Monday, December 2, 2013

Journalism Ethics 2.0

Kerry Tuttle

Today's modern world calls for an updated code of ethical principles that can be applied to a new era of journalism. In Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel's "New Guiding Principles for a New Era of Journalism," it is made clear that despite major changes in our society, ethics should still guide the production of news.

Technology has changed the game and is one of the largest contributing factors to why journalists can not stick to outdated codes and concepts on the best way to report the news. Technology has allowed not only journalists to speed up their reporting, but for community members to join in the documentation of major events as well. Because it is much easier for the general population to discover their own news which they trust and find relevant, journalists now must stick to a stricter code of ethics which sets professional journalists apart from community members.

Transparency is crucial for journalists. Sources need to be explained, your point of view or purpose for the article needs to be made visible and information that you do not know needs to be acknowledged. As always, errors and mistakes need to be recognized and corrected as quickly as possible. This transparency opens the door for conversation between the community in which journalists serve and the newsroom itself, as well as the individual journalist and citizen. Being transparent goes one step ahead of being independent, and guides journalists to not only report the news, but to report relevant news with honesty and integrity.

Truth is No. 1. News should always be as accurate as possible, although at times the truth may prove to be more elusive than usual.

A scheduled event is very different from breaking news in that coverage happens in real time with journalists who may or may not be witnessing the breaking news unfold. The lightning speed of technology allows details to of an event to play out on the Internet like a soap opera that journalists must 1) control and 2) navigate to discover what the truth actually is.

However, truth and accuracy should always be at the forefront of a journalist's coverage, not the speed in which that coverage is publicized.

Transparency and truth both contribute to this last point: community. Transparency creates and open dialogue between journalists and citizens. Truth serves the public good and the sorting out of the truth includes being a part of the community and speaking to those involved.

As Monica Guzman said, "The differentiator for other industries is they think of the community as a means to an end. But for journalism, the community should be an end." The community needs to be engaged in a journalist's work and the journalist needs to be integrated into the community. Journalism in the public interest means news must serve the community for which it is produced.

As stated in this book, "the future of journalism is secure ... as long as it creates value for the community."

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