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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Netroots: Blogger Code of Conduct

Posted by Bob Brigham

As regular readers know, I spend a great deal of time in offline conversations with other bloggers. Lots of emails, lots of calls. During the year I've been doing this, I have never once had a blogger suggest we need a code of ethics. Not once. The bloggers realize the blogosphere is self-correcting which makes such conversations mute. It did not suprise me in the least to see the following in today's Washington Post:

On Saturday, more than 50 of the state's bloggers -- on the right and the left, the young and the old -- spent a day meeting each other and debating whether there is a need for a common moral compass for this new form of political communication.

The conclusion among many of them was that there is not.

Several said they view their blogs as extensions of their very personal voices. No one, they insisted, has any business telling them what they should say or how they should say it.

Those who held that view expressed exasperation at the idea that government would try to regulate blogs. "Have you ever heard of 'Congress shall make no law?' " one asked, referring to the first few words of the First Amendment and the constitutional protection of freedom of speech.

Pretty much settles it, eh? Nope...

If Virginia's political bloggers want more influence and credibility, they should begin by earning reputations for telling the truth, being upfront about who they are, and treating their audiences with intelligence and decency.

That doesn't mean they need to dumb down or even lose the edgy and sometimes acerbic style that often keeps people coming back.

It does mean they need to learn how to balance those traits with ones that traditional reporters strive to uphold every day.

A code of conduct won't ensure that every blogger strikes the right balance. But it's a start.

Ironically, this was printed the same day that the Washington Post Editorial Board LIED. I think STFU is the appropriate response. As for Michael Shear, who wrote the piece and decided to disregard the views of bloggers and the First Amendment, I don't see any reason he should have influence or credibility.

Posted at 12:06 PM in Netroots | Technorati