WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Rules of Online Journalism

Apr 29, 2014

The Shop Talk panelists discuss whether the rules of journalism need to altered because of the rapid changes brought about by digital platforms.

American Journalism Review reported the Society of Professional Journalists has proposed changes to its Code of Ethics to reflect the rise in social media.  The code was last revised in 1996.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said it’s a noteworthy issue because the SPJ’s code is possibly the best known in the business. But she questioned some of the changes. She said the same principles should apply no matter the platform. 

Panelist Jasmine Crighton is also surprised by some of the proposed changes. One eliminates the practice of withholding the names of juveniles and sex crime victims. Another change deletes a line that cautions journalists about naming criminal suspects before the filing of charges. 

Crighton feels journalists should raise the bar instead of lowering it.

Panelist Rich Egger joined in questioning some of the proposed changes. He feels the revisions are simply a bow to pressure from people who want to report on digital platforms but don’t want to follow the rules of good journalism.