Four years later and the fight for better ethics in media journalism continues. Nevertheless, slowly but surely we’re seeing some outlets adopt better ethical policies for their content. In fact, a reader tipped us off to the news that The Verge recently (and silently) updated their ethics policy to ensure that the outlet is adhering to proper protocol.
The updated ethics policy looks a lot different from the one that The Verge had back in May of 2014, which simply stated that they didn’t sell electronics; did have advertising; that they sometimes used anonymous sources; that they did not invest in the companies they covered, and that employees were forbidden from owning or trading stocks for companies they covered; that they did not take free gifts from PR, and that if any of The Verge’s employees were in a relationship with someone who is the subject of the story, it must be disclosed.
The exact statement regarding Personal Conflict reads…
“Any employee of The Verge who has a spouse, partner, or other close relationship with an employee of a company which The Verge covers will disclose the relationship in their personal bio on the site. Furthermore, the employee or contributor may not cover that company or its products on The Verge.”
The newer ethics policy is interesting insofar that it removed the section about personal relationships but added the section for Corrections & Updates. The new section states…
“Despite making every effort to be accurate in our reporting, sometimes we get something wrong. If we discover a mistake in a story, our editors will promptly issue a correction that removes the inaccurate information and adds a notice of correction that explains the error. In some cases, like if an inaccuracy is contained in a video, we may have to remove the original piece of content and replace it with a version in which the error is omitted.”
The section also states that they may remove an article if it violates intellectual property rights.
They also addressed the one issue that #GamerGate hammered them on just last year in the summer regarding affiliate links, where they’ve now stated that they will disclose affiliate links and similar partnerships…
“Vox Media does employ a commerce team to optimize certain content for affiliate revenue, and such content is marked as such by including a similar affiliate links disclosure.”
This is somewhat of a “two steps forward, one step back” scenario given that they added a few new categories and further detailed their ethical stance in coverage – and the corrections section is most definitely appreciated – but they also removed the clause about personal relationships, which – for anyone who remembers – was the catalyst that really set #GamerGate in motion. Walking back that policy seems like a very clear step backwards as far as ethical disclosure is concerned.
Nevertheless, the updated policies arrive after the parent company, Vox Media, was contacted about a lack of disclosures for endorsements and affiliate links on their subsidiaries, to which they had replied back on August 30th, 2017 that they would be updating their ethics policies regarding those matters.
Despite the media constantly attacking #GamerGate for all the ills of the world, the remnants of the movement still push forward in improving and updating the ethical standards for today’s media outlets. Because at the end of the day #GamerGate is still about ethics in media journalism.