Tag Archives: Virginia Tech

Facebook, Dunblane and a 2 page apology from the Express – a lesson in online journalism ethics


2 weeks ago the Scottish Sunday Express led with this cover story (PDF) on how the survivors of the Dunblane massacre were turning 18 and – shock, horror – drinking and making rude gestures. Reporter Paula Murray, it seemed, had “managed to inveigle her way into a Facebook friendship with teenagers from the town and write a salacious piece about their “antics”, based on information culled from their profiles.” You can read it in full here (text) and also here (PDF). The original was quickly taken down.

So far, so middle market. But what happened next was an abject lesson for the Express – and Paula – in how things have changed for journalists who will do anything for a ‘story’. Continue reading

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Ten ways journalism has changed in the last ten years (Blogger’s Cut)

A few weeks ago I wrote an 800-word piece for UK Press Gazette on how journalism has changed in the past decade. My original draft was almost 1200 words – here then is the original ‘Blogger’s Cut’ for your delectation…

The past decade has seen more change in the craft of journalism than perhaps any other. Some of the changes have erupted into the mainstream; others have nibbled at the edges. Paul Bradshaw counts the ways…

From a lecture to a conversation

Perhaps the biggest and most widely publicised change in journalism has been the increasing involvement of – and expectation of involvement by – the readers/audience. Yes, readers had always written letters, and occasionally phoned in tips, but the last ten years have seen the relationship between publisher and reader turn into something else entirely.

You could say it started with the accessibility of email, coupled with the less passive nature of the internet in general, as readers, listeners and watchers became “users”. But the change really gained momentum with… Continue reading

Some conflicting lessons on journalism ethics re: forums, social networks, mailing lists and blogs

A recent discussion on the NUJ New Media mailing list prompted me to jot down some thoughts on the current private-public confusion thrown up by online communication channels. I think some education is required here on both sides.

Lesson 1: It’s public. Whatever you may think about codes of conducts, etc. etc. if you say something on a forum you should be aware that it may be quoted, that it may be indexed by search engines, databases, etc and potentially findable. You cannot rely on people’s good manners. So be careful what you say, or be prepared to stand by what you say.

Lesson 2: It’s private. Journalists got a lot of flak for wandering into blogs and forums after Virginia Tech because they saw it as being ‘in the public domain’ and therefore ethical (Tony Harcup had this view when I spoke to him at the time). But people using those platforms have a different view of what is ‘public domain’. So be courteous and sensitive.

An addendum: legal issues are still to be resolved around much of this. Employers and lecturers who look at people’s social networking profiles could be breaking the law; Facebook ads might be doing the same.

This post is part of a ‘blog carnival’. Read more at CarnivalOfJournalism.com.