Each time the Olympics rolls around, the focus is on the unbelievable athletic talent of sports players across the globe.  As it should be.  These athletes train for hours on end, possess unimaginable determination and offer inspiration to aspiring Olympians and average viewers alike.  But this year, my eyes are not solely focused on the athletes; I was watching their moms and listening to their stories.

It was the above commercial that tugged on my heartstrings. 

It showed young children preparing for their Olympic events—wearing their country’s uniform, waving their country’s flag.  For the entire minute, you see the concentration on these kids’ faces as they get ready to embark on one of the most mentally and physically challenging events in their lives.  At the conclusion, Proctor & Gamble (a company that houses Tide and Pampers, among other similar brands) chose to show one reaction shot of the crowd.  Who is the camera focused on?  The mother of the Olympic athlete. 

Perhaps I was moved by this advertisement because I can appreciate the cohesive storyline that many commercials lack these days.  Perhaps it was because I can only imagine how invigorating it must feel to represent a country with a sport you dedicated your entire life to.  But as I picked apart the commercial, I noticed effective advertisement techniques that evoked the very response Proctor & Gamble wanted.

On the most basic level, most people like kids.  Having cute children star in a commercial keeps an audience watching.  But there’s a deeper explanation than just wanting to have adorable children represent the Proctor & Gamble brand.  Proctor & Gamble’s target audience is guardians—specifically mothers.  It is natural for mothers to watch the commercial and immediately take heed because they can imagine their children taking on similar obstacles.  Using children as a way to hook the target audience gets the mothers to listen up.  

Mothers know what it’s like to have their children dedicated to a special activity—whether it’s sports or painting or acting.  Proctor & Gamble provides products that help deal with the aftermath of these activities.  Tide, for instance, helps clean sweaty and dirty soccer uniforms.  Pampers keeps clothes from getting soiled.  Crest ensures kids keep healthy oral habits for a 100-watt smile.  Tying Proctor & Gamble products with Olympic children implies that if a mother uses P & G products, her child will be successful. 

Additionally, the music tells us how to react.  The background melody creates a feeling of hopefulness as we sit in our chairs rooting for the child to do well in his or her competition.  We become attached to these cute characters and want to witness their Olympic success.  Ultimately, we want our kids to emulate those in the commercial.

 
 
Imagine you were at a shooting range.  You’ve got an M16 in hand and the wood target is 100 meters away.  Someone snaps a photo of you.  The picture is a tight shot—a close up of your face up against the gun.  You can’t decipher the background.  You can only see that your eyes are squinted with concentration and you’re in possession of a deadly weapon.  This picture could be a hostile soldier, but it’s not.  It’s you—your day at the shooting range.    

Just how that image of you could be misinterpreted because the entirety of the situation was not revealed, news outlets are leaving out details pertinent to the story. 

American media is failing to frame the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas with appropriate historical context, therefore distorting media coverage enough to publish inaccurate information.

The articles on the NY Times alone are brutal to the image of Israel and its army. 

Israel broadens its bombing in Gaza to include government sites
Israel Strikes Kill 11 in Gaza, Including Children
Israeli Airstrike Kills 3 Generations of a Palestinian Family

I won’t distort the truth.  Israel is in fact responsible for the deaths of approximately 96 Palestinians as of Sunday, of which 50 were civilians.  Was the shooting out of anger?  Was the intent to obliterate the entire Palestinian population in Gaza?

Without a doubt, no. 

These NY Times headlines suggest that Israel is on the offensive, which portrays an inaccurate representation of the Israel Defense Forces’ mission: Operation Pillar of Defense.

The mission has two objectives.  First, “to protect Israeli civilians.”  Second, “to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.”

All three NY Times articles avoid the biggest contextual detail.  The IDF warns Gaza civilians when it will attack.  Wednesday, Nov. 14, the IDF dropped thousands of notes above Gaza to caution innocent Palestinians to evacuate areas Hamas terrorists settle. 

Terrorists are the people the IDF is after.

Hamas is known for hiding among and behind its civilians, making it nearly impossible for the IDF to avoid hitting Palestinians.  The NY Times articles indicate that the death toll is rising, but they fail to mention that the high number is led by Hamas’ inhumane protection strategy.   

The word choice in “Israel Strikes Kill 11 in Gaza, Including Children” is incredibly disturbing when the following contradiction is apparent.

The article says, “Israel launched the offensive Wednesday in what it said was an effort to end months of intensifying rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.”

Tell me this.  How can Israel be on the “offensive” when it is responding to an eleven-year rocket attack?  When 750 rockets have hit the state in the last week alone, how can Israel afford not to eliminate the rocket fire to protect innocent lives?

Distorting the truth not only disables the credibility of the news outlet, but it also spreads misconceptions of the IDF. 

Israel launched its operation entitled Pillar of Defense.  Defense.  Israel is ensuring the rocket fire ceases by eliminating the terrorists that shoot them.  Again, defense. 

Media coverage, like this recent CNN interview with Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesperson Mark Regev, blatantly broadcasts anti-Israel bias in the way the questions are phrased.  This distorts the truth by broadcasting the anchor’s bias versus having the viewer come up with his/her own opinion. 

Regev states that Israel will keep its military “options open,” but Israel will also “act until [it] can achieve peace and quiet.”

Immediately, the anchor sassily asks, “how do these airstrikes, Mark, bring peace and quiet?” 

This anchor neglects to address that Hamas has been firing rockets at Israel daily for more than a decade now. The IDF’s main concern, according to the second goal of Operation Pillar of Defense, is to rid the region of terrorists.  After doing so, Regev hopes that peace and quiet will come. 

President Obama said it perfectly the other day, “There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

Ms. CNN Anchor fails to contextualize the situation.  In 2005 when Hamas broke a cease fire with Israel, the terrorist organization made it clear their objective is to wipe Israel and its people off the map.  It’s part of Hamas’ charter. 

So Israel is supposed to respond peacefully.  Israel presented the opportunity for another cease fire and Hamas deliberately rejected it.  Where is that information in the interview?

Just how the phrasing in the articles needs to precise, so do the interview questions. 

“You’re talking about targeted operations here.  Among the casualties you’ve got two children, a pregnant woman, a baby, 15 children are wounded.  These aren’t targeted operations,” the anchor says. 

Not only is this question accusatory, but it does not acknowledge (like the articles did not acknowledge) that Hamas strategically places its terrorists among civilians because they know the IDF soldiers are commanded to do everything in their power to avoid targeting Palestinian civilian.

When news outlets fail to contextualize such a complicated and historic matter, media consumers collect inaccurate information.  They absorb only a portion of the information, rather than seeing the broader scope.

Granted, there is limited time in a newscast and only so much of an article people are willing to read.  Nevertheless, it is a journalistic duty to present the facts and refrain from distorting the truth by over-simplifying a subject.
 
 
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I had one shot.  One chance to get it right.  One minute and thirty seconds to say what needed to be said.  Spotlight glaring and camera rolling.  I was made to do this, and I wasn’t letting anything get in my way.

As the rest of America watched the television screen to follow the presidential election on November 6th, I stood in front of the camera to report the election coverage live.  Stationed in Los Feliz at Rockwell Restaurant, I joined Congressman Adam Schiff and the West Hollywood Democrats Club in their election viewing party.  

It was my obligation to research and prepare for the election coverage in order to speak knowledgeably on both the presidential and local races.  A responsible journalist would arrive, set up shop and immediately start following the presidential race.  It was 4:00 p.m. when my field producer and I arrived at the restaurant, and I made sure I stayed informed. 

Twitter feed up. 
CNN on the television above the bar. 
Notepad.  Pen.  Camera.  Microphone.  Lights.   

Annenberg TV News’ live coverage began at 7:00 p.m., and until then I wrote my different hits.  In my first hit, I gave people background information on where I was and why…then told them what I would be bringing them in the coming hours.  In my second hit, I stood next to a map that showed Congressman Schiff’s redistricting.  In my last hit, I interviewed a first-time voter about her experience and why she decided to vote the way she did. 

It all sounds pretty basic.  And when I write it out, I guess it is.  But I promise you, it was more exhilarating than that.

It was a night that reaffirmed a journalism career is exactly what I want to do with my life.

While covering the election live, I had to stay on top of the election results.  Every time a state was called either for Obama or for Romney, my facts changed.  More information in meant more information to put in my upcoming live shot.  It was challenging keeping up with what CNN was reporting and major news outlet tweets while gathering my own information at the viewing party.

But the life of a journalist is juggling a multitude of information and then sharing it in a way that is understandable to the general public. 

While everyone sat on their living room sofas, sipped on their drinks and munched on their snacks waiting for the presidential election results to come in, I interviewed voters and spoke before several hundred viewers on the campaigns of 2012.

The night wound down at 11:00 p.m., but my mind was still racing and my heart was still pounding.

It was a feeling of fulfillment.  Joy.  Relief.  Exhilaration.  A feeling that solidified what I’m doing with my life is exactly what makes me happy.   And it’s that election night feeling that will stay with me every time I report. 


 
 
Call it a potential World War III.  Call it a spark to another nuclear arms race.  Call it an economic disaster.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s bad news.

Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons are a direct threat to the United States’ power and to its people.  It’s time for Americans to wake up and to recognize that a nuclear Iran is detrimental to their way of life. 

C’mon, shell out another 30 cents per gallon to fill up your tank at the gas station.  You mean you don’t want gas prices to go up?  You’re not happy about paying more than $2 per gallon? 

If Iran completes its nuclear program, oil prices will skyrocket even higher than they have in the last ten years.  Since 2002, gas prices across the country have steadily increased with price averages peaking in September at $3.817, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Iran’s nuclear arsenal development could position Iran as a powerful leader among other unstable regimes in the Middle East, which could lead to an oil embargo harmful to Americans and the democratic nation’s economy. 

To further explain, let’s say Iran did have that power.  The country could restrict business with America by threatening neighboring nations, like Saudi Arabia, not to sell petroleum to the United States.  (Saudi Arabia is one Middle East country from which America buys its oil.)  With the threat of a nuclear weapon, Iran could demand complete closure of the passageway that transports oil from Saudi Arabia to America.  If the Strait of Hormuz is shut down, Americans will not have much access to oil.

Less oil means a hike in gas prices.  Less oil means flights become more expensive.  Less oil means the economy will suffer because people will not be buying petroleum or products that use petroleum.  The less oil imported into the United States, the more you will pay out of pocket for transportation.  Can you imagine paying $20 per gallon?

So that’s not enough to get you going, huh?

The heated combination between an unstable Middle East and a nuclear armament could explode into a nuclear arms race challenging America’s dominance as a world power. 

Iran—along with Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Egypt—does not have a steady government.  So government leaders may appear to be stable while overseeing nuclear arsenal, but it’s possible that radicals could take over and control the weaponry a short time later.  Unstable governments with possession of extreme weapons could only lead to chaos. 

You should care because every time the United States doesn’t approve of decisions in the Middle East and decides to intervene, America could be faced with a nuclear attack from a hostile region. 

Imagine if a nuclear weapon is pointed toward America.  Your life could be on the line.

A nuclear arms race would also mean that unstable regimes would be bombing each other, ultimately causing ecological harm to the Middle East.  Effects of a regional nuclear war include a substantial drop in temperatures, plus precipitation would increase where each droplet would carry large amounts of smoke and soot.  Rain with nuclear residue is harmful to both the environment and to the human respiratory cycle. 

And you thought a nuclear Iran was too far away to affect your daily living habits.  Well, it hits even closer to home.

Remember Hizbollah?  Iran provides the organization with weaponry and demands.  Non-state actor Hizbollah is widely known for having tight relations with the drug cartels that smuggle illegal substances across the U.S.-Mexican border.  Should Iran obtain nuclear weapons, the drug cartels will be managed by an unstable regime with powerful armament.  Therefore, Iran’s threat is geographically closer to the United States through the direction of Hizbollah. 

A nuclear Iran puts you and your loved ones in harm’s way. 

We don’t want anyone in harm’s way, especially our American soldiers.  A nuclear Iran, however, could send our men in uniform out to war once more. 

Turkey’s quest to gain regional power exacerbates its already-established tension with Iran.  Imagine if the two countries went head-to-head.  Under the NATO treaty, America is obligated to come to Turkey’s aid should a war break out.  Meaning, it could be another war that American soldiers have to fight and more American lives at risk.

It is imperative to realize that just because Iran’s uranium enrichment program has been developing over time, doesn’t mean that the effects of its nuclear program will be less impactful.  America will still feel the economic, ecological and personal effects of a nuclear Iran.

Wake up, America.  Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons has a direct effect on your life, and it's time you recognize that.

 
 
Malinda Bray never thought she would see her ex-husband again when he left her after 25 years of marriage. She noticed, however, that he started stalking her. After reuniting for dinner, the Compton woman found herself helpless on the ground as her ex-husband ambushed her.

"He pointed a shotgun point-blank at my face," said Bray, a domestic violence victim. "I could see the fire come out of the shotgun." 

Bray is one of hundreds of Angelenos who are victims of domestic violence each day. Domestic violence expert Carolann Peterson said that L.A. County receives 500 to 1,000 911 calls daily regarding domestic violence crimes.

"The abusing person controls all the money, makes all the decisions, usually isolates the victims from family and friends," said Peterson.

In Los Angeles County, there is a domestic homicide every five days, said Peterson.

October marks domestic violence awareness month, but the prominence of this issue is "overshadowed" by breast cancer awareness month, said Peterson.

To combat the lack of knowledge, the Los Angeles Domestic Task Force addressed the community at a press conference Tuesday on the prevalence of the crime.

"Even when people live in fear about testifying," said Council President Eric Garcetti, District 13, "we will make sure that the prepetrators are brought to justice."

The Los Angeles Domestic Task Force, established in June of 1994, recognized domestic violence awareness month to educate people on the extremity of the situation.

"It has ripple effects in our schools when you look at what it means to a child who has been abused who comes to a classroom unable to learn," said Garcetti. "It has effects in teen dating. It has effects everywhere."

One form of domestic violence is "extreme jealousy," as Peterson described. Young adults from 16 to 24 years old are typical victims of dating violence.

Consistent education from elementary school up until college is one way to minimize domestic violence.

"[Teachers] don't have to do this in isolation," said Peterson.  The domestic violence expert suggested that teachers partner with organizations like The Los Angeles Domestic Task Force to help plan programs for students.

"You're not just saving that one potential victim, but that you're also potentially saving all of the children that live in that home," said Robin Sax, Fox 11 News legal analyst, at the press conference.

Peterson attributes some of the problem to history, how women and children were considered property and so people think talking about domestic violence is a private matter.

"It's a topic that makes people uncomfortable," she said.

Encouraging people to talk about the matter is one way to address domestic violence.

Bray spent two weeks in the hospital learning how to walk again, after surviving the gun shot. She told her story to raise awareness for others.

 
 
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On November 6th, voters will be forced to answer the question of whether or not Obama has done enough to be reelected. For Obama to win a second term, it is essential that he communicate his successes in a more concise and presidential manner, while expanding his outreach and fundraising efforts.

With both candidates refusing public funds, both 2012 presidential campaigns are set to raise over a billion dollars each. Obama’s campaign is focused on a grassroots organization with small dollar donations. The campaign utilized a fundraising strategy that mobilized more people to donate smaller amounts of money rather than just a few donating the maximum amount. With this philosophy, the Obama campaign has raised approximately $500 million dollars through small donations. The average donation has been around $58 and 98% of donations being under the $250 mark (WashingtonPost.com).

The Obama campaign back in 2008 proved to have the strongest grassroots volunteering organization, and this campaign season they intend to replicate it. The campaign has more grassroots offices than Romney, totaling to 551 offices in swing states while Romney just has 254 (DailyKos). The majority of the volunteers are from younger generations; something that was uncommon before Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Obama’s campaign has utilized the full power of the Internet, gaining most of their money and volunteers through this form communication. They have developed multiple ‘apps’ for people to stay connected. Their most recent, Dashboard, allows volunteers to reach out to nearby Obama supporters, make phone calls to undecided voters and browse through upcoming events.

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Just as the president proved his success in the 2008 election, his Twitter presence has had a major impact on voter participation in the 2012 election—especially with the youth.  Obama’s official Twitter account shows that 21.4 million people follow his tweets, compared to Romney’s 1.6 million followers (Obama, Romney). The advantage to using Twitter is that it accounts for Obama’s life in real time. Additionally, the tweets concluding in “B/O” are directly tweeted by Obama himself. This shows constituents that he is making an effort to have direct contact with Americans, which makes people feel like he truly cares about them. The more interaction Obama has with the American people, the more likely he is to gain their adoration and, ultimately, their votes.

Obama’s utilization of Facebook also establishes voter loyalty, but more importantly, informs and mobilizes voters. One advantage to Facebook is that you can see all your friends who “like” the president.  According to political philosopher Berelson, people associate with those who have similar political views; however, should someone share Obama’s status update, the message may come on another’s news feed who may not have “liked” Obama’s Facebook page. Ultimately, for Obama to continue engaging the youth vote, he needs to remain prominent in all social media sites.

Everything really becomes irrelevant for Obama if he does not successfully orchestrate his get out the vote (GOTV) campaign. According to a recent New York Times article, “for the Obama campaign, the challenge is to overcome a decline in voter enthusiasm from 2008 that has existed throughout the year” (Landler). To overcome this decline, Obama must ensure that his GOTV strategies convince all the people who voted for him in 2008 will make it out to the polls again; he also must get new voters out there.

One of the groups Obama must get out to the polls is Hispanics. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, “50% of eligible Latino voters cast ballots [in 2008], compared with 65% of blacks and 66% of whites.”  In order to reach out to this specific population Obama must use traditional social media, phone banks and emails to reach out to voters and let them know the importance of voting. But Obama has done a good job at being creative as well. While at a rally at an Iowa college, “he urged them to [vote] right after his speech — at a satellite polling place that had been set up in a library across the campus” (Landler). This type of strategy to get out the vote is unprecedented, but could prove to make all the difference come Election Day.

On top of Obama asking voters himself to go out and vote, these strategies will be the extra push to help Obama turn out enough voters to ensure victories – especially in those tricky swing states. We recommend that, in the days leading up to the election, Obama keep up these strategies and get influential Americans to encourage regular day-to-day Americans to vote. If he utilizes people in high places to convince citizens the importance of voting, and focuses particularly on Hispanics, he will hopefully be able to get the votes he needs to win re-election.

To conclude, it is imperative that President Obama keep and improve upon most of his campaign strategies already in play. He must target average Americans for support financially, in addition to hosting large fundraisers. He must stay connected with voters through social media, and also utilize social media and high-profile Americans to encourage voters to head to the polls. Finally, he must also play up his positive decisions concerning foreign and domestic policies in the past four years. If Obama takes all of these recommendations we are positive that his chances for re-election will definitely go up.

 
 
It’s imperative you read this.  Whether you follow the conflict in the Middle East or not, Arab Spring and the Israeli Enemy sheds light on the corruption within the Arab world and its effect on thousands of innocent lives.

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim wrote this piece with one question in mind: “who is the real enemy of the Arab world?”  

Dictators in the Arab world use the Arab-Israeli conflict to mask the inhumane acts thrust on their own people.

“The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people,” said Al-Mulhim.

He said that the Arab world has numerous enemies, but Israel is low on the list.  Dictators blame outside factors like Israel as the reason for the decline of the Arab world.  Al-Mulhim, however, realizes that the destruction comes from within. 

“The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries,” he said. 

The only solution is to reform from within.  The people in Syria, Yemen and Tunisia are suffering not because of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but because their own leaders neglect them.  Food is scarce.  Government steals from its citizens.   Iraqis flee from their destroyed country to find liberty. 

Al-Mulhim argued that Israel takes better care of Arabs than their own Arab leaders do. 

“Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World,” he said. 

It could be because of the country’s values.  Israel, the sole democratic nation in the Middle East, takes pride in providing equal opportunity for its people.  A powerful example is that an Arab judge on the Israeli court sent a former Israeli president to jail.  While Israel does not promote having one of its former presidents placed behind bars, this example does show that the country strives to give a voice to its diverse population. 

The one takeaway from this article is that change comes from within.  One Arab, Al-Mulhim, spoke out.  It's time for others to do the same.

 
 
When you flip on your television, what station is it tuned to?  Unless you’re a political junkie or journalism joyful, it’s probably not the news.  News viewership has been on the steady decline for the last decade and it is affecting the industry.  Perhaps one reason for the decrease in viewership is because families watched television during dinner, but most Americans don’t eat together anymore.  Others may argue that the prominence of technology and the changing news industry have steered people to consume the news on their phones or on the computer.  But there’s more to it.  People don’t trust the news industry anymore because the information is not credible.  The ubiquity of skewed news judgment at stations like ABC7 Eyewitness News and NBC Los Angeles has caused viewership to plummet despite journalism measures in place that encourage accurate, ethical and factual reporting. 

The Society of Professional Journalists wrote a code of ethics to shape the idea of sound news judgment.  While this current version of the SPJ Code of Ethics was written in 1996, rules for just and meaningful reporting have been embraced for nearly a century.  Thousands of journalists nationwide use the document as a standard to ensure they are taking the proper protocol when collecting information for their stories.  The headlines alone offer advice on the most effective way to report: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable.  These headlines, including the detailed rules under each category, are a “resource for ethical decision making,” thus trying to eliminate skewed news judgment before it happens.  For example, reporters should “avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information” in order to evade illegal ramifications that may arise should the reporter be caught.  This rule warns reporters that there will be repercussions should they cross the line.

The constant stream of cynical broadcast stories discourages viewership because the balance between inspiring community stories and crime stories is heavily disproportional.  Fear is what grabs viewers’ attention—it gets people tuned in, ears open and eyes glued to the screen.  According to a variety of studies, Psychology Today says that negative news resonates better with people than happy or neutral news because humans still think in terms of survival.  If there is a threat, then stress hormones kick in and people are on the defensive.  The coverage of September 11, 2001 is a prime example as to why negative news can be both powerful and hurtful.   Remember this photo?
It is of a World Trade Center businessman jumping out of the building and falling to his death.  The photograph tells the story of many who escaped the terrorist attack by committing suicide—a part of the 9/11 reality that resonated with millions of Americans, but instilled fear within each of them.  News stations were careful to show images like this one to the public to protect them from the emotional gravity of the attack.  Not all stories take the same course.  Many negative stories are repeated over and over again, like the Colorado Shooting on July 20, 2012 where a man opened fire in a movie theater at the most recent Batman premiere.  That tragedy was covered for days and the pessimism is overbearing.  After so much negativity, viewers get tired of being afraid.  So tired, that they flip the channel or turn off the television.    

One way ABC7 addresses the negativity in the newscasts is through its Cool Kid segment, which features high school students in Los Angeles County who serve the community through various outreach programs.  Cool Kid Arye Lavin devoted time and care to special needs kids; A’Lexus Owens advocated for a “Love is Louder” campaign that promotes anti-bullying; Celine Yousefzadeh puts on a fashion show to donate money to schools in Israel that have been hit by rockets.  Featuring youth who take positive action helps ABC7 balance its newscast with positive stories.  NBC Los Angeles has a similar segment entitled Life Connected that showcases individuals and communities that come together to bring change and inspiration. 

The hierarchy within news stations plays a major role in the editorial judgment for each newscast.  ABC7 writer Lecia VanHorn says that station managers, executive producers and producers determine whether a story is covered or if a particular video is shown.  At ABC7, the station collected video from an outside source “of paramedics pumping a guy’s chest,” said VanHorn.  “He ended up dying.  And we don’t show that,” she said.  Such graphic content is rarely aired in order to protect the individual and his/her family.  In situations of war or disaster, ABC7 does not show injured or dead bodies lying in the street.  “[Independently contracted photographers] will shoot bodies in the street that are not covered…if we’re going to show that they have to be covered,” said VanHorn.  In doing so, the station shows sensitivity to the subject matter, thus showing the positive side to editorial judgment because it is being used to protect rather than sensationalize. 

Many times, however, a station manager’s editorial judgment can be driven by ratings and advertisements.  VanHorn explains that stations make decisions based on the companies they are trying to please.  Since ABC7 is owned by The Walt Disney Company, the station must cover when Disney has an event or big opening because Disney is the parent company to the news station.  The editorial judgment is therefore decided based on where the financial funding is coming from versus which story has better news value to the station’s viewers.  Advertisers also expect the news to cover certain stories because specific stories attract a targeted audience.  When ABC7 airs Cool Kids, commercials for Staples or Kohl’s are advertised because they are targeting the high school demographic.  Should ABC7 discontinue the Cool Kids segment, Staples or Kohl’s may withdraw as an advertiser because those companies’ consumers may not be watching the news at that time anymore.  It is the station manager’s decision as to what is put in the show’s rundown and what is taken out.  This affects the legitimacy of the news business.  If stations are airing content aimed to keep advertisers rather than valuable news content catered to viewers, then the station is not reporting with ethics. 

A decline in viewership could also be due to a drop in investigative reporting and an increase in news aggregation.  NBC Los Angeles producer Todd Reed is certain that the news industry does not have many “reporters” anymore but rather information aggregators.  Reporters go to the wires and to the web to get their facts, then they interview a couple people affected by the subject of the story.  He believes that in-depth research is lacking in news stories.  While this could be an effect of the 24/7 news cycle and demand for instant news, the essence of reporting—fact-seeking and fact-checking—has disappeared from the newsroom.  Investigation adds value to a news story, and without it, there is little utility for viewers. 

Bias news stations, including Fox and CNN, skew their content to lean conservative or liberal.  People tend to tune in to news stations that support their political ideologies and share the same interests.  Therefore, stations like Fox have a steady viewer base of conservatives because they agree with what is being said on air.  The same goes for liberal viewers who watch CNN.  While this may be positive for some news watchers, the bias itself discredits the stations’ content and ethics.  The SPJ Code of Ethics says to “never distort the content of news,” yet the editorial judgment at both stations skews either left or right.  Some may argue that no story can ever be unbiased because a reporter is not always able to get both sides of the story.  Letting viewers know that a company or individual did not respond to phone calls is key in balancing out that difficulty.  What is not ok is choosing not to address one side of the issue.  “Sometimes you hear executive producers say ‘I want to sell this story,” said VanHorn.  Meaning, a journalist should shape his or her news package to reflect a certain perspective.  “You shouldn’t have to sell any story if it’s newsworthy enough to be on,” she said. 
Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom brings the broken journalism industry into the spotlight to criticize its flaws and to encourage revamping the news system.  Since the first episode, characters in The Newsroom were determined to build the ethicality of the station through accurate reporting and sound news judgment.  Each episode takes a real-world news story (like the BP oil spill or the mission to kill Bin Laden) and finds a way to cover the news ethically to increase the station’s viewership and bring credible reporting back to television.  Though Sorkin’s show emphasizes faults in real news stations’ coverage, it suggests ways to better the journalism industry.  The characters fact-check every detail of the newscast; and the reporters defy management to keep stories unbiased.  Reed, however, is not convinced this show and its objective is the solution to the journalism industry’s problems.  He says that station managers and executive producers are set in their ways and driven by the fiscal incentives, which makes it nearly impossible to alter the system. 

What does this mean for the future of journalism?  Changes must be made to gain viewership back, but the system seems corrupt and nearly impossible to fix.  Perhaps the younger generation of reporters will be more adamant in demanding ethical news coverage from the station managers.  Otherwise, broadcast television news may fizzle out.   
 
 
Small businesses are now turning to the internet for a financial boost because banks are neglecting to loan money for small business ventures.

Crowd funding is making it possible for anyone to lend a helping hand for start-ups, especially here in Los Angeles.  Companies like Rocketshare, Kickstarter and Kiva are all crowd funding sites that allow small business owners to collect loans—not from banks, but from people like you and me. 

Here’s how it works.

1. A small business owner applies to a crowd funding website.
2. Once selected and posted on the website, people with accounts on the website can donate money to help fund the loan going to the small business owner.
3. The small business owner raises the amount of money they set out to through the help of average people.
4.  The small business owner pays back the loan through the crowd funding site, that then gets paid back to the average people that loaned money to the small business owner.

Here’s a real life example of how this system works.

Yesenia Monroy dreamed to bring a fresh and healthy restaurant to a predominantly fast-food area in Boyle Heights.  Now that she’s owned “Café 22” for nearly a year, she wanted to expand as her business keeps growing.

When Monroy applied for a loan from a bank, they denied her the $15,000 she requested.   She then sought out the Valley Economic Development Center, which helped cover some of the cost. 

Monroy raised $5,000 more for her much-needed delivery driver.  When the banks refused to loan her that, she turned to the crowd funding site “Kiva.” 

Kiva allows average Joes to donate to Monroy’s business venture in small increments starting at $25. 

Without the help of the Kiva, Monroy wouldn’t have been able to expand her business.  Banks refused to offer her a loan because the amount of money she was asking for was big for her, but too small for a bank to really care.

The impact of crowd funding sites is community-oriented.   Programs like this help establish a sense of community among people.  Because people had faith in Monroy’s idea and helped fund her initiative to hire a delivery driver, she is eager to do the same for someone else.  Through crowd funding, people are encouraged to support one another. 

It is also an effort to increase the California economy.  The more small businesses are funded, the more they can contribute to our society, and the more money flows into our state. 

 
 
As the 2012 race to the White House approaches the finish line, presidential candidates are taking big strides to maintain a ­positive image.  And who represents them best?  We would hope their wives do!

For all you eligible voters who have reservations about both party candidates, take heed to First Lady Michelle Obama’s words at the Democratic National Convention.  Her speech aimed to highlight the personal characteristics of her husband, President Barack Obama, and she did a damn good job. 

Michelle Obama strengthened support for the 2012 Obama campaign by generating an emotional connection between voters and the president through familial anecdotes and professional speech delivery.

She presented herself calmly and articulately throughout her 25-minute declamation.  Within the first minute of trying to hush the crowd of roaring Democrats, she showed her humility and genuine disposition as she listened to the enthusiastic constituents.

Beyond that initial minute, Michelle Obama presented her message at a high caliber.  (Granted, we must not forget she is a Harvard law graduate.  This educational feat establishes her intellectual credibility among voters because people trust that learned individuals are knowledgeable about a variety of topics.)  She said that President Obama still possesses the values and determination he had when they met all those years ago; he has become mentally stronger and more focused on serving the American people.

“I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are.  No, it reveals who you are…so when it comes to rebuilding the economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother.  He’s thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day’s work,” she said.

According to Angus Campbell’s “The American Voter,” people base their votes on emotional and psychological appeal.  How do you feel when you hear that a father works tirelessly to give his children the opportunity to go to college?  How do you feel when an ill citizen is left with an empty wallet because of health costs?  Chances are, you can relate and you can empathize.  Sharing those stories evokes a feeling of understanding.  The personal stories that Michelle Obama told get you to vote for her husband. 

“You see, even back then when Barack was a senator and a presidential candidate, to me, he was still the guy that picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out that I could actually see the pavement going by in a hole in the passenger side door. He was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he found in a dumpster.  And whose only pair of decent shoes was a half-size too small.”

Integrating stories of her husband’s character enabled Michelle Obama to remind everyone that the president is just like the “common man.”

She tugs on the emotional heartstrings of voters by sharing this anecdote:

“That’s the man I see in the late hours of the night, hunched over his desk pouring over the letters that people have sent him. The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills.  From the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care.  From the young people with so much promise but so few opportunities.  And I see the concern in his eyes and the determination in his voice.  He tells me ‘you won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle, it’s not right. We’ve got to keep working to fix this, we’ve got so much more to do.’”

Michelle Obama strategically mentioned this observation to portray President Obama as someone who whole-heartedly cares about individual Americans and their struggles.  This tactic showed that the president understands us and that he is genuinely concerned about our well-being. 

She used the literary device of repetition to remind voters that President Obama is working hard and making change, just like he promised in his first election.

“He brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again, jobs you can raise a family on—good jobs, right here in the United States of America.”

Jobs, jobs, jobs.  The word is reiterated to highlight President Obama’s work in job creation—an effort he is proud of—and to have Obama’s positive success at the forefront of voters minds.   

The overwhelming majority of voters do not know President Obama on a personal level, and therefore the performance of his “team” (those who advocate on behalf of him) plays a large role in how people vote.  Voters’ thoughts are based on how the presidential candidate is portrayed in personal stories, which is why Michelle Obama’s speech was story driven.  She represented her husband well by speaking articulately and whole-heartedly about the competence of President Obama.