Monday, August 3, 2009


"some people make history by investing themselves in a lifetime of philanthropic labor; others....not so."

Let's reflect....

In the past 11 weeks I've learned a lot about researching. How to find good sources, how to pick relevant topics, and how to incorporate them into an argumentative paper.

Throughout my papers, I've focused on and learned about my chosen field of journalism--its major problems and the guidelines I've created for myself as I enter into the working world of the media.

I've come to really understand the history of my field. In the past century the media world has significantly changed. We always hear in our journalism classes that things are so different and it's not a good time to be entering into journalism because soon newspapers will be extinct and broadcasters have a hard time capturing a cynical public. But I disagree. In my research of the sensationalism of white missing women, censorship on college campus newspapers, and political sex scandal coverage in the media, I've really come to understand what's called the "new media environment."

I've found that this new media environment where everything is so accessible and quickness in reporting is of the essence, it's been hard to control and has caused a lot of problems in reporting (as discussed on this blog and in my papers). But like Spiderman said, "with great power comes great responsibility" and in exploring the problems in my chosen field I've come to realize the necessity of controlling this new media. I've also come up with a lot of guidelines and ways to go about doing it.

In this process I've revisited the formal paper which was refreshing. I had become so used to the news story where you put the most important elements at the top and work your way down with no opinion or your own voice. I've enjoyed being allowed to choose my own topic and bring my voice back into the mix of things.

And also in the blogging process I've learned how to organize my thoughts in a creative outlet. With pictures and videos I was able to learn about confusing aspects of my research, raise questions to be responded to, and use visual aids in what I was talking about. I really enjoyed expressing myself on this blog.

Finally, I've learned how far journalism can take you. I wrote about young victims, politicians, and college campuses and they all fell under the realm of journalism. I think that even with the problems of journalism this is the right field for me because it can combine so many interesting topics.

As for the future of my experience, I'll definitely use blogs for future research (or maybe just to keep up with my family on our own blog!). And if I were to explore this topic further I might look into more of the public's role in the media's sensationalism and the psychology of the human's need for a story involving a downfall or sex.

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you've become fully EXPOSED!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


“Schadenfreude” is a term for pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. I looked up this word after an anonymous blogger commented on my first post.

This got me wondering...

The media is playing on this notion of pleasure to sell newspapers and make money.

But is playing to the “pleasure” of its readers and viewers the role of serious reporting? What happened to stimulating discussion of serious issues that can advance our country or the world’s collective causes?

When a media outlet presents itself as news, can there be pleasure involved?

I think that while there may be value in exposing immoral conduct by politicians that exposes their lack of judgment, or vulnerability to influence by others who threaten to expose them, that value is news limited.

There is no doubt that media “news” coverage of such events today, in both amount and placement, is extravagant and inappropriate.

I think that one can derive pleasure from the news but in writing the news the thought of the reader's pleasure should not be involved.

Monday, July 27, 2009

So Many Scandals, So Little Time

Wholesome American? Gov. Mark Sanford

Here is a list of the most prominent scandals in the media in the past decade as reported by NPR's Ken Rudin:

Mark Sanford (R): The South Carolina governor, a potential presidential hopeful and a strong conservative, goes missing for nearly a week, as his staff gives incomplete and conflicting reports as to his whereabouts. Sanford returns from Argentina and admits to an affair with a woman there. He resigns as chairman of the Republican Governors Association but has not yet indicated whether he will quit the governorship.

John Ensign (R): The Nevada senator admits to having an affair with the wife of his former chief of staff. Ensign resigns as Senate Republican Policy Committee chair but says he won't resign his Senate seat; his term ends in 2012.

Jim Gibbons (R): The Nevada governor is in the midst of salacious divorce proceedings, where his wife has accused him of extramarital affairs with several women, including a formerPlayboy model. Gibbons is up for a second term in 2010.

John Edwards (D): Following months of headlines in theNational Enquirer that he was having an affair with Rielle Hunter, who had been videotaping him during his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Edwards -- his White House hopes long over -- confesses to the affair. But he denies the Enquirer's account that Hunter's child is his.

Kwame Kilpatrick (2008): Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick's sworn denial of a romantic relationship with Christine Beatty, his chief of staff, evaporated when racy text messges between the two were uncovered. Kilpatrick, married, was soon charged with perjury. He resigned as mayor in September of 2008.

Vito Fossella (2008): Fossella was the lone Republican congressman from New York City, a rising star in the party, and a potential candidate for mayor. He was also arrested for driving under the influence in Virginia. But then it got worse. He told police he was on his way to seeing his 3-year-old daughter, who was ill. Puzzled, journalists began digging and learned that the child in question was the one he had with his mistress, Laura Fay, a retired Air Force officer. Fay, in fact, was the person who put up bail to have him released from jail. Fossella, who also had a wife and family back home on Staten Island, then announced he would not seek re-election.

Marc Dann (2008): Part of the Ohio Democratic landslide of 2006, Dann was forced to resign as state attorney general in 2008 after admitting he had an affair with a staff member.

Eliot Spitzer (2008): Spitzer, the crimebusting prosecutor who was elected governor of New York in 2006, was discovered to be utilizing a high-priced prostitution service. The first Democrat to win the governorship in 16 years, Spitzer had prosecuted corporate crime, Wall Street fraud and -- you guessed it -- prostitution as state attorney general. He resigned as governor in March of 2008.

Larry Craig (2007): A conservative GOP senator from Idaho, Craig was in his third term when he was arrested in a Minneapolis airport men's room on a charge of lewd conduct. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct but denied widespread rumors that he is gay. He subsequently decided to retire in 2008.

David Vitter (2007): In 2004, Vitter became the first Republican to be elected to the Senate from Louisiana since Reconstruction, doing so in part by appealing to conservative, "family values" issues. But his phone number appeared in the records of an escort service (read: prostitution ring) run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "D.C. Madam." Vitter apologized to his family, God, and the GOP. Republicans, for the most part, have rallied behind him as he seeks a second term next year.

Gavin Newsom (2007): The mayor of San Francisco admitted to having an affair with the wife of his campaign manager. Newsom, a Democrat, is considered a leading candidate for governor of California in 2010.

Antonio Villaraigosa (2007): Amid speculation that he would run for governor of California in 2010, Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa acknowledged having an affair with Mirthala Salinas, a TV reporter who had been covering City Hall. The mayor subsequently decided not to seek the governorship.

Mark Foley (2006): The scandal involving Foley, the conservative Florida congressman who was revealed to have been sending explicit instant message conversations to male, underage, congressional pages, was widely considered to be one of the contributing factors that helped end Republican control of Congress in 2006. Foley resigned his House seat within days of the scandal's going public.

(Meanwhile, the Democrat who won the seat, Tim Mahoney -- who campaigned in 2006 on family values -- admitted to having an affair with with a campaign staffer. The admission came less than a month before the 2008 election, which he lost.)

Ed Schrock (2004): Schrock, a two-term Republican congressman from Virginia, announced he would not seek re-election in August of 2004 after he was "outed" on a Web site as being gay. There were accusations that Schrock, married with a child, had utilized a service in which men seek liaisons with other men.

Jim McGreevey (2004): McGreevey, a Democrat, resigned as governor of New Jersey after admitting he was gay and had an extramarital affair with the man he had hired as a homeland security adviser.

Jack Ryan (2004): Ryan was forced to quit as the Republican nominee for the Senate in Illinois in 2004, when damaging details about his divorce from actress Jeri Ryan were leaked. Jeri Ryan said that her husband had taken her to sex clubs and was asked to have sex with him in front of other people. Jack Ryan was replaced on the GOP ticket by conservative commentator Alan Keyes, who went on to get trounced by the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.

Bob Wise (2003): The Democratic governor of West Virginia was accused by a man of having an affair with his estranged wife. Wise, married with two children, acknowledged the accusation and decided not to run for a second term in 2004.

Gary Condit (2001): The relationship between Condit, a moderate California Democratic congressman, with Chandra Levy was revealed after the D.C. intern disappeared. Condit was forced to acknowledge the affair but insisted he had nothing to do with her disappearance (and ultimately it was proven true). But voters back home had had enough, soundly rejecting him in the March 2002 Democratic primary.

All of these men have suffered some sort of political ramifications--whether it be not seeking another term, resigning from office, or being charged with perjury.

This makes me wonder...Had the media not reported or sensationalized these men's scandals would they still be in office today? Can a leader without morals in his personal life be able to serve and lead his people in his public life morally?

Is this why the public wants to know about these scandals? Or do they simply view them as pure entertainment?

What makes these reports different from celebrity reports of cheating, sex tapes or scandal? Is it that the public doesn't expect it from a politician whose campaign is built on the public's trust in him?

But then if that's the case, why is the public still so shocked when there have been so many reported (as listed above)?

Although my paper addresses mainly the consequences of the way the media reports scandals and how my field of journalism should do much better, there is a whole other level that would be interesting to tap into based on WHY the public is so interested and if the media is shaping the interest or simply fueling it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Clinton Scandal: Step By Step

Not Such a Family Man After All

This man had too many sex scandals to count! The Monica Lewinsky scandal overpowered the other cases of sexual harassment and indecent exposure.

A list of scandals by steps:

1. Connie Hamzey

In 1991, the former rock and roll groupie and Penthouse nude poser claims that Clinton propositioned her when he was governor of Arkansas in 1983.

Clinton denied it.

2. Gennifer Flowers

In 1992, The Star reported Flowers' claims that she had a 12 year affair with Clinton.

There were numerous tapes of Flowers and Clinton.

The Clintons went on 60 Minutes after the Superbowl and told them the appropriate focus of politics while they were campaigning for president.

Clinton denied her claims.

3. Paula Jones

In 1994 Paula Jones held a press conference claiming she was escorted into a hotel room and was propositioned by Clinton. She said he exposed himself to her.

She sought $750,000 in damages for a sexual harassment suit.

The lawsuit was dismissed in court because Jones couldn't show any damages.

They settled out of court and Clinton paid her $850,000 and did not have to apologize.

The case was used as perjury later when Jones asked about Lewinsky and other women that he was accused of having similar relations with.
Clinton denied Jones's claims.

4. Kathleen Willey

Willey was a White House volunteer aide that claimed during a meeting in the Oval Office Clinton embraced her, kissed her on the mouth, grabbed her breast, and put her hand on his penis.

She filed a sexual harassment suit in 1998 during his second term as president.

She testified in the Jones's trial.

It was thought that she made the story up after investigation and that she was pursued Clinton.

Clinton denied her claims.

5. Monica Lewinsky

Between 1995 and 1997 the White House intern and Bill had an intimate affair, including oral sex in the Oval Office and other sexual acts.

In the Jones trial, Clinton said he did not have sexual relations with her. This was used in the perjury case that Kenneth Starr conducted later.

Linda Tripp, her co worker, began to record conversations Lewinsky had with Clinton. She convinced her to save the presents that Clinton gave her and the blue dress she wore while she had sexual relations with Bill.

After investigations, they found Clinton's semen on the blue dress. Lewinsky also testified that Clinton had put a cigar in her vagina.

Clinton admitted to lying to the public about the affair.

He should have quit while he was behind!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Crazed New Media World We Live In

Proof of the age of tabloidization:

I was shocked to see this article run in the LA Times about a blogger actually calling for more gossip in legitimate news sources such as the LA Times.

Mickey Kaus, a blogger for, wrote:

"Some blame the sunny climate for our apathetic political structure. Some blame the distraction of the colorful entertainment industry. I blame the stuffy aversion to gossip of the region's dominant newspaper."

NPR commented on the article saying:

"The insult seemed to inspire as much as sting: The Times' top editor, John S. Carroll, sent out a memo soon after Kaus' column appeared, encouraging the staff to weigh his concerns seriously."

To think this was actually taken seriously shows how far newspapers and the general media have gone from their original purpose of giving the people unbiased, unpartisan, truthful and fair news in the country they live in.

We live in an age where anyone can be a published writer (living proof by me writing this blog). But if uneducated and uninformed contestants can write and be published in a venue as respected as the L.A. Times, what is the cost to society and its culture?

Mickey goes on to write:

"People will care about politicians they know something juicy about, and they will want to know something juicy about politicians they care about...Pulitzer Prizes aren't going to transform L.A.'s political culture. Gossip might."

It definitely will change the culture. For the worse.


And it already has in the case of the Lewinsky scandal.

In Bruce Williams and Michael Carpini's article "Monica and Bill All the Time and Everywhere: The Collapse of Gatekeeping and Agenda Setting in the New Media Environment," they explain how nonmainstream press (tabloids, Internet reporting, talk shows, etc.) was able to influence mainstream press into reporting the sex scandal.

To summarize:

"In short, the 6-year period from the publication of the Star expose to the publication of the Starr report, mainstream journalism lost its position as the central gatekeeper of the nation's political agenda. The mainstream news media attempted to play its traditional role and found that the political agenda was being set without them."

It all changed and now the line between news and entertainment has been blurred if not completely removed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Age of Tabloidization

After some extensive research it seems that experts all agree that after the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the media's role switched from reporting to sensationalism and tabloidization.

There have been sex scandals since the beginning of our country. Thomas Jefferson is said to have slept with many slaves and had children by a handful of them. John F. Kennedy--a president that captured the hearts of the nation, inspired a change in the nation's outlook, and is often compared to our current president--was thought to have had an explicit affair with sex icon Marilyn Monroe.

But most experts agree that after the Clinton scandal, the media began to expose and outpour a string of sex scandals in its wake.

In its aftermath, the public became hungry for more tales of deceit and scandal. SNL skits ran wild with the echos of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." In fact they still have Darryl Hammond appear as old Bill himself in its most recent season. Sex scandals were on the front page of every newspaper, as more and more details unfolded. The media portrayals sounded more like a developing soap opera than an actual news report.

Figures like Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards to name a few fell into the same media frenzy--feeding the public's thirst for a juicy scandal.

So was it the technology of the "Age of Information" that sparked the media's obsession with sex scandal? Was it the shock of the news breaking while our president was still in term?

What made the Clinton scandal different from the rest and why did it spark the media's and the public's need for more?

....More research needed!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Topic Chosen

Food For Thought:

I'm a journalism major, so naturally I wanted to write about problems within the field of my discipline. I wrote my first paper on gender and race issues in dealing with the media coverage of missing persons in the U.S. So for this paper, I wanted to write about something equally as controversial. I started looking through the news and I saw the face of an old white man dressed in a suit with the headline: Governor Used State’s Money to Visit Lover.

I started to wonder why this was news--for the betterment of society and the obligation of the media to expose the injustices of their government or for the sake of selling newspapers?

This case could be justified as the former. But in other countless cases such as Elliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, John Edwards--or even further back to John F. Kennedy or Thomas Jefferson--is it right to have their personal affairs plastered on the front page of newspapers if it has nothing to do with their policies?

There are many questions and routes I could take in analyzing the classic case of the political sex scandal:

1. Is it fair to put their personal lives in a public forum?
2. Why is the public so interested in the personal lives of politicians?
3. Is the media sensationalizing these scandals solely to sell newspapers?
4. Does the politician forgo privacy by being elected by the public into the public's eyes?
5. How do these scandals affect the polls or running campaigns?
6. Why do sex scandals lead to demise for some and are swept under the rug for others? And does this have anything to do with the media?
7. Is media coverage different if the affair was with an intern? A prostitute? Another male? A young teen?
8. Is the public's response different if the affair was with an intern? prostitute? another male? etc.
9. Where in the newspaper are these types of stories placed and are they really worthy of front page news?
10. What kind of message does the media send if a civil war in Africa that claimed millions of lives is buried in the paper and a governor using money to visit his lover is front page news?

..and most importantly...

11. Where do you draw the line between tabloid and hard news?

There are many paths to explore on this topic...which one should I choose?