belief. If we want to preserve free speech in America, hate speech or speech in general should never be dictated by the government as that is a freedom we will never get back. Facebook is an independent company and should have the right to control what gets posted on their site. This is a very interesting topic and I am honestly puzzled on where I stand on this argument.

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