Last week brought about some high-profile journalistic ethics questions, with no resolution necessarily imminent.
For instance, NBC has entered a development deal for a movie based on the story of Brett Anderson and his teenaged daughter who was kidnapped and whose mother and brother were murdered. This followed exclusive news interviews on NBC. Is it an ethical breach for one arm of your company to pay those who were sources of information for another arm of your company? Paul Farhi of the Washington Post looks at the dilemma and doesn't conclude one way or the other.
Then there is a 60 Minutes report last week on last year's attack on U.S. officials in Benghazi. Last week Media Matters raised the question of the differences in the story 60 Minutes heard from an eyewitness and the story he supposedly told the FBI and other U.S. officials. Media attention has grown on the different stories, as have calls for a retraction, but 60 Minutes has so far held its ground and stood by the story.
Lewis D'Vorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, has a distinct view on digital accuracy: He thinks quality means something different in print than in digital, that the Internet is a self-correcting body due to the public scrutiny and intervention, and that his organization has a code of ethics but freedom to operate within it as a contributor with a finger on the Send button. In his view: "Accountability must be moved to the producer of the content."
As for consumers of content, there is good news for Twitter: Its news consumers are young, educated and mobile, ingredients bound to attract advertising support. A new Pew Research report indicates 8 per cent of U.S. adults get news through Twitter. Analysis of the data also indicates that much of what is shared is breaking news, that sentiments shift constantly, and that conversations don't necessarily reflect public opinion.
Last month a Yale University study suggested major U.S. media were more clearly conservative in their depiction of National Security Agency surveillance, using pro-surveillance terms more often than pro-freedom terms in their stories. It has extended this analysis into more consciously conservative media and affirmed the finding. Its conclusion: the coverage isn't necessarily a reflection of a "pro-state" bias because that's difficult to define, but it is "capturing a meaningful divide" in society.