On Monday Andy Dickinson posted his ‘deliberately challenging’ lecture on ethics, online and journalism, which he gave to his third year journalism students a few weeks ago, up on his blog. Within it there are some interesting questions raised about the ethics of online journalism in light of recent examples.
It’s journalists who get to decide what journalism is. And because large media organisations have lots of journalists, they are the ones who exert most influence in defining it’s norms. They are the ones who play the biggest part on defining the practice, and the moral and ethical constraints.
So it isn’t the web changes things. It has neither the power (or, collectively, the will or desire) to do that. It’s the journalists reaction to it that shapes journalism.
So, as a journalist:
- Is using information from WikiLeaks any different than using information from ‘hacked’ mobile phones?
- Is pretending to be someone you are not on Facebook or a chatroom any different than pretending to be a constituent of Vince Cable?
- Is saying something outrageous on Twitter worse because you are journalist just like it is because you are a civil servant?
- Does it matter what party you voted for in the election or what your political beliefs are if you are journalist?