Monthly Archives: October 2012

Ethics & Trust

The articles this week explore the area of ethics & trust in regards to journalism, both traditional and new (i.e. blogging). The main points I took from the articles by J.D. Lasica, Diego Minuti and McGill & Iggers were some of the differences in the ways ethics and journalistic practice are approached by each of the mediums and that the two mediums complement each other rather than compete.

The biggest point i took from Lasica’s article ‘Blogs and Journalism Need Each Other’ is outlined in the following quote.

Mainstream news operations are businesses supported by advertising. As hierarchical organisations, they value smooth workflows, profitability and rigorous editorial standards. Weblogs adhere to a different set of values. Bloggers value informational conversation, egalitarian ism, subjective points of view, and colourful writing over profits, central control, objectivity and filtered prose.

This therefore suggests that their approaches to ethical standards are going to be different. For mainstream news they prefer to “filter, then publish” whereas bloggers “publish, then filter”. Minuti however suggests that the bloggers philosophy can lead to problems, such as once something is published on the internet it is often taken as fact by readers and this can be very hard to rectify because of the “chain of repetition and quotation”.

Wikipedia is one website that has had some examples of this phenomenon of publish first filter later backfire and cause problems. The most prominent example that come to mind for me was in 2007 after the death of professional wrestler Chris Benoit a user posted that

“Chris Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro for the ECW World Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.”

hours before any of the bodies were found. This FoxNews article covered this story afterwards. This shows how quickly false information can be taken as fact and later spread.

References

Fox News (2007) Web Time Stamps Indicate Nancy Benoit’s Death Reported on Web at Least 13 Hours Before Police Found Bodies in Her Home, accessed 10/10/2012, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,287194,00.html

Lasica, JD (2004), ‘Transparency begets trust in the Ever-Expanding Blogosphere’, Online Journalism Review, http://www.ojr.org/ojr/technology/1092267863.php

McGill, D, Iggers, J & Cline, A (2007), Death in Gambella: What Many Heard, What One Blogger Saw, & Why the Professional News Media Ignored it, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, vol.22, no.4, pp.280-299

Minuti, D (2010), Journalism and Ethics: Ethics in Journalism in the Era of Prolific Sources, Academicus – International Scientific Journal, vol.1