Ethical Concerns: Diversity and Privacy

Diversity in the media is a very important topic. Far too often are white voices represented more than those of people of color. I think this has to do with the overall diversity in newsrooms and editors should consider the diversity of their staff. Stories go untold and unreported when a newsroom is predominantly one race or demographic and this is a disservice to readers and the communities that are being reported on.

As we move forward, reporters should seriously consider being bilingual and learning Spanish in particular. It is estimated that nearly 10.4 million people in California are Spanish speakers. This represents over 25 percent of the population of California and it is only expected to continue to grow.

In order for newsrooms to best represent the diversity of their community, the Online News Association recommends a list of “Best Practices.” These include checking in with staff to “address any issues in terms of news coverage or workplace environment;” diversity training; checking in with POC community leaders; among others.

However, in order to have a truly diverse work staff editors should consider the economic background of the people they hire. It does no good to continually hire writers from the upper echelons of society even if they are POC. This practice — of hiring and considering people from working class backgrounds — seems to have fallen to the wayside in recent years. Gone are the labor columnists who once dug into the issues of the working class — a section of society in which holds a disproportionate amount of POC. Editors should not solely strive for, as Dr. Cornel West put it, “Black faces in high places.” This mindset only serves as a way to diversify the status quo of a newsroom and does little to accurately represent the struggles of many Americans.

Another issue that one should consider in our modern age is privacy. We live in a time when privacy is an ambiguous idea, with people blasting their every move on social media platforms. There is an important question to consider when using social media in reporting. Oftentimes you see reporters embed tweets into their stories without asking the original poster. As long as the person has their profile set to a public setting, there should be no ethical issues with this. I have seen and personally experienced people who get upset about this, but I think they have an unacceptable expectation of privacy especially when it comes to online postings.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are social media platforms where users are free to post what they want and I understand not using a person’s photos in a story because of copyright law, but when it comes to text I see no issue with it.

ONA has “Best Practices” for dealing with privacy which includes: requiring “approval to make use of social media and publicly available content that originates from private individuals (i.e., Facebook postings).”

But like I said, I disagree with this.

1 thought on “Ethical Concerns: Diversity and Privacy

  1. Yeah, I don’t have a problem using people’s public social media. It’s like they’re standing on a public sidewalk. I can take their photo without permission.


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