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Ethical Challenges of Algorithmic Journalism


Dörr, Konstantin /

Hollnbuchner, Katharina

In: Digital Journalism, Published online before print April 19, 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2016.1167612.

With the institutionalization of algorithms as content creators, professional journalism is facing transformation and novel ethical challenges. This article focuses on the concept of Algorithmic Journalism on the basis of natural language generation and provides a framework to identify and discuss ethical issues. The analysis builds on the moral theories of deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and contractualism, and remaps the ethical discussion for Algorithmic Journalism at the intersection of digital media ethics and cyber ethics. In order to capture the whole range of potential shifts and challenges in journalism ethics, the article combines the ethical multi-layer system of responsibility by Pürer with the classification of journalism by Weischenberg, Malik, and Scholl on an organizational, professional/individual, and social/audience sphere. This analytical framework is then complemented with attributes derived from the technical potential of Algorithmic Journalism. As a result, the analysis uncovers new ethical challenges and shifts of responsibility in news production for journalism practice and journalism research at the levels of objectivity, authority, transparency, and at the level of implicit or explicit