Ethics in New Media

This article from Poynter highlights issues regarding the ethics of New Media and a conference held about those issues by The Pointer Institute and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

I thought this was a great read and recommend all of you to check it out. It’s a tad lengthy, but the content is worth it. It covers issues related to old forms of journalism and how those issues cross over into the digital age. Two issues the article covers at length are privacy and content ownership.

In today’s day and age, as the article shortly states, Internet content can be traced back to its creators – this can be good and bad. We discussed in class how, although it’s not a good idea upload blatantly incriminating or reputation damaging content to Facebook or Twitter, less overtly controversial material is likely to be buried under hypothetical tons of new emerging content. One thing we didn’t consider, however, is the very real threat of online companies who make their profits by monetizing public information and organizing it in a readable, presentable way for law enforcement agencies, publications and even potential employers.

It’s a slimy business practice – comparable to extortion in my opinion – and is legal. The article brings into question whether or not journalists with integrity should use these resources in their research. I think that this is acceptable, believe it or not. It is public information, completely legal to research and possess. That said, that brings me to a personal dilemma in that, while I see no issue with public records being so easily available – I do take issue with the scumbag way some of these companies that are profiting from it. If journalists don’t agree with the way these companies are conducting their business, are they partially responsible by using the service? How do we make a fair and efficient public records system designed specifically for the web?

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