Prince Harry is a facist, Julia Gillard is ugly and Gary Ablett should be head of state.
Although my opening par has no basis in truth nor is my opinion backed-up by any fact whatsoever, it doesn’t really matter because this is a blog.
Despite my ironic opening burst I do appreciate blogs and bloggers for creating often enlightening and entertaining content but I think they need to know their place.
A code of conduct is what separates your average Joe Blogger from a ‘journalist’ in the traditional sense of the term. Take for instance ‘The Baggy Green’ – an Australian cricketing blog posted almost monthly by a fellow sporting tragic (The Baggy Green, 2014). A lot of what the blogger has to say is fair and is interesting and engaging comment on the day’s play. However, more often than not the blog is coloured with inaccuracies and backed-up with questionable secondary sources.
Take for instance a post from March on Graeme Smith’s retirement in which the author claims the former Proteas captain had a ‘definite arrogance’ about himself and this was the basis for a series of losses against Australia in recent times. The blogger links back to his source – a cricket.com.au article on the topic in which one line is dedicated to a possible perception of arrogance among “many South Africans” while others across the globe saw “fierce competitiveness” among other traits.
As the MEAA Code of Ethics States “Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism” and it is my opinion that when bloggers cross the line from waxing lyrical to informing, there will always be such issues with accuracy because bloggers don’t have the ‘public responsibilities’ such as those outlined by the MEAA.
Some bloggers have a better understanding of what the role of the medium really is – Gina Masullo for instance, outlines the benefit of not being tied down by journalistic responsibilities while blogging like being able to tell part of the story to provide audiences with ‘evolving information’ (Masullo, 2009).
However, I believe there is a trade-off between ethics and accuracy. A more extreme example of the diatribe that can make it into the public forum as an alternative to news content under the guise of blogging belongs to a user known as ‘PhonyTonyAbbott’ (PhonyTonyAbbott, 2014). The inflammatory remarks are not what I take umbrage to – merely the falsehoods (too numerous to list) that are used to support those remarks.
International journalists’ network (2012). Basic ethics for bloggers. Retrieved from http://ijnet.org/blog/basic-ethics-bloggers
Masullo, G. (2009). 10 ‘Journalism rules’ you can break on your blog. Retrieved from http://savethemedia.com/2009/03/20/10-journalism-rules-you-can-break-on-blogs/
PhonyTonyAbbott (2014). Abbott in Government – March 2014. Retrieved from http://www.phonytonyabbott.com/blog/abbott-in-government-march-2014
The Baggy Green (2014). Number 1 in Tests again. Retrieved from http://thebaggygreen.blogspot.com.au/