Good New Things in the Blogosphere
1. My friend and colleague Denise O'Berry, down in Floria, was born to blog. She's a natural-born connector and networker. I stopped counting the times I got mentioned in some relatively obscure publication and got a clip of the article postally mailed to me with a personal note and Denise's business card--and this was loooong before I met her in person two years ago. So it shouldn't surprise me that Denise has put together a wonderful directory of business blogs. Now I just need her to set up an ethics category so I don't have to try to shoehorn my own blog into one of the existing categories, none of which are quite right for this hybrid beast I've created.
2. More and more bloggers are functioning as journalists--but unlike professional journos, we are self-directed, in most cases have no direct supervision (e.g., a boss), and aren't necessarily schooled in getting the story behind the story, knowing what's true and what's rumor, and how to behave responsibly. (Of course many bloggers do have journalism training and experience, including me--but many do not, and there have been consequences).
Cyberjournalist.net has jumped into the breach with a Blogger's Code of Ethics. I quote it in full here:
Be Honest and Fair
Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
• Never plagiarize.
• Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
• Make certain that Weblog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
• Never distort the content of photos without disclosing what has been changed. Image enhancement is only acceptable for for technical clarity. Label montages and photo illustrations.
• Never publish information they know is inaccurate -- and if publishing questionable information, make it clear it's in doubt.
• Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context.
• Distinguish factual information and commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
Ethical bloggers treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving of respect.
• Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
• Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
• Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.
• Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy.
• Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects, victims of sex crimes and criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
• Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
• Explain each Weblog's mission and invite dialogue with the public over its content and the bloggers' conduct.
• Disclose conflicts of interest, affiliations, activities and personal agendas.
• Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, disclose them fully to readers.
• Be wary of sources offering information for favors. When accepting such information, disclose the favors.
• Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
• Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
As the moving force behind the Business Ethics Pledge, I welcome this, of course. Maybe some of the ethical bloggers will find their way to the Pledge.