By Dylan Nelson
There are ethical guidelines for journalists. How about for bloggers?
The Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago is one organization that is pushing for more responsibility in Internet media. The center’s mission is “to foster more dialogue, research, and guidelines regarding ethical behavior in online and digital environments,” according to its website. The latest from the center is a list of “best practices for bloggers,” as reported in the Inside Loyola newsletter:
A set of best practices for bloggers and a Web site devoted to ethics online are the first major initiatives launched by Loyola University Chicago’s new Center for Digital Ethics and Policy. “Best Practices for Bloggers: Dimensions for Consideration,” housed at www.digitalethics.org, is intended to serve, both nationally and internationally, as a guideline for ethics in the digital and new media world.
Blogs have emerged as a unique and popular new media channel. They have become platforms for discussions of every conceivable topic, 24-hours-a-day, all over the world–with a pace and reach that can have unintended consequences for users. “Best Practices for Bloggers” presents a series of questions to consider as individuals construct, update, or maintain their blog.
“What’s great about this is that it outlines best practices and offers suggestions for ethical blogging behavior, but it does it in a manner that doesn’t restrict individuals’ creativity or freedom of expression,” said Adrienne Massanari, PhD, assistant professor of new and digital media and the center’s director. “The guidelines are instead created to give current and would-be bloggers some idea of the kinds of ethical challenges they will need to address at some point during their tenure.”
This set of best practices also includes guidance on determining and implementing a desired degree of transparency, attribution practices and styles, the responsibilities of blogging, and how to protect creative content, truth, and citizenship of blogs. Two-way interaction is also encouraged, as readers are given an opportunity to comment on the best practices guide, as well as any other content featured on the site.
The Center for Digital Ethics and Policy, which resides in the School of Communication, is the result of a $10,000 grant from Loyola’s Office of Research Services. The center has also received a $50,000 grant from McCormick Foundation to put together a conference this fall on digital citizenship and news literacy.
“People need to think about ethics in this new digital world–everything from how they behave online to what it will mean to be a citizen in a digital world,” said Don Heider, PhD, dean of the School of Communication. “I expect this center to have an impact on everything–from how we teach our undergraduate students to what research our faculty does in the coming years.”
In addition to best practices for bloggers, the new interactive Web site will feature essays and book reviews written by Loyolans and guest faculty members from across the country discussing timely topics like Facebook privacy, ethical online behavior, and more.