Online Ethics Panel Agenda

Here is an online version of our agenda for the panel. Unlike the paper version handed out at the event, this one includes links to many of the subjects covered during the workshop.

PRSA Ethics Workshop: October 30, 2007


Jerry Ceppos, Fellow in Media Ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, former VP of News for Knight-Ridder Inc. and former Executive Editor, SJ Mercury News


Tom Formeski, Editor,

Jon Greer, Media Spokesperson Trainer and Editor,

Joel Postman, EVP Emerging Media, Eastwick Communications

8 – 8:15 Introductions of panel and attendees
8:15 – 8:35 Panelists comment on current online media and PR ethical issues
8:35 – 9:10 Online ethics hypothetical case studies (Panel and Attendees)
9:10 – 9:30 Q&A and discussion

Some of the Ethical Issues Facing Online Journalists and PR Professionals

• Transparency (or lack thereof)

o Who are you?
o Who is your main employer? Who else might be paying you?
o What conflicts of interest do you have?

• Exchanges of Value: When is it appropriate (or inappropriate) to provide (or accept) something of value, such as:

Goods or services, Free meals, Money

• Who are you, Part 2

o “Media”

• Employee of traditional media producing mostly pre-Internet content?
• Employee of traditional media producing Internet content?
• Professional blogger (i.e., someone trying to make a primary living from blogging)?
• Commercial blogger (i.e, someone blogging in their work capacity but not specifically to get paid to produce content)?
• Amateur blogger?

o “Promoter”

• PR rep for a corporation?
• PR agency employee?
• Third-party endorser?
• Amateur enthusiast?

• What ethical standards should you follow?

o Traditional media

o PR/PRSA Code of Ethics

PRSA Code of Ethics

Ogilvy PR’s Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics

o Attempts at online/blogger codes of ethics

Poynter Institute

USC Annenberg School of Communications

• What are our ethical responsibilities in this changing environment?

o Try to follow existing ethical guidelines
o Develop new ethical guidelines
o Continue to serve our bosses, clients, readers, customers, other constituents

Examples of Online Ethical Issues

Wal-Marting Across America
Nikon/MWW Camera Giveaway/Loaner Program
Free meals for Yelpers and other online restaurant critics
Sony PSP fake blog
• Professional bloggers writing about their sponsors
• Professional bloggers taking endorsement money (Federated Media/Microsoft program)
Pay Per Post
• Commenting on stories about you or your client using a screen name
• Editing your Wikipedia entry (and having your edits tracked by WikiScanner)
Newsvine: Seeding “astroturf” content


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