Technological change and ethics: Alerting students to the potential costs of real-time journalism
Technology is rapidly transforming journalism. At its most obvious, it is broadening the reach of journalism and the speed at which it can be delivered, as the political events in Egypt and Tunisia recently revealed. Technology also has produced a new breed of citizen journalists who use Twitter and You Tube to report independently on breaking and developing news stories. While this development empowers journalists in many instances, there is also a danger when journalists who are not in-situ rely upon posts and tweets as background or even authority for their own stories, without checking the bona fides or motivation of the individual sending the material. As journalism educators and academics, we are concerned that in the rush to post their stories, journalists are not only ignoring the motivation of those providing the information, but also overlooking the impact such postings may have on the emotional well-being of the people who are the subject of such stories. This is particularly noticeable in the case of on-line blog sites that encourage readers to comment on breaking local news. Drawing on the personal experience of one of the authors, whose wife was critically injured in an accident between a bus and a car in the aftermath of the 2010 IAMCR conference, the authors argue.
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