While reading SPJ’s Code of Ethics, the quote, “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” stood out to me because I had never thought of democracy along the lines of having the right to know information from journalists. From Poynter Publishing’s Ethical Guidelines I also feel more secure in knowing that there are people out there who are policing journalists from writing whatever they would like to include in their articles. Without guidelines such as ”Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing” from SPJ there could be endless false stories. A world without journalist guidelines would be one with media reflecting a propaganda-ized world, where whoever in charge of the publication could print or post a way to sway their audience and be as biased as they want. We would be a very news- confused America. It makes me think that these ethical guidelines have not always been in place. In WWII American newspapers contained heavy amounts of misleading propaganda images. With guidelines though, misleading information is rightly left out of the media we are consuming. Without them it would be hard to trust the articles we see everyday.
I would feel wrong posting my thoughts on an issue without showing the specific issue as unbiased as I possibly could. This moral code of mine mostly applies to more formal topics, such as if I am writing about my thoughts on gay marriage, etc. With arbitrary topics, such as in tweets, I usually am talking about everyday life, and sometimes yes, complaining. I tend to show off my side of a problem I am having if say I am complaining about another person walking on campus hitting their umbrella spoke in my nose. I usually don’t mention the fact that I was looking down at my phone texting or checking my Facebook and helped run into them, so I have deliberately therefore not provided a 100% unbiased account of events. My tweets are less important than news journalism though, and are not directly affecting public awareness on environmental issues or presidential campaigns where showing and unbiased account of a story is more crucial to quality of life. So I am going to allow myself to continue to complain biasedly.
If I were to Google my name and find one of my posts- unlinked, but commented on by thousands, and lending popularity to another blogger, I would be confused and probably be pettily jealous first off that my statistics were not as high as theirs are. I would also be confused as to why any of the commenters had not requested a link to my blog. The course of action I would take would be to privately message the blogger my concern and ask her to make a new post linking me and my work if she wants to show it off, or to otherwise remove it. The ethical journalism problem this situation addresses is Cyberjournalist’s “A Bloggers’ Code of Ethics” that states “Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.”
There are definitely different rules regarding social media outlets such as Facebook statuses and Twitter tweets. Moral rules such as Cyberjournalist’s code, “Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.” should be followed in tweeting. There is no reason to bash on someone who cannot defend themselves. But regular people do not have to check sources before sending out a personal thought, like my umbrella tweet example. Bloggers and tweeters who are well- known or in the public eye should use discretion before tweeting though. If Kim Kardashian, whose celebrity twitter account has 14,571,877 followers, tweeted “Do not vote for Obama he is a bad candidate” it could cause a political dispute, and she is not giving a reason for this. Aside from the fact that telling others how to vote is wrong, some people uninterested in educating themselves about an election may listen to her.
But bottom line, since social media outlets can be expected to produce biased opinions and “first rather than right” facts and statements, it also is a form of media that people should not believe right off the bat without a better, more accredited source. There are more scholarly sources available for trustworthy news, such as CNN or many other news websites. When I want information on a news event or up-to-date- reliable reporting on an event that will affect me, I turn to the ABC news channel, not E!, or Twitter.