Online journalism, just like print and broadcast journalism, has its own ethical implications. Bloggers should therefore follow a code of ethics, based on the universal standards of journalism: truth telling, accountability, honesty, fairness, and attribution.
Proper attribution underlies key issues in online journalism such as avoiding plagiarism, honouring intellectual property rights and giving sources proper credit. Linking is a key aspect of attribution.
Protocols of linking
Offering readers sources and providing links makes blogging more convincing and credible.
In my research, i found the following guidelines to linking ethics quite useful:
- The content linked to should be relevant to the subject. Stay on topic.
- Avoid plagiarism – don’t steal others’ work. Sources should be clearly attributed. This can be achieved by providing hypelinks to online references and original source materials.
- Never distort linked content without disclosing what has been changed. Where original content is changed say it so as to maintain the integrity of your blog.
- Build trust with readers – never link to inaccurate information — if the information is questionable, make it clear it’s in doubt. Publish as fact only that which you believe to be true. If your content is speculation, say so. If you find that you have linked to a story that was untrue, make a note of it and link to a more accurate report.
- Linking to referenced material also allows readers to judge for themselves the accuracy and insightfulness of your content. Therefore provide as many relevant links as possible, while ensuring that each link is credible.
- Always respect the intellectual property of others- content produced by others is republishable only with the explicit permissions. Read and understand disclaimers and copyrights properly before re-using material from other sources.
However, I was intrigued by Gina Chen’s ‘journalism rules’ you can break on your blog. Her point of view challenges the norm!