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ethics

How Should Publishers Assign Value to Writers?

SIAmong all the highly complicated questions media companies are grappling with, Time Inc. is still in a seriously unique transitional period. But when Gawker reported that the publisher — more specifically, Sports Illustrated magazine — scores its editorial writers based on how much they benefit the respective magazine’s advertiser relationships, it was a bit hard for me to feel sorry for them.

To be fair, that’s not the only thing they’re applying a numerical value to. “Quality of Writing,” “Impact of Stories/Newsworthiness,” “Productivity/Tenacity,” “Audience/Traffic,” “Video,” “Social” and “Enthusiasm/Approach to Work” are all categories that appear on the writers’ scorecards. But “Produces content that [is] beneficial to advertiser relationship” is still there.

Wrote Gawker watchdog reporter Hamilton Nolan:

“(Time Inc. provided this document to the Newspaper Guild, which represents some of their employees, and the union provided it to us.)  These editorial employees were all ranked in this way, with their scores ranging from 2 to 10.”

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New Draft of SPJ’s Ethics Code Now Available

SPJDid you know that the Society of Professional Journalists is in the process of revising its Code of Ethics for the first time since 1996? I didn’t, but I learned it from The News Tribune‘s Karen Peterson, based in Tacoma, WA, over the weekend.

The code was discussed most recently by The Ethics Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists, and a final draft will be presented at the Excellence in Journalism event in early September.

Peterson is a member of the SPJ and noted that much of the journalism we see produced today dances on the ethics line — largely because of the technology we have at our disposal, that, of course, was way too far into the future to foresee in 1996.

She noted the following recommended addition to the code:

“Weigh the consequences of publishing personal information, including that from social media.”

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Why Are Journalists Publishing Before Checking Facts?

INGreport2A new survey from Dutch company ING found that 45 percent of international journalists “publish as soon as possible and correct later,” while only 20 percent always do their due diligence before publishing.

Additionally, the 2014 Study Impact of Social Media on News report, created for PR professionals and journalists, reported that one-third of journalists don’t consider social media posts a reliable source of information. Still, 50 percent said the majority of their news tips and facts come from social.

But journalists don’t seem to mind questions of accuracy too much, since 60 percent said they feel less restricted by journalistic standards in their social media reporting. Twenty-two percent reported that they treat social media posts the same way as traditional methods when it comes to journalism ethics.

Finally, PR professionals, who once worked quite closely with journalists in setting up interviews and providing timely, accurate news items, say reporters aren’t as quick to get in touch with them. The assumption for this is that journalists are relying more frequently on social media info, despite their low levels of trust with the medium.

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Has Time Inc. Gone Too Far With New Cover Ads?

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 1.52.21 PMLast week there was, understandably, some buzz about Time Inc.’s decision to sell small cover ads. The news, on the heels of Time Inc.’s split from Time Warner Cable, broke that a small Verizon ad (a line of text in the bottom corner of the cover, potentially right below a mailing label, reading “For best results use Verizon see P. 23″) would appear on the upcoming issue of Time and Sports Illustrated.

The addition of marketing messages to the front cover is in direct opposition to the American Society of Magazine Editors’ (ASME) very first editorial guideline, which states clearly:

1. Don’t Print Ads on Covers
The cover is the editor and publisher’s brand statement. Advertisements should not be printed directly on the cover or spine.

This procedure ensures that editorial integrity remains intact and isn’t influenced by advertisers. Over on one of our sister sites, FishBowlNY, Chris O’Shea was outspoken about the paradigm shift:

“Obviously this is just the beginning. Eventually magazine covers will look like NASCAR cars, completely covered in ads. It’ll be like a fun, sad game — try to figure out what magazine this is!” he wrote.

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3 Things to Remember When You Correct a Story

ericschererWhile it may be true that when you talk about trust and journalism, we’re talking about protecting sources and being brave enough to publish things that challenge the powers that be. But it’s also just about being trustworthy as a news source. And that means correcting your mistakes. As I notice poorly worded, or not even acknowledged, corrections floating around the Internet on a daily basis, it might be time for some refreshers.

1) Make it immediate. Since most of the time the reason for the mistake may be that you were rushing through the 24-hour news cycle, you should also remember that you can correct anywhere, anytime. As soon as you notice a mistake, announce it on Twitter even before the copy editor finishes updating the story for that matter. I think being overzealous is a good thing in this case. Read more

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