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Sample Issues Essay Ted Koppel, longtime anchor of ABC News' Nightline, quipped that a journalist should always get a story first; but first, he should get it second. Running stories without credible sources is an issue concerning journalism today, just as it was in years past. In American football, the left tackle position is concerned with protecting the quarterback's blindside from hits by defensive players. At left tackle, it is not the fifty-five snaps the player took during the game when he protected the quarterback from a blindside hit that people notice. Instead, people remember the one snap the left tackle took when he failed to block the defender and the quarterback was sacked for a loss. Similarly, in journalism, it is not the innumerable times a journalist verifies his sources and double-checks his information that people notice, but it is the one time he fails to verify a story that people remember and that could ultimately cost the journalist his job. A recent case in point of irresponsible journalism is Andrew Breitbart's publishing on his news website a video of controversial statements made by Shirley Sherrod at a fundraising dinner for the NAACP. Breitbart's rush to publish illustrates why it is necessary to get the story second. Because of his shoddy verification, Shirley Sherrod faced public scrutiny and a forced resignation from her post in the Department of Agriculture. Traditional media commentators, such as Nina Totenberg with National Public Radio, used this incident as an example of instantaneous updating of news websites for fresher content. While the fast pace of internet news reporting could contribute somewhat to careless verification practices, not all mistakes involve the internet. A notable recent example of a journalist not double-checking his sources occurred in September 2004 with Dan Rather and the controversy surrounding President Bush's National Guard record. Rather thought he had documents that proved President Bush's failure to fulfill certain duties while he was serving in the National Guard. Rather did not further explore the validity of these claims, nor did he verify the documents as being legitimate. As a result, Rather's credibility, which he had spent decades amassing, disintegrated along with the story. This misstep culminated in the network forcing him to leave CBS Evening News the following year, and then CBS News entirely in June 2006. Decades before the formation of the internet another case of negligent verification occurred. During the 1948 Presidential election, the Chicago Tribune erroneously declared Republican candidate Thomas Dewey the victor over President Harry Truman. No matter what the medium, no matter the speed of the technology, no matter how soon a story needs to be delivered, a journalist must first get it second before reporting it first. Issues Essay The issues essay is a document that demonstrates your written communication skills to TWC and prospective internship site supervisors. In approximately 500 words, reflect on a key issue related to your professional field of interest. Here are some examples for your reference. Example 1 1/2 Need more help? Contact us at

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