Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ethics and New Age Media

Jessica Sees

The way we create and consume news has been changing rapidly over the past ten or so years. The way we use our ethical decision making skills, in some aspects, needs to transform along with our media. While the way we make ethical decisions is changing, it’s really important we keep our standards high, clear and apparent.

What is Our News, and Where are We Getting It?

Something we cannot overlook is how the Internet has changed who we consider news outlets. We can access news and information from all sorts of platforms, ranging from The New York Times to Buzzfeed. Web-specific news platforms are popping up every day.

In the vast landscape we call the Internet, most people have adopted the web space as their primary news source (especially us millennial folks). According to this PEW Research Center study, 38% of adults in the United States are getting their news from online sources. While this is probably no surprise, the younger generation has the most online news consumption. 50% of people from ages 18 to 29, and 49% of people ages 30 to 49 are using the Internet for news.

PEW Research Center

Evolving Ethical Standards

The main areas of ethics that need to be expanded upon in this digital era are transparency and community.


In digital news, it is of the utmost importance that journalists are transparent with their stories. Not only does it keep our accountability in check, it provides the readers with more context as to why we chose to cover the topic we did, who our sources are, mistakes we amend and disclosing any personal views that may make readers believe your reporting could be biased.

When you make yourself a transparent reporter, you not only build trust with your audience, you make yourself a more credible, stronger journalist in the process.


The Internet itself is one gigantic global community. It’s no surprise that journalistic ethics codes are changing to care more about the aspect of community. It is extremely important that we, as journalists, understand our audience.

We have a duty to our community to make sure they receive content they care about and content they need. We need to make sure we’re presenting it with both sides of the story as well as in a way that they can consume it in an intellectual, informed fashion. 

Concrete Ethics

While the aforementioned ethical areas need to evolve with the times, the staple, core beliefs and ethical goals of journalism need to stay the same. As outlined in the SPJ Code of Ethics states, we as journalists need to:

Seek Truth and Report It

This is our number one job.

Minimize Harm

Present information the public needs to know in a way that minimizes discomfort.

Act Independently

Stay free of bias or other outside influences.

Be Accountable and Transparent

Respond quickly to errors, acknowledge them and explain your codes and decision making processes.

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