It’s no secret, least of all to the readers of this blog, that the Internet has changed how news is reported and presented. But what’s more often overlooked is how ethics play into what journalists cover and post in this always-on mediascape.
This Thursday, my alma mater, Kent State University, is hosting its seventh annual Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop. The workshop focuses on the problems and solutions professionals in online journalism face daily when it comes to scandals, suicides, secrets and more of those “do I post this now or don’t I?” questions that plague conscientious journalists in the heat of the story.
This year’s line-up interests me immensely, even though I’m not a big sports fan, and it will likely strike a chord with other professionals whether you cover government or sporting news, work in PR or just read the stories. The 2011 theme is “Foul Play?” and will look in depth at sports reporting — because hey, even without the NFL, NCAA or your own organization’s restrictions (and scandals!) blowing up your smart phone, it’s a good idea to know your ground rules for coverage. A great way to learn is to listen to others who’ve been there. The line-up this year ranges from local newspaper editors, reporters, sports columnists/TV reporters, and a few of the top brass from ESPN.com and ESPN digital.
Take a look at the schedule to see which speakers/panels you’re most interested in:
- Sense-Making and Sports: Findings from the Poynter-ESPN Review Project
- Tangled Ethics: Social Media and Sports Media
- Buckeyes Behaving Badly
- Anti-Social Media: The Death of Civility in Sports Journalism
- Women, Ethics and Sports Journalism
- The Spin Cycle: Sports PR and Sports Journalism (PRSA)
Even if sports ethics don’t interest you, there’s room in that line-up for investigative reporters and editors, who’ll give insights from their perspective. As an example of topics that come up, a few years ago when I attended, I remember the Cleveland Plain Dealer editor discussing an “oops” they made that made them re-consider their posting standards, after they declared a local congresswoman prematurely dead. Other years have featured folks as varied as Arianna Huffington and Drew Curtis, the mastermind behind Fark.com, discussing how their sites fit into the mainstream media. So, these conferences tend to run the gamut.
If you’re in Northeast Ohio and can get the day off, it’s worth attending. I’ve been to two of these conferences in person and followed others online, and I always come away thinking about topics I’d never considered and learning some strategies and insights from major players in the world of online media.
If you’re not in Ohio, and you’re working like me, get this hashtag ready: #ksuethics11. The back channel conversation is usually buzzing on Twitter (and often projected on screen, for maximum exposure). Start thinking of questions to tweet the speakers/panelists about these topics now.