Tag Archives: ethics

Facebook: a journalism platform

4 Apr

Honestly, I think the people that utilize Facebook the most for its journalistic possibilities are its everyday users. In the five years I’ve had a Facebook account, I’ve rarely had to go to news websites to find out that people like Whitney Houston or Joe Paterno died, or that Tim Tebow got traded to the New York Jets. Sometimes, though, people constantly updating their status like this frustrates me because many of the statuses are the same.

However, many newspapers now have their own Facebook pages, and even morning talk shows like “Good Morning America” have their own videos and pictures that users can comment on. This is one of the great things about Facebook: It allows for discussion. Because of this capability, journalists should definitely take more advantage of it. Take, for example, CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour. She and other journalists have their own Facebook pages so that people can keep up to date on their stories, and reporters can then include even more elements of their stories onto the pages. In fact, Facebook even has its own page specifically telling journalists how they can use this website efficiently.

However, using social networks for news does have its ethical issues. In my Writing for Mass Communication and Reporting classes, we were told that it was never okay to use a Facebook friend as a source for a story, and I still believe this is true. I do think that finding sources through Facebook friends is not a bad idea if it is a person you truly do not know. Facebook is full of friendly users willing to help people out.

Journalists should definitely keep their opinions to themselves, even when social media allows us to express our thoughts on pretty much any issue.

I have used Facebook extensively to promote my blog. Each week when I post an entry, I write a one-sentence summary about it, along with the attached link, and people end up reading it. It has helped me out a lot with readership.


Unborn fetus: person or not?

4 Apr

The story about a grandfather involved in arson that killed his pregnant daughter, son-in-law and grandson is a difficult case. Whenever a controversial issue is involved in a story, nobody ends up agreeing with each other on how it should be reported.

I think that, no matter how reporters Smith and Shah handled this story, it would invoke some sort of complaint with how the “three vs. four killed” situation was handled. I would say, though, in this case, to follow the Tribune’s stylebook. At least by doing this, you let the public (and the editor) know that you were strictly following the stylebook’s rules, which do not consider an unborn child or fetus to be a person. This is probably the only way for this story to remain semi-free of bias. Newspapers have stylebooks exactly for difficult situations like these, especially involving morality and the public interest.

However, the headline and the text clash with each if these rules are followed. Changing the headline to something like “Grandfather charged in blazed that killed relatives” makes the headline a little more general and not as specific, although this may not be as SEO-friendly as the original.

What confuses me, though, is how editor Timothy McNulty reacted. Although I agree with him when he says that journalists “should recognize their weak spots and moments of unintentional bias when dealing with religion and morality,” he then almost counteracts that by saying the headline doesn’t agree with the story. He should probably have used more care in this matter before sending it out to print.

Live tweeting unethical if subjects are named

14 Mar

Andy Boyle’s piece couldn’t exactly be called journalism. However, it certainly appeals to human interest, and people are bound to read Boyle’s account of what happened. As far as ethics goes, I think it would have been a bit unethical to post this if the couple’s names were mentioned. Still, since Boyle took pictures of the couple, they may be able to be identified by a Twitter user, although the likeliness of this is small since we don’t know which Burger King Boyle is tweeting from. It may not be tasteful to be publish this, but Boyle’s “storytweets” are definitely likely to be retweeted.

Similarly, last year actor and comedian Donald Glover tweeted a picture of a couple hooking up at a Bank of America ATM. Although Glvoer did not identify who the couple was, police could find this picture on Twitter and possibly find out who the perpetrators are. However, since the picture quality is poor, the couple may not be able to be identified and it could just be a good laugh for Twitter users.