Saturday, January 05, 2008

What Moral and Ethical Responsibilities Does a Blogger Have?

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but it was spurred this morning when I saw news that an amendment now covers bloggers in the Freedom of Information Act.

Every year, new media is being awarded legislative backing that is making it more and more like traditional media (from a lawmaking perspective). But one thing that keeps bothering me is that there seems to be no moral obligations being acknowledged by the new media community. "Citizen Journalists" seem to want all the protections of traditional media without any of the ethical accountability.

What kind of set me off on this was Scoble's flame against Bloglines RSS reader. He used his blog as a rant about his feed not working correctly on that reader. And as it turned out, it had nothing to do with the Bloglines reader at all, and had to do with his blogging platform. His rant had no explanation of what happened, who he contacted to get it resolved, and how long he'd been waiting to get it resolved for.

Compare the "Bloglines Sucks" post to Dave Winer's reporting his serious issue with Apple. I feel that Winer is approaching it in the right way. He explains the issue, how he feels about it, and is giving Apple the chance to respond.

Now, I don't want this to specifically be a rant about Scoble. I am fully aware of where he's been coming from, and that he's the darling princess of blogging and he carries himself as such.

My point is that there's a difference between editorial and rant. If you're an "A" list blogger that has been posting from an editorial perspective consistently, and toss in a defamatory Cleveland Steamer because there's a problem between the keyboard and the chair, then you're not being a good human being. And I think that post of Scoble's above is good example of that. Ultimately it is slanderous, despite a following apology, most of the damage has been done. If you have a huge following, then you have a moral obligation to think about whether or not you are giving a "Media 2.0" kick in the balls to some innocent bystander.

Maybe that's what editorial means in the Web 2.0, but I just don't feel good about it.