Instead of having an adversarial stance toward those with power, journalists are friends (sometimes with benefits) of those who wield it. That’s always been the case to some extent, but now there isn’t even the pretense of trying to be an outsider. “Objectivity” has come to mean uncritically regurgitating quotes from a couple of “sources” or “unnamed officials” the reporter has relationships with and leaving it to the reader to figure out who’s up to no good.
Charles Davis, VICE, Survey Says: Journalists are Old White Cowards.
Researchers Lars Willnat and David H. Weaver from Indiana University recently published their findings in the report "The American Journalist in the Digital Age" based on interviews with over 1,000 American journalists working in all different fields. The results, including how they feel about controversial reporting practices, their job autonomy, and job satisfaction, are quite surprising when compared to survey results from 10 and even 30 years ago.
Words and phrases are fundamental building blocks of language and culture, much as genes and cells are to the biology of life. And words are how we express ideas, so tracing their origin, development and spread is not merely an academic pursuit but a window into a society’s intellectual evolution.
We received a question some time ago from theinsightfulmouse which went like this:
I am planning an undergraduate thesis on the effects of technology on journalism ethics and looking to narrow my topic. Do you all have any ideas or suggestions of interesting, complex issues to research relating to journalism, ethics and technology?
Well, insightful mouse, there is a universe of interesting questions in the realm of journalism ethics, especially regarding online journalism. We’ll offer you some starting points for research rather than fleshed out ideas, because those will very much depend on your personal interests and investments.
You might like to search our Tumblr archive for ethics posts. We’ve written, for example, about the ethics of news vs. reviews, privacy on social media, linking, curation, and Instagram, all of which are debates that have since developed and could use more digging. Also see our transparency tag, which is something that you can deep dive into for a number of questions. Other great places to explore for ideas are the Public Editor’s Journal over at the NY Times, and Poynter’s Everyday Ethics.
Very useful (and fun, if you geek out over this stuff like me) is reading the ethics guidelines of various news organizations (here is a great list), many of which address online journalism. NPR has a great ethics handbook in which the visual journalism section deals with issues of digital attribution and manipulation (not necessarily the most compelling research topic, but useful to bookmark if you’re a journalist). Finally, and arguably the mecca of these questions, can be found in this discussion that Poynter hosted on journalism ethics in the digital age, on which a book is also in the works—I wrote a reaction here. The people involved are also key people you might want to reach out to help focus your ideas.
You did ask this question some time ago, so if you’ve already narrowed down a topic, do share it with us! —Jihii
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