Two interesting blog posts this morning, flagged by Jay Rosen on Twitter, have me thinking about what it is I’m teaching:
My experience has not been unique, but it has spanned the life of this newly evolved species of reporter. I’ve had some time to think about what effect doing this day and night has had on the practice of journalism, on the quality of news-gathering and dissemination, and on the people who do it. I’ve written quite often on the first two subjects and participated in many discussions about them. All I will say here is that the mere fact that online reporters feel they must participate in endless discussions about these subjects is something new, a consequence of the medium, and is one reason why it can be so exhausting to do primarily web journalism. The feedback loop is relentless, punishing and is predicated on the assumption that the reporter’s motivation is wrong. Unfortunately, the standard for defining oneself as a web journalist depends upon establishing a certain credibility with a particular audience of critics. Responding to complaints about content and structure and bias is part of the way one establishes that credibility.
I don’t like long ethics policies for newsrooms. Too many of them exist mostly to document reasons to fire people. Too many of them are mostly lists of do’s and don’ts (usually more don’ts), rather than helpful guides to making ethical decisions in situations that aren’t as simple as the policies sometimes make them. For organizations, I prefer statements of basic principles:
- The Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s social media policy.
- Mandy Jenkins’ Social media guidelines to live by.
Hmmmmm… I have no problem with change. Journalism’s history is hardly static. What it was 20 years ago, what it is today, what it will be tomorrow? Different. Challenging. Frustrating. Exhilarating. And in the hands of my students — the new generation. I’m anxious to see what they will do with it.