Trolls, Spin and the Boundaries of Trust by Dan Gillmor sheds light on many ethical issues digital journalists are facing.  When using the Internet as a news medium, reporters and editors need to be very aware of what they’re publishing, who is commenting on their content and who their tips are coming from.

I think Gilmor’s five best tips for reporters were:

  1. Never trust an Internet source without double checking it – As we saw in class this week, many websites and inforgraphics give information that contradict other websites.  It’s always important to know who is publishing the content (and to decide if they may have a hidden agenda).
  2. Most people are too dense to pick up on satire – When people read articles, whether they are online or in print, many of them will not be able to pick up on satire or sarcasm without actually hearing the writer’s tone of voice.  The Internet makes it really easy to copy and paste quotes from online articles and send them off to friends and colleagues, and if a satirical comment is taken out of context, it could make a newspaper look bad.
  3. Do not remove vital/true information from a photo or video – Though a photo or video may look better or run smoother if certain things are edited out, it’s not okay to manipulate a piece of art if it changes the meaning or reality.
  4. Think about what a source has to gain from doing an interview – Do not use press releases verbatim or as the only source for an article.  For example, if the press release is coming from a political candidate, make sure to interview his or her opposition for the story too.  Articles shouldn’t simply be free advertising for a company or campaign.
  5. Check comments for spam – “Spinners” or people who comment on an online article  simply to stir the pot should be monitored closely.  Many may have an agenda or many may be trying to corrupt the site.  Additionally, people who present tip offs in comments should have their credentials checked before the tip is pursued.
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