Texas State journalism educator stresses ethics for students

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High school students from John Stevens High School join together with Vincent T. Davis, a feature reporter for the Express News, for a group photo after a lecture on feature writing Sept. 16. The students came for a journalism workshop to learn basics of using a camera and tips for news writing.  Photos by Deandra Gonzalez

High school students from John Stevens High School join together with Vincent T. Davis, a feature reporter for the Express News, for a group photo after a lecture on feature writing Sept. 16. The students came for a journalism workshop to learn basics of using a camera and tips for news writing. Photo by Deandra Gonzalez

Ethical journalists seek the truth, verify information and take responsibility for mistakes, he says.

By J. Del Valle

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Being an ethical journalist is especially important today, a university journalism educator said at a workshop for high school students Sept. 16 in Loftin Student Center.

Gilbert Martinez, assistant director of Texas State University’s school of journalism and mass communications, was the keynote speaker at “Charting your Course,” hosted by this college’s journalism program in the craft room of Loftin Student Center. He lectured about the laws of media and the ethics of a journalist.

The need for ethical journalism “is more important then ever,” Martinez said.

“You as the future journalist can fulfill that role so that people get the information they need so they can make formal decisions.”

Being a journalist is being a problem solver, he said.

Journalists should always seek the truth and report it to gain the trust of readers, Martinez said. They should verify information to avoid hurting a source’s reputation from lack of research. Avoiding any conflicts of interest — whether real or perceived — is important. Journalists must be accountable, transparent and honest about their work by taking responsibility for mistakes. Plagiarism is unacceptable, he said.

He also discussed the federal right all citizens have through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“The law allows for full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government,” Martinez said.

Christine Keyser-Fanick, yearbook adviser and journalism teacher at Stevens High School, enjoyed the presentation.

“He gave fresh perspective to my students and very useful information they can apply today,” Keyser-Fanick said.

She said the first thing she teaches her students is the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.

“They need to know about the parameters and guidelines,” she said. “It is essential as a journalist.”

Stevens High School junior Madison Frazier, who is the assistant chief photographer of the yearbook, said, “He was very uplifting and had a positive attitude about journalism because it can be a difficult business because it can get harsh and hard at times.”

Martinez encouraged students to have a passion for journalism.

“Enthusiasm is contagious,” Martinez said. “Practice good journalism and have fun.”

He also said Texas State University’s School of journalism and mass communications is offering a new bachelor’s degree that started this fall.

Digital media innovation is a degree that keeps up with modern technology by incorporating new devices used in media. Smartphones, GoPro cameras and now drones play a huge role in today’s mass media that is shaping the future of reporting. This degree will focus on mobile media development, visual story telling, coding and data skills.

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