Social Media Sites Develop Best Practices Guide for Political Reporting

By Nicole Gennarelli

The 2012 Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop brought together professionals from different journalism and political backgrounds to discuss the ethics topic of political reporting. Although the workshop is over, the conversation surrounding media ethics and best practices in political reporting continues.

Kent State University, the Poynter Institute, the Civic Commons and the Journalism Accelerator have partnered to create a series of online conversations surrounding issues journalists face when covering politics. The four topics include: What happens when social media and political coverage collide, managing the ethical minefields of “access journalism,” fact checking and delivering coverage voters deserve. From these conversations, an Ethics Best Practices Guide to Political Coverage will be created.

“The Journalism Accelerator is going to curate the conversation that’s happening online,” said Jan Leach, workshop organizer and associate professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “They’re not aggregating from a lot of places but looking at the comments that are there and picking out the top points. We’re going to take the top points about political media reporting and develop a best practices guide.”

The Best Practices Guide will be published in places such as Poynter Online, Journalism Accelerator’s website and the JMC website, plus the permanent archives for the 2012 Ethics Workshop, Leach said.

Lisa Skube, founder of Journalism Accelerator, said she felt online conversations and a resulting best practices guide are a terrific opportunity to partner with smart people thinking hard about the future of journalism as well as an excellent way to crowd source something of lasting value – the guide to political coverage.

“Ethics are a key piece of building trust, and trust has become ever more crucial in defining the value of journalism as people have more choices about what information they seek,” Skube said.

“We hope the Ethical Best Practices for political coverage that will come out of the conference and the online conversations on the Journalism Accelerator afterwards will both reflect and shape the industry,” said Emily Harris, who is responsible for editorial content on Journalism Accelerator.

Leach said she hopes the Journalism Accelerator will be a partner in the Ethics Workshop again next year and continue the conversation online for the 2013 Conference.

“Extending the conversation is the thing,” Leach said. “It’s not just participating for one day and going back to your classroom or newsroom and forgetting it. It’s being able to say you learned something and here’s what came of it.”

For more information and to participate in the online conversation visit the Journalism Accelerator website.


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