WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Wed - 26.11.2014


ethics

"Remember when a single investigative reporter with the temerity to demand a decent living... could pull the curtain back on one of the most powerful and secretive organizations on the face of the earth?"

These days are not over, argued Dean Starkman, Editor of the Colombia Journalism Review's business section this week (he cites The Guardian's Nick Davies and his work on breaking the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World as a contemporary example) but they are in danger.

The threat, according to Starkman, comes from media gurus like Clay Shirky, Jeff Jarvis, and John Paton, who advocate networked, crowd-sourced, web-based and free-for-users journalism.

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-11-10 19:28

"Thou shalt not plagarise". This phrase surely must be somewhere near the top of the ten commandments of journalism.

Hence in 2005, when David Simpson, then-cartoonist for The Tulsa World, was found to have redrawn somebody else's work, the paper's publisher Robert E. Lorton III dismissed him, saying he had committed "the cardinal sin of a newsroom". The story was reported at the time by the AP and picked up by Sign On San Diego.

Still, there's no peace for the wicked; history has repeated itself. After his dismissal from The Tulsa World, Simpson was hired by the Urban Tulsa Weekly but, as Poynter reports, he was fired yesterday for further instances of copying other people's work.

And Simpson's not the only news professional recently brought up for plagiarism. Another Poynter article published on Monday points out that a journalist from the Journal Register Company's Middletown Press was found to have plagiarised "significant portions" of an article about a man charged with disorderly conduct from a local Patch website.

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-11-02 19:22

What is the hallmark of good journalism? Objectivity would be one of the standard replies: neutral journalism that is not partisan and that steers clear of disseminating personal opinions.

Actually, the answer is just not quite as simple as that. Hang on to your hats, people, it's time for an ethics class...

Wait a second, I hear you cry, before you take me back to journalism school - what's wrong with objectivity? Here's the thing: now it's obligatory for every journalist to have their hand hermetically sealed to a smartphone so they can dutifully maintain a Twitter account. It is becoming increasingly essential and easy to maintain an online presence; you need a Facebook page, a Linkedin profile and a FourSquare account. These are all useful tools in their own way. However, all this social media activity means that it is becoming ever harder to deny the fact that journalists are people. Shocking, I know, but it's true. Journalists are people - and people are not objective.

Author

Katherine Travers

Date

2011-11-02 18:06

Journalists and politicians are currently mulling over ways in which journalism can be moderated to avoid the kind of unethical practice that occurred at The News of the World - but does anybody actually have any good suggestions as to how this can be achieved?

The phone-hacking scandal has let to public outrage about the fact that a news organisation was operating in such a manner and as a result the British judicial and political systems have been forced to respond. But how?

A selection of inquiries, first by the Culture, Sport and Media Parliamentary Select Committee, followed by the pending public inquiry led by Lord Leveson, has been the response of the Conservative government.

At the recent Labour party conference, a controversial response came from Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis who suggested that journalists should be disciplined for their lack of ethics by being struck off a register for malpractice and banned from working again. Just like a doctor.

This remark was not a statement of intent, merely an idea. If it works for doctors, why not for journalists?

Author

Katherine Travers

Date

2011-09-29 17:28

Nobody can accuse Wikileaks of being afraid of the spotlight. The whistleblower organization hit the headlines again this month as the un-redacted US Embassy cables became available online, and old arguments about its status as an institution resurfaced. Many have scrambled to have their say, but few have given the matter as much thought as Charlie Beckett.

Beckett is founding director of POLIS, the journalism think-tank in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. An award-winning journalist, he is currently writing a book about Wikileaks to be published by Polity in the autumn. He talks here about how we shouldn't see WikiLeaks as an 'aberration' but as part of the changing landscape of modern journalism.

Beckett will be chairing a panel at the 18th World Editors Forum in Vienna this October about journalism "after WikiLeaks" and how newspapers should respond.

WAN-IFRA: You've described WikiLeaks as an example of "the new forms of journalism that are emerging from and reshaping the news ecology and the nature of news itself". How has news media changed in response to WikiLeaks?

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-09-21 12:24

Lately, media bloggers seem to have gone on a philosophical quest: they are all desperately seeking the meaning of journalism. No one has quite decided to head off into the desert and fast until they have an epiphany, but surely that can't be far off. Nieman Lab, BuzzMachine and GigaOm have all run pieces discussing the nature and future of journalism.

What prompted all this serious en masse soul searching?

Well, the current TechCrunch confusion is partly to blame.

Begin the debate about objectivity v transparency in journalism:

As C.W. Anderson of Nieman Lab points out, objectivity is a standard that journalists cling to - there is no ideology attached and therefore no bias. The troubling thing about objectivity as a journalistic perspective is that it is pretty much impossible to achieve.

Author

Katherine Travers

Date

2011-09-08 14:32

The not-for-profit organisation America Abroad Media (AAM) has been forced to declare its connection with two Pakistani journalists who were receiving funding from the organisation whilst working for other news outlets.

After being contacted by The Christian Science Monitor, the AAM has now declared its connection to the two journalists, Huma Imtiaz of Express News and Awais Saleem of Dunya News. However, the most contentious issue is that the U.S. Department of State is heavily involved in funding the project, and therefore these journalists.

Is it acceptable for the U.S. to effectively finance foreign journalists who are writing about the US? Many people would respond with an instinctive, authoritative 'no'; but as Christine Fair, an assistant professor at Georgetown University, Washington, highlights in a Zeenews.com article, this question is more complex than you might think.

Fair claims that the money given to these journalists actually produces a more balanced media, as much of the media in Pakistan has a strong anti-American voice and anti-American stories are often planted by Pakistani security sources.

Author

Katherine Travers

Date

2011-09-06 16:52

Tabloids have been getting some bad press lately. The press as a whole, and tabloids in particular, have been tarred by the The News of The World scandal; but let's not forget that the tabloid is something of a cultural institution. There are undoubtedly some darker aspects to this type of journalism, but provided they keep things above board, surely there is still a place for the humble tabloid in our newsstands?

UK Sunday tabloid sales have been enjoying a boom period since the collapse of The News of The World, gaining an extra 2 million in sales from June to July this year, as The Guardian reports. So it's clear that the love affair with the tabloid is not over for the British public at least.

The relationship between UK readers and Murdoch's tabloids is a long one and it has endured hard times before.

Author

Katherine Travers

Date

2011-08-23 13:42

Anette Novak, Editor-In-Chief of local Swedish paper Norran believes that newspapers should be harnessing the power of social media. In 2009 she introduced a live chat function to her paper's website so that readers can talk to journalists in the newsroom, as long as it is manned. She says the change has not only proved popular, it's also "good for democracy."


Novak is scheduled to speak at the 18th World Editors Forum in Vienna (12-15 October) about how to build a community around your newspaper.

WAN-IFRA: Today lots of people read the news in a different context: online, on their phones, on tablets. What does this mean for newspaper editors who want to build a community around their papers?

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-08-18 19:32

Every journalist knows that language is the key their craft. However, it is so often too easy to get caught in the inertia of producing story after story and forget that sometimes it is necessary to go back to basics and examine the building blocks of any story: words.

Editor and Publisher reported that The New York Times has offended the families of some murder victims through injudicious use of language which they feel degrades their departed relatives.

A suspected serial killer recently murdered a series of women in the state of New York. The murderer's modus operandi involved finding women who advertised as escorts on the website Craigslist and then taking their lives.

Author

Katherine Travers

Date

2011-07-27 18:33

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