In 2008 there was one journalist, a citizen journalist, that many candidates seemed to fear: Mayhill Fowler. In one instance Fowler attended a “closed” fundraiser where she was able to get a very exclusive interview with then candidate Barack Obama.
The interview, which Fowler completed despite the closed to media event protocols, captured Obama saying some choice words about small town Americans. Although the content of the interview is important, many questioned Fowler’s ethics, as well as the ethics involved in citizen journalism. Do they/should they still follow the same ethical principles that normally employed journalists follow?
In my opinion, while they should still follow some ethical standards in their practice, the same principles cannot always apply.
In a Huffington Post commentary from 2012, Tyler Mahoney writes that citizen journalists need to learn at least to be accurate in their writing. In the Nonprofit Quarterly, Rob Meiksins, also writes that because the internet is here to say, and citizen journalists are only becoming a larger group, there are some ethics that need to be followed.
Citizen journalists can’t be expected, like paid journalists, to follow ethical codes like SPJ’s or The New York Times Code of Ethics, but they need to follow some type of guidelines. For example, they should be expected, like other journalists, to report the accurate truth. There have been many instances in which citizen journalists just reblogged or posted something, without any system of fact checking. If people only trust citizen journalists, and the citizen journalists are not trying their best to produce factual information, then the population is going to become a group of very gullible consumers.