Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blogging And Ethics

"Our Very lives depend on the ethics of strangers, and most of us are always strangers to other people."

-Bill Moyers

For the most part, bloggers are not qualified journalists. However, in recent years, blogging has gained a certain reputation as being a good source for information on everything from, recipes for homemade cat food, to the latest political intrigue. Sometimes the bloggers get it right, sometimes they don't, it is usually up to the reader to decide if the facts presented in any given entry, is accurate and factual, or if it is the unsubstantiated musing of a citizen journalist.
When I first began Ellipsis, I had no idea that I would eventually evolve in my entries, to include my personal opinions regarding current events. One day someone asked me what my political view was, and that opened a door for me to share how I felt about things. It was a nice freedom to be sure, but with that freedom came a responsibility, at least that is what I believed to be true. My word is important to me, so when I wrote an entry I tried my best to write with accuracy, integrity, and checking my facts not just once, but several times. I am not a professional journalist, I am a blogger, but the time and energy I put into what I write about means I have to give up something else in life, so doing it right means a lot to me.

I am thinking about all this because of an article I read today on AOL News which had originally been featured in the Wall Street Journal. The article deals with the influence blogging has over opinion on any given subject, but at times more specifically political issues. Sometimes all it takes is a story which may be true, to begin a blogging blitz of amateur OP-ED speculation. Personally speaking, anything that gets us to engage in an intelligent dialog is a good thing, unless we begin to play telephone with it. While politicians, celebrities, and the notorious may seem larger then life, in truth they have lives like all of us, and should be protected from irresponsible rumor mongers.

Having an amateur blog means that we can satisfy the need we all have, to take a stand on issues that mean a lot to us. I have been described as having a lot of passion regarding my political beliefs. That's true but it might be a nice way of saying, "Carly can certainly be overly opinionated about certain things." LOL. That's fair, it's not lost on me about how bull headed I can be, I have been known to dig my heels in when a subject comes up that has in some way touched my life. I don't however, feel the need to express every thought I have, the minute I have it, if at all. There are one or two subjects that I rarely speak about, because I feel too close to it...and it's hard to accurately express myself. I learned a long time ago that if I can't say what I want to with more clarity then emotion, then it's best to allow myself to process it through, within myself, until I can articulate it with honesty and clarity.

With all the scandal in the Bush administration, I would be thrilled to see a good bit of news come to light. Something along the lines of what was written in the Wall Street Journal article. It seems the online site,, ran a blog article breaking the news that Karl Rove had indeed been indicted last weekend by the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, Patrick Fitzgerald. As of the writing of this entry, it doesn't appear that an indictment has been handed down, yet, but it does give one hope. Although for the time being, a bit of false hope. It's that potential that it won't become true at some future point which causes a lot of problems, for a lot of people. It degrades the integrity of citizen journalists in general, and makes us all sound like...well...misinformed nutjobs.

Opinion is fine, it should be encouraged. To share ones opinion with a friend means a lot,to share one's opinion on the Internet means bravery. All the tough subjects come with the possibility that if someone disagrees with your personal philosophy, they might REALLY disagree with you, and hurt feelings or even anger can be the end result, rather then two persons, sharing their opinions with passion. To present an opinion as fact, without anything to base it on, is irresponsible, and you won't be doing yourself any good by doing so. So why would an established web site write online articles which may be best described as wishful thinking, rather then honest jouralism? Couldn't the author of the apparently mistaken article simply have written an OP-ED article about how much he would like to see an indictment come to pass. Has blogging become the new tabloid medium? Share your thoughts with me.

San Francisco, California
Spring, 2005


Karen Funk Blocher said...

Well said, Carly. I agree completely. And there's another problem, in which people "pile on" with sheer quantities of posted opinion in lieu of facts. I was looking at this last night or the night before:

A source told ABC reporters that the government was tracking their phone calls, trying to find out who has been leaking classified information. The comments include lots and lots of conservatives (or a few of them, posting multiple time each), saying that it's good that the government should stomp down on the mainstream media, who are "traitors" and "aiding the enemy" and so on. A few of these people think the reporters should be shot! Then there are lots of posts from the other side, pointing out that this attitude is more compatible with fascism and communism than democracy, and quoting Benjamin Franklin over and over about freedom and security, and bringing up Karl Rove. It's really kind of distressing to see what some people believe and blather about online. The only saving grace is that some of the comments, on both sides, are factually based and well-reasoned. What a relief! In the first thirty comments, it was looking as though the inmates had taken over the asylum. Which, of course, they have.


Shelli said...

Hey Carly! Well, Hmmm...tough topic here! A lot of bloggers I think are like me, simply love to write. And then, there are the feel-sorry-for-me-bloggers and the fictional-bloggers and blah blah blah. Honestly? Who cares! Blogging is an amazing expierence not a tabloid medium. Yes, we share info and news and talk about all sorts of things but blogging is about mattering. You want to believe what you say matters in the world! We are all connected, no matter what kind of blogger you are and why you do it! :)

There is my two cents! Hope you are well girly! Love the digs here!

~Shells xoxo

fdtate said...

The truthout piece would better be described as journalism than blogging. This was supposed to be a factual article by a paid reporter, not just a Joe Schmo throwing out his personal opinion. It appears, however, that he was led astray by his sources.

When I write about something factual, I do Google searches and get several sources to confirm and add to the original material. I then try to incorporate several of those sources into the blog entry with links. Then I express my opinion about said issue and present it all to the reader to make us his/her own mind.

Suzanne R said...

I may be burying my head in the sand, but I don't get my political news online. I think it's too easy to editorialize in blogs, no matter how objective a person tries to think or appear. Of course, I'm not sure getting it from the network newscasts or Time Magazine as I do is any more accurate. ;-) However, I enjoy my friends' and family members' political opinions and thoughts as expressed in their blogs, even when I don't agree. It helps my enjoyment that I try to avoid the temptation to take what these bloggers write too seriously, or my own writing on my blog, for that matter.

Charley said...

Bring it on, Carly. I say bring the opinions and be yourself. My parents recently found my journal (and I'm 29) and it has caused major family strife. But that's alright - I'm not going to censor it. Some people have a problem with truth and opinion.

Don't give in!

Be well,