2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Accurate, Fair and Safe - The Ethics of Social News

Written by Megan Simpson | January 22, 2014

Eric Carvin explores the ethics of social news at SXSW Interactive 2014

The SXSW Festival has a reputation for being at the forefront of digital innovation and exploration. The 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival is no exception, and will feature more than 800 sessions. Today’s installment of the Session Spotlight features “Accurate, Fair and Safe: The Ethics of Social News” a duo conversation led by Eric Carvin who works in the New York office of the Associated Press.

SXSW: What can you tell us about your session at the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival?
Carvin: These days, reporting the news effectively and competitively would be virtually impossible without the powerful contributions of amateurs who witness major news developments — especially the ones that happen where professional journalists aren't. Given their valuable role in the newsgathering process, are we treating citizen journalists the way we should? Join us a wide-ranging conversation on the responsibilities news organizations have to citizen journalists. We'll bring up everything from credit and permissions for user-generated content to working with amateurs who may find themselves reporting in dangerous or even life-threatening circumstances. Anyone who's ever been a citizen journalist is encouraged to contribute to the conversation, as are fellow professional journalists and interested members of the public.

SXSW: Have you’ve spoken about this topic before?
Carvin: Yes, I've spoken a few different times about ethical and standards issues related to social newsgathering. The talks have been very well received, and have sparked many questions on this important topic.

SXSW: Why are you qualified to speak on this topic?
Carvin: I'm AP's social media editor. Using social media to gather the news, and setting AP's standards on how we do so, are central to my job. I've also been pushing AP's leadership on the topic in various speaking engagements. In addition, I'm an incoming Online News Association board member, and plan to push for the creation of a news ethics committee at that important organization. Also, within ONA, AP colleague Fergus Bell and I recently started a working group that's examining and tackling the challenges of social newsgathering.

SXSW: Who is the other speaker in your duo?
Carvin: My fellow speaker is Jennifer Preston @JenniferPreston of The New York Times. Social newsgathering is central to her position, so she thinks a lot about the issue as well. She and I also have different priorities and missions at our respective news orgs, so we'll be able to offer different perspectives on the topic.

SXSW: What type of SXSW attendee do you and Jennifer hope will attend your session?
Carvin: We're hoping we'll get people from the news industry, amateurs who have worked with news organizations on stories, people from academia and the non-profit sector who deal with the same issues and news consumers who see this as an important part of the media's work at the session.

SXSW: I see we can follow you on Twitter @EricCarvin. What do you usually tweet about?
Carvin: Most of my tweets are about news and social media, though I'm also something of an amateur urban forager, so I share thoughts and images related to that from time to time…along with the occasional musing about my 1-year-old daughter.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. Register now to attend “Accurate, Fair and Safe: The Ethics of Social News” and other programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.