Digital Journalism Ethics

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These are slides for an ethics workshop for the staff of the Las Cruces Sun-News

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  • We’ll also discuss the Denver plane crash that Mike Wilson survived and how the media missed an opportunity by not using Twitter.
  • Digital Journalism Ethics

    1. 1. Digital Journalism Ethics Steve Buttry Las Cruces Sun-News November 2013 #DigitalEthics
    2. 2. SPJ Code of Ethics* • • • • Seek truth & report it Minimize harm Act independently Be accountable * Committee considering an update
    3. 3. Poynter Guiding Principles* • Truthfulness • Transparency • Community *Updated this year
    4. 4. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    5. 5. Context helps verify • Check profile (name, bio, link) • Check timeline (what do earlier tweets/updates tell you?) • Check followers & timelines (replies, RTs) • Expand tweets to see conversation • Follow; DM or tweet asking for interview • Make screen grabs (they might delete)
    6. 6. Vetting & verifying • Track back RTs, etc. to source • Look for clusters • Location enabled? • Evaluate the network • Evaluate the history • Links, photos? • Take it old school • Disclose, hedge, repeat • Be brave only in correction Tips from Craig Silverman, Regret the Error
    7. 7. Evaluating tweeps • • • • • • How long have they been tweeting? Check previous tweets, interaction Check bio, links Check Klout score Google name and scam, spammer Contact & interview Tips from Mandy Jenkins, Zombie Journalism
    8. 8. Verification • Treat social media as tip service • Consider situation, content, context Always ask: • How do you know that? • How do they know that?
    9. 9. If your mother says she loves you … • • • • Check her Twitter timeline, bio, links Check her Facebook posts Check followers & friends Google her
    10. 10. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    11. 11. Verifying images Places to verify images: http://www.google.com/images http://tineye.com http://karmadecay.com/ http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/a rticle/102787/The-Process-ofVerification.aspx
    12. 12. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    13. 13. Guidelines on opinions • Situation guides whether opinions are appropriate • Discuss w/ editor whether opinions are appropriate for your position • Consult if pushing boundaries • You can be personable without expressing opinions
    14. 14. Opinion types • • • • • Analysis Personal perspective Commentary Advocacy Off your beat (news reporter stating sports or entertainment opinions) • Journalism issues
    15. 15. Opinion formats • • • • • • Editorial Column Blog (doesn’t have to be opinion) Social media Comments on stories Public appearances (radio, civic clubs)
    16. 16. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    17. 17. Personal vs. pro • Always identify on personal accounts (or disclose to boss) • Even if account is private, behave professionally • Be personable on pro account
    18. 18. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    19. 19. Corrections • • • • Acknowledge the error & say what it was Verify before correcting Correct in platforms where you erred For serious errors, reach out to those who have RT’d, shared, linked • Examine processes to prevent future errors.
    20. 20. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    21. 21. Plagiarism … … is a firing offense. Don’t: • Lift passages from other sources without attribution & link
    22. 22. Plagiarism … … is a firing offense. Don’t: • Lift passages from other sources without attribution & link • Lift quotes from other media w/o attribution (to media, not just speaker)
    23. 23. Plagiarism … … is a firing offense. Don’t: • Lift passages from other sources without attribution & link • Lift quotes from other media w/o attribution (to media, not just speaker) • Lift from press release without attribution (& link if it’s online)
    24. 24. Plagiarism … … is a firing offense. Don’t: • Lift passages from other sources without attribution & link • Lift quotes from other media w/o attribution (to media, not just speaker) • Lift from press release without attribution (& link if it’s online) • Rewrite w/o attribution & link
    25. 25. Links = good business • Better SEO for better search traffic • Pingbacks, alerts from links bring direct traffic • Pingbacks, alerts from links may bring new inbound links & social mentions • Links = traffic = revenue = journo jobs
    26. 26. Links = good journalism • • • • • • • Context Depth Attribution Credibility Clarity Honesty Transparency
    27. 27. Attribution in social media • Native “share” or “retweet” carries attribution • RT or MT (modified tweet) if adding comment • HT or h/t for “heard through” or “hat tip” • Not necessary to repeat attribution endlessly in livetweeting
    28. 28. Embeds > links • Embeds are the ultimate attribution • Embed tweets, videos, slides, source documents • Facebook & Instagram recently added embed codes • Embedding tools: Storify, Spundge, Scribd, Document Cloud, SlideShare
    29. 29. No attribution needed: • What you witnessed personally • Common knowledge • Calendar (unless quoting); source is implied • If you re-report, acknowledge that you weren’t first, but don’t need heavy attribution to other media
    30. 30. Cut & paste Cutting & pasting from digital sources can ensure quoting accurately. But: • Attribute & link before pasting • Paste into quotation marks or block quote • Color code in notes to identify sources • Sloppiness is guilty plea, not excuse
    31. 31. Linking as BS detection Journalists covering Manti Te’o’s story of girlfriend would have exposed the hoax by seeking links to: • Obituary • Story or police report about accident • Girlfriend’s activities at Stanford (She did have bogus social media profiles.)
    32. 32. Effective attribution • Write stories with links: Digital First • Attribute to other media by name, including competition, not “media reports” or “a blogger” • Active voice, not “was reported” • Attribute to press releases • Embed tweets, videos
    33. 33. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    34. 34. Transparency • Social media profiles used professionally should ID you by name & newsroom • Identify in email & social messages • State when inquiries are for publication • Show your work, using links & embeds • State when working on a story • What should you disclose?
    35. 35. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    36. 36. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    37. 37. Using social media photos • Ask for permission to use photo (person posting might not have rights) • Embeds carry permission • Screen grab of FB page is better than just copying (context, transformative) • Verify authenticity • Explain context
    38. 38. Ethical issues • Accuracy & verification • Verifying images • Opinions • Personal vs. pro social media use • • • • • • Corrections Attribution Transparency Crowdsourcing Social media photos Confidential sources
    39. 39. Confidentiality issues • Don’t call source anonymous if you know identity • Why does source want confidentiality (whistleblower, unsure of facts, avoiding confidentiality)? • If unsure of facts, say you wouldn’t use as source, just for tips
    40. 40. Confidentiality issues • Be demanding of sources approaching you who want confidentiality • Don’t give confidentiality to the powerful & eager • No opinions w/o names • Ask source for documentation • Tell source you’ll seek other sources
    41. 41. Technology issues • Government surveillance of you or source could compromise confidentiality • Definitely an issue in national security cases, but possibly local & state, too • Use encryption • Consider “burner cells” • Meet face to face
    42. 42. Ethics resources • • • • • • • Guiding Principles for the Journalist Telling the Truth and Nothing But ebook Verification Handbook (due out in Jan.) SPJ Code of Ethics (last updated 1996) Regret the Error blog & book New Ethics of Journalism book stevebuttry.wordpress.com
    43. 43. Call me any time Ethics questions are important & urgent. I’ll respond quickly if you tell me you’re dealing with an ethics question. Call me at 267-697-9275; if that doesn’t work, email me: sbuttry@digitalfirstmedia.com

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