National News Nightly

By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

 

Guda Raad, Blog Post

The decision that faced the staff at NNN ahead of the 6 o’clock news:

There has been an explosion in Downtown Boston and the police suspect nefarious motives rather than a simple technical glitch because there was a suspicious suspect at the location. How should NNN go about reporting the incident?

As the President of International, my responsibilities were not just to the NN Nightly at 6 o’clock but also to NNN International, so I had the duty to divide the time slot for the coverage in both platforms.

I believe that field reporters at the scene of the bombing could help gather information and I dispatched journalists to retrieve security footage from the scene. Some reporters were instructed to go interview several key witnesses, first responders, police officers, medics and emergency personnel disposed to the site. To reassure the American people, we would need to inform them of the steps being done to keep them safe as such incidents have the tendency to cause mass hysteria and panic. I knew that reinstating their trust in law enforcement was key and I knew that NNN could not air speculation because it goes against our duty as gatekeepers of the 4th Estate to mislead the public with unconfirmed information.

 

As President of International, I knew from my experience covering such events that take place around the world that graphic images would add to the air of uncertainty and should be avoided as much as possible to keep our ratings high. To be competitive, we needed to be the first to get hold of any new information so the strategic dispatch of our reporters would be necessary.

 

I was taken aback when I heard the update that Reddit users were pointing fingers at minorities and putting targets on the backs of two men, who may be completely innocent, without due process. I knew that this would lead to Islamophobia as people tie it back to the stereotype they have of Muslims. I felt a particular need to emotionally appeal to the masses and urge them not to fall for the demagoguery as such speculation has widespread and lasting impacts on the Muslim population around the world. I would hate for my young nephews to grow up in a world even more divided by fear, where they are constantly ostracized.

 

To reinforce the trust the people were losing in traditional media I felt it was necessary to inform the public of the measures we were taking to obtain accurate news and urge them, through our anchor, Dulce Doolittle, to not give into fear because that would be exactly what any nefarious individual would want. I believed it was imperative to remind them that terrorism exists in all forms and the culprits behind such acts do not fall into any particular religious or racial category. I wanted to humanize the people who would be impacted by baseless speculation, I felt personally responsible for that. My colleagues differed in their perspective and did not see the urgency I felt the matter deserved; in fact I struggled getting them to hear me or see my point of view. I could not communicate with them about the times I felt stared down as I made my way across the John F. Kennedy International Airport on my way to Qatar after 9/11.

 

As other news flowed into the boardroom, I quickly began drafting the schedule for NNN International, NNN 6’ o clock and highlighting the topics we needed to cover in our 24-hour channel. I felt that, since the world would be losing faith in humanity just a little bit more in light of this incident, the clinical trial for HIV which showed promising results would need to be banked on heavily in the news cycle and advertising. The Women’s March would also need to be capitalized due to its relatability and the personal stakes that half our viewership has in the event. The fact that Nigeria would be hosting the 2020 Olympics would become a matter of discussion in a few days after the dust settles, so it needed to be aired semi-prominently. I sighed internally because I knew we would need to be airing Donald Trump falling out of his plane (what a comical character that man has become). The stocks would also be of interest to our viewership, those of who have investments in the stock exchange. I quickly jotted those notes down and passed them across the table. (Approved, excellent)

 

Further updates came pouring in. The explosion had two confirmed casualties and 5 injuries. We would have to offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

It was relayed to us that the Boston mayor would make a few announcements and that the Police Chief would be speaking to the press. I quickly got our journalists on the phone, securing prime locations in the pressroom for the announcements and asking for one-on-one interviews with both these prominent personalities. As celebrities’ tweets poured in, I decided that it would be best to run them under the Breaking News banner for the 24 hour cycle. To stop the people from sending in unsubstantiated tips to the police hotlines on the basis of the Reddit posts, it was imperative that we ask them in our 24 hour news channel not to disrupt the investigation thereby.

 

On hearing the attacks on traditional media by User124 from Reddit, claiming that Reddit users would be personally staking out the alleged suspects that Reddit identified and had run down their home addresses and other such information, I was immediately angered. As if to lift me out of my internal tirade, came the news of the actual suspect who had been identified by the police. The suspect was affiliated with Brothers of Liberty, a white supremacist group. Now the debate on the floor was whether or not to air the video and photographic evidence on air. Acknowledging the need the victims’ families had for closure, I felt it best not to air the graphic scenes but to snip the video to only that part which showed the suspect’s guilt. It seemed in the flurry of the moment, the rest of my colleagues had forgotten about this technology. I also deemed it best that we should air the picture of the suspect so that the people could take measures for their safety and also help the police in apprehending the criminal.

 

However, our actions may have contributed to a copycat bomber in Chicago who wanted the fame that the Boston suspect was receiving and had posted his intentions on Tumblr prior to his activities. Unwavering from my belief that people had the right to know of the suspect to take precautions for their security, I felt the best course of action would be to warn people to call in any suspicious online activity to the police if they indicate such intentions. I also adjusted our schedule to reflect the new development believing it prompt to dismiss coverage of Donald Trump falling down the stairs and subsequently air the Boston and Chicago bombings on the basis of evidence available to inform the public of, believing that geography is not a factor to decide coverage on.

 

Best Corps, Press Corps

Press Corps is hands down the greatest committee without question at Harvard Model United Nations 2017. From having an absolutely astounding Director and Assistant Director, to being surrounded by intelligent and thoughtful individuals who take their job seriously and genuinely enjoy every second they spend interviewing, reporting, writing, or any other functions of journalism. Regardless of what others say, I have never encountered any group of dedicated and driven individuals quite like this. From both experienced delegates and new delegates to HMUN, professionalism and “journalistic integrity” were always the priority of each and every member of Press Corps.

To those who may be reading this next year, I hope that you find the same amount of value in this prestigious committee as I have.

To those who are currently in this committee, I say to you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for making this committee so much more than I expected, from the assistance with stories and structure, to the constant sarcasm and chatter present amongst the reporters there was seemingly never a dull moment with you all. I would also wish to commend you all on your undying commitment to reporting and giving a voice to those who may not be able to get their points heard outside of their committee were it not for you.

So, as a final send-off before both myself, my friend the “observer” and the rest of my school are to return back to the desert, I wish you all the best of fortunes in everything that you do. Whether that be skiing, running marathons, studying mathematics or humanities, continuing in journalism, pursuing a career in law, I wish all of you the best and I thank all of you for creating such an incredible and energetic environment for both myself and Cam “The Observer”.

New York Times, Haydon Bergren

A Day in The Life of a Press Corps Delegate

First, what is Press Corps at HMUN?

A lot of people think of Press Corps delegates as authentic reporters, writing stories to inform the public and to report the world-changing decisions among committees. But there is more to Press Corps than meets the eyes. Beneath the surface lies an irrefutable truth: no one really knows the specifics of what we do as Press Corps delegates. For instance, I got a text that says,

“press corps seems so fun omg but like what do you guys do actually????”

from one of my friends last night. Well, here are four steps that will educate you about we do at Press Corps:

Step 1: Go on http://harvardmun.org/committees.php

Step 2: Click on Specialized Agencies

Step 3: Scroll down to the bottom and click on “Committee Summary” and “A Letter from the Director” under Press Corps

Step 4: Voila. You’re welcome.


Just kidding.

To lift the veil that covers the uniqueness of Press Corps, I will be sharing my personal schedule of the day to give you readers a truer, more down-to-earth vision of the uncommon things Press Corps do at HMUN.

Here is my schedule of the day:

7:30am woke up

7:45am woke up

8-8:15am waiting impatiently for my friend Ritika to go to Au Bon Pain together

9:30am started committee session IV

  • Every Press Corps member was assigned a role in a news channel stimulation
  • I was the Executive VP of Programming of National News Nightly
  • We faced a crisis: a terrorist attack in downtown Boston, followed with more crisis that challenged us to think intellectually as news company executives (read more about it in the article named “The National News Nightly: Not As Simple As Putting It On Paper” published by The Guardian!)

12:28pm NNN’s President of International (the delegation of CNN) motioned to introduce a directive, but we all just screamed “yes” to temporarily suspend the debate and go to lunch

2pm started committee session V

  • Under the ‘beats’ system, a system that allows all the delegates to cover the three organs at HMUN, everyone got to go to the organ that they haven’t been yet and collected information in committees
  • In the Computer Lab, I finished my article about WCW inspired by the massive numbers of working-papers and intellectual conversation about the legality of commercial sexual industry

3pm 8 people, including me, volunteered to conduct a small press-conference with our director Frankie in the Cabinet of Russia after the death of Vladimir Lenin

  • Some inspiring questions we wanted to ask/have asked:

“Who’s going to be the successor?”

“What effects does it have on the future of Communism?”

“Does this change the ideology of the Government?”

4:29pm writing this article, trying my best to be precise but I simply cannot because so many fun things happen in Press Corps, and asking other delegates for title ideas

5:54pm submitting this article and waiting for the end of committee session V

So above is the schedule of a Press Corps delegate today. I hope you gained more insight into Press Corps and what we do after reading this article.

See y’all at the Delegate Dance at 9:45pm!

 

 

Crisis in the boardroom

The press corps were struck with a crisis in the earlier hours of today when there was an explosion in downtown Boston. The board members of the competitive channel, national news nightly were determined to tackle this challenging update head-on. With condescending remarks from Reddit, undermining the capabilities of their channel; NNN made it their mission to discredit the online social platform while also maintaining  their journalistic integrity.

In the midst of constant updates and crises, the executives struggled to prioritize and juggle between other important news pieces such as the Al Jazeera being banned from Qatar, Trump falling down the stairs while getting off his plane, and Nigeria hosting the next Olympics after corruption allegations to name a few. However, it was ultimately decided that the Boston crisis was of top priority and decisions on the means of gathering and sharing information on air ensued.

The statement by the Boston Police department only lead to more chaos when the attacker was identified to be a male white supremacist. The NNN immediately released the photograph of the accused in order to raise awareness and ask citizens to be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior or information that could lead to the arrest of this man. However, this move triggered a similar, “copy cat” bombing in Chicago. This sent the executives at NNN into a frenzy of panic. They soon decided to stress safety measures and treat this update as equally important as the Boston crisis and not just as a subset of it.

The boardroom was indeed engulfed with questions of integrity, honesty and transparency being thrown around and addressed with enthusiasm and zeal.

The National News Nightly: Not As Simple As Putting It On Paper

If you haven’t heard of the National News Nightly already, here’s what you need to know. Just like CNN, it’s a news channel – an important one, which holds what every channel wants – that six o’clock slot. Owned by the National News Network, it’s under the presidency of Roxanne Jeffries. The NNN aims, every single day, to bring honest, fact-checked, validated news to the general public; more than anything, its reporters value journalistic integrity and a code of ethics that make it a credible news source. And this morning, twenty members of the NNN’s Executive Board walked into work expecting coffee… And got something else – a bomb.

They didn’t know it was a bomb at first. The only information – that there had been an explosion in downtown Boston’s Quincy Market. There was reason to believe that it had been caused intentionally and not by any malfunction. The Executives had one thought – what next? Plans were made – to interview witnesses, police officers, government officials; to contact the Mayor of Boston for a statement; to call Homeland Security and the Department of Safety; to send investigative teams to the site of the explosion; and to get live footage of the destruction the NNN’s 24-hour news channel. But first, more intel arrived – Reddit users had somehow ‘identified’ three potential suspects from footage of the area (two were named – Amir Jihad and Juan Martinez). All over social media, people were asking, “But what about our newspapers? Where are they?”

After lots of in-depth discussion, the NNN’s first action was to use every news outlet they had to send out the same message- that there had been an explosion in Boston, the source was unknown, and investigations were ongoing. In an attempt to avoid sensationalism and the feeding of Islamophobia, the network didn’t speculate on whether the explosion was a terrorist attack. It offered condolences to those affected and promised updates as it got information, like the number of casualties. Not only was the network dealing with the explosion crisis, but also a number of international updates on channels all around the world. Women had rioted in Eastern Europe to promote abortion rights; stocks had risen; a trial for HIV reversal had had good results; Nigeria had won the bid for the 2020 Olympics; and most important, Donald Trump had fallen down while exiting his plane. Trying to fit everything into a one hour-show? Not easy.

Constantly investigating, the NNN received more information – the Mayor’s statement, reactions from celebrities all over the country, and information that the police hotline had been absolutely flooded with calls from internet-fueled speculators, sure that they had a lead. It hindered the investigation so much that by the time the NNN got word of the public investigation forum that had been set up on Reddit, several non-suspects’ private information was already out. Fear and doubt had bred violence. The paper stressed on the importance of credible sources and confirmed facts. Luckily, the police identified the culprit soon – John Garrison, a member of the white supremacist group Brothers For Liberty. His picture was published, along with police contact details for sightings. The explosion footage wasn’t released out of respect to the victims of the bomb. Problem solved, right?

But then there was a bomb on the El-train in Chicago. The attacker posted on Tumblr just minutes before the attack, saying that seeing Garrison’s picture in the news had inspired him. He admired Garrison’s work and wanted to recreate it. That was what led to the copycat attack. It took a lot of debate for the Executives to decide what to do next. Would reporting this lead to a third copycat? No way to know for sure. But wouldn’t not reporting it violate the people’s right to information? Finally, the NNN decided that they needed to report it. While it was no one’s fault that the bomb had been planted, it called for all cities to up their security. No more information has been received since then. As far as the NNN and government knows, the criminals are still at large. The second the NNN finds out more, it’ll be on your screen.

 

 

When in Crisis, call the Press!

CNN Logo.pngpolitics

By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

 

The Press were informed through a tip from the Director of the Press Corps that they were urgently needed by the Director of Angela Merkel’s Cabinet regarding a matter of the utmost importance. On arrival, the journalists of CNN and The Guardian were met by the enthusiastic Director who told us that the leaked information regarding the Italian exit (CNN is considering calling it Italeave) and the subsequent revelation that Maas had supported Italy and, specifically the Five Star Movement, was being labelled as “fake news” and was barely being discussed by the Angela Merkel’s Cabinet Members. He gave the aforementioned news agencies the duty to have the delegates deal with the issue instead of ignoring it or discrediting the possibility of such a development.

So the press set forth on their motion to rile up the Cabinet members and charge them for their smugness, that bordered on disrespect for the press.

CNN and The Guardian, walked into the committee room and drew notice to the fact that the issue was not to be taken lightly. We asked the members why they are absolutely sure of Maas’ innocence and, if he is so innocent, whether someone else might be at fault. The press asked for evidence exonerating the Cabinet Member of the accusations placed against him and saw unity in the Members’ response. They had conducted federal investigations and the report divulged that Maas was being framed and had no hand in Italy’s exit. A delegate added on to that and said that the emails in question were sent through a triple VPN-indicating they were falsified. The unified response resonated in their unwavering belief that they were all on the same page in terms of anti-particracy, that is firmly against it.

CNN asked if the people in Germany knew of the fact that one member of the Cabinet may be working toward degrowth and the fact that their jobs could be lost due to structural shift in industries. Responses came from all ends of the table in that Germany had an airtight policy for growth and job creation and would not be susceptible to work against it. They also firmly claimed that they did not believe in dividing the EU and were completely sure that the Cabinet Members were free of blame, in fact they directed our attention to right-wing groups that shared the Five Star Movement’s ideologies. CNN asked if they were aware of the possible danger of one Member working against Angela Merkel and her pro-immigrant policies and if they were taking steps to shore up the legislation to combat such an issue.

On that note, the recognized the weight of CNN’s questions and restated that they were united and no one was plotting otherwise as they were in firm support of Angela Merkel’s stance on immigration. Maas, in the end, conceded that working with the Five Star Movement was inevitable due to its far reach in the Italian government but reiterated that none of them shared the Movement’s ideologies.

To Publish Or Not to Publish

  CNN Logo.pngpolitics

By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

 

(CNN)— In the dark pressroom, huddled around a conference room table, sat around 20 journalists from different news organizations. The reason for this meeting, Julian Assange had divulged one piece of divisive information to each news organization and they were deliberating whether or not to publish the info. After a heated moderated caucus debating the role of news agencies to the public it was settled that, first and foremost, the legitimacy of the information had to be ascertained. A joint directive was passed in that regard and it led to a press conference with Julian Assange. In his tirade, Assange said that he was giving the news agencies a chance to publish the truth but provided no more insight to the sources of the information and whether or not they were legitimate. Assange stated that the news agencies would have to come to a consensus as to either publish all the information or none at all.

The news agencies, clearly ruffled by the lack of cooperation of Julian Assange, went on to talk about how best to determine the legitimacy of the information without his help. They settled on sending a third party investigative team to dig up the sources of the intel. While debating how best to get the information out, whether it be by collectivization or not, and how best to deal with the fallout of such information being provided to the public, the journalists were interrupted by an announcement by a high-ranking member of the Irani government who announced that the investigative team sent out by the journalists was going to be detained as Iran finds it unacceptable that they were snooping around on Irani soil. She informed that due to the lack of detailed instruction to the investigative team, they could not answer the Irani government when questioned about their presence and so they would be held indefinitely, without communication with the outside world. The journalists, clearly guilty over the circumstances, tabled their aforementioned discussion and deliberated how best to secure the safe release of the captured investigators. However, the directive of issuing a formal apology only managed to anger the Irani government even more and fizzled out any hope for their cooperation. To add on to the worries, the Qatari Royal Family announced that they were throwing Al Jazeera out from their headquarters in Qatar. This prompted Al Jazeera to reveal the state secret it was given (for the sake of the latter resolution CNN cannot publish the information). The news agencies, seeing the threat that merely investigating the sources of the information posed on journalists and news organizations alike, debated whether or not to further investigate such matters that might pose a risk to international stability and national security. Al Baghdadia added to the discussion by divulging why the Irani government believed it was prompt to arrest the investigative team by divulging their secret information.

CNN suggested the fact that it was possible to investigate the claims by asking our confidential informants in different countries to fact-check the information instead of sending an invasive investigative team which would raise flags and would alert the governments of the countries involved. CNN’s call for pooling our resources and, if each respective news agency so desired, discussing each piece of information so as to get a clearer picture – of the motives of Assange, how best to approach an investigation and to prevent any backlash on one particular news body by political administrations that disagreed – was not approved by a consensus.

In the face of the troubling issues at the table, Julian Assange took the floor of the pressroom once more and demanded a decision by all the news agencies of how to proceed: release the information or not release. The news agencies, recognizing the need to ascertain that the information was correct due to the responsibility they have as the 4th Estate, decided against releasing the divisive information and thereby took a firm stance against acting without knowledge of the motives behind Assange’s actions.