Pupil arrested for DUI
Photographs by Ali Levens
Controversy permeates trendy information, and the Graphic is not any exception. Over the previous 10 years, the Graphic confronted criticism for quite a lot of articles, from reporting on pupil DUI arrests to sharing video content material of a crash on PCH to a particular version on medicine.
Three former Graphic journalists break down the controversial tales they reported on and emphasize the significance of together with opposing views whereas remaining goal. The reporters additionally present recommendation on how you can broach traumatic matters with sensitivity and equity.
“Now greater than ever, us, as journalists, want to consider being extra goal as a result of that’s actually what provides us credibility, particularly whenever you’re speaking about controversial points in controversial occasions,” former Graphic journalist and 2015 Seaver alumna Maria Prada stated.
Two Sides to (Virtually) Each Story
In 2014, the Graphic reported on pupil Jacob Norte’s arrest on suspicion of a DUI following a automotive crash. Members of the group accused the Graphic of spreading rumors and never being compassionate or truthful to these concerned, in keeping with a follow-up opinion piece by 2015 alumna Breanna Grigsby. The controversy culminated within the theft of 275 copies of the Graphic.
“As members of the Pepperdine group, we at all times try to be delicate and compassionate towards our fellow group members,” Grigsby wrote. “Nevertheless, whereas being compassionate, we can’t abandon our job to report the information. We neither intend to show a lesson by publishing this story nor to make an instance of these whose actions got here below scrutiny.”
Following the controversy surrounding the DUI article, Prada wrote an in-depth profile exploring Norte’s expertise.
“Rumors started,” Prada stated in an interview with the Graphic. “Folks began saying that it was as a result of he was drunk when actually there was a narrative that was rather more profound behind this boy and the psychological well being points he was coping with.”
Prada stated she reached out to Norte with the will to inform his story and lift consciousness of psychological well being points and the position they performed in what occurred — a facet of the story not extensively recognized throughout campus.
By means of telling Norte’s story, Prada stated she realized useful classes about reporting on delicate or controversial matters.
“Empathy is an important place to begin for any journalist wanting to inform any story,” Prada stated. “Understanding what he felt and never judging him was a very necessary factor that I realized from this.”
The important thing to sustaining readers’ belief is remaining goal, Prada stated, which requires telling each side of the story.
“It’s your obligation to inform the opposite aspect of the story as a result of if you already know one thing and also you don’t say that to the individual studying it, you lose your credibility,” Prada stated. “In the event that they discover out, they’ll assume that you simply’re simply [sharing] the narrative that you simply really feel like goes to be just right for you.”
One other former Graphic journalist and 2020 alumna, Kayiu Wong, stated she agreed that together with opposing sides is important to reporting pretty and objectively.
Wong’s profile on Kenneth Starr, the previous dean of the Caruso College of Regulation who served on Trump’s impeachment protection group in January 2020, drew criticism on social media.
“Hey Pepperdine Graphic, this isn’t somebody you wish to promote as related to the college,” wrote one Facebook commenter, 1995 alumna Darin Campbell. One other person, Christine Humphrey, wrote, “Not one thing to be pleased with. He’s a scumbag.”
In a follow-up staff editorial, the Graphic workers defended the publication of the piece.
“These feedback mirror a typical false impression in regards to the media: that once we report on a given matter, we’re providing judgment, or in some circumstances, sponsorship and promotion,” the Graphic workers wrote. “Nevertheless, the Graphic’s total journalistic course of is crafted to do precisely the alternative.”
Wong stated she agreed with this sentiment.
“Simply setting out making positive that your goal in your reporting is pushed not by editorial causes or sponsorship or promotions however actually primarily based on information and reality,” Wong stated.
Though it’s sometimes crucial to report on all conflicting sides of a difficulty, guaranteeing equal protection to each side shouldn’t apply if a sure aspect is “rooted in falsehoods or unsupported arguments,” Wong wrote in a textual content message to the Graphic.
“Journalists have a accountability to stop misinformation from being unfold and a part of which means dismissing falsehoods and being cautious to separate truth from falsehoods,” Wong wrote. “In order we as journalists do work and try to pretty characterize various viewpoints of their tales, it’s simply as necessary to position them in context and to concentrate on provable truths, somewhat than solely on that includes conflicting views.”
Reporting On Trauma: Moral or Not?
A video launched alongside a 2019 Graphic article a couple of crash on PCH drew criticism from college students who seen it as unethical and doubtlessly triggering to these concerned within the trauma, in keeping with a follow-up article by the Graphic explaining the choice.
“Many individuals who reached out to us wished the video to be taken down,” the Graphic workers wrote. “The Pepperdine Graphic Media workers confronted an moral dilemma: withhold info on the crash to respect sensitivities or painting the reality of the incident in one of the simplest ways attainable.”
The Graphic ended up eradicating the audio from the clip as a result of traumatic sounds within the background however left up the visible side as a result of it illustrated the severity of the crash, Wong stated.
Reporting on controversial matters as a university journalist will be particularly difficult, Wong stated, as a result of it typically includes friends and associates on campus.
“One in every of our reporters, her buddy was within the crash and her buddy had DMed her immediately in regards to the video, requesting it to be eliminated,” Wong stated. “And when it wasn’t eliminated, as a result of we republished it, this buddy stopped speaking to our reporter.”
Wong’s expertise reporting on the 2019 crash nonetheless influences her to today, she stated. Working as a desk assistant with the “Today Show” has led to a number of different situations of reporting on controversial and traumatic occasions, such because the current shootings in Boulder, Colo., and Atlanta.
Deciding which pictures and videoes to incorporate in reviews on the shootings introduced classes Wong realized throughout her time on the Graphic to the forefront. Straddling the road between sharing visible components and being delicate to how traumatic media might affect readers will be difficult, Wong stated.
“I believed quite a bit about that automotive crash in 2019, and simply being very cautious of how we wish to reduce hurt and never present triggering pictures,” Wong stated. “I requested myself, do we have to present this for the sake of really portraying the story? And if that’s the case, how will we greatest do this to attenuate hurt as a lot as attainable in order that it’s not insensitive?”
The Want To Cowl Taboo Subjects Objectively
Channa Steinmetz, a former Graphic journalist and 2020 Seaver alumna, served because the editor of the Graphic’s 2019 special edition on drugs, which had sturdy potential to be controversial or perceived as taboo. Protecting a number of sides of the difficulty and avoiding ethical judgments was key to approaching the subject, Steinmetz stated.
Steinmetz stated the dearth of controversy following the version’s publication stunned her.
“I’m fairly grateful,” Steinmetz stated. “I believed that there was going to be much more pushback on that publication. However I believe the Pepperdine group, at the very least to these individuals who I spoke to and interacted with, like President [Andrew K.] Benton, principally had optimistic suggestions.”
Reporting pretty and non-judgmentally on taboo topics can be rewarding, Steinmetz stated. One pupil approached Steinmetz following the version’s publication to let her know the tales impacted them as a result of that they had been in rehab the earlier summer season.
“This individual was very grateful that we have been creating one thing like this [so] this individual might convey it to their associates and speak — it sort of opens up the room to dialog,” Steinmetz stated.
Steinmetz’s recommendation for approaching delicate matters was to remember to get all views related to the story and to make it clear to interviewees she isn’t coming into the story with any preconceived angle.
“I say I’m not making an attempt to push any agenda,” Steinmetz stated. “I simply wish to hear your aspect of the story to get extra perception on all the story.”
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E-mail Natalie Hardt: firstname.lastname@example.org