Ethical Challenges for User-Generated Content Publishing: Comparing Public Service Media and Commercial Media

Ethical Challenges for User-Generated Content Publishing: Comparing Public Service Media and Commercial Media

Ceren Sözeri (Galatasaray University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6114-1.ch063


Mainstream online media is gradually encouraging user contributions to boost brand loyalty and to attract new users; however, former “passive” audience members who become users are not able to become true participants in the process of online content production. The adoption of user-generated content in media content results in new legal and ethical challenges within online media organizations. To deal with these challenges, media companies have restricted users through adhesion contracts and editorial strictures unlike anything encountered in the users' past media consumption experiences. However, these contractual precautions are targeted to protect the media organizations' editorial purposes or reputations rather than to engage ethical issues that can also ensure them credibility. It is expected that some public service media strive to play a vital role in deliberative culture; on the other hand, some commercial global media have noticed the importance of worthwhile user-generated content even though all of them are far from “read-write” media providers due to the lack of an established guiding ethos for publishing user-generated content.
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Theoretical Background

Changing the relationship between news organizations and the audience is one of the significant indicators of digital culture (Deuze, 2006). “The people formerly known as the audience” (Rosen, 2006) are no longer passive recipients of media; rather, they participate, debate, create, and share. Axel Bruns (2005) described them as produsers because of their engagement in non-traditional forms of content production, and their involvement in produsage, which refers to user-led content creation environments. To some extent, this reconceptualization of the audience and their “newfound” production capabilities has replaced established media organizations. At the same time, these organizations intend to adopt this emerging audience factor into their business strategies (Napoli, 2010). They are providing new functions such as hosting and search functionality for massive aggregations of content produced by others (Napoli, 2009).

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