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Ethics presentation

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Delivered to a journalism ethics class at the University of Alabama in the summer of 2009.

Delivered to a journalism ethics class at the University of Alabama in the summer of 2009.


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  • 1. Ethics online Kenny Smith Student media adviser/assistant professor Samford University www.kennysmith.org www.twitter.com/kennysmith www.facebook.com/kennydsmith www.linkedin.com/in/kennydsmith
  • 2. Where do ethics come from? Family Community Religion Employer(s) Culture Society Institutions
  • 3. Do ethics online differ? Yes? No?
  • 4. The benefit of an online medium Democratizes voices Ease of publishing Inexpensive
  • 5. The danger of the online medium Anyone can do it It is easy It is inexpensive
  • 6. The question of online ethics, then... Ethics Credibility Verifiability Anonymity (Much the same as any other medium.)
  • 7. An informed voice on online ethics “The ethics of online journalism are, ultimately, no different than the ethics of journalism.” -- Robert Niles Knight Digital Media Center
  • 8. Basic qualities No plagiarism Disclose, disclose, disclose No gifts or money for coverage Check it out, then tell the truth Be honest (Online Journalism Review, Knight Digital Media Center) Transparency is key.
  • 9. Credibility “(O)nce a blogger -- or journalist or publication or friend, for that matter -- is bought and paid for, the credibility and value of their voice is reduced or ruined. “Credibility is the cake you can’t have and eat, too.” -- Jeff Jarvis http://www.buzzmachine.com/2006/10/19/corrupting-blogs/
  • 10. Jarvis adds ... “(T)his isn’t about ethics pledges and industry policies. It’s about personal integrity, about honesty, about having a direct and open relationship of trust and credibility.”
  • 11. What they mean in context The ethic of transparency: Making available your perspective. The ethic of conversation: Conversation is better than a lecture. The ethic of humanity: This medium lives at a human level while old media lives at an institutional. The ethic of the link: One of our key jobs is to link our public to other voices and to source material so they may judge themselves. The ethic of correction: It is vital to correct errors quickly and openly. The ethic of immediacy: The fast spread of information will yield better information.
  • 12. Practical ramifications
  • 13. All of these things ... Facebook Website Twitter Video Chats Message boards Comments Etc
  • 14. Personal Brand = Credibility
  • 15. Online tips Try new things Try new techniques, technologies and systems Find the value and become fluent in new trends Do a little of everything – write, video, audio, etc Improve your copy editing
  • 16. This makes for a lifetime of learning Someone out there will be doing it. Someone with whom you'll compete for a job. Someone who wants it just as badly as you. The more you can do, the more valuable a commodity you are to your employer.
  • 17. Ethics online Kenny Smith Student media adviser/assistant professor Samford University www.kennysmith.org www.twitter.com/kennysmith www.facebook.com/kennydsmith www.linkedin.com/in/kennydsmith