The Audacity to Hit Record: Ethics in Podcasting

Written by: Katherine Caspersz

The very recent phenomenon that is “podcasting” offers news listeners a new and simple way to obtain audio information (via RSS feeds), and the “portableness” of podcasts allows to you play news stories, music shows, comedy, sports and more from almost any mobile device. Mark Glaser of the Online Journalism Review calls podcasts “the TiVo of radio” because subscribers can, essentially, access the podcast whenever they want and wherever they are.

The person who podcasts (the “podcaster), is essentially, a journalist; he or she must conduct interviews, speak with experts, and gather other forms of primary and secondary information. Like the journalist, the podcaster must also attribute the information she presents in her podcast.

Podcasting is relatively new. It has taken on the name “online journalism” by professionals, and because of this, these professionals hold podcasts to the same ethical standards as journalistic writing. Most of the ethics of podcasts has to do with copyright—legal implications can occur when podcasts contain copyrighted video clips that are not properly cited.

Since podcasts are relatively new, many people who create podcasts or even “vlogs” (basically a video diary log) are not properly trained to deal with the ethics of radio/online journalism, which is essentially what podcasts are.

“Ethics implies freedom to choose,” says Richard Keeble, Professor of Journalism at University of Lincoln, in his book Ethics for Journalists. “But journalists are constrained by so many factors—proprietors, fear, the law, time and space to name a few.” (Keeble, 3) When podcasting, journalists must be sure to properly cite material, and name sources.

We discussed this a bit in the WRIT1004 “Research for Professional Writers’” course, but we were mainly concerned with copyrights surrounding the use of images. We discussed “Creative Commons” images—images that are available to the public, and can be freely used and shared. But, creating podcasts for a living (whether on a show/series or for a radio station) requires podcasters to be even more aware of the information they are using. Any quote, source, and fact has to be accounted for. Journalism ethics go beyond writing, but are still necessary for the ethical broadcasting of information and opinions.

References:

Salcito, Kendyl. “Online Journalism Ethics.” *Journalism Ethics for the Common Citizen. *Web. 16. Nov. 2015. < http://journalismethics.info/media_law/index.htm#intro>

Keeble, Richard. “Ethics for Journalists.” New York: Routledge, 2009. Print.

Glasser, Mark. “Will Satellite, 'Podcasting' Bring a Renaissance to Radio Journalism?” *USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. *12 Oct, 2004. Web. 16 Nov, 2015.* <*http://ojr.org/ojr/glaser/1097614994.php>