Evaluating Reporting: Michael Phelps in Media

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Date Submitted: 11/18/2012 04:00 PM

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Essay 3: Evaluating Reporting

Many people were shocked and appalled when an explicit photo of Michael Phelps, a world-renowned Olympic champion, was released. The photo, published by the British tabloid News of the World, showed the athlete holding a bong. Phelps, who had established himself as a role model through his record-breaking accomplishments, stunned the public with his actions. Given that Michael Phelps was a highly respected individual in society, a multitude of news sources sought to cover this story. Both The New York Times and The New York Post, two prominent newspapers, provided separate and distinct coverage of the event. These differences are attributable to each newspaper’s level of commitment to the standards that characterize traditional journalism. Traditional journalism seeks to inform the masses about events that they have not experienced first-hand, in an honest, truthful, and unbiased manner (Kovach & Rosenstiel, n.d.). The New York Times’ coverage of this story is superior to that of The New York Post because it informs the public in an objective, accurate, and balanced manner, therefore adhering to the goals of traditional journalism.

            Although both the Times and the Post provide a detailed and complete account of the events, the Post retains an underlying bias within their reporting. According to Walter Lippmann, objectivity calls for a journalist “to remain clear and free of his irrational, his unexamined, his unacknowledged prejudgments in observing, understanding and presenting the news.” (Kovach, Rosenstiel, Journalism of Verification.) To a achieve a high standard of quality in their stories, journalists must remain neutral in their reporting, although the New York Post failed to do so (Figdor, 2010).The differing levels of objectivity that each newspaper possesses are made clear through the wording and presentation of their respective article’s titles.

In the New York Times, the first article published was...