Bristol Palin and the Fabulous Feeding Frenzy

I just haven’t been able to keep up with posting since school started.  It has just been a whirlwind and sucked the life right out of me.

But we did have a really great discussion in my Newspaper Production class the other day.  We were covering the four levels of making an ethical news decision as per the SPJ’s recommended four criteria:  1) Tell the truth 2) Act independently 3) Minimize Harm 4) Be Accurate.

Of course the best news story of the week to use in class was the story that the Republican Vice Presidential candidate’s 17-year-old daughter was pregnant.

We went over each of the four criteria and my newspaper kids decided that the story failed on all four.

They said: 1) The media did not focus on the facts of the story.  They wandered into the realm of opinion as to Sarah Palin’s fitness as a mother and the kinds of values Bristol Palin was given by her family.  2) The media was most likely being used as a stalking horse – willingly or unwillingly by the opposition party.  3) They failed to minimize the harm that would most likely be caused to a 17-year-old girl who is not running for vice president.  4) They were not accurate in many cases because quite a few of the facts in this case were confused or not well understood by the public.

So – my students give the media a huge FAIL for their coverage of the Bristol Palin pregnancy.  It is a class of 8 girls and one boy all in the ages of 15-17.  They understand exactly the kind of pain the media inflicted on a 17-year-old.  They see it all the time in their own school, but when the media did it – they did it in front of 300 million Americans.