Virginia Tech: more on that ethics question

I’m still not entirely comfortable with the way blogs/MySpace have been raided by journalists, despite Tony Harcup’s ‘public domain’ defence in my earlier post. The BBC Manchester blog puts it well:

“I’m told by people with years of experience in news journalism that there is nothing at all unique about dozens, perhaps hundreds, of journalists working the phones, sending emails and doing whatever they can to secure stories from the victims of tragic incidents such as this. Nothing unique, that is, other than the fact that because many of those approaches, including a particularly unfortunate one asking the blogger to “shoot” the journalist an email, are, like the blog itself, published there in public for everyone to see. And guess what, just as some LiveJournal users were upset at the use of the post by the mainstream media, some journalists weren’t too happy when they saw that lots of blogs were now quoting them.

“Onemanandhisdog makes an interesting point about the public yet private nature of LiveJournal posts that, I think, is quite worthy of discussion here. He writes:

“”I can’t help wondering if the nature of Livejournal is partly behind the outrage….the characteristic of Livejournal that triggered the creation of this blog was its community nature. Its system of “friends” and the “friends page” means that most Livejournals are read through Livejournal – it’s for talking to a circle of friends, not to the world at large. Barging into that community and asking for comment feels not unlike barging into a pub and asking somebody for comments.”

Now sure, journalism has a long and dishonourable tradition of doorstopping the victims of tragedies. But in the digital age, the communities around the victims have voices to express their outrage at the media’s behaviour – and that’s what we’re seeing here.”

“I think it’s a valid point. People can and do use LiveJournal, Myspace, MSN spaces and the dozens of other social networking sites to publish content online. But, for many of them, it’s likely they do so only with the intention of reaching an audience consisting of their friends.”

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5 thoughts on “Virginia Tech: more on that ethics question

  1. Pingback: Virginia Tech shooting: another citizen journalism milestone? « Online Journalism Blog

  2. Pingback: Some conflicting lessons on journalism ethics re: forums, social networks, mailing lists and blogs « Online Journalism Blog

  3. Pingback: 1000 things I’ve learned about blogging | Online Journalism Blog

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