[Air-L] research ethics vs journalistic ethics case

jeremy hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Fri Feb 10 04:52:01 PST 2012

Today a colleague of ours retweeted an interview by another colleague of ours that published the name of a community/archive in a semi-academic published form that participates in activities of questionable legality in terms of intellectual property.  To me it immediately seemed very much like the standard ethical case of outing a illegal community in a country who punishes said illegal activity, which is a case of the harm to the community outweighs the possible benefits of research and thus the research is deeply unethical in my mind, but perhaps not in yours.

This spawned a debate surrounding questions of academic freedom and the right to knowledge.

however, it also occurred to me that this could also be a case of non-research ethics and a matter of journalistic ethics, where it was to some extent exposing the community and sharing its activities, thus making it more accessible, and likely also forcing it to close its doors as an objectionable activity.

so the questions that I have are... if we are researchers, are we always doing research?  what if it is journalism?  as from various perspectives, the publishing locale could be either journalistic or research oriented

what role does academic freedom play in balancing the interests of the community vs the interests of the researcher.

Jeremy Hunsinger
Communication Studies
Wilfrid Laurier University
Center for Digital Discourse and Culture
Virginia Tech

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