With the advent of bloggers and citizen journalism,
newspapers and other slower, archaic forms of media are slowly hemorrhaging
workers, readers and maybe most importantly, advertisers. Bloggers can break
news quicker than ever before, effectively rendering more traditional forms
obsolete. And while bloggers may never completely overtake the classically
trained seasoned journalist with a pencil behind his ear, tape recorder in his
hand and stern look on his face, they’re certainly trying.
What’s important to remember as a blogger is that even
though in most cases you don’t have an editorial team or a supervisor,
integrity and factual accuracy are paramount to running a successful and
well-read website. You don’t have to have attended journalism school to understand
some of the basic tenets of the trade like sourcing, using direct quotes and
double-checking your facts.
Blogs represent some of the most vital ways to get
information out to the public before anyone else. It’s quick because you don’t
have to go through a few different people to get it published – it’s just you,
a keyboard and a computer or mobile device. But that can also lead to misinformation
being spread around. It’s not unexpected, but it should be something that’s in
the back of your mind as you write. Once something goes live, someone is going to see it. If you make
an error, be as upfront as possible issuing a retraction or correction and notifying
your readers as soon as possible.
The blogging community thrives because of mutual admiration
and respect, with blog rolls promoting one another, guest posts and general
good will towards your fellow online writer. Because of this, proper
attribution and sourcing is a must. It’s not only polite to make sure you give
credit to that picture or quote, it can actually be a bit of a legal grey
When in doubt, throw up a link or credit and show some respect to other bloggers
in your field. Undoubtedly, the good karma will come back to you when someone
finds something of yours they like.
If you’re quoting someone, the words written should be exactly
what the person said. If you’re going to paraphrase, make sure not to put it in
quotes or muddle the intentions of the words. Yes, that means you too, political
bloggers. It’s ok to take out a verbal stutter or repeated word to make it easy
to read, but misquoting someone is a serious lapse in integrity and not a good
way to run your blog.
Respecting the “off the record” notion and the anonymity of
a source is more than just a courtesy, it’s a sure-fire way to make sure you
continue to get the scoop in the future. From something as trivial as a leaked
role for an actor in a new movie to some major scandal, entertainment blogs,
news blogs and everything in between should be sensitive to their sources.
(Photo courtesy of JPAttitude.com)