By Russell Frank
Roger Ailes’ 20-year reign as the chairman of Fox News ended this week, the result of a sexual harassment scandal.
He will be remembered by journalism ethicists as the poster boy for conflict of interest. But of Ailes’ many departures from journalistic norms of impartiality, the most egregious was his hiring of a cousin of presidential candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 election.
Partisan journalism, redefined
We talk a lot about conflict of interest in my journalism ethics class: why travel writers shouldn’t accept free trips to Disney World. Why food critics shouldn’t write about their sister-in-law’s restaurant. Why no journalists should actively support or work against any causes or organizations that they may be called upon to write about.
And, especially, why no news executives should assign stories that promote their allies or attack their enemies.
Continue reading The one Roger Ailes hire that changed American politics forever
“What the [Pokémon Go] app is actually doing — meaning the broad swath of information the app is collecting — is creepy. It’s not just kids playing the game, and it’s not just privacy advocates who are concerned.” — Anne McKenna, Penn State assistant professor of law
We were curious about the Pokémon Go craze that has infiltrated much of the world and wanted to get a legal perspective on the situation. Cyber and privacy attorney Anne McKenna graciously answered some questions about it from our news and research communications staff.
Research Matters: Pokémon Go seems innocent enough, but it’s causing concern among many privacy advocates. Why is that?
Anne McKenna: On July 6, 2016, Niantic, Inc., released Pokémon Go, an app game that requires users to walk around in real world locations to collect Pokémon. It’s a global obsession. According to the BBC, in the app’s first week of release, there were 15.3 million tweets about it worldwide. For perspective, there were only 11.7 million Brexit-related tweets during the week of the UK referendum. SimilarWeb, an apps analytics firm, says that Pokémon Go users are playing it on average 43 minutes a day — perspective again: that’s more time than users spend on Instagram, Snapchat, or Whatsapp.
Continue reading Of Pokémon, Pikachu, parents, and privacy
By Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer
As Americans grieved after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last month, Democrats and Republicans reacted quite differently to the news, according to a new “Mood of the Nation” poll developed by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy. Our findings indicate that while this tragedy brought us together as a nation, it also demonstrates the extent that the issue of gun control has come to divide our political parties.
The “Mood of the Nation Poll” is a new periodic scientific poll that assesses opinions by posing a series of open-ended questions to a representative sample of 1,000 Americans. It allows ordinary citizens to tell us what is on their minds, without being restricted to a small number of predetermined answers. The first poll of its kind, we asked 500 people in our sample to tell us what it was in the news that made them angry and what made them proud; we asked another 500 people what in the news made them ashamed or what made them hopeful.
Continue reading Focus on research: How did a polarized America react to Orlando?
Although I loved running amok in the orange groves that surrounded my Israeli hometown, I grounded myself for a whole week in 1976. I did it to show solidarity with the 246 Air France passengers — many of them my compatriots — held hostage in Entebbe, Uganda.
Having just made it halfway through my elementary school — and having been kissed by two girls — the last thing I wanted to do was stay home. Yet my brother and I holed up from the moment we heard about the hijacking on June 27 until my father woke us up on July 4 to announce that Israeli commandos rescued most of the remaining hostages (three died during the raid and the rest had been released a few days earlier).
Looking back, I realize how much terrorism and counterterrorism have changed in the past four decades.
Continue reading Terrorism, then and now
With Independence Day almost upon us, here’s a fresh bit of insight on our polymath Founding Father, Pennsylvania’s own Benjamin Franklin.
Author, printer, politician, scientist, inventor, statesman, activist, ambassador: The swath of Franklin’s genius is famously wide. In this blog post published by Oxford University Press, Penn State Franklin scholar Carla Mulford recounts another of the great man’s accomplishments — currency design.
In 1776, while establishing a wartime postal service, working on the manufacture of saltpeter for gunpowder, writing a peace petition to King George III, and serving as President (roughly, governor) of Pennsylvania, Franklin was called on to design and oversee the printing of a Continental paper currency. Characteristically, the bills he produced managed to gracefully address both a vital pragmatic concern — the danger of counterfeit — and a vital political one — the concept of intercolonial unity.
Continue reading All about the Franklins