Online news = a leeway for ethics? 


There is no doubt ethics serves as a key criteria in journalism. In online journalism, there are three portions we as journalists should aim to achieve: accuracy, independence and impartiality, according to ABC News journalist Kellie Riordan. With the ubiquitous nature of online journalism, this has raised questions on what is ethical and what is not.
Obviously, with these new resources come new media outlets. A notable media outlet is Vice News, which serves as an outlet for reporting world affairs. Following online journalism, the outlet has faced criticism following its lack of objectivity in its content. According to Riordan, Vice News does not tell a story like the CNN, it takes a more conversational human angle – a much more “‘street view’, subversive, fly on the wall documentary” angle, and according to Vice news CEO Shane Smith, this is allowed in their workplace to a certain degree.

“We have been accused of being subjective, and yes we are. it’s almost impossible to be objective when going from New York into sub-Saharan Africa into a conflict,” – Shane Smith, CEO of Vice

This style can be highlighted from the news story below:

However, BBC News Panorama Tom Giles says they are the opposite of the change – maintaining they are “prisoners of their own form”. After maintaining objectivity for such a long time, they have continued to stick to it.

In this 21st century, pure objectivity is not as important when there is a plethora of opinions available, according to global news publication Quartz News. Riordan says different perspectives of stories can replace objectivity and that’s A-OK. After all, readers come to read different stories – as long as sources are trustworthy, authoritative and evidence is provided in the stories they read – which leads on to the another important topic, transparency.

Audiences now understand online content to be fluid, work-in-progress news pieces, according to Riordan. Therefore, he says journalists should be transparent and clear to their readers, including corrections where facts were published wrongly. He also suggests a number of ways to showcase this, including…

  • annotations – allowing readers or members of expertise to contribute and comment directly on a specific point rather than journalists
  • hyperlinking – providing accuracy, breadth of perspectives, a link to primary sources
  • signposting – letting readers know a sponsored piece of content

With this, journalism will drive more open-form and fact-driven stories as opposed to those opinionated. Say hello to transparency, but we’ve still got your back, objectivity.


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