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Reporters' Roundtable: Ethics in online journalism (podcast)

In the Roundtable today, CNET editor-in-chief Scott Ard and the Poynter Institute's Kelly McBride discuss how new forms of media are changing what we expect from our news sources.

The linchpin of the topic of ethics on online journalism is, of course, "Gizmodogate," in which tech blog Gizmodo paid to acquire a prototype iPhone that an Apple employee left behind in a bar and picked up by someone else.

But the iPhone story isn't the only time that the ethics of tech blogs have been called into question, and in fact traditional journalism has its own high-profile ethical lapses. Think of the plagarism and fabrication scandal around reporter Jayson Blair at the New York Times, or NBC's Dateline TV investigation where producers rigged explosives into GM trucks to prove that they were prone to exploding in accidents.

Online journalism and blogging does change things, however. Today we're going to look at how and why. Our guests are CNET's own editor-in-chief Scott Ard. Also: Kelly McBride from the Poynter Institute. Kelly is a journalist and journalism ethics expert with a deep and fascinating background covering complex news stories. The Poynter Institue is a resource for journalists at all levels in their careers.

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Show notes and talking points

Let's review the Gizmodo case. What went wrong here?

What is a journalist? What about citizen jouranlism?

Other tech journalism flubs - TechCrunch and the Twitter documents? Gizmodo and the TV remotes at CES?

Scott, tell us about CNET News and Reviews. Are we really so different?

The role of rumor... (CBSNews posting of Ben Domenech column about Elena Kagan.)

Kelly, it seems to me that the Internet rewards slopppy or Rushed journalsm, or what's been called, "process journalism"

Let's talk about the NDA or embargo. Scott, what is it, why do we sign them?

Do consumers of news and information really care about ethics -- or is it just old farts like us who drum up the outrage?

How can you tell if your news source is ethical? Why should you care?

Can the citizens become as good as "professional" journalists?


Importance of editors

Next time: The patent mess. Everybody's suing everying, and it seems every tech company owns some intellectual piece of every other. We'll untangle it, look at why patents matter, what's wrong with them, and propose some fixes. Don't miss it. With Molly Wood & guest TBA.

After that, Roundtable moves to a new time, noon pacific, 3pm eastern, each friday. On May 21 we'll have: The infrastructure of the 21st century and how the Internet could kill it, with Elinor Mills and special guest Joseph Weiss.

E-mail comments to, and get all the show notes as well as replays and downloads of the podcast on the blog. Watch my Twitter feed (@Rafe) for updates.