So what explains the umbrage over Melania Trump’s warmup speech at the Republican National Convention, extolling Trump family values and virtues of her husband, Donald, the Republican nominee for president?
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect,” said Trump to warm applause.
By the next day, political writers were pointing out that passage and others were almost exactly what First Lady Michelle Obama said at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Not many codes of ethics urge journalists to “take all possible measures to mitigate the odds of a crash.”
But the Professional Society of Drone Journalists code does that, and says its guidelines “should be viewed as a layer of additional ethical considerations atop the traditional professional and ethical expectations of a journalist in the 21st century.”
Drones can provide images and data for “immersion journalism”, according to a blog post that predicts virtual reality tools will allow audiences to experience the sights and sounds of news events as if actually there.
The door to this future is slowly opening as the Federal Aviation Administration works to strike a balance between assuring public safety and supporting the commercial drone industry.
The Killeen Daily Herald in Texas reports that the FAA has acted on more than 3,000 petitions seeking approval for U.S. drone operations.
Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 gives the FAA authority to grant certificates for the commercial use of small, unmanned aerial vehicles. Journalists already use drones to cover newsworthy events, the newspaper points out.
The FAA, meanwhile, is moving cautiously. Each month, it says, the FAA receives more than 100 reports from pilots and others who see what appear to be unmanned aircraft flying close to an airport or manned aircraft.
“It’s become a serious safety concern for the agency, and a potential security issue for the Department of Homeland Security,” the agency said in a statement. As a result, the FAA is working with other agencies to develop technology to detect and identify “rogue drones” and their operators.
A 2014 FAA report denies that the U.S. lags behind other countries in approving commercial drones, adding: “we want to strike the right balance of requirements for (unmanned aircraft systems) to help foster growth in an emerging industry with a wide range of potential uses, but also keep all airspace users and people on the ground safe.”
The Professional Society of Drone Journalists claims members from the Boston Globe, ESPN and Reuters in its global ranks, along with freelancers and academics. “Established in 2011, PSDJ is the first international organization dedicated to establishing the ethical, educational and technological framework for the emerging field of drone journalism,” its mission statement reads. “We develop small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) for journalists, and explore best practices to deploy them for a variety of reporting needs, including investigative, disaster, weather, sports and environmental journalism.”
Its membership roster includes individuals with an interest in drones, and companies that manufacture them. So what is it primarily, a group that represents drone manufacturers or a drone advocacy group?
“I am under the impression it is an advocacy group,” said Mark LaBoyteaux, owner and operator of Hawkeye Media based in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. “But I haven’t heard from them for two or three years,” adding “I thought it evaporated.”
It started, he recalled, when a group of journalists who wanted to use drones for news photography sought permission from the FAA. Instead, the agency sent cease and desist letters to them.
“I got a letter from the FAA,” said LaBoyteaux. As a result, “they wanted to form a group that could work legally with the FAA and use photography for news gathering.”
LaBoyteaux uses five “multi-copters” for aerial photography and video photography. He understands that the FAA is relaxing its rules on drones “to let them be used for commercial purposes.”
On its website, the Professional Society of Drone Journalists espouses a “layered approach” to form its code of ethics, including traditional journalism ethics, privacy, sanctity of law and public spaces, safety and newsworthiness.
Drone operators must be adequately trained, according to the guidelines, and the equipment must be suitable for safe and controlled flight in adequate weather conditions.
Newsworthiness is the foundation of the group’s “hierarchy of ethics.” Drones should be used only after careful deliberation. “The investigation must be of sufficient journalistic importance to risk using a potentially harmful aerial vehicle,” the statement says. “Do not use a drone if the information can be gathered by other, safer means.”
“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of (unmanned aerial vehicles) and camera setups,” CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante says in a statement.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta adds: “Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities. We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned news gathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.”
With this kind of high-level cooperation, drone operators might declare they have liftoff.
Sean Penn shakes hand of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Sean Penn photo.
By Casey Bukro
Once again, Rolling Stone managed to embarrass itself by publishing an account by surly Hollywood star Sean Penn of a jungle trip to interview Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Penn reported that he farted but Guzman graciously pretended he did not notice.
Although pairing a Hollywood star with one of the world’s most wanted drug lords probably sounded like a good story idea, it does not get much more exciting than Penn’s faux pas. Guzman mailed a 17-minute videotape with answers to questions Penn sent by BlackBerry messaging after they met.
An article with Penn’s byline says: “Of the many questions I’d sent El Chapo, a cameraman out of frame asks a few of them directly, paraphrases others, softens many and skips some altogether.”
Penn admits: “Without being present, I could neither control the questioning nor prod for elaborations to his responses.”
Rolling Stone calls that an “interview.”
It should know better. The magazine is still recovering from apologizing for its “Rape on Campus” story at University of Virginia, which it later admitted was a “journalistic failure that was avoidable.” The entire story, which proved to be false, was based on an interview with one person. The failures, Rolling Stone editors admitted, included faulty reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.
Now it’s Sean Penn in the jungle. Penn said it was his idea to contact Guzman. But the article amounts to a printed “selfie.”
On the Jan. 11 PBS News Hour, moderator Judy Woodruff said “some are questioning the ethics of Rolling Stone’s methods” and “the ethics of interviewing an infamous drug lord.”
The program featured Angela Kocherga, Borderlands News Bureau director for the Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism, speaking on the ethics of the Rolling Stone piece.
“It raises very tricky questions about what constitutes journalism,” said Kocherga. “It raised some very troubling issues about access and what constitutes real journalism as opposed to more of a conversation, rather than what they are calling an interview.”
Rolling Stone magazine turned Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev into a cover boy in a recent edition.
The public reaction was explosive. CNN reported that “outrage is percolating across social media” because of what some saw as the magazine’s glorification of an alleged terrorism suspect.
Rolling Stone editors did not see it that way, stating that “our hearts go out to the victims” of the bombing, but that its cover story “falls within the traditions of journalism” and the magazine’s commitment to “serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”
It’s not as if the magazine portrays Tsarnaev as a blameless victim. It’s story about him is titled: “The making of a monster.”
The magazine usually devotes space to rock stars and celebrities.
Handsome and young with long curly dark hair, Tsarnaev posted the picture of himself online. It has been published widely by media outlets.
Justifying its focus on Tsarnaev, Rolling Stones editors pointed out that he is in the same age group as many of the magazine’s readers, making it important to delve into how “a tragedy like this happens.”
That touched off what could be described as a war of Tsarnaev photos. Boston Magazine showed a bloodied Tsarnaev in photos taken by a Massachusetts State Police officer at the moment of the bombing suspects capture.
“This is the real Boston bomber,” the policeman told the magazine. “Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”
The policeman was suspended for releasing the photos, which could be important evidence in Tsarnaev’s trial. Boston Magazine also could be challenged on the ethics of publishing the photos that are part of a continuing criminal investigation.
The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics asks journalists to “support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.” And they are urged to act independently, even when that appears contrary to strong public sentiment. Others believe the Rolling Stone violated the code’s caution against pandering to lurid curiosity.
Tsarnaev is innocent until proven guilty, and there are always more than two sides to the story. Comments in social media even reveal some sympathy for Tsarnaev.
Stupidity is not a crime, and ethical lapses usually will not land you in jail.
But they have consequences, as the New York Post learned when two men sued the tabloid newspaper for showing them in a front-page photo at the height of the search for Boston Marathon Bombing suspects, with a “Bag Men” headline.
CNN reported that the men, 16 and 24-years old, accused the Post of libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy for showing them standing next to each other in the April 18 edition. Also displayed in large letters on the photo were the words: “Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon.” The photo appeared three days after the Boston bombing, making it appear that the FBI were searching for them. One of them wore a backpack.
Post editor Col Allan said the Post did not identify the men as “suspects.”
Huffington Post reported outrage at the use of the photo, with some calling it “a new low” and “appalling.”
Later that day, authorities released photos of Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
NBCNEWS.com reported that the two innocent men were stunned to see themselves pictured on the front page of the tabloid and one of them suffered a panic attack.
Minimize harm, advises the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics. And be judicious, it says, about naming criminal suspects before they are charged. Though the two men were not named by the Post, it’s an apt comparison when showing their faces.
The New York Post photo is considered an example in a series of errors and false reports that were rampant during the frenzy of trying to learn motives for the bombing, and who did it.
Crowd sourcing, it turned out, was not as valuable as its supporters might have supposed. Authorities essentially told the public they were not interested in the flood of iPhone photos that were offered of people and things considered suspicious. Instead, authorities zeroed in on the Tsarnaev brothers by using highly sophisticated identification technology.
There’s one more questionable thing about that New York Post photo, and that’s the use of the words “Bag Men.” You don’t have to be from Chicago or New York to know “bag man” is slang for a person who collects money for racketeers, or a mob errand boy.
It was bad enough that two innocent men were linked falsely with the Boston bombing. It got worse when they were tainted with language that implied criminal activity. Words hurt. They also can get you sued.