“Social Machine” needs Emergent Guidelines

17 Mar

The advancement of  “social machine” tends to alarm a sign of proper guidelines for the performances of contemporary online journalism. “Social machine” here refers to the modern communication devices such as iphones, ipads and ipods etc. The so-called guidelines here mean the codes of ethics when it comes to online journalism. Generally, the codes of ethics cover honesty, fairness, independence, and respect for the rights of others.  Since the codes of ethics are hardly able to update simultaneously as the technological devices progress. Certain problems put pressure on the updating of ethical codes for the suitability of online journalism. In this blog, I will focus on three points: Speed v.s. Accuracy, Advertising Pressure and Hyperlink.

Speed and anonymity provided by the Internet can play fast and loose with journalistic ethics at the same time. The immediacy brought by the online environment makes everyone who can access to the Internet a potential publisher and “allows for even less deliberation by journalists and editor.”  (Bowd, 2002). In addition, with the increase number of amateur journalists online, for example, the professional bloggers, they tend to devalue the news or story content and there is always being a debate of quality online journalism. What is quality jounalism? I think the basic thing is the facity. It’s unfair for the readers to spend hours to experience paragraphs of “lie”. With the mixture of professional and amateur journalist, the conflict on which one to choose to trust on and rely on as a daily informer. However, the balance between the immediacy and refreshness of journalistic content and the verification of the fact of the content that has been published is often struggling.

Moreover, the pressures of the advertisement is importantly regarded as independence, which is a critical part of  journalistic ethics.  It is because readers are not the potential payers for the content they see online except from special reasons. Even, most of the readers take for granted that online reading is free. In this case,  it forces the online news organizations to gain their revenue from sources like advertising. This, in some way betray the newsworthiness of the online content because people are not online for jams of advertisement, however, the online news organization seems to enjoy the feeling of making a fortune.

Lastly, the intensity of the Hyperlink drives the order of online journalism down. it seems that the gate keepers for  codes of ethics to keep online journalism suitable is a faraway fairytale. It is normal phenomenon that when we use search engine to find out certain content, the hyperlink we click on link you to irrelevant websites and mostly they are negative such as porn or violence or a special way of online advertising etc.

Richard said in ‘uncharted water: journalism ethics in the 21st century’ – “New forms of journalism require new approaches to ethics. Many current ethical issues will remain, and other will emerge. Increasing consolidation of corporate media and the continued evolution of the Internet complicate the ethics of online journalism further. The need for a global approach, requiring a shared set of values, also poses a challenge for journalists in all media.” (cited in Osborn, 2001, pp.4)


AJA Code of Ethics. [Online], (2004). Available: (Accessed  16/03/2011)

Bowd, K. (2002) “Left in technology’s wake? Codes of ethics and online news,” Australian Journalism Review, vol.24, no.2, pp.41-59

Carr D., January 20,2010, ‘Dialing in a Plan: The Times Installs a Meter on Its Future’ in Media Decoder,The New York Times, Available: (Accessed  16/03/2011)

Cohen, E. (2002) “Online Journalism as Market-Driven Journalism”, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 46, no. 4, pp.532-548

Osborn B., 2001, ‘Ethics and Credibility in Online Jounalism’, journal 6702: Current Issues in Jounalism, The University of Memphis, Tennessee



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