Fraud Journalism

News is a crucial element in communication, providing citizens with information that allows them to make decisions about their lives, who they put their trust into running their communities & their countries, and whether to keep a look out at night for potential harm or danger. When journalists present false stories and quotes that are fabricated, as seen in sports journalism, or is given misleading information, this leads to the production of false new and may have a significant impact on citizens in their decision and opinion making.

Although their is the satirical content that sometimes tricks the media into believing and reporting the content as ‘news’, such as the selfie shoe or Barack Obama on the magazine cover of Tiger Beat, there have been several cases of false quotes and sometimes false interviews held. These situations often affect the reputation of news outlets, and with social media integrating into society, often lead to those reporting the news as the ‘butt’ of the joke.

A recent example is KTVU and the Asiana flight 214 disaster, which in most parts, seemed to be  mocking the television station for falling for the misleading information. This became an important lesson for journalists around the world to double check any information or rumours gathered.

Journalists may not only receive false information but also create it. Stephen Glass is considered the most infamous journalist fraud in modern journalism, in which Glass had fabricated stories, quotes and sources. This lead to the removing of 27 out of 41 of his news articles from New Republic. The stories published by New Republic and Glass could have easily influenced readers, and ultimately altered & influence readers opinions and decisions.

The fabrication of stories and quotes, as well as trusting unreliable sources, has become a enormous issue in journalism, and can have a big impact on the way citizens interact with society and their decision making.

Freedom of Speech in Journalism. Is there a limit?

Limiting the freedom of speech of journalists has become a controversial topic, especially considering that freedom of speech is an inherent human right, which allows individuals to speak without fearing damnation and censorship. In recent times, the Australian Government has tried to introduce legislation and reforms to restrict freedom of speech.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2012 re-asserted the importance of protecting free speech, saying in his address to the Institute of Public Affairs that, “without free speech, free debate is impossible and, without free debate, the democratic process cannot work properly nor can misgovernment and corruption be fully exposed.”

More recently, Scott McIntyre became the centre of a controversial debate over free speech, after using Twitter to inappropriately express his opinions of Anzac Day. On Anzac Day. This ultimately lead to his sacking at SBS and gained mixed reactions. Many people were disgusted by his opinion and tweets, while others believed that his sacking was unjust and that he was expressing his right of free speech, no matter how unpopular it was.

A reputable news outlet, such as SBS, would obviously understand the way in which social media works, and the ways that it allows users to voice their opinions. So the sacking of McIntyre over his opinions became the centre of the freedom of speech and journalism debate. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance are concerned that employers are being unjust.

The theory of free speech has caused much controversy over its use in journalism, questioning whether that extreme forms, such as Charlie Hebdo, are crossing the boundaries into plain old discrimination and should be punishable, or that these extreme views and unpopular opinions are what strengthened free speech and its interpretation as an inherent human right.

Michael Zhang: Ball is Life

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“7 days without shooting hoops makes one weak.” Michael Zhang, 19.

Throughout high school Michael would live and breath basketball, playing it any moment he could. “I remember school would finish at 2:30 on Thursdays, and me and few mates would just hang around until maybe 4:00-4:30 just shooting hoops, playing 2v2 and stuff like that.”

He always felt basketball as a sort of tool to help himself meet new people and fit in. “I remember moving to my third high school in 2012 and bringing a basketball to school with me. A few guys asked if they could play and it turned into a full court game with a mix of students from year 10,11 & 12.”

From there he had created a bond with a group of guys, and allowed him to fit in easier at school. After a year playing on the courts at lunchtime and recess, he began representing the school along with his new found friends in the basketball team. “Me and my mate Yanni got a few of the boys together and tried out for the senior boys basketball team.”

“Did you make it?” I asked.

He laughed. “Nah, most of the boys were almost double my size, I thought I played well though, but the teacher opted for someone else.”

But that didn’t stop Michael from representing the school and decided to use Thursday afternoon sport as a way to prove himself to the coaches of the school who had turned him down. “Yeah, Thursday arvos were pretty good because it was the boys playing competitively against other schools. It really challenged us but also help us improve our game and status as players of the school.”

“So how did you go?”

“Oh yeah, we smashed it, came first and beat the reigning champions with ease.”

With a solid performance representing the school in afternoon sport, Michael gathered up those who he played with and formed a team in the night games in Sutherland. “Yeah, the boys and I had decided to join up the Sutherland comp. It was heaps fun, but in the end didn’t really work out for us and eventually didn’t make the finals.”

His experience began to grow and was eventually called up to what he called the ‘Big League’. “Yeah, the big league i call it.” He laughed. “After most of the guys left for Uni and what not, I tried out for the senior boys basketball team and got in straight away. I was pretty stoked that I finally made in.”

For Michael, basketball has been a passion that he developed in his early teens. Now studying a degree in engineering at the University of Wollongong, he uses it at as an activity to get away from the copious amounts of Uni work. “Its a great way to get away from all the studying and assignments. Its a place where I can just relax and have fun.”

Sexism in Journalism

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“I would like to pursue live broadcasting and reporting and I think the only real barrier to this would be that I would have to show physical attractiveness.” Maddie Alpen, 19

With the introduction of social media has come the online harassment, sexist remarks and comments to female journalists and reporters. Social media users have used the media platforms to target female reporters and journalists over their physical appearance rather than their actual news reporting. But, its not just social media that is targeting female reporters over their physical appearance, but also television stations and websites.

Female journalist’s have been subject to the societal pressures of beauty, with television stations and websites opting for the ‘prettier’ female reporters over their ability to report the news. When asked if societal pressures of beauty are effecting journalism, Maddie Alpen responded, “Yes, I feel there is a pressure still for those involved in the practice of journalism. I feel like this especially effects reporters. It is very rare that we see a reporter on a big time television news programme that isn’t attractive.”

Social media also has an opinion on female reporters covering issues that are typically male dominated such as sports journalism. Many female sports journalists have been turned down, simply for the fact that they were female, and that them being female would not resonate well with the audience. Talking to Georgia Stelja, the topic about a potential career in a male dominated career such as sports journalism arose.

Asking if she was worried, Stelja replied “No, I’m very competitive and determined. I don’t care if society believe that males are only allowed to talk and play sport. I’ll do it and do it better.“

Feminist organisations such as the National Organisation for Women have fought to ensure that their is equality in the workforce, however, journalism continues to see a higher ratio of women to men.

Journalism student Matt Kearins feels that sexism in journalism will not fade with this new wave of feminism. “I feel like there is going to be some form of sexism in journalism for quite a while. It’s not because the people in journalism are sexist, it’s because the major public is still sexist.”

He went on to say that, “once the public values a woman’s opinion the same as a man’s then journalism will become more equal because then women will be able to write with the same assumed authority that men have.”

Aspiring sports journalist Garth Burley believes, however, that feminism has already had a large impact on the journalism world. “I think there has been a massive change in the last 5 years in regards to the employment of women. I feel journalism is an industry when the ratio of male to female is fairly even, and therefore i don’t think it will impact this particular industry severely at all.”

Female journalists have faced a series of sexist remarks and hateful comments due to the introduction of social media. Societies pressures on beauty has caused television networks to overlook the ability to report news and focus on how beautiful the reporter is, leaving the world of journalism with a tag. Sexist.

Student Portrait #3: Paul Heylin

"Just look out into the distance" "Ok, like this? "Perfect"
“Just look out into the distance.”
“Ok, like this?
“Perfect.”

Paul Heylin is currently studying a Journalism and Creative Arts Theatre double degree. Moving from America to Australian when he was twelve years old, his cultural influences have allowed him to make an easy transition into Australian society.

“I’ve lived in rural towns all my life, I’ve been in Wagga Wagga for six years.” His love for movies had made him pursue his dream for acting, leaving his family and friends to live on Campus, in hopes of getting the degree that would push him into the entertainment industry.

“Wollongong is nuts in comparison to anywhere I’ve lived before.”

Student Portrait #2 : Gabe Baer

"That looks sick! Mind if I use that as my profile picture?" "Hahaha, yeah sure"
“That looks sick! Mind if I use that as my profile picture?”
“Hahaha, yeah sure”

Gabe Baer is currently studying a Journalism and Communication & Media Studies double degree, in which he hopes to pursue his life long dream of becoming a sports journalist, maybe one day working for ESPN and covering NBA’s major stories.

“I got interested in sports journalism mostly just by watching sports, specifically basketball, I’m probably the biggest NBA fan anyone will ever meet.” His love for the sport carried through playing the game, and continues to hope for a playing future in the NBA.

“Although I aspire to be a basketball player over in the US, I feel that if that doesn’t work out, getting paid to write about it is the next best thing, and will be something I really enjoy doing.”

Student Portrait #1: Matthew Kearins

“Man, I definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”   “Great can I get a portrait then.”
“Man, I definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”
“Great can I get a portrait then.”

Matthew Kearins is currently studying a Communications and Media Studies degree majoring in Journalism. Growing up in Goulburn, Matt left his family and friends behind to pursue his passion for media, especially in the form of news journalism.

The move was a big change, but his boyish charm and overwhelming confidence, allowed him to become comfortable with his surroundings, making friends and thriving in the night life. The infamous Wednesday night, otherwise known as ‘uni night’, has become a favourite of Matt’s.

“I really need a coffee and a Red Bull, and to just mix that sh*t together.”