Digital journalism challenging the old school rules
Not all reporters are fond of digital journalism because they see it challenging the ethics of journalism.
The best example is the sanctity of the newsroom. In the pre-digital newsroom, the news stories being produced for future issues were like trade secrets. Reporters who discussed stories in progress outside the newsroom walls risked being hauled into the editor’s office and berated or, worse case scenario, fired.
In today’s digital newsroom there are no walls. News is not protected until it rolls off the presses. Instead, articles are instantly posted to the news outlet’s website and shared through social media channels. Increasingly, journalists will use their own social media to develop a story. I know of one reporter who routinely tweets that she is about to interview a celebrity or CEO and asks her followers what questions they would like her to ask the individual, a practice known as crowd sourcing.
The web-first news approach and experiments in open newsrooms are a result of the changing media ecosystem. News outlets today compete against bloggers, tweeters and citizen journalists, who instantly post news. As a result we are seeing Ivory Tower journalism crumbling and journalism ethics evolving – yet many old school reporters are reluctant to change and cling to the past.
There’s been a great deal written about this topic. Here are a few of the better posts on the subject.
• Social media poses digital dilemmas for journalists – Journalism Ethics for the Global Citizen
• Ethical Challenges for Digital Journalism – Richard Gingras, head of Google News Products
• ‘Rules of the Road’: A conversation starter on digital journalism ethics – Steve Buttry, The Buttry Diary
• Online Journalism Ethics – Poynter Institute
• A Revolution in Ethics – Center for Journalism Ethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison