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Sunday, 31 October 2010

This Week's Winol

I have seen the Winol broadcast improve week after week. The main signs of improvement is the better quality audio and shots that seem more relevant to the stories.

I’ve enjoyed the variation in presenters; it keeps each broadcast fresh which is important if you are trying to attract a young audience. I enjoyed the first news story this week which was about the attack on a man in Winchester, I found it relevant as it’s in our area, and the style it was presented in was very professional and I was impressed with the extent coverage of the story including an interview with the victim and footage of the attack and arrest.
The text stays up longer which made the viewings more comfortable as I feel I have enough time to read them whilst paying attention to what is being said.

The one part I feel could be improved was the conversation with the two presenters at the end to lead into the final piece (in this case it was about Halloween costumes). I felt slightly uncomfortable with it as it felt forced and too scripted. I’m not sure if just getting rid of it altogether would solve the problem, but perhaps try to think of better ways to lead into the final piece so that it flows better and seems more relaxed and less cheesy.

Precision English

For the last few week’s we have been studying Precision English with Annette. It was quite a shock to suddenly realise how little knowledge I had about grammar, spelling and punctuation. Despite studying English at A level, it soon became clear (after a horrid spelling test and a few grammar and punctuation exercises) that my English wasn’t up to scratch. I‘m hoping that after these few weeks of practice, I will now be able to write not only these blogs but any other work with more confidence that what I am writing is of a higher standard. Already as I type this blog, I could pick out many punctuation and grammar errors, but I suppose it’s hard to escape bad habits.
We’ve used Wynford Hicks ‘English for Journalists’ book to help guide us through these few weeks. I will certainly be treating it as a bible whenever it comes to writing anymore pieces until I know all of the rules automatically.

Confidentiality - Journalism Law

Confidentiality focuses on private matters and is treated as a civil law. However, secrecy/state secrecy is seen as criminal law. An example of state secrecy would be revealing the location of British troops at any time (without permission).
In Section1 of the ‘Official Secrets Act’ it covers state secrets such as telling enemies of tank positions, or revealing secret codes.

Commercial secrets usually affect businesses ad is seen as civil law. This can include revealing a secret recipe for a certain food or restaurant, or claiming they break certain health rules as this could ruin their business (and would most likely be seen as being published with malice).
If a journalist acquires any of this information from an employee of a company or organisation it would be considered a breach of confidentiality by that person. Also a third party (i.e. - a Journalist) can also be accused.

Common law confidentiality can include hospitals (such as nurses).
An example of a breach of confidentiality case is journalist Graham Punk who published a report of an unclean hospital. Instead of speaking with somebody running the hospital about the issue he automatically published it after receiving the information from a hospital employee. If he tried to sort the problem quietly (and they refused to acknowledge it) then he would have more right to publish the story as it would be seen as a story that requires public attention to try and have it corrected.

Gagging Clauses are used predominantly by the NHS. These are clauses that are included in employee’s contracts that prevent them from revealing certain things and information about the hospital.

It is important to try and gain evidence to claims that you hear from someone. You should also ask permission from that person to publish the story, reminding them that they could be at risk of getting sacked if they were discovered to be the person that leaked the story.
However, it is very important as a journalist that you protect your sources and never reveal them. This is important to Journalists as it helps maintain a good image and enables us to continue getting information that we otherwise would not gain or receive. A bad journalist is one that frequently reveals there sources, or simply makes things up.
If you reveal a source, you are in breach of the Journalists code of conduct. Although, if you receive a court order to reveal them, and don’t, then you are in trouble for contempt of court.

Another journalist involved in a famous confidentiality case is Bill Goodwin who is respected for his commitment to the Journalists Code of Conduct - refusing never to reveal his sources. He printed an article in The Engineer (a respected magazine) claiming that Tetrus (a company) were selling inferior components. They soon went out of business, and after refusing to name his source, Tetrus took him to court in an attempt to make him reveal them. However, he still refused, and said that he was protecting his source. Despite being fined, he appealed repeatedly until eventually (years later) he won. Up to this day he has still not named his source.

Sarah Tisdel Case
When police turned up at the Guardian office looking for the name of a source that reported information regarding MI5, Peter Preston (in charge at the time) handed over an important document that enabled them to identify Sarah Tisdel as the source. The configuration of the letter made it possible to identify her. The Guardian claimed it tried to protect her, and also if they didn’t return the document it would have been considered theft as it had a specific owner.

Accidentally breaking confidentiality act can be used as a defence in some case, but can be difficult to prove. Saying army soliders are returning home could be accidental breach of confidentiality.
Confidential information depends on the type of secret information and whether it has necessary quality for being confidential(ie- must be of some importance)
Official secrets are heavily protected for example you cannot take photographs of arm bases unless given permission. You would have to phone the base, and try to get permission confirmed in writing if possible.

Confidentiality is narrow(unlike defamatory)
-Must be imported to you importing or imposing confidence of confidentiality.
-Must have quality of confidence
-Their must be no permission(evidence needed)
-Detrement(have to show that the report damaged them)

Section 8 - Human Rights Act guarantees the right to normal family/private life. This act relates mainly to photography/filming. You cannot publish photographs without consent unless it is showing them doing a public duty. Sometimes they will attempt to sue, but can also seel the rights to photos of them.
Catherine Zeta Jones is one celebrity that has sued newspapers, including an incident where pcitures of her eating a cake at a wedding were published. Princess Caroline used to be photographed whenever she was out. However, when she was photographed riding a horse she decided to sue the paparazzi and won as none were taken with her decent and none(apart from 1) could claim the photos were of her doing a public duty. THe one that was her doing a public duty was when she handed over a cup on a football field in Monaco.

Celebrities like Princess Caroline, Jamie Theakston, David Beckham and John Terry have invoked many injuctions recently to prevent certain stories from being publioshed.
Naomi Campbell often applies for injunctions(eg- photos of her leaving a rehab clinic).
You should phone(the person involved) to see if a story is true, however it enables them to get an injuction, so that is the risk you must take. However, you can try to get information from the person without making them feel the story is very damaging.
Super Injunction- John Terry got an injunction to prevent The Guardian from revealing he had an injunction.

Explicit consent - agree's to interviews and agrees to be filmed/photographed.
Implied consent- If they react to the camera, or are clearly knowledgable that they were on it)(eg- staring down the lense, waving at the camera, or at a football ground) it can be argued they are giving their consent.

So confidentiality is another barrier that is important for ournalists to keep in mind. You must make sure you don't accidentally get the wrong people in phpotots(people that shouldnt be there) and if possible, always get written consent from those photographed/filmed so that you can publish them without worry of being sued for breaching the human rights act.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Journalism Now

Photojournalism in the Early 20th Century

At the beginning of the 20th Century, it was believed by the majority of the public that everything seen in a photograph was true. Photojournalism soon became a distinctive form of photography. Unlike in the 21st Century, it was impossible to tamper with photographs using a computer. This meant that they were used as irrefutable evidence which was supported by empiricism and modernism.

The New York Times started publishing photographs in 1896, and newspapers across the world soon did the same. When photos first appeared in newspapers, they were mainly staged photographs. Photographs helped to project a professional appearance and presented the view that journalists could be relied on to deliver the facts.

In the early 20th Century it was much easier to establish truth from pictures taken by journalists. Scholars began to observe photojournalism, claiming that a camera pointed in a certain direction can still include and exclude particular information.

Photography had been the most significant means of recording in the 20th Century. Politicians and celebrities started to style themselves with the knowledge that they would be photographed. It enabled Journalists to capture important moments during that time: including photographs of Winston Churchill hearing he was re-elected.

One famous American photographer was Lewis Hine. His photographs’ in the 1900’s showed immigrants arriving in America through Ellis Island. Some of his other photos helped change child labour laws. These were early signs of the impact that photojournalism could have on the public.

By the 1930s, photojournalism had entered a ‘golden age’. Photographs were sent by electronic means from remote locations to picture agencies and magazines. Illustrated magazines then began to compete with newspapers, until that point photography was seen just as a way to support the text. This increasing variation of magazines available in both Europe and America meant that many photographers were employed to illustrate the articles, educating readers about political and social issues. Newspapers such as The Daily Mirror gained good reputations and a large number of readers because of the photography they used. Gradually, the profession evolved, which lead to roles such as picture editors.

The influence of photojournalism grew dramatically during World War 2. News photographers were expected to consistently report the truth through their images. A magazine called Life was first published in 1936, containing a strong emphasis on photojournalism. The magazines use of photographs received a positive reaction from their readers. The publisher, called Henry Luce, believed that pictures could tell a story to the magazine’s readers instead of accompanying the text as illustration.

Rolled photographic film enabled photographers to take a sequence of images, which lead to a more narrative structure when the photos were published collectively. This style was used regularly by magazines, and the collections of photographs were placed in double-page spreads by picture editors. Gradually, photojournalism was used in more influential ways, because of photographers utilising lighting and scenery to produce a desired effect.

Daniel Mackrell
The Burden of Visual Truth – Julianne H. Newton
Photojournalism and Today’s News – Loup Langton

John Locke - HCJ

John Locke was crucial for Journalists and philosophy. He had many important ideas such as the social contract which is the way people agreed to be ruled by governments. Locke fled to Europe which is where he wrote most of his books.
History shows why John Locke felt religion should be removed from the public domain. He saw that religion tore the country apart. He felt that religion should be kept private, away from politics and no longer influence it. Many of his views reflect those that now exist in America.

John Locke seemed to have very modern views and ideas at the time he published An Essay of Human Understanding.

In this essay he explored various aspects of the human mind and (similar to Machiavelli) he argues the idea of empiricism. This is the belief that knowledge comes from experience and that you learn from ideas. He feels that we learn from our senses and develop our understandings through our perceptions. There are 2 parts that allow us to gain information – Sensation and Reflection. Sensation is when the senses convey thoughts to the mind. Reflection is the operation of our mind (such as birds knowing to migrate). The mind acts to reflect ideas through reasoning and thinking.
Children understand to food and realise that hunger means they want to eat. However, knowledge varies on the objects that someone converses with. Locke also states that ideas can’t be learnt from sleep. This is because without senses being active, thinking can’t occur which means you cannot collect new information. The example John Locke uses is a looking glass, it retains no remembrance of what it has seen throughout the day.
He also speaks about deductive thinking which is that every promise has a conclusion. Inductive reasoning is based on the ‘leap of faith’.

Social Contract
The social contract was contributed to by both Hobbes and Locke.
.Hobbes Leviathan – State of Nature
. People’s dominant passions are aggressive – people acting on their passions will produce a state of war
. A leader is chosen, and given huge power
. Power comes from the people but they give up all their power to the ruler once they are decided (a mortal god)

At the time of John Locke, Kings were believed to be chosen by God. He stated that God didn’t choose the ruler (‘life would be nasty, brutish and short’). He felt that we needed to create a mortal God/Leviathan.

Choose somebody to be the all powerful ruler and we then give all our rights to that person (they become a God in some senses). The power is choosing an individual and then the power is gone. What we ask of that person is that they protect us from those dangers inside and out of our city/country. If they protect us, then they are doing their job.
A dictatorship is almost what Hobbes proposes.

Locke’s ‘Treatise of Government’
First Treatise
This attacks the concept of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’. It is the idea tha God had given Adam the right to rule.
‘Let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air’ – Genesis
Locke opposed to James II and Hobbes.
Second Treatise
- State of nature – everyone enjoys national freedom and equality but obey natural laws.
- The laws of nature were moral laws which every man knew intuitively – an almost ready made knowledge of right and wrong. ‘Under woven in the constitution of the human mind’ discovered by reason which comes from God.

Locke (like Descartes) felt when we were born there was nothing placed in our mind. He believed that you had ‘original sin’ when you were born and needed to be saved even from the beginning.
Locke disagreed with the churches view of this, saying there was nothing in our brains. However, he felt there was a God, and that he gave us reasoning.

‘We will discover natural laws’
He accepts laws are relevant to certain areas. Senses produce natural laws that we accept and understand.
Locke was important to American constitution. We have a right to life, liberty and property.
He believed in the mind starting with a blank slate, everything comes from senses, from that we can work out natural laws.

Manual for a Revolution
- Locke proposed a concept of government by consent and limited by law – it proves mainly used for the protection of property.
- He insisted that taxes could not be levied without the people’s (parliament) consent.
- He believed that citizens could rebel if their government ceased to respect the law – referred to the tyranny of James II.
- It meant that Locke was suggesting that the right of revolution was of the mutual rights of man.

Locke and Hobbes had slightly different views:-
Locke – Can get rid of a ruler if he oversteps boundaries.
Hobbes – Ruler for life

Human Understanding
- Locke believed that our understanding comes from our experience which is worked on by our powers of reason to produce ‘real knowledge’.
- Against the idea of ‘innate ideas’
- He thought that God had given mankind the ability to discover knowledge and morality so that innate ideas weren’t needed.
- When matters of faith go beyond reason and experience - individuals should be guided by private revelation, but these revelations should never be imposed to church or state.
- He felt God gave us the faculties to find the truth instead of giving us the truth already.
- He didn’t think God intervened in life. God was perfect and created perfect ideas for our mind.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Qualified Privilege

Qualified Privilege is one of the best defences against libel.

The requirements for solid defence are:-
- Justification
- (Fair)Comment
- Privilege

You should always think about what fact is and what comment is when writing/reporting a story as it can be easy to confuse the two.

Privilege makes you exempt from Law (libel law in certain circumstances).
Statutory Privilege allows the Journalist to publish certain specified information. Parliamentary Privilege means you can report certain parliament events.
If an MP says something at Parliament with malice, a Journalist is still able to report this without being accused of malice themselves. This is known as ‘Absolute Privilege’ (AP).
However, if you are reporting allegations made in parliament just to cause trouble, it would then be considered malice.

If you Journalist is reporting a court case that is still progressing, they must end a report saying something such as ‘The case continues’ or ‘and they’re pleading not guilty’ to avoid claims of prejudice or bias as at the stage of reporting the case, it may only be the prosecution that have spoken and could therefore be considered malice. However, once the court finds someone guilty, reporting them as guilty would become fact. A judge’s sentencing is fact.
You get qualified privilege when reporting from the local government but only with refutation.

Comment can be important in defending certain words used in an article or report. For example, describing someone as ‘sick’ or ‘evil’ could be defended as comment if it can be justified to some extent (such as a paedophile, as they could be considered as evil or sick as they have something wrong with them).

Another important part of defence is Positive Identification. This means correctly and accurately identifying the person you a reporting about. You must ensure that the person being defamed is correctly identified (someone in particular). If you don’t identify someone specifically enough(such as just giving a name) then someone with the same name could sue if it is easy for them to be mistakenly identified as the person being reported.
Occasionally you can argue Accidental Libel, but this is very rare as it would mean a big coincidence of two people having very similar identities.
Also broad identification can be very dangerous as it allows multiple people to sue you if they feel they have been defamed because of you reporting.
Pictures can be very important in Positive Identification. There are normally two types of pictures: mug shots and action shots. Mug shots are usually used for identification.

You can be sued for libel if the following 3 things apply:-
- Defamation
- Publication
- Identification
Libel action usually results in a minimum of around £50,000, and this is normally if the case is settled out of court. It is quite often that cases are settled out of court.

If you’re fast, accurate and fair you ensure that you maintain Qualified Privilege.
Fast- The report must be made in the first available edition.
Accurate- Any errors in a report (even trivial errors) would make you lose your qualified privilege.(Eg- spelling, meaning and even punctuation can). I therefore realise how important it is to check everything in a report is correct.
Fair- You must not make up you reporting, it must be based on fact.

You don't neccesarioly need to know the truth to report something. Aslong as you have good sources, inlucde the person denying allegations, publish as soon as possible and avoid malice.

We briefly explored Renolds 10 Point test in our Lecture. The 10 points are as follows-

1. The seriousness of the allegation
2. The nature of the information
3. The source of the information
4. The steps taken to verify the information
5. The status of the information
6. The urgency of the matter
7. Whether comment was sought from the claimant
8. Whether the article contatined the gist of the claiments side of the story
9. The tone of the article
10. The circumstances of the publication

Copyright Law Lecture

On Monday 18th September we had a guest lecturer to talk to us about copyright law. The guest speaker was Peter Hodges. He was the former 'Head of Copyright at the BBC.
Knowledge of copyright and how it works enables broadcasts; an article etc to go ahead without any issues, and ensures that anything a journalist produces is protected from copyright issues.
Copyright Law effects sound recordings, broadcasts, books, performances, designs etc. However, an idea cannot be copyrighted.

And you are required to have permission (or pay for permission) if it's used in almost any form. This includes background music, special words, broadcast radio, and photos. Copyright lasts the life of the author/creator plus 70 years after their death. Music and Films copyright lasts 50 years after their death. When items are no longer under the copyright law, they enter the public domain. This means that are available for the public to use and have at any time (i.e. books, radio, article and broadcast available freely available for public use).

If you record someone (such as performing in the street dancing or singing) and intend to broadcast it, you need their written consent beforehand.

Copyright can also limit the amount of certain content that you can use. Someone who has copyrighted material have the right to prevent its usage. This can include preventing people performing a certain piece they created. If you a critic, or expressing views on something you must name who it’s from, giving the author credit/acknowledgement. Contemporary events can be recorded if they are current news events and you had no control over them. The term of ‘Actuality’ is used, meaning you had no control over it.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Defamation and my visit to Winchester Courts

In this week’s lecture we focused on Defamation and the trouble journalists can get into when accused. A defamatory statement has the tendency to damage somebody’s reputation in the minds of other people. Libel Trails (involving a Judge and Jury) is where a Journalist can be sued for Defamation.
Ridicule/Contempt can cause them to be shunned or avoided. It affects their business, trade or profession and tends to alter their image to right thinking members of society.

Defamatory damages can possibly go into millions. Journalists try to stay away from people they know would sue.
An example of how easy it can be for a libel case to occur. I could state a defamatory statement in a blog and get sued if it has the potential to damage someone (i.e. - a statement that has the potential to be defamatory).
An individual has to be correctly identified to prevent confusion of specific person identified. There are three key points when determining if a story has a case for libel.

- It has the potential to be defamatory.
- It is published in some way.
- The person has to be clearly identified.

However, Journalists do have a justification when the story is true, and also in the public interest. This is known as ‘Privilege’.
Privilege protects the journalist as it means the story was n the interest of the government/state/public etc... It is important that the public get to see that justice is being done, and that confirmation is brought forward by Journalists reporting the stories and cases. This helps the government as it keeps the public calm under the knowledge that the Justice System works. Without reports, justice isn’t seen.

Recording Court Events
As you cannot record in court, Journalists have to rely on their shorthand to document everything that happens in a court room. Along with this, the reports of a case should be fair and accurate (based on fact/truthful), and preferably contemporary. This is because case results can change very quickly and your opinions could quickly become out of date if you decided to express them (and could lead your audience to expect a result different the final verdict). For example, if you only report the prosecution and not the defence, it wouldn’t be fair, particularly if the defendant was then found innocent.
A journalist will lose any defence in court if there is any sign of malice. This means that it the report isn’t clear/straightforward or shows intention to damage. There is one technique called ‘Bane and Antidote’ which journalists use. This involves saying something nice and something not very nice about someone to maintain balance. Although this is also a very dangerous idea as you could still potentially be taken to court. An example is if you defame a person in a headline but then make them sound better in the article itself. While you are saying nice things about them, the headline is likely to get read more than the article itself. This could be seen as defaming the person.

Newspapers can add a correction in a later edition to avoid a court order. Journalists can also write a letter to the person they defamed to try to ‘make peace’ before a court order is made. Writing ‘Without Prejudice’ at the top of the letter means that the letter cannot be used as evidence against you in court.
I went to court on Tuesday with some fellow Journalism students and we sat in the public gallery to watch part of a court case and get a feel of what it was like. It was defiantly a fascinating experience. As we entered the court, the Judge announced that one member of the Jury was removed for knowing the father of one of the witnesses. The case involved witnesses that were experts in forensic sceince. The case revolved around a tyre slashing. It was certainly an interesting time watching the case unfold as we gradually gained a better understanding of what was going on. It certainly helped me understand the courts more and get a feel for the environment.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

This Week's Winol

I've just finished watching the latest live Winol Bulletin. First looking at the stories that were given, I found the majority of them relevant to their target audience. Particularly those focussing around student life such as the international students struggling to get into certain bars and clubs, as well as the potential removal of tuition fee caps. Also the story about the Queen could generate some interest as she was not too far from our location. Although I feel the minimal coverage meant that it wasn't a particularly interesting story and not much information was supplied.

I felt that the two presenters worked well together, however I felt there was an issue with breathing right after a news story had finished. Once it cut to a presenter they would take a loud breath before speaking which I felt looked slightly unprofessional, and made it appear as if they weren't prepared for it.

I liked the various shots; I felt that they were changed frequently enough to maintain an audience’s attention as they didn't remain on one shot for too long. Although, the names of those speaking, and those being interviewed were shown on screen for a very brief amount of time for the majority of the broadcast. If it was lengthened slightly the audience could feel more relaxed and take more time in reading the names whilst still being able to listen to the news feature.
I also liked the effect used in one of the stories when they started with the image blurred and went into focus. This technique captured my attention and kept me focused. As well as this, there were good low angle shots (such as the cars driving by) and also good coverage of the sports such as the goals as the camera got a good view of the action and was very steady.
The voices were good altogether. They were calm, clear and sounded professional.

Overall, I felt it was a good broadcast and kept me interested throughout, whilst a few alterations could be made to improve the general quality, I found it an interesting viewing, and look forward to more.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

My 1st History of Western Philosophy Seminar

Well, it was a daunting experience, not knowing what to expect when i entered the room. Being on eof the first people to supply a seminar paper added to the pressure and tension. But i've survived it, and found my 1st seminar in philosophy to be quite useful in establishing that i'm on the right track with my reading.

Bertands book is certainly a challenge to read, particularly if you;ve never studied philosophy before. However, i feel like i am starting to get to grips with it's theories and ideas, and even some of the language is starting to make more sense after a few checks in the dictionary.

In the seminar we discussed the first set of reading from the book, which includes the points of discussion that were raised in the lecture the week before.

Some of the discussions I enjoyed revolved around some of the books that the philosophers decided to write explaing certain ideas. This included 'The Prince' which was written by Machiavelli. It was seen as a guide on how to gain power, as well as how to maintain it.

What i found interesting was no matter how humorous or some of his ideas sound at first, it is clear that he thought hard about the points he made. As well as this, the book has a very modern appearance.
Despite mentioning some horrible suggestions for gaining power, it seems that he hopes the rulers would do good with their power, despite not specifically stating that in the book.
He also believed that a prince should ‘seem’ to be religious. The word seem suggests he doesn’t see it as a necessity that they have to be, but feels that a ruler that portrays themselves to be religious will be more accepted as a ruler and perhaps create a better image.

Another book i found interesting was 'Utopia' which was written by Sir Thomas Moore.
More was a Humanist and a man of profound piety, knighted in 1514. He portrays Utopia as an island in the southern hemisphere. Much like we would imagine, it is a place where ‘everything is done in the best possible way’.

In my seminar paper i covered his bizzare vision of Utopia. It had fifty four towns, and every tenth year people change houses to prevent a sense of ownership. All the people are dressed the same (except differences between male/female and married/unmarried). They all work six hours a day, 3 before dinner, and 3 after. They sleep at 8, and for 8 hours.
He appears to structure it so that the environment appears very plain, repetitive, and almost robotic in some senses. However, this suggests that he wants everybody to feel the same and be equal. The rules appear very strict and determined to keep everyone in line and under the same routine as each other every day.

During this time, modern capitalism was created which i felt almost seemed to contradict Thomas More’s Utopia vision.

In the seminar we also observed the differences between the ideas of Descartes and Plato. Plato's idea being the theory of everything having a perfect form. Such as any chair being the shadow of the perfect chair, we can't see it, but it's out there somewhere.

Descartes said the phrase 'I think therfore I am' meaning that the fact he can question his own exsistence proves that he exsists. However, that merely scrapes the surface on the magnitude of his theory. He felt that everything he learned from his 'good quality' education was useless and a waste of time. So hh decided to take apart all his knowledge. He began by regarding with sceptcism regarding his senses - 'Can I doubt that I am sitting here by the fire in a dressing-gown?'. Literally everything he knew and take away anything that he wasn't 100% certain was fact. Examples include his date of birth(how could he be absoloutely certain what he was told was true).
He then started to question God and how he knew that he exsisted. He then reverted to the idea of a perfect form, and how could we visualise God(perfect) if it didn't excist. So it must mean that God does excist in order to place the idea in our minds. I understand how this idea can be seen as flawed and i'm sure many would argue nagainst it, however at the time it was seen as a clever idea. Although I do feel like it shows signs of Descartes feeling the need to assure himself that te still was a God, otherwise he may have felt left with nothing.

The next stage of the reading is intriguing me as we will explore the thoughts of John Locke, an English philosopher. In next week's Philosophy blog i'll let you know how easy(or how difficult) he is to understand.

My Philosophy Seminar Paper

General Characteristics and Italian Renaissance
This began with the church dominating ideas in the dark ages. It was a time when the only true point of knowledge was what the Greeks had written in their texts and books. As these were written down, they could not be challenged or questioned.

However, it eventually leads to the diminishing authority of the church whilst the authority of Science started to increase. These were two very important changes in modern history as they re-shaped our views on the world and religion as a whole.
Democracy had suddenly become a political force with Kings being replaced by democracies and tyrants.
However, along with this, Socialism (an alternative to democracy) first gained power in 1917.
Ecclesiastical Authority was one of negative characteristics of modern age.
Acceptance of Scientific Authority was a positive characteristic of modern age.

Copernican Theory in 1543 was the eruption of Science, and was later improved by the likes of Kepler and Galileo. It was the idea (that we now know as fact) that the Earth and the planets revolved around The Sun.
This created a clash of Science vs. Dogma and Traditions vs. New Knowledge.

From the death of Frederick II in 1250, Ital was then free from foreign interference until the invasion of Charles VIII (France) in 1494.
There were 5 important states, these were:-
-Florence, Milan, Venice, Naples and Papal domain.
Florence was considered the most civilised city in the world.

There were three classes:-
- The Nobles [Ghibelline]
- The Rich Merchants [Guelf]
- The Small Men [Guelf]

The Ghibelline was defeated in 1266, and in the 14th Century, the Small men got the better of the Rich Merchants. This conflict leads to a tyranny of the Medici family, who were rules of Florence.
They were political bosses of the democratic side.
The French became unpopular and in 1282 they were massacred in the ‘Sicilian Vespers’ which was a Rebellion on the island of Siciliy against Charles I who was King of France, and fighting the Papacy for control over Italy.

There was Cosimo dei Medici (1389-1464) and then his son Lorenzo was in power between 1469 and 1492). Savonarola reigned from 1494 to 1498). Also at the time of the Italian renaissance, the ancients disagreed with each other, and substituted authority of ancients for church. This seems to show signs of emancipation, a desire for political freedom and they seemed to feel that the church was the way forward to this.

Leo X was Pope in 1513, followed by Eugenius IV (1431-1437). However, the Medici family continued with their dominance. They governed France until 1737. However, Florence (like all of Italy) had now become poor and unimportant.
The popes’ methods supposedly robbed the papacy (office of the pope) of spiritual authority.
Nicholas V (1477-55) became the first Humanist Pope. Meaning that he believed in human values. It showed a desire to study history, grammar, poetry and moral philosophy.
The council of Ferrara (1438) united the Eastern and Western churches.
Humanists were acquiring knowledge of antiquity.

There was said to be no halfway between orthodoxy (the idea of having the right opinion) and free thought.
One very important aspect of the renaissance is that it produced many great men such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Leonardo.
Quote – ‘How much murder and anarchy are we prepared to endure for the sake of great achievements such as those of the Renaissance?’

Plato and Aristotle
Plato believed in the idea of forms and that everything is an imitation of ‘the perfect form’. On the other hand, Aristotle didn’t believe in this theory.
17th Century Renaissance broke down the rigid scholastic system. This revived the study of Plato.
Independent thought meant that the public could choose between the ideas of Plato, and those of Aristotle. This encouraged regarding intellectual activity as an enjoyable social discussion.
Florentine Academy (founded by Cosimo, and continued by Lorenzo) was devoted to the study of Plato.

Niccolo signalled the start of political science. Like Thomas More, he was a humanist and philosopher. He was a man of supreme eminence in political philosophy.
Born in Florence, he was brought up neither rich nor poor, and his father was a lawyer.

He gained a minor post in Florentine government in 1498. In 1512 came the restoration of the Medici family. Then in 1513, Machiavelli wrote ‘The Prince’:-
The Prince
He released a book called ‘The Prince’ which I found to be an interesting book, because many of the points he raised do appear to make sense. No matter how humorous or absurd they sound at first, it is clear that he thought hard about the points he made. As well as this, the book has a very modern appearance.
It was intended to be a ‘guide’ to rulers on how to get power, and how to keep it. Despite mentioning some horrible suggestions for gaining power, it seems that he hopes the rulers would do good with their power, despite not specifically stating that in the book.
‘...better to be feared than loved’ - as fear is constant.

Machiavelli also stressed his belief that religion should have a prominent place in the state, not on the ground of its truth, but as social cement. He believes that a prince should ‘seem’ to be religious. The word seem suggests he doesn’t see it as a necessity that they have to be, but feels that a ruler that portrays themselves to be religious will be more accepted as a ruler and perhaps create a better image.

Machiavelli never bases his arguments on biblical grounds.
He is of the opinion that civilized men are almost certain to be unscrupulous egotists.
‘...The church has kept and still keeps our country divided...’
During this time, very few of Italy’s rulers were legitimate (including the Popes).

Erasmus and More
Around the time of Erasmus and More was the Northern Renaissance (different from Italy’s)
i.e. – France, England and Germany.
Also Latin was the only international language.

Erasmus (1466-1536) becomes Bishop of Cambrai in 1493.
He hated scholastics and philosophy.
He wrote ‘The Praise of Folly’. There were two kinds of Folly, one ironically, and the other much more serious.
The serious Folly displayed Christian simplicity. In 1524 he wrote a work defending free will.

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was a Humanist and considered a man of profound piety.
He was knighted in 1514.

He played an important role in leading t opposition towards Henry VIII’s tax plans.
He was against the king’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon and was imprisoned in the Tower of London, the same year that King Henry VIII became Head of the Church instead of the Pope.
Thomas More was later beheaded for high treason when he denied the King was the ‘Supreme Head’ of the Church.

One of More’s key contributions was his book about ‘Utopia’.
One idea I was fascinated by was Utopia written by Sir Thomas More in 1518. More was a Humanist and a man of profound piety, knighted in 1514. He portrays Utopia as an island in the southern hemisphere. Much like we would imagine, it is a place where ‘everything is done in the best possible way’.

His vision of Utopia has fifty four towns, every tenth year people change houses to prevent a sense of ownership. All the people are dressed the same (except differences between male/female and married/unmarried). They all work six hours a day, 3 before dinner, and 3 after. They sleep at 8, and for 8 hours.

He appears to structure it so that the environment appears very plain, repetitive, and almost robotic in some senses. However, this suggests that he wants everybody to feel the same and be equal. The rules appear very strict and determined to keep everyone in line and under the same routine as each other every day.

During this time, modern capitalism was created which almost seems to contradict Thomas More’s Utopia vision.

The Reformation and Counter Reformation
This was a time of rebellion of less civilised nations against the intellectual domination of Italy.
The Popes’ authority was rejected.

An Englishman Italiante
Is a devil incarnate

An example of the views towards Italy at this time is shown by the works of Shakespeare, with many Italian villains such as Iago in the play ‘Othello’.
The revolt was both political and theological. It was a sign of them refusing to accept higher power.

Luther, Calvin and Loyola were all key figures in the Reformation and Counter Reformation
The Jesuits

The Rise of Science
16th Century – Theology
17th Century – Described as ‘The best age of Greece’
The 17th Century was a remarkable time not only for Astronomy and dynamics, but also other forms of science.

There were 4 Key figures in Science.
Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton

He was a Polish ecclesiastic.

He was one of the first to believe the sun to be at the centre of the universe, and the Earth being in a twofold motion.
His key writing ‘De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelstium’ was published the year he died. His heliocentric theory was claimed by a friend to only be a hypothesis when it was put forward. It is unclear how deeply Copernicus sanctioned the statement.
The book was dedicated to The Pope. During his time the Church was more liberal and his work was not condemned by the Catholic Church at least until the life of Galileo.

Kepler adopted the heliocentric theory, which much like Copernicus is the view that the Sun is the centre of the universe.

He suggested 3 Laws of planetary motion.
[The first two were published in 1609]
First Law – The planets describe elliptic orbits, of which the sun occupies one focus.
Second Law – The Line joining a planet to the sun sweeps out equal areas in equal time.
[The third was published in 1619]
Third Law – The Square of the period of revolution of a planet is proportional to the cube of its average distance from the sun.

Considered the greatest of the founders of modern science.
He first discovered the important of acceleration in dynamics. The example given in the book is that ‘a body moving uniformly in a circle has at all times acceleration towards the centre of the circle.
Galileo felt that if a body is left alone, it will continue to move in a straight line with uniform velocity.
Only an action of force would change the rapidity or direction of motion.
[Newton later described this as the ‘first law of motion’]

One important contribution is his discovery that the Milky Way contained a number of individual stars. He also discovered the satellites of Jupiter.
However, there had always been seven heavenly bodies. These were the 5 planets, the sun and the moon. By adding Jupiter’s 4 moons, there would then be eleven. This number has no mystical properties. Traditionalists denounced the telescope and claimed the results were only delusions.

Galileo was condemned in 1616 for herecy (going against religion)


Removal of almost all traces of animism from the Laws of Physics.
Thanks to the work of Copernicus, Galileo d Kepler, Newton was able to take their theories a step further and developed Keplers’ three laws by proving that every planet has acceleration towards the sun at every moment.

Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon is known for the phrase ‘Knowledge is Power’

Francis became a Lord Chancellor in 1618 but only lasted 2 years as he was prosecuted for accepting bribes from Litigants. This had condemned him to a fine of £40,000 as well as being imprisoned in the kings’ tower. However, the sentence was only partially executed as he did not need to pay the fine, and only spent four days in the tower.

He wrote ‘The Advancement of Learning’. Russell considers it to have a modern feel.
Bacon claims that philosophy should be kept separate from theology.

He was an empiricist (felt that knowledge came from experience) like Locke and Berkeley. He was also a keen admirer of mathematical method.

When the Long Parliament met in 1640, Hobbes fled to France out of fear of being sent to the tower. The next year he wrote ‘De Cive’, however it wasn’t published until 1647.

Hobbes was suspected of atheism, and because of this he could no longer print anything that revolved around controversial subjects.

Leviathan was written by Hobbes, and contained political opinions were royalist to the extreme.
Hobbes intended to show the evils of democracy.
He claims that ‘Life is nothing but a motion of the limbs, and therefore automata have an artificial life’

He explores the following in his book:-

- Man as an individual
- Hope that ‘some king’ would become a philosopher. Russell states that Monarchs are assured that the book is easy to read and can be found quite interesting.
- There is no universal church
- Hobbes hatred of the Church of Rome (because it puts spiritual power above the temporal).

One view that Hobbes insists on is that all men are naturally equal. He was also obsessed with anarchy, and the fear of it happening.
One other key point is Hobbes belief that God is not an object of philosophy.

Hobbes has also been described as a nominalist. He felt that objects given the same name/term don’t actually have anything in common other than that name. They are all unique and individual.

He is considered the founder of modern philosophy.
It marked the intellectual transition from the middle ages to the modern world.
Descartes also despised Aristotle, believing that his theories were full of errors.
He believed that old ideas were dominating the way that we all lived and wanted to change it.

Descartes most famous theory was Systematic Doubt which is also where he gained the phrase:-
‘I think therefore I am’

The idea revolves around the question of how we can be absolutely certain that something exist or is true.
It began when Descartes felt his good education was actually holding him back and was of no use to him. He believed ‘men of action’ were those to be around. The idea was that the jobs they did were real as they had repercussions if done wrong.
He also noticed that the things you are taught are only relevant to where you are at that time. As experience was so varied, he considered it to be useless.

Descartes decided to take apart everything he knew, all of his knowledge.
He started to question every element of what he knew, and asked himself whether they had any form of doubt that they are true.

He started with scepticism regarding the senses.
E.g. - Can I doubt that I am sitting here by the fire in a dressing-gown?

He originally felt that a demon could be tricking him, but then realised that he could not be deceived if he didn’t exist.
‘I may have no body this might be an illusion’

Russell suggests that Descartes only applied his theory half-heartedly, but still sees it as being of great philosophical important.
Descartes made one exception to the law of physics, claiming that a human soul can (by volition) alter the direction of motion.
Why Philosophy of Descartes was important - It brought to (at least) a near conclusion the dualism of mind and matter, which began with Plato, and developed by Christian philosophy.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

An Introduction to Essential Law for Journalists

Law is essential knowledge for any aspiring Journalist, without knowing the laws, there is a risk they could break it when reporting. In this blog i will look at the basic laws and knowledge that is required as well as observing a recent news story that explores some of the points raised.

Why Law is important to Journalism:-
- It’s a source of News.
- Crime always interests for a wide audience – murder, violence, fraud, deception.
This is shown by the large number of newspaper sales, particularly when a crime is on the cover.
Law is a constraint to what Journalists are able to. However, I do feel it’s important that Journalists are given as much freedom as possible, to ensure that the public receives what the information they desire. I’ve always understood that I need to stay aware of any unreasonable restrictions to this freedom. Although I do understand that certain restrictions have to be in place to protect information that shouldn’t be released to the public.
I agree with laws in the Editors Code such as ‘Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit’. These are vital in protecting UK citizens from suffering acts which are completely unacceptable not only in Journalistic terms.
It is essential that we maintain freedom of press and freedom of expression to avoid a country where people are even more afraid to voice their opinions.
The UK doesn’t have a constitution unlike most countries.

The law of Defamation

This restricts the allegations you can make in the press, Journalists can risk being sued for liable. It can constrain us, which therefore means we need to make sure we understand what we know is true and be able to separate fact from rumour. Not only does this protect us as Journalists, but it also ensures that we create the most reliable stories possible for the public.
An example of a court case recently in the news was story reported by ‘The Sun’ which involved footballer David Beckham being mentioned in court papers when a women called Shery Shabani stated that her husband Kambiz had incorrectly accused her of an affair with him. She hopes to gain full custody of her children as well as a restraining order on Kambiz claiming that the accusations were part of his ‘delusional thought process’. However, despite the minimal effect on the public in usual circumstances, the fact that it includes the mention of David Beckham (world known footballer and British celebrity) it becomes a story that the public would be interested in.
This also follows the recent claims by Irma Nici that she slept with the footballer for money, the momentum of this story and its vast publicity makes the story more relevant to the public at the time. I would assume that at any other time of the year such a story would not get much public interest as the women claims them to be untrue. However, with two stories in a very short space of time, it allows the media to create a bigger, longer lasting news story for the public to absorb and enjoy.

In the Sunday Mirror(03/10/2010) the story has progressed further. Irma Nici has shown intention to sue David Beckham for breaking the US constitution regarding free speech.
‘Her Lawyer Paul Rolf Jenson said “California law does not allow public figures like David Beckham to stifle free speech. Maybe he didn’t live here in Los Angeles long enough to learn how precious we consider our rights to tell the truth in print.’
It was also claimed that Beckham’s legal representatives pestered her along with dozens of paparazzi which has hospitalised her. This could be considered an example of when Journalists need to step back to avoid any form of persistent pursuit or harassment.

Criminal and Civil Law

Civil Law regulates conflicts between citizens ha wouldn’t usually generate interest amongst the public as a whole. This includes divorce, contracts, liable etc...
There are exceptions where Journalists would report civil law cases, such as those including celebrities (like the example mentioned above).
There is never normally a prosecution in civil law cases, they normally end with compensation etc... which would normally not be as extreme as Criminal Law punishments which allows a bit more flexibility with the amount of proof required when a decision is made.
Criminal Law deals with acts against the whole of society. One example includes murder.
The standard of proof for Criminal law cases must be beyond any reasonable doubt, which means the Jury must be completely sure of their verdict. The persecution must prove they are guilty beyond any doubt as the system ensures that at the beginning of the case they are seen as innocent. Along with this, if you arem prosecuted in a crimal law case, the punishments can be very extreme.

Civil Cases - Smith vs Smith
Criminal Cases - The State vs Smith or R vs Smith

A Magistrates Court is the lowest level of court and is the starting point of all crimes. The accused will first appear in this court and have the charge read to them, and will either plead guilty or not guilty. This will decide whether they get sent for sentencing in a high court for guilty), or sent to a trial court with a senior judge, jury etc (for not guilty).The court system is regulated by the supreme court.

I will now end this blog, as I begin to read the next part of the Essential Law for Journalists, and I am quite intrigued to learn these vital laws in more detail.