Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ethics in the Digital Age

Hallie Rawlinson

Photo courtesy of

Not headed to a funeral

When it comes to developments in technology, the growth of crowdsourcing and increase in social media use, many of us have heard someone utter the words: "Journalism is dying." But how can a field that has embraced these new developments and utilized them much before any other fields be dying?

We are prepared to embrace the future of this digital age, as we already have. This also means that we must evaluate our ethical practices in order to effectively stick to our principles of truth, independence and doing the least harm possible.

I think that these naysayers could not be more wrong. I am thrilled about where journalism is and where it is headed. We are not planning the funeral for the practice of journalism, but rather making way for it to grow and thrive in ways that it has never before. We do not seek to "change" the way it is practiced but rather "develop" along with the changes that happen to technology and communication practices.  In the case of technology, our field has been one of the quickest to adopt the new digital age and use it to better communicate with our audience.

This video from the Poynter Institute shares some of the ways ethics develop with the evolution of journalism in a digital age.

Transparent, but not pliable

Many times, it seems that polled audiences are very wary of the media and the motives of journalists today. However, what they may not realize is how committed many journalists actually are to ethical practices.

Journalism is now more of a conversation than a speech and people are openly wondering about our motives. This is where transparency comes in. We can use the best combination of sound ethical decisions and allow the public to know that we are striving to deliver truth in the most effective and least harmful way possible.

The Poynter Institute is giving journalism students and professionals alike a way to sound off on the new ethical challenges we face and consider how to deal with those. Using Twitter and the hashtag, #poynterethics, the institute was able to get the conversation started.

Not only is it important that we all have this conversation, but I believe it says something that we are doing it right out in the open on Twitter. If that isn't transparency, I don't know what is.

Game plan

As journalists we need to embrace change and respond with growth. Each new class graduating from J-school is already in a completely different world than the one before it. Professionals need to make sure to instill the importance of fundamental ethical practices into their younger colleagues.

I believe it is also important for those older professionals to listen to the new generations and connect with our ideas. In a world that is changing so rapidly it's hard for even us twenty-somethings to keep up.

No comments:

Post a Comment