Omnivore - On blogs and bloggers, journalists and ethics

When reporting becomes libel


The conversation regarding the value of citizen journalism is a tough one for paid journalists to wade into - any criticism we have can be seen as fear of the encroaching influence of bloggers. I've always said, publicly and privately, that I appreciate the voice of bloggers in the community, that I think those voices add value to the conversation, and that I find the competition for news and gossip, reviews and commentary keeps us all on our toes and makes the dialogue richer. Gone are the days when two or three media outlets controlled what got out there and how, and readers benefit as a result. It makes my job more interesting. It makes me a better journalist.

In the past week, a few things have happened that highlight the problems with bloggers taking on the role of journalists. This isn't a sweeping indictment of all bloggers - there are plenty out there who have ethical standards as high or higher than some traditional journalists. For instance, the somewhat sleazy media dinner: Restaurants and PR agencies put on free dinners for media types, and glowing blog posts and reviews get written as a result. I don't attend media dinners, and I know quite a few bloggers who don't, either. I also know plenty of journalists who do attend. It's not exactly unethical behavior, but I appreciate that someone who has no journalism background would think enough about it to recognize the inherent conflict of interest.