Sylvia Spotlights: Writing, Women, and the Big "What-ifs"

The Power of the Written Word at Work

The New News–at What Price?

I’m enrolled in a Digital Journalism Master’s program at National University and our first real class started this week. “The New News” is already amazing, intimidating and enlightening–especially to an old school journalist like myself.

As a freelancer I write mainly profiles and feature stories; in this class we are covering hard news stories this week. We are also examining how powerful blogging can be and how dangerous in the hands of extremists who practice freedom of speech without worry of ethical journalistic standards, guidelines or at the very least, the practice of responsible journalism. Professor Amster’s piece in the Huffington Post about conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart ( was enlightening, disheartening, shake-your-head unbelievable.

Breitbart’s untimely death will bring his followers and advocates out of the woodwork, and place him in more of the media spotlight he seemed to crave. His voice was heard loud and strong. Obviously sensationalism and controversy still sells the news, and “yellow journalism” now taints blogs written by those who think they are journalists with colorful commentary, no matter who they plow down in the process.  

Sometimes the news isn’t always pretty, even for someone who writes features and profiles. For this USC “print” journalism major (1982!), freelancer and a newbie to blogging, social media and digital journalism–I still hope to always embrace the code of ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) that Dr. Amster mentioned in part in her piece:  

Seek the truth and report it.

Minimize harm.

Act Independently.

And last, be accountable.



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