By Amna Khan.
With the emergence of smart phones and social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, digital media is changing the nature of traditional journalism and its ethics. Now publishing is directly in the hands of citizens in the form of participating in live news coverage, writing blogs, commenting on live commentary. Digital journalism is more interactive and immediate. Media ethics deals with ethical norms and practices and other ethical problems.
The digital media and its influence are very rapid and substantial. The professional journalistic domain has been shared with citizens as journalists, the twitterati, different bloggers and other digital media users. This enables citizens to comment, contribute and share their own opinion on the event, news and the topic. But freedom of expression comes with responsibility as well.
Every revolution brings new possibilities and practices and threatens the existing ones. The migration of audience to digital media leaves the Newspaper journalism struggles a bit at economical front. Contraction of media (newspaper and newsrooms) to smart phone screens creates concern for traditional journalism. Economical fears prompt experimentation in the journalism and paving way for investigative journalism, breaking news stories and scandals online by the citizens. The traditional old newspapers are forced to move to online editions and giving space to the citizens to comment on any story. Though newspapers filter and edit the comments of the citizens at different levels.
With evolution of digital media, the old media ethics are not enough for future needs as modern day is more direct, interactive and always on. The existing principles were developed over the past century for more traditional, professional and mass commercial newspapers. Now the need of the hour is to develop ethics that cover not only commercial and professional journalism but also bound the citizens to remain within the ethical sphere while contributing, commenting and sharing a story or news.
The challenge is how the newsroom or electronic media verify the contents shared by the citizens. The traditional journalism is more accurate, the editors have time to re-verify the news before publishing. The online or digital journalism more have a culture of immediacy, partiality, non professional journalism and post publication corrections. The other challenge is the global impact of digital media. We have seen that impact in different parts of the world already in the form of Arab Spring and in Hong Kong as well.
Media ethics need to be revised and discussed more frequently on different levels to redefine them as per the needs of current times. It is the time to educate the participants of digital media to be more responsible while sharing. Any unverified content can just be a rumor or an allegation and can impact the personal lives of others as well as can impact the opinion making on a larger scale.
Amna Khan is currently a student of BS Media and Communication.