Are Apple endorsements an 'ethical lapse' for journalism school? | Cult of Mac

Are Apple endorsements an ‘ethical lapse’ for journalism school?

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One of Apple’s education profile stories has caught some heat for highlighting how Mac products are teaching a new generation of journalists the trade.

Some question whether those would-be Woodward and Bernsteins at the Missouri School of Journalism should be pledging allegiance to Apple, one of the world’s most powerful companies.

“When did those who claim to uphold the top standards of journalism decide that doing blatant commercial endorsements would have no impact on the credibility of the school, The Missourian, KOMU and KBIA?” wonders MU School of Journalism grad Vince Patton in a letter to the school calling the profile an “ethical lapse.”

The story in question is 744-word profile on Apple’s website about how the school is “creating media-savvy journalists with Mac” flanked by a couple of videos.

One of the videos begins with platitudes as worn-out as most freelancer’s corduroys (“I believe that accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism”) then gets into the hands-on philosophy of j-school where technology – in the form of Apple computers, mostly – has helped them keep pace with a new generation of digital natives. Patton wonders whether students knew that, along with their j-degrees, they’d be starring in an Apple infomercial.

The Apple-MU relationship has caused a more headaches for the school in recent years than a small-town newspaper reporter sleeping with the mayor.

In 2009, MU created that inevitable ebb and flow of headlines and backlash for insisting incoming journos have either an iPod Touch or iPhone. After criticism that they were pushing Apple products and bumping up student expenses, they downgraded the requirement to a “recommendation.”

Journalism majors this year now have to deal with a squirrely-worded requirement, that is well, the kind of recommendation that sounds like a requirement. The faculty has “designated Apple Computer as its preferred provider” for the mandatory laptops for two reasons:

(1) Apple’s OS X operating system is based on Unix, which makes these computers far less susceptible to viruses than other computers. Viruses are a serious problem on university campuses. (2) Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro computers come bundled with iLife, a suite of applications ideal for learning the basics of photo editing, and audio and video editing.

The backlash for this wound up on PBS mediashift, where another MU j-school grad argues:

“I just graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism last month, and I can say with complete certainty that I never once did an assignment in a journalism class that I could not have done on a Windows-based computer. There is no piece of software or functionality in the line of Apple laptops that is essential to a journalism student at Mizzou or any other journalism school.”

What do you think? Should budding journalists — who are supposed to be getting schooled in being unbiased and objective — behave differently than say, pre-med or law students?


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