Author Archives: zpolka

Obama said he doesn’t Tweet

Photo from Read Write Web

Journalists are harped on to be original, accurate and honest. Students in school are told to do their own work, because having someone else do it is just like cheating. In one case, this doesn’t seem to hold the same for President Barack Obama. Continue reading


Fox News Fact-checks Sarah Palin

By Zachary Polka    

     Fact-checking is important for journalists as comments made by sources can have inaccuracies and holes.

     At a Wisconsin Right to Life fundraising banquet, Sarah Palin made remarks implying blame on the new Democratic White House for moving the centered text “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency to the outer edge on the redesigned presidential one-dollar coin. She also said the phrase was not on either side.

     “Who calls a shot like that?” Palin said Friday. “Who makes a decision like that?”

     She also said it was an anti-Christian conspiracy and called the movement of the phrase a trend.

     Fox News fact-checked her accusations and found she was wrong blaming our new presidential leadership, and it was President Bush who approved the design in 2005 after the Republican-controlled Congress commissioned the coin’s design.

     During President Bush’s reign as commander and chief, Congress reversed the 2005 decision and put the phrase back on the face of the one-dollar coin.

     Fact checking is a serious matter. Many conflicts can arise from going with a comment and not double-checking, or triple checking, the validity of comments.            

     Sometimes reporters can mistaken the accuracy of comments made by professionals and office-holders because of their ranking as “know-it-alls” in their fields, so can this distort the importance of fact-checking to those who seem to know what they are talking about? The same goes for the average-Joe; they can be seen as knowing what they are talking about based on how they project and explain their answers. Can sounding right be a distorting factor as well, or does this not play a role in fact checking?

    Should reporters check all comments or is it the responsibility of the commenting source to be accurate? Journalist are taught to fact-check everything, but when deadlines are near and the articles need to go to print, what should journalists do if they think something is inaccurate?

Media still have conflicts of interest

By Zachary Polka

‘Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived,’ as stated in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.

Katharine Weymouth, Washington Post publisher, was questioned for a flier promoting a “salon” dinner for as much as $250,000, explained in Mike Allen and Michael Calderone’s article, Washington Post cancels lobbyist event amid uproar.

Promotions and gifts are forbidden on either side, and Weymouth looks to be covering it up.

Weymouth’s grandmother, former Washington Post Publisher Katharine Graham, held such parties in the past to meet in an off-the-record capacity.

Powerful men of the capitol would come together and discuss business and news with media members of the Washington Post.

Recently, fliers circulated to health care lobbyist for a similar meet with The Post’s editorial and heath care reporting staff.  All seemed fine until one lobbyist with a conflict of paying for access to the “health care reporting and editorial staff” gave one flier to a reporter.

With this information widely out, Weymouth reported she planned for the party but didn’t okay the fliers.  So, she was or wasn’t going to charge for the dinners?

Weymouth also said there is a future revenue source in bringing Washington figures together.

(Press secretary Robert Gibbs told New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny that no one at the White House had accepted invitations to Washington Postsalons.”)

Her grandmother did with $25,000 as the bid.

Hey its 2009, since the year has more zeros, why not add some into the price tag.  Honestly, if the goal is to go against policies and ethics, then lets go with a bang.  It’s okay, as long as we don’t get caught!

Freelance Journalist Terry Gardner had a tough time submitting articles on traveling after she donated her hair for a free airline ticket in support of an airline’s promotion.

She advertised an airline on her skull for a few of weeks, and newspapers wouldn’t accept any of her stories from that trip.

If it is hard for a freelance reporter to publish articles referring to traveling on a free trip, why is it fine for the Washington Post to still publish articles related to health care?  Do these practices invoke distrust with other areas of the paper?  With sharp budget cuts and swift layoffs, is it okay for news media to bend their ethics to stay afloat?