Dissertation – Original statement of intent

The treatment of whistleblowing within the media

The exploration and discussion of a selection of whistle blowing cases and how they are handled via different media platforms. Such as, the radio, the television, newspapers and online news. Including, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Throughout the project there are certain aims and objectives I want to stick to in order to keep track on my topic of choice.

–       Explore in detail whistleblowing cases

–       Compare the treatment of whistleblowing cases

–       Examine media coverage and court sentences

–       Contrast media company’s outbreaks compared to social network outbreaks of whistleblowing.

Based on research that I have already undergone, there are particular areas of study I wish to pursue in my dissertation.  Firstly, the most popular and modern whistleblower would be Julian Assange, as Assange has developed an infamous name for himself as the founder of Wikileaks, a website designed to disclose unrevealed information, I believe it would be stupid of me not to use this as a case study. Examining the media coverage and court sentences of this project has a variety of subject matter to discuss linking to my aims and objectives I wish to follow.

Closely followed I would like to examine media coverage and the court sentences of the Bradley Manning case. Manning was charged in the USA for violating the Espionage act, theft of government property and also multiple accounts of disobeying orders as an Army private.

The downloading of army information on the Iraq war logs and the Afghan war logs where the two culprits to blame. As she shared those files with Wikileaks, Manning began whistle blowing.

Social media cases that I thought would be interesting are those that could be described as accidental whistle blowing. So far, the two cases I have found are via the news sensation Twitter. The first being Sohaib Athar, a young user who accidentally tweeted the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The second being a hotel employee’s Tweet about the death of Whitney Houston.

Both of these cases where tweeted by people who do not work in the media industry, therefore disclosing information because they felt it necessary to let their followers know. Is this Whistle blowing?  These cases where both used as examples in media articles.

Other case studies include the disclosure of information from the phone hacking scandal which some media organisations referred to as ‘corrupt journalism.’

In order to find arguments and more case studies I can use I have gathered some texts I can relate to and comfortably use.




When I presented this to my tutors they said that they thought my dissertation topic was to broad and that i should re consider my question for more of a prospective on where i want to go with my dissertation. So, i edited my statement of intent and question to a huge extent. Here is the amended version –


Jade Stipetic                                                                dissertation statement of intent

Has the digital revolution changed the ethics of newsgathering?

“In the previous century, journalists were a clearly defined group. For the most part, they were professionals who wrote for major mainstream newspapers and broadcasters. The public had no great difficulty in identifying members of the “press.” “http://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/digital-media-ethics/

Within my dissertation I would like to discuss whether ethics are considered when publishing online news and how well citizen journalism regulated.

Obviously, the internet as a whole is not regulated, which, leaves the users to generate content that could be considered unethical. Looking at platforms such as blogging sites, Facebook and Twitter I know that they are regulated to a degree. For instance, they have report buttons and can stop citizens accessing there accounts if they do not stick to the terms and conditions.

But, compared to news organisations, is dealing with the matters on web 2 sites after the problem has started ethical? People have a freedom of expression and can easily offend others without thinking of consequences.

News organisations have a regulatory body, the press complaints commission who deal with complaints connected with the press and give guidelines of what can and what cannot be published by news associations.

I have begun researching case studies that I think will enhance my dissertation topic. Looking at social media platforms, in particular Twitter, is a great place to find some news that could be seen as unethical.

There are three major news stories that hit Twitter first before any major news organisation, they are as follows –

The death of Whitney Houston, tweeted by an employee of the hotel she died at the news virally spiralled and soon hit the BBC, SKY and many other organisations.

The capture of Osama Bin Laden, several tweets where uploaded to Twitter by Sohaib Athar, about what was going on near his home; little did he know what was truly happening until the news organisations started using his tweets about the raid.

Image posted on Twitter of the US airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River, creating uproar for citizen journalism as Twitter is used more and more as a news source.

Twitter is continuing to be used as a news platform for anybody who owns an account. However, a news organisations Twitter page will be regulated and therefore ethical as the news is not bias. Whereas a member of the public can express their opinions through their tweets, but, is this considered ethical? Can there be any ethical contemplation when writing about other people?

The press complaints commission say that “Material that is published on Twitter should be considered public and can be published, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC)”

Another case study I found interesting that is Twitter orientated is a complaint to the press complaints commission made by Ms Baskerville.  The daily mail and the Independent used her Tweets in news articles. Naturally, she complained and said that Twitter was not respecting her privacy. Is it right to use other people’s work in news stories because it has been published on a worldwide site?

Principally I find some citizen journalism to be very opinionated. For instance, a blog called ‘Skanks in NYC’ published a defamatory article on a young model. Do articles that offend individuals need regulating properly? If citizen journalism is the new journalism then shouldn’t it be regulated to by the PCC, I find that news organisation would never publish articles that are opinionated like this but, should the authors of blogs be okay to?

The model actually sued Google for this article; Google then forced the anonymous blogger to reveal herself. I think that this article would be great for my dissertation topic as it highlights the importance of the need for regulation within online media.

Collection of website (links) used for research










books for research

Birkinshaw, P (1990). Government and information. The law relating to access, Disclosure and regulation. London: Butterworth and co.

Welsh, T. Greenwood, W. Banks, D. (2005) Essential law for journalists. 18th ed.  United states: Oxford university press Inc.

Wadham, J. Griffiths, J. (1995) The freedom of information act 2000. 2nd ed. United states: Oxfored university press Inc.

Walliman, N. (2004) your undergraduate dissertation. London: Sage Publications.

Quinn, F. (2007) Law for journalists. 3rd ed.  Essex: Pearson education limited.

Morrison, D. Kieran, M. Svennevig, M. Ventress, S. (2007) Media and Values. UK: Intellect books.

Kung, L. Picard, R. Towse, R. (2008) The internet and the mass media. London: Sage publications ltd.