Posted by: practicalglobalrelations | January 31, 2010

Participatory Journalism and Social Media

The ethical issues that journalists and PR praciticioners face are endless. One of the more recent issues is that of participatory journalism and the world of social media; specifically the blogosphere.

In an ethics class that I took from UO professor Thomas Bivins, we discussed participatory journalism and how this has created an ethical issue in the world of journalism.

Participatory, or “citizen,” journalism is a new media that has increased significantly with them rising amount of internet users today. There is an ongoing debate regarding participatory journalists, such as bloggers, and whether or not they should be classified as “real” journalists. The fact of the matter is that blogging, and other forms of participatory journalism, is becoming a phenomenon and it becoming harder to not participate.

One of the problems with participatory journalism is that everyone is a writer. Anyone can upload videos on YouTube or post photos on their Facebook page; but As Bivins points out, when does audience participation translate into journalism? Some people say that being a journalist must involve “original reporting” and have some sort of editorial filter. Can’t the readers represent some sort of editor? This is where a fine line begins between opinion and news.

The world of blogging is different because the transparency is so difficult. Participatory journalists often link their blogs to stories that are produced by the media. Credibility and trust are two standards that we expect of journalists; however, this isn’t always the case with citizen journalism. Journalists follow a set of ethical standards that lead them toward the right actions. Bivins points out that bloggers, and other “new media,” need to set their own standards keeping in mind their obligation to their readers.

Our society has experienced a huge technology transition in the past decade and this is definitely creating a change in journalism, as well as adding to the debate regarding participatory journalists. I think this is a positive shift for the journalism and public relations industries, it may just take a while for the positives to outweigh the difficult transition of having a countless number of voices.

This image is a product of Google Images.


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