Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bloggers as journalists

Alan Sipress, “To Casual To Sit on Press Row: Bloggers Credentials Lifted with Seats at the Libby Trial, in The Washington Post, Jan. 11, 2007 provides a somewhat Dilbert-like discussion of the upcoming trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, with two seats reserved for bloggers (and 98 for the established press). Here is the story.

Of course, it’s still pretty hard for a newbie blogger to get in to an event like this, and as I have written, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not constitutionally identical concepts.

The article has a checklist about journalistic standards that bloggers ought to adhere to. I’ll run down through my own practice:

Spend extra time verifying facts: Generally, I post material already published by the “established press” but when possible I will try to find more than one source, particularly with the tricky legal concepts that come up with respect to the web. Some facts are passed on personal experiences.

Quote other people directly: Generally not. There are rare exceptions.

Get permission to post copyrighted material: If the quote is short and would be covered by the “fair use” doctrine, I don’t ask permission. (The same goes for links). On a few occasions, people have sent me material to be posted.

Include links to source materials: Absolutely, yes. That is the value of the Internet, and the value of blogging, to draw disparate materials together to draw original conclusions.

Post corrections. Absolutely, yes. When I find an error or someone else does and contacts me, I correct it as quickly as possible. The only issue is travel or having the cable service down, and I hope to improve this with wireless.

Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco has a page that discusses bloggers as journalists: this link.

There is another story in the Post the same day by Sara Kehaulani, “Product Reviews and Links Turn Pages Into Profit” and it mentions companies like Chitika, PayPerPost, and ReviewMe, as well as, of course, Amazon (and Linkshare, which offers McAfee). I already have some ads on these blogs and I will look into the possibility of adding others. I want to make sure that my right to remain objective is not compromised.

I had an earlier posting along these lines, at this link.

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