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Online Journalism and Breaking The Rules

Updated on April 21, 2009


Why is a person who calls themselves a journalist going saying online journalism and breaking the rules is even an option? For myself as a person who calls himself a writer, I never stop being a writer. It is me. It is part of what I am whether I am writing or not writing. When does an actor stop being an actor? When is a politician not a politician? When is a reporter not a reporter? When is a journalist no longer a journalist?

The blog

Gina M Chen runs a blog called “Save The Media” within which she posts “10 ‘Journalism rules’ you can break on your blog.” Upfront this in itself is conflicting agendas. Ms. Chen furthers this by writing the following:

So there’s a part of me that loves blogging because you’re allowed to break the journalism rules.

True journalistic values say the contrary. If you are a journalist know matter what the mass communication format you appear in you still have to hold up the values in place for journalism. There are now lines you can draw when you present your self in any form of mass media.

Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell

You are what you are

This was once put to me this way. The Queen of England can call himself anything she wants. She can do anything she wants except not being the Queen of England. That is who she is. So, it would be unwise for her to try to Take postiion as an ambassador for the french government as she will always represent England or The United Kingdom.

Save The Media?

Gina M. Chen you are not saving anything when you declare you have the right to blur the lines. If fact your post “10 ‘Journalism rules’ you can break on your blog” is the Anti-Christ of journalism. There is no redeeming factor for you in this post as you state you make the personal separation as a blogger. Apparently, the Jayson Blair incident at the New York Times didn't open eyes to what happens when you blur journalism ethics to suit yourself.

Walther Cronkite
Walther Cronkite

Point #5 is offensive for everyone

There is nothing worse that making a surfer click around to get essential information to you said be supplying if your post needs that background to stand alone. You are not writing to a closed community. You are writing to mass public. When you leave out pertinent facts you distort your journalistic integrity. You state:

Link to background rather than repeat it: You know the drill. You’re writing the umpteenth update on an ongoing, complicated story, and your editor wants just 6 inches.

That part is ludicrous because you are in control of your content space. This statement promotes laziness and the giving in to compromising excuses. And rest of that statement is no better:

You worry that just explaining the complicated background of how the lake got polluted or what zebra mussels do to water will take four graphs. Enter blogging: You just link to the background. Those who need it, read it. Those who don’t, don’t get bogged down.”

Furthering the invalidation

There is a difference between peripheral information and core information. What you say here is to link your point to the reason you made the post. That is not only bad journalistic value but bad blogging practice to promote. No, one wants to read a post that you have to bounce around the net to get the facts. In fact those that practice that now are finding traffic loss in volumes. Webmasters cring at this behavior because they are aware when people leave only a small percentage will ever come back. Links that take people off the page should be only for additional depth if someone chooses. They should never been inserted as “you have to because I didn't want to put this in.” Off page links should add value as a matter of choice not a matter of necessity.

The world of Edward R Murrow turned  upside down
The world of Edward R Murrow turned upside down

Compromising your status

I am a writer not a journalist. That doesn't mean I can have the right to skirt journalistic values. Unfortunately, if you call yourself a journalist there is no off switch. No matter what medium you are in you are no different that a doctor who has to abide by the Hippocratic Oath 24-7 everyday of his or her life. A cop goes off duty but he is always a cop. A fireman goes off duty by his is always a fireman. A journalistic may leave the office but he or she is always a journalist. Even when blogging.The presumption that come of these type problems I stated this in my post Blogging And Morality "" :

I believe that people who just put it out there to just put it there will always be a problem. There are times discretion should have been the call of the day.

Facts are not checked or way off the mark are a problem with bloggers imitating journalist. As newspapers decline and fail so have journalistic standards. If blogs are to become the standard bearer their has to be a re-dedication to drawing the lines of distinction and ethics.

Another point which I made in my article, Journalism: an Endangered Species"

Any idiot can put words on the web and fewer idiots can get them in a journalistic print news venue...There are less and less researched facts gracing the blog pages then actually news even in the online relied news resources like Yahoo.

We need to establish an online journalistic ground zero. As it stands now we are regressing to scattered reports of gossipy sensationalism. Edward R. Murrow type values are transforming from a legacy into a fantasy. And what people don't understand is as these walls break down we lose. Integrity gives way to misrepresentation as a rule instead of the exception.

In support of journalistic value

Gina M. Chen has a few good points to her post. These point are what many people whether journalist, blogger or comment posts should take to heart. Her number eight was get personal. A blogging rule of thumb to engage any reader. Number nine added “Address your supporters or critics. Personally eight and nine are inseparable for me. Fix your mistakes rather than print a correction. The internet gives us that power ability. I will also note that you should also be upfront and include a why and wherefore. Someone who previously read the piece may come back. Again this tie into eight and nine which is all about acknowledging your readers and followers on a one to one level. Overall given the claim of being a journalist by Gina M. Chen her, “10 ‘Journalism rules’ you can break on your blog” is about as irresponsible as a journalist can get as bear the torchbearer of any profession.


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    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I also feel that journalists are loosing their credibility because of their lack of fact finding. "Why let the facts get in the way of a good story." As a writer of opinion I am free to express my opinion to a point. Slanderous behavior, on the other hand, should not be printed; especially not by a journalist.

    • neysajasper profile image


      11 years ago

      Finally! media is breaking its own stereo-type rules now.. cool.. :)


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