We continued to talk about Public Relations and the Code of Ethics. For last week’s homework, Professor Piacente had us bring in some stories that violated the Code of Ethics.
Story that was shared
· Mary Margaret
o TIME magazine they darkened OJ Simpson's skin when writing about race. Journalists should avoid stereotyping because it violates the Code of Ethics
Question that was asked
· Emma had a question on anonymous sources, asking if they are credible enough. The answer is that, it is up to the journalist to believe that they are using a credible source.
During class we did a public relations activity. The activity was a debate; the class broke up into groups. Each group received a tough ethics case. For the assignment
· Groups read/discussed their case away from the rest of class
· Groups write three persuasive bullet points to back up their decision on whether/how to do a story.
· When turn comes, spokesmen 1 explains the case to the class
· Spokesman 2 reads lead or summary to class
· Group takes questions from class & professor
The groups were
· Group 1 Lauren and Feiras
o Husband of Molly Smith, the Arlington (VA) County Child Protection Services Director, failed to register as a child molester when the family moved to Virginia three years ago. Her husband was convicted in Oregon in 2001 and did not register as a sex offender (as is required by law) in Virginia. Is the crime that took place four years earlier worth reporting? Off the record you’re told it had been unusually serious abuse-rape of the daughter, then 10, for six months. Molly Smith said she has no idea it was going on until an officer came to their door to tell her that her husband had been arrested.
o Lauren and Feiras decision
§ They decided to run the story about the how the husband was not originally registered to begin with
o The class’ input
§ Tell the whole story about what happened four years ago and present.
· Group 2 Grace and Juliana
o Popular Sherriff Forest Sebring makes sexist comments during discussion of a plan to house female inmates for the first time in Monroe County, Pa. During the meeting, most male officials say they feel woman prisoners would pose numerous problems. Sheriff Sebring then says, “Every woman you get in over there (at the jai) will have some kind of complication. She has to be recycled.”
o Grace and Juliana’s decision
§ Use this is a local story and to run it, but not use the sheriff’s comment in the lead
o Class’ input
§ To use the quote in the lead and make what he said seem important
· Group 3 Emily and Ben G
o A 25-year-old man was found hanging from a tree in his backyard. Sheriff’s deputies are investigating, but wont say much. The young man was a well-known teacher of the physically and mentally disabled in the community. The official report says that it was due to sexual asphyxia. This practice, is called autoerotic asphyxiation, involving attempting to reach a heightened sexual orgasm by cutting off oxygen during masturbation. Turns out up to 1,000 people die yearly in the U.S. from sexual asphyxiation.
· Emily and Ben’s decision
o To keep the story but to make the focus on awareness on autoerotic asphyxiation.
· Class’ input
o Really depends where the paper is being used, small town or city. Either tells the story on how the well-known man died or to make the focus on creating awareness throughout the community.
· Group 4 Emma and Nick
o Firefighter Dave Norman dies in a furniture warehouse fire. He is a 17-year veteran of the department. You learn Normal was a fall-drown drunk at the time of his death. Turns out he’d been off duty at the time of the fire, in a bar. He finished his 13th beer and drove to the blaze. Norman was one of four firemen working on north side of the four-story building. Norman turned and walked into a parking meter as the other three sprinted to safety. The wall fell on him and that was that.
o Emma and Nick’s decision
§ Talk about how he was drunk but not say he was 13 beers in.
o Class’ input
§ Agreed with Emma and Nick because the autopsy report states that he was drunk and that will eventually come out.
· Group 5 Rebecca and Jennifer
o On the train you wind up sitting behind a guy who looks familiar. Turns out its former FBI Director Jeremy Johnson. Johnson is possibly drunk and is talking loudly to his friend in the adjacent seat. You can hear the conversation clearly. Johnson boasts that under his direction, the FBI routinely used the Patriot Act to question, “anybody we felt like”. “If they even looked like they might be guilty of something, we hauled ‘em in and kept ‘em locked up until they proved they were innocent.” When he finished, you step around and identify yourself as a reporter. You ask for additional comments. Johnson goes on to describe two specific cases, with his friend asking questions that reveal startling details about the detention of innocent people. He confirms that everything he said was true, “and it’s about time it all came out.”
o Rebecca and Jennifer’s decision
§ Run the story but do not say that he was drunk
o Class’ input
§ To run the story but it might be difficult if Johnson later then says he was drunk during the talk.
· Group 6 Yaniza and Andrew
o The person on the phone tells you about a local family saddled with huge medical bills. The parents are unemployed and do not have insurance, and their four-year-old daughter has a rare from of cancer. A fund drive is being planned. You decide to run the story. Then the phone rings again. A family with a similar plight has the same request. Do you say yes or no? Should you adopt a policy whereby you give uniform play to everyone?
o Yaniza and Andrew’s decision
§ Do not run the other story because then more people will call you with the same problem
o Class’ input
§ It is difficult, maybe have a “cancer corner” or perhaps share the other story as well.
· Group 7 Alyssa and Stefani
o A veteran cop was found shot dead in his cruiser in a mall parking lot. Early reports say he was killed in the line of duty. However there was powder burns on his hands. It wasn’t murder, it was suicide. The dead officer was no career criminal. He was a father of four whose family has been devastated by death, illness and mountainous financial problems in the months prior to his suicide. If the story gets out that it was a suicide, his family will be deprived of $225,000 death benefit awarded when a cop dies in the line of duty.
o Alyssa and Stefani’s decision
§ Minimize harm and preserve his reputation by saying he was killed in the line of duty
o Class’ input
§ Tell the people that it was suicide because the truth will eventually come out especially since the medical examiner’s office confirms that it was a suicide.
· Group 8 Juliana and Lindsey
o You were sent out to do a story about the first baby born in the New Year. You find the mother/baby at a local hospital and begin the interview and find out that the mother had Sam, the newborn because her older son “needs a younger brother, he’s so hyper. “You also find out that the mother lives upstairs from her parents, receives welfare checks, and wouldn’t change the situation fro anything.
o Juliana and Lindsey’s decision
§ Run the story on how Sam was the first baby born in the New Year and disregard the fact that she receives welfare checks.
o Class’ input
§ Possibly forget about the fact that she her baby was the first born into the new year and write a better story on how she is on welfare checks.
Homework for next week’s class:
· Review Chapter on Public Relations
· Polar Bear press release story due on Friday at 12
o “Mourns” could be a good term to use
o Include but do not focus on the other animal deaths
Highlight that Homer was zoo's oldest bear
· Read the handout that was given to us about PR by Business Wire
· Look up Exxon Valdeez and read about it. Be prepared to discuss from a PR perspective