Personal or professional?

Veering away from Egypt for one more post, I want to mention a discussion we started in my “Journalism Ethics and Issues” class today about Twitter. Is it personal or professional?

We have been discussing Twitter in “Reinventing the News” with Professor Kennedy. As media professionals work to remodel the journalism business in the 21st century, many people believe the instantaneous nature of the Internet is a key element to the industry’s capability. But, for journalists, a problem arises: Should they publish – via tweets – information as soon as it is known, even when the nature of the medium itself dictates that the information will lack context? Or should journalists hold off and spend time getting the context of the story, vetting it through a more regular editorial process and publishing it in a more traditional, less instantaneous medium?

As I have mentioned in previous posts and as my professor mentioned in Ethics today, Twitter allows journalists to discover breaking stories, conduct interviews and promote their work. Basically, it is a virtual Rolodex for media professionals.

But, ethically speaking, Twitter has the potential to be dangerous. The personal element of Twitter can result in unethical behavior or a blurring of traditional boundaries between journalists and citizens. Companies, such as Reuters, make large revenues from being the first organization to break news. Twitter challenges the standard journalistic business model.

Twitter naturally lends itself to divulging information as if to a friend, and can result in tweets that have a personal tone. Twitter can cause journalists to twitter away standards, or allow them to tweet the future of journalism. Which will be the outcome in this technologically-driven world? I’ll let you decide.

Inserted photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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