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民間記者的倫理

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因為港台的訪問, 最近常常想民間記者的倫理問題. 記得在剛開始推這概念的時候, 主要是建基在對主流媒體的批評之上, 說主流的空間被政治經濟力量入侵, 說主流記者在競爭的壓力下無法做好記者專業的要求. 而民間記者的動力來自自身, 對身邊事情的了解比記者深入, 在網上可以透過互動來檢驗報導的真確性等等...

記得去年在牛棚的討論會上Jimmy已指出, 民間記者不能把真確性的事留給讀者自己去判斷和查證, 而主流差並不代表民間記者會做得比他們好. 當場我無法回應, 只能說以DIY的方式邊做邊學.

其實過去幾個月來, 覺得在In-media的民間記者報導真的不錯, 大家對自己的報導非常負責, 亦沒有出現網絡流氓式的批評.

但現象回應不了Jimmy的問題, 亦不能消除人家的疑慮, 因為在網絡中, 有太多的populism出現, 美國右翼民粹主義者利用網絡散播各種歧視和戰爭的言論令人咋舌, 若說民間記者的純潔和責任在於他們的自發spontaneous, 是說不通的. 而當我們要在社會上鼓吹民間記者的實踐, 亦要回應這核心問題.

正好過去一個月, 美國的blogger搞了一個關於blogger journalism的公信力和倫理的會議, 對我啟發很大. 美國不愧為一個富有民主經驗的社會. 面對著新的現象或民主的工具, 他們很快就去討論這民主工具的內涵, 而當中最核心的問題是價值和倫理.

報告叫: Earn your own trust, roll your own ethics: transparency and beyond

我覺得有志發展網絡空間的都認該一讀. 報告沒有區分blogger journalism 和 traditional journalism, 而是去打破兩者的分隔, 探討新的倫理實踐. 當中有一個有關 existential journalism 和social responsibility journalism 之間的爭論, 很有意思, 報告者沒有在兩者之間作出取捨, 而是保持了兩者之間的張力.

以下是報告的剪輯

Summary

This paper explores the ethical implications of blogging. Our central premise: the act of publishing almost always holds consequences for stakeholders beyond the writer. Our major question: what are the writer.s obligations
to those stakeholders? Our main conclusions: Transparency is a first step in building trust
with an audience but is insufficient to achieve credibility. We do not prescribe ethics standards for bloggers. Instead, we recommend that bloggers involve their audience in a co-authored process that addresses the personal information the bloggers are willing to share, the principles they stand for, and the processes they follow.

Transparency

Transparency can alert the audience to important information. It addresses the critical question of how the work is created. Transparency by itself rarely reveals much of the why, though, and that.s a critical dimension for any audience. That.s why we urge bloggers . as we urge journalists . to be transparent about the principles they stand for and the processes they follow in the course of upholding them.

User-generated ethics

The idea, in brief, is for bloggers to invite questions from their audience about what
questions they have about the blog, what might increase their level of trust, etc.

Ethics: more about process than rules

Ethics should not be seen as a set of rules aimed at restricting the flow of information.
Instead, think of ethics as a system that you and your audience can use to share as much
information as appropriate
. and to explain just what criteria you.ve considered in
arriving at decisions toward that end.

Good journalism evokes a wide range of emotion and provokes people to act, whether that involves expressing choices in a voting booth or engaging in spirited discussions with family or friends about the latest news. High quality reporting serves the civic good.

Journalists who fail in their duty create negative consequences. Citizens are uninformed or misinformed. Poor reporting can produce apathy. It can create rumors and cause fear. Incompetent journalists cause harm, sometimes damaging reputations and victimizing vulnerable people. Bad journalism fails to serve the public good.

Journalists create relationships with those they serve. They do this sometimes by
informing with news stories, sometimes by enlightening through analysis, sometimes by provoking with opinion. These relationships are built on trust.
Those receiving the
information must have confidence that what they are getting measures up. When the trust erodes, the credibility of the journalist falls and the value of the information declines.

Existential journalism vs. Hitchins journalism

Merrill.s concept of existential journalism is rooted, in many ways, to the Libertarian
theory of the press
. That approach is in considerable tension with the concept of social responsibility.

The social responsibility concept was a product of the Commission on Freedom of the Press, the so-called Hutchins Commission, in the mid-1940s. Lambeth writes: .Rather
than merely keep hands off the press, as libertarian doctrine demands, social
responsibility theorists urged the press, government, and the public to actively promote not only freedom of expression but also the requirements the Hutchins Commission defined for a free and responsible press.

Fact checking your ass

More and more journalists are realizing that blogging can help them increase their
transparency . and their credibility . with their audience. They.re opening their eyes to a fact of life that Dan Gillmor has taken up as something of a creed: the readers (at least some of them) know more about a story than its author does.

Principle, Process and Person

Disclosure in all three areas . principles and processes as well as the personal . can help
you move beyond transparency to accountability. That means not simply the disclosure of personal information you.re willing to share, but the justification of your actions that comes with discussion of principles you uphold and processes you follow on your blog.

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