Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Internet Reporting Etiquette

After our editing exercise this morning, I began thinking a bit about online reporting etiquette. As thorough as our AP Guidebook and The Elements of Style are, there doesn't seem to be much in our texts about how to handle online content. For instance, it was suggested that some of the more detailed information from the parking meter story would be better suited for the internet. However, do journalists have an obligation to let online readers know what made it into the paper and what did not?

I also wonder about some of the internet journalism trademarks, particularly hyperlinks. Occasionally, I'll see links - like this one - to articles without written attribution. It's just assumed that readers will follow that information if they want to learn more. However, the moment you distribute that information offline, that additional layer is completely lost on the audience. I'm also curious about comment moderation. We read about a few examples of readers being stifled in some of our readings last semester, but what about clearly offensive posts or spam? For the sake of transparency, moderators should include reasons for why posts were deleted, but I remain unsure of how much detail should go into these explanations.

Perhaps we don't need an accepted journalistic style for online writing. The nature of the internet is a bit prohibitive to these kinds of controls. However, I think that journalists should be open about their internet editing policies.

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