New dean talks media ethics

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 4:19pm

There's a new guy on the LSU campus. Jerry Ceppos is the new dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication. He's only been in Baton Rouge for a few weeks, but already, he's got big plans for his students.

Ceppos plans to focus on technology and journalism, a combination called "new media." No longer do consumers wait until the evening newscast to get caught up on news. Instead they get their news from several places. Facebook, Twitter, iPhone apps, and websites allow reporters to connect with their community in new ways.

However, new technology means there's a whole new set of rules that need to be followed, and in many cases, learned. For instance, Ceppos plans to focus heavily on new media ethics.

"The new generation of journalists will be faced with different ethical challenges than I was faced with," he explains.

One such instance is happening in the world right now. Reporters in the U.K. are accused of hacking into thousands of cell phones to get more information for their stories. Now, some of them are in jail, and media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, has to answer to Parliament.

"Until a few years ago, that issue wouldn't have come up," says Ceppos. "Cell phones wouldn't have been in such wide use, and it is much easier, as I understand to hack into cell phones than wired telephones."

So, do journalism students need to be taught not to do that?

"I think you do," says Ceppos. "How you teach future journalists about the ethics of a brand new area of technology is really, really tough. It's just more obvious than ever that it's really needed."

Ceppos says  a brand new media research lab will help in that teaching process.  Students and faculty will be able to learn more about technology and media, and the ways that they impact journalists and consumers.

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