Content sharing and journalistic ethics

Steve Bryant of the Hollywood Reporter has an interesting post: If I can’t reuse your media, then your media is useless.

Back in the 90s, utility meant links. If I could link to your content, then that content mattered to me and mattered to the people who read what I was writing. In the digital world, that content became useful.

But in the last two to three years, the very idea of useful content has changed. These days, people who’ve grown up with digital media are beginning to expect more than linking. As we’ve seen with YouTube, they want to appropriate the content. And as we’ve seen with mashups, they want to reuse and repurpose the content. Everybody wants to be part of the content creation life cycle, whether they were the ones to do the original creation or not.

I wonder what he and others, in this light, would think of my contention that professional journalists can’t, in good ethics, explicitly allow remixes, such as through Creative Commons, because of the risk that remixes will change the meaning or context of news. Journalists have an ethical obligation to accuracy and fairness and while in the digital age is is harder to control how our content is used, we still need to retain some rights to how news content is used.

Previously: Creative Commons: Share and Share Alike

(via King Leonard).

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3 thoughts on “Content sharing and journalistic ethics

  1. Your contentions are professional, logical, and ethical. Content sharing holds immense creative risk to the creator. The solution lies in the concecpt of a new company The 9thXchange marketplace is the newest way to bring together buyers and sellers of digital content. The service dramatically reduces content piracy by offering the seller lifetime royalties — even on exchanges between consumers. Moreover, the service accommodates all technology platforms, file types and creators. I read about The 9thxchange in Crains Detroit recently.
    Reg Crandall

  2. First up, thanks for the link.

    Second, I’ve found myself working with journalists for years now (I even married a journalism graduate who decided to go onto a career in law), but I’m constantly surprised by this journalistic need to control. I understand, as you say, the ethical points that professional journalists should always aim for fairness and equality. These are, without doubt, noble goals. However there should also be a means for people to understand that a) this remixed content is not used in its original context, and b) there is always a way to go back to the source material, particularly in a digital environment. Unfortunately I don’t think we give people enough benefit of the doubt to be able to spot proper context.

    This isn’t meant to be accusatory, but rather to provoke conversation from the point of view of a non-journalist.

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