Category Archives: Assignments

Dunkin Donut pull off ad due to critcism by the blogosphere

Dunkin’ Donuts pulled off an add featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray wearing a black-and-white fringed scarf on its website after criticisms by bloggers. The black-and-white scarf was said by blogger of Little Green Footballs to be typically worn by Muslim extremists. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin fanned the flames by calling the scarf “jihadi chic”. The “fire” spread and soon, hundred of people posted comments condemning Dunkin’ Donuts.

This incident highlights the nature of the blogosphere. Firstly, it shows that companies are gradually responding to the bloggers and the big influence of the blogosphere on business models. Secondly, it shows the immediacy of the Internet makes response to public outcry faster. Definitely a good medium for social change, well, if used appropriately.

“Mr. Hirshberg said that the immediacy of the Internet made it seem like
an immediate response was necessary, no matter how far-fetched the
accusations. “The alternative is to assume that people will simply see
through it, draw their own conclusions, and chuckle it off,” he said.”

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Top 3 reasons why bloggers should follow a code of ethics

How many times have you asked yourself if what you are reading on a blog is trustworthy? And what makes the blog trustworthy? The number of people who linked to this blogger? The number of votes the blog gets on Techmeme? Would it make things better if the blogger is transparent about his methods of getting news and state that he follows a code of ethics?

In the world of the Internet where anyone can assume any identity and anyone can manipulate digital information, it is increasingly harder to tell if a blogger is telling the truth. This all boils down to trust in the integrity of the blogger, which first and for most, must be build by adopting a code of ethics similar to that the SPJ code of ethics or the PRSA code of ethics.

1) Firstly, the blogosphere is gaining a strong presence in the field of mainstream journalism and shaping how journalism functions. Hence bloggers should also associate themselves with the way journalism work by adopting the code of ethics. The blogosphere’s sphere of influence can be seen in how almost every major newspaper such as The New York Times, The Seattle-PI, and the Washington Post have a blog section, and many people are turning to the blogosphere for news and political updates. The blogosphere also helped in breaking news and exposing unscrupulous methods of organizations to the public. In the light of wiki-journalism, and collaborative investigative journalism, bloggers have gained importance in how news are created. If reporters are going to use the information provided by the bloggers, these information must be credible and methods of acquiring them be transparent for all to see. Hence, it is necessary for the bloggers to adopt a similar code of ethics to ensure that the final output (published article) is pieced together with reliable information.

2) If blogs are shown in the public domain, it is necessary for the information to be true. When a piece of information goes public, there is a unspoken assumption that it is true. For example, when a poster advertising an event is posted in public places, the readers will trust that the information is true. Similarly, when a blog is in the public domain, it is under the same assumption that it is true. Although the Internet makes it easy to fake information and identity, people often have the assumption that a news and political blog is true because of the nature of its content. And the assumption that it has to be true is further accentuated by the fact that it is a political blog put on public. Furthermore, to put content for all to see shows that the blogger is confident that his content is accurate and able to withstand public scrutiny. Therefore, the assumption that all things on the public domain is true will mean that the blogger has to be accurate and ethical in his reporting. It would be easier for the blogger to remain accurate and ethical if he adopts a code of ethics that help guide his reporting.

3) Contrary to arguments that adopting a code of ethics may restrict what bloggers want to say via the blogosphere and going against the idea of free expression, having a code of ethics will give the blogger the liberty to express within a workable boundary. Often times, bloggers aren’t aware of what their rights are, what they can do or not do. They end up self-censoring themselves, and as a result, create a boundary within a boundary. With knowledge of the guidelines, they can exercise informed freedom.

Also, one must note that the extent of the freedom of expression varies from a personal blog to a political/news blog. The nature of the content carries different weight and influence and consequences. Like it or not, there is a limit on the amount of freedom of expression we can have on our political blog. For instance, you can rant about how much you hate your day and everyone around you without giving solid evidence. However, if you rant about how the government is inefficient and are corrupted, you need to prove it with evidence before you can freely express this statement. Hence, by virtue of the nature of the content on a political/news blog, there are restrictions on the bloggers’ freedom of expression.

With bloggers becoming more influential in the journalism field, the public will need to know if the bloggers are trustworthy. Thus, it is necessary for bloggers to adopt a code of ethics that increases their credibility and public trust. Furthermore, whatever is in the public domain is assumed to be true. Bloggers can also be informed about the framework in which they can operate within, thus reducing self-censorship. Public trust is often hard to build and maintain, but easy to tear down. Hence, adopting a code of ethics help draw the public closer to the blogosphere, and also serves as a reminder to the blogger to have integrity in his work. No one needs to be taught how to be ethical, but they need to be reminded of it.

Hence, go ahead, and start selecting certain codes that you want to operate by, and post them on your blog for all to see. Not only will you gain trust from your readers, soon, you may be getting a faithful group of followers who are hungry for truth, which you have promised to provide them in your code of ethics.

Netizens help put racist blogger behind bars

Singapore: While many people around the world often view Singapore as having limited freedom of speech, even on the internet, this article on a blogger being arrested for making racist remarks, proves that this is not exactly the case. Yes, yes, a blogger got arrested for his racist remarks, but how did he get found out? The government certainly did not police the Internet. It was fellow netizens who brought this to the attention of the police.

“The case came to the attention of police on May 19 when they received
two reports complaining of the alleged posts by the suspect.”

Is Man vs Wild ethical in its production methods?

Recently, I have been really hooked on the reality series on “Man vs Wild” on Discovery Channel, that features the host, Bear Grylls, going round the world’s most dangerous places and teaching the audience survival skills. It is pretty fascinating to me, at least i get to “visit” these places in the comfort of my couch. However, there was a series of accusations that the show is a fraud, and that Bear stayed in hotels and had experts with him to help him along or build rafts. Numerous clips on You-tube showed that the show is actually staged, and even wildlife were brought into the scene so that they can film and simulate the actual environment. Here is one that is pretty informative:

Man vs Hotel:

Well, it seems pretty unethical to me. But on the other hand, the goal of the programme is to educate the audience on survival skills should they encounter such a situation. Hence, it would be necessary for the crew to bring in animals from ranch etc, to show the audience how to survive. Plus, it is definitely necessary to have an expert around to give advice for the safety of Bear. But all these practical and necessary factors seem to reduce the awesomeness and reality of the show.

And guess what, we wouldn’t have known about this if not for the P2P websites like you-tube. It is a good example of the internet community being the fifth estate in the broadcast sphere.

Seattlepi scores in decision to not publish photos of two men who looked Middle Eastern

The blogosphere was criticized for the recent FBI blooper:

The FBI called off a global manhunt for two men who looked Middle Eastern and were on board the Washington State Ferry last summer. These men were found to be innocent tourists on a business trip snapping photos, and not displaying “an inordinate interest in the operation of the shipboard systems”.

But before this came to light, the newspapers faced a dilemma of publishing the photos of these men as this violated civil rights and infringed on one’s privacy. Yet in the blogosphere, freedom of speech reigned.

Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights and advocacy group, criticized the blogosphere’s response to the situation:

“Anti-Muslim Internet hate sites; the bloggers; the ones that routinely say ’round up the usual Muslim suspects’; the extremist commentators that would be willing give up the rights of others to create a false sense of security for themselves.”

But here’s a blogger who is against the Seattlepi’s decision not to publish it.

The blogger, Michelle Malkin, criticized the P-I’s decision by saying:

“Ignoring the very real threat of ferry-based terrorism, the Seattle P-I refused to run the FBI photos in a politically correct pique and instead made light of the matter by holding an idiotic haiku contest about the alert”

This debate about whether or not to publish the pictures really boils down to journalism ethics and the potter box guidelines. If the P-I’s loyalty is to the public safety, the editor will share the same sentiments as Malkin. But if their loyalty is to the individual’s rights, then the editor would not publish the photos to protect the suspects’ privacy and give them the benefit of the doubt that they are innocent till proven guilty.

In the new age where the world is shrouded in fear against terrorism, journalists would have to rethink their loyalties and make ethical decisions that are complex. It makes it harder when we often come under scrutiny by the public, whose fear for their safety is not unfounded. It is a decision we all have to juggle with in future.

The rules only apply in America argh?

Ever wondered what the world thinks of America?

Sami Al-Hadj, a Sudanese cameraman for Al-Jazeera, was detained six years ago in the gulag at Guantanamo by the  United States on  grounds of suspicion to make a case against Al-Jazeera.  He is said to be innocent, and is “now nearly an old man as a result of the business of systemic destruction imposed in the name of a disfigured civilization and in utter defiance of the central principles of democracy”. The reporter  adopts a very anti-US tone,  claiming that U.S. practices double standards in the advocation of free press and democracy:

“The United States is indeed a democracy: Within its own borders, the rule of law is enshrined. But beyond its walls, only the law of the jungle prevails.”

Obama’s latest advertisement takes a hit at Clinton “Same old Washington politics”

Obama’s new campaign advertisement, released just hours after Clinton’s advertisement, hits back at her “same old Washington politics that won’t fix our problem”. Instead, Obama is said to be “the president we can trust”.