Ethics and Credibility

Newspaper Blogger Crosses Ethical Line

Ethics and Credibility, The Weblog Blog
The Houston Chronicle's Steve Olafson has been writing a Weblog that criticizes his own newspaper and offers opinions on news that he covered. But rather than be honest with his readers and editors, he did so anonymously, under the pseudonym "Banjo Jones," The (Clute, Texas) Facts reports. It's generally not acceptable for journalists to spout opinions on issues they cover -- but doing so anonymously makes this a serious ethical violation. The Weblog has since been shut down, but for the curious, here's a cached version of it. He has been fired.

Did Reporter Go Too Far?

Ethics and Credibility
Nelson Hernandez, a reporter for The Washington Post, posted a message on the online discussion board of a competing daily, The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., asking readers who knew the suspects or victims of a murdered couple to call him with tips or sources "to build a complete picture." Free Lance-Star Web Editor Chris Muldrow posted a reply on the board calling it "unprofessional," but Hernandez told E&P, "anything on the Internet is open." Nothing he did was unethical. Some might consider it unsportsmanlike, though others might simply call him enterprising. Read his post and the response here.

Virginian Pilot Ethics Policy

Ethics and Credibility
One of the few public newspaper policies with online-specific components. They include: Use of Internet sources • Verify all facts reported from an online site unless you are confident of its source. For instance, the official Pulitzer Prize Web site can be regarded as a reliable source for names of past winners; a trade association site may not be. • If using a source via Internet or e-mail, verify the source by phone or in person. Make certain a communication is genuine before using it. • Generally, credit photos and graphics downloaded from the Internet. Usually, generic mug shots and icons do not need credits. Researching the Internet • Internet-derived information should be attributed, just as we would information from any book, magazine or other publication. O...

Digital journalism credibility study

Ethics and Credibility, Online News and Convergence Tips, Research and Studies, Resources, Tips and Tools
The Online News Association released the complete results of its digital journalism credibility study. The good news is Internet users believe online news is about as credible as news from more traditional sources (13 percent cite the Net as their most trusted source for news). The bad news is journalists themselves have less respect for their online counterparts. Other findings include: Younger people are more likely to say online news is credible; and Americans are using online news in addition to traditional mediums rather than instead of. Read the study here. Study co-director Howard Finberg elaborates on the findings on and co-director Martha Stone suggests interactivity and transparency are key to building trust.

Tampa Tribune Ethics Policy

Convergence, Ethics and Credibility, Resources
One of the few newspaper policies with online-specific components, from one of the most converged newsrooms in America. They include: • The Internet's unique characteristics do not lower the standards by which we evaluate, gather and disseminate information. • Material gathered online should be verified. • Material disseminated online should be solidly confirmed. • The ability to change information around the clock does not lessen the need for accuracy.