Well, all-righty, then!
In keeping with said code of ethics, I should disclose that:
1) I'm biased, yes, indeedy! In fact, I would not remotely consider myself a journalist as such; what fun is reporting just the facts, ma'am? If I was absolutely pressed, I'd call myself a somewhat wide ranging editorial columnist and/or commentator. With a thing for the color purple. And a mild obsession with politics. (My early training coming to the fore, alas.)
2) I don't do no original journalism, as such. Commentator, remember? See (1) above. That said, I'd certainly not put out anything I knew to be untrue; what would be the point?
3) Everything in this particular weblog is opinion. Not a journalist. Nosirree. The facts is reported by someone else. (Which is not to say that research isn't done to confirm facts when they seem truly off the wall. Sometimes one hell of a lot of research. Let's face it; it's hard to talk about what's happening here, there and elsewhere when the original reporting is weird.)
Well, I think I'm fully disclosed now.
Mr Hiller adds, "Please let me know what I'm missing... email me at email@example.com." Heaven only knows what else is missing from that code of ethics; it would never have occurred to me to try to promulgate a code of ethics for webloggers. The range of weblogs is simply far too wide. This one, for example, is principally extended commentary. (In fact, both of mine are mainly extended commentary, although "Media Relations" has a more specific brief and a thankfully less frequent update schedule.) Others contain links to items of note with extremely brief comments. Others are personal journals, using weblogging software. Still more are some combination of two or more of the above. How can you make a code of ethics that covers all that?
Are Bloggers Journalists? Well ... some of them can be, but in general, don't most journalists actually get paid for it? (I don't suppose I could talk someone into paying me to be a commentator .... no? No, I didn't think so. Ah, well. Mind, I don't think I want to make money from this quite this much. But I digress.) Frankly, I think all those people trying to put weblogs into some category of actual journalism are missing the boat. Weblogs are a technologically more advanced vanity press, really, with considerably lower publishing costs. Yes, many of us have specific subject knowledge that we can bring to bear on our subject. However, one of the advantages is that we can shape the story to our own ends (or not, as the case may be); Mr Hiller's story about what happened with his "google bomb" article is wince-worthy. We're not writing to word count or column inches; had he been doing that, the article would have no doubt turned out very differently, and it might not have been sliced and diced so thoroughly.
Surely it doesn't matter whether you're a professional journalist, an amateur journalist or a weblogger (wherever that fits in): the only person you can depend on to guard your reputation is yourself, regardless. That said ... it's not so much that people depend on webloggers to be news sources, as they depend on them to point them toward news sources. The weblogger who breaks news is a rare creature indeed.
And if I'm going to be held to that sort of ethical standard, I want a society, dammit! A nice big society, with annual meetings. And schmoozing. And cheap memberships. That's not too much to ask, is it?Posted by iain at April 12, 2002 12:59 AM
And a secret handshake!Posted by Steven Den Beste at April 12, 2002 11:38 PM