Code of Ethics for Citizen Journalists (Bloggers)

A lot of discussion is currently on-going about the need for bloggers/citizen journalist to adopt a sort of “code of conducts” for their chosen passion in new media and...

A lot of discussion is currently on-going about the need for bloggers/citizen journalist to adopt a sort of “code of conducts” for their chosen passion in new media and citizen journalism.
According to Lanita Pace; Director of Multimedia and Technology Programs at the Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism;

Every news organization has only its credibility and reputation to rely on.

I couldn’t disagree with her when she made those comments during a training session I attended for Independent Journalist from across the world where I happened to be the only African blogger. I had the opportunity to network and interact with other professional bloggers where we shared ideas, deliberated on best practices from each others region and work. I managed to buy a domain, developed a full blog right after that workshop.

Global Voices Bloggers


Somewhere in July, 2011 at a workshop organized by the National Democratic Institute in Beirut, Lebanon; young citizen journalists from the MENA Region & Iran with the help of Kelli Arena, Magda Abdu-Fadil and the Digital Strategy Consultant; Ayman Itani, held a session on “Citizen Journalism, Professionalism, and Ethics”.
Here they discussed guidelines for Good Citizen Journalistic Practices below via Afef Abrogui’s blog:

  • Be accurate and fair.
  • Avoid profanity.
  • Do not distribute copyrighted material or plagiarize.
  • Do not post anything that will endanger someone’s life.
  • Do not fabricate stories, or digitally alter pictures or video.
  • Put a disclaimer before especially disturbing post.
  • Disclose any funding.
  • Always link to original sources.
  • Do not sell information about your subscribers or followers’ list.
  • Be transparent about who you are/your role in the story, your methodology, any conflicts of interest.
  • Be careful posting developments that have not been confirmed or that you have not witnessed yourself.

A colleague in my office think; the code of conduct, would prevent users from committing libel, despite being unenforceable through the law.

What do you think? Could a code of conduct have a negative impact on citizen journalism? Would it make it easier for individuals to prosecute user-generated content under libel laws, or would it help to protect citizen journalists from committing “libel” inadvertently?

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Award-winning Ghanaian technology blogger, Mac-Jordan shares insights and stories on African innovations, digital marketing, startups, tech entrepreneurs and helpful tips for starter entrepreneurs. Get in touch: mj@macjordangh.com or text: +233(0)544335582.

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