Analysis of “For a Reporter-Blogger, Two Personalities”
Ethical decision-making is a critical requirement for every journalist and reporter before writing a story and posting or publishing it for the public. The rapid growth of online media has transformed the methods used by the pubic in media consumption (Good & Borden, 2010). This aspect has led to the conception of the idea of digital ethics for journalists. This ethics is usually meant for bloggers and their contribution to whistleblowing. The issue of whether bloggers should be considered as journalists has sparked the attention of many critics in contemporary media. However, bloggers are influential people with remarkable academic excellence in other disciplines apart from journalism. The main issue is that they are not familiar with several journalistic skills that are significant in writing a story based on facts. Most of them are usually engaged in business and they resort to unclear postings to draw public attention so that they can earn through commercial advertisements. This paper critically examines the ethical issues involved in blogging and news reporting.
In this case study, the ethical dilemma lies between the exposure of a political speech and the expression of unjustified opinion by a blogger. The tone used in posting about VP Dick’s speech in Harrisburg revealed that John Micek had hatred (Foreman, 2015). The attitude of the blogger toward the Vice-President’s (VP) speech can be judged as dismissive and misleading to readers. Blogging by journalists can have significant advantages but can also undermine their credibility as impartial observers. In this case study, Micek can serve as a representation of contemporary bloggers who claim to be journalists but have no knowledge of what this profession entails. The content of his blog was an opinion based on bias without ethical consideration. Therefore, presenting ideas that are not based on facts but harm the reputation of other people is not practical in the field of journalism. As a result, if I were a reader of the Morning Call when Micek worked here, I would suspect bias in his reporting.
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Micek also presented the VP’s speech with sarcasm and without providing clear facts of his intentions. It can be argued that an internet conversation with other users is valuable but the unmonitored sentiments can attract penalties. Micek’s negative opinions about people were detrimental to his career and suggests that blogs should be edited before posting because the facts of a good story can be distorted by stage-managing. It can also be evident that Micek’s articles in the newspaper were edited by Peter Leffler who appeared to have a conflict of interest with blog posts (Foreman, 2015). It can be argued that editors of newspapers have a duty to ensure that they filter the information that can harm other people significantly. Thus, it is worth noting that the verification standards for bloggers are different from the standards for reporters because, in blogs, there are no affirmative actions taken for mischievous bloggers.
If I happened to be the subject of Micek’s report that expressed the negative opinion about me, I would not accept the joke that he “smacks everybody equally.” On the contrary, I would accuse the blogger of defamation. If he were found guilty, it would be a significant lesson for bloggers behaving the same way.
Journalist or Blogger? Where to Draw the Line?
Journalism is different from blogging in various ways. However, the tremendous advancement in technology has brought these two aspects together, making them seem similar. Several differences distinguish a journalist from a blogger. Firstly, journalists should undergo three- or four-year training required for their profession. Furthermore, necessary qualifications should be acquired for one to be called a journalist. On the other hand, bloggers, in most cases, have experience in writing. They may have knowledge from other disciplines that are not related to journalism. Therefore, a blogger is anyone who can write well but does not have the journalism qualifications.
Secondly, a journalist’s work undergoes thorough scrutiny before being published. The editor is always responsible for any mistakes made by journalists during the publication. As such, journalists are cautious about everything they write about because it should comply with professional ethics. On the contrary, blogging does not involve any form of supervision. Consequently, many bloggers post any material, regardless of whether it is based on facts or not.
Another major difference between journalists and bloggers is that journalists are not allowed to give their personal opinions on stories. A journalist’s work is always neutral, unbiased, and based on facts. Journalists give both sides of the story without leaning on one side. Blogging, on the other hand, involves expressing an opinion. Bloggers give their commentaries and views regarding a certain story without fear. They can opt to support or disapprove one side of the story.
Furthermore, journalists, in most cases, cite their sources and give quotations when reporting on any information. They do not just publish reports without confirming who told particular information. On the contrary, bloggers can write articles without confirming whether what everything mentioned is true. They do so to attract a wide audience to their blogs.
To sum up, anybody can be a blogger, but not everyone can be a journalist. Journalists are professionals while everyone can do blogging, as it involves personal opinions. Hence, journalism should not be confused with blogging at all. Consequently, journalists cannot air an opinion on one platform and remain free of bias on another one.
Is What Micek Did Okay?
What Micek did was not okay because one should be serious when reporting on critical matters like political happenings. Adding humor while reporting can lead to miscommunication. Furthermore, expressing personal opinions on such matters is unethical in the journalism profession. Besides, reports on political matters should not be used as platforms of socializing with the readers as Micek did. Lugo-Ocando (2015) discusses that journalists should embrace truthful information and a spectrum of opinions regarding specific issues. However, the primary information should be based on truthfulness to earn the trust of the readers. Therefore, comparing these sentiments with Micek’s action, it can be evident that he was wrong to post without providing the facts.
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I would not do what Micek did. Instead, I would report the facts as they are without giving personal opinions on the issue. I would resort to interviewing the VC to clarify the issue or search for reliable sources from the VC’s affiliates to clarify the hidden facts. Additionally, I would report on both sides of the story without being biased in one.
What Is Our Thought Process?
Our thought process is that journalists should be careful when making opinions on serious issues such as politics, religion, and security. Misleading information can completely mess one’s career as a person may be rendered unreliable. Additionally, practicing journalists should have it in mind that they represent their companies when reporting. The audience may assume that any comment made is the opinion of the entire company (Zion & Craig, 2015). The mass media have freedom of expression but misrepresentation of facts and comments can be detrimental to consumers. The media consumers have entrusted journalists with the obligation of telling them what is happening within their environment (Ward, 2010). Giving them opinions that are not justified is like betraying the trust that they have in the contemporary media. Therefore, they should bear in mind that any damage they cause might also affect a company’s reputation.
Another crucial factor to consider is that journalists should publish any information online the same way they would do when in any public forum. Therefore, ensuring that information is accurate is important. The audience should also be treated with respect and fairness, regardless of whether they are online or not. Journalists should also practice significant ethics to enhance their moral credibility. Showing conflict of interest in sensitive matters such as commenting to favor political candidates should be discouraged at all costs.
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What I Would Do?
If I were Micek, I would delete any articles that involve personal opinions from the blog. I would apologize for going beyond the required standards. I would ensure that any reports published here are accurate and well cited. I would report on political matters with more seriousness. I would undertake all these steps with the aim of protecting my reputation as a journalist (Zion & Craig, 2015). Furthermore, these actions would prevent me from being dismissed. I would also open a personal blog to allow people to give their personal opinions on any matter. The blog would also be a suitable platform for socializing with my readers and knowing what they think about my work.
Journalists should be virtuous even with the advancement in technology. Publication of online material should not put anyone in trouble. Journalists should adhere to the code of ethics even when not in public. They should prove to the world that this profession is completely different from blogging. The only way to do this is by ensuring that they publish reliable information. They should avoid biases in their dealings. Even when they belong to a certain religion or political party, the audience should never know their stand. This perspective implies that they should be neutral. They ought to report on both sides of the story and leave the audience to decide for themselves. Bloggers, on the other hand, should inform their readers that whatever they write is an opinion. Besides, even bloggers ought to be careful with what they publish to avoid troubles with the authority. One may publish defamatory information that may land them in court. Therefore, there is a need to report the truth irrespective of whether one is a blogger or a journalist.
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