Currently viewing the tag: "Ivor Shapiro"

Jan. 8, 2017

By AMANDA POPE
Staff reporter

Researcher and Ryerson School of Journalism professor Ivor Shapiro. (Courtesy Ryerson School of Journalism)

Scholarly research that explores how Canadian journalists view their role in society will be highlighted in a new documentary and accompanying website based on the results of the Canadian Worlds of Journalism Study.

“SHATTERED” directed by Lindsay Fitzgerald, a graduate of Ryerson’s Bachelor of Journalism and documentary-media MFA programs, will explore the working lives of Canadian journalists at a time of major disruption. The documentary, set to be released in 2019, will place these journalists’ stories in the context of Worlds of Journalism survey results that suggest Canadian journalists, more so than journalists in many other countries, see themselves as “detached watchdogs.”

“Scholars have used the phrase ‘detached watchdogs’ to mean the role of finding out information and reporting it, independently of political and business interests,” said Ivor Shapiro, a professor of journalism at Ryerson and the principal investigator for the Canadian study.

The Worlds of Journalism Study is a collaborative effort by international scholars who are comparing how journalists in different countries describe their values and practices. The idea is to help journalism researchers, practitioners, media managers and policymakers better understand the worldviews and changes that are taking place in the professional orientations of journalists, the conditions and limitations under which journalists operate, and the social functions of journalism in a changing world.

The Canadian documentary now in production will supplement traditional scholarly publication to generate wider understanding of journalists’ sense of professional purpose, said Shapiro, who is also associate dean of undergraduate education and student affairs in Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication and Design. “This is a very precarious time to be a journalist and great change is (underway). So the documentary will bring the basic findings to life by following real -life journalists through their work and interactions while reporting.”

The Canadian Worlds of Journalism Study is one of 67 country studies in a global project that involved interviewing more than 27,500 journalists between 2012 and 2016. The questionnaire elicited views of journalists on journalism’s place in society, journalists’ ethics and autonomy, influences on news coverage, journalistic trust in public institutions and transformations of journalism. The Canadian study, which is now funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), received seed funding from the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre in 2014.

In addition to Shapiro and Fitzgerald, the research team for the Canadian study includes Geneviève Bonin, an associate professor in the department of communication at the University of Ottawa; Heather Rollwagen, an assistant professor with the department of sociology at Ryerson; RSJ assistant professor Lisa Taylor; and Lauriane Tremblay, a doctoral candidate in communications at Laval University in Québec.

Shapiro said the team conducted telephone interviews with 361 journalists in Canada. The researchers then followed up on the survey with 50 in-depth interviews conducted in person and by Skype with anglophone and francophone journalists, freelancers and journalists working at large, medium and small organizations.

The global questionnaire asked journalists to rank, from one to five, their agreement with various possible descriptions of their attitudes and influences. Rollwagen, the Ryerson sociologist, then analyzed these indicators to discover four ways in which individual journalists tended to group their answers . These groupings suggested four distinct approaches to journalists’ understanding of their social role – monitorial, collaborative, interventionist and accommodative.

“An interventionist role is an advocacy role,” Shapiro said. “The collaborative role is supporting government policy and the accommodative role is providing material that entertains audiences and finds large audiences (for content) like kittens playing or funny videos of people doing ridiculous things. But Canadian journalists see themselves playing a more monitorial role, because their job is to be independent from the government and power.”

The Canadian team’s findings have been presented at several conferences, and a scholarly journal submission is in progress. The team researchers also collaborated with colleagues in Belgium and Switzerland, where French is a minority language as well, and published a separate study called Quelle Différence? Language, culture and nationality as influences on francophone journalists’ identity. The combined group found that francophone journalists in all three countries were slightly more inclined than their German-speaking, Flemish and anglophone compatriots to identify with a politicized role that included agenda-setting, citizen-motivation and scrutinizing power. Conversely, the francophone journalists were less likely to identify with an audience-serving role of entertaining readers, according to the results.

Shapiro, whose research focuses on ethics and excellence in journalism, said the next phase of the Worlds of Journalism study will include another round in the global survey and new questions.

Media lawyer and Ryerson School of Journalism adjunct professor Brian MacLeod Rogers. (Paul Lawrence courtesy Ryerson School of Journalism)

By JASMINE BALA
Staff Reporter

The European Court of Justice’s 2014 ruling on the “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) doesn’t just affect search engines, it also has implications for journalists, said Ryerson University School of Journalism adjunct professor and media lawyer Brian MacLeod Rogers.

In 2014, the court ruled that individuals have the right to ask search engines, such as Google, to remove links with personal information if the details are inaccurate or no longer relevant. Search engines have to make case-by-case assessments of requests under EU law.

The decision, Rogers said in an interview, also had implications for reporters in European newsrooms. Journalists there, he explained, have reason to fear that the right could “impact free expression and the ability of news organizations to publish” and to keep information published as a complete historical record.

The ruling has not yet affected Canadian journalists directly, Rogers said. But, he added: “I think that it certainly focuses on an issue that has been a subject of great concern and debate, and that is unpublishing generally.”

Unpublishing is just one of the potential implications of the RTBF idea that is explored by Rogers and Ryerson University School of Journalism professor Ivor Shapiro in a recent paper published in Digital Journalism. The researchers define unpublishing as “retrospective redaction of error-free news reports.”

Researcher and Ryerson School of Journalism professor Ivor Shapiro. (Courtesy Ryerson School of Journalism)

The paper, “How the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Challenges Journalistic Principles,” not only explains the law that now applies in Europe, but also explores how its core ideas might help journalists resolve dilemmas that they face increasingly often.

“We tried to set out some of the legal principles and the ethical principles behind this decision,” Shapiro said, “to make some suggestions to journalists as to how to handle questions of unpublishing and informed consent.”

Although journalists traditionally resist unpublishing, the increased frequency of requests from members of the public for the removal of articles about themselves has journalists reassessing their practices, explains Shapiro and Roger’s report.

Unpublishing requests often come from people who have previously been accused of crimes and want details of these past accusations erased from online history. “Crime reporting is notoriously episodic and often left unfinished in the public record,” the authors observe in their research paper.

“Individuals who’ve been named in those earlier stories are coming up in [Internet searches], and people getting those results don’t see what happened to the charges and the fact that they may have been thrown out,” said Rogers.

Although unpublishing requests aren’t new, they have become much more frequent as web searches become part of daily routine, Rogers and Shapiro wrote. Meanwhile, journalists are slowly changing their practices with the knowledge that the stories they publish will remain on the web—in some form—forever.

Rogers and Shapiro’s paper describes how, in one journalism ethics class co-taught by the two authors, a news reporter said that “he and a colleague had decided to include a video of a criminal act, showing the face of the alleged perpetrator, but decided against including that person’s full name in the written report. Their grounds for doing so: a face on video will not show up in name-based search results.”

If this had been an old-fashioned print story, explained Shapiro, the journalists would probably have just used the alleged perpetrator’s name. “There’s no possible libel case because they have the crime actually captured on video. So from a legal view, it doesn’t matter whether they use his name or not.”

The RTBF issue has also prompted discussions among journalists about informed consent. Just like unpublishing requests, the concept has traditionally been neglected in journalistic practice, the paper says. Today, however, some journalists are doing more to ensure that sources understand how a story’s appearance on the web could potentially harm them.

Journalists who seek informed consent from sources, the authors wrote, show “an attitude of greater consideration toward ordinary citizens” by explaining the long-term implications of publication.

“I’m not saying that every journalist, before talking to a source, needs to get them to sign a waiver indicating their awareness of all the personal consequences of an interview,” said Shapiro. “But I am saying that the discussion around consent needs to take into account the nature of the personal harm that can come to the person and the means by which [we ensure] that the person is aware of the personal harm that can result.”

As for the law in Canada, the right to be forgotten is unlikely to become a fixture here soon, said Rogers—at least not outside Quebec.

Europe has a long-established legal framework for protecting privacy, Rogers explained, as does Quebec. Litigation in this area is governed not by judge-made common law, but by a civil code and a Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms which, like the European human-rights convention, explicitly includes the right to privacy and the right to reputation. “And I think that there is, to some extent, a different sensibility about privacy and certainly different judicial reasoning around the issue of privacy,” Rogers said.

In common-law Canada, he added, civil rights complaints fall under provincial jurisdiction, so introducing a right to privacy would require the federal government to work with the provinces.

Click here to see the live blog transcript for this event.

By SHANNON CLARKE
Special to the RJRC

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Changes in how the public consumes news and the implications of these changes for journalism and journalism education will be the focus of an April 28 colloquium hosted by the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre.

The meeting of international scholars, journalists and educators is the first in a series of Journalism Transformations colloquia organized by the RJRC. The morning lecture, which is open to the public, will feature presentations that examine changes in local news coverage, audience behaviour and technology.

The day begins with “The Audience Revolution,” a public panel with Philip Napoli, professor and associate dean of research at Rutgers University; Kim Schrøder, professor of communications at Roskilde University in Denmark; Alexis Lloyd, creative director of The New York Times R&D Lab; and discussant, Retha Hill, a professor at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism. Rich Gordon of Northwestern University and Carrie Brown of City University of New York will also be a part of the day’s events.

The panel discussion is an opportunity for journalists and non-journalists alike to hear how newsrooms are adapting to the evolving media landscape and the interests of their audiences.

Asmaa Malik, an associate professor of journalism at Ryerson’s School of Journalism, said the idea for the event grew out of a discussion with co-organizers Gavin Adamson and Ivor Shapiro, and other journalism professors on the changing value proposition of journalism school. As the industry changes, more prospective students (and their parents) question what comes after a journalism degree.

Malik said the job of educators now is to prepare journalism students for careers both inside and outside of traditional newsrooms: “It’s not like we’re training reporters or editors; we’re trying to train people who are fully-equipped for whatever’s ahead and we don’t know necessarily what’s coming down the pipe.”

Napoli, the principal investigator for the News Measures Research Project at Rutgers, will discuss how news has responded to audience behaviour, with an emphasis on how those changes affect local news consumption. Schrøder will contribute his research, the bulk of which was conducted before the digital era began, examining international news consumption shift away from traditional mediums to digital platforms. Alexis Lloyd will discuss her experience at The New York Times, reflecting on how technology engages news audiences and enhances journalism.

Update: Alex Watson, of The Telegraph Media Group in London, will replace Alexis Lloyd on April 28. He is The Telegraph’s head of product and a former technology journalist and led the team behind the creation of the newspaper’s new content management system

 

By ROBERT LIWANAG

Special to the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre

February 29, 2016

(Left to right) Ivor Shapiro, Lee-Ann Goodman and Jim Turk Photo by: Robert Liwanag

(Left to right) Ivor Shapiro, Lee-Ann Goodman and Jim Turk Photo by: Robert Liwanag

Neutrality in journalism limits the civil liberties of reporters and should be abandoned, said the director of Ryerson University’s Centre for Free Expression during a recent panel discussion.

Citing CNN’s two-week suspension of global affairs correspondent Elise Labott over a tweet last November, James Turk said neutrality fails to distinguish an institution’s business interests from the journalist’s public obligations. Labott’s tweet—“Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish”—was posted in response to a U.S. House of Representatives bill halting the admission of Syrian refugees. “

(Neutrality) is based on a myth that it’s possible to be disinterested, neutral and dispassionate with regard to the issues that are at the centre of one’s work,” said Turk. “Or, alternately, it recognizes that this myth is not true, but demands one act as if it were.”

Turk made his comments during a Feb. 8 panel at the Ryerson School of Journalism. The panel also included Lee-Anne Goodman, senior editor of business and Ontario at The Canadian Press, and Ivor Shapiro, chair of Ryerson’s journalism program. Bernie Lucht, former executive producer of CBC Radio’s “Ideas,” moderated the discussion.

“Large media organizations are all over the place when you add together their editorial positions and the various columnists they have,” said Turk. “To pretend that journalists, by expressing their views, are going to compromise the brand of the organization when it’s a large organization with many employees and different views is, I think, a mistake.”

Shapiro and Goodman agreed with Turk that a journalist should be judged exclusively on the professional quality of his or her work. However, Shapiro noted that a news organization should have the right to maintain its credibility and hold employees to codes of conduct.

“If I’m a beat reporter and I’m running a website covering crime in Toronto, I’m free to express my opinion that every cop in Toronto is a racist meathead or every victim of crime in Toronto is a whiner,” said Shapiro. “Is it wise for me to express that opinion? Not really.”

Goodman said neutrality should not be abandoned by journalists, citing the ongoing trial of Jian Ghomeshi as an example—Goodman said The Canadian Press’s reporter has been “meticulous about including both sides.”

“Court proceedings can be a particularly dangerous place for a journalist’s bias to be real,” she said. “Those are the sort of things that could cause mistrials.”

She did note, however, that news organizations like CNN are often paranoid about social media backlash.

“Even-handed, cool and neutral coverage is what journalists should strive for,” said Goodman. “A tweet suggesting Rob Ford is a buffoon is one thing, but you couldn’t then write a story about Rob Ford being a buffoon — a snarky tweet has nothing to do with journalism as far as I’m concerned.”

This article originally appeared on J-Source. Republished with permission.