Whether you are just starting out with your first website or blog, or you've been publishing your work for years, it's never too late to to think about the standards and principles you want to uphold in the content that you publish. The Knight Citizen News Network sets out "the bedrock foundations of sound journalism to help citizen reporters master the fundamentals of the craft in a networked age." These five principles -- accuracy, thoroughness, fairness, transparency, and independence -- serve as useful guidelines to good journalistic practice.
That said, there are lots of other resources out there to help you educate yourself about these and other principles of good journalism. Some of these resources are listed below. Complying with these principles and following sound journalistic practice, while not fool-proof, will help minimize your exposure to legal liability in all of the areas of law covered in this guide.The following resources will provide a good start:
- For a full statement of the five principles and multi-media features including helpful interviews with major blogging and citizen journalism figures, see Knight Citizen News Network's Principles of Citizen Journalism.
- CyberJournalist took the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and modified it to apply specifically to bloggers. A Bloggers' Code of Ethics points out in its introduction that "integrity is the cornerstone of credibility" and goes on to elaborate on three major directions: "Be Honest and Fair," "Minimize Harm," and "Be Accountable."
- USC Annenberg's Online Journalism Review posted an article, Transparency Begets Trust in the Ever-Expanding Blogosphere in 2004 about why transparency is a major reason for the trust (and the success that accompanies trust) that people have in bloggers.
- For a citizen media "cook book" containing advice about all aspects of running a small-town citizen journalism site, see Hartsville Today.
- Poynter.org's News University offers on-line journalism classes.
- Knight Citizen News Network Learning Modules provide both professional and citizen journalists with step-by-step instruction on skills to help you launch or improve a web site based on user-generated content.