The Ethics of Blogging

Sep 29, 2011 | 1 comment

Should I send flowers?

       During the last several months, I’ve managed to offend or flat out piss off several people in the course of posting my daily blog.  That has certainly not been my intent.  These are people I greatly admire and wouldn’t deliberately irritate or hurt for all the world.  Among those I have offended are people of integrity who put their energies and talents into volunteer work for the greater good – to the benefit of all of us.
     However, having said that, I think that organizations with a public face should be held to high standards and, it stands to reason, that those who work for them will come under scrutiny, as well.  Just as those who hold public office need to have thick skins and a lot of gumption, I think that community leaders must also be prepared to withstand criticism.  That sometimes means taking full responsibility for things that go wrong (blaming the worker bees is truly bad form), accepting the criticism if it’s warranted and, correcting mistakes in a timely manner.  Or, at least, that is what I believe.
     And what of me and other bloggers like me?  What are our responsibilities?  My training was as a journalist ‘back in the day’ when newspaper and magazine ethics were serious business.  That there has been slippage in this area over the years is patently obvious.  And I don’t know much about the “dos” and don’ts” as applied to modern-day cyberspace bloggers.
     So, I Googled “Blogging Ethics.”  Wow!  Apparently, a hot topic.  But, unfortunately most of it didn’t apply to my situation(s).  The concerns were focused on whether or not bloggers  should be taking money or products in exchange for their blogs.  One example was a woman who regularly writes book reviews.  Should she or should she not accept free books from writers, publishers, publicists, etc?  She says she loves to read but can’t possibly buy all the books necessary…
     Another biggee in the ethics department seemed to be whether or not a blogger should be paid to blog.  There are those who actually earn their living by blogging.  That was something I had never given consideration to.  And how does that work?  Who pays?  Is that something I should look into?
     As interesting as all of the online information was, I eventually came back to my own foggy notion of blogging ethics.  It has to do with telling the truth, avoiding names if by mentioning them I might cause embarrassment to people, and not saying anything in my blog that I would not say to someone in person.
     My mother’s rule of thumb was:  “When you speak, speak the truth.  But don’t always speak.”  I know she meant that to be applied to personal relationships but I also know if I applied it to my blogging it would certainly keep me out of a lot of trouble.  But that’s not a position I can comfortably live with.  When I see something I consider just plain wrong, I automatically go into teacher mode.  The red pencil comes out and the matter is called to someone’s attention for fixing.
     Probably what I need to do is work on the thickness of my own skin and the degree of my personal gumption.  Obviously, bloggers are also targets for scrutiny and criticism – as well we should be. 

1 Comment

  1. Ann

    Your Mom’s rule of thumb is a good one. I do like candor and good humor, and that is probably why I have bookmarked your blog! You give people a chance to respond, defend, argue. . .it seems like “fair play” to me.

    Reply

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