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Online Journalism Standards:
US vs Matthews
By Don Mooney
The new frontier of free expression, the Internet, is a product that is slowly gaining its legs so to speak. From a journalism standpoint online journalism has found it necessary to incorporate similar standards often associated with traditional journalism. Guidelines are slowly being implemented due to situations such as the case of Larry Matthews a reporter for National Public Radio. The outcome has cleared and boundaries that may have been blurred when it comes to future reporters gathering news.
In 1996 Matthews failed in his attempt proving that he was gathering news as a freelancer about child pornography on the Internet in 1996. His case centers around during fact gathering he sent and received images of kiddie porn. One image was sent to an FBI officer and resulted in Matthews arrest on two counts of trafficking in child pornography. The fact that Matthews has no prior history of sexual issues and was a respected veteran journalist did not sway the court. Matthews lost his case and appeals and served 18-months. It did seem a bit much, but as a journalist, whose taught to be balanced in my reporting I can see both sides of the argument. And its highly possible Matthews was made a guinea pig and the courts may have been overprotective. I can also see the where Matthews left himself open for prosecution.
As to the argument on how this will affect journalist in the future, quite obviously Matthews may have somewhat overconfident with his status as a journalist at a reputable journalism outlet and left himself open to suspicion with the mere subject matter he undertook. In writing this assignment I was uncomfortable about even placing the word “kiddie porn” in this text. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking about the word attaching to some government filter igniting some kind of investigation into my history.
Hopefully as we go forward, we can adopt principles, written and unwritten that will one day make the whole approach to online journalism seamless.
Pegasus:The way you like it.
With so many vehicles available today to present the news, and much of it can be interesting, Pegasus appears at first glance to be a small town publication. The traditional 3-column layout isn’t cluttered, though space is effectively filled with relevant content.
At the very top of the page, right of the logo, a banner promoting a concert at a Dallas venue. Just beneath the banner lies the traditional menu that offers the typical – home, metro, business, and the associated arts attractions. One item that’s becoming popular is the item in the menu labeled, “Your Neighborhood.”
The first column(left) has the large photo informing the reader on the top story in the area, which can have national relevance. Many times I’ve noticed that on the weekends, particularly Fridays, that photo will reflect local entertainment in the area. One of the great things about Internet publishing provides is flexibility. Which for most publications they can update the photos with breaking news.
The layout is very customer friendly, inviting to reader to be part of the interactive experience Pegasus provides. In the second column Pegasus’ turns on the smalltown charm. The column drives the reader (making him/her feel special) to local favorite activities such as band, restaurants, jobs, etc… The third column goes even further, just in case you overlooked this friendly reminder to find a restaurant, an event, a band- even a job! Pegasus seems to be really interested in what the reader interest are. Making me feel specia!.
Upon further review(scroll with me) just before it goes into metro news, business, etc.. the reader is driven to log into an area called the ‘The Daily You.’ Positioned as the second section of the front page, dividing the page into four columns, The Daily You offers the reader a more personalized touch, a customized version of Your Neighborhood.
INTERACTIVE AND ACCOMMODATING, Lacks Visual Support
Pegasus makes good use of this personalized approach. Receiving daily news from Pegasus is an experience that makes one keep coming back. Items such as the Daily You and Your Neighborhood allow the reader to keep up with national news and emphasize events in his local community. There’s a section in Pegasus News for bloggers. Pegasus has a latest comments section that allows its reader to give feedback to the author of an article or to interact with other bloggers.
Pegasus won’t run the Dallas Morning News out of town, but the DMN could take a few ques, (and I’m sure they have) from the Pegasus approach.
The Negative that sticks out is the lack of photos and multimedia. Sure there’s a video ad prior to some local feature. But with all the hometown, localized, small town vibe Pegasus sends out I thought it lacked the visual support for the “Daily You and other local area features. I guess the Dallas Observer has spoiled me.