Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 10, 2008 9:51 PM

Bloggers Have No Ethics

"Bloggers have no ethics" has long been the battle-cry of mass media in an attempt to keep the medium down and to keep the validity of their mainstream news channels high.

Jay Rosen is one smart dude. You should check out his excellent Blog, PressThink, his keynote presentation titled, If Blogging Had No Ethics, Blogging Would Have Failed (But It Didn't. So Let's Get A Clue) and his latest Blog post also titled, If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But it Didn't. So Let's Get a Clue.

"Because we have the Web…

There’s the press, but there is also the press sphere, an open system.

Within the press we find the people we know as 'professional' journalists.

Within the press sphere we find pro journalists and the people formerly known as the audience, mixed together.

Because we have the Web…

The means of production—editorially speaking—have been distributed to the population at large."

At the same time, in the UK several mainstream journalists condemned Disney for quoting Bloggers on the promotional material for their new movie, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.

Jason Solomons, chairman of the film section of The Critics’ Circle, said:

"These online postings are unreliable. We don’t know who the writers are... Anybody can make up an internet name - it could be the producer himself or one of the actors... It’s a very dangerous area because the anonymity gives them complete freedom to express themselves without being accountable for what they have written. It’s actually cowardly and I don’t think it’s helpful to use them."

In other news: 95 of the top 100 newspapers in America now have blogs.

What's the trend here?

Disruption is doing what disruption does best.

Disrupting.

On one hand, the traditional media channels have to protect their legacy and integrity. On the other hand, if they don't Blog, get engaged with the community and leverage the search engine optimization and reciprocated linking power of Blogs all will be lost (including their public image).

Are Blogs written and produced by the mainstream media the only ones the general public should trust?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Aaron deMello
    Mitch Joel

    Its an interesting canard... since many bloggers do in fact prove that missive correct. Yet, most of my news today comes from bloggers although I'll never give up the Sunday Times and WSJ magazine.

    Reply
  • Posted by Carmi
    Mitch Joel

    As a journalist and a blogger, I take exception to claims by members of the so-called established media that bloggers are the enemy and are not to be trusted.

    Indeed, mainstream media has been slow to adopt Web 2.0 as a driver of change to its existing legacy. Their "look at us, we're blogging" attitude reflects how fundamentally many of them fail to understand the true nature of these new tools. Freefalling subscription and ad revenue should clue them in before long.

    Blogging and its social media cousins have democratized media, but it's remarkably short-sighted to conclude that all bloggers have no ethics or that we should only read blogs published by established media. Not so long ago, when such broad statements were applied to demographic groups, they called it racism.

    Trust is a funny thing. Just because you have the traditional media checks and balances in place doesn't mean you're not vulnerable to the occasional slipup. Heck, even the New York Times has been victimized. Yet we still read it, right?

    Whatever we're buying, we've always had to beware, to trust our own instincts and leverage our own experiences to help us determine what's valid and what isn't. We've got to be just as vigilant with bloggers as we do with any other media, traditional or new.

    Simply being a member of traditional media shouldn't merit a free pass. Similarly, bloggers shouldn't be dismissed from the table simply because they're bloggers. That pretty much violates what a free press stood for in the first place.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michelle Evans
    Mitch Joel

    My favourite parts of the newspaper were always the opionion columns. Guess that's why I read mostly blogs now. I do agree that most mainstream media are using blogging tools but are not actually engaged in blogging.

    Reply
  • Posted by Leigh
    Mitch Joel

    Ever since I watched Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent, it was clear to me that trust was going to be moving from big media to individuals. I don't trust the motives of CNN but maybe I trust the reports of Christiane Amanpour. The Web being the ultimate medium for developing communities of trust make it much more likely to tap into that than big media. So personally i think it's moving the opposite direction with connections being created between bloggers and their audiences in a way that mass media has not been able to create.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeff P
    Mitch Joel

    I endured a speech by Andrew Keen who wrote a book on this subject - that web 2.0 is destroying a culture because the "professionals" are being replaced by the common man, the blogger. Everyone has the right to express their opinion and let the reader decide. I think it is relevant that bloggers use ethics when writing, but the media gives their opinion, so why can't we from time to time? At the end of the day, if the professional was doing their job correctly all along, would voices want to be heard so badly?

    Reply
  • Posted by Stu McLaren
    Mitch Joel

    I wonder if this debate has intensified over the last few months because of something Carmi said above - many companies are shifting their ad spends to more online media sources.

    It's certainly cheaper, easier to track and it many cases it's where more people are going to get "plugged in".

    Obviously this threatens the traditional media which is why their backs go up - especially if they haven't embraced it.

    What are your thoughts Mitch? Are you guys seeing a shift in where the marketing dollars are being spent as budgets tighten?

    Thoughts?

    Stu

    Reply
  • Carmi - I really enjoyed your comments. Many thanks for the thoughtful and in-depth perspective.

    Leigh - I guess I gotta go and watch that Chomsky piece... I have never seen it.

    Stu - I recently Blogged about that right here: http://www.twistimage.com/blog/archives/good-news-in-bad-times-for-digital-marketing/

    Great comments overall, please keep them coming.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dave Fleet
    Mitch Joel

    I did an interview for an article on citizen journalism recently, and one of the questions the journalist asked was about 'citizen journalists' with no ethics - ones that sneak into events without revealing that they'll blog them, or who don't check facts.

    My response: There are bad apples in all 'jobs.' Just as some bloggers will act that way, there are journalists who will ignore 20 minutes of perfectly reasonable answers and focus on one two-second slip-up. Rather than blaming them, spokespeople should take responsibility for the things that they can control. Be careful what you say even when you think it's a closed event. Think and be careful whenever you speak in public, whether it's to a reporter or to a crowd.

    I don't know if I answered the interview question well, but at least I got my thoughts in order :)

    Reply
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