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The website, published by Oconee County Observations, does not adhere to ethical standards because the credibility of this site is indeed a blog, which is not a valid source of information. Although a blog can contain valid information, because a blog can be written by anyone, the information cannot be considered scholarly and therefore not a credible source (refer to blog post 3-1 Blog Sources, Credibility and Social Media).

The writer of this blog is Lee Becker, a resident of Oconee County, Georgia. There is no scholarly background behind Becker within this blog because it discusses the weekly updates within the county with sources from county officials and town news. There is no professional journalism here because there is no specific form of news station, paper, or agency this site is written for, therefore no valid editor and board of directors are present to oversee that this blog is not bias or accurate.

According to “professional blogger,” Ashley Robinson (2013), professional blogging, like the Oconee County Observations blog post, “is a state of mind more than anything else.” A “state of mind” is not journalism. As mentioned, scholarly information may be presented but the author needs to have a scholarly background with valid resources to make their work credible.

In my opinion, it does matter if someone reporting news is labeled as a “professional” or not. Stephen J.A Ward, media ethicist, discusses the form of new media seen on blog sites and on news stations. According to Ward (2010), there has been a mix of new media ethics with guidelines that apply to bloggers, both professional and not. Ward (2010) believes these guidelines are necessary when defining what a journalist is and what a blogger is. “Media ethics needs to be rethought and reinvented for the media of today, not of yesteryear” (Ward, 2010).

The desire for “need to know” information quickly as created a blurred line between the two professions: journalists and bloggers. According to Ward (2010), “citizens without journalistic training and who do not work for mainstream media calls themselves journalists, or write in ways that fall under the general description of a journalists as someone who regularly writes on public issues for a public or audience.” Again, there must be some form of scholar background or source behind the reporter/writer’s work. For this reason, not everyone should be held to the same ethical standards, regardless of professional classification.

Robinson (2013) includes receiving compensation for endorsing a product or service within a blog such as a cupcake or bracelet is an incentive to be a professional blogger. This form of incentive creates bias that is seen in the article read in this week’s class discussion, Oconee County Observations. Being able to speak your mind freely and endorse any product or service one likes creates a dissonance between journalists and bloggers, therefore allowing each professional classification to be separated.

Becker (2015), adheres to SPJ’s Code of Ethics in most aspects. According to SPJ’s Code of Ethics, “Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.” Does take some steps to verify information and report accurate information, however there are parts of the blog that Becker (2015) fails  to provide full information or links to the past news story. Becker (2015) writes in his October 24th, 2015 post, “County Attorney Daniel Hay good told the Board of Commissioners last year it could reallocate funds in SPLOST if it produces less money than projected. The county did just that in 2014.” Here, no follow up with updated information on what exactly was done in the year prior backs up this statement about reallocated funds.

The rise of citizen journalists and bloggers has changed the way we receive knowledge and what we know. Adapting the skills and acquiring the education necessary to be a successful journalist is critical when producing scholar news stories. Although “non-professionals” can show good judgement and assemble solid news stories with credible information, the lack of journalistic approach is still present. According to Ward (2010), these “non-professionals” should not be called journalists unless they have the necessary developed through education and years of training to honor SPJ’s Code of Ethics.

References

Becker, L. (2015). Oconee County Development Authority Contemplating How to Spend Future Sales Tax Money. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.oconeecountyobservations.org/

Robinson, A. (2013, April, 15). 7 Signs You Might be a Professional Blogger [Independent Fashion Bloggers]. Retrieved from http://heartifb.com/2013/04/15/7-signs-might-be-professional-blogger/

Society of Professional Journalists (2014). Code of ethics. Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Ward, S. (2010). Digital Media Ethics. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/digital-media-ethics/http://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/digital-media-ethics/

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