Saturday, August 10, 2013

Are we abusing student sportswriters?

Along comes yet another company seeking to use student writers to provide content for their online operation without paying them. Like so many others, Sports New Media is aimed at aspiring sportswriters. It follows the Bleacher Report model, although it seems to be based in Great Britain rather than the US.

I'll confess that I look at a couple of Bleacher Report sites regularly, but I still wonder about the widespread practice of using the work of students and young journalists without paying them. I have the same problem with unpaid internships. Sure it's a way of getting good clips -- the justification that Sports New Media gives -- but it seems to me to be a horrible situation. We do use unpaid student reporting in Marquette's student media, but it's for class credit. Most of our journalists are paid, albeit not much.

Given the demands of online media, I suspect we're going to see even more of this in the future. And that may not be a good thing.

Is the story worth it? Ethical questions and journalism

A recent story about an Illinois professor who killed his family 45 years ago has stirred up an ethical storm. It turns out that the story's author didn't tell the subject she was a reporter -- in fact, she told him she was a student seeking information about his career -- until most of the interview was over.

I have a couple of thoughts. No question in my mind that she should have identified herself, especially since the story was going to impact his life so much. But I also question whether the story should have been written, given the fact that he seems to have lived a peaceful, productive life after his initial treatment for mental illness. A quick search of the Web uncovers thoughtful opinion on both sides.

The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn looks at the situation.