14th July 2015
By Stefanie Chernow

Ethical Journalism Newsletter: July 14, 2015


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Ethical Journalism News And Debates

S is for “secure”: Why news organizations are ditching (or should ditch) HTTP for HTTPS

Only a small subset of news organizations currently use HTTPS to secure their connections to readers, but a variety of incentives — from Google’s search rules to browser makers’ policies — are pushing them in that direction. (Read more on Nieman Lab)

How Islamic State uses killings to try to spread fear among media

The militant group Islamic State may be trying to push Syria back into the dark ages, but it is fighting a very modern war. From slick propaganda videos to online surveillance and wide restrictions on Internet use, the Islamic State is trying to control media output and stamp down on dissent. (Read more on The Committee to Protect Journalists)

IMPRESS board member resigns from rival press regulator and gives backing to IPSO

Former Sun journalist Sue Evison said she is now backing the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the successor body to the Press Complaints Commission which most major newspaper and magazine publishers belong to. (Read more on the Press Gazette)

Why newsrooms should train their communities in verification, news literacy, and eyewitness media

If newsrooms want to help stem the spread of misinformation online and get access to better eyewitness media they should embrace community engagement. (Read more on Medium)

Alessandra Stanley: Covering the uber-rich is like an ‘overseas assignment’

Billionaires create their own ecospheres for good as well as ill, but they aren’t really answerable to anyone except themselves. Is the NYT right to start a beat on the ultra-wealthy? (Read more on Poynter)

Reports and Resources

Egypt: Autocratic traditions limit options for media self-regulation

Adopting a self-regulatory system will not be easy for Egyptian media, despite the growing support of media leaders who recognise its vital importance. Their problem is that in a country dominated by state interference and legal traditions of media control, the power to effectively create media self-regulation lies elsewhere.

The ambiguity of the situation leaves the media’s future in flux, beholden to a transition period and waiting for an unclear legal environment to be brought more in line with the media freedoms and other positive principles enshrined in a newly- minted constitution.

Clearing the air and creating a new media landscape is meant to be the job of a still as yet unelected parliament, and there will certainly be a political and media battle of sorts when the actual writing of law begins.

Meanwhile, both sides of the equation – those working in the media, and those consuming the media – remain dissatisfied with the status quo.

There is more media, but there is also more media noise. The media landscape on all platforms is constantly growing.

But with all the new content choices available, there have also been serious breaches of media ethics, in the form of troubling but increasingly prevalent practices like airing leaked phone conversations, smear campaigns, an abundance of what appears to be paid journalism, and a preponderance of unverified rumors, especially on digital media and satellite television.

Read the full EJN report on self regulation here.

Denmark: Media transparency is the key in a world of challenges

It could have been just another book about media from a former drug addict, doorman and now an unknown journalist describing what everyone thought to be fiction and it would have been soon forgotten beyond a few book reviews. But as it turned out this book triggered the biggest scandal ever to hit media in Denmark when the description of how the news magazine Se og Hoer got their insider information turned out to be the truth and not fiction.

The author was largely unknown to the majority of media people in Denmark, so when Ken B. Rasmussen’s book of memoirs Livet det forbandede (The damned life) was announced, nobody noticed. But rumours began circulating among media insiders.

When the book hit the newsroom of Berlingske Tidende one of Denmark’s two daily tabloid papers they found his colourful stories from his work as a doorman in Los Angeles with huge addiction problems and celebrity sex much less interesting than the explosive details of undercover journalism and his description of how Se og Hoer allegedly was paying an inside source with access to bank details from credit cards during the years 2008-11. It set off an earthquake, because by getting these details the weekly magazine was able to publish exclusive stories about the Danish Royal family and celebrities.

Read the full EJN report on corruption in journalism here.


IJNet Live: How journalists can deal with ethical dilemmas

Around the world, reporters, editors and their news organizations are constantly tested ethically: In tough economic and political environments, journalists accept money in exchange for positive stories about a candidate. In more developed countries, top dogs at news organizations sometimes censor reporters based on an advertiser-publisher relationship. Who controls the Internet, where almost everyone now publishes, has also become an ethical issue for journalists.

Join IJNet for a live chat on July 15 at 10 a.m. EDT to learn more about how journalists can overcome these obstacles. Participants will be free to ask questions, pose their own ethical dilemmas and get advice from Aidan White, the director of the Ethical Journalism Network; Tom Kent, the standards editor at the Associated Press; and Ceren Sözeri, an associate professor at Galatasaray University in Istanbul.

Interested participants can enter the chat here on the day of the event or ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag#IJNetLive.

During the chat, White, Kent and Sözeri will discuss EJN’s most recent report, Untold Stories: How Corruption and Conflicts of Interest Stalk the Newsroom. Untold Stories focuses on various ethical issues throughout 18 diverse countries, including the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Colombia, India, Egypt and nations across Eastern Europe.

More information can be found at IJNet.