Sunday, 28 March 2010

Codes of Conduct and New Media Transparency in Public Relations

Everyone in media and PR are talking about transparency in new media, for my dissertation I'm looking in to what extent is transparency realistic when used in new media?

The idea for this topic came from researching about how public relations has changed due to new media, resulted in coming across the CIPR New Media Codes of Conduct. After reading it and comparing with the original codes of conduct I realised that the new media codes are an addition to the original and the only difference is that when the New Media Codes were written, the word ‘Social Media’ was everywhere.

In the New Media Codes, under the part ‘transparency’ it says: Members' use of social media must be transparent, and they must make extra effort to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. They should, if writing or contributing to a blog which recommends a service supplier, make clear any financial interest they or their client might have in doing so. They should make timely and public declarations of any conflicts of interest or the circumstances which might give rise to them.” Which means, when public relations is using new media they have to be transparent however further down in the codes under Disclosure / Confidentiality’ it says that public relations practitioners have to keep disclosure about their company, clients and competitor.

The opposite side of this argument has been discussed in the US where newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post has social media policy where they restrict employees to post their opinions on social media platforms like Twitter. “For flagbearers of free speech, some newsroom execs have the weirdest double standards when it comes to censoring personal views.” However on the PRSA website the American association has not adapted their codes of conduct for using new media. The argument here is whether this ‘transparency’ can exist in new media without hurting someone?

The BBC’s global news director, Richard Sambrook, was speaking to a media conference about the benefits of social media (2009):

“Objectivity, he then pointed out, had always been an idea important for the news. For him it was once designed to deliver journalism that people can trust. But in the new media age transparency is what delivers trust. He stressed that news today still has to be accurate and fair, but it is as important for the readers, listeners and viewers to see how the news is produced, where the information comes from, and how it works. The emergence of news is as important, as the delivering of the news itself.”

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