Why Should We Even Care About Journalistic Ethics in Social Media?

Jenn Fowler pointed me to a piece on Social Media Ethics for Journalists by Gina Chen which starts out with a statement from Online Journalism Review:

“Journalistic ethics are pretty much the same online as in print or broadcast: Don’t plagiarize; tell readers how you got your information; don’t accept gifts or money for coverage; tell the truth; be honest.”

Well, if everyone operated under those codes, ethics in the digital medium wouldn’t be an issue. While the experts and leaders in the community are figuring out a standard, normal people like you and me who participate in daily social media activities must ask and answer certain questions to ourselves.


  1. Do I trust who is sharing the information?
  2. What makes me want to reshare?
  3. When should I check my sources?
  4. Where do I share this informtion?
  5. Why do I share this information?


Why should this even matter to me?

Think about it… how often do you ReTweet and share articles you come across on Twitter and or Facebook? I don’t know about you, but I see RTs all the time and my Facebook is inundated by shares. How many people do your shares reach?

Last year, I said data is democratizing…and it is. More so than ever. News sources are becoming more and more digitized. Information is so simple to publish, and data spreads like wildfire. Journalists from your favorite bloggers to trusted major publications race against each other to break exclusive stories and scramble daily to appear on leader boards of headline aggregating sites. When speed is required, there will be mistakes — we are all human, even journalists.

As much as I want to trust the sources I once did, those days are long gone. Past achievements of journalists should be respected, but their credential(s) and / or pedigree(s) must not equate to automatic credibility.

Which leaves decisions up to us.

Us meaning you, me, everyone who participates in content sharing communities such as Facebook, Twitter, et al., to think before drawing conclusions or re-sharing the “hot topic”. After all, it is up to us, the readers, who reshare or RT that can make or break stories.

So my question is: What is your credibility criteria? How do you determine which sites or Twitter accounts do you follow? Trust the most?

*portions of piece taken from my original post here — just thought I’d bring it up again because I feel like I’ve been preaching about this forever.


One thought on “Why Should We Even Care About Journalistic Ethics in Social Media?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s