This article is about how to use and credit photos and images gleaned from Facebook and Twitter, but it touches on the ethical responsibilities of citizen journalists:

When news breaks, many media organizations turn to social media to find members of the public who become a reporter’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Collecting information in this way has many challenges – for example, verifying that a photo posted on Twitter is real. The key to solving these challenges is holding contributions from citizen journalists to the same ethical standards as work by professional journalists.

That was the main focus of a SXSW Interactive session by Associated Press social media editor Eric Carvin and Digital First Media managing editor Mandy Jenkins.

“If you don’t hold citizen journalists to the same standards, you are disrespecting social media as a tool for journalism,” Carvin said. Figuring out the best way to apply those standards is the hard part.


I sometimes can give the impression that all bets are off when it comes to citizen journalism, or “people powered media.” Not true. We aren’t as constrained as the corporate media, but we have some ethical considerations.