Posts filed under ‘ethics’
A recent discussion on the NUJ New Media mailing list prompted me to jot down some thoughts on the current private-public confusion thrown up by online communication channels. I think some education is required here on both sides.
Lesson 1: It’s public. Whatever you may think about codes of conducts, etc. etc. if you say something on a forum you should be aware that it may be quoted, that it may be indexed by search engines, databases, etc and potentially findable. You cannot rely on people’s good manners. So be careful what you say, or be prepared to stand by what you say.
Lesson 2: It’s private. Journalists got a lot of flak for wandering into blogs and forums after Virginia Tech because they saw it as being ‘in the public domain’ and therefore ethical (Tony Harcup had this view when I spoke to him at the time). But people using those platforms have a different view of what is ‘public domain’. So be courteous and sensitive.
An addendum: legal issues are still to be resolved around much of this. Employers and lecturers who look at people’s social networking profiles could be breaking the law; Facebook ads might be doing the same.
The concluding part of this draft book chapter sums up some of the key points and looks at the future paths of investigative journalism in a new media age. I would welcome any corrections, extra information or comments.
Blogs and new media have undoubtedly changed the landscape of investigative journalism. In terms of its form, journalism as a whole has become more conversational, and iterative, as readers seek to contribute to the story, and journalists open more of their processes to public view. The time and space offered by the internet has provided opportunities for these conversations to take place, and for journalists to make raw material available to fuel them. And the networked nature of the Web has facilitated coordination of contributors across borders and industries, along with a now global distribution of material. (more…)
Online Journalism Ethics: Traditions and Transitions
Cecilia Friend and Jane B. Singer
ME Sharpe, 2007, 245 pp., ISBN 0765615738
On April 16, 2007, a 23-year-old man shot and killed 32 people at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. As the shootings were taking place students reported what was taking place on blogs, mobile phones, instant messaging, Flickr, Wikipedia, and social networks.
As they did so, journalists started arriving in search of information and reaction. Some “lurked”, taking what they found and publishing it elsewhere; others engaged in “digital doorstepping” – asking students for their experiences and feelings, or if they’d be willing to be interviewed on camera.
While traditional journalists saw the material as being ‘in the public domain’, many students reacted angrily to the invasion of what they saw as ‘their’ space. It was an example of worlds colliding, highlighting the new ethical challenges facing journalists as new media technologies enabled the distinction between public and private, and between publisher and audience, to collapse.
In this context, Friend and Singer’s book on the ethics of online journalism is hugely welcome. (more…)
I’ve been asked to write a book chapter on ‘Investigative journalism and blogs’ for the next edition of ‘Investigative Journalism’. If you know of any examples where blogs have been used for investigative journalism, or useful contacts, please let me know.
I would also particularly welcome anyone who is interesting in co-authoring the book chapter via a wiki. (more…)
I was speaking at an event last week on social networking when a fellow panellist made the point that Facebook was, in many ways, an operating system, and that we may in years to come think it archaic that Windows/Mac OS didn’t know who our friends were, interests, feeds, etc.
Now South Africa’s Mail and Guardian shows a glimpse of the future on that platform: an application to let Facebook users add their headlines to their profiles. Of course, an RSS feed might do the same thing, but this makes it easier.
In other FJ (that’s Facebook Journalism) news: Reportr.net on Using Facebook profiles as a source for stories (and the ethics of exposing the voting intentions of the 17-year-old daughter of a presidential candidate):
“Part of the issue is what Danah Boyd has called intended audiences. When someone posts information on a social networking site, they may not intend for the material to be consumed beyond the intended audience of their friends.”
Shane Richmond is asking for contributions to a list of classic blog posts on online journalism. For some reason my comments don’t seem to have gone through, so here’s my list of the essential reads for online journalists:
- For an overview of the forms and possibilities of online journalism: Jonathon Dube’s Online Storytelling Forms
- For a mind-blowing insight into the journalistic potential of computer technology: Adrian Holovaty: A fundamental way newspaper sites need to change
- For reflection on how the online news environment changes the nature of journalism: Dan Gillmor’s The End of Objectivity (Version 0.91)
- For reflection on journalism ethics in the MySpace/Facebook/UGC/digital doorstepping era: Robin Hamman’s posts virginia tech bloggers: approach and confirm or link and disclaim? and his coverage of a debate on virginia tech coverage
- For a sliding scale of ideas on how to involve the audience: Steve Outing’s The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism
- For a succinct and clear explanation of moving from the TV mindset to an understanding of online video: Andy Dickinson: Moving from TV to Online
- For a quick list of tips when moving into video: Newslab’s Tips for Photographers
- For an outline of the possibilities of Flash for interactive storytelling, and experiences of its use: Mindy McAdams’ Flash journalism: Professional practice today
- For a step-by-step overview of how to treat a story in a multimedia way: Mindy McAdams’ Journalism stories: A multimedia approach Parts 1, 2 and 3.
- For a conceptual exploration of interactive storytelling: The Elements of Digital Storytelling
- I’ll agree with Richmond’s inclusion of Ross Mayfield’s post on his own blog: What makes wikis work
- And it pre-dates blogs, but answers very effectively that recurring question of “Is blogging/wikis/databases/broccoli etc. etc. journalism?”: G. Stuart Adam’s Notes Towards a Definition of Journalism
Last week I was in Vienna speaking to the most diverse audience I’m ever likely to address: 120 or so people from organisations including the European Commission, Amnesty International, the European Space Agency, the United Nations, Princeton University and the World Trade Organisation, as well as students from universities in Serbia, Ukraine, Italy, Poland, Germany, Austria, and America.
They were there to attend the Vienna Globalisation Symposium, and I was speaking as part of the first panel, on ‘Web 2.0: The return of the internet’. The topic of the presentation was Blogs and journalism - click on the link for the Word document. It’s 15-20 minutes long. I may upload audio and/or video later.