Journalistic Standards in the Blogosphere

Nick Carr has a fantastic post today on the tension between bloggers and traditional print media.  He discusses in great detail some of problems and perspectives that make it difficult for bloggers and traditional journalists to appreciate and trust each other.

Read his post, and think about what he is saying.  Regardless of which side of the illusory fence you think you’re on, no one can deny the truth of this:

When it comes to conflicts of interest, or other questions of journalistic ethics, the proper attitude that we bloggers should take toward our counterparts in the traditional press is not arrogance but humility.

To do otherwise is to claim a position of superiority that is ludicrous on its face.  Blogs have many advantages over traditional print media.  Let’s not obfuscate them with illusions of grandeur.

If we, as bloggers, want to be taken seriously, then we have to act seriously.  We cannot ignore the standards that “evolved over the years in order to temper the freedoms that could lead, and sometimes did lead, to the abuse of the public trust” just because we have the freedom to post whatever we want whenever we want.

As the traditional press moves online (I haven’t subscribed to a newspaper in years), it will bring those standards along.  At that point, the issue becomes not hard copy verses on-screen, or even now verses tomorrow morning.  It becomes reliable and self-governed verses unreliable and chaotic.

With freedom comes responsibility, and with progress come challenges.

Some way, somehow, bloggers need to develop a code of ethics that legitimizes blogging as a reliable, and conflict free, information medium.

Once that happens, the real-time and distributed nature of blogging will turn what is now perceived by many as a disadvantage into a tremendous advantage.

I hope this happens sooner rather than later.

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