Margaret Sullivan: “There are ethical standards at Fox News, we’re told. But just what they are, or how they’re enforced, is an enduring mystery. The network can’t seem to figure out whether it’s an arm of the Trump administration or a news network — or somehow, impossibly, both.”
Every awards show has its critics, but President Donald Trump’s much ballyhooed “Fake News Awards” has drawn attention from a group beyond the usual peanut gallery: ethics experts who say the event could run afoul of White House rules and, depending on what exactly the president says during the proceedings, the First Amendment.
Earlier this month, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a serious hand injury while celebrating Independence Day. He was taken to a hospital in Miami, was treated and reportedly required surgery. ESPN’s Adam Schefter learned that Pierre-Paul’s injured finger had to be amputated, and tweeted a picture of what he said was the football player’s medical chart, which included what appeared to be confidendial medical information. That set off a firestorm of debate over the implications.
An NAB session outlines how to apply traditional journalistic ethics to the use of social media in both collecting and distributing information. The discussion focused on best practices for using social media as part of the profession, even if there is no way of formally encoding them. “We are not giving you all the answers,” says SPJ’s Andrew Seaman, who recently participated in updating SPJ’s Code of Ethic to extend to social media. “The only absolute we have in the code is do not plagiarize.”
The journalism profession is trying to reduce speeding on the information superhighway. The Society of Professional Journalists adopted a new code of ethics this month and the main difference between the revamped code and and the one that had been in place since 1996 is that the new version addresses the alarming tendency to rush stuff onto the Web as soon as we hear about it, without taking the time to make sure it’s true.
How a ride for a story subject from a reporter at the Houston CBS affiliate has some other journalists seeing red.
Social media, particularly Twitter, is testing journalistic standards by pushing out large amounts of often unconfirmed information that reporters are expected to compete with. An RTDNA panel discusses how journalists can protect themselves from getting swept up in the frenzy.
When Gannett’s NBC affliate in Knoxville must make a tough ethical call or simply decide what’s appropriate, it uses Facebook to see what its viewers think. “Instead of us all pretending we know what the viewers are thinking, we should ask them,” says News Director Christy Moreno.
School shootings, especially the 2012 attack in Newtown, Conn., have prompted not just a reassessment of safety measures, but also a rash of efforts by TV news organizations in recent months to assess the effectiveness of safety protocols. But these episodes have raised broader questions about the ethical and practical implications of this type of reporting. In some cases, things can go disturbingly wrong.