Ethics meet ethics

Ethics meet ethics

: Some of us have been looking at this ethics question the wrong way: The starting point is not to impose a code of ethics on a medium but instead to understand the ethic of the medium — and its community — as it exists: What are bloggers already telling us about their ethic?

I sat down last night and started trying to list what I think is the ethic of blogging and the ethic of journalism. It was a lot easier to come up with the list for blogging. And, no, that’s not a snarky straight line; it probably just means that the ethic of blogging is newer and still clear, less muddied by time and mistakes and seminars … or that I feel greater affinity to this new medium; my transformation from mediaman to blogboy is complete.

Note very importantly that I believe old media has more to learn about these ethics than new media has to learn from old.

Let’s start with the bloggers’ ethic. This is repetitive in places; if I were writing a mission statement, I’d consolidate points. But instead, I’m trying to capture a catalogue. And please join in with comments, additions, deletions and tell me whether I’m on the right track here:

: The ethic of transparency: We believe that our public deserves to know about us and our perspective to better judge what we say.

: The ethic of conversation: We do not believe in one-sided lectures. We believe conversation leads to better understanding.

: The ethic of humanity: We believe this medium lives at a human level while old media lives at an institutional level.

: The ethic of the link: We believe one of our key jobs is to link our public to other voices and to source material so they may judge themselves.

: The ethic of correction: We believe it is vital to correct errors quickly and openly.

: The ethic of immediacy: We believe that the fast spread of information is will yield better information.

Now turn to the ethics of journalism. Dan Gillmor has a good list:





I think that’s a good list. But it’s a different list. Note importantly that Dan did not include Objectivity; he says it’s time to give up on that pipe dream and I think he’s right so long as the other ethics are followed. In an email exchange with Dan, Bill Mitchell, a participant in tomorrow’s confab, adds one more:


: Ernie Miller in the comments says correctly that it is all about the ethic of honesty.

: Also in the comments, Andrew Tyndall adds service and accountability to the list for journalism.