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Rethinking Journalism Ethics in a Changed Media World

Robert Niles at the the Online Journalism Review writes that it is time to rethink some of journalism’s traditional ethical assumptions, saying:

The central tenet of journalism ethics (in my opinion) remains: Do what’s best to empower your readers with truthful information. Everything we do ought to flow from that goal.

The practice of journalism is an act of service. But if we are going to be able to continue to serve our audience, we will need to change some of the conventions and assumptions we’ve brought to our practice if they now stand in the way of our ability to serve. What good are conventions designed a generation ago to protected our public image if following them today leaves us with a shrinking audience and no advertisers to support us?

He adds:

Here are three widely quoted tenets of traditional journalism ethics that I believe journalists must change in order to remain relevant in a more competitive online information market.

The old rule: You can’t cover something in which you are personally involved.

The new rule: Tell your readers how you are involved and how that’s shaped your reporting

The old rule: You must present all sides of a story, being fair to each.

The new rule: Report the truth and debunk the lies.

The old rule: There must be a wall between advertising and editorial.

The new rule: Sell ads into ad space and report news in editorial space. And make sure to show the reader the difference.

Read the entire article so see his logic for the rules changes.

One Response to “Rethinking Journalism Ethics in a Changed Media World”

  1. Jamie Walker Says:

    The problem is with the individual writing the piece. There is a great truth of humanity which states, “You cannot succeed at something you secretly despise.” Until journalism embraces the idea of requiring that a piece pass a neutralism test before being published, and abandoning the “WE will tell you what you think and determine what the news REALLY means,” nothing is going to change.