When we put out the call to J-school educators for the first round of experiments to #hackcurriculum for the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, we already knew we were hitting a rich vein just waiting to be mined.
We saw the momentum in our Facebook Educators group, where a virtual cohort of nearly 600 digitally hungry and committed academics exchange rapid-fire ideas on favorite tools, curriculum tips, job openings, how-tos and student motivation. We heard it in the halls of our annual conference, where academic attendance is climbing and more and more mentors compete to work with the best and brightest in the Student Newsroom. And we hear it in the frustration of dedicated, multitasking teachers who are searching for the means to creatively engage their students in the community and embed them in local media.
Most journalists understand the importance of an ethics code. But in our fast-changing profession, not everyone agrees on exactly what the code should say.
In an effort to bridge this gap, ONA is hard at work on a “Build Your Own Ethics Code” project, an outgrowth of the new News Ethics Committee. We’re curating a toolkit to help news outlets, as well as individual bloggers/journalists, create guidelines that respond to their own concepts of journalism.
An international group of about 25 contributors from news outlets, academia and social networks volunteered to write or review parts of the project, each taking a different topic. The first draft is nearly ready, and we’ll be opening it up for virtual crowdsourcing for comments in May at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy.
Yesterday, we shared the mission of an ONA working group that aims to tackle the five key ethical challenges of social and digital newsgathering, starting with the first two, Verification and Accuracy, and Contributors’ Safety (read the post here). Today, we pick up where we left off:
3. Rights and legal issues
When do we have the right to share user-generated content on our platforms — to publish it, to distribute it, to embed it?
There’s a growing body of law around what is and isn’t fair game for news organizations to use. But it can be confusing, and every case is a little different. Also, there may be circumstances where the legal right to use someone’s content may not mean it’s the right thing to do, given the value of the work that’s been created.
Whether covering a plane crash or a war, the Oscars or the Olympics, today’s journalist needs to carry an oversized bag of reporting tools to gather the news accurately and effectively. And you’d better leave lots of room for social tools, given the powerful role social newsgathering now plays in discovering important information and content, especially when news breaks where there isn’t a professional journalist in sight.
The opportunities presented by these tools are endless and exciting. But a news landscape with deep social integration is also riddled with ethical concerns. So how can a journalist robustly engage in social newsgathering while remaining loyal to the central principles of ethical journalism?
ONA welcomes our new Digital Director
We’re delighted to introduce Trevor Knoblich, who joined us this week in the role of Digital Director.
Trevor comes to us from FrontlineSMS, a Knight News Challenge winner, where as Media Project Director he built relationships with journalists and media companies seeking text-based mobile solutions worldwide and developed training and media-specific products for use in developing countries.
His prior experience saw him traveling around the globe to coordinate emergency response for Lutheran World Relief, and doing investigative reporting as Associate Editor for the Risk Policy Report, Inside Washington Publishers. He holds a BS in Journalism, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Ohio State University.