Code of Ethics for New Media
Since new media has become a prevalent and driving force in news reporting today, the demand for ethical news reporting and change of code in journalism is rising. First of all, what can be defined as new media? New media is arguably constructed of information provided through digital devices and available on the Internet for public use. The most popular and most commonly used source of new media is social media, which is built on the foundation of interactive public participation and sometimes overwhelmingly large amounts of information.
This brings up the modern issue of news reporting; what is real news? And who determines the ethical boundaries of using new media for news? Most importantly, as readers ourselves, how can we trust and filter the massive flow of information provided by media outlets? I’ll be addressing these questions to professional journalists that have the obligations to report ethically sound news to the public. However, these problems are not exclusive to professional journalists and can be applicable to citizen journalists and social media users to some extent. Although there are countless factors that a journalist should consider when reporting news, I will be focusing on these following categories: Accuracy and Transparency, Use of Social Media, Sourcing and Social Concerns.
Accuracy and Transparency
Seeking the Truth
New media journalists tend to forget the first obligation of news: Truth. News should be always seeking the Truth, through the process of thorough research and fact checking. Although citizen journalism and social media has enabled an ordinary citizen to obtain news without having to rely on news stations, we still put truth on well known news stations such as CNN and even Buzzfeed. Thus, journalists should thrive to provide readers with the most accurate information available.
In regards of sensational material such as blood/gore violence and pornography, see below in section on social concerns. As for military and government censorship, if the information is deemed dangerous in affliction with the wrong faction, it will not be explicitly written in an article but will be mentioned in said article. To sum up, news should respect the information on military/government for national security purposes but also reserve the right to make their own decisions if decided the public has the right to know.
Balanced and Fair Stance
Journalists should be performing objective journalism, therefore not taking a strong opinion one side of a story. It is a journalistic right to objectively report both sides of an issue even if it is ethically right or wrong. This way, the audience has minimal influence from the news on their opinion and could form their own. However, direct quotes are not applicable to this section as they voice a person’s opinion.
In today’s society, speed is everything for reporting breaking news. For this particular instance, accuracy can be bent to a limited extent since the audience’s priority is obtaining information as fast as they could. For example, tweets and quotes could be used without 100% verification but it should be mentioned in the article and the news should be updated as much as possible.
Use of Social Media
With the rise of use of social media in news reporting, journalists are constantly invading the boundaries of privacy. If the information is set to private such as a Twitter or Instagram account, it should not be used unless with the permission of the owner.
For the use of factual information, social media quotes should be verified (by a professional etc) but if used for demonstrating public voice, unverified social quotes is usable.
Social media should always be credited to the original post. In situations such as retweets and reblogs in Twitter and Tumblr for example, journalist should always try to use the original content by tracing it back.
Since many public reports by citizen journalists are faulty and subjective, a professional journalist should be wary of its information and only use it if applicable to a certain situation where verified information cannot be obtained. Therefore, public reports should not be directly afflicted with professional journalism.
Information used in articles that are factual should come from professionals, legal documents, academic journals and databases that have substantial evidence. Information should never come from public sources such as Wikipedia where editing is easily accessible to anyone.
Applicable from the quoting section written above, all articles should acknowledge the person and/or company associated with the quote. Also, quotes should never be changed or altered from the original quote. However, for shortening the quote, it can only be allowed when it does not change the full meaning. Lastly, quotes should be mentioned if it is from a direct interview or from another source.
Since every article should be checked over thoroughly and is written with journalistic obligations in providing the public with information, deleting an entire article should not be allowed in any way or form. If an article causes confusion or dispute amongst the audience, corrections with an explanation and/or apology should be updated in the article.
The beauty of new media is that it reaches all human beings, regardless of gender/sex, sexuality, age, race, color etc. As a journalist, news should thrive to connect to as many social groups as possible, especially the minority groups that lack voice. News should avoid stereotypes of any kind and should not refer to a person regarding his/her race, color, sexuality etc unless it is related to the news.
Mental health/ Suicide triggers
Many news disregard suicide triggering content due to the notion that the public is desensitized in issues regarding mental health. However, all news reports should avoid posting triggering media sources such as sensitive media sources. Before posting an article written on this matter, it should warn the readers beforehand.
Although news and knowledge should be accessible regardless of social standing, since children are more sensitive to violent/pornographic material, it should be kept to a minimum in public stories. However, if necessary to write about such matters, it should be available only for a section for adults with age