I am a blogger with a lot of opinions, and because of that I’ve been involved in a number of heated discussions around journalistic integrity and ethics. Mainstream media defines journalistic integrity as a lack of financial interest in the subject matter of their reporting. I think integrity goes far beyond financial interests; in our subjective world conflicts of interest are nearly impossible to define around money alone.
But the friction destruction and market efficiency qualities of the Internet are leading blogs in particicular to face a serious credibility challenge, and I believe this must be dealt with in a direct and open manner. The WOMMA guidelines are a good start, but I think more practical and far reaching advice is also needed. I also think that we need more than a set of principles. There have to be consequences when journalists stray.
Chris Heuer is one of the good guys that is trying to help shape the evolution of the social media. He reached out to me a couple of weeks ago to discuss the beginning of a discussion around blogger ethics, disclosure, etc.
There is an initial meeting tonight to discuss the issues around blogger and new media ethics. If you are a blogger or journalist, or just have an opinion, I will consider it a personal favor if you show up and share your thoughts. If you are a blogger, I also request that you consider writing about this and linking to Chris’ post on the subject, here. I’m hoping that this discussion leads to a framework for a disclosure policy that can be adopted by journalists and that will lead to completely transparent writing. What comes out of this meeting will likely be debated online from there, and a workable solution eventually adopted.