Blogs in the mainstream media : an exploration of a code of ethical conduct for j-bloggers at Die Burger Western Cape

De Vries, Florence (2008-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Journalism))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


With the advent of new communication technologies, traditional journalism has continually had to adjust to new contexts. In 2006, the Western Cape daily newspaper Die Burger established a blogging section as part of its website. Presently j-bloggers (journalists who are bloggers) still work according to Die Burger’s current ethical code of conduct. Yet the establishment of j-blogs at Die Burger has raised a number of questions regarding the ethical conduct of journalists in this medium. This study attempts to show that the mainstream ethical concepts of accuracy, fairness and the use of anonymous sources may be interpreted differently in the medium of blogging and explores the feasibility of a code of conduct for j-bloggers at Die Burger. Die Burger’s code of conduct is compared with various bloggers’ codes of conduct. The study argues that Die Burger’s code of conduct offers more comprehensive guidelines for journalists than most bloggers’ codes. These guidelines include protecting the newspaper’s reading public from harm. However, it was also found that the different interpretations of ethical concepts on blogs need to be considered in a code of conduct for j-bloggers. In this study, the composition of a code of conduct for j-bloggers was discussed with j-bloggers, print journalists and several other stakeholders at Die Burger. The participants in this study argued that a code of conduct for j-bloggers may be feasible but that it should operate in addition to Die Burger’s current code of conduct. Furthermore, this study argues two normative theories of the press – the social responsibility and democratic-participant theories – intersect in a discussion of ethical codes for j-bloggers. Using this theoretical framework, the study aims to describe specific guidelines for the ethical conduct of j-bloggers at Die Burger.

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