Category: Ethics

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Responsible Reporting Section 3 ‘What You Must Do’: Chapter VI

After a long hiatus, serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers resumes. This chapter, and the last, are the most important for doing what you’re supposed to report responsibly. Major theme last time: The importance of asking “Who benefits?” about everything. Today’s installment turns around concept “conflict of interest” and points the finger back at you. The traditional view about conflict of interest is misguided, and it is fundamentally outdated for online news reporting—or any other.

As Chapter VI explains, I see objects of conflict as mattering much more than traditional concept of conflict of interest. Stated differently: Human relationships are more influential than financial gain. Worse, there is a fairly recent trend where bloggers or journalists post ethics statements, which I view as worse than useless. So-called transparency justifies continued conflicts rather than separation from them. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 3 ‘What You Must Do’: Chapter III

The next several chapters of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers are among the most important for reporting responsibly, ethically, and without conflicts of interest. The themes are recurrent on my website, and any regular readers should immediately recognize them.

Today’s installment explains the importance of audience trust, and builds from previous chapters, particularly  I and II from the same section. But to best follow the logical flow, you should start at the beginning: Foreward; Section 1, Chapters I and IIIII and IVV and VI; Section 2, Chapters IIIIIIIV, and V

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When the Crowd Roars

The Internet backlash against dentist Walter Palmer for killing Cecil the lion is one of the best examples of mob journalism ever. The narrative spreading across the InterWebs is some ways well-meaning but in many more is destructive. Meanwhile, the force of collective-will tempts too many journalists to join the mob opinion, when they should stand aside and offer objective and responsible reporting.

Before writing another word, I must praise National Geographic for the best reporting about this event. The magazine offers broader perspective and, more importantly, puts big game hunting into larger context, while taking an objective tone. The raging mob’s perspective is myopic, and news sites supporting it fail the public good.

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I Should Thank the President

We are solid citizens again, with health insurance in place for the first time since May 1, 2009. Last November, I shared about “My Uninsured Life“. Now that circumstances changed, update is warranted, even if brief. Our coverage started as of Midnight today. We are among those Americans subsidized through Obamacare.

Our monthly family premium is a paltry $101 and some change per month for HMO plan with $500 annual individual deductible. The subsidy rewards the insurer with another $1,100 during the same time period. Someone please explain to me how such a gap doesn’t somehow reflect increased healthcare costs. What the frak? 

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Responsible Reporting Section 2 ‘The New Journalisms’: Chapter V

Last Sunday, we interrupted our weekly serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers, because of Father’s Day. Another interruption comes July 12, during San Diego Comic-Con. This week’s return completes the last of five journalisms, and the one that more than any other can lead to irresponsible news reporting.

Timing is interesting in context of the landmark Supreme Court ruling just two days ago that opens way for marriage between people of the same gender in all 50 states. There is a force of collective will washing across the Internet that could cause some journalists to bow before social pressure rather thcan offer probing analyses in second-day stories. For example, I see lots of quick criticism of the dissenting judges that doesn’t delve into the Constitutional concerns they raise, nor negative implications for rights-gainers with respect to taxes or other legal constructs. How much does the mob’s mood influence followups? My concern is process, and I express here no opinion about the ruling—just timing and context with respect to today’s mob journalism excerpt. 

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Don’t Go There

While sitting with my 93 year-old father-in-law outside the Starbucks in San Diego’s Hillcrest district, I observed a directional sign for two shops, today. Then I read them as a sentence and laughed. Okay, you—think like an imaginative kid and not a stuck-up-the-butt literal adult: Ignore the K. It’s funny, yes?

Strangely, I came to live the sign not long later. As we walked into Trader Joe’s, a neighbor said hello on her way inside. I politely introduced my father-n-law, then she started on about the Neighborhood Watch group that she recently organized. The first meeting went well, but she wasn’t sure how to contact me. That’s when I blew her holy smoke up her arse. 

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Apple Music backs off ‘play for no-pay’ plan that would withhold artist royalties

Now that Apple plans to compensate artists for the first three months of music streaming, it’s time to ask: Were the whiners grandstanding or sincere? The question mainly is meant for Taylor Swift, whose Father’s Day Tumblr post seems to have brought, eh, swift response to the—what I call—”play for no-pay” plan.

The company unveiled Apple Music during the World Wide Developer Conference on June 8. The streaming service will be free to subscribers for the first three months, with Apple initially choosing not to make royalty payments to artists. I condemned the ridiculous strategy last week. The company sits on a nearly $200 billion cash horde, and content creators are among its most loyal customers. Stiffing them makes no sense from several different perspectives, with good public relations being one and expressing thanks to artist customers being another. 

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Will Taylor Swift’s Apple Admonishment Strike a Chord?

“This is not about me”, singer Taylor Swift writes in a Tumblr post that is viral news everywhere today. She explains why her newest album, “1989”, will not be available on Apple Music when the service starts on June 30.

“This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field—but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs”. 

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Is It Perspective or Deception?

Yesterday, I started a discussion with a BetaNews commenter identified only as John. He responded to a story I posted here as “Apple Music Takes from Artists to Give to Subscribers“, which at BN followed another appearing on my site as “Apple Music Will Surely Succeed“. The cross-posting with different headline and art keeps with my December 2014 advice: “Writers, Own Your Content!” Comments funnel to BN, which is good for audience building there.

The commenter first accuses me of being a troll and then, based on my response, of being deceitful because of my writing style. You be the judge. I see the exchange as being hugely relevant to what should be good online journalism, and it may reflect two different and (hopefully) valid perspectives—reporter’s and reader’s—about what that should be. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 2 ‘The New Journalisms’: Chapter IV

Today’s excerpt from Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers spotlights the fourth type of journalism. The other three: Contextual, process, and conversational. Advocacy journalism is the most provocative of the five that the ebook identifies. Many people working in traditional news media outlets would scoff at the idea.

They would be wrong. Advocacy journalism has a long history—centuries old—but the Internet magnifies its reach and the soapbox upon which its proponents stand. 

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Apple’s Moral Marketing Charade

Nine years ago, a NPR interviewer asked me about Google and other U.S. companies censoring search results in China. The question was one of morality—to which I gave an answer she didn’t expect. That response, or my recollection of it, is appropriate for rather ridiculous and self-serving statements that Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly made three days ago.

“We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy”, Tim Cook said, Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch. “The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it”. Oh? What is moral? The answer I gave NPR in 2006 applies: There is no moral high ground in business. The high ground is quagmire, because all public companies—Apple surely among them—share a single, moral objective: Make profits for stockholders. Plain, pure, and simple.