Radiolab’s recent podcast The Buried Bodies Case is a brilliant piece of storytelling. The producers’ newsgathering; the choices of elements and how they are arranged; the tight editing and use of silence — all these make for a masterclass in longform narrative that any journalism student would benefit from exploring.
But it’s not that which prompted me to blog about it.
The content of the podcast is perhaps the best exploration of journalist-source ethics I’ve heard, without it actually being about journalists.
Spoiler alert: if you want to enjoy the podcast without knowing where it goes, then stop here, listen to it, and then come back. Continue reading
If you’re cross-posting material online, being paid to include links in a post, or linking to material which raises ethical challenges around taste and decency, there are two snippets of HTML you should be aware of. Here’s a quick guide…
Cross posting: use canonical links
It’s not uncommon to post a copy of your work on your personal blog, or for someone to ask if they can republish on their site something you have written on yours. Continue reading
Last week I said we needed an ethical code for dealing with hacking leaks, and promised to explore that.
Now yet another site – “casual sex and cheating network” Ashley Madison – has been hacked and the results leaked, so I thought I’d better deliver.
How do you come up with an ethical framework for dealing with hacked documents? Firstly, it’s useful to look at what concerns are raised when journalists use them.
Looking at previous reporting based on leaked documents these break down into three broad categories:
- Firstly, that the information was ‘stolen’ (method)
- Secondly, that the motivation behind obtaining the information was tainted (source)
- And thirdly, that the information represents an invasion of privacy (effect)
Put another way: people are generally concerned with how the leaked information was obtained, why, and to what effect. Continue reading
James King’s account of a year “ripping off the web” at DailyMail.com is the latest in an ongoing drip-drip of uncomfortable revelations about how publishers and broadcasters do their work.
The media may have been the Fourth Estate; but blogs have been performing their role as ‘Estate 4.5′ (as Jane Singer put it) for some time now, opening up publishers, journalists’ and editors’ working practices to public scrutiny on a regular basis.
Two things strike me about King’s account, however.
The Brits are coming
The first is to wonder whether a young UK journalist would ever have written the story that King did. Or, perhaps, why none ever has. Continue reading
After reporting on online journalism for some time you tire quickly of people saying “this is not journalism“. On Tuesday Brian C. Jones leveled this accusation at the podcast sensation Serial:
“Sarah Koenig, the lead producer and narrator … used the tools of legitimate reporting — the right to public records, access to experts, the goodwill of interviewees, compelling soundbites, stylish storytelling … — to intrude into and disrupt real lives for the fun of it. It’s voyeurism, not journalism.”
Serial follows Koenig as she attempts to get to the bottom of a murder conviction she suspects may be a miscarriage of justice. The fact that she does not know whether it is or not is the basis of Jones’s misgivings:
“Real-life stories hurt the peopled involved … When the reporting phase is exhausted, it’s crucial to understand what kind of a story it is, and maybe whether it is a story at all.”
I think Jones makes a mistake common to those used to traditional journalistic production practices: firstly to mistake the subject for the purpose; and secondly to misunderstand modern journalism techniques. Continue reading
This is the last in a series of extracts from a draft book chapter on ethics in data journalism. Others have looked at how ethics of accuracy play out in data journalism projects; culture clashes, privacy, user data and collaboration; mass data gathering; and protection of sources. This is a work in progress, so if you have examples of ethical dilemmas, best practice, or guidance, I’d be happy to include it with an acknowledgement.
Budget Forecasts, Compared With Reality
The ethics of automation and feeds
Since Adrian Holovaty built ChicagoCrime.org in 2005 to automatically update a map with police crime statistics, automation has been an important element of data journalism. Few news organisations have guidelines on automation, but the BBC’s guidelines (2013) on video feeds do provide a framework. Continue reading