Clay Aiken – Ethical Standards on the Web

This has been an extraordinary week if you are a Clay Aiken fan.  We have had reports of a fabulous concert in Las Vegas, a great appearance on TV’s hit show, 30 Rock, and wonderful pictures of a beautiful baby.  However, we have seen the internet rumor-mill work in its most ugly way, passing out false rumors as fast as possible.  Watching some sites on the web maligning Clay made me stop and think.  Why is this so easy to do and does it seem to be much worse lately?

These questions led me to research the following article. It certainly does not answer everything, but it does make a person realize that this happens all over the net and that perhaps we all can be a part of the solution.

One of the greatest benefits of online journalism is its ability to reach millions of people almost instantaneously. But the pressure to keep news current and online within minutes of an event’s occurrence can jeopardize the accurate reporting of even the most ethically-conscious journalist.

Because there is a proliferation of news outlets, including bloggers, web sites, cable/ satellite television, and web broadcasts, there seems to be a feeling of urgency to get “the” story 24 hours a day.  As the pace intensifies, so does the pressure to cut corners.

Adding to the pressure is the public’s increasing demand to see news as it happens. When an incident or news item occurs, the event will reach radio-listeners, web-news readers, and international bloggers within hours, if not minutes.  In the race to be number 1, many newsmakers incorporate unsubstantiated rumors into their reports.

Accuracy means getting the facts and context of a story right. This is a fundamental norm of ethical journalism. Inaccurate reporting undermines important news stories and can mislead the public. Though accuracy is not the only ingredient for truthful reporting, it is nevertheless indispensable.
Accurate reporting has never been easy because journalism is deadline-driven. But today, accuracy is further challenged because of the internet medium.

Laziness, lack of rigor, and other bad habits complicate the ethics of accuracy and speed.  In the interest of time, journalist who report press releases as news do an ethical disservice to the populations they inform.

Polls taken by news corporations show that the public wants speedy information, but also expect the reports to be as accurate and as verified as possible.  The public wants a balance between speed and accuracy.

On May 5, 2009, Robert Cringely wrote an article on InfoWorld regarding the rumor that Apple was going to buy Twitter.  In his sarcastic style, he had some interesting comments about internet reporting and rumors.  He suggests that sites just can’t leave rumors alone.  He jokes that the following is what rumor mills say about stories…”We don’t believe this story is true (and we’ll believe practically anything).  But we’d never let our ethical standards get in the way of a juicy story, especially when somebody else is beating us to it.”

In the “wonderful” world of unfiltered Web reporting, there is little accuracy.  It is difficult to find sources who actually know what they are talking about.  It’s all about speed.

Mr. Cringely says;

“The Net has always been a festering source of bad information……….Take thousands of blogs written by untrained reporters, add pressure to publish 24/7, toss in a decreasing pool of professional journalists who feel compelled to keep up with the amateurs, and shake vigorously until nauseated.  What you get is a recipe for spreading deliberate disinformation on a wide scale.”

Perhaps it’s the general public that needs to reexamine their need to have news immediately.  However, there are some “reporters” who need to have their rumor-spreading licenses suspended.

Clay Aiken News Network is an unofficial fansite. We are not affiliated in any way with Clay Aiken or his management. This website was made by fans for fans and makes no impression or impersonation of the official site, which can be found under the domain

39 thoughts on “Clay Aiken – Ethical Standards on the Web

  1. Fantastic article and so very true. The lies that have spread about Clay Aiken have been incredible over the years. The "stories" are now to the point where they are beyond ridiculous.

    One particular blogger is just an idiot and has to continue to talk about Clay just to give him some validation because he has none in his real life. But he really shouldn't be called a real blogger anyway. He's more of an internet joke.

    Anyone that believes the garbage that is posted in tabloids, especially the National Enquirer, deserves to be lied to. Most people with a working brain know that a tabloid is full of BS.

    It's about time that all those guilty of spreading lies and going as far as what happened to Brooke Shields' mother, should be held fully accountable for their deplorable actions.

  2. Clay Aiken has had more than his fair share of untruths being reported by the media and gossip spread all over the Internet – and he's far from the only celebrity being hit with this crap. Hopefully blogs like this will help spread the word and improve our knowledge of what is going on.

  3. Fascinating – thank you musicfan! Clay Aiken has had his fair share of rumor being reported as fact, and I’m sure that there are many many more people/celebrities out there too.

    Yesterday I read two very disturbing stories about the “media” and about the internet. The first was about a family fighting to have pictures taken off the web. The pictures were leaked by two California Highway Patrol officers and were of their daughter who had died tragically and horrifically in a car accident. Their hands are tied, but they are fighting. The second was about Brooke Shields. Her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, was taken from her assisted living home by two “reporters” from the National Enquirer who misrepresented themselves (in other words they lied) to get her off the premises in an attempt to get some juicy gossip.

    It is outrageous the level that our society has sunk to. I used to think that it was just a hand full of people who enjoyed this sensationalism, but now I’m afraid that it may be the majority – I find that very sad and very scary.

    I try to do my part by not reading this kind of crap and staying away from any site that supports it. This gets more and more difficult as time goes on.

    In my opinion, the only way to change it is to change the laws. This isn’t the media our founding fathers had in mind when they structured Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Information. Something absolutely must be done.

    Thank you for taking the time to research this and sorry about the length of this comment – I should have put it in my blog LOL!!!

  4. The recent article about Clay visiting AI is a perfect example. It started with a tweet that Clay was at AI with baby Parker. His original intention of showing off Parker to friends at AI was then twisted into Clay being there to meet the contestants (who were not in the building). Supposedly AI didn’t want Clay giving a pep talk because they hold a grudge against Clay for leaving 19M a few years ago and for getting Kelly to do the same. The story came out in the NE without any mention of Parker being there. Many copycat cut and paste blogs and news papers embellished the story over and over until it took on a whole new meaning of Clay wanting to duet with Adam.

    All the people embellishing the story and the NE printing an inaccurate story to begin with do such a disservice to the American people and are intended to hurt the person they are reporting on. It happens to many celebrities. I wish it could be stopped as it seems totally unethical. I wonder where this spirit of meanness to celebrities originated?

  5. I am glad I have found this site. You have so much here and some really makes me think.

    Nice article on a important topic. I think the general public rolls their eyes at the internet "news". It would be laughable if it didn't hurt so many people.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. As you know, I went on a rant on my blog about this very subject. Somewhere this kind of journalism has to be stopped.

    In the Farrah Fawcett story last night, she spoke about the tabloids leaking the return of her cancer before she even had a chance to tell her family. That is beneath contempt if you ask me. While many laws now are being changed, there needs to be one put in place with regards to such slimy journalism.

    Thanks for the great article.

  7. Thank you for this very true and interesting article. A few years ago, a then reputable magazine did a survey to find out how the American people veiwed professions and the honesty expected of it’s practioners. The journalist of the day were shocked to learn that the American public had less than a 25% trust rate for reports, just one step above defense attornies. Such giants of the industry as Dan Rather and the NY Times have both used tabloid rumors, with no facts, for the basis of headline stories. How sad it that? Where do we go for “real” news now?

  8. Great article! Sadly the internet is full of lies, rumors and half truths! Clay has been the target of many, but he is not the only one. I don’t know what the answer is, but something needs to be done.

  9. Excellent post, and right on replies from SueReu and fgs. It galls me that freedom of the press & the right to free speech is so abused & people are allowed to get away with it. So Many readers of it believe it without a second thought, it’s sad.
    The trash writers and rumor spreaders, I can’t call them reporters, have no conscious, don’t give a hoot about the hurt they cause others just so they get their own seconds of attention.
    Farrah’s Story is another example of that.

  10. Wonderful article, and thanks to CANN for giving us more background into it…

    The reporting actually seems like a cancer and then it just spreads its ugliness over and over, and over embelishing everything…..for their own little twist! As if we don’t know it’s the same article only tweeked….

    This past week was great for much happening…and then the media steps in and sucks the life out of everything that he has done. 1 step forward, and 2 back…

    The AI story is so far fetched, and out of wack, it’s totally unbelieveable for us…but I worry that people that are not so invested in Clay…only see the negative.

    I mean,really…do you think Clay would actually try to conduct business with a 9 month old baby with him…Doesn’t he have managers and a Publicist?/// As far as them not wanting him there because he left 19, and so did Kelly…then why was Kelly on the show?? doesn’t make any sense…. Talk about blowing things out of proportion, and trying to make up a juicy story!!! How sad… But the worst things is…that it affects Clay!!!and that bothers me ALOT!!!!!

    I don’t know what the answer is…don’t know how to fix it…and I realize it happens to many, many people…not just Clay…but Clay I have an investment in…I adore him…and when he gets attacked…I TURN RED!!!!

    Maybe more posts as this one…enlightening people…would help. There are still people out there that believe every word in tabloids…every gossip site… As someone said: “If you believe what you read in the NE, then you deserve to be lied to” HOW TRUE!!! Just as some people think entertainers/singers actually sit on the computer all day and post on myspace or facebook….as if they have time, and would come in contact that much….Seriously!!!!!

    We can only control what we do….not spreading garbage..speaking kindly. We can’t police the world…I just wish there was some kind of Ethicnal Journalism brought back..but I can’t see that happening…It’s all about the mighty Buck……at someones expense…SAD.


  11. Keith Obermann was relating a similar story about himself. He took a few days off work when his mother passed away and some blogger concocted a bougus story about him having a fight with Rachel Maddow and walking off the set.

    Some of these journalists and bloggers insert their opinions into what should be a straight forward news piece and turn it into an op ed piece. The next cut and paste journalist adds his opinion and changes the story some more until the original facts are lost in what amounts to nothing more than an opinion editorial.

    News is supposed to be factual and unbiased. We lost that.

    Great blog.

  12. I have lost respect for the “News” industry as a whole. It is sad, but I don’t believe anything I hear, read or listen to anymore unless there is a respectable source named. The National Enquirer and TMZ are the opposite end of the spectrum from respectable and it seems in this day and age some of the once respectable news media have lowered themselves to siting the rags as sources. It is mind boggling. Next we will have news before it even happens.

  13. Internet could be the greatest source of news, but also the biggest source of lies and demeaning a person. Clay Aiken has been the victim of internet stalking and lying, some to the point of stalking and obsession which is probably criminal.

  14. The news industry in many cases has turned to tabloid journalism and unverified sources. The true news sources and journalists are on the verge on becoming extinct. For the past 6 years Clay Aiken has vilified by certain industry sources by using these sleazy informants who know nothing and by some/one who is a total fameho.

  15. Last night Farrah’s story really struck a nerve for me. She has been victimized by only the desire for headlines. Clay Aiken is another. The only reason they make these lies up is to get hits ontheir sites or sell their magazines/newpapers. He is a celebrity and everywhere he goes, it’s news.

  16. It’s too bad most of the media have to go to scum-sucking frogs to get headlines for their “rags.”

  17. Thanks for calling much-needed attention to the rampant problem of inaccurate news reporting, especially on the Internet. False and inaccurate stories do so much harm, yet they can spread like wildfire due to the speed on online communication. I hope that people will become more discerning readers who think carefully about the “sources” of Internet information, before mindlessly buying into so-called “news” items that come from disreputable sources with an ax to grind.

  18. Thank you for the very interesting article. In the past few years, Clay Aiken, as well as many other people, has been the victim of many false items paraded as news. I hope things change very soon.

  19. I’m late, so I will just WORD all the above.

    Clay Aiken is so very smart to ignore all this crap, wish I could, I just hurt for people that get that kind of stuff. I too hope things will change for the GOOD and these so called journalists have to be accountable for their actions.

  20. This is an excellent article on a very important topic. I hope that we will see something done soon to stop all the lies.

    Interesting that this particular blog has been quoted many times today on other sites. That just means that it is an interesting topic that has been presented in an excellent way.

    Congrats on a good job.

  21. Musicfan,

    Thank you for an excellent article on ehtics in journalism. My former editor, who is also a good friend, and I have discussed this topic many times.

    Your blog entry should be requird reading for all so-called journalists and lay spreaders of “news.”

    Thank you for your kind comments in the Carolina blog. Have a great weekend!


  22. Thank you so much for your very interesting article on these so called reporters who spread their lies all over the internet. If this is the new Freedom of Speech..some new laws need to be passed.

  23. Musicfan…..BRAVO!!!! This is an excellent article. I enjoyed reading it and all of the comments. It really is sad what journalism has become. Unfortunately, there are still those people who believe what they read. Most of these people remember journalism with integrity and haven’t realized or accepted that integrity is not the case in journalism of today.

    Hopefully, someday soon the media will be held accountable for the crappy reporting, copy/paste journalism and inaccuracy of reporting.

  24. Thanks for writing about a topic too long ignored by our legislators. Laws to protect the celebrities and the general public from the “freedom” to type whatever you feel like typing as long as it’s not on print paper but on the internet are long overdue. Accountability has gone by the wayside and good people get hurt all in the name of “a good laugh” or it doesn’t really matter if it’s accurate or not.

  25. Thank you Musicfan for telling it like it is. It really is a shame that some people are so anxious to get or report “news” that they believe almost anything they read.

    Although a lot of members of the OFC get your blogs, this is something that should be read by everyone. Would you considering posting this on the OFC although even I can’t figure out just where it should go. I would like to see it “In the Press” where more would read it although it is probably more well suited to “Stuff”. With your permission, I will happily post it “In the Press” and doubt that anyone will say anything about what thread it is in.

    Thank you for your time in researching this. 🙂

  26. Hopefully the attention the present internet bullying & suicides as a result of will also
    bring attention to cyber stalking & other internet issues. Lying & hiding behind the 1st Amendment has taken on a whole new meaning with the advent of the internet. The real clincher is that journalist just copy & paste from blogs without bothering to verify the validity of the facts. And because of past journalistic integrity people believe the lies. Many people, including celebities, have hurt by these lies. Several states have begun
    going after internet bloggers resulting in actual arrests & convictions. Hopefully this will spread to include tabloids.

  27. This is a very informative article on a very timely subject. While, we seem to want information the second it becomes available, this has opened up the doors for numerous false data to get out there also. People who have agendas can now “report” that things happened that didn’t or include a tidbit of fact and make up the rest to push their own agenda. It is not only the “tabloids” who do this-and we sort of realize they do it-but it is major newspapers who are picking up articles this way and some feel add credence to these erroneous stories. I wish that we could go back to the time when checking the facts, making sure only truthful things were reported and ethics were used in the writings of individuals. While the internet and the various options on it can be used for good , it seems so often it is used to vilify certain individuals to further the needs of one individual or a group of individuals to promote their agenda. It is just a sad commentary on the way things have become. Thanks for this thought provoking article.

  28. This is a great article. I find it so sad that we cannot trust the press in any way these days.

    When will people stand up and demand a change?? And why do people buy the rags and click on the slime sites??

    Thank you for writing this. It should be read by the masses.

  29. Hopefully, there will be an awareness by some of the journalists and they need to try to get back to verifying the story and the source. Possibly it’s reached the tipping point as we’ve seen with Clay Aiken.

  30. I enjoyed reading this blog. I wish that the government could prosecute people who lie just to have fun.

    Thank you for the information

  31. Great article. I love how varied the Clay related topics are that you discuss.

    There’s another problem with our ability to read and spread information so quickly and easily. An original article may be factual, but in our haste to share the info with others we the readers might report the facts incorrectly. I’ve seen this happen on different Clay message boards as we pass along the lastest Clay news. We also need to be careful to be acurate.

  32. Thank you for a very well written and true description of what passes for ‘journalisim’ in this day and age.

    It both frightens and angers me that the general public read these tabloid like articles and blogs and think the information found therein is accurate.

    The damage this type of ‘reporting’ does to the reputation of celebrities is appalling and these ‘journalists’ and ‘bloggers’ should be ashamed of themselves for actively causing hurt and embarrasement to people who have done absolutely nothing to warrant such treatment.

  33. Thanks for this great article.
    People need to be educated to consider the source when they read anything. For some reason many people have come to believe that just because it’s written down, it’s true.

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