Module 1: Digital Journalism Fundamentals

Module 1: Digital Journalism Fundamentals

Digital technologies have dramatically reshaped the media ecosystem and how news and information is gathered, distributed and consumed. These changes have challenged and redefined the nature and practice of traditional journalism, along with the relationship between journalists and readers. Professional reporters and traditional media outlets now share the media stage with tweeters, bloggers, citizen journalists -- anyone with a social media account -- who can and often do play critical roles as fact-gatherers,  information distributors, commentators and more.

This Module explores the legal and ethical complexities of journalism and public-interest reporting in the digital age. We review the key debates and questions around the impact of the Internet on the practice of journalism and on the media industry and explore how these changes are reinventing and challenging media professionals in the region and worldwide.

Unit 1: What is journalism? Who is a journalist?

What qualifies as journalism in the digital age? Is anyone who publishes content online a journalist in the eyes of the public? In the eyes of the law? Unit 1 introduces the broader issues and debates over the impacts of digital technologies on journalism and media industries.

We will discuss ideas of “traditional” journalism, including the watchdog role of the press in democratic societies, the notion of “independent” journalism, and if and how these concepts apply in today’s digital media context.

Unit 2: Legal rights and restrictions: overview and challenges

Is content published online regulated the same way as traditional media? Who is legally liable for information posted on a blog -- or Facebook or Twitter? Do activists, bloggers, and citizen journalists have the same legal protections as professional journalists? We examine the European-level protections for media freedom, if and how such protections are extended to the online environment, and to whom these protections apply. In Unit 2, we will review content-based regulatory standards, from political speech to hate speech, as well as issues related to the legal liability of online media outlets, social platforms, and social media users.

Unit 3:  New media ethics

What are the impacts of online media and digital technologies on media ethics and professional practices? Are journalistic standards with regard to fact-checking, accuracy and objectivity obsolete or more important than ever? What is the line between journalism and advocacy? Unit 3 explores the evolving scope of media ethics and professional practices in the digital age. Although journalism today as moved online, most self-regulatory codes have not kept pace with technological and market changes. We examine ‘traditional’ press codes and workshop how these codes can be adapted to account for the online contexts and non-traditional content producers.