curation #2: ethics edicts

since when did the practice of journalism allow for uncritically making shit up?”

(Danah Boyd, Poynter)

Ethical practice for journalists is at the same time solid and shaky.

Fundamentally solid because we’re all believers, but even an undetectable tremor of ambition, bias, haste or exaggeration can lead to a rockslide.

Oxford has its layman definition. Australian journalism has the MEAA’s code. These synthesise into honesty and accuracy, fairness and integrity, and are similar worldwide: Pew Research

Poynter’s Truth and Trust in Media offers advice and information. Danah Boyd’s  message is Do No Harm, telling of her vain search for truth in a scare-mongering headline. The Ethics Blog sees the goals as truth, transparency and engagement.

UC Berkeley’s Edward Wasserman comments on unflagged takings between news organisations: a failure to acknowledge previous work – nourishment of a story  – is wrong, particularly if it robs the credit from a developing business.

Craig Silverman’s Sep’2012 blog about (American) Journalism’s Summer of Sin bemoaned a lack of accountability for plagiarism or fabrication accusations. He identified a dearth of agreed best practice, guidelines and checks. Acting on this, the American Copy Editors Society produced Telling the Truth and Nothing But as a preventative guide.

So how is aggregation/curation different to plagiarism?

The Buttry Diary quotes Andy Carvin, who says that journalism has always been about curation, even before it was called that. Buttry advocates link, attribute, add value as the prime ethical guidelines, and emphasises verification. Online Journalism Blog differentiates curation styles – relay, combine or distil – and informs on ways to add value with illustration and context, and organise with lists.

Mindy McAdams references Jeff Jarvis with ‘museum style’ curation for journalists: sort, choose and display. McAdams advises selection, culling, context and arrangement as vital elements

And, to bring us home: UOW Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Policy


curation #1: verify or be damned!

“Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth…

Its essence is a discipline of verification”

(Pew Research Journalism Project)


For a journalist, failing to verify facts and sources is potentially a name & shame embarrassment and a bad career move. Poynter’s Craig Silverman  – Regret the Error – tracks them.

On trusting Twitter, Steve Buttry advises using sources, checking connections, profiles, timings and images. On fact checking: find the source, ask ‘how do you know that?’, evaluate that source, challenge the information.

Silverman and Buttry are both contributors to the Verification Handbook.

Felix Salmon posted that the need to scoop is the most ‘masturbating‘ thing a journalist can do. Only the reporter actually cares. Matthew Ingram elaborates: The news audience doesn’t care where they heard it first,  but do care who told it accurately.

Jennifer Preston of the NYT spoke to Andrew Fitzgerald about the importance of twitter in breaking stories like the Hudson plane crash, the Arab Spring, and Boston marathon bombing, and maintains ” it’s more important to get it right than to get it first.”

Alex Murray at the The BBC’s User Generated Content Hub describes systems for verifying images and clips that are almost forensic: checking weather, shadows, weaponry, vehicles and license plates, getting expert advice on accents and dialects. It’s a necessity, whether it takes seconds or hours.

Biz Carson flags the potential of Izitru to host and verify images

When to trust social media? Jeff Sonderman applies the qualified compass of credibility, importance and urgency

What are other journalists doing?  Craig Silverman reports on Verification as a Strategic Ritual , a research paper sourced from journalists’ own practices: Informed compromises, roundabout methods and reliance on previous experience.

And should you trip here in Australia? Beware Media Watch and ABC Fact Check.





Verification as a Strategic Ritual Ivor Shapiro, Colette Brin, Isabelle Bédard-Brûlé, Kasia Mychajlowycz, Journalism Practice ,Vol. 7, Iss. 62013