Ethics Talk

The basics:

  • Be clear, upfront and honest about who you are and what you are doing.
  • “Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.”
  • Tell everyone you interview, quote, photograph, or record that you are reporting for a public website.
  • Attribute facts and information.
  • Seek to do original reporting first. Get your own quotes, take your own photos, record your own audio, shoot your own videos.
  • Assume that anything you encounter on the Internet is copyrighted, unless it is expressly states otherwise.
  • If you need a stock photo or other kind of media, use Creative Commons work whenever possible.
  • If you are using copyrighted work, you need permission. If you are using copyrighted work and you do not obtain permission, you must determine if it is covered under fair use.
  • Take responsibility for your work.

For more detail…

1. Code of Ethics
Each student is responsible for the content of her/his online publication. Students are expected to adhere to a blogger’s code of ethics.

2. Academic Honesty
Students must adhere to the Rowan University policy on academic honesty.

Two main terms and concepts:
“Falsification occurs when a student intentionally fabricates or invents information or citations in any academic exercise.”

“Plagiarism occurs when a student intentionally and knowingly represents the words or ideas of another as his or her own in any academic exercise.”

4. Copyright
Grants the creator of a work the exclusive rights to use or not use the work as he/she sees fit. Copyright law protects movies, TV shows, books, news articles, plays, web pages, e-mails, bulletin boards, images, music lyrics, sound and video files, and postings to discussion groups. Assume that anything you encounter on the Internet is copyrighted, unless it is expressly states otherwise.

5. Fair Use
Allows others to use part of a copyrighted work in certain situations like criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, and research. Fair use is based on the idea that there is no original thought; every idea is influence by other ideas. Fair use is designed to so that someone can use part of the original work. For example, a music journalist who is reviewing a new album can quote the lyrics of a song without seeking permission.

In fair use cases, courts look at four factors:
-The purpose and character of the use
-The nature of the copyrighted work
-The amount of the portion used
-The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

6. Creative Commons
Allows creators to protect their work by choosing from a variety of types of licensing, rather than relying on copyright law. The licenses allow creators to maintain protection from unauthorized use, but still allow various forms of copying, sharing, and modifying. See for more info and to get a license for your work.

7. Public vs. Private Places
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but freedom of access is not protected.

In general, you do not need permission to report in public places like streets, sidewalks, beaches, parks, train stations, or university campuses.

Some restrictions may apply to airports, schools, or individual public or government buildings.

If you are on private property (medical facility, movie theater lobby, business office, restaurant, mall, store, or a private home) you need to obtain permission to report. If someone asks you to leave private property, you must leave.

8. Public vs. Private Citizens
Private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence, or attention.

9. Minors
If you are interviewing or shooting photos or video of minors (under 18 years of age), you must obtain permission from a parent or guardian. Download waiver form for minors (.doc)

10. Blogger vs. Journalist
Bloggers do not enjoy all of the legal protections of a professional journalist and they do not have a news organization with lawyers to back them up.

This entry was posted in Ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s