Poynter Publishes Definitive New Journalism Ethics Book
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Poynter Institute, an international strategy center and a leader in journalism education, has announced the publication of a pivotal new book on media ethics in the digital age. “The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century” (SAGE/CQ Press, 2013) provides an evolved set of guidelines and principles for journalists, students, and mass communicators, with chapters contributed by 14 of media’s top thought leaders and practitioners.
The book examines the unique problems of searching for trust and building trust in the 21st century: Vetting and verifying information in the vast arena of social media; the effects of interactive social media on storytelling and news gathering; the contextual meaning of stories and the value of images; and the evolving role of a community of citizen journalists and individual documentarians in the production of news.
The book is co-edited by Poynter Senior Faculty Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.
“I’ve been guiding journalists and newsrooms through ethical quagmires for a decade and we need a new toolkit,” said McBride, who has been teaching ethics at Poynter since 2002. “Journalism is changing and if we don’t reexamine our guiding principles, I fear we will become irrelevant, or worse, harmful to democracy.”
Poynter President Karen Dunlap said the book furthers Poynter’s core mission over the last four decades to improve journalism in the service of democracy.
“If we want journalism to stay relevant and influential, then all of us need a framework for understanding our duties and responsibilities in a democratic society,” said Dunlap. “This book does just that.”
At the encouragement of CQ Press, an imprint of SAGE Publications, McBride began recruiting essayists for the book in early 2012. “We’re excited to publish The New Ethics of Journalism to help shed light on new ethical issues borne by emerging technologies and shifting business models, while also offering a fresh look at longstanding ethical conundrums for journalism,” said Matt Byrnie, Senior Acquisitions Editor at SAGE and CQ Press. “Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel have assembled a stellar group of thinkers on journalism’s past, present, and future to put together this book that gives journalists a new compass to navigate even the murkiest of challenges facing journalism today.”
Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and now craigconnects, made a donation to Poynter to help fund a gathering of the invited writers and others interested in the evolving ethics of journalism. Tom Rosenstiel, a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board, volunteered to help and accepted McBride’s invitation to serve as a co-editor. Rosenstiel is the founder and former director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence, and author of six other journalism books, including “The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect” and “Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload,” both co-authored with Bill Kovach. McBride was thrilled with the philosophical and historical perspective Rosenstiel brought to the editing process.
“Technology has so drastically altered how news is gathered, processed and understood, it has taken journalism closer to its essential purpose.” said Rosenstiel. “So it’s critical the formal ethics of journalism accommodate those changes. News always belonged to the public. Now the ethics of journalism must consider the role of the audience, and the impact of community and the potential of technology more fully. These new principles and essays do that,” Rosenstiel added.
McBride and Rosenstiel believed a collaborative effort involving a number of voices was crucial to developing an ethics inclusive of anyone who might produce journalism responsibly. They approached some of the industry’s most innovative thinkers about writing chapters for the book. Writer and New York University professor Clay Shirky was among them.
“A lot of what we used to talk about as the future of journalism is now its present,” said Shirky, whose chapter focuses on the Internet’s effect on reporting truth. “Production and consumption of news has gone digital, as has public conversation. Now we have to get down to the hard task of producing news that is relevant to citizens, not just entertainment that is pleasing to consumers.”
Microsoft Research professor danah boyd (preferred spelling) contributed a chapter called “The Destabilizing Force of Fear,” in which she and McBride examine the connections between new technologies and the challenges news producers face in capturing the attention of audiences, especially when competing with content that capitalizes on fear.
“New technologies call into question the very essence of journalism,” said boyd, “requiring us to step back and examine the values, ethics, and goals underpinning this essential aspect of a democratic society.”
Other contributors to the book include Ann Friedman, writer and editor; Eric Deggans, media critic, Tampa Bay Times; Adam Hochberg, instructor, University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications; Craig Silverman, writer, Regret the Error; Dan Gillmor, director, Knight Center for Digital Entrepreneurship, Arizona State University; Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist, betaworks; Tom Huang, Sunday and enterprise editor, The Dallas Morning News; Monica Guzman, columnist, The Seattle Times; Steve Myers, formerly of Poynter and now deputy managing editor at The (New Orleans) Lens; and Kenny Irby, Poynter senior faculty, Visual Journalism and Diversity.
Having offered ethics training since the early 1980s, Poynter further developed and expanded its ethics program in 1989 under the leadership of Bob Steele, who now directs DePauw University’s Prindle Institute for Ethics. Steele, along with several Poynter faculty members and other journalists, wrote the original Guiding Principles for Journalists, which were adopted by the Society of Professional Journalists. The Guiding Principles and techniques for effective ethical decision-making have been taught in all Poynter ethics seminars and workshops since.
Steele, who hired McBride into the ethics department at Poynter and influenced the early development of the book, wrote the foreword for “The New Ethics of Journalism.”
“It’s essential for all journalists – beat reporters, multimedia journalists, newsroom leaders, independent bloggers, and owners and entrepreneurs – to have clear, strong guiding ethical principles. It’s also essential for all journalists to develop sharp skills for ethical decision-making to make the tough calls that constantly emerge.”
Poynter’s Dean of Faculty Stephen Buckley believes the book will provide the foundational material for Poynter teaching for years to come.
“At a time of such turmoil in our industry, this book serves as an anchor, reminding journalists of all kinds of the power of solid values,” said Buckley. “As always, we’re hoping this new framework for thinking about ethics prompts journalists to ask the right questions, compels newsrooms to clarify their processes, and ultimately inspires work that makes a difference.”
About The Poynter Institute
Founded in 1975 in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Poynter Institute is one of the nation’s top schools for professional journalists and news media leaders, as well as future journalists and journalism teachers. Poynter offers training throughout the year in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter’s News University (www.newsu.org) offers journalism training to the public through more than 200 interactive modules and other forms of e-learning. It has more than 200,000 registered users in 225 countries. Poynter’s website, (www.poynter.org) is the dominant provider of journalism news, with a focus on business analysis and the opportunities and implications of technology.
Senior Faculty, Ethics, Reporting and Writing
The Poynter Institute
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The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century
Edited by: Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel
Paperback ISBN: 9781604265613
Publication date: August 1, 2013