The ethics of online writing

Have you been looking for resources that would ensure you write ethical and effective online content? This infographic contains a combination of reading and video materials that support activists and journalists particularly those who use a range of media technology to tell their stories online. The primary purpose of this resource is to guide online journalists and activists on issues of ethics in online writing.

Eyewitness Media Hub launch Guiding Principles for Journalists

  • Journalists should always consider the physical and emotional welfare of eyewitnesses when communicating with them during a news event.
  • Journalists should be considerate that the eyewitness may have seen something extremely traumatic and/or maybe overwhelmed by the media attention.
  • When requesting permission from an eyewitness to use their content, journalists should be transparent and where possible explain where and when the content might be used. Whether it will be syndicated to other organisations and which organisations they are.
  • When publishing a piece of eyewitness media, journalists should always consider the possible impact on any identifiable person in the video or photo. This also includes the potential impact on the family.
  • Journalists should ask if and how an eyewitness wants to be credited for their content but should explain the potential benefits and drawbacks. It should be explained that crediting can sometimes lead to online abuse or reputational damage.
  • Journalists should work with eyewitnesses to ensure that they are fairly treated and/or compensated when their photos or videos are being used to directly generate revenue.

You can see the full article from Eye Witness Hub on the Guiding Principles for Journalists here.

Excerpts from The Buttery Diary The 5 W’s (and How) of writing for the Web

  • Who is the first of the journalism fundamentals, so you should be reluctant and demanding in agreeing to withhold a person’s identification. Seek documentation and confirmation from other sources, so you don’t have to base your story on unnamed sources. Use unnamed sources only for facts they know first-hand. Opinions, especially criticism of named people, count for nothing when people won’t stand behind their opinions. Learn whether a person is demanding confidentiality because she isn’t confident in the information she is giving you, because it’s just rumor or speculation.
  • What – If your story alleges wrongdoing, attribute the allegations to the authorities or documents that say what the person is accused of. Give the accused an opportunity to respond. What a woman is wearing is not important in a story unless you would tell what a man was wearing in the same situation.
  • When – In many stories, you need to learn when people knew key facts to tell the full story. If you’re covering breaking news, you may post initial stories that are timely but not yet fair. As you get a response from a person who was criticized or gather the facts for a more complete story, be sure to provide play that is fair over time.
  • Where – Be sure to verify addresses and the spellings of venues, communities and other locations.
  • Why Why is an important question to ask when a story is critical one. You need to be fair to people who are criticized in stories and give them a chance to explain and to respond to criticism.
  • How – One of journalism’s most important questions is How do you know that? The essence of verification is finding and evaluating sources. Ask the questions that will help you find the best sources with first-hand knowledge and strong documentation.

You can view the full article from Steve Buttry here.

Online Journalism Ethics: Guidelines from the Conference

Assertions of Ethical Decision-Making in Digital Media

1.) Online publishing has the opportunity to serve audiences in new and meaningful ways. Journalists have an important responsibility to explore that potential as part of their constitutionally protected responsibilities to hold the powerful accountable and to serve as a public watchdog.

2.) Journalism values in such areas as truth, community and democracy will endure only if we embrace dramatic changes in the pressures and competition we face and the products we publish.Journalists should accept the challenge and embrace the opportunity to build new business models that will flourish in an era of digital media. Journalism’s highest values can endure only if they stand on a sound economic foundation. It is essential that the journalists who adhere to those values be proactive — not just reactive — participants in the process of innovation.

3.) Written ethics guidelines based on those values are an essential ingredient in the decision-making required in various forms of emerging media. Such guidelines will be most useful if framed as aspirations as opposed to rules and if compiled or revised with the active participation of the audience. Ethics guidelines should not be considered the exclusive province of those who describe themselves as journalists. Their utility is tied to the act of journalism as opposed to the résumé of its creator.

4.) Transparency is a necessary dimension of the relationship that journalists and news organizations maintain with their audiences. Transparency must be linked with accountability — institutional as well as individual.

5.) Limited resources, the novelty of online publishing or a lack of protocols cannot become an excuse for shoddy work or causing harm.

You can see the full source of this information here.