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Should bloggers be held to journalistic standards?

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Yes they should. But they’re not and that gets them in trouble.  remember the old saying, Measure twice cut once? That means you’ve only got one shot at cutting the piece of wood. The point being “make sure” you have the right measurement. Be sure about your post, before you hit publish.

Back in September I remember asking Brian Solis the exact same question at Web 2.0 expo in New York, “Should Bloggers be held to journalistic standards?” and he answered yes. Bloggers need to be held to some type of standard.Why did I ask Brian? Because he has a unique perspective, he’s a content creating machine and he cranks out volumes of noteworthy and spot on commentary about the social media and PR space and he is accutely aware of what he writes and says.

But a larger point is this.

Bloggers need to hold THEMSELVES to some sort of standard.

Why? Because when they start writing about people and companies and events- and if they have any type of influence, and they get it wrong-the backlash can be brutal for all parties involved.

Which leads me to the reason I’m writing this post. Yesterday Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang wrote a post about the social media company, Mzinga. It did not go over very well.  Suffice it to say that regardless of whether Jeremiah was correct in what he asserted or speculated, what happened next was nothing short of a shit storm.

Yes the mob mentality reared it’s ugly head again and yes Jeremiah was wrong in his approach. But at some point, 2 things need to occur. One, the Mob mentality needs to back off. and Two, Jeremiah needs to apologize.

After comment #19 Jeremiah realized he screwed up and he ultimately apologized and posted a retraction of sorts. However the mob continues to vent some 60 comments later. At last count there were 2 posts that were sympathetic.

So what do we learn from this?

Interestigly enough, even a Forrester analyst has room for improvement. It’s a simple as this for Jeremiah and actually speaks to a vlog I did prior to this post. One of the things we must do, as hard as it is, we must:

Practice a sense of patience.

Instead of rushing to break a story, perhaps it might make better sense to feel the situation out or better yet..”Measure twice, cut once”.

Ultimately, since we do not want to be policed by the mob mentality, we have to police ourselves, and hold ourselves to some type of journalistic standard. No one else will-unless of course you count the blog mob and twitterati.

Lastly, for the mob mentality. Ok  so you’re pissed. And you let Jeremiah know about it. Ok he got that. I get that.  But reiterating over and over again, virtually the same thing, gets tiresome, boring and lacks any type of  originality or constructive criticism.  Maybe the mob needs realize that pitchforks and torches never really worked that well anyway.

simpsons-mob-torches

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8 Responses to “Should bloggers be held to journalistic standards?”


  1. 1 Charity Hisle March 17, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    THANK YOU Marc! I wonder if you’ll be burned at the stake for this? Per my Twitter stream (@CharityHisle), I think everyone knows where I stand. You ROCK for having the courage to write this, when so many are still intimidated by the mob.

    I know what he did was wrong. But does a single mistake blacklist a valued participant in our community? I’m saddened by the way we behaved, as a community, towards a respected member of our group. I hope that your post will encourage others to think before adding their comments.

  2. 2 marc meyer March 17, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Charity, just trying to balance the playing field a little bit for Jeremiah, as you did as well. Was it wrong yes, but beyond that, again some lessons to be learned.

  3. 3 Consumer Mailing Lists March 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Very intriguing article. I think that bloggers should display some sort of integrity, but most aren’t professionals and remember that the whole point of blogging is to voice your opinions, so there is a fine line between voicing an opinion and displaying integrity.

  4. 4 Brian Manning March 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Great article, Marc. I think I have to agree with Charity that a single mistake shouldn’t blacklist you. Everyone makes mistakes and we should give them second chances.

    To follow that, however, it has to be a true and honest-to-goodness mistake. Overboard mob mentality is never a good thing, though the fact that it exists often prevents people from being dishonest. I think the fear of that would be enough for a lot of people to do just what you say, “Measure twice, cut once.”

    Not only should bloggers be held to journalistic standards for ethical reasons, I think that it is clearly in their own self-interest to do so!

  5. 5 Cyndee Woolley March 25, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Took me a couple of days to stop and think about this…

    This incident breeched more than just a standard of accuracy. We need to hold ourselves to a broader set of ethical standards with writing.

    For me that is the PRSA Code of Ethics. The goal is to protect the free flow of information, while avoiding conflicts of interest and safeguarding the confidences of your client.

    (PS: Referenced you in a blurb on my blog)
    http://pbsconstruction.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/journalistic-integrity-in-the-blogging-world/

  6. 6 marc meyer March 26, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Cyndee, sorry for waiting so long to get back to your but have to agree with you about the breech. They don’t have to adhere to standards, but they need to be held accountable.

  7. 7 femspotter April 17, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I agree that we bloggers should be held to the same standards as journalists when posting information as facts, which helps to avoid the passing along of false information; but bloggers should also be protected by the same laws as journalists/editors. As somebody who is both, I know what my rights as a journalist are, but when it comes to my blog I’m on my own. There’s nobody protecting me from, say, my employer firing me because it doesn’t like the content of my blog. If I write a blog post about voting for Barack Obama, for instance, but my boss favored John McCain, he can fire me.


  1. 1 Journalistic integrity in the blogging world? « Professional Building Systems’ Blog Trackback on March 25, 2009 at 7:04 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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