April fooling: The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists once got a call from a reporter asking if it would be ethical to write an April Fools’ Day story in the tradition of the late hoaxer George Plimpton. See the advice here.
The truth sandwich: Repeating a lie helps it to live on, writes Craig Newmark.
“I predict that, in 2019, news organizations will start to institute new reporting methods to avoid being complicit. Tactics may include adopting the ‘truth sandwich,’ which means covering a lie by presenting the truth first and then following that lie with a fact-check, as well as increasing newsroom capacity to check claims for accuracy in real time, prior to publishing a story.”
Investigating a journalist: The Houston Chronicle’s editor says “we have launched an investigation into the work of one of our own reporters” who is accused of quoting people who don’t exist.
“We owe our readers the truth and to tell you if, in fact, there were inaccuracies in anything we published,” he writes. “We simply don’t know the full story yet.”
Spotting fake Facebook posts: Keith Collins and Sheera Frenkel report that Facebook discovered hundreds of fake pages and user accounts this summer.
The New York Times reporters show real and deceptive posts, asking if you can tell which is fake. It isn’t easy.
The latest influence campaigns imitated post by legitimate pages and groups on Facebook that advocate political beliefs, they report, “amking it difficult to tell what was a genuine post and what was not.” Such campaigns also are known as online disinformation.
Interviewing dishonest people: Jason Schwartz says a pressing question in the Trump era is how journalists should handle powerful news makers who are known to be dishonest.
The issue is complicated “and there are distinctions to be found between interviewing sources with checkered histories off-camera, grilling them on-air on a newsworthy subject and bringing them on simply as a talking head,” he writes.
Guarding against online trolls: James Ball reports that journalistic thoughtfulness often “goes out the door when it comes to reporting events that begin on social media.”
Online celebrities and people on the internet often are manipulators with agendas, Ball writes.
“And journalists fall into their trap, time and time again; something about online messaging turns off our reporting instincts.”
Recycled interviews deemed unethical: Sydney Smith writes that National Public Radio discovered a freelance reporter laced old interviews with current stories without disclosure.
Listeners might have thought the comments were new, said NPR, but some were months or years old. That was misleading, said NPR, and not in line with editorial standards. NPR will not use the reporter’s work in the future.
Using the “L” word: Daniel Dale explains that a lie is a false statement made intentionally.
“If we journalists are going to present ourselves as arbiters of truth, we have to stick to what we know is true,” he writes. “And that means not calling something a lie when we don’t have a reasonable certainty that Trump’s intention is deception.”
Hate groups manipulate media: Whitney Phillips warns that journalists covering hate groups unwittingly spread their hateful ideology and other false and misleading narratives “with news coverage itself harnessed to fuel hate, confusion and discord.”
Ethics of talking machines: Drew Harwell writes that Google’s artificial intelligence assistant sounds almost exactly like a human.
It’s a convenience for phone-shy people, “but it is also raising thorny questions about the ethics of using a machine to copy a person’s voice, carry out commands — and potentially deceive the unsuspecting listener on the other side.”