Friday, July 18, 2008

071808: Is It Appropriate for Reporters to "Lurk" Online??

Talk of reporters lurking on fan sites, message boards, forums and even blogs, to get information has been talked about over and over. I found this article online today (it is actually dated 2004, but still rings true), and for those interested - take a look. It is not unheard of, and when concerns about Barry are brought up - we need to keep in mind, everyone here is not for him, they could be here to gather information to use to make him look bad. Remember they have a certain amount of space to fill, and it does not always have to be true.

Just my thoughts, but if they find their way here ... they will leave quickly because they will only find positive things about Barry, his shows and his music.


Is It Appropriate for Reporters to 'Lurk' in Online Chat Rooms?

Internet lurkers typically log on to chat rooms and discussion forums or join e-mail lists and newsgroups with little or no intent of sending messages; rather they prefer to read the communications of others.

Lurking is practically impossible to prevent, though it does raise some ethical questions. For example, should journalists, academic researchers or public relations professionals gather information by lurking in chat rooms? If they do, what are their responsibilities with regards to the privacy of the other participants?

Should journalists identify themselves accurately and state their purposes upon entering a chat room or logging on to a message board? Is it OK to lurk for a while before identifying oneself? Is it OK to quote from a message posted in a chat room?

It is also worth noting that the practice of misrepresenting oneself while gathering information is generally discouraged. For example, the SPJ code of ethics states:

"Journalists should ... avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story.''

The SPJ code also reminds journalists to "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.''

The Internet and the Web enable journalists to gather more information from more sources faster and with more flexibility. Researchers and reporters can now tap a wide array of sources that didn't exist prior to the Internet -- Web sites, chat rooms, bulletin boards, online forums and e-mail lists -- to harvest information about practically any subject imaginable.

But while online media provide easy access to information and diverse Internet communities, they present new ethical dilemmas. The medium can tempt journalists to conceal their own identity while trolling for information and "listening in'' to the conversations of Web-based communities and online discussion groups.

It also makes it much more difficult -- perhaps even impossible -- to verify that a person's identity is really what he or she claims it is -- age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender and all the other fundamental ways we categorize people become invisible online.

"Technology changes the nature of communication,'' which forces writers to rethink traditional methods of conducting background research, doing interviews and choosing which statements to quote and which to leave out."

The complete article can be found here: