Are online journalism ethics different?

In a piece on Huffington Post today, Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software, challenges TechCrunch’s decision to publish documents stolen from Twitter. He says this violates journalism ethics. He argues that TechCrunch is not doing a public service, as Daniel Ellsberg did when he published the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times. Armed with this confidential information, Berry writes, TechCrunch decided to publicly reveal a company’s secrets:

Not because the world needs it, not to defend anybody against anything, just for the fun of it. There’s no public good involved, not that I can see.

Berry argues there should still be a ‘code of conduct’ in the blogosphere, just as there is in print journalism, that blogs should not maliciously publish posts just because they can. But who decides which classified documents are beneficial to the public? Do bloggers have to adhere to the Code of Ethics of the Professional Society of Journalists when anyone can blog? Time for some debate. There’s probably a blog for that.

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