Teaching Notes

You must become the flame on the candle. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Paper

Please answer question #3 under The Paper on page 165 of our text. Your response is due by Sunday, Sept. 12, by 9 a.m.

28 comments:

Doron Tyler Antrim said...

The term "epistemic responsibility" means that journalists have an obligation to adhere to a moral code during the investigative process.

Lorraine Code is the philosopher associated with this concept.

The three factors that interfere with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility are narrative fidelity, time and competition.

Narrative fidelity is a journalist's fascination with a story driven by a stereotypical cast of characters. Time is an interference because deadlines for stories pressure journalists into writing simple, narrative fidelity stories. Time is also connected to competition. There is an intense contest for stories between journalists. This does not allow journalists to work collectively in pursuing the truth.

rosalyn said...

Philosopher Lorraine Code's concept of epistemic responsibility "highlights the moral significance of the investigative processes journalists use to make sense of the world for citizens living in today's information society." For this investigative process journalists take into account all eye-witnesses (themselves included) as well as collect documents that are applicable. While they will attempt to be thorough and accurate there are many factors that can interfere with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibilities. That would include deadlines, competition and prejudices.

As reflected in the movie "The Paper" there are time constraints. A newspaper's websites and other on-line features can be updated as circumstances change. But once a paper goes to press it is a much more complicated scenario especially with rapidly changing events like saving trapped miners. As stated in Chapter 2 there is the option at press time to include a disclaimer about their inability to be certain or the other option to not go forward with stories that may be misleading or incorrect as of the deadline to go to press.

There is fierce competition to get the story first whether it is newspapers, TV/cable news or the internet. In being forced to rush a story journalists can cut corners to doing all the research that might give them a more accurate account. It is also "recreating the wheel" when different journalists are all accumulating the same basic initial information as opposed to sharing what they have and brainstorming on how to build the story past these basic facts.

Journalists with sexist or racist leanings could misrepresent stories to reflect these prejudices. An editor with a keen eye would probably see through this kind of reporting - or not! Fair and accurate reporting can be compromised by a whole range of cultural influences along with any number of other discriminatory beliefs including ageism and religious intolerance. These influences on journalists return full circle to Lorraine Code's definition above. With the internet we really do live on an information highway that crosses continents with the flash of a keystroke. Journalists are an integral part of that information society and with time The Code of Ethics (of SPJ) will reach farther and wider and reporting will be fairer and more accurate.

Nicole said...

The philosopher Lorraine Code is responsible for the concept of epistemic responsibility, which looks at the moral aspect and the role it plays in the way journalists try and determine what is right and makes sense for citizens receiving and interpreting the information given out by these journalists.

One factor that interferes with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility is uncertainty when it comes to reporting something. Like the example in the book about the 12 workers were trapped in a mine and the wrong information was given out to the public, sometimes journalists have to rely on outside stories and witnesses because they cannot get the information themselves. But what happens when the wrong information is placed on the front page the next morning causes chaos and confusion.

Another factor is that sometimes journalists will assume and include their assumed information into the story. Instead of using just the known facts and what is actually confirmed, even if it isn’t want the journalist necessarily wants to hear, journalists will jump to a conclusion and lean their readers in a certain direction. A journalist should be telling citizens the facts and the truth and not be biased, because that can lead to more people agreeing just based on what was written.

The last factor is deadlines. Every journalist, for the most part, has a deadline that they have to obey to. It puts more competition on getting the story first and doing the best job with it. It is especially hard when different journalists are aiming towards the same audience. Because there is a time constraint, journalists could not have enough time to get all the research they want done and might not be able to give their audience all the information they intended to. However, many journalists would rather not finish the story and admit it is not ready then provide false information to their audiences.

Joseph said...

Philosopher Lorraine Code "epistemic responsibility", is a concept that deals with what is appropriate when dealing with news information. Do you print or broadcast a story with out all of the correct information? This concept is very important because it deals with how you should conduct yourself when dealing with real life and real life people. Press has the ability to persuade mass audience to believe a particular story. But, truth should be the overwhelming goal and factor when dealing with information and headlines.
Exclusivity; especially in a 24/7 news media, is a very important. News organizations want to be the first with a breaking story. However, misinformation can happen when dealing with up to the minute updates. Concerning the example of the trapped miners, I remember how happy I was when I heard the report that they all were going to be okay. But, later that day, when the updated report came out and that there was only one survivor, I remember thinking, how can you get something like that wrong? The news organizations should of have some type of preface to the report that the information could not be confirmed. I know that no legitimate news organization would print a lie that serious unless it was a mistake. However, they need to know that many people depend on them for the truth. For many Americans, we did not know the miners, but family and friends were probably glued to the TV hoping to here any information on if the loved ones were okay. Reporters are sometimes clouded by the industry. Everyone wants to make a name for themselves. However, these ideas can conflict with the real story. Self importance can not be associated when dealing with truthful reporting because eventually your greed will lead you in the wrong direction. Another aspect that clouds media integrity is the fulfilment of those who came before. There are many underhanded tricks reporters use to get information and by choosing against this practice could lead you to much conflict among colleges. So a new reporter may rush a story just to please his boss and fellow colleges. The only benchmark a reporter should be concerned with is the truth.

Julie said...

Epistemic responsibility is a type of moral code that good journalists should follow in order to give their readers truthful and correct information.

The philosopher associated with this concept is Lorraine Code.

One factor that interferes with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility is the ability to get the truth out of the people they are interviewing. As used in this chapter, an example of this is found in the movie The Paper. The character Hackett is faced with a responsibility to find out the truth in order to save the lives of two innocent teenagers. Hackett knew that these boys did not commit the crime so it was his epistemic responsibility to find out the truth, on record.
Another factor that could interfere would be not being skeptical enough, as mentioned in this chapter, "Journalistic skepticism involves 'continual testing' to avoid a rush of judgment." This involves being "mindful" of things like race and sex.
Finally, the third factor that interferes with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility is time. All papers have deadlines and they need to be met. As an example, the incidence in the West Virginia mines was used where reporters were told that ten people survived the disaster when really only one person survived. The newspapers were printed with the wrong story and the people felt ill-informed and the papers had to own up to their mistakes all because at the time the story was written, it was supposed to be fact that ten people survived.

Kilani L. said...

"Epistemic responsibility" is a term that deals with the idea of journalists upholding some sort of moral code during the investigative process so as to give the readers the information they need. Lorraine Code is the philosopher associated with this concept.

Three factors that interfere with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility are deadlines,competitiveness and narrative fidelity.


Deadlines are a big factor with journalists. Many times journalists are pressed for time. They have to be able to get a story out when it's due and no later. Time means so much. This pressure, might cause a journalists to compromise their epistemic responsibility in order to get their story done.

Time constraints also play into competitiveness. Journalists want to have the best and most interesting stories.They want to get the story first. Journalists want to have the latest scoops on stories that they think will garner the most attention from readers. Competitiveness can tempt journalists to rush stories.

Narrative fidelity is the last factor. This plays into journalists using personal experiences as templates for their stories. Sometimes this will cause them to bring in cultural myths and stereotypes that they believe to be true. Instead of strictly including facts, putting these personal views into a story can compromise their epistemic responsibility.

Laurent said...

Lorraine Code’s epistemic responsibility is about journalists making conscious decisions when it comes to accurate news reporting for their readers. As the book describes, a journalist is a storyteller who must stick to high standards when it comes to reporting and writing. Journalists are the average citizen’s “eyes and ears” to events that they themselves cannot attend.

The book mentions that, “Ethics and knowing are connected. And that means that some ways of knowing are more responsible than others.” Reporters must establish themselves as a voice to be trusted. In the movie, the newspaper deals with limited sources, narrative fidelity and deadlines that affect the quality of fair news reporting.

Henry Hackett, the staff reporter, needs to get a reliable quote from a police officer saying that the two teens did commit the crime. Without his quotes, he does not have a solid story. I know from experience that getting quotes from different sources give weight to the story. I interviewed an administrator once who gave me exaggerated information about a school event. I went to interview faculty members who pointed out the misleading information from the administrator.

Verifying the information from sources is necessary to prevent false information from circulating. In the case of the mining accident, the papers should have explained there was not a confirmation. With online updates, the newspapers could have easily updated their web page when they received confirmation of the event. People were misled into false hope as result. Papers need to be forthcoming.

Narrative fidelity is tricky because I think it is easy for journalists to fall into the trap of finding a simple explanation. The fact that Hackett cannot imagine police officers covering up a mob hit, shows how journalists need to question the situations they encounter. Every situation cannot be taken for face value because investigative reporting requires further digging for answers. We place our faith in institutions that seem impenetrable to corruption but a journalist cannot assume. There needs to be awareness of stereotyping, racism, etc in reporting.

When journalists are faced with a deadline, key information can get lost. Hackett’s boss is fine with running “Gotcha” because the paper has to have some headline out on the stands. Competition with other papers drives the stakes very high but it shouldn’t be at the expense of getting sloppy. Hackett’s boss didn’t care if the two boys had a ruined reputation if “Gotcha” ran. She couldn’t foresee how they would be affected by the public’s scrutiny. Hackett is right about news reporting not being about money. Journalism is a practice of fair storytelling with credited sources.

ChrisDT said...

The meaning for the term "epistemic responsibility" is the use of moral judgement when investigating a story and getting the information that the reader needs. This term is most associated with the philosopher Lorraine Code.

Three factors that could and sometimes do interfere with a journalist fulfilling his or her epistemic responsibility are uncovering a source's credibility, time constraints and competition. A source's credibility may come into question after a mistake is found in writing. This is linked with time constraints especially when there isn't enough time question the truth. If the paper prints in ten minutes and the quote is shaky, it leads a journalist to question if they are upholding their responsibility in investigating and reporting the truth. Time constraints also lead to other problems where there may not be enough information to report due to the lack of time to investigate. Competition may also lead a journalist to use tactics in investigating that may interfere with their morals in a "must have that story" situation.

Brianna said...

Epistemic responsibility is a person (journalist’s) obligation to give their most sincere version of the truth, even if telling half of the truth would have been more beneficial. “Epistemic” technically means “of or pertaining to knowledge or the conditions for acquiring it” (dictionary.com). Is it right to tamper with the truthfulness of a message many people will receive? A journalist has at hand all the raw facts, like a big mess of crayons and papers and glitter glue on a big messy table. It is his or her moral obligation to the audience to take this mess of crayons papers and glue (facts) and construct the masterpiece (message) in most truthfully constructed way. Great power comes with conveying messages to masses of people, it is simply wrong to skew the facts you give an audience.
Epistemic responsibility is perhaps most clearly defined with an example in Journalism Ethics Goes to the Movies. Chapter 1 explores a famous 1994 Ron Howard Film The Paper. It features NY Sun Editor Hacket who can prove that a cover-story destined to be released the next morning is completely untrue based on a last minute testimony from a cop. 2 black men are going to be portrayed as criminals on the front page, when really Hacket knows they were framed by the police. Hacket’s boss refuses to bring the presses to a hault, he has severely failed his epistemic responsibility. Hacket knows, however, it “shouldn’t be semantics. This shouldn’t be money. People will read this, Alicia, and they’ll believe us” (9, Journalism Ethics Goes to the Movies). He knows the difference between his vs. his boss’ account of the truth- his actually has intellectual integrity
Philosopher Lorraine Code investigates epistemic responsibility, and urges that the world’s society is an ‘information society’- we dwell on the news, and feed from the media. We, in other words, have a full right to the truth. Code explains, “for people like scientists, teachers, and journalists, the good life is essentially an intellectual life, and the object of their quest is truth” (10).
Many factors can taint a journalist’s pursuit of truth. A journalist’s narrative fidelity can altar the truthfulness of a story- journalists are, afterall, only human. Narrative fidelity has to do with an author’s urge to use his or her own personal experiences when arranging the bare facts of the story. They might mold “what really happened” into “what probably happened because it usually happens that way”- in other words, turn it into a familiar story. This sometime happens simply because the journalist doesn’t have time to investigate further, to flesh out a more truthful account of what happened- so its simply easy to shape the story into the skeleton of a similar already-happened story. This brings up the second factor that hinders a journalist’s responsibilities- Time. There only seems to be one time in journalism, and that is “right NOW.” Deadlines and stories have such an urgency that it might seem more important to get a story in on time, then in after all the moral obligations to truth have been fulfilled. Especially when the guy working for the other company can have both, done by yesterday! This is the final factor- competition. Because the world of journalism is so competitive, it’s probably extremely tempting to rush through assignments, or write them in an untruthful but more appealing manner. Competition especially gets ugly when there is one major story going on in the world. News companies/papers will compete right down to the very headline. In this gravelly of a dog eat dog world, I wonder if its possible for a journalist to ever fulfill his complete epistemic duties- Disregarding personal experience-While making it in on time- While beating out the competition. Yikes.

Jess said...

The term “epistemic responsibility,” “which highlights the moral significance of the investigative processes journalists use to make sense of the world for citizens living in today’s information society.” Epistemic Responsibility was coined by Lorraine Code to help determine what is truth.
There are many things that can distract or interfere journalists from fulfilling their duty of upholding the truth while relaying their story to the public. Some problem’s that may rise are well known with “yellow journalism,” which is basically stories that are made up, relished or exaggerated to make headlines or for the journalist to receive acknowledgement and fame. This has happened throughout history with the cases of Stephen Glass and Jason Blair.
Time constraints and deadlines can also interfere with a journalist’s epistemic responsibility. If someone is rushing to complete a story, or just writing a story for it to be done, they may do a shoddy job and not get all the facts right. Or perhaps they will not even bother to ask for quotes or comments from bystanders. There is a right way to complete something, and be proud of your work, and then there is the lazy way to do something.
Another thing that can hurt a journalist is the bystander. People who witness an event may or may not be telling the truth. Stories can change; certain facts can be forgotten or relished. The journalist is taking a risk by gathering comments or information from civilians, and must also be careful not to misquote them.

Zuri said...
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Zuri said...

Lorraine Code's concept of epistemic responsibility "highlights the moral significance of the investigative processes" journalists go through or are supposed to carry out in doing their jobs of reporting news accurately. Essentially, this means that journalists are expected to report the truth as they know it. As well as seek out the truth in an "ethical" manner and report what they know and how they know it to the public. That is what is expected of them or a journalist.

Three factors that interfere with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility are: sources/truthfulness, time, and competition.

Pertaining to time, news is time sensitive. Journalists may seek out to find information and facts to support a story, similar to that of the mining story, and get the wrong information. As a reader, my expectation of a journalist is to find the information and to make sure it's correct and to report it to me. In the case of the miners, I think it is understandable how the story spread. An official, who would normally report accurate information, stated that all the miners were alive. Personally, I would not have thought twice about checking the source or climbing into the mine if a qualified individual told me that. However, I do expect a journalist to check and verify that all the information that is reported is correct and accurate. In the scenario of The Paper. If for some slight reason an editor or journalist feels or knows that information that is about to be printed may not be correct or up to date I expect, as a reader, for the journalist to put some sort of disclaimer, or even for the correct information to be reported immediately.

The same goes for time. It is a journalists and mediums responsibility to research, verify, and report accurate information in a timely manner. This can interfere with a journalists epistemic responsibility because he or she might feel under pressure to get any thing to support a story instead of taking time to get the correct or solid information to support a story.

And a reason why stories are time sensitive is because of competition. Every medium in its genre whether is a paper or a website, or even a network channel, they all want to be the first to break the story. And as a result, it affects the accuracy of a news story.

Jesse Ordansky said...

Lorraine Code's concept of "epistemic responsibility" describes a journalist's obligation to uphold a standard of morals during investigative processes.

It is not always easy for journalists to fulfill their epistemic responsibility. Outside factors can contribute to the way a journalist approaches a moral dilemma. Three of these factors include time, competition, and the concept of "narrative fidelity."

Journalists and reporters are constantly pressed for time. Approaching deadlines can influence a journalist to rush a story or publish mediocre material instead of unfinished material. Time, along with the desire to "own" a story, has a tendency to provoke competition.

Competition among journalists can be counterproductive in terms of keeping the public informed. In order to uncover truth, reporters must work together, provide motivation, and uphold shared moral understanding. Overbearing competition makes these checks and balances difficult to preserve.

Narrative fidelity is the final factor that makes fulfilling epistemic responsibility difficult. The concept behind narrative fidelity is describing a story in terms of familiar experiences. This way, a template of themes, characters, and plots are waiting to be filled with relevant information. Although this can be effective in a journalist's race against the clock, it can be detrimental when the characters and context are foreign to the journalist's personal experiences. In this case, a journalist can be tempted to reinforce overly obvious storylines that simply play on the common sense of a culture. Being epistemically responsible can be difficult when narrative fidelity leads a journalist to focus on familiar concepts which may include things like racism or sexism.

Nick Guzman said...

The philosopher Lorraine Code uses “epistemic responsibility” to explain a journalist’s role to try to seek out “the truth”. She also points out the role of a reporter’s perception in news reporting. She explains, “How we know effects what we know.” In my opinion the three factors that interfere with a journalist’s responsibility are: the idea of “narrative fidelity,” sources of information, and time.
“Narrative Fidelity” is the idea that an audience (or culture) expects a story to play out a certain way. Since a reporter is part of culture, this innate expectation for a story to play out accordingly can immorally cause a reporter to push a certain way while investigating. Moreover, on the business end of reporting, since audience’s expectations are what fuel “narrative fidelity,” the money expects stories to turn out a certain way. This can be seen in the “gotcha!” headline in the textbook’s “The Paper” reference.
Sources of information can also interfere with a journalist’s responsibility. Since a reporter has only the information given to them to support “the truth,” the information is the most critical element. Bad sources make wrong news, as in the West Virginia mining accident.
Lastly, time impedes the journalist’s ability to truly deluge into a topic. When a deadline hits a story has to run with the information up to that point. Since bad information or narrative can affect a journalist’s perception of the truth behind a story, time impedes the journalist responsibility the most. “The Truth” changes over time when researching anything, reporters can only report on what they can prove, with information, up to that point. Like in “The Paper,” the information they had at the deadline supported the “gotcha!” headline.

katrina said...

Lorraine Code's "epistemic responsibility" theory involves how we look at and go about understanding the truth. It gives a standard for seeking truth: "take care that we are using appropriate standards" in the process. Though it's examined in the context of journalism and "The Paper", this idea applies to regular life and regular decisions. But perhaps it holds the most meaning for journalists.

Given the current status of the media, there are a few hinderances surrounding journalists and the idea of truth. One of the first ones that Borden touches on is the source. We cannot simply go on heresay when it comes to the truth. A good, reliable source is the backbone of a hard-hitting story. But, a journalist must always make sure the source is ACTUALLY reliable by following up on quotes, rumors, etc.

Another factor is the extreme pressure of meeting deadlines or keeping up to date with constantly changing events. Sometimes, in order to get the story out, a paper or news channel will do a rush job, and bits of the truth may leak through the floorboards or simply get lost in the process. A channel or paper may justify that getting at least part of the correct story out fast is better than getting the whole, factual one out last.

The last of my three factors is touched upon more in the Elrich reading than in the Borden one: the journalist's need to satiate his or her ego. Newsrooms seem to be set up in a manner that rewards individual talent rather than the triumphs of the entire paper. The competition to get a job (especially with the economy as it is today) is fierce, and one way to get ahead is to bring the juciest stories to the table. Here epistemic responsibility may fall to the wayside when a journalist is faced with recognition or better assignments.

emma said...
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emma said...

As all have said, Lorraine Code is the philosopher to speak of
epistemic responsibility, which depicts what "ideals and ethics" journalists should adhere to when getting news.

Truth is one of the factors that all journalists have to deal with. As stated in the book, truth is what journalism's main role is according to the First Amendment. The book also goes on to say that individual journalists and news organizations can decide on their own what truth the public should know. Unfortunately this is where the decision of ethically printing news makes the waters cloudy because we have all of these different journalists using their own set of ethics to decide how to get their information and what to show the public.

The other factors, time and competition play heavily into this.
Getting a story is basically a race. If multiple journalists are attempting to get the best story and first, being completely truthful is not always going to be fulfilled. Journalists do not even have to produce an outright lie to be dishonest. Perhaps the journalists words made a story sound more exciting, but lead readers or viewers to believe something else than the truth. Although it may not be a misstated fact, it could be a lie by implication. The competition between journalists really draws a line between the best story and the true story.

JoshWhite said...

I think Lorraine Code's term "epistemic responsibility" is rooted more in the way of the responsibility reporters have when seeking knowledge and then what they do with the knowledge the acquire.
Three things that interfere with a journalist's epistemic responsibility are:
Time- Does the reporter have time to comb over every detail? If not, information and possibly, the truth, can be excluded.
Fidelity- Does the story truthfully represent the information that the reporter has gathered? The reporter needs to weigh the facts, present the facts, and then weigh the facts again to make sure they were presented accurately.
Competition- Are all journalists playing for the same team, the public? The sensationalized New York Post is popular a dominates some of the better written papers in the country because the owner's and editors of the Post think in terms of competition and revenue, not facts.

Anonymous said...

Lorraine Code’s concept of epistemic responsibility emphasizes the importance of moral standards when journalists are going through their investigative processes. Although it sounds easy to adhere by there are several factors that can interfere with a journalist’s ability to fulfill their epistemic responsibility and these include source validity, time constraints and competition.
The author gives a great example about the miners trapped in West Virginia to explain the issues that may arise with source validity. The reporters didn’t have access to the sources that were present (the survivor or the rescue workers) so they went for the second best and were misinformed pretty badly. This ties in perfectly with the pressure to meet deadlines that journalists are always under. Many times it seems that is the reason why journalists do not verify the information they receive from sources. The deadline factor leads perfectly into another factor that interferes which is competition. That deadline is also demanding that you attempt to get it before your competitor. When you have a wonderful quote that supports your story but you have no idea who this person really is do you stop to verify all that or do you run it before the next people do?
I also believe there is a sense of competition among people in the same work environment. I know when I was interning at a news station I saw several people trying to put the facts of a story together and you could pretty much see it in their eyes that they wanted to be the first to get everything. Many times people would call out facts and then no one wanted to take responsibility for the screw up. What I mean to say with this little example is that competition in the same work place can also get in the way of a reporters epistemic responsibility.

tthomp said...

"Epistemic responsibility" is defined as taking appropriate measures to find the truth. This ethical term is closely linked to the philosopher Lorraine Code.

As journalist reaching for the truth is sometimes harder than originally planned. Even though our ethical basis should be to pursue the truth at all costs, this is not always true. When attempting to fulfill their epistemic responsibility journalists often get caught up in deadline limitations, editors demands, and even are limited by not being able to obtain the informational truth from the source.

Alyssa D'Angelo said...

Lorraine code philosophy epistemic responsibility deals with the idea that journalists should uphold a certain moral code when practicing journalism, be it when investigating or printing a story.
Three factors that interfere with journalist fulfilling their responsibility are:

Time constraints, simply put a journalist who has a deadline to meet may not wait to make sure something is one hundred percent true.

competition, a journalist may be in a rush to get the story to print because they know there are other journalists working on the same story. This might alter their commitment to epistemic responsibility.

narrative fidelity, a journalist may become so fascinated in the story they are reporting on that their imagination or interest in a specific character of the story may take flight and the story printed may not uphold the journals epistemic responsibility

cfinn129 said...

Lorraine Code is the philosopher who is noted for the term epistemic responsibility. Epistemic responsibility is the concept that upholds the journalists to a moral obligation to their public to report accurately and truthfully about a story. The news that citizens read is expected to be as accurate as possible. If the wrong news was given out daily it would be on the backs of the journalists who are reporting the stories.

Journalist have many factors that are involved in reporting when it comes to upholding their epistemic responsibility. Many of these factors make it very difficult to fulfill their epistemic responsibility. Journalist need to meet the deadlines of their publication and many of them want to be the first story printed. This occurs because of the fierce competition and time conscious industry journalism is in. The competition will force journalists to get the story as quick as possible and maybe jump to conclusions.

This can be seen in the example used in the text book about the reporting done on the twelve trapped miners in West Virginia. When newspapers reported that all twelve mine workers survived no one was being backed by a credible source and it backfired. Only one mine worker had survived and because no one had acknowledged that it was not a credible source. No reporters tried to verify the information that was being given. this was a problem and many publications did not uphold their epistemic responsibility, although many came out and apologized.

It has been established that there are many factors when writing a story, credible sources, deadlines, and competition. Since journalists want the hottest stories they may have to piece together different elements if they don't have the whole perspective of the situation. The reporter may have to use his or her own experiences associated with a similar situation. This is called narrative fidelity. It helps the journalist tie everything together. If a journalist doesn't have the whole story they may have to use narrative fidelity to make it work, and this could be very detrimental to holding up their epistemic responsibility

It is emphasized in the chapter that journalists want to tell the truth about the story they are reporting on, it is what they strive for. This goal may be hard to uphold in such a demanding industry. It is though the reporters duty to uphold the obligation of Lorraine Code's concept of epistemic responsibility.

Thereal2008 said...

The term "epistemic responsibility" is the use moral judgement when one is investigating a story and also getting information to readers, viewers, etc. This term is often associated with philospher Lorraine Code. Although this responsibility should be used, there are some factors that interfere with the journalist fulfilling their epistemic responsibilities. Competition, time limits, and source credibility are the main factors that hinder. As it pertains to credibility, this mistake can be made many times due to the other two factors. Because of time, and because of the many different journalist out to get the best story to the public before his or her competition, its not always enough time to truly analyze the truth.

ZK said...

According to philosopher Lorraine Code, the concept of "epistemic responsibility" emphasizes the importance of morality journalists must adhere to in the pursuit of truth.

For journalists, being epistemically responsible requires being completely objective about the subject or story you're investigating. Journalists also have to be duly skeptical in order not to make inaccurate judgments.

The three factors that interfere with journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility are timing, narrative fidelity,and competition.

When it comes to narrative fidelity, journalists have to be careful not to relate the story they're investigating with their own life experiences. They have to
step away from their familiarity with race, murder, and so on in order to uncover the complete unbiased truth.

Timing is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to epistemic responsibility. Good journalists have to be experts in time- management. There can be times when the deadline for a story is fast- approaching and the story is unfinished. For some journalists, the pressure of deadlines can be fatal because all the facts might not be correct, which eventually leads to a wrong story being printed. Timing is everything, and for journalists, time is the difference between being a part of history or not.

Competition is a prominent value in the journalistic culture, because it's what drives and motivates some journalistic to uncover the absolute truth. Competition, however, can be both a negative and a positive factor in the journalism profession. As Borden mentions in the chapter, journalists need to support each other in order to pursue the truth. If they're competing against each other for who gets the story, there system of checks and balances no longer exists.

Stephanie said...

Epistemic responsibility means that as a journalist you are using morally ethic methods to find out the truth. To put it in layman’s terms, it’s the journalist’s responsibility to make sure that every word, every quote, and every source in a story is coming from a credible and factual source.
Lorraine Code is the philosopher who thought of this concept.
Three factors that interfere with a journalist fulfilling this epistemic responsibility are time, competition, and the demand for news.
When working as a journalist your life revolves around deadlines. Stories are usually pressed for time, and may be written carelessly in an attempt to meet a deadline. In the world of journalism, if you don’t meet the deadline, you don’t get the money and you don’t get the recognition. Some journalists have only a matter of hours to investigate, report, and print a story, which sometimes means they aren’t necessarily trying to pay attention to facts.
Competition is another factor that works against a journalist’s epistemic responsibility. There is so much news out in the world to report, and there are many journalists all trying to get their hands on the same story. Because of this journalists may sometimes try to cut corners just so they can be the first one to have a particular story. They may mix up facts, or ignore facts all together just so they can have that story to print before another journalist does. I feel like it is the same issue with the great demand for news. People trust journalists to give them the most up to date news on world events. This pressure along with deadlines and the competition to get the story first, add to the possibility of a journalist falsifying facts in their story, and not fulfilling their epistemic responsibility.

Gina Marinelli said...

Philosopher Lorraine Code is associated with the concept of "epistemic responsibility." This is the manner in which journalists seek the truth. As Philosopher Sissela Bok describes, truth is something that is either universal or, in the case of a journalist, something we seek out using appropriate procedures. For a journalist, their drive and formula for seeking truth comes with an "epistemic responsibility." However, there are factors that can interfere. One factor is time. In the world of journalism, especially print journalism in the case of "The Paper,” the latest news is always the best news. As seen in the movie and the West Virginia mining accident, when time is running out, reporters have resorted to filling in the holes of their stories with information they don't really know to be true. Another factor is a lack of skepticism. Like any person may be guilty of, journalists may often jump to conclusions or stereotype a specific situation. However, this is especially dangerous when those who are stereotyping are those who are counted on to report the truth. As stated in Chapter 1, journalist should force themselves to re-examine information and not succumb to making a general assumption. The final factor that interferes with a journalist's "epistemic responsibility" is competition. The reason that journalism is a highly competitive field in itself is that everyone is racing to have the biggest and best, most current news that will draw in readers and viewers more than anyone else. However, at what means will a journalist go to attain this story? In the case of the West Virginia mining accident, news publications seemed to be skipping their "epistemic responsibility" to find the shortcut to the news story that would get America to pay attention. However, in the long run, they all seemed to come out at the bottom with a story that made one disturbing factual error.

ChelseaC said...

The term "epistemic responsibility" refers to a moral code that journalists are highly suggested to live up to in order to give their readers the truthful news that they deserve. Lorraine Code is the philosopher behind this concept.

Time, competition, and narrative fidelity are the three factors that get in the way of journalists fulfilling their epistemic responsibility.

Deadlines are a definite and scary thing for journalists. Missing a deadline most often means the termination of your job at that paper or magazine. The pressure to meet the deadline can drive journalists to go against their epistemic responsibility.

Competition is at every newspaper and magazine. No one wants to be the one writing an article that will be published on page 11. Everyone wants that "amazing story" and gets front page and boosts their career with a great portfolio to go along with it. The competitive nature of journalism can drive journalists to go against their epistemic responsibility.

Narrative fidelity can be a factor in journalism as well. It is when a journalist adds in personal stories or experiences as a means for their story. This would include stereotypes that they believe to be true instead of actual facts and truths to be had.

Brittany O'Hara said...

The word “epistemic responsibility” means when journalists take the oath to be moral during there time of being a journalist. Lorraine code is the philosopher who is paired up with this word. There are three factors that get in the way when a journalist is trying to fulfill their “epistemic responsibility”, truthfulness, competition and deadlines. Time gets in the way because a journalist is so pressed with deadlines. The journalist sometimes get so wrapped up in that deadline that they will come up with some crazy story. There is so much competition throughout the journalism world that this definitely plays a role in a journalist being able to fulfill their “epistemic responsibility.” Journalists should all be working together to finding the truth within their work and instead they are at each others throat for who gets the story first. Many journalists will somehow put their own opinions into their stories and this is not being accurate. Journalists should only be sticking to facts and their sources.

Is Media Ethics Education DOA?

It sounds like a joke Jay Leno would tell during his opening monologue on The Tonight Show. Hear about the graduate students at the prestigious journalism school? They got caught cheating on an ethics exam. Ha ha ha. Except that’s actually what happened at Columbia University in late 2006.

Students had been given 48 hours to sign onto a Columbia Web site to take the final exam in a required course called “Critical Issues in Journalism.” They then had 90 minutes to answer two essay questions.

The students were warned to not discuss the questions with each other, but apparently they did. As the headline over a story reporting the scandal put it, “Ivy J-Schoolers Fail Ethics, Ace Irony.”

No one admitted cheating despite pressure from the school’s administrators and pleas from classmates, who feared the scandal would damage the market value of their degrees. Meanwhile, the teacher of the course, New York Times columnist Samuel G. Freedman, refused to comment. But if the disgruntled posts on RateMyProfessors.com are any indication, his students hadn’t exactly been soaking up knowledge. “Maybe he could e-mail his ‘speeches’ to the students instead of making everyone suffer through the most wasted class in j-school. . . ,” one read.

There’s an old cowboy saying that goes, “When your horse dies, get off.” Journalism ethics education is a dead horse. Or else those aren’t vultures circling in the sky.

A Question for Socrates


The question of how ethics is learned, or even if it can be, is as old as Western philosophy. In Plato’s dialog Meno the title character asks, “Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way?” Of course, Socrates, being Socrates, resists giving a definite answer. But we can’t. The sad fact is, students had better get an effective ethics education now or they may never.


Last summer I conducted an ethics workshop for some reporters and editors at the Poughkeepsie Journal, a small daily in upstate
New York owned by Gannett Co., Inc. The woman in charge of organizing the workshop had supplied us with several case studies to examine. I remember one dealt with a classic conflict of interest, a copy editor who moonlighted at a local radio station.

But what I remember most is the air of defeat that clung to the staff as we sat on hard plastic chairs in the break room discussing the cases. I could hear in their voices the bitterness and cynicism of employees forced to follow corporate policies they despised. Recently, for example, the paper had started running display ads on the front page and section fronts, a much more grievous ethical lapse, their mumbled asides suggested, than anything the case studies might have to offer.

I don’t want my students to ever wear the gray, defeated expression I saw that day on the faces at the Journal. But given the downward direction in which the media are moving, and fast, how in the world can I prevent it from happening?

Teaching Media Ethics by Telling Stories

A friend of mine who teaches at a big Midwestern university recounts in class the events of her first week as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune. She was sent to Duluth to cover Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey on the campaign trail. When they were introduced, Humphrey vigorously shook her hand. “Oh yes, Susan,” he said, “I read your stuff all the time.” He couldn’t have read her stuff, though; she hadn’t written anything yet. “Just a few words,” she explains to her students, “but words that taught this fledging reporter a great lesson about pols and the little lies they tell.”

I usually find occasion during the semester to quote I. F. Stone’s dictum, “Every government is run by liars and thieves, and nothing they say should be believed,” to make the same point. But Susan’s story makes the point better. That’s because it has existential force. Her story vividly captures in a way a secondhand quote can’t the realities of a reporter’s life.

Some might think telling “war stories” is a waste of precious class time. I’ve a colleague who didn’t want to fall into the “trap” of regaling students with stories ad nauseam (“which, let’s face it, is easier than teaching or grading,” he said). So one semester he kept track. When he toted it all up at the end, he was surprised that he’d used less than an hour - out of 45 – talking about his newspaper experiences. And yet, he admitted, it was his stories that students seemed to remember most.

“Stories teach us how to live,” Daniel Taylor said in his essay, “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling.” What he meant was that stories preserve our experience for contemplation and evaluation. Although not all stories carry a heavy message, there’s an entire category of stories, so-called “exemplary tales,” that are told to convey a moral.

Our war stories are potentially just such tales. They can provide evidence, in ethicist John Barton’s words, of “how real human beings live through various crises and trials and remain human.” My colleague who kept tabs on his storytelling has described his stories as cautionary. Most, he said, deal with “screwups I learned from.”

But sometimes the storyteller and the audience can’t agree on what exactly the moral of a story is.

When Susan was a cub reporter on the Tribune, she interviewed the Beatles, who were on their second tour of the States. She got into their hotel room by dressing up as a waitress in an ugly, mustard-colored uniform and accompanying an actual room service waiter upstairs. Ringo took one look at her little plastic name tag – it read “Donna Brown” – and snorted, “What kind of name is that?” The waiter nudged her in the side. “Tell them what you real name is,” he urged. She did, as well as her reason for being there. Rather than throw her out, the Beatles politely answered her questions. They even let her phone for a photographer. The next day her story ran on the front page, with a photo of John sitting at a table and looking up at her and laughing as she poured coffee in his cup. She still has a glossy print of that photo somewhere.

Many of Susan’s students think she’s nuts for not having the photo hanging up in her office. They also think she’s nuts for saying she’d never participate in the same kind of stunt today. To her celebrity-struck students, disguising herself as a hotel waitress to get an interview with the Beatles seems soooo cool. They lose all sight of the fact that it wasn’t a story of vital public interest that demanded undercover methods.

Susan intends one lesson when she talks about her hard day’s night, but her students, living in a paparazzi-saturated culture, draw another. “It may be a lost cause,” she remarked to me.

Or maybe not. Negotiations over what the point of a story is can be part of the point of the story. In the process of negotiating, we test different interpretations, try out different themes. This is helpful. This is educational. Lawrence Kohlberg, the Harvard psychologist famous for his research on the stages of moral development, contended that “the teaching of virtue is the asking of questions. . . not the giving of answers.” Stories don’t necessarily have to yield clear moral rules to be of value. It’s enough sometimes if they just give us something to think about.