As a student currently doing an online journalism subject, I couldn’t help but wonder about the ethics in online journalism and especially if they’re different from traditional journalism.
Last semester I completed a subject called Journalism Ethics. Here we learned all the ethical skills a journalist should possess to practice responsibly. Certain codes and ground rules gave guidance into difficult ethical dilemmas a journalist could face.
But the online environment definitely brings new problems when it comes to ethical practice.
However, after doing research, I did find there are things a journalist can maintain to establish themselves as an ethical digital reporter. These handy tips come from the School for Communication and Journalism of the University of Southern California.
- Being able to tell a good source from a bad source.
An online journalist will mostly do research on the internet, and it can be hard to establish which websites are reliable. It is therefore important that you investigate your digital sources.
- Finding a good image without breaking copyright rules.
Even though images are largely available on the web, it is important to not break any laws when using them. Using public domain images, paying attention to attribution, asking the owner’s permission and checking photo sharing websites can offer solutions to the problems surrounding copyright for images.
- Being a transparant online journalist
If it was important to be a transparent traditional journalist, it is even more important to be one in the online environment. Demonstrating openness and accountability are the key words to being an ethical journalist on the web. Examples of this are noting a correction you make to an article and maintaining open communication with your readers.
- Demonstrating credibility
Don’t take advantage of the option to hide behind your screen, and report bias and inaccurate information. Not including personal opinions, checking facts and supplying links to your sources will help you built credibility as an online journalist.
These tips for ethical online journalists are very handy and applicable. However, I do believe the basic ethical considerations for journalists should be the same, whether in traditional or online journalism.
Like the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics prescribes, journalists should always commit themselves to fairness, independence, honesty, and respect for the rights of others.
As a journalist in the making and hopefully someday a trained and professional example of the trade, I will always take these key points into consideration.