Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Blogger influence raises ethical questions

[...] The growing influence of blogs such as his is raising questions about whether they are becoming a new form of journalism and in need of more formal ethical guidelines or codes of conduct.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 27 percent of adults who go online in the United States read blogs. And blogs have greater impact because their readers tend to be policy makers and other influencers of public opinion, media experts say.

So far, many bloggers resist any notion of ethical standards, saying individuals ought to decide what's right for them. After all, they say, blog topics range from trying to sway your presidential vote to simply talking about the day's lunch.

Blogging is more like a conversation, and "you can't develop a code of ethics for conversations," said David Weinberger, a prominent blogger and research fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "A conversation with your best friend would become stilted and alienating."

Others, however, have pushed written guidelines.

Jonathan Dube, managing producer at MSNBC.com and publisher of CyberJournalist.net, modified the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics and urged fellow bloggers to adopt it. The principles: Be honest and fair. Minimize harm. Be accountable. [...]

From what I can see, I think the problem isn't a lack of a code of ethics, it's in actually sticking to it if you have one. It's the same sort of thinking that believes if you pass a law against murder, no one will commit murder. You know, because it's against the law.

In any event, in the world where everyone now has a chance to post his own individual rantings on the fence, reliable information tends to rise to the top the hard-fought way--not in waving around a code of ethics you abide by in concept only, but in consistently doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. Just as there is the guy you work with that you avoid because he's a raving crackpot, granted access to enough information, you can see who is on the level and whom to avoid.

A code or guideline is a helpful means to an end, but it is not an end unto itself. The problems the media have faced in the past few years are in many ways the direct result of being self-deceived as to the level of their own biases and lack of credibility. The adoption by so many in the paid press of a smug assuredness, in which they see themselves as immune to human pettiness or spite or envy or condescension or ignorance because of the presence of the talisman of Professional Ethics is the reason so many readers have begun to seek other alternatives. The mark of a true professional would be then, not to criticize and complain about the alternatives or those who seek them, but to set yourself straight first.

Comments: Post a Comment

al.com - Alabama Weblogs

free hit counter
Visits since 12/20/2001--
so what if they're mostly me!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com