Saturday, February 19, 2011


I found this story on the Newsies website, a news website that is part of The Gainesville Sun and is managed and edited entirely by undergraduate students. I realized after writing this that it was published in December, but it was one of the most recent posts.

I had a lot of issues with this story, including where the writer got her information, whom she interviewed, the objectivity of the story itself, its newsworthiness, and whether the writer even understood what she was reporting on. It seems it is a mix between an opinion column and a news story. The first thing that needs to be done is deciding between the two, because you can’t mix the two. The actual "news" of the story is that a study was released that Americans are less confident that Obama will win the 2012 election. That information doesn't come until the very end of the story. Also, the writer does not attribute ANY reasons for disapproval except racism. Why is this the only factor? There are so many other reasons that people have lost confidence in Obama as a reader, and I personally doubt that his skin color has anything to do with it. Attributing his decline in approval only makes it worse.

I questioned every single sentence of this story, but I chose to highlight only those that applied to the section on credit (attribution, sources and substantiation)

The Existence of Racism
 By Mia Saunders, Newsies Contributing Writer
The prejudice, who feel members of one race are superior to other races, are still prevalent in today’s society. When asked  if racism still exists, opinions varied.
 Roughly 38 percent of Gainesville residents believe racism has only gotten worse, especially now that history has been made with the first black president of the U.S. The moment Barack Obama won the election and smashed racial barriers, he has been suffering from taunts from the public, magazines and cartoons.
Poking fun at presidents has always been a hobby for the media, however, the line is crossed when the jokes are only based on skin color. Former President George W. Bush was taunted by the media who believed he was inarticulate.
Bill Clinton was the bunt of many jokes on late night talk shows. Nevertheless neither of these former presidents underwent the racial slurs that Obama has endured. One must ask where to draw the line.
In some cartoon illustrations the president’s image has been altered to look like an African, witch doctor, his wife’s to look like a gorilla, and their two daughters like little monkeys. The idea of having a black family in the White House remains to be a sensitive subject.
“I cannot sit here and lie to you or anyone else by saying I even considered to vote for that black guy,” said Bobby Lee Jameson. “I had McCain stickers, posters and refrigerator magnets all throughout my house, I supported the man who should have been president.”
The most recent racial study was in May 2008 to see how many Americans still use derogatory racial slurs. Faggot, Nigger, Kike and Redneck are still at the top of the list.
Forty-eight percent of Americans still use the term faggot to describe homosexual males, 28 percent say nigger, 39 percent for kike, and 12 percent for redneck. Society needs to adapt to the times, and come to the realization that the world has changed. The people are different and have evolved in this day and age.
In the eyes of some it was truly tough to see the first African American president. The first-term senator from Illinois shattered more than 200 years of history by winning the 2008 presidential election.
Aside from much criticism about Obama running for presidency, he gained a victory. Critics thought of him to be unprepared to run the White House, inexperienced, and out of touch with the necessary tools that are needed to effectively run a country.
“I believe racism still exists in our society because there are people who still look down on other races,” said David E. Carlson, a new media of Journalism professor. He said, “To me it is not necessarily about being racist rather it is about people who choose to be bias.”
Carlson said that people are still bias to different races. In order for us to fight against racism, people should start exposing themselves to others.
Racism is still alive and no culture or ethnic group has a monopoly on racial hatred. That is not to say that this nation has not made great strides in this arena that are both unprecedented and undeniable.
People should be aware that racism exists in a society that hasn’t fully developed. Many people still share the mentality of one race being superior to others. 
Minorities are at a disadvantage, given past issues of slavery, segregation, and discrimination, which all continue to spill over into the present condition of minorities today. America has made advances to ensure racial equality, however racism still lurks.
The 2008 presidential election truly shaped a new era in American history. America has its first black president. The question now is doesObama have any chances of being re-elected?
He faces uncertain prospects for re-election in 2012 as many voters question whether he deserves a second term, a new poll said on Monday.
The Quinnipiac University poll said American voters by 40 to 43 percent do not think Obama has earned a second four-year term, and place him as dead heat with potential Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.
“I had hope during the 2008 presidential election and I will carry that hope into the 2012 election for my president,” said graduate student, Elizabeth Thomas. “It almost feels like everyone is blaming Obama for America’s mistakes.”
Thomas goes on by saying, “people must realize that coming into the white house Obama had a huge mess to clean up. Bush left behind a bad economy and a shit load of mistakes, whether America likes it or not those mistakes take time to solve."

Questions about attribution
1. Second paragraph: Did this 38 percent of Gainesville residents come from the writer's own poll? She doesn't cite any study at all. Was this based on her own reporting? If so, this is not at all a legitimate figure. How many people did she interview? Was it a diverse group, or was it all students?
2. The latest information she could find was May 2008? That's hard to believe. Also, what does a poll on derogatory terms have to do with a president's approval ratings? 

Questions about Sources 
1. Who is Bobby Lee Jameson? From reading this story, I think it could be some homeless guy on the side of the road or a Senator.
2. Is Carlson really the best source for a story like this? What makes him the most knowledgeable source on race relations? This is just the opinion of one journalism professor. It has no valuable information that contributes to the story in any way. In fact, I'm sure she just chose to interview one of her professors because she was too nervous to talk to anyone else. Sorry, that was mean. 
3.  What makes a UF graduate student a reliable source to analyze the performance of the president of the United States? This is just lazy reporting. Could she really not talk to anyone else? What about someone who voted for Obama in 2008 but has changed his/her mind? Why did he/she lose confidence? I guarantee it isn't because he's black.

Questions about Substantiation
 All of the remaining questions dealt with substantiation. It seems the writer is inserting her own opinion into what she believes to be a news story. Anything that is opinion should be coming from a source, not the writer. Even then, these claims and opinions should be backed up with sound facts. 

Needless to say, I have a lot of problems with this story. After reading it, I was almost fuming. 

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