As we delve into the ethical practices for journalists in this digital age, it’s necessary to look at how journalists are communicating via social platforms. Eric Carvin, social media editor for The Associated Press explained that journalists SHOULD follow or friend a source- how else are they going to keep up with relevant information? However, if he/she works for an impartial news organization, they MUST also follow or friend a source on both sides of the issue.
Journalists and public relations professionals have to be critical consumers of the news. Journalists have to know what’s going on outside of their beat to build an unbiased and respectful reputation. I think the same goes for public relations professionals. I must read not only about my client but about my client’s competition too.
Reputation is critical because online is forever (and so is Snapchat). It can ruin you instantaneously.
“I can’t trash a local business on my Facebook page; I can’t spread false or misleading information; I can’t pretend to be someone I’m not while reporting; I can’t insert my feelings or opinions into stories I write or edit,” Phaedra Trethan writes. Terthan is a reporter for the Courier-Post covering South Jersey.
All professionals, journalists especially, must uphold professionalism on their social platforms because they serve the public and are sought out for unbiased information no matter which platform the public uses. I think the ethical challenge is to develop social media guidelines that allow reporters to explore the new media world but also to draw reasonable limits on personal use.