Online Etiquette

  • Accuracy
  • Privacy
  • Objectivity
  • Vulnerability
  • Truth

The cornerstones of ethical journalism, that give the profession its purpose.


Social media brings blurry circumstances and situations, how can you handle each unique and never-before-seen scenario? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio Program Director Kelly Riordan has investigated such imminent questions at the prestigious Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.

In a lecture to QUT journalism students, Riordan warned that many organisations are taking the easy way out. She says that publishing information with doubt hanging over it, is all to common.

“They risk getting it wrong because they will simply apologise for it later.”

– Kelly Riordan.

There has been a real shift from publishing what we know…to what we THINK we know, where we’ll let you know for sure later, hopefully.

Riordan also identified a significant issue with our current news diet. People are suffering from what is called the echo-chamber. This is defined as:

“An insular communication space where everyone agrees with the information and no outside input is allowed.”

Read more about it at The Wire.


The risk that by following select individuals and groups online is that we are consuming a select snapshot of the world. This lends to a skewed view of the world, in favour of the powers behind the content creators which you expose yourself to. Consequently, important issues and stories which are uncomfortable or different, but potentially more important, don’t reach the public. We think we have more choice than ever, but Facebook is really filtering it all – telling you what you like, instead of asking you what you like, or exposing you to what is good. Riordan maintains this is why she purposely doesn’t have a Facebook presence.

Riordan gives two pieces of advice in operating online:

1. Link to the proof. Show the source via a link and give yourself credibility, but also be the filter which selects, draws together and publishes the best.

2. Expose yourself to more than the news which is “popular” or in your face and make sure you are aware of what’s important to the world and not just you.


At the end of the day these are very complex times and by continually referring back to the unchanging cornerstones of the profession, we can navigate it as best we can.


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