Truth Teller

In a time when anyone can share the news, this Ethics Center director wants them to be ethical about it.

Gone are the days of the local newspaper and Walter Cronkite telling you the news. Today, in addition to myriad legitimate journalism outlets, you only need to scroll through Instagram, or watch explainer videos on TikTok, or read longwinded Twitter threads to hear about what’s going on in the world. Though this democratization of news distribution may even the playing field in some respects, it also muddies the ethical waters; not everyone is a trained journalist, and not all distribution sites have the same standards that help separate ethical journalism from irresponsible publishing.

Subramaniam Vincent, director of journalism and media ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, worked with industry experts over the past year to create a set of principles for any and all news distribution platforms to follow to better serve the democratic exchange of information. While content moderation receives a ton of attention, news distribution happens every second with little foresight, says Vincent. It “shapes discourse…and impacts outcomes for public policy and democracy.”

Meanwhile, Vincent has also been leading an effort to use tech for diversity-audits of news articles to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in journalism. In November, Vincent was honored by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with the Distinguished Service to Journalism Award.

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