If a journalist gets dooced, who's to blame?
Journalists, media organization wonks, and interlopers gathered this evening to discuss getting dooced and blogging ethics in general at a panel discussion chaired by Anthony Moor from dallasnews.com and Tom Regan, a professional blogger for National Public Radio (NPR).
The aim was to begin an outline of guidelines for personal publishing for newsrooms: The outcome was an agreement that a manifesto outlining the rights of journalists as bloggers might be a good idea. At some point corporate duty ends and personal responsibility begins. Ideas clashed somewhere in between during the 90-minute discussion.
"It's clear that we are leaving footprints everywhere," said Moor. "The reality is, everything you say, everything you write, and everything you do is made available to everybody. That's the way that it works now."
Participants shared horror stories from their own (or in some cases, a "friend's") experiences. The list was long: college students denied jobs because of a negative blog, or incriminating flickr photos. Some knew better and removed online traces of themselves before entering the journalism industry.
The debate is nothing new. Andrea Panciera from Projo.com said when she started out as a reporter, before internet, there was an unspoken agreement that she would give up certain rights as a reporter, like freedom of speech. She went as far as not going to a concert for fear of being associated with its politics.
The Corporate Perspective
Different newsrooms have different treatments for blogging ethics, says Moor.
The Poynter Institute suggests that journalists should be allowed to keep personal blogs, but that they should acknowledge their role within a journalistic organization.
The Chicago Tribune states that a personal Web site could be seen as competition to the Tribune's online offerings.
A weatherman argued that his personal weather site enhances the coverage he provides with his station. In fact, he claimed 10 per cent of the sites traffic comes from his personal blog.
Nobody disagreed when Bill Mitchell from the Poynter institute spoke out against a universal prohibition against blogging. The key is detachment from your area of journalistic focus.
Mitchell thinks that if you cover politics, you should not blog about politics. Write about sports, he says. But, if you are a political writer and you declare your love of a particular team on your blog, years later, when you are applying for a sports writing position, your opinions will exist online.
Angela Martin from PBS says this generation is expected to express its loves and passions and much of that is done online.
The discussion failed to reach a conclusion, but ONA members were invited to continue the debate at the wiki, www.journalists.org/members/wiki/doku.php.
-- Lianna Shen and Michael Lehan