Brian Hickey

Brian Hickey attended Strawbridge Elementary School in Westmont, NJ. He then went on to Haddon Township High School, continuing his educational career at the University of Delaware, where he worked at the Review. After graduating, Hickey went on to work for the Florence Morning News, Press of Atlantic City, and Philadelphia Weekly. Leaving his job as managing editor of the Philadelphia City Paper, Hickey served as campaign manager for Dougherty for Senate. Other jobs included reporting for Metro Philly, Deadspin, and currently, at WHYY’s Hickey also maintains blogs covering Divorce Court, soccer, and hit and runs.


Perhaps the defining moment in Hickey’s life came in November of 2008, when he became the victim of a hit and run in South Jersey. Chronicled in the piece he eventually wrote for Philadelphia Magazine, Hickey was hit by an unidentified sports car as he walked home from a local bar, just after 10 pm. With two broken vertebrae and a shattered shoulder, Hickey entered a state of virtual incoherence that would last until mid-December. When he regained consciousness, he was forced to mentally redevelop every stage of his life so far. In his piece, Hickey said that his recovery proved that he has incredible luck.


The Politics of Disaster: A Multimedia Analysis

Two weeks before a crucial election, you would think nothing can demand more media coverage than politics. Then came an unprecedented and monumental hurricane that has devastated the northeast United States and rocked this entire country. Now, the election has become a secondary concern compared to the thousands without homes, the millions without electricity or gas, and the families who have lost lives. However, there will be a presidential election nonetheless and this hurricane has had an effect on both candidates. For Obama, campaigning took a backseat to his presidential duties in helping a storm ravaged coast lick it’s wounds. For Mitt Romney, a crucial week of campaigning was also cancelled at the risk of looking insensitive to voters during a time of suffering. Karl Rove believes hurricane Sandy helped Obama politically, allowing him to look partisan and act “presidential” while stealing away the spotlight from Romney. However, others think this disaster did little to help Obama in the polls, considering the northeast is already devoutly democrat and Obama simply strengthened his hold. Let’s take a look at how some of the nation’s most prominent media outlets evaluate the politics of hurricane Sandy.


As you can see by the video, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX all had very different interpretations of what hurricane Sandy meant to this election. CNN, notorious for being very bipartisan, chose to analyze how the hurricane affected the popular and electoral votes, but did not prefer one candidate over the other. CNN only gave the straight facts.

FOX news, widely known as being very right wing, attacked the president and the job he has been doing managing the hurricane aftermath. I personally felt sorry for the one liberal at the table who the other four constantly attacked whenever he tried to defend the president. It seems to me that FOX is so right wing that even if the president does something good they will not give him credit. Their coverage seemed so unnecessarily cruel it was almost pathetic. They attacked the president on the littlest most insignificant things such as the testimonials of looters. It seems they are determined to perpetuate their hatred of the president no matter what.

MSNBC coverage was no less bipartisan than FOX’s. They attacked Romney on having a “Hurricane Relief Rally” while the president was dealing with the aftermath of Sandy. However, my own political bias aside, their criticisms seemed more reasonable. They weren’t as nit-picky as FOX considering that it did seem disingenuous of Romney to hold a rally for his own political gain during a disaster.

the various screen shots peppered into the video depict various newspaper and blog headlines about hurricane Sandy’s influence on the election. I pulled multiple New York Times articles, articles from The Detroit Free Press, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, a White House blog called “The Hill”, and the International Business Times. Each of them gave their own slant on who benefitted politically from the hurricane. However, a majority of articles I read, bipartisan or not, saw Obama as the beneficiary of the hurricane, especially the New York Times.

In short, even during times of disaster and heartbreak, media conglomerates stick to their agenda’s. FOX still found a way to make Obama look bad for a natural disaster and MSNBC still was critical of Romney during a time of suffering in our country. Politics simply never change.


Staten Island’s Devastation: Hurricane Sandy’s (unknown) Path of Destruction

With Hurricane Sandy ripping through the east coast, destroying houses, cars, and many buildings in its path, there was one borough in the state of New York, that seemed to be forgotten in the wrath of the media storm that soon followed Hurricane Sandy. One of New York’s boroughs was unfortunately extremely banged up and severely needing help and rescuing, many Staten Islanders felt like they were being left to drown after the storm, literally and figuratively.


In CBSNewYorks clipping above, the news story seems to really portray the feelings of the citizens of Staten Island and their thoughts on they way they were treated throughout the recovery stage of the storm. Also the picture showed is showing the chaos and destruction of someone’s home. With this news story CBS seemed to really want to get the victims of Staten Island’s feelings heard.

There were also multiple Twitter accounts that took to the stand to basically try and ask for help and bring the attention the world that Staten Island simply wasn’t being helped in this tremendous time of need. Many Tweets were similar to the one below.


Then you look at the news story covered by the Daily News and it shows Obama visiting the Jersey Shore and making plans with Governor Chris Christie to restore the shore, but there’s still Staten Island with no food, water, shelter, people homeless and 19 people dead. This was a major headlining article for the Daily News whereas the major headlining article for some other news organizations were more focused on the problems of some devastatingly hit boroughs.



Then theres ABC News who is trying to vocalize the pleas for simple necessities to survive. It seems that ABC is more concerned about the victims on Staten Island and really showing that the citizens need help.


Overall the City and Borough of Staten Island needed major help and relief after this major phenomenon of a storm that was being compared to Katrina. They needed all the help they can get and the point is Staten Island and the citizens of Staten Island weren’t even having their voices heard. No one knew the storm was as bad as it actually was in Staten Island because most of the news and outlets were focusing on the Jersey Shore and NYC, while yes they are major areas that did get hit and have destruction but Staten Island got nothing. The people of Staten Island didn’t want attention, nor sympathy that their homeland was completely destroyed, they just wanted help and to survive and they unfortunately weren’t given that until many days later when the anger of many came out over Twitter and other social media outlets. All they wanted was help and not to be left to physically and literally drown.


      Staten Island literally begging for help

We will get through this, as we always do -Mayor Bloomberg

-Ashley Zitofsky

Sandy strikes AC, reporters prepare for battle

News networks treat hurricanes like war zones, and in Atlantic City last week, Ali Velshi was in the trenches.

As Hurricane Sandy slammed the Jersey shore on Monday, Velshi stood for hours, freezing in the rapidly rising waters of downtown Atlantic City to report the 80 mph winds and floods. The CNN broadcast must have been like watching a car wreck. Water that started at Velshi’s angles rose to his waist, signs seemed poised to topple and strike anyone standing nearby, and the rain just kept pouring.

The footage was gripping, but controversial, spawning a flurry of Twitter concerns about Velshi’s safety and the ethics of sending reporters out on such dangerous assignments.

Michael Moore openly criticized Velshi’s brand of reporting in an interview on Piers Morgan’s CNN show.

We need fewer of the reporters standing in waist-high water seeing if they’re going to be blown over and more real reporting, real news, like what’s really going on.

Morgan and Velshi were quick to defend these claims, saying that such broadcasts fulfill a journalist’s duty to inform, ultimately keeping viewers safe.

 People ask, why are you standing in the water, is there some place you can stand that’s not in the water? Yes, yes there are high spots in Atlantic City, there are high spots everywhere that ever floods. But you know where I’m standing? I didn’t find a puddle in the middle of Atlantic City. This ocean, this river of water is downtown Atlantic City….So the point is to tell people, this is a real storm.”

-Ali Velshi

The point of him doing that…is that anyone mad enough to think they should be going out for a little stroll, walking the dog, whatever, looks at that and thinks, ‘I’ll stay in.’”

-Piers Morgan

 Although the same up-to-date reports were not possible, print media – including the New York Times and the New Jersey Star-Ledger – echoed Velshi’s desire to emphasize the absolute worst of the storm.

In a New York Times feature story Sandy was described as a “monster” to the residents of Atlantic City, the storm chasing a small family “in all of its steadfast fury.”

The quote that followed seemed more appropriate in a Batman movie than a weather story, with a city official saying AC was “under siege.”

The Huffington Post ran a news story that was equally sensational, including a slideshow of the devastated area. Reporters led with the visual aspects of the storm described in the NY Times story and in Velshi’s coverage. Floodwaters surged through the streets and “pounding waves” broke up sections of the boardwalk.

The Star-Ledger also offered a dramatic picture of Sandy, though perhaps with more of the informational, contextual quality that Moore suggested. By outlining the storm’s record-breaking nature and its place in shore history, that paper kept its feet firmly planted in the ground. Anything that might have qualified as sensational otherwise was reined in.

Should reporters cover hurricanes like they cover wars? I’m not sure. I guess that like anything else, what matters is whether they’re doing it out of a desire to titillate or to inform. It seems possible that national outlets like the Times and the Huffington Post were a little too interested in the entertainment factor, seeking an audience outside of the storm’s reach – one they didn’t need to protect. But I also believed Ali Velshi when he said that he wanted to show people what Sandy looked like in order to keep them safe. It’s possible that his producers had other motivations, but the optimist in me is going to side with the reporter who’s standing on the front lines, with water up to his waist.

To summarize:

Debate Prep

Before one can say investigative journalism has a future, one must first define investigative journalism. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the activity of news reporters trying to discover information which is of public interest, but which someone might be keeping hidden.1 In the technology era, almost no information can be hidden with the internet access in almost any location. While many have argued that the internet is killing journalism, it may be more accurate to say online information is putting an end to print journalism.

While print journalism has become too slow to cover breaking news, online journalism is still thriving. Even if people are being spoiled by free news coverage by certain sites, this does not mean investigative journalism has come to a halt. It merely means there has been a shift in priorities and the industry needs to rework itself.

A study done by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, associated with the University of Oxford, said while they believe the newspaper industry is declining, they think the decline has been gradual enough for most media organizations to make transitions. The study said it expects many media sources will still have a central role in news coverage in the future.

Many news sources have begun embracing the technological aspects of journalism. For example, the New York Times began charging for online access in 2011. The newspaper decided to grant readers access to 20 free stories per month. If readers went over this limit, they were given several subscription options in order to continue. Although some readers decided it was not worth the price, faithful readers decided to pay for online coverage, as well access to the newspaper’s smart phone application.

The New York Times

With the internet and news resources so readily available, it is almost impossible for investigative journalism to completely die out. As much as people can tweet about an important or terrifying incident, such as the shooting outside of the Empire State Building in August, there is only so much information a normal civilian can receive immediately.

While a normal person can tweet what they see or post a picture to Facebook, real news coverage is required to be able to obtain all of the facts. It also provides a space where readers can go to receive accurate information, photos and statistics, all in the same place. While it is true investigative journalism outlets are being condensed, it still has the potential for a healthy future if news outlets can adjust to technological changes.

Rachel Taylor

Debate Prep: The Future of Investigative Journalism…As We Know It

With society and the economy changing little by little everyday, us, the citizens are constantly reminded of the decline in many careers that were once booming. At one point many people were packing their desks and leaving the wild world of investigative journalism for fear of this career dying out. Long behold thought there is a bright future ahead and it’s all thanks to – technology!

With technology and social media at an all time high now it’s very much to an investigative journalists advantage. They can dig deeper and even further into artifacts, clippings, and many many year old archives without even leaving their desks. To me, I believe this is a huge advantage and opening in the journalistic world considering there was such a point of weakness for investigative journalism due partly from the economy growing weak.

The most widely used video website, Youtube, is also a big asset to investigative journalism because videos can be posted to showcase an event or piece of investigation. This is huge to investigative journalists because it’s yet another platform for these journalists to show their findings and “evidence.”

It’s said that investigative journalism got its start and flourished throughout the Watergate Scandal but is now at risk but I do not believe is true. There are so many new platforms for investigative journalists to reach to. At the time of the Watergate Scandal we didn’t have these new pieces of technology and the knowledge we do now.

If there’s no investigative technology left…where would we get our stories, breaking news, and story investigation gossip around the world from?

-Ashley Zitofsky

Debate Prep: Investigative Journalism Is Healthy And Has A Great Future Ahead Of It….

Before I formulate a response in support of this topic, I must clarify that I do not agree with this statement. I think if you ask any half educated journalism student they will tell you the state of the journalism industry is not healthy and has a very uncertain future ahead of it. I think a better question is “Investigative Journalism is important and NEEDS to have a future”. That statement makes more sense and is actually defendable.

I have chosen to approach this topic from the aspect of investigative journalisms role in a democracy. More specifically, I believe investigative journalism plays a vital role in democratic governance. 

“The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right, and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to choose the latter.”


-Thomas Jefferson, 1787

The media has many functions in society, they inform us, entertain us, socialize us, and sometimes they even teach us. But did you ever think the media is protecting us? Protecting us from the tyranny of our elected officials, from the corruption of our corporations, from the injustices of those who are supposed to enforce our laws and standards. Perhaps no function of the media is more important than that. But how do the media protect us? By uncovering the truth that those above us do not want us to know. Through tireless research and investigation, journalists provide us with the truths that are sometimes hidden from the public eye.

A democracy is ideally a government by the people, and the media bridge that gap between the government and it’s people. In fact, there would likely never be an American Democracy without investigative journalists. John Peter Zenger influenced the American Revolution in the early 1700’s when he wrote unflattering things about the British Government in the New York Daily Journal. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein brought down the United States President in the 70’s through their investigation into the Watergate scandal. Historically, investigative journalism has proven to be invaluable to the sanctity of our country, and that is something we can ill afford to lose.

According to Silvio Waisbord, author of Watchdog Journalism in South America: News, Accountability, and DemocracyInvestigative Journalism keeps with the fourth estate model of the press. According to this model, “the press should make government accountable by publishing information about matters of public interest even if such information reveals abuses or crimes perpetrated by those in authority”. From this perspective, investigative journalism is the most valuable role that the press makes to a democracy. In situations where government institutions fail to conduct up to their constitutional standards, journalism can contribute to accountability by monitoring the functions of these institutions. The media also retains certain agenda-setting powers to remind the public and  political elites about the existence of certain issues. Journalists also empower a public who ultimately holds the government accountable through voting and participation.

However, the threat of lawsuits and the growing distrust in the media is threatening investigative journalism. Media err more towards entertainment news as opposed to publicizing injustices. However, with so much injustice in the world today, there is a high demand for investigative journalists who fight to find the truth. That is why investigative journalism NEEDS to have a future if we are to survive as a country.

-Matthew Speiser