Media ethical issues raised in film, Broadcast News

Broadcast News focuses on the media ethical issues of credibility, experience and education, relationship in the work place, and layoffs. The film really delves into issues pertaining to the work place and what is morally right and wrong in the Broadcast Journalism industry.

Workplace Relationships

During one scene in the movie, people are specifically being asked what they would do when they are faced with a media ethical decision. They are asked: “Would you tell a source that you love them just to get information out of them?” The entire group laughs and says yes, like there is no doubt about it.

This issue not only pertains to sources but work relationships in the newsroom as well. The executive producer, Jane Craig, of the station creates a relationship with the anchor, Tom Grunick. Tom started to flirt with another employee in the newsroom, Jennifer. Jane gets jealous and sends her to Alaska when asked who should be sent on a specific news story.

Although funny for the movie, this can be considered controversial in a real-life work place. Jennifer might not of been qualified enough to go on the assignment and Jane just nominated her right away because she wanted her to be away from Tom.

Education and Experience

This goes along with the next issue brought up in the movie about education and experience. Aaron continually points out how Tom is not qualified for the job, he just has good looks. Tom even points this out himself when he is younger and to Jane who hires him anyway. In the beginning of the movie, Tom talks to his dad and says, “What can you with yourself if all you have is good looks?” He also tells Jane he has no experience or education and can’t write.

During Tom’s first anchoring gig, he needs to be fed information through his earpiece. Aaron continually tries to bring up the fact that he doesn’t know enough for the job. Aaron also quizzes Tom and asks him if even knows all of the cabinet members.

Credibility, Staging

The next issue brought up in the movie and in real-life work places is credibility and staging the news. At the very beginning of the movie when Jane and Aaron are in Nicaragua, she tells the camera man not to tell the people what to do and that they can do whatever they want. They are not here to stage things.

Tom does the opposite of this when he adds in his tears during the date rape interview, which were staged. This was what people really liked about Tom and his interview which really questions his credibility.

This movie can be very relatable to real life, as many of these issues are prevalent in the media industry.

Dangers of The Net

Cowan, R. (Producer), & Winkler, I. (Director). (1995, July 28). The Net [Motion picture]. United States: Comlumbia Pictures Corporation.Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.26.15 PM

“Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.”

This is the fourth of the Ten Commandments created by the Computer Ethics Institute. Technology allows users to upload, share, and store a lot of public and personal information. Some may think this information is secure, but what happens when there’s a glitch in the system, or worse a hacker deliberately steals the information?

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.26.05 PMIn the 1995 film The Net, Sandra Bullock stars as a computer system analyst that winds up with a security system disc in her possession. This “Gatekeeper” system has a backdoor that allows unauthorized access to important information such as FBI and NY Stock Exchange files. Bullock plays the role of a secluded character that does all of her work and personal operations, such as ordering pizza, from home on her computer. Through a series of life or death events involving cyberterrorists and hit men trying to retrieve the information on the disc, Bullock’s character’s identity is erased from all computer files and is replaced with the identity of a wanted criminal.

The cyber-action thriller provides a lot of examples that demonstrate the harm that can be caused through hacking and stealing information on the Internet. A highly ranked official, that was against using the Gatekeeper security system, committed suicide when he found out “he had HIV”. Turns out it was the work of the hackers that tapped and changed his medical information. Bullock was tricked into spending time with a hit man after the hackers gathered information about her idea of a perfect man from an online chat room. Even though she escaped, her identity, credit cards, and medical history were erased completely.
Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.35.03 PMIn these situations, the cyberterrorists are breaking the computer ethic commandment by using computers to steal and create harm. The two characters had their private information tampered with and dealt with harmful consequences. The harm for the official that committed suicide is obvious. He died because of false information, a situation that could have been avoided. Bullock’s character had to deal with trying to regain her identity, the most private and personal thing a person can lose, and avoid being charged for a crime that she did not do.

It is unethical for people to take and use private information, even if it is stored on the web. This brings up questions if information is actually secure on the Internet. People must be careful with what they upload and share. Chris Sims brings up the question, “…if on-demand digital pizza ordering is worth having all of our personal lives stored on computers that can be freely accessed, modified and occasionally even obliterated by anyone with the ability hack a database” (Wired, 2013). Mindlessly entering personal information on the computer may be convenient, but it runs the risk of losing privacy and creating other problems affecting every day life.


Computer Ethics Institute. Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics. Retrieved from

Sims, C. (2013, April 30). What we learned about technology from 1995’s The Net. Wired. Retrieved from

Images taken from:

Code of Ethics for Celebrity Bloggers

Code of Ethics for Celebrity Bloggers

Although news blogging is seen as a less formal form of reporting, it is still under the umbrella of journalism. Therefore, it must be held to a certain standard so that it is seen as a similarly reputable and trustworthy source for news. Celebrity news bloggers must follow a code of ethics to ensure that their work is credible.  


    1. Give credit to journalistic sources.

Ethical celebrity news bloggers should always give credit when using information from other sources.

Celebrity news bloggers should:

  • Give credit to any information gathered from another source
  • Site any pictures used in blog posts
  • Make sure all facts and pictures are clear and relate to the topic
  • Properly identify those who appear in each picture
  • Include hyperlinks for all sources

For example:

If a celebrity blogger does not give credit to all journalistic sources, people will assume that all facts and pictures were gathered from the celebrity blogger first and that all information was released by them.  This will ultimately result in plagiarism, which is against the law and can produce a large fine.


  1. Separate facts from allegations. 

Ethical celebrity news bloggers should always Separate fact from allegations or rumors. This keeps the peace and the credibility of the Celebrity blogger is solidified.

  • Separate facts from allegations.
  • Don’t alter confirmed information or comments.
  • Keep celebrities names clear of any rumors.
  • Maintain a solid foundation of facts to avoid slander or starting rumors.
  • When needed cite a source to confirm that fact.
  • When not sure if fact or allegation, don’t report it.

For example:

If a celebrity blogger does not  separate fact from allegation, a lot of readers will believe the allegations and a celebrities  reputation could be tarnished. If they Separate the facts and let it be known this is the solid truth, fans will respect that celebrity a lot more and the blogger. This also solidifies the bloggers credibility, by stating facts and making them known instead of spreading with allegations or rumors. This shows the blogger has done their homework and are trying to inform the public and not pull one over on them.


  1. Seek out truth and report it

Ethical celebrity news bloggers should actively attempt to find new, newsworthy information and disclose it to the public.

Celebrity news bloggers should:

  • Seek out facts and report them
  • Give the readers the context of the situation
  • If possible, identify where these facts are coming from
  • Whenever possible, attempt to corroborate information with the subject (i.e. celebrity)
  • Do not report information that has been proven to be false or yet to be proven true
  • The bloggers own input/opinion should always be clearly stated as such or at least to the point in which the average reader would be capable of differentiating it from fact
  • Never create stories without any factual backing

For example: 

The stories that celebrity bloggers write should be based off of a reasonable amount of facts and not just rumor alone. Celebrity bloggers should never create stories out of thin air and report on them as if they are the truth. Readers should be allowed to understand the context of the story as well as its background and understand when the blogger is offering his or her own input/opinion.


  1. Avoid conflicts of interest

Ethical celebrity news blogging requires that one remain impartial in their reporting.

Celebrity news bloggers should:

  • Avoid conflicts of interest
  • Be transparent and honest about conflicts of interest when they’re unavoidable
  • Never accept gifts or anything else could be construed as bribes from celebrities that you report on
  • Be transparent about product sponsorships, and be clear between when promoting a product as an ad or just a personal preference
  • Avoid mixing work with outside friendships

For example:

Many celebrity news bloggers are celebrities themselves (ex: Perez Hilton). In these cases, the blogger must be careful not to mix business with pleasure. For instance, if a story comes out about Kim Kardashian getting fake butt implants, he shouldn’t hesitate from reporting on the story solely because he is friends with her. He also shouldn’t change the facts of the story because of their close relationship, or ask her about the story as a friend, and then report on the things she told him in confidence.

Code of Ethics for Celebrity Gossip Bloggers

Bloggers Code of Ethics:

Celebrity Gossip Blogs

Amanda Apicelli, Henry Forbes, Annie Zinkus, RJ Marceau, & Dina Cashman


Members of the Society of Celebrity Gossip Blogs believe that sharing insights about those in the public sphere is a critical element to the public.  The duty of celebrity bloggers and journalists is to shed light on the figures that so many look up to.  While these public figures have the right to privacy it is the job of celebrity bloggers and journalists to give the public all the information on their role models and decision makers.  To some extent, these figures need to be held to a higher standard and celebrity bloggers help hold them to those standards all while sharing vital information to the public.  Keeping integrity and honesty at the forefront starts with being thorough and credible.  Members of the society agree that those who benefit financially via the public sphere should be 100% transparent, and if they can not be it is the job of bloggers and journalists to step in and relay the vital information to the public.

Freedom of Speech: The right to a personal opinion, but the need to separate opinion from fact

As a gossip blogger, you have the right to voice your own opinion. You contain the basic rights of producing unique and independent content on the internet. However, you must make it obvious that your opinions are your opinions, and are not cold, hard facts. Opinions about a celebrity or public figure must be presented in a way that would not lead the reader to question validity or lead the reader to believe them to be facts.

Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton values his right to freedom of speech (Hilton, 2015). Although many of the stories that he posts to his blog harshly criticize and mock celebrities and public figures, he has a right to do so. He does a great job at presenting facts and facts, and either starts or ends his posts with is own opinion as to not mix the two and confuse the reader.

Libel and Slander: Avoid posting content that can cause harm to one’s reputation

When it comes to posting images, bloggers should choose photos with an ethical interest in mind. Photos should be relevant to the story and information being portrayed and should not be chosen or shown out of context. Photos should also not be retouched in order to depict a different or untrue message, and if photos have been retouched, it should be stated. Portraying children and people affected by tragedy or grief should be a sensitive subject that should be thought out.

In terms of other content, the accuracy of facts must be checked before making a post public, especially if the information could potentially harm the individuals involved. If a mistake is made on a post, the information should be updated and corrected immediately. In judicial cases, one should wait until a formal charge has been filed before stating facts and names. The blogger should also show good taste when dealing with celebrities and public figures. They should not draw unnecessary attention to a personal or private aspect of a subject’s life that is not already in the public sphere. The pursuit of information should not harm the individual based on their circumstances.

Privacy: Seek permission whenever possible

Gossip bloggers should entertain but also keep an ethical framework in mind, concerning reputations. When faced with using content from social networking websites, bloggers should seek permission whenever possible, when subjects are involved. They should also only use sources and quotes from Facebook and other social media networking sites if necessary and always try to seek permission before posting content from other pages.

If using anonymous account user names, make sure to provide a link to an email contact if subjects in articles have opinions or questions. No name targeting of followers should be allowed on the blog. Followers can share their opinions but should not act harshly towards one another. When posting gossip about others blogger should Make sure all facts and stories are correct to the best of their ability  before instantly sharing with all of the blogger followers.

Gossip bloggers should take care in not accepting bribes.This pertains especially towards individuals who are being posted about if they are really in the wrong. Bribes should also not be accepted by those who wish to persuade bloggers to frame articles in a certain way.

Credibility : Maintain the quality of being trusted and believed in

In any form of Journalism or Writing, being credible is very important. Any media outlet or blogging site that reports false claims can lose their credibility by messing up one report. Sites such as TMZ are a big enough name that if they report false claims they can still hold their high credibility.

TMZ has had its history of false reports. In 2009 TMZ posted a photo of “JFK” partying on a boat with topless young ladies (Sonney 2013). The photo turned out to be from a Playboy spread. TMZ also in 2013 reported that rapper Lil Wayne had died due to seizures (Sonney 2013).  Lil Waynes friends went on Twitter and reported that the rumors were false and Lil Wayne was fine (Sonney 2013). Wayne’s good friend T.I. called out TMZ on this mistake on his Twitter (Sonney 2013). T.I. had some choice words for the organization that aren’t appropriate.

Any blogger specifically in gossip blogging must be credible because once they report any false claims people will turn on you. Especially with the rise of social media and information always accessible being credible is very important.



Hilton, P. (2015). PerezHilton. Retrieved from:

Sonney, J. (2013). The 10 biggest TMZ false reports. Elite Daily. Retrieved from:


Code of Ethics for Bloggers

Barstool Sports

by Claudia Weaver, Mary Sansone, Kristian Catalan, and Mike Pascal

Barstool is a popular sports and men’s lifestyle blog that was funded in Boston by David Portney. They tell juicy stories about athletes and women. Their aim is toward the common man.

Here are the following codes that Bloggers at this site should follow.

(Our presentation will go into more detail)

Do No Harm

Minimize personal offending which connects with privacy. Know who you are aiming at and the results that can occur. Such as what celebrity athlete or girl is being targeted and how are they being shown. There are limit to what people can handle. In the literature, try not be biased and have your aims responsive to both sides. This is something that barstool sports does not consider at times.


Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.

Smokeshows; It could be ethically wrong for them to just take the pictures rather than ask that person if they could use them. Right to ask the permission

Tell the Truth

Be relevant and accountable for information given out. If the blog has something that might cause harm, have proof. There is freedom of speech letting the blog speak how they feel as necessary, but they must take into consideration of the whole society that is seeing this. Be transparent!

Stay Updated and Avoid Distractions

Advertising is a crucial way to get voices heard, but you cannot distract from aims. You must stay updated so that information can change and add to goals. This blog updates hourly which is good, but needs to make sure not to get in to the unimportant details or blowing up something no worthy.

Code of Ethics: Corporate Blogs

Gaby Dawson, Alex George, Ian Knechtle, Olivia Zacks

Seek the truth and report it – This applies to all blogs, for corporate blogs the most important thing is that they are telling the truth about the products they are likely pushing in the post. If it is an informational post then it is important the company is getting the whole story right. In Whole Food’s “Whole Story,” blog they recently wrote about how food is frequently wasted, giving studies and backing up their cause, they also gave ways to prevent this. It is important the information is correct here or else the post is completely useless.

Act independently – Unlike independent blogs corporate blogs are usually trying to incorporate their own products into their blogs. For blogs such as Whole Food’s “Whole Story,” the company uses recipes and DIY’s to connect with readers. While doing so the company also incorporates products they sell in order to execute the recipe.  Another example includes BMW’s blog, which showcases numerous BMW cars and positive posts about their brand.

Be accountable and responsible – It is important to be accountable and responsible when posting. It is essential to acknowledge how readers are viewing corporate blogs, both positively and negatively. If something is seen as negative to readers, it is important for corporate blogs to understand, accept and recover from this. The best example is when The CEO of Whole Foods wrote a blog separate from “Whole Story” and this blog slandered other products, this was not his place to comment, and reflected poorly on the company.

Respect competition – Although it may be difficult, corporate blogs need to respect their competition to convince readers that they are a trustworthy and fair. If a brand posts negative content about a competing brand on a blog, readers will also view the brand in a negative light. These kinds of actions reflect poorly on the brand as a whole and its employees. As in the example above with Whole Foods, the corporation received a lot of flack for posting negative content about other brands.

Provide content that is relevant and important to the topic – Corporate blogs should post content that is relevant to their specific brand and to their target audience. If an individual is looking at a corporate blog, they are interested in the brand for some reason. Therefore, corporate blogs should stick to certain topics that their brand is involved in to adhere to their target audience and not stray away from the originality of the brand. Patagonia’s blog has been very successful at providing visual content of nature and the outdoors that is directly connected to what Patagonia stands for. Another example includes Amazon and their Amazon Web Services blog, which provides content that can be beneficial to consumers and involves tips and services for users.

Present opinions as opinions – Your opinion and interpretation of events is important and should be shared but must never be confused with hard facts or data. When voicing your own or someone else’s opinion or interpretation, always state it as such. Never present opinion, interpretation or conjecture as fact.

Give credit when necessary – If quoting another source or using another source’s ideas, give credit to original owner of content by providing a link or using quotes. This will ensure that readers view a corporate brand as trustworthy.

Minimize harm – Show compassion and be sensitive to those that may be affected by the content. Show good taste and recognize that individuals will always view content in different ways. Because of this, corporate blogs should be respectful in the words and images that they post in hopes of avoiding misconceptions.


AWS Official Blog. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

Blogger Code of Ethics. (2006, August 26). Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

BMWBLOG. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

Code of Ethics for Bloggers, Social Media and Content Creators. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

Patagonia. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

Whole Story. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from