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Ethics in the Digital Age

by on March 12, 2013

In a recent article from the International Business Times, Christopher Zara brings up an interesting point, several actually. He discusses the idea that mistrust in the media has been going on for a long time, but that the digital age has brought more attention to that issue. He brings up a question – is there an increasing number of ethical dilemmas (and wrong decisions) happening in the media because of “sensationalist news”, or is there simply more participation from readers, making it seem as though there are more wrong decisions being made. Before the internet, it was much more difficult for readers to voice their opinion about journalists and the ethical decisions being made, but does that mean that there was not discontentment among the consumers? Is there a higher need for “sensationalist news” today than there was back in the days of news moguls like William Randolph Hearst? According to Zara, the endless phone calls to ethical hotlines simply means that readers are participating more because it is now easier to do so, and isn’t that a good thing?

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2 Comments
  1. I think the internet sets up a catalyst for journalists to either benefit or be harmed. A few decades ago this sort of dilemma didn’t exist, since the internet wasn’t around. However, with many recent developments in technology, the internet has created a whole new way for journalists to connect with readers. However, I think there is a lot of mistrust growing between readers and journalists since the internet has to ability to pick up a story and move very quickly with it. This post reminded me of the Newtown Elementary School shootings, and how the media coverage of the tragic event was being corrected every hour. A lot of people blamed the internet for spreading the incorrect coverage of the event so quickly and to a large audience, but I think it it the reporters responsibility to know better. If officials are releasing information that they seem to be unsure about or sound rushed while making random statements about an event, then reporters should wait to get confirmed, trustworthy information before publishing content on the event anywhere, especially on the internet.

  2. Connor McCarthy permalink

    I think it is true that the internet has led to more accountability in the media and that ethics in journalism hasn’t necessarily been declining but instead the awareness of such ethical mistakes is increasing.For example, if the New York Times cover photo of a man pushed onto the tracks as an oncoming subway train is speeding towards him took place 20 years ago it would not receive half the attention it did in today’s digital world.However,the article also points out that a recent Gallup poll found that 60% of Americans have “little or no trust in the media’s ability to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.”, the highest ever. I think a majority of this can be contributed to the expansion of the term “media.” At one time, the media consisted only of newspapers and broadcast news, true journalists who feel an obligation to uphold ethical standards. Now, the term media has expanded to blogs, gossip websites, online pundits, and dozens of news outlets such as Fox News who lack certain journalistic integrity.The public feels far less confident in this entire media world to provide the straight news,which is understandable given the hundreds of opinions coming from tons of different angles, especially with many members of this media having questionable journalism credentials. So yes, the digital world has increased accountability whether it’s politicians, athletes or in the media, but the term media has expanded greatly recently leading to distrust in the public.

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