Journalism Blog – The Henry’s Hostage Situation

Balancing writing for the web and writing for academia is a tricky act, but I found a story that got me excited about something seemingly boring: Journalism Ethics.

As part of my journalism class I was to keep a blog and post one entry every month. Our first post had no prompt, just that we were to write about something we'd covered in class in the first few weeks. I'd been thinking about a story for months that I heard about from a Podcast about the worst failure of the media I'd ever heard of.

In September, 1990 a man entered a bar in Berkley, California and proceeded to hold the bar's patrons hostage for the next 7 hours. The media, in their frenzy to get the scoop on the story, violated the discipline's code of ethics and escalated the situation from bad to worse. News vans were covering the story from the scene, and unknowingly feeding information to the perpetrator who was watching the coverage from inside the bar.

Weaving together a recount of the events I'd compiled from the podcast and other online articles with material from my class was a challenge. I also had to make my piece interesting to read, fulfilling the "blog" aspect of the assignment. I needed to integrate my own voice into the story wherever it fit, but still maintain an academic style. After plenty or re-writes I posted something I was pretty proud of about a story that caught my attention months before I got to cover it.

You can read the full post here as well as the other entries I posted throughout the class.

This project was an exercise in balancing what was interesting to me and what was relevant to the class. For each entry I tried to choose a topic that really peaked my interest so I could delve far enough into it to write a substantial academic piece.

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Learning Significance

  1. I'd been sitting on this story for months, looking for an excuse to do more research into the intricacies of what took place at Henry's Bar. Using this as a case study to deepen my understanding of journalism ethics was a great opportunity to use something that interested me as well as informed my work.