Recording Phone Calls

Young woman with red hair and smart phone.

We want to make sure that you take special precautions to stay safe when doing an interview. The best method now, not always, is using your phone. You can record with Voice Memos. But it may not be the best quality. You can also get an app that does a good job.

Rev Call Recorder is available for free in the App Store. It says it provides free and unlimited call recording.

TapeACall is a favorite in the podcast world. It offers a free trial for seven days. That might work for your next assignment. But they ask for a credit card and that turned me off.

THE LAW AND RECORDING PHONE CALLS

Federal and state wire-tapping laws govern how, or if, you can record a telephone call.

You could be prosecuted or sued if you don’t follow the rules. So it’s imperative to understand and abide by them.

Federal law requires one-party consent. That party could be you. But individual states have their own laws. New York and New Jersey require only one-party consent. Again, that could be you.

But twelve states including California and Florida require all parties to consent to the recording.

You can check the laws of all the states here.

The Ethics of Recording A Call

It is always important to be as transparent as possible. Before you hit the record button ask your interviewee if it is okay with them. You want to make sure they are comfortable with having their voice and words recorded. They generally say, “Yes,” and appreciate being asked. This is the ethical thing to do when you are dealing with a regular interview.

The rules, not the law, change when you are interviewing for a story that requires undercover work. News organizations have different rules for their reporters and you want to make sure that you follow them carefully.

Journalists have a responsibility to honor the trust of the public and the people they interview. Please take this seriously.

Assignment: Cover a social justice story.

Assignment:
Research a social justice story about any topic. It should be about a human being or people, perhaps in your community, having trouble with an eviction, immigration, money, domestic abuse, facing discrimination,  solving the challenges of global warming or any other topic. The story must include quotes from at least three people. The quotes should come from the people you focus on and an expert who might have more information or offer a solution.

 
Write a pitch for your story. Here’s how to do it: https://ccnyintroductiontojournalism.com/2019/11/14/how-to-write-a-pitch/
Deadline for the pitch:  Wednesday,
Deadline for the story:
The 400 to 500 word  first draft of your story is due Tuesday, December 1 at 5 p.m.

 

 

Truth and Journalism

Wayne Barrett an investigative reporter for the Village voice wrote:

“My credo has always been that the only reason readers come back to you again and again over decades is because of what you unearth for them, and that the joy of our profession is discovery, not dissertation.

There is also no other job where you get paid to tell the truth. Other professionals do sometimes tell the truth, but it’s ancillary to what they do, not the purpose of their job. I was asked years ago to address the elementary school that my son attended and tell them what a reporter did and I went to the auditorium in a trench coat with the collar up and a notebook in a my pocket, baring it to announce that “we are detectives for the people.”

How to Write a Pitch

How to Write a Pitch

A pitch describes the story you want to tell. You need to write a short paragraph that gets attention and explains what you plan to do. So avoid writing, “I want to write about the Churro Lady,” because that’s not a story.  It’s a general idea. You want to look for an angle.

Your Churro Lady pitch might read like this:

“When police arrested the Churro Lady in the subway for selling sweets, they said she was selling without a license. I want to find out what it takes to get a license and if she could have gotten one. I’ll contact the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, and talk to food vendors who have licenses and those who don’t.”

Or, “When police arrested the Churro Lady in the subway for selling sweets, they said it sent a signal to others who sell things or perform in the subway for money. I want to find out how others who sell or perform in the subway will be affected. I’ll talk to sellers and musicians and people who use the subways to find out what they think. I’ll also get a comment from the Mayor’s office.”

Ethics in Journalism

Shot of hands with a Phone and news spelled out in the center over a globe and a newspaper

What is ethics?

Merriam Webster

Definition of ethic

1 ethics plural in form but singular or plural in constructionthe discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation

2 a: a set of moral principles a theory or system of moral values

Every good news organization has a handbook with a written policy or guidelines that spell out the way they want journalists to act while gathering and reporting the news. Managers, editors, producers, reporters, photographers and anyone who works in serious journalism takes these guidelines to heart and tries to follow them.

While there may be some corporate deviation, standards remain pretty much the same from one organization to another.

Remember:

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America says:

The Bill of Rights

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to freely assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So we have a mandate to report and cover the news and how we do it is critically important.

We have basic values.

We tell the truth.

We remain independent and as objective as humanly possible.

We report fairly giving all sides of a story and giving multiple viewpoints of a story when possible.

We work to present a rounded picture of what we are reporting with context.

We are accountable. We report what we know and stand behind our work and correct errors.

Journalists serve the public

The New York Times puts its guidelines online

Other news organizations do the same. For example:

The Daily Beast

Buzzfeed

The foundation of journalism ethics is simple.

This list reflects the Code of Ethics created by the Society for Professional Journalists.

  1. Report fairly and accurately

a. To do that you need to make sure that you verify what people tell you.

How do you do that? By finding more than one source for the information.

2. Avoid conflicts of interest. If you do have an interest in the story you want to disclose it upfront.

3. Do not take gifts, favors, free travel or other perks that could compromise your reporting.

4. Distinguish news from advertising or native content.

4. Update your story to make sure that it is accurate. Things change.

5. Be careful about making promises to people you interview.

6. Identify your sources clearly.

7. Consider your sources’ motives. Why are they talking to you? What is their bias?

8. Be careful about granting someone anonymity. An anonymous source may have a

motive to stay hidden that could undermine the truthfulness of the story. If you use

an anonymous source, explain why.

9. Make every effort to get both sides of a story. Make sure if people are accused of something that you give them every opportunity to respond. This may take extra work.

10. Use undercover reporting only when you must and then explain why you chose to do it.

11. Hold the powerful accountable.

12. Give voice to the powerless.

13. Avoid stereotyping.

14. Label advocacy and commentary.

15. Do not distort information including visual presentations. Make sure that you label re-enactments clearly.

16. Never plagiarize.

17 . Always attribute.

18. Be accountable and transparent.

a. Correct mistakes quickly.

b. Respond to criticism.

c. Explain your ethical choices.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/business/media/james-wolfe-ali-watkins-leaks-reporter.html

Feature Story

James Wagner
Altagracia Alvino prepared a stewed goat dish while her grandson, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., slept. CreditCreditTara Walton for The New York Times

Abuela, Chef, Boss: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s Grandmother Feeds the Majors

For about two decades, Altagracia Alvino has lived with and cooked for her baseball-playing offspring — as well as their teammates and opponents.

By James Wagner

August 25, 2019

Leer en español

TORONTO — The brown sugar bubbled in the pan. The marinated goat meat sizzled when added. Spoonfuls of olives and capers were heaped into the mixture. Then Altagracia Alvino, who can make this dish with her eyes closed, froze.

“Did I put spice in here?” she whispered to herself in Spanish.

Alvino, 66, was careful to make as little noise as possible because it was 7:22 a.m., and her husband and her 20-year-old grandson, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., one of baseball’s brightest young stars, were asleep in their rooms of the family’s Toronto apartment. The familiar scent of cooking meat was unavoidable, though. Read More

Something About That Backpack

by Cynthia Nunes

You see the artic fox on the subway. You see it in college hallways. You can find it in Starbucks. Fjallraven Kanken, the popular backpack with the red and white logo that translates as “The Arctic Fox,” is everywhere.  The Kanken backpack has become popular among college students. It has even gained popularity around the world as an iconic and handy Swedish export.

“They are light and comfy. I have five of them in different colors,” says Anamica, a fellow City College student.  The Swedish manufacturer Fjallraven hit on something in 1978 when it came up with the idea to create a backpack that is described on its website as, “…simple, stylish, and functional.” The lightweight backpack was originally designed for young Swedish school kids after many seemed to develop back problems because of the heavy loads of books they carried.  An old Swedish saying, “Straight backs are happy backs,” inspired the designer.

On the City College campus, students who carry the backpack agree with the saying. Even though the $50-$150 price range makes it a splurge, people will buy them to keep up with a trend. Not only are they trendy but are more practical than other backpacks. When you see them hanging in Urban Outfitters and other retailers, they seem small. But the rectangular shape allows you to stuff a lot in without destroying the shape. 

Brianna, a shopper at Urban Outfitters hesitated before buying a second Artic Fox.  She complained about her first bag. “It looks great, but I wouldn’t have bought it if I knew it got dirty this quickly. It collects dust easily and shows on light colors.” Yet many people like the backpack’s ecofriendly material made of recycled polyester, G-1000 Eco and traceable wool. It’s also made of durable, lightweight Vinylon F. The Kanken has a large main compartment with a wide opening, two side pockets, a zippered pocket in the front, handle at the top, narrow, supple shoulder straps, a sitting pad in the pocket and logo that doubles as a reflector. And that helped propel its popularity. The manufacturer likes to promote its environmental work and that’s one reason that the bag was named after the endangered artic fox. It says it is, “honoring the small highly adaptable predator that lives in the Swedish mountains under the harshest conditions.”

The Fjallraven website states that, “Our core mission and driving force has always been, and always will be, to enable and inspire more people to spend time in nature…we don’t chase short-term goals, follow trends or compromise on quality.” Ironically, many people on campus now wear them because they are trending, not because it has anything to do with nature.

Works Cited:

“Frequently Asked Questions.” Fjällräven, http://www.fjallraven.us/pages/frequently-asked-questions.

“Fjällräven.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fjällräven.

Crossing the Border

by Melanie Ramos

“I know what it’s like to have hopes and dreams when coming to the United States and to have them torn down at the border. I lived that experience not once but twice. What they are doing is just inhumane,” Julio A. said. The detention of immigrants, the policy of separating children from parents and the hostility towards immigrants upsets him, “Seeing that on TV had to break my heart,” he told us

The twenty-seven-year-old came to the United States from Mexico seven years ago, and his struggle to get here remains fresh in his mind. He works two jobs, including one as a busboy at a restaurant in lower Manhattan. His fiancée Jessica G. says, “He is honestly a great guy and the most hard-working man I know. He works six days a week, two jobs to be able to live decently.”

The news stories about President Trump’s effort to stop migrants at the U.S. border bring back memories of his own dramatic story, of his failed attempts to enter the U.S., and how he finally made it. He described it as “…the most terrifying experience I have ever lived, the worst part was there was no turning back.”

From the time he was thirteen, it was common to hear people talk about crossing the border with friends and relatives paying “coyotes” to help get them to the U.S. In 2012, when he turned 18, he became curious about the opportunities he could have if he crossed the border. His parents in Pueblo, Mexico, opposed the idea, but it did not stop Julio from pursing his dream. He and a friend found a coyote willing to help them cross for $8,000.

They flew from Puebla to Reynosa, Mexico where they expected to meet a coyote at the airport. “Getting off the airplane, there was already an off feeling. I felt my heart sink and breath getting shorter. Not only because of what I was about to do but because Reynosa is a very dangerous city owned by cartels and drug lords,” Julio recalled.

The coyote did not show up and Julio and his friend rented a motel room. Four days later, the coyote contacted them. He told the young men to go to the neighboring village where he would pick them up. Julio and his friend were taken to a house with about thirty others who hoped to cross. Four or five days later, unaware of how they were going to cross, Julio, his friend and ten others hopped into a van. Three hours later, they were at the Rio Grande, the river between Mexico and the United States.

When it comes to crossing, immigrants describe it two ways: wet and dry. Wet is when one crosses through the river and dry is when one crosses through the desert.

“At this point, I am regretting everything. The only thing I can think of is of what I am leaving behind, which is my family,” Julio said. At the river, Julio and another twenty people were herded on to a boat. He said, “It’s pitch black and around 10 p.m. I can see the moon’s reflection perfectly on the river as we start. It’s like a twenty or thirty minute cross when finally we reach the American side.”

Once they got out of the boat, trouble started. “Not two minutes have passed when suddenly, two, three, four immigration vans from all over start popping up with their sirens. Everybody started running for their life. I ran into a bush but tripped over and the helicopter light spotted me, making the ground guards catch me. Somehow, I managed to escape, ran for two minutes, but tripped over again and got caught again,” he explained in sorrow.

In the span of seven to eight days, Julio was in three different jail facilities until finally U.S. law enforcement officers set him free in Mexicali, Mexico. There he managed to get in contact with a coyote who told him he had no other choice but to try to cross again, if not he would lose the money he paid. Scared and worried, Julio returned to the refugee house where he had stayed before.

Three days later, he and ten other people returned to the Rio Grande. When they arrived on the American side, they walked until they reached a wall.  Julio said he felt excited, “At this point, I had made it much farther than the first time. In my head I said, I am finally going to make it. As we start crossing that damn wall, the migration vans are hiding on the left and right side on the other side of the wall ready to catch you. Sirens go on and I run back to the river but the boat was gone.”

He felt frightened but determined not to get caught again. He managed to hide under a bush. A couple of hours later, he heard two other men from his group talking nearby. Once all three united, one of them called the coyote and asked him to send someone to take them back to Mexico. The coyote did not want to risk sending a boat. So he sent a floating tire instead. Julio and the two men grabbed on and swam back across the river to Mexico.

They swam for an hour and when they reached Reynosa, the coyote’s men took them back to the house where they started. Julio was ready to give up, go home and stay in Mexico. The coyote, again, told him he had no choice but to cross or lose all the money he had paid. Julio decided to try it again rather than lose $8,000.

Julio made his third try to get to the United States at 10 p.m. the next night. He and 15 others huddled on the boat crossing the Rio Grande. When they reached American soil, they did not walk towards the wall. They headed in a different direction. Julio remembered, “It was a two-hour walk, and no signs of migration vans. I felt a sense of relief to know I had made this far this third time.”

They eventually found a fence and had to crawl under the electrified wire to get into McAllen, Texas. “From there on it was all farms and more farms, and just walking for hours until getting to Houston, Texas,” he said. It took two days to get to Houston, and then he got into a van that brought him to New York City

Seven years later, Julio reflected calmly and said, “The experience of crossing, of living on the edge, of starving and failing shapes you differently. You grow into a different person. Not even to mention once you get here, the starting over. Literally starting over, no clothes, no shoes, no knowledge of where you are or whom you are with. Learning a new language, looking for a job and starting in lowest of the lowest position. It’s not easy, but it makes you a much, much stronger person,” he said.

Julio’s Peso, Photo by Melanie Ramos

Julio carries around a Mexican peso he brought with him when he left Mexico. It is the only souvenir from that time. He says it reminds him of the struggle he had to go through and even though he suffered, it made him the man he is today.

Julio is just one of the thousands who have crossed the border. According to Pew Research center, as of 2016 there were 12.0 million immigrants from Mexico living in the United States. Roughly, 45 percent of them are illegal residents.

Genesis M., Julio’s coworker, and close friend, says, “Julio is one of the realest persons I know. I also know he went through a lot to get here, so to hear news stories about Mexicans being criminals and rapists, it boils my blood because not everybody is like that. People sometimes can be so ignorant…”