Rolling Stone ‘A Rape On Campus’ is a Textbook Example of Negligence

When studying for my media law exam on libel, I poured over what defined negligence compared to actual malice. I could not keep the two straight, until I finally realized, they were extremely similar and both bad journalism practices. So here’s a mini media law lesson:

The legal definition of actual malice means knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. While North Carolina doesn’t have a legal definition of negligence, it is essentially failure to exercise ordinary or reasonable care.

Negligence is likely to be found when there is a discrepancy between what the reporter says the source told them and what the source says they told the reporter. Also if the reporter makes little to no effort to contact the subject and if the story is based only on one source and the information isn’t verified.

Reckless disregard is knowledge of falsity. The journalist had serious doubts about the truth of the story, the accusations were so improbable no reasonable person would have published it and the journalists purposefully avoided the truth by ignoring obvious sources.

With that in mind, think back to the Rolling Stone ‘A Rape on Campus’ story.

CNN posted a story arguing that Rolling Stone still hasn’t learned its lesson. Before the incident the highly credible source made a number of errors in standard journalistic practices. Ones that would make any JOMC 153 News Writing professor cringe.

Rolling Stone posted a note from the editor one day earlier saying they asked the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to look into the story, for no payment, and in return would publish their entire report. The editor admits it was a failure of journalism, and now 5 months later Rolling Stones is officially retracting the original story, ‘A Rape On Campus’.

Investigators looked into the nitty details of the failures in reporting and editing. According to the report the writer never verified the alleged attacker and never confronted him about the allegations to hear his side of the story. She never spoke to 3 of the girl’s friends who talked to her after the attack or gave the fraternity a chance to respond.

The author of the CNN article criticizes that fact that no Rolling Stones staff was fired. The senior editors of the Rolling Stones said they do not believe the error requires a change in their editorial system and saw the story as an earnest but misguided attempt to believe a sexual assault victim. Probably not the best PR statement to make.

I think there are a lot of good lessons from the Rolling Stones article. We all want to believe the victim. If someone says they were raped who are we to say ” no you’re lying.” But there are two sides to every story and as a journalist its your job to cover both sides to the best of your ability, so to avoid a libel case.

And yes, a lot of negligence and reckless disregard for the truth occurred. The UVA fraternity does plan to sue Rolling Stones for the reckless reporting that harmed their reputation. It’s text book mistakes of not contacting the subject, not verifying the facts and ignoring obvious sources. Mistakes that should not be made on any level much less as high as the Rolling Stones.

The story has hurt their credibility as a respectable news source. People will believe any story expecting it to already be fact checked. As a reader we shouldn’t have to verify what we read and question its accuracy, especially from a credible news source.

People fail and make mistakes, even at the Rolling Stones. Maybe its the fast paced digital era assisting in these major oversights in traditional journalism? Either way journalists are held to a high standard and should follow 101 policies such as fact checking and talking to more than one source, to produce the least biased story possible.

 

 

New Emojis on Snapchat

When Snapchat last updated many people were upset you could no longer see who your friends best friends were, or the top 3 people each person Snapchatted the most.

Today Snapchat released a simple solution. Now next to your friend’s name, an emoji might appear. The emojis each mean something. For example, a heart means you are each others top bf or best friend (not boyfriend).

photo 2 (1)              photo 1 (2)

 

Emojis have become a new sort of language. Either talking completely in emojis or as Snapchat has done, combining the use of simple symbols to communicate a message. Emojis combined with Snapchat gives people a way to keep tabs on their friends and see who they are Snapchatting in relation to who you are. Gone are the days of keeping secrets. Social media bears them all.

Who Wants To Go To Duke Anyway

We’ve all been rejected from something. In a relationship, a job or the dreaded college rejection letter.

But 17-year-old Siobhan O’Dell, from North Carolina, wasn’t going to accept a “no”. She responded to Duke University with a rejection letter rejecting their rejection letter, and it went viral.

She spoke to MailOnline about how she realized how much power universities have over students and how much a simple answer affects students. She said she wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Duke responded to her letter with a standard response that she could reapply, but did not appeal their decision.

Even though she didn’t get into Duke, she announced she’ll be going to University of Southern California in the fall.

The image of her letter went viral after she posted it on Tumblr. BuzzSumo compiled a list of why things go viral and her letter fits a few of the categories. While it didn’t have an images which usually helps increase shares, her letter invoked awe, laughter and amusement, which gets the most shares.

Siobhan’s rejection letter to Duke is light hearted and funny and therefore went viral. Everyone can relate to being rejected but not many people can say they rejected the rejecter.

Citizen Journalism – Breaking News Faster

In class we’ve talked a lot about how slow the news can be. Ferguson did not break into major news networks until days after the occurrence, and arguably only because of the attention it got on social media. The murder of three students near UNC’s campus is a similar story.

Saturday I saw an article about a body of a female found near where I went to high school in an empty for sale house. I’m struggling to find the article I read now, but it caught my attention.

March 30th (Monday) WNCN reported the name of the victim, the body was found Saturday and the address, that she attended the same high school I did and her family wants who did it to come forward.

Yesterday March 31 many other local stations including WNCN, FOX 8, WRAL, N&O, ABC 11 picked up the story that her ex-boyfriend was arrested and charged with her murder. He also attended Jordan High School.

The facts I learned about the story that I didn’t already know from social media were comments from the girl’s mother. She said her daughter and her had an argument and spring break had just started so she wasn’t surprised when her daughter didn’t come home Friday night.

But for the most part, responses on social media, particularly Twitter, told me they both are juniors and he was in a gang, as well as their classmates reactions.

This also might be semi-skewed because I went to Jordan and still know people who go to Jordan, but as the recent past has shown, the fact that Twitter broke the story faster than news networks is nothing new.

Citizen journalism is the way of the future. News networks need to better link into social media to break a story. They are simply taking too long and not giving as much information as a social network can.

Apps are tapping into this with Meerkat and Twitter’s new purchase Periscope. While video probably isn’t the best medium to break this story, the apps are promoting citizen journalism.

News networks should have a social media feed attached to the story to give a citizen insight. This could help break the Facebook algorithm thats hiding news that Facebook doesn’t think you would be interested in. Overall, I think there needs to be a better bridge between social media and news network because citizen journalism is becoming more informative than traditional journalism.

Cutting the Cord on Cable

My future roommates and I are already having the debate on should we purchase cable for our apartment next year? One girl is arguing no, she would rather pay for Netflix and a cord to hook our computers up to the TV than a basic cable package. My other future roommate is arguing yes, she wants to be able to watch Carolina games.

My one friend is not the only person refusing to pay for cable and would rather pay for Netflix. Fewer people are watching TV, instead using services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime to watch their favorite shows. About 2.6 million households are “broadband only” which means that they do not subscribe to cable.

People are also spending less time watching TV, down by about 6 hours a month from 2011 to 2014.

My classmate Holden argues that sports are what will keep TV alive. People love to watch live sports. Recorded games just aren’t the same as watching the game live, especially since social media will probably ruin the outcome before you’ve had a chance to watch it.

My classmate Hallie, discusses the concept of TV a la carte. I attended the same talk she did with Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, in which he talked about cable companies creating unbundling cable packages – ie. paying only for the channels you wish to watch.

Cohen argued that an unbundle service would actually make your cable bill higher. Some channels might end up charging more because maybe it’s less popular than ESPN or MTV, and your bill could grow and grow until it’s larger than the flat fee Comcast charges now for all channels. Of course Comcast wants users to keep buying their flat fee service, but is it worth it?

I searched “live without cable” and these how to options came up:

  • Get a digital antenna
  • Apple TV or Roku
  • Hulu Plus for $6.95/ month
  • Netflix for $7.99/ month
  • Rent movies from Redbox for $1.25
  • Turn off the TV

A writer on Forbes said he purchased an internet only plan, Roku and Netflix and is saving over $1300 a year compared to his previous Comcast cable bill.

So maybe no cable is the way to go? I do enjoy a good channel surfing, but as a college student it’s rare to find time to sit down and watch tv. With a busy lifestyle streaming is the way to go and based on the figures, it might be the cheaper option as well.

Jay Z’s New Music Streaming Service

Even though Spotify pays out more than 70% of its revenue to artists, labels and song publishers artists, such as Taylor Swift, are challenging the open freemium model of Spotify and believe they should be getting much more money.

Cue Jay Z – who really does “run this town”.

Jay Z recently bought music streaming service, Tidal, in which artists will bind together to combat the free music streaming issue. Majority of Tidal will be owned by artists to bring financial benefits to the people who are creating the work.

Artists include – Rihanna, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Jack White, Alicia Keys, Jason Aldean, Daft Punk and of course Queen B herself Beyonce.

Tidal will have no free version. There will be a $10 a month option for a compressed format and $20 a month for CD-quality streams.

“The challenge is to get everyone to respect music again, to recognize its value,” said Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter. “Water is free. Music is $6 but no one wants to pay for music. You should drink free water from the tap — it’s a beautiful thing. And if you want to hear the most beautiful song, then support the artist.” – From NYT Article Jay Z Plans For Tidal.

The freemium service is unfair to artists, but it’s hard to feel bad for millionaire musicians like Jay Z and Taylor Swift. I do however feel for up and coming artists who are struggling to make a living by making music. Maybe Jay Z’s new service will help include a larger variety in music and not just the top tier of celebrity musicians.

It’ll be interesting to see how Tidal competes with Spotify’s 60 million users, 15 million of which who pay for the upgraded service. It’s smart timing though as major labels are beginning to pull out of Spotify. It’s been known that Spotify won’t remain free forever, and that time is most likely to come sooner with other streaming services such as Apple Beats and Tidal quickly approaching. Watch out for the Tidal (wave).

Incubate

What if you received a Happy Birthday voicemail from your grandma years after she passed away? Or 5 years later you’re sent a funny photo of you and your best friend from last night?

Incubate: The time-delay messenger allows all of this. Launched this month, the app allows you to send texts, photos, videos and voicemails up to 25 years into the future. The messages “incubate” and you can see how many you have coming, but you don’t know when they will be delivered. The app set a fundraising goal of $500,000 and well exceeded it (people really are much more likely to donate online).

Any website wants to make you stay on their site for as long as possible and keep coming back. With incubate there’s a constant anxiety of when and what you will receive next.

I’ve used a website called FutureMe.org that allows you to send emails to yourself or someone else in the future. It’s a simple setup, but very fun because you completely forget about it and it ends up being this nice little surprise of what younger you was thinking or doing. It’s always fun to reminisce.

Incubate is taking FutureMe one step further by allowing pictures and videos, which many people have argued is the way of the future. Without a picture and video option, people immediately lose interest in the platform (ie Google + – Why photos rule the Internet) Even in a tweet or Facebook post, if it doesn’t have an image or video people are less likely to look at it or remember it. We’re a very visual society and for that reason I think Incubate will be a fun and well liked new app.

Change

Yesterday in class we talked about GoFundMe, a website where anyone can create a page about what they need money for (trip, project, etc.) and ask others to help fund them. As my classmate Lauren said in her blog about GoFundMe, it’s an example of a piece of the internet being put to good use. A heart warming example of people helping one another that would not be possible without the internet.

I think GoFundMe is great, but another worthy website to talk about is Change.org. Similar to GoFundMe, Change is a platform for people to create a page with a goal in mind. But instead of asking for monetary help, all they are asking for is a signature. People create petitions instead of bank accounts on Change and reach out to large audiences for help.

My cousin made a Change page to create a petition to create a “Healthy Relationships” merit badge for Boy Scouts. In a letter to the president of Boy Scouts of American, he’s asking for the Boy Scouts to create the badge to teach equality to young boys and to learn to deal with their emotions in positive ways to establish healthy relationships later in life. (I encourage you all to go sign it here).

While money does make a difference, it’s not the only thing that helps. Even signing your name and showing support can help. Time Magazine wrote that Change is a “Spectacular demonstration of the way ordinary folks can now mobilize extraordinary support for their causes.” People can make a difference and with mass media make that difference come true even faster than ever before imaged. In just a week my cousin has over 1,800 signatures on his petition. People have a lot of power to help and make dreams become a reality.

Facebook As a News Site

Over spring break I sat around for awhile trying thinking of a topic for my final project for this class (current issues in mass media). The assignment is to think of the future of something related to mass media. Finally I had this ah-ha moment of what if all news organizations were on one social media website. People could pay to receive all their news from one site. It would be personalized and folks would have the ability to like, share, repost articles for all their friends to see. I thought it was a great idea, my family members not so much.

Well, jokes on all of us because Facebook beat me to the punch. The New York Times wrote an article today called Facebook May Host News’ Site Content. To sum up the article, partners such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and National Geographic would post their content on Facebook. They could then make money from advertisers running alongside the content.

The proposal comes with the risk of giving away content, losing clicks on the news organizations own webpage, the loss of consumer data which might go to Facebook instead and anyone not hopping on the Facebook train might lose out on significant traffic. But as Quartz wrote, The Homepage is Dead. Traffic on the NYT homepage as dropped by half and instead people are getting their news from social media.

Surprisingly, or not, this includes young adults who in a American Press Institute study on how millennials  (ages 18-34) get their news they found that 69% got news daily. 39% actively seek out news and 60% “bump” into it but non-less kids are seeing it. Maybe we don’t read a newspaper every morning like our parents do, but we’re somewhat updated on whats going on in the world due to social media.

Based on PewResearch Social Media Update 2014, Facebook remains the largest social media site. More than half of all adults 65 and over have Facebook. 71% of Internet users are on Facebook and 70% engage with it daily. Facebook already acts as a homepage for many people and with an addition of news, I think those numbers would only increase. This proposal would be a major win for Facebook.

Once again Facebook is paving (more like bulldozing) the path of the future. They’re taking the biggest problem for news organizations and giving them a solution, which not so coincidentally will also be extremely beneficially to themselves. I think news organizations won’t really have a choice if they put their content on Facebook or not, especially if the majors do it everyone else will have to follow suit. As a Facebook user and member of the millennial generation I like it. A one stop shop for information and it’s free – sign me up.

Starbucks Race Together Campaign

I opened up my e-mail this morning and the first one I saw was from Linkedin with an article titled: #RaceTogether 3 Reasons Behind Starbucks’ Failure. I’m a big Starbucks fan so the title caught my attention and I had only read a little about their Race Together campaign so I clicked to read more.

Starting March 17, the goal was for baristas in Starbuck’s 12,000 US stores to write “Race Together” on cups to initiate conversations about race and diversity with customers. Yesterday Starbucks ended the campaign, though they said it was always intended to end on the 22nd. The race campaign received a huge negative backlash across social media platforms including twitter.

This woman went to Starbuck’s around NYC and asked baristas about race relations. What she found is really interesting and amusing. Most said they didn’t want to talk about it, one person even told her she had to go through corporate with any comments.

Back to the the Linkedin article, it credited 3 reasons for the failure:

1. Brand misalignment – Starbucks as a brand isn’t associated with race or racial diversity. In essence, it’s a lot of middle/ upper class Americans buying overpriced coffee.

2. Authenticity Deficit – Employees were not trained on how to handle the questions, as the woman’s video above clearly shows.

3. Poor reaction – Starbucks had no crisis management plan if the campaign failed, as it did. Social media can be both positive and negative towards a brand and in this instance, Starbucks took a hard hit on social media.

Overall, I think the campaign had good intentions and I appreciate what Starbucks was attempting to do. But I think they failed to do their research and didn’t have a plan B should the campaign not be a success. I’ve been to Starbucks a few times since the campaign began both on and off campus and I was never presented with the Race Together campaign, which shows a failure in execution as well.

The Race Together campaign shows that social media can be a curse and a blessing. The campaign did create social media buzz and started a conversation, but not necessarily the one Starbucks had intended. I think Starbucks did the smart thing by pulling the plug on the campaign and if they choose to do a similar campaign in the future will choose one that relates to the brand and plan for the worse case scenario.