The Ethical Dilemma: Social Media and News Reporting

I consistently check my privacy setting on social media (probably about once a month). People can learn a lot of information about you from social media. I want to protect myself and am selective about who I want to see my information. I believe this is important because of the situation discussed below…

In news reporting the phrase “no guts, no glory” holds a lot of value, at least in my personal opinion. There is a line in journalism that separates average journalists from devout journalists. Devout journalists are willing to go the extra mile and get information, to give their audience something different from other news outlets and to earn their trust.

I applaud these journalists. They put themselves in dangerous situations. They devote their whole lives to covering stories. Does utilizing social media make their stories better or is social media just a nuance in today’s culture that should be observed and not reported?

To me these seem like easy questions to answer. Of course I would use social media, I see it used in news stories all the time. The difference between these social posts and the one in question is that these posts are on public profiles. This is situation brings up a whole new arena of debate in social media. Mapplinks-Post-1

Seeing as the situation presented in this week’s lecture deals with murder I believe I would handle social media with extreme care. Like many mentioned in the debate I would investigate all possible resources before confronting the suspect on social media. I would see if we had mutual friends and try to attain as much information about this person from our “friends.” “Friending” this person and using their content would be the last thing I would do. It would not make me comfortable and I would let my bosses at my outlet know.

The great thing about social media and today’s culture is that we can learn from other’s “mistakes”. This is acutally a non-fiction incident that occurred back in 2009. The reporter of this story “friended” the suspect on Facebook, got leads, and then asked to interview the subject. The subject was upset and this made the reporter feel as though she used her new Facebook “friend.” She said she regretted using Facebook as a reporting tool.

What do you think? Is this reporter “soft?” Do feelings and ethics matter in reporting or is it all about the facts? What would you have done?

How can social media social media outlets help users control their content? I like that Facebook gives you the option to choose who you want to see published content. I believe they should make this feature more prevalent. I would also love to see them alert users more effectively when privacy setting are changes. For instance, make users look at privacy settings as the homescreen when changes are made and accept the changes before they are able to get to their newsfeed. This would force us to re-evaluate who sees what.

How can professionals learn how to use social media effectively but still respect privacy? I believe the murder story mentioned in this week’s lecture really put things in perspective to me. If someone has a public profile and willing posts content for all to see then by all means use it. If it’s private it remains private.

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One thought on “The Ethical Dilemma: Social Media and News Reporting

  1. Thanks Alexis. In terms of privacy generally…what do you think sites like Facebook can do to make users more aware of the control they can take?

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