What ethical issues has the democratization of the news media created? Once upon a time, journalists were easy to identify — they went to journalism school, they were paid professionals tied to mainstream print or broadcast news outlets. Nowadays, technology and the rise of the internet make it possible for any citizen to break a story or post news via a personal blog or website. Are all these other people journalists – or is the line blurred or hazy? Does that matter, and if so, how? What other ethics-related issues has this huge change introduced into the profession?
2) Social media is a critical new reporting tool for journalists. Reporters troll social media for story leads and quotes and sometimes use it themselves to deliver information. News organizations often ask their reporters to brand” themselves via Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to build an online audience. So you have a journalist reporting factually about a news event and then switching to a blog or Facebook page to offer commentary – an expression of personal views and thoughts. What are the ethical ramifications of this duality – seesawing from dispassionate, impartial reporting to more passionate, opinionated, attitude-laced blog reporting? How does it complicate reader/viewer perceptions of journalists and their objectives?
3) The internet pressures newsrooms to publish stories very quickly, before they can be fully fact-checked, before the credibility of the source can be verified. The medium’s speed – and the age-old motivations to get the story out first – has led some major news organizations to publicize questionable information and rumors appearing online. How did journalists approach publication and verification before the always-on Web made news updatable minute by minute? Is the new system damaging to journalism and its reputation for truth and accuracy, or is the digitized world more error-permissive, and why? How do you handle corrections in the world of digital media, and mistakes embedded in older, more archived stories?
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