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Unfair or bias news reporting is another element of unethical reporting that is more obvious to editor’s and the general public, and can be identified more quickly than other forms. Bias has many forms, but the most dangerous may be ideological bias.This may refer to where a journalist reports his/her idealogical views in a national forum which can do more harm then merely just reporting the facts and your opinion on the facts. Pictured is the front page of The Sun newspaper in london the morning following the attacks on Norway by Anders Behring Breivik a Norwegian right-wing terrorist with extremist views.

Rarely has an instance occurred as extreme as this one. In regards to the ethical issues involved, before receiving credible information regarding the true identity of the terrorist it was merely assumed that muslim’s were behind the attacks. In addition to the horribly inaccurate assumption, without regard for receiving new information raising the possibility of Brevik acting alone and was not part of Al-qadea, the story was plastered on the front page of the paper all in the guise of selling newspapers. Charlie Booker of the guardian.co.uk wrote “..despite this being a story about an anti-Muslim extremist killing Norwegians who weren’t Muslim, they’ve managed to find a way to keep the finger of blame pointing at the Muslims, thereby following a narrative lead they’ve been fed for years, from the overall depiction of terrorism as an almost exclusively Islamic pursuit, outlined by “security experts” quick to see al-Qaida tentacles everywhere, to the fabricated tabloid fairytales about “Muslim-only loos” or local councils “banning Christmas”.”

Unethical reporting may arise in many forms. Paltering may be another problematic form, due to the fact that it may not be in fact false, and may not be entirely harmful, rather a distortion or fabrication that may not be identified by editors and publishers. In a faculty research paper from Harvard University, Frederick Schauer and Richard Zeckhauser wrote it may go unpunished because editors may be embarrassed they have been fooled.

This type of reporting does damage on many fronts, first being it shakes the credibility of the journalism industry as a whole and reflects poorly on journalists who continue to work to uphold the values entrusted to them by the public. Bias or deception can cause the publics trust in journalists to waiver even though occurrences like this one happen rarely.

Much has been made of Republican Presidential hopeful, Texas Govonor Rick Perry, and his relationship with texas lobbyist and former chief of staff Mike Toomey. If Perry were to be elected it will be in largely due to the enormous contributions throughout Perry’s campaign by Toomey. In regards to media attention, Toomey has been able to play a low key role behind the scenes of Perry’s campaign and has held mysterious influence over the texas governor.

The New York Times recently wrote, “Mr. Toomey has tapped a sprawling network of donors, business allies and friendly (or indebted) lawmakers to help Mr. Perry accomplish ambitious political and legislative goals.” Mike Toomey has many client’s in many different fields and Toomey’s close relationship with Rick Perry has worked for both parties so far. Rick Perry’s status as governor has allowed his clients to win contracts to many state government contracts. The article went on to say, “Mr. Toomey has turned his success on behalf of his clients to Mr. Perry’s benefit, funneling their political donations into groups that have helped strengthen both his legislative majorities and his re-election efforts.”

The GOP debate on the 12th of September, 2011, highlighted the issue in which Perry’s fellow candidate’s heavily criticized his connection with the pharmaceutical company, Merck.It stems from the executive order he released, requiring girls as young as 11 to be administered Gardasil, a vaccine which helps protect against strains of HPV. USAtoday wrote on the 14th of september “Perry’s order, later overturned by state lawmakers, came as the drugmaker Merck paid Perry’s former chief of staff, Mike Toomey, to lobby on the company’s behalf in Texas. Toomey now is helping run the political action committee Make Us Great Again, which is taking unlimited campaign contributions to aid Perry’s presidential campaign.”

The connection with Toomey was startling and it helped shine a light on an element of which is most paramount in regards to this issue, and the reason it separate’s it from other lobbyist’s, and it is the magnitude of contributions towards Perry’s campaign Toomey has made.

Toomey has helped set up the Make Us Great Again, a super political action committee, which in a recent article released by MSNBC investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff, outlined “The new super PAC backing Rick Perry has drawn up plans to spend $55 million as part of an ambitious campaign strategy aimed at blowing away the Texas governor’s rivals”.

The article goes on to outline the overall influence on presidential campaigns these PAC’s have, and the potential dangers entailed. In the past these commissions have been formed to lobby an interest groups issue so as the candidate can address the issue if he or she wins office. The ‘super’ PAC behind Perry’s campaign is a whole different monster. It has a clear objective of sending Rick Perry into the Presidency for a wide range of issue’s and most of all to ensure a republican take’s office.

It is quite distressing to see the amount spent on this GOP presidential nomination process, when a vast amount of the american population is facing extreme monetary hardship’s in recent years following the financial crisis. Many of Perry’s issue’s of small-government, lower regulation’s and lower taxes, we are told are to help these people that is why there is so much effort being expended in making sure he gets to office. But in reality, these values are directly aimed at a top percentage of the american population, the so called ‘job-creators’, so as to maximize there already record profits. Any and all effect’s on the greater population would be indirect and won’t come for two to three years down the track. This is if his proposal’s work exactly to plan, and as we know,with congress and monetary restraints, no presidents proposals have ever gone exactly to plan.

 

People playing their part in working for peace and improving the lives of all mankind. That was the vision President John F. Kennedy set out for the Peace Corps. Fifty years on, the values and the motivations which help forge the Peace Corps inception, are still alive within the volunteers who strive to help the countries that need it most. The thought was that the energy and willingness of america’s youth traveling abroad selling the american way of life, would work far more effectively than any traditional diplomacy would.

In commemoration of the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary, the University of Richmond hosted a panel and open forum, with attendance of volunteers, professors, students and former members, all on hand to hear reflections from the volunteers themselves, and continue on the values held and pass them on to prospective volunteers. Benjamin Burnes works as a recruiter for the Peace Corps and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania and was on hand to provide his thoughts and perspectives on the Peace Corps, “I’ve been back for two years now and the leaves are beginning to settle on the ground and i can start to see what it has done for me and what it continues to do.””I was a peace corps volunteer from 2007 to 2009 in Tanzania, and my primary project was high school teacher of primarily mathematics.”

One of the main theme’s of the discussion was, the overwhelming sense of freedom volunteer’s are given for implementation of initiatives within the area they are living in. The sense of trust instilled by the Peace Corps allows volunteers to open new boundaries and achieve in roles which were previously unimaginable. Burnes went on to outline this in regards to his secondary projects, “When you go into the Peace Corps, its certainly true that you don’t necessarily know what your getting into. If you have a project such as math teaching its more basic, i had a classroom of students, five days per week i was teaching them, i had office hours. But still there are things that come up through your service, that you find a way to take care of.This sense of unpredictability which may be daunting to some, may serve as incentive to others who are prospective members of the Peace Corps.

Another major theme of the forum was the change of perception volunteers gained from they’re experiences abroad. Whether it be a significant or minor change, all volunteers underwent a major change in the way they perceive the world around them.Most of the volunteers in the forum reflected similar views of a much higher appreciation for government, running water and infrastructure, on return to the United States.  David Shames graduated from the University of Richmond with a history degree in 2009 and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal between 2009 and 2011, referred to this change in perception in his reflection, “I was just going to say it made me a lot more appreciative of being american. Which is something we’ve all reflected on looking back.”

The Social Security system in the United States was introduced as part of the ‘New Deal’ under the Roosevelt administration during the 1930’s. It has for many years provided social welfare services and social insurance programs to a large number of Americans. It has been one of the most popular government funded programs of the last century. Along with Medicare, and national defense, it accounts for roughly half of all federal spending each year.

Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program, meaning the tax’s collected from the current workforce, are used to directly fund the retiree’s currently receiving social security benefits. Due to the baby boom that occurred through 1946-1964, the United State’s was eventually going to face a difficulty providing retirement pensions when this demographic reaches retirement age and begins to leave the work force.

This issue was identified by U.S. government in 1977 and in turn led to the formation of the Social Security trust fund. It has mostly worked since formation by initially raising taxes and then saving the accrued money in a ‘lock-box’ to accommodate the impending baby-boomer expenses, so as government can continue operating into the foreseeable future.

The trust fund has for the most part done its job; it has to date collected over $2.6 trillion dollars. Unfortunately, the government has simply used this money to cover operating expenses in the present, replacing the money with U.S. government bonds (effectively government I.O.U’s), without regard for the overwhelming expenses it may face in the future.

The issue has continued to polarize both sides of politics, and has been seen to be by many to be off-limits, as far as reforms are concerned. As time goes by and baby-boomers start retiring and the expenses start to increase, the government faces some tough choices on a program that many Americans have had they’re entire livelihood invested in.

What does this all mean for the middle-class income earner who have been paying they’re social security payments they’re entire working life and about to retire. The government has three options; it slashes all other sections of the budget (other than Medicare) to pay for the increased number of social security entitlements, Increase taxes by an overwhelming amount on the working population, or, cut the benefits the retiree’s themselves have been paying for they’re entire working life. Thus, when the republican presidential nominee is chosen, they’re stance and prospective actions on this issue is of highest importance going into the future.

Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry has many times, over the course of his campaign for GOP nomination, suggested that if elected, he believes the best course of action for Social Security going into the future would be letting the state’s decide in regards to the continued operation of the system.

Although he has never openly elaborated on this idea, he has in many different situations continued to focus on “having a discussion” about it. During the most recent republican presidential debate in Orlando, former Massachusetts’s governor Mitt Romney pressed Perry on the issue, where Perry contended the truth of the claim.

On nearly all occasions he has been asked for further elaboration of this state-based approach, the response has for the most part eluded any major point’s and rather emphasized the, “need to look at all options”. In addition, Perry for the most part has endeavored to outline the distinction between state-based programs approach and state opt-out options.

Rather, in reality if the option is there for states to opt out of the program, it is relatively assured that will happen and the state will set up they’re own program.

A state-based approach if further investigated would most probably resemble that each state will be able to form individual services in regards to social security, primarily for the purpose of a more autonomous system in which where the spectrum of services can be adjusted based on each state’s discretion.

A reform as broad as this would be far too complex to implement rapidly, rather, a measured systematic approach in where federal system is slowly downsized, and individual’s entitlement’s due, for the foreseeable future are met.

Tracy Roof, Associate Professor of Political Science, at the University of Richmond, said his Social Security proposal need’s to be fleshed out if he were to get through the GOP nominations, “Logistically, it would be difficult. He’s held this view of a state based system, but without further explanation of the plan it’s hard to decide upon whether it’s the right way to go.” Her main point of emphasis was the fate of retiree’s entitled to the benefits of the federal system if reconstituted to a state based system.

In contrast, Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts’s governor, Mitt Romney, although agreeing that something most give in term’s of the social security program, his views are vastly different from those of his rival.

In regards to his view’s on the system and how they must change for the program to stay operational well into the future, he outlined a general overview for his proposal in an opinion piece he wrote for the fox news website. He outlined two ways of modifying the current system so as to address the overwhelming financial stresses the program faces; being to increase the eligibility age for the entitlements; and; changing the way benefits are calculated for high income earners.

Increasing the eligibility age may extend the time window for action for a short period of time. But without an efficient plan of federal budget savings annually, in addition to an increase in payroll taxes, this element may only work to patch the problem for a short time. This can be problematic, especially in Romney’s case, as he has assured in no circumstances would taxes be raised to cover the expenses. But a view as narrow as this, may be problematic for two reason’s, these may be that raising taxes is fiscally the only way the government can raise extra cash, and, when Romney unequivocally guarantees that taxes wont be raised he faces backlash from his supporters and critics alike when through consequence, taxes must be raised.

In regards to the lowering the amount of benefits for high-income earners, this element may be the most productive idea from any of the candidate’s. There has been opposition to this proposal due to the fact that it may segregate certain demographics and cause a version of class discrimination. Rather, in reality, there is no other sustainable method that can raise enough cash needed to pay for the increase in expenses due somewhere in the next decade.

Regarding Mitt Romney’s proposal’s, Professor Roof was mostly supportive in her view’s of Romney’s plan, saying, “These are mostly realistic proposal’s, they aren’t controversial, they’re not targeting any particular group, they may be much easier to sell.” She went on to outline that these proposals are certainly much easier to present to congress and the American public, than that of cuts in benefits or tax increases.

A balance needs to be struck between these proposals. Whether it is one of the republican nominee’s or President Barack Obama, no single method can be implemented over another. An efficient combination of initially increasing the eligibility age, will ensure more workers stay in the workforce for a longer period of time. An increase in payroll taxes must eventually be implemented to gradually start to pay off the borrowed money in the trust fund. Finally, a remodeling of entitlements for high-income earners who are financially secure enough, that social security is not needed and therefore removed.

Rick Perry’s views on the program’s gradual termination although unrefined, need to be explored in some degree at some stage. Otherwise, the federal government risk’s running into a similar situation in the future. Perry constantly repeats the rhetoric of unsustainability of the system, and for the most part he is correct. A system where you pay in more than you get out at the end, cannot surely continue to operate for an extended period of time.

Individual investment accounts resolve all these issues. You pay, directly from your paycheck each week, straight into your personal account and it accumulates over time, so as to allow you to monitor and manage your own individual pension fund. A system similar to this, as covered previously, is far to broad to be implemented quickly. A systematic state-based implementation should be introduced at first, and, with a methodical view of slowly watering down the overall expenses of the federal system.

The issue is too important, to be addressed with brash, foolhardy decisions; rather it must be discussed with the highest integrity in mind. It is not implicit item’s that is at stake here, it is real physical things, which for many American’s they’re pension is they’re livelihood, it is they’re house, they’re security and most importantly they’re health. A drastic cut in benefit’s can cause a dramatic decrease in standard of living and health is almost directly related. Do we really want to subject this kind of treatment to the very people that have made this country so prosperous in the first place? Decisions must be made, let us only hope they are made, with the best intentions at heart.

During the most recent GOP debate Mitt Romney claimed Rick Perry backs a move for Social Security to be handed back to the states.

Perry objected to this saying that this is not true and he has never said such.

This is not entirely true. Governor Perry appeared on CNN show Parker/Spitzer late 2010 and when asked about whether the U.S. government should scrap the program, he responded saying “let the state’s decided what’s best for their system”

He has never officially backed the view, as he has always worked around it with saying, “lets have a discussion” or “we’ll talk about it”.

He has always talked positively about the move, thus, when Mitt Romney said Rick Perry wants to move Social Security back to the states he was true.

It may be due to lack of appeal, or, lack of compassion, that two months following famine was declared by the UN in Southern Somalia, resulting in an overcrowding of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, and highlighting the risk to which 11.3 million people are facing, that the international community, due in large part to a lack of exposure within major western countries, had all but neglected the one of the largest humanitarian issues in the world today.

When speaking to Voice of America’s Peter Clottey, he outlined the fundamental importance for news services to continue to cover the crisis, so as to reinforce the pressure on the local governments to act and make changes that are not merely ‘band-aid’ fixes, rather, initiatives that can and will end the cyclical nature of these famine’s in the east-African region.

In reality, what transpired, was through lack of media presence within the region covering the story, international sentiment on the issue merely evaporated. Without international pressure’s for action on an issue that is on estimate, to end the lives of 21,000 children a day, local governments will merely act as if it were not an issue. Aid agencies’ are stretched too thin across the globe to deal with an issue this serious alone.

In an economically unstable period for the United States and most major economies in Europe, it is hard to see where the assistance will come from. Thus, it burden’s the international media with a large onus to inform the public of this issue. Without external and internal political pressure’s to make light of this issue, the sheer difficulty of resolution of the issue may cause local governments to censor all news stories on the issue.

News holes are defined as the time and space available for reporting the news (Graber). The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (Journalism.org), recently ran a study investigating the percentage of news-hole’s within U.S. media on coverage of African issues. It uncovered that 0.2% of all news coverage within the U.S. was focused on the famine in East Africa.

This figure is staggeringly low considering the United State’s power of providing aid to the region. On my investigation’s on news site’s, most of all coverage is coming from local journalist’s within the region, who without the support of larger news organizations in exposing the extent of the famine, stand a small chance in averting the impending disaster.