Day 11: No shortage of big news in the ‘Big D’

Time and again we hear stories of criminals caught because of their stupidity — the bank robber who leaves his drivers license behind at the teller window or the thief who takes time to stop and stare into the security camera.

The subject of today’s commentary isn’t quite as clueless as many “bonehead” criminals. My mentor, David Schechter, recently worked on a story about Dallas police arresting a sex offender, out of jail on probation, for using MySpace.

Using the internet, including site like MySpace, violated the terms of the offender’s probation. The arrest may be among the first of its type in the nation.

Several states, including Texas, recently subpoenaed information from MySpace about known sex offenders who use the site.  According to the story, an attorney general involved in the subpoena estimates more than 5,000 sex offenders are using MySpace.

This process of tracking sex offenders on MySpace and other social sites is an effective method of cracking down. However, authorities are only able to “catch” the sex offenders if their MySpace name matches the list of those convicted. If they use an alias, they can continue to “hunt” via the internet.

I do not believe this practice is in violation of the First Amendment or any MySpace privacy policy. When you violate someone else’s rights, you should be scrutinized by police. This method may only work for “dumb criminals,” but it’s worth a shot.

Sex offenders are not the only bad guys in this issue. Those with a “hands-off” approach to parenting are to blame for allowing their children to become moving targets for sexual predators. Parents should take it upon themselves to make sure that their kids understand the dangers of the internet, especially social networking sites.

As a user of sites like MySpace and Facebook, safety is always one of my main concerns when logging on. Most networking sites allow users to change privacy settings that limit others’ access to information. I only post information, including pictures, that I’d feel comfortable with a complete stranger viewing.

It’s amazing what others are making available to potentially millions of complete strangers. Many of my friends seem to be careless about posting addresses, phone numbers, and other revealing factoids.

Websites like MySpace and Facebook are great networking opportunities when used properly. They can be very safe and secure methods of communication, opening up opportunities to connect.

Just like a mom sending the kids outside to play, she always says, “Be safe!” When parents send their kids out to play on the information superhighway, they should keep in mind that it is still a dangerous “highway” with millions of travelers speeding by. Those who make themselves vulnerable, could wind up with their innocence exploited.

In a matters of seconds, “evil-doers” can take advantage and hit the gas — gone again in seconds. Obey the rules of the road and you’ll make it to your destination without incident.

Today I worked with Channel 8 producers to sharpen my writing skills. I attended a production meeting, where the news staff determined which stories will appear in each newscast. It’s often a feast or famine situation. Some days, there’s an endless stream of stories, while other days are quite slow. Today I spent much of my time researching an upcoming story and setting up interviews .

For someone who is relatively unfamiliar with the Dallas area, a phone book, the internet, and a telephone have become my best friends. Researching a lead on a possible story is a tedious process. Sometimes it becomes what my mentor calls “making chicken salad.” If you’re handed chicken scratch, it’s up to you to transform the story into something “edible,” resembling chicken salad.

I’ve been cultivating some of my own ideas for stories I’d like to work on independently this summer. I’m still working on the open information requests for the “special project”, which is already uncovering some interesting facts. This story will definitely raise some eyebrows.

Today I also spent time shadowing one of the production assistants to learn about taking file video for use in stories, as well as finding specific stories in the archives, was helpful. This will come in handy for when I work on my own stories.

A few of the other interns met up and shared examples of student media opportunities on their campuses.Many of our journalism programs were comparable in curriculum and practical experiences. I hope to see more of their work so that I can better assess NSU’s Department of Journalism.

Make it a great Friday, until tomorrow friends!

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the corporation and employees of WFAA-TV, Belo Corp., or Northwestern State University. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2007 Lane Luckie

Advertisements

One response to “Day 11: No shortage of big news in the ‘Big D’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s