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Journalism Values & Ethics in New Media

Journalists at a Poynter Institute Journalism Values & Ethics in New Media Conference in 1997 developed a series of protocols that editors and online journalists might use as guidelines for framing their own policies and procedures on issues related to Content Reliability; Database Information; Linking; Potentially Offensive or Harmful Content; Journalistic Integrity and Commercial Pressure. Here is a summary of their guidelines.

Journalists at a Poynter Institute Journalism Values & Ethics in New Media Conference in 1997 developed a series of protocols that editors and online journalists might use as guidelines for framing their own policies and procedures on issues related to Content Reliability; Database Information; Linking; Potentially Offensive or Harmful Content; Journalistic Integrity and Commercial Pressure. Here is a summary of their guidelines:
1. Online Content Reliability Guidelines
This site strives to provide accurate, reliable information to its users.
We pledge to:
• Ensure information on our Web site has been edited to a standard equal to our print or broadcast standards;
• Notify our online users if newsworthy materials are posted from outside our site and may not have been edited or reviewed to meet our standards for
reliability;
• Warn users when they are leaving our site that they may be entering a site that has not embraced the content reliability protocol.
2. The Ethical Use of Database Information
It is our policy that we will make data available in a responsible way consistent with our organization’s mission and journalistic values.
Specifically, we should:
• Be sensitive to individuals’ privacy rights when compiling and making databases available.
• Particularize data only when public right to know outweighs individual privacy concerns.
• Reveal the authorship/ ownership, scope, validity and limitations of the data we make available to the public.
3. Linking
To maintain our site’s credibility, links should be clear, responsible and reflect journalistic values. To accomplish that, we adopt the following guidelines:
• Links should be clearly identified as either editorial or commercial, meaning links that the site has received money to include.
• All sites referred to in text, either by URL or site name, will be reviewed for taste, relevance, currency and accuracy.
• Before linking to a potentially offensive site, editors should explore alternatives, including increased storytelling, listing URLs in text, and posting intermediate pages providing a synopsis of the offensive materials.
4. Editorial Control of Potentially Offensive or Harmful Content
Our challenge is to maximize information and participation while minimizing offensive or harmful content. In order to strike this balance, online news rganizations should formulate standards regarding permissible language and behavior for our interactive areas. These standards should be made known to users and should be applied consistently and fairly.
5. Journalistic Integrity and Commercial Pressures
We understand that the technology of the New Media is evolving at a rapid pace
and that, as a result, new advertising models, including tracking technologies, are being drawn and will continue to evolve. Therefore, we recommend editorial content and reader privacy be protected from commercial intrusion in the following ways:
• The audience will be able to clearly distinguish between editorial content and advertising, including advertorials and other advertising models as they emerge.
• News organizations that enter such partnerships will be diligent in the protection of their primary contribution, which is independent reportage.
• Current and future tracking technologies (such as “cookies”) will be used responsibly so as not to intrude upon or in any way violate the privacy of the reader.

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