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Bryan E. Denham

This article addresses how The New York Times, through an investigative series on drug use and catastrophic breakdowns in U.S. horse racing, influenced policy initiatives across a 6-month period. Beginning with the March 25, 2012, exposé “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys,” the article analyzes how the newspaper helped define policy conversations at both the state and national levels. The article also addresses how the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011, a fledgling piece of legislation, became what Kingdon described as a “solution in search of a problem” and thus a political lever in policy deliberations. Long recognized for its capacity to influence the content of other news outlets, the article concludes, The New York Times can also play an important role in legislative arenas, informing lawmakers of salient issues, as well as opportunities for substantive and symbolic policy actions.

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Marie Hardin, Bu Zhong and Erin Whiteside

U.S. sports operations have been described as newsroom “toy departments,” at least partly because of their deviation from journalistic norms. Recently, however, more attention has focused on issues of ethics and professionalism; the failure of sports journalists to adequately cover steroid use in Major League Baseball has also directed critical attention to their roles and motives. This study, through a telephone survey of journalists in U.S. newsrooms, examines sports reporters’ practices, beliefs, and attitudes in regard to ethics and professionalism and how their ethics and practice relate. Results indicate that reporters’ attitudes toward issues such as voting in polls, taking free tickets, gambling, and becoming friends with sources are related to their views of public-service or investigative journalism. In addition, friendships with sources are linked to values stereotypically associated with sports as a toy-department occupation. These results suggest that adherence to ethical standards is linked to an outlook that embraces sports coverage as public service.