Category Archives: Minimizing Harm

Top 10 Media Ethics Issues of 2017

Covering a time span of 84 years, iMediaEthics releases its annual report on the top media ethics issues.

Leading the list, writes Sydney Smith, is behavior in the workplace — the explosive story of top media figures who lost their jobs because of sexual misconduct.

In tenth place, the Associated Press releases a yearlong review into its working relationship with Nazis in Germany before World War Two.


Global Gender and Power Reporter

International coverage of gender and power: Pete Vernon writes about BuzzFeed News’s global women’s rights and gender reporter.

Women spend much of their lives and energy preparing against being attacked by a stranger, she says, when in fact more than 95 percent of the time we are violated by people we know.


Using The Term “Racist.”

Touchy subject — using the term “racist” while covering President Trump.

“Placing labels on speech by any public figure runs the risk of editorialization, and newsroom decision makers are wary of overstepping conventional norms,” writes Pete Vernon.

Bottom line: It’s time reporters do what columnists and opinion writers do, says Vernon.

Cybersecurity Training For Journalists

Basic digital security competence is now essential for all journalists, writes Joshua Oliver.

“These days, bad security habits could betray your sources, or the sources of the reporter sitting next to you,” by clicking the wrong link.

Journalism schools surveyed devote less than two hours to digital security training, writes Oliver. Security should become a habit.

Good News Vs. Bad News

On the whole, the world is getting better, writes Bill Gates, Time Magazine’s first-ever guest editor.

“To some extent, it is good that bad news gets attention,” he writes. “If you want to improve the world, you need something to be mad about. But it has to be balanced by upsides. When you see good things happening, you can channel your energy into driving even more progress.”

Bad news arrives as drama while good news is incremental — and not usually deemed newsworthy, he writes.

Probe Figure Dies By Suicide

What to do when the subject of a sex investigation dies by suicide: There’s no playbook for journalists about how to handle situations like that, writes Meg Dalton, about a Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Louisville Public Media podcast revealing the troubled past of a prominent political and religious figure.

The case “is an exemplar not only of dogged local reporting, but also a how-to for newsrooms grappling with unexpected ramifications,” writes Dalton, such as the death of a subject.

Weeding Out Toxic Commentary

Norwegian Broadcasting Corp. finds a way to weed out toxic commentary: Take a quiz.

Many large media organizations eliminated their comment sections because of abusive commentary, writes Steve Friess. The Guardian, for example, last year closed comments under articles on race, immigration and Islam because they attract “unacceptable levels of toxic commentary.”

A short quiz on the contents of a story, the Norwegian brainstorm, unlocks access to the comments section.

“We wanted to create a bump in the road to make people think a bit before ranting away,” a source tells Friess.

Facebook Home of Viral Hoaxes

Rumors, misinformation and fake news: Craig Silverman says he helped popularize the term “fake news” and now regrets it.

Silverman and colleagues published an analysis of 50 of the biggest fake news hits on Facebook in 2017.

“This highlights the challenge faced by Facebook to find ways to halt or arrest the spread of completely false stories on its platform, and raises questions about how much progress has been made in fighting this type of misinformation.”

Facebook “remains the home of massively viral hoaxes,” says Silverman.