Online research and media ethics
Editor, Groundviews (www.groundviews.org)
• Use Google!
• The name "Google" originated from a misspelling of "googol” which refers to
the number represented by a 1 followed by one-hundred zeros. Having found
its way increasingly into everyday language, the verb, "google" was added to
the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary
in 2006, meaning, "to use the Google search engine to obtain information on
• Use more words
E.g. Sri Lanka journalists vs. journalists
• Use unusual words
Sri Lanka Lasantha Wickremetunga
• Use quotation marks
“Sri Lanka cricket” vs. Sri Lanka Cricket
• In the old days we used boolean logic AND / OR / NOT
• Now just use + or –
• E.g. (1) Sri Lanka (2) Sri Lanka -cricket –sports
• Also remember quotation marks “”
calculator and dictionary
How do you calculate 1 Swiss Franc to a Sri Lankan Rupee?
• Metric conversion
How many kilos in a pound?
What is 59 F in Celsius?
• Google's News is revolutionary in that it is wholly computerised – humans do
not make the selections. The links to the news stories on one subject are
clustered together, with the total number of stories indicating the scale of
• Topics are updated every 15 minutes.
• You can customise the news, by arranging Google's subject areas, including
sections from their 20+ international editions, in various languages.
• Really advantageous, though, is that you can choose your own subjects:
select keywords required in the stories you want and Google will search them
out for you on a regular basis.
google news archive
google newspaper indexing
• Let's say you want to learn more about the landing on the Moon.
• Pittsburgh Post Gazette - http://news.google.com/newspapers?
• Not only will you be able to search newspapers, you'll also be able to browse
through them exactly as they were printed -- photographs, headlines, articles,
advertisements and all.
• JournalismNet - http://journalismnet.com/
• CyberJournalist - http://www.cyberjournalist.net/
• Poynter Institute - http://poynter.org/
• Newseum - http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/default.asp
• South Asia Journalists Association (SAJA) - http://www.saja.org/
• International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) - http://www.ifj.org/en
• Reporters Without Borders (RSF) - http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?
• International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) - http://
google maps and google earth
• Google Maps and Google Earth have revolutionised the way we access and
see geo-spatial information
how do you measure integrity of website?
• Government information: It may not be correct, but it is ofﬁcial – you can quote a
government source with a clear idea of what you are getting.
• Universities: Academic institutions offer a level of authority – this may vary, but it is
something to depend on. Most studies by recognised experts are still reviewed by
their peers, so the information is likely to be good quality.
• Special interest groups: Non-governmental organisations and pressure groups may
push a particular line, but if they are recognised bodies, you, and your readers, have
some idea of what is being provided – it might be Transparency International, the
Caracas Chamber of Commerce, or the Red Crescent. Companies and commercial
sites could be regarded similarly, though the reliability of the site for an
internationally-known brand would be different from an unheard-of dotcom.
• Everything else: Unidentiﬁable organisations, personal sites, hobbies, obsessions
etc. This includes most personal blogs
how do you evaluate a website?
• AUTHORITY: Is this a recognised expert? A body with a known reputation?
• AFFILIATION: Who is it connected with? A university? Another reputable
• ACCURACY: If you spot mistakes while reading the site, then start worrying.
• APPEARANCE: Is the site carefully put together? A lot of reliable sites are
old-fashioned looking, rather than modern or ﬂashy, but a sloppy or amateur-
looking production may indicate the site is the work of an individual rather
than the large operation it purports to be.
• INTENT: Why does the site exist? Does it do the job it claims to be doing?
how do you evaluate a website?
• CURRENCY: Is it up-to-date? Look for recent dates, or information you know
to be new.
• RECOMMENDATIONS: Is it recommended by other people or organisations,
by reliable experts, by people you know? How many links to outside sources /
sites does it have?
• DEPTH: Has it done a thorough job in covering a subject or issue?
• COMPREHENSIBILITY: Does the articles / content make sense? Are they
inﬂammatory, partisan? Are there signs of bias?
• CREDIBILITY: Does common sense tell you the information in the site is
stanford university guidelines for web credibility
wikipedia: to source or not to source?
• Bob Rae’s reportage in the Sunday Times, June 2009
• Mumbai terrorist attacks, November 2008
new models of trust
• The NewsTrust.net website features quality news and opinions, which are
carefully rated by our members, based on quality, not just popularity.
• NewsTrust reviewers evaluate each story against core principles of
journalism, such as fairness, accuracy, context and sourcing - using unique
existing ethical guidelines
• Code of Professional Practice (Code of Ethics) of The Editors Guild of Sri
Lanka and Free Media Movement Adopted by the Sri Lanka Press Institute
• Sri Lanka Media Charter
• Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility 2008
• RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated
works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a
• An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed”, or "channel")
includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and
key points: recap
• New technologies potentially give voice to all citizens
• Be sceptical of new information, but use new media to push and pull content
• Develop media literacy to embrace new technologies