November 18, 2005

iCan, We can

Dan Gillmor's discussion of the BBC's iCan journalism experiment -- in which the BBC gave citizens tools for political activism and then reported what they did -- seemed to spawn some ethical concerns from my point of view.

It's true that technically the BBC was not directly "making the news," but it played a significant role in the process. I think it would be destructive to traditional journalism, and the virtues it stands for, if every news organization simply reported on news that they sponsored previously.

Gillmor lightly touches the issue near the end of Chapter 6 (not satisfactorily enough, in my opinion):

No matter which tools and technologies we embrace, we must maintain core principles, including fairness, accuracy, and thoroughness. These are not afterthoughts. They are essential if professional journalism expects to survive.


We can help the new journalists understand and value ethics, the importance of serving the public trust, and professionalism.

We may be able to help new journalists learn the basic rules of journalism, but I don't think that we can teach them enough to ensure that they will follow those rules. If anything, they will probably make some huge mistakes, face severe punishment or restrictions from the government, and be scared away from the new media grassroots journalism movement. There needs to be some sort of standard in the new media, to protect and foster the growth of this new movement in the years to come.

Posted by ChrisU at November 18, 2005 08:20 AM | TrackBack
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