Journalism and Social Media

I attended an interesting panel discussion Tuesday about journalism ethics in the age of social (or new) media. It was sponsored by the Alabama Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and The Birmingham News was kind enough to provide the forum space.

Some of the discussion focused on how we, as journalists, use social media. Facebook came up a lot. For example, what do we do about friend requests when that person is a source or potential source? If we deny that person, we should deny everybody. But if we let the person into our Facebook world, then we can’t refuse anyone. It’s a tough call.
And here’s another issue regarding Facebook. What kind of information do we, as journalists, put on it? Should we put our entire lives on it? Is commentary on political issues taboo? Can our credibility be damaged by comments that some of our “friends” post on our walls?
Another major topic of discussion focused on the online forums that allow readers to post their own thoughts about the news of the day. Should anonymity be allowed, or should those who leave comments be required to identify themselves?
al.com allows for anonymous comments. Part of their reasons for doing this is to allow for a free, unfettered flow of opinion. Granted, there’s a lot of trash comments on such forums, but an al.com employee told us that allowing anonymity is worth it when reading the sometimes lucid and informed perspectives that readers provide. There is concern that, by requiring identification, some people who can offer interesting perspectives on issues will decline to do so because of various professional or personal concerns.
This panel discussion raised a ton of questions — which was great. It’s exactly the kind of discussion that newsrooms and classrooms should be conducting nationwide.
Comments
One Response to “Journalism and Social Media”
  1. Glad you were there. Enjoy Texas!Chris Roberts

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