Russia reopens beaten journalist’s case

(Note: This blog was originally published on 11/11/2010 as a part of a class project for Emerson College’s New and Society class.)

New York Times: Moscow Journalists Under Attack

The Moscow Times is reporting that an investigative committee has decided to reopen an investigation into the 2008 attack of journalist Mikhail Beketov.

Beketov, the former editor of the opposition newspaper The Khimkinskaya Pravda, was severely beaten outside of his home in Khimki for reporting on political corruption and the Khimki forest, his supporters say.

The beating resulted in Beketov’s leg being amputated. He suffered permanent brain damage, lost his ability to speak, lost three fingers and now uses a wheelchair. No one has been charged with his beating.

News agencies are reporting that the Russian government has yet to explain why it has reopened the two-year old case.

The announcement does come on the heels of the beating of another reporter, Oleg Kashin. Kashin’s beating, which occurred outside of his home, was caught on tape.

President Dmitry Medvedev recently came up fire from international press organizations to do more to secure the safety of journalists. Medvedev said Kashin’s attackers should be punished.

Kashin, who remains hospitalize, is no longer unconscious, but Beketov’s life seemed to get  a bit grimmer Wednesday.

A Russian court convicted him of defaming Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko.

The court ordered him to pay $160 (US) fine, but then said he didn’t have to pay it because of a technicality.

Gawker responses to family, removes gruesome photo

(Note: This blog was originally published on 11/10/2010 as a part of a class project for Emerson College’s New and Society class.)

On Friday, Oct. 29, Joe Jusko made the following plea on a deviantart.com message board:

“My 21-year-old nephew and godson Christopher Jusko, my brother’s only child, was murdered in New York City on Monday morning….. His throat was cut and he was then stabbed in the back, stumbled down two flights of stairs and died on the sidewalk. Someone with absolutely no conscience snapped a cell phone pic of his body before the police arrived and sent it to GAWKER.com who published it…..We are now hoping an email campaign that inundates them with enough negative feedback will result in the removal of the photo.”

Write the editor, Joe Jusko urged.

“It would mean the world to my entire family.”

Two weeks later, the blogosphere still is reeling from the graphic photo of Jusko’s corpse lying on the sidewalk as blood, draining from wounds in his neck and back, pools nearby.

Gawker editors eventually caved to the family’s request and rightfully so. Still, Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan wrote, in an e-mail to Washington D.C.-based TBD.com, that the photo was posted as a warning about violence and is newsworthy.

Nolan is quoted as telling TBD.com that blood and gore do not make a photo unworthy of being published.

Hmm…Interesting. I can’t help but think that Gawker’s decision to publish the photo was anything but an attempt to get people to click on its Web site. It worked. People did click. They always do.

Those who side with Gawker argue that graphic photographs give readers and viewers an honest portrayal of life that they would otherwise not have. Readers get a better understanding of the world they live in. The New York Daily News reported a 15 percent increase in the number of murders in the city, Jusko’s murder among them.

The bigger issue here is that Gawker crossed a line at the expense of its readers, Jusko and his family. The photo added nothing to the story of Jusko’s death. It didn’t help give us any details of the alleged love triangle behind the crime or helpe us understand a city experiencing an increase in crime.

We just see the end result — a body, bloody and motionless. A photo of a white sheet covering Jusko as cops walked nearby would have told us the same story.

Sensationalized photos should not be used just because they are sensational. If the photo does not add anything of value to the story then leave it out.

It is true. A graphic photo can tell the story better than a writer can with words. AP photographer Eddie Adams captured the last minutes of Viet Cong Operative Nguyen Van Lam, who was executed at the hands of a Vietnamese general. The photo won Adams a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 and showed Americans the brutality of war.

Another famous photo shows a 9-year-old Kim Phuc running naked down a street after American planes dropped napalm during the Vietnam War.

These photos didn’t just tell Americans about war. They took Americans to the faces living in war zone.

Good photos, unlike the one published to Gawker’s Web site, add a level of depth and understanding.

War was a distance concept until photojournalists brought us images from the combat zone. It happened in faraway lands and never touched the lives of Americas until a loved one was shipped home in a coffin.

The photos added value.

News outlets pay for exclusives

(Note: This blog was originally published on 10/23/2010 as a part of a class project for Emerson College’s New and Society class.)

Several media outlets reportedly dipped into their pocketbooks recently when some of the 33 miners rescued from a collapsed Chilean mine said they would talk to reporters for a fee.

News organizations should never pay anyone for interviews. It’s basic ethics, people.

You would think that our ethically-oriented media outlets would shake their heads at such a suggestion for checkbook journalism.

Well, you’ve guessed wrong.

Earlier this week, ABC News defended itself from accusations that it paid a miner for an exclusive interview.

ABC News acknowledged the interview in a recent New York Times article, but it claims nothing was paid for the interview.

According to the New York Times, the miners are asking for fees that range from $40 to as much as $25,000.

An ABC News spokeswoman told the Times it “licensed material” from the miner’s family.

Licensing photos and video, i.e paying, is a practice many news organizations have adopted in the race to be first in the 24-hour news cycle.

In March, accused killer Casey Anthony’s attorney revealed in a Florida courtroom that ABC News paid their client’s family $200,000 in licensing fees for videos and photos. The money was used to pay for Anthony’s legal defense, her attorneys said.

CNN reportedly paid to license a cell phone video of authorities hauling Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged Christmas Day bomber, off a Chicago flight.

An interview with Jasper Schuringa, the video’s owner and a witness to the botched Christmas Day attack, came along with the video.

NBC went on the defensive last year when it was revealed that the network gave David Goldman and his son a free plane ride from Brazil to the United States after a highly-publicized international custody battle.

In a statement, the Society of Professional Journalists ethics committee chair Andy Schotz rebuked NBC: “The public could rightly assume that NBC News bought exclusive interviews and images, as well as the family’s loyalty, with an extravagant gift.”

Schotz and SPJ argued that NBC put its brand on the story when it paid for the flight and compromised its ability to report it fairly given its financial interest in how the story unfolded.

SPJ is right. The practice is misguided and stains journalism. Media outlets that engage in this behavior risk creating a market where information is not gathered, but acquired for the price.

In fact, it already exists.

Hello world.

5/24/2011

So here I am finally blogging on WordPress.Yep, now I can delete my Tumblr account. It was just too confusing to post anything and besides I forgot the password the day after I created it.

I only have one post on there. Oh well.

As you can probably tell, I’m not much of a blogger. No, I’m not a blogger at all. I am a journalist in transition. I grew up a newspaper girl.

My parents had the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate delivered every morning when I was growing up. They still do. If they couldn’t afford a subscription, they bought it from the nearest liquor store or the Piggly Wiggly.

They even picked up the USA Today at the Albertson’s Supermarket on Government Street. This is why I’m 27, and I can’t imagine life without newspapers.

I like the smell of the ink on a newspaper’s page. I like the crinkle the Morning Advocate made in my brother’s hands as he rocked back and forth while reading it.

I like the struggle I had folding a broad sheet in half so that I could hold it in my childish hands and searching the inside pages for the continuation of the frontpage jumps.

Yeah, I’m a newspaper girl, but lately I’ve been doing multimedia storytelling.

Pictures, video, slideshows. Isn’t this where the industry is focused now? Journalism, an industry evolving. Into what? The future is unknown.

Me, a newspaper girl in transition. My future unknown. Where do I go from here?

I can’t sound too down about the future of journalism though. The truth is that I have fun with pictures and video and sound.

I’ve discovered a new way to tell stories, and I have to admit broadcasting doesn’t seem so evil anymore.

Well, maybe it does a little, like when anchors who shall not be named read my stories on air word for word (you know who you are).

Anyway, I’m learning about pictures, words and sound at Emerson College in Boston. Yes, I’m a southern girl living in Yankee territory, and I’m a graduate student there.

I’m graduating in December. I don’t know what’s coming after that. Anyway, I produced my first multimedia project in the fall of 2009 for my Writing and Reporting Across the Media Class.

The story is about how the recession impacted the Blue Hills Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester.