Online Research And Ethics


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A presentation on online research and ethics made to Young Asia Television (YATV) staff.

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Online Research And Ethics

  1. 1. Online research and media ethics Sanjana Hattotuwa Editor, Groundviews (
  2. 2. searching • 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 the Internet.”
  3. 3. search tips • 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
  4. 4. advanced search
  5. 5. advanced search • 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 “”
  6. 6. calculator and dictionary • Currency 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? • Dictionary define: media
  7. 7. google news • 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 worldwide interest. • 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.
  8. 8. google news
  9. 9. google news archive
  10. 10. google newspaper indexing • Let's say you want to learn more about the landing on the Moon. • Pittsburgh Post Gazette - id=w0sNAAAAIBAJ&dq=pittsburgh&sjid=D20DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6256,2864141 • 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.
  11. 11. online resources • JournalismNet - • CyberJournalist - • Poynter Institute - • Newseum - • South Asia Journalists Association (SAJA) -
  12. 12. online resources • International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) - • Reporters Without Borders (RSF) - id_rubrique=20 • International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) - http://
  13. 13. google maps and google earth • Google Maps and Google Earth have revolutionised the way we access and see geo-spatial information
  14. 14. election violence
  15. 15. peacebuilding
  16. 16. disasters
  17. 17. Measuring veracity
  18. 18. doctored images
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. 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 body? • 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?
  21. 21. 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 true?
  22. 22. stanford university guidelines for web credibility
  23. 23. wikipedia: to source or not to source? • Bob Rae’s reportage in the Sunday Times, June 2009 wikipedia/ • Mumbai terrorist attacks, November 2008
  24. 24. new models of trust • The 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 review tools.
  25. 25. 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
  26. 26. Pulling it all in and keep abreast
  27. 27. rss • 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 standardized format. • An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed”, or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.
  28. 28. Google Reader: a web based RSS reader
  29. 29. google news alerts via email
  30. 30. twitter to get more perspectives
  31. 31. know your twitter hastags (#slelections)
  32. 32. Spy:
  33. 33. Google: Updates from social media
  34. 34. Twitter: ( Aggregation from social media
  35. 35. election reporting toolkit
  36. 36. 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
  37. 37. Thank you