Journalism Ethics

Here’s an article exploring whether ethics are missing in citizen journalism. Sorry, Pam Gaulin but I’m basically not accepting the premise of these types of articles. I think the question is whether the people who are trained in journalism and get paid to do it have ethics. Which group has been failing the nation most during the last 7 years?

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

10 thoughts on “Journalism Ethics”

  1. concur dave, but surprisingly (or not) all the comments on her post are positive and supportive, especially for an aggregation site that aims at becoming the “people’s media choice” – would have expected to see some level of differing opinions…

  2. Ethics? Sounds more like her making news out of nothing. Riding on the coattails of bloggers. The real ethics question here is not if print journalist have ethics, but how many of those print journalist write for a paper that is doing well?

    If you are in fear of losing your job because readership is low, then maybe writing outlandish headlines and making preposterous assumptions is in desperation, and not because of questionable ethics.

    I hate to be Mr. “grounded in reality” over here, but if you are facing reductions in something you have been doing for years, sure you could leave and start your own blog. But that blog isn’t going to pay you what your job does, and it certainly doesn’t come with benefits.

    Not trying to hate, simply playing devil’s advocate.

  3. This topic always strikes me the same way as the questioning of the neutrality of blogs with ads, despite *all* of the go-to examples of journalistic integrity have advertising (or advertising disguised as sponsorship announcements) plastered all over them.

  4. I thought that Associated Content was a parody site, a la The Onion.

    Take a look at the homepage. There are stories like ‘Bankrupt, United States Sells Its Highway System’

    I’m pretty sure that one of their parody stories was used as the source of a Fox News story.

    I think you got sucked in, Dave.

  5. Mike, that doesn’t really surprise me that much. It’s a pretty common phenomenon, the group swarm.

    John, I think failing to pursue the important questions of the day — like whether it reasonable to pursue a war of choice or whether we are actually rebuilding our drowned cities — is a huge ethical lapse. Although focusing on the wrong things is bad, failing to actually investigate power in the form of our government and corporations is a huge failure and an abdication of their responsibility.

    J., I’m with you.

    Derek, it’s a real site. It’s a meta-site like Newsvine. If you see something absurd, it’s because some dumbshit posted it to their account. I am, however, probably taking that article more seriously than it deserves.

  6. Dave – First, thank you for the mention. Second, did any of the commenters here actually read the article? I am a journalist turned citizen jouranlist myself and was trying to share ideas, and yes ideals about ethics.

    Has traditional media failed in this are? Mostly, yes. And they had formal training. So what about citizen journalists who try to cover news? Do they have guidelines they should follow.

    John – This is about news writing, not about blogging. I am not riding on the coattails of bloggers, or of anyone else.

    Did you read the article or just the headline? If you know journalism, you know that writers cannot control how their article appears when published, and this includes the headline.

    “The real ethics question here is not if print journalist have ethics, but how many of those print journalist write for a paper that is doing well?” – I am an online journalist and have already written about how the print medium no longer works. Many Print journalists are not doing it either.

    Making news out of nothing? My article is in response to sensationalist news and tones written by others on AC. It was written April 20, well before the ham sandwich incident to which you refer. It just happened to be published in the middle of the situation (again, that is an internal publishing decision, not the decision of me, the writer).

    J – Again, if you read the article, I make no mention of blogs or of advertising. Advertising makes the web go round.

    Derek – AC, BTW is not a parody site. It does have some writers who write parody. AC also has writers who write real news, and other articles on every topic.

    Thanks everyone.

  7. Bill Moyers recently returned to PBS, in part, to do a series on the media’s failure to do its job with regard to the War in Iraq. The piece is titled “Buying the War”. From the site, “‘Buying the War’ examines the press coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy and asks, four years after the invasion, what’s changed?” You can view the video of Moyers’ work online:

  8. The standard behavior of journalists in general is an important concept as it includes all the elements that determine a general code of conduct for journalism in a broader sense. Primarily, there is a need for more ethic oriented journalism with guidelines to achieve that essential goal. In fact, the main objective of any journalist is to inexorably become ethical. Yet,journalists might not know exactly ways to achieve that goal. In a narrower sense, they might not know what is right or wrong in a given situation. Scholars have identified two types of journalists: Libertarian or Communitarian. In the corporation, one becomes libertarian when “putting self-development and personal moral growth as the first priority.” Communitarians tend to consider society or groups more important.
    The main question that derives from these two types of journalists stems from the antagonist aspects of the individual and the group as media bias can play an important role in any circumstance. I then argue that media bias can constitute an impediment to a real implementation of ethics as a driving force in journalism and that individual oriented model needs to be implemented.
    Media bias is known as a perceived siding of journalists or news producers in their way of treating and delivering information to the public. There exists many types of bias: ethnic or racial bias, corporate bias mainly with advertising and sensationalism, political and religious bias.
    Media bias can lead to forgery as some journalists might create their own stories to level it to the company’s guideline. In all these situations, individual oriented ethic tends to wither and get overwhelmed by the interest of the group. Merrill ,for instance, recognizes this fact as he maintains that “journalists tend to gravitate toward a kind of group-oriented ethics and finds the individual approach somewhat traumatic”
    Media bias must also be understood in terms of liberalism and conservatism as these orientations can harm the very ethic that should govern journalism. Any journalist will tend to rely and support his group’s agenda. Nowadays the media have lost trust among the public due to those two elements.
    The case of Jayson Blair constitutes a vivid example of how media is viewed by the public. Many specialists have diagnosed it in different angles. Yet the blame should not lie on the reporter only. In fact the public trust had dwindled even before the scandal. For observers “Villains like Blair and their cut-and-dried crimes-lies bad truth good!-are easier to deal with than the systemic problems with journalism that really care about.”
    Many journalists rely on the group guidelines for their work. This can be the source for all the problems the media is facing now. It definitely hinders the way the media are perceived by the public.

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