Posts tagged ‘Interview’

Gay Marriage: It’s in the Numbers

John Giangrasso Intro to Journalism

Prof. King 7/26/08

Gay Marriage: It’s in the Numbers

The statistics are alarming and speak for themselves. Half of all marriages end in divorce, 1.5 million women a year are assaulted by their current or former boyfriends, one in three children are born outside marriage, 9.68 million female single parent homes, three children a day die from child abuse and neglect and each year an estimated one million cases of suspected child abuse and neglect are substantiated. Seldom has the political manipulation of an issue been so great but as soon as the statistics behind family breakdown are raised in public, the ideological debate about the ideal family form ensues.

The three different views being debated in the churches on this issue are exploring new rites of church “blessings” for gay and lesbian couples commited to lifelong relationships, others want sacramental inclusion and most Christians still believe that the sacrament and theology of the church on marriage shouldn’t be altered. Both sides of the argument have succeeded in overstating the issue. Conservatives relating homosexual marriage to the end of Western Civilization is unfounded and some liberals say that resolving the issues of gay unions is morally equivalent to the issues of racism, apartheid, and the Holocaust. They blew it out of proportion.

So the question I want to know is whether the history of family dynamics and the statistics associated with them suggest that possibly the nuclear family is an unrealistic and unwarranted ideal form of union? Furthermore, what impact if any gay marriage can and will in the future have on the nuclear family dynamics which are already in bad shape? According to an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune called Statistical Census Findings: Traditional Married Couples are Better Off by any Available Standard, “The latest census data show that the traditional family — a married couple and their children — constitute just a little less than one-fourth of all households. On the other hand, such families constituted just a little more than one-fourth of all families a decade ago. Any reports of the demise of the traditional family are greatly exaggerated.”

So what are the most common causes for marriages failing? A survey of experienced divorce lawyers who have been elected by their peers to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers broke it down for us. Poor communication, financial problems, a lack of commitment to the marriage, a dramatic change in priorities and infidelity topped the list. The other causes seen a lot but not as often were failed expectations or unmet needs, addictions and substance abuse, physical, sexual or emotional abuse and a lack of conflict resolution skills. The only thing I couldn’t seem to find on the list was the high amount of divorces due to the relentless pressure felt by families in the form of gay marriages or civil unions breaking them down externally.

In his editorial, “No New Gays” Bill Maher says, “nobody seems to find it abominable about Britney Spears tounging Madonna…or anything else on the third shelf of my “library”. No, in America when a man puts something in another man it had better be a bullet.” Although it’s hysterical it does point out the fact that gay and lesbian acts are already right out in the open in our culture in the form of movies, TV shows and even professional athletes. When Conservatives talk about the moral degeneration brought on by homosexual values and how much of an impact they are having they fail to bring up one thing. In recent years the personal computer and the internet have become a phenomenon that spread faster than anyone could have imagined. It has transformed many industries for good, in some cases making people rich beyond their wildest dreams but for the mass populace a replacement. Yet what is the most visited website on the internet: porn. So much for the moral degeneration, we’re already there.

I talked to Pattie Daly of Rockville Centre whose brother is a homosexual. I asked her what she felt about her own brother being involved in a gay marriage and she said, “I would be completely relieved. He would no longer be in my hair.” I had to laugh but then she said, “he would have someone, company he desperately needs. Some people are gay by their innate nature and they shouldn’t be scrutinized to have a family life because of who they are.” I asked her what her initial reaction was when she first found out her brother was gay and she said, “I wasn’t surprised. I don’t care that he’s gay I care that he’s cheap. I don’t care what his sexual preference.” Her son Dan was there and he said, “That two gay men should not be allowed to be parents because then the child will be ridicule and find it won’t relate as well to the majority who are heterosexual couples.” Even between a mother and son we see that this issue touches as at our core and most people will voice their opinions openly on this topic.

The states themselves will ultimately resolve the legal and civil issues through legislative proceedings. One thing is for sure. Politicians and anyone with a vested interest in seeing us divided as a nation will polarize this issue to further tear us apart as a community and highlight what makes us different to keep us from rising up against all the other social intolerances that are over looked by this silly issue.

July 27, 2008 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Moving Towards “So What?” Reporting

Harvesting the News – A Progression To Story!

News reporters gather information in three ways: by interviewing people, by researching the written record and by observation. The better you are at these, the better your stories will be. This news-gathering triad underlies all good reporting and good writing. In fact, good information, even poorly written, is better than soufflé writing, or writing with no substance.

1. The more ways you gather information, and the more information you gather, the better your story will be. You will move closer to the “actual reality” of the event. Remember your goal is to use any legal and ethical means to learn what’s really going on.

2. Let’s start with the simplest type of news gathering, the story gathered in only one of the three ways. It is based on what you are told, rather than what you discover for yourself. This is source-controlled, source-originated journalism. Let’s call it level 1 journalism.

3. Level 1 stories result from handouts, press releases, press conferences, speeches and statements. They result from what someone tells you. It is surface journalism. It is the work of a clerk, not a reporter. This type of reporting doesn’t have to be bad. It can be information from the city as to when the trash will be picked up, or when to register to vote.

4. But level 1 journalism has its problems. The material can be one-sided. It can be offered by the source for personal, political or economic gain. If the newspaper is filled with this kind of material, the reading public becomes apathetic and distrustful.

5. Worse than being one-sided, level 1 journalism can be wrong. Frequently, people don’t know what they are talking about, and sometimes they lie. So, what’s a reporter to do? Be skeptical. Good reporters question what they are told. They check and double check. They rely on what they are told, but they improve upon it by talking to more than one person, by searching the written record, by trying to see for themselves. As President Reagan said of the Russians, “Trust but verify.”

6. A word of caution: There is a difference between skepticism and cynicism. A skeptic is one who wants proof, but he or she is not prejudiced against face-value explanations. A cynic, on the other hand, refuses to believe face-value explanations and is ready to ascribe almost evil motives to those he or she covers. A good reporter is skeptical but not cynical.

7. When you take what someone tells you, and supplement it with information from your own research, your own observations, or with what others tells you, you move to level 2 journalism. You shed “air and light” on the subject, to use Lincoln Steffens’ phrase. You “climb the stairs,” according to A.J. Liebling. Remember the sign in the Los Angeles Times office: GOYA/KOD, Get off your ass, knock on doors.

8. By operating on the information you have been told, you move from level 1 journalism closer to the “actual reality.” You provide background, details, reaction from others, and your own observations as verification for what has been provided.

9. Suppose you were sent to cover a speech by the director of a university writing center on the subject of student writing. If you went to the speech and reported strictly what the speaker said, that’s level 1 reporting. If you talked with tutors, students, professors, other writing centers, if you visited there yourself, if you provided a history of the center, then that’s level 2 reporting.

10. If you take it one step further, if you attempt to answer the so what? question, if you provide some information on the causes and consequences of the issue, then that is level 3 reporting. Level 3 reporting tells the reader why things are as they are, why they work or don’t work.

–From Beginning Reporting

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From PBS:

Some key elements when considering “newsworthiness” are:

    • Timing: if it happened today, it’s news, if it happened last week, it’s not; with 24-hour news access, “breaking” news is important
    • Significance: how many people are affected
    • Proximity: the closer a story hits to home, the more newsworthy it is
    • Prominence: when famous people are affected, the story matters (i.e. car accident involving your family vs. a car accident involving the President)
    • Human Interest: because these stories are based on emotional appeal, they are meant to be amusing or to generate empathy or other emotions. They often appear in special sections of the newspaper or at the end of the newscast as a “feel good” story or to draw attention to something particularly amusing, quirky, or offbeat

Students know good news stories when they see and hear them. Key components of good news stories include:

  • Attention getting headline
  • A strong lead containing 5 W’s and H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) and an answer for relevance or a response “So What?”
  • Use of quotes (we like to hear what others have to say about the topic of the story)
  • Real facts (the truth and accuracy matter)
  • A strong summary
  • Arrangement of the story (presenting information from most to least important)

For your topic, ask:

  • As you read and learned more about the topic of this news story, did it make you want to learn more or take action in any way? Explain.
  • In your opinion, why it is important to be informed about news that impacts you and/or your community/world both directly and indirectly?

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More Important Tips

  • It’s About People
    News stories are all about how people are affected. In your sports story, you might spend some time focusing on one or more individuals, or on how the team morale is doing, or how the supporters are feeling.
  • Have an Angle!
    Most stories can be presented using a particular angle or “slant”. This is a standard technique and isn’t necessarily bad – it can help make the purpose of the story clear and give it focus. Examples of angles you could use for your sports story: “Seeking Savvy Satire: Where We Get Our News’ Fix” — “Citizen Journalism, Blogging, and Corporate ‘Unbiased’ Journalism: Will the Real Reporters Please Stand Up?” — “Gay Marriage, Straight Marriage: What Are the Alternatives?”
    “Team Tackles National Competition”
    “Big Ask for First-Year Coach”
    “Local Team in Need of Funds”
  • Keep it Objective
    You are completely impartial. Cite your sources. If there is more than one side to the story, cover them all. Don’t use “I” and “me” unless you are quoting someone. Speaking of quoting…
  • Quote People
    For example: “We’re really excited about this competition,” says coach Bob Dobalina, “It’s the highest target we’ve ever set ourselves”.
  • Don’t Get Flowery
    Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Don’t use lots of heavily descriptive language. When you’ve finished, go through the entire story and try to remove any words which aren’t completely necessary.
  • Reporting often involves research — going to libraries, reading about an idea, thinking about where to get more information and who to talk to (all things that Internet can help with). Most of all, reporting involves meeting and interviewing people who either know about the story or who are part of it. Those people are called sources.
  • Reporting is at the heart of a news story. Interviewing real people provides the meat of a good story — quotes of what they said. Talking to people often leads to unexpected information that can take a story in a whole different direction. And people often tell wonderful stories, called anecdotes, to illustrate what they are talking about.It is reporting that makes a news story so different from other forms of writing. And it is meeting people and learning surprising, unexpected — and sometimes amazing — things that makes reporting so rewarding. And any of those ingredients will make your news story interesting.

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Read here about finding your Angle and Whammy!

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July 23, 2008 at 3:42 am Leave a comment


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