Monday, October 17, 2005

What Is Truth? What about Journalistic Integrity?

Found it here.
On the Today show this morning, Katie Couric was promoting a segment that would talk about the apparent staged inteview with soldiers in Iraq. A few moments later the show went to correspondent Michelle Kosinski, reporting on location about the floods in New Jersey. Kosinski was canoeing in what looked to be in deep water. However as the segment begin two men walked in front of her in what looked to be a few inches of water. Michelle Kosinski attempted to brush this off, however Katie and Matt couldn’t stop laughing about the situation.

I'm not sure if I can add anything to the utter irony and rank hypocrisy displayed here. Is this another symtom of whatever disease the news media as a group seem to have?
First, they take a real tragedy and multiply the death toll by about a thousand or more, so that when we know the truth it doesn't seem so bad. But because it seems so bad the ratings spike. When they do that, the plight of real people who suffer is minimalized. And what about this? Are we going to believe them the next time they report on a genocide in some tiny African country? (Of course, American journalists tend not to report on something like that. Unless it would make Bush look worse, which seems to be the media's top priority right now.)


  1. Hey, Kelly! I just wanted to pop in and say your articles in the last few weeks have been awesome and I've enjoyed reading them! Keep up the good work!

    Also, I'd like to know your professional legal opinion on this one:

  2. Thanks! I'm not sure what I think about that. I kind of hope she wins, just to force the record industry to be more careful and to respect people's rights. But then how can the RIAA enforce their copyrights? As an amateur photographer and writer, I would be pissed off and want my share (and to punish people) if they used my stuff without permission. I don't really know a lot about copyright law, but from what I read she may have a few good points:

    1. Lack of personal jurisdiction
    If they really didn't give her a court summons (or at least comply with Oregon law) then they have not effected personal jurisdiction over her. In that case, they need to try again (and they may be barred under some circumstances from doing so). Not doing so would be a violation of the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause.

    2. Invasion of privacy
    I'm not really sure what this entails, but if they are gathering information illegally she probably has some kind of claim here. I don't know, however, whether they would be barred from using that information in a civil suit against her.

    3. The tort of "outrage"
    There's no way she'll win on this. It has to be pretty crazy conduct to win on this claim.

    I didn't make it through the whole thing, but there's a primer for you.

  3. Just a few notes:

    1. I hope you appreciate the fact that I had to START A BLOG to be able to post to YOUR blog, damnit. =)

    2. I don't know that I agree with your legal analysis. I think there are ways that they could affect personal jurisdiction over her, assuming they've identified the right person. The Internet's kind of an ever-present entity and doesn't have to follow the rules in alot of cases..

    3. A comment on copyrights: see me at the end of this semester for more information; I'm writing a paper on this very subject. But I shall prattle on like a tool for the moment anyway...

    The problem with copyrights is that they can be used for evil, if you will. So you take a photograph of, let's say, a mountain of corn. You want to protect your image, but what exactly do you want to protect? Of course you want to profit from the sale or use of that specific image, but what if I write a story about your photo? What if I paint something because I'm so inspired by your work?

    With respect to writing, an argument has been made that copyright laws as they are -- and they've been heavily influenced by the desires of corporate entities -- actually screw the general public AND authors, in so far as they prevent works from entering the public domain so your story, for instance, is worth only as much money as you can command per printing, not because it's a readable and enjoyable work. If you let it enter the public domain (particularly after you're dead), the money is made not on how much you can charge for a single copy but on how many copies are sold so there's an incentive to disseminate your work to the masses rather than just charging $100 a copy to an elite few..

    So from the perspective of art and culture, copyright law is stifling. Cultures grow by borrowing from and inspiring one another, and copyright law keeps that from happening..

    Alright, two more comments then I'm going to go smoke:

    a. The bit with the chick in the canoe was funny as hell. Ah, the media sucks, doesn't it? You almost have to respect publications like Weekly World News and the Enquirer -- at least they don't make any pretenses about being legitimate.

    b. As we were going down to court today (all freakin' 8 of us), it occurred to me...A group of cows is called a herd, a group of geese is a gaggle, a group of crows is a murder, but what would you call a group of lawyers??

    (p.s. This is Melissa, by the way)

  4. Wow, thanks.

    On 2, yes, they could effect personal jurisdiction on her, but the allegation is that they didn't. Remember, there are two parts to the personal jurisdiction analysis:
    1. The person must have sufficient contacts with the forum (I think that's the magic word, or is it minimum contacts? Anyway, they must be amenable to personal jurisdiction) AND
    2. You must effect personal jurisdiction through service of process.

    I would have reserved the murder for a group of lawyers. Perhaps a group of lawyers is a manslaughter.