SPJ Conference Reflects on the Ethics of Twitter

Approximately 100 SPJ attendees filled the room and overflowed into the hallway at the “Mining Facebook, Twitter, Etc.: The Ethical Side of it” seminar.

A conference is held every year for the Society of Professional Journalists. In the past it has been held in Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.; however, this year it will be held in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino from Oct. 3 – 5. On Monday Oct. 4 there was a program that covered the ethics behind journalists on facebook and twitter.

“Mining Facebook, Twitter, etc: The Ethical Side of It” focused on the precautions journalists need to take when using social media. Speakers Jerry Ceppos, dean of Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada; Stacey Woelfel, past chair, Radio Television Digital News Association; and Elizabeth Donald, reporter from Belleville News-Democrat focused on the following questions:

  • Is it off limits to be a “friend” with people we cover or to indicate you “like” particular items?
  • Have our standards changed as news avenues have developed?
  • Is it OK to mix professional and personal contacts in social media groups?
  • How much do we have to watch what we say in these settings?

A question about Twitter was focused on in a follow-up article. Obviously Twitter is a fast way to get news, but it needs to be treated with skepticism like any other source and a journalist needs to follow-up even further on the information.

 The rest of the article gave the understandable advice that “If you don’t want people to know it, don’t put it there,” stated a member of the program audience.

Looking further into the ethical issue, in the previous year the conference had discussed the importance of involving social media technologies in the program “Journalism 3.0”. Our world has evolved so much within the last year that being up on the latest technology advancements is posing to be unethical.

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One Response to SPJ Conference Reflects on the Ethics of Twitter

  1. szymanlj says:

    This is a really good topic to bring up. That SPJ held this meeting is indicitive of a push toward creating a set of rules for social media. In a couple years we might have an AP Stylebook for social media.

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