Ethics and the new world of news

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Posted by Good Points on May 03, 2010 at 08:51:00:

When to Tweet, and when not to Tweet. Or better still, when to re-Tweet. And then there's Facebook and Flickr and other ever-growing social media channels, such as Digg and Delicious.

And don't forget about news that breaks on the Web in real-time, as it happens in our neighborhoods. Of course, you can read all about it on all sorts of blogs.

And, yes, we're still making a printed newspaper every day, too.

Such is life in the "new world" of the news industry. It's fast and furious, and evolving almost daily as technology opens new avenues of communication, and drives us to explore new paths with the traditional methods of information sharing.

About 100 journalists, former journalists, future journalists, academics and researchers gathered Friday on the UW-Madison campus to ask some hard questions about the news industry. The second annual conference was organized by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication's Center for Journalism Ethics at UW-Madison.

The conference included:

� Discussions about transparency in reporting and in decision-making by news organizations.

� The rise of nonprofit entities doing investigative journalism.

� The state of verification practices in today's fast-paced media world.

� Much back-and-forth among panelists and other participants about the role of social media and "citizen journalists" - in the every-day gathering and dissemination of news.

There are no easy answers to the complex questions batted around at the conference. But here's the good news: The questions are, in fact, being batted around. That's meaningful for the newspaper industry, and a good thing for the citizenry that depends on accurate, fair and timely reporting, regardless of the "platform" - another of our latest buzz words - upon which that news is delivered.

Some day, sending a "Tweet" - which, for the uninitiated, is a short message sent using the Web site Twitter - will be old-fashioned.

But here's more good news: The core values that were explored at the UW conference on journalism ethics - accuracy, fairness, timeliness, transparency - will still be at the heart of what we do, no matter how the technology evolves.

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