The field of journalism is changing rapidly as technology advances, audience habits change, the marketplace evolves and the news cycle hits warp speed. Some argue that journalism ethics need to change as well.
Whether journalists can be activists isn’t a new question, but it’s one that’s still being heatedly discussed– especially as digital technologies increasingly make it easy for anyone to create and publish media content. Some say journalism and activism are mutually exclusive because activism, by its very nature, compromises the journalism ethics of balance and neutrality.
Others argue activism is compatible with journalism as long as people are open about their agendas. One of these is Dan Gillmor, a columnist for the Guardian and a university professor who regularly teaches and writes about digital media. He is also the author of several books including Mediactive and We the Media (pdf), which popularized the concept of citizen journalism.
Ahead of a visit to Germany where he is speaking at DW’s Global Media Forum, Dan Gillmor spoke to onMedia about how he defines journalism, uncovering journalism in unexpected places and why he doesn’t trust Facebook.
Every natural disaster, shooting, terror attack or war nowadays triggers a flood of horrifying and violent images. Gone are the days when only press photographers captured grief and terror with their lenses. In the digital age, bystanders can also snap shots of severed limbs and burnt corpses with their phones and cameras and upload them directly online.
How should media organizations handle such graphic images? When is it justifiable to publish photographs of the injured, the dying and the dead? Is it sensationalism to splash the bloodied body of Libya’s dead dictator Muammar Gaddafi across the front page of a newspaper? Is it appropriate to print photos of children killed by bombs in Syria? What about the images of victims, some with shredded limbs, that were published following the Boston marathon bomb blasts?