March Blogger Meetup: Blogger Small Group Overview, Afterthoughts, A Panda Driving a Car and Errantry

The com­bined blogger/​podcasting meet­up last night was the best yet. There were so many peo­ple there that we broke up in­to three small groups: one for pod­cast­ers, one for blog­gers and one for peo­ple to dis­cuss with Denise Polverine [who paid for the beer!] how cleve​land​.com can in­cor­po­rate more blog con­tent in­to their site. I didn’t get a chance to browse the Cleveland​.com or the pod­cast­ing groups be­cause the blog­ger dis­cus­sion was so live­ly. Hopefully oth­ers from the oth­er groups will blog about their stuff. I know I’d like to know.

Updates:

Collision Bend and Sardonic Views on the cleve​land​.com group.

Blog Group Overview:

Jay Miller from Crain’s Cleveland start­ed off the night with the top­ic that would pret­ty much take up the whole evening. He is not a blog­ger him­self, but was here to find out the state of the blog­ger [and/​or, +/​-, vs.] jour­nal­ist dis­cus­sion.

As I said be­fore, we had a live­ly one. Democracy Guy and Virtual Lori both have jour­nal­ism de­grees and Callahan’s Cleveland Diary is a trig cove on just about any sub­ject. Red Wheelbarrow, Your Daily Art and Organic Mechanic pro­vid­ed a good bal­ance to the dis­cus­sion. Pop Life was there, and an­oth­er blog­ger came in a bit lat­er, but I didn’t catch his name. There was al­so a new blog­ger named Daniella, but I fool­ish­ly failed to get her con­tact in­fo [She found me, I’ve spelled her name cor­rect­ly and linked to her blog]. Roll call ends now.

Red Wheelbarrow of­fers his own suc­cinct thoughts on our group. Democracy Guy, too.

Jay came in want­i­ng to find out if blog­gers are will­ing to adopt some of the jour­nal­is­tic tricks of the trade in­to their blogs. It seemed that he was con­cerned with en­sur­ing that blog­gers re­port things in such a way that the con­tent is ac­cu­rate enough to avoid get­ting sued. Everyone had strong feel­ings on this mat­ter. It came across, at least to me, that Jay felt as if blogs are slop­py or lazy jour­nal­ism, or that, with no set of guide­lines, the medi­um can’t be­come a re­spectable part of The Media. While there is some mer­it to these ideas, and there are sure­ly a large amount of blog­gers who are the web equiv­a­lent of dirty-beard­ed soap­box ranter, our group was of a con­trary opin­ion.

The gen­er­al con­sen­sus of the blog­gers present was that if we aren’t com­fort­able say­ing some­thing on our blog that we wouldn’t say to some­one in per­son, we don’t write about it. Transparency was a word brought up time and again. I learned a bit about the jour­nal­is­tic process, some­thing called the in­vert­ed tri­an­gle method which starts out lay­ing out all the facts, and then nar­rows down to the end by stat­ing the author’s opin­ion. My im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion to this is that the method can of­ten be disin­gen­u­ous. As a some­what typ­i­cal con­sumer of mass me­dia, I have been trained to think that hard news is noth­ing but fact, so “dis­cov­er­ing” that a writer has a bias makes peo­ple bitch and moan about spin. The trans­paren­cy comes in when peo­ple [or blog­gers] say “These are the facts” [with sup­port­ing links] and “This is what I think about that” [with com­ments open for re­but­tal or dis­cus­sion].

The point was then raised that blog­gers have no check up­on them. I as­sume this was more along the lines of ed­i­to­r­i­al checks for ac­cu­ra­cy than any­thing else, be­cause just about every­one said that [jour­nal­is­tic] blogs are pret­ty much al­ways checked by an­oth­er blog with a dis­sent­ing opin­ion. Then Jay men­tioned that peo­ple who read blogs are un­like­ly to search out dis­sent­ing opin­ions. Then some­one else said that it is no dif­fer­ent than a per­son who on­ly reads The New York Times for their news. Hooboy. Lively. 🙂

We moved back to­ward li­bel ter­ri­to­ry and were tak­ing that in­to the di­rec­tion of free speech, mak­ing analo­gies all over the place. Does link­ing to a blog post that lat­er turns out to be false make you an ac­com­plice in li­bel? Shot right back was, if I cut out a news­pa­per clip­ping and give it to my friend, and the clip­ping lat­er turns out to be false, is that com­plic­i­ty in li­bel? The fi­nal con­clu­sion be­fore we end­ed seemed to be that the larg­er your au­di­ence the more li­able you are to be sued for li­bel. Jay said that he thought that hav­ing a bit more knowl­edge of jour­nal­ism would al­low blog­gers to keep their vis­i­bil­i­ty high.

I’m sure I missed some­thing or got some­thing wrong, so feel free to cor­rect me.

Afterthoughts:

I don’t think Jay meant to come across this way, but my back got up al­most im­me­di­ate­ly when he men­tioned that blog­gers might ben­e­fit from a bet­ter knowl­edge and ap­pli­ca­tion of jour­nal­ism. I am un­der the im­pres­sion that he feels that the cur­rent jour­nal­is­tic process is the best one. Bloggers in some sense are quite counter to that, which is why my hack­les rose at the men­tion of be­com­ing more like a jour­nal­ist. To me it smacks of al­low­ing your­self to be edit­ed. And while any new method is wor­thy of ex­am­i­na­tion and new knowl­edge can be noth­ing if not help­ful, I didn’t like the way it came across.

If any­thing, I think blogs pre­vent folks from be­ing just pas­sive con­sumers of news. Reading blogs is ba­si­cal­ly the equiv­a­lent of talk­ing to thou­sands of blokes down the pub and then us­ing your own men­tal fac­ul­ties to syn­the­size it. I’d rather have that, with all its ac­com­pa­ny­ing blath­er­ers and trolls and slop­pi­ness, than hav­ing to get all of my news, rel­a­tive­ly un­touch­able [un­til blog­gers start work­ing on the case] and ac­cept­ed as gose­pl, from 4 or 5 me­dia con­glom­er­ates.

The li­bel dis­cus­sion and nascent free speech is­sues con­tained with­in it, and the men­tion that blogs might fall in­to ob­scu­ri­ty if “jour­nal­is­tic in­tegri­ty” is not fol­lowed, just strike me as scare tac­tics, even though the in­tent might be just the op­po­site.

The blogs falling in­to ob­scu­ri­ty if they are in­ef­fec­tive is a good thing. It is nat­ur­al se­lec­tion in a vir­tu­al en­vi­ron­ment. If they can’t stand the heat they get burnt. I kind of get the feel­ing that non-blog jour­nal­ism might feel a bit threat­ened by the pos­si­b­li­ty that peo­ple would rather lis­ten to opin­ion­at­ed writ­ing on any­thing un­der the sun that al­so al­lows them to check on the sources, than lis­ten to the faux-ob­jec­tive or ul­tra-ob­jec­tive dreck that can be found every­where else.

I’ve tried to be a bit con­trary in this post for the hopes of con­tin­u­ing the dis­cus­sion here. So, dis­cuss folks!

A Panda Driving a Car:

Errantry:

I could hard­ly sleep last night be­cause I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head as a re­sult of the meet­up. One thing that came to mind is that I don’t like the term “fram­ing” when used in dis­cus­sion. Framing an ar­gu­ment seems to lim­it it im­me­di­ate­ly by stuff­ing it in­to The Box we’re al­ways sup­posed to think out­side of. It binds a top­ic and just think­ing about it in those terms is re­duc­tive in­stead of ex­pan­sive. I like say­ing that you are look­ing through a lens, be­cause then it is both ob­vi­ous that you are com­ing at the top­ic through a bias [lens­es dis­torty things] but you al­so al­low the top­ic to re­main amor­phous and do what it wants.

9 thoughts on “March Blogger Meetup: Blogger Small Group Overview, Afterthoughts, A Panda Driving a Car and Errantry

  1. Adam,

    I’ve been think­ing about our con­ver­sa­tion, too. 

    I didn’t in­tend to come off as be­liev­ing “jour­nal­ism,” what­ev­er that is, is the on­ly true path to en­light­ment. Sorry if it seemed that way. Part of what’s easy for me to do, be­cause I do it as a re­porter all time, is play devil’s ad­vo­cate, and I was do­ing that quite a bit last night.

    Reflecting since then, I guess what con­cerns me most is that I won­der if blog­gers are pre­pared to sur­vive as the medi­um evolves. 

    Specifically, I think about the is­sue of au­di­ence and that’s where stan­dards of con­tent (be it jour­nal­is­tic stan­dards or some oth­er stan­dard) comes in.

    Part of what jour­nal­ism train­ing does is make you think about your au­di­ence and what you need to do to sat­is­fy their needs so they will keep read­ing.

    I think for the long haul blog­gers need to be think­ing about that.

    Jay

  2. I guess deep down I had a feel­ing you were go­ing the DA route. 

    Part of what jour­nal­ism train­ing does is make you think about your au­di­ence and what you need to do to sat­is­fy their needs so they will keep read­ing.

    I think that state­ment will let me elu­ci­date some­thing that was swim­ming around didn’t not come up for air last evening. In sim­ply “think[ing] about your au­di­ence and what you need to do to sat­is­fy their needs” there is no room for the au­di­ence to state their needs. In some ways I think the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a blog­ger and their au­di­ence is much more in­ti­mate than be­tween a tra­di­tion­al jour­nal­ist and their au­di­ence. All too of­ten jour­nal­ism comes across as “We know what is best, we know what you want” but the greater in­ti­ma­cy that a blog­ger has with his au­di­ence [most­ly through the use of com­ments and the abil­i­ty to fol­low up on a sub­ject with­out the bound­aries or con­flict­ing con­cerns of a news show or news­pa­per] au­to­mat­i­cal­ly makes a blog­ger bet­ter equipped to as­sess the needs of his/​her au­di­ence.

    One of the most ex­cit­ing things about blogs is that no one re­al­ly knows what is go­ing to hap­pen to them as they evolve. So when are you go­ing to start one, and show us all how it’s done? 😉

  3. Hello Kurtiss, good to put a name to the face.

    Your points are strong, but I think there needs to be some way to strike a bal­ance [maybe not in method­ol­o­gy] but in con­tent. [play­ing Devil’s Advocate now] The use of RSS al­lows peo­ple to sub­scribe to very tai­lored in­ter­ests, but there are things that peo­ple need to hear about, need to dis­cuss, that can on­ly be ef­fec­tive­ly il­lu­mi­nat­ed us­ing tra­di­tion­al re­port­ing meth­ods [al­though per­haps not tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of dis­sem­i­na­tion].

  4. First, I was in the oth­er blog­ger cor­ner, so don’t know what Jay’s words or de­meanor were. But why should that keep me from com­ment­ing?

    I was sur­prised to see Jay at the meet­up. I as­sumed he was cu­ri­ous or con­sid­er­ing start­ing a blog of his own. I had no idea he was go­ing to fo­cus a dis­cus­sion cri­tiquing blog­gers, but that’s okay. Blog read­ers prob­a­bly have just as much right to cri­tique as blog writ­ers. Jay is pres­i­dent of the Cleveland chap­ter of Society of Professional Journalists. I hap­pen to be 2nd veep, so have got­ten to know Jay and his writ­ing. Though this won’t give him enough cred­it, he’s pri­mar­i­ly a “busi­ness re­porter” in his writ­ing I know. To do well at this, it helps to have a busi­ness ori­en­ta­tion or train­ing. I grew up in a Fortune 500 corp hdqtrs., and I know that the cul­ture that sticks around is the con­ser­v­a­tive biz cul­ture in all the ways you can think of, in­clud­ing de­liv­er­ing what your cus­tomer wants (not nec­es­sar­i­ly what the cus­tomer needs) and the le­gal li­a­bil­i­ty stuff… in a word the cul­ture is: Safe.

    Safe is not free speech and ex­pres­sion. Safe is not re­bel­lious. Safe is not usu­al­ly pas­sion­ate. Safe is not walk­ing on thin ice. Safe is not the stuff and mo­ti­va­tion of most blog­gers I know.

    I think it’s clear that the val­ue of Jay shar­ing his view­point with en­ve­lope-push­ing (or not) blog­gers is that it’s got us think­ing and talk­ing about how and why we do what we do. Ultimately, the blog­ging com­mu­ni­ty may re­ject what Jay says about li­bel, tra­di­tion­al jour­nal­is­tic stan­dards or what­ev­er — but in our do­ing so, we have added val­ue to blog­ging, imho.

    Jay, whether you in­tend­ed or not, thanks for mix­ing it up at our meet­up. Only wish I could have been part of it.

    All the Best,
    Steve FitzGerald
    “Lakewood Life” blog­ger on cleve​land​.com
    and lake​wood​buzz​.com pub­lish­er

  5. I think we’ve got an in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sion go­ing here and a num­ber of good points have been raised. But I prob­a­bly en­tered the dis­cus­sion a lit­tle too ca­su­al­ly and, nat­u­ral­ly, the con­ver­sa­tion fol­lowed a path of its own. As a re­sult a lot of im­por­tant stuff didn’t get said that prob­a­bly should have. Most of all we didn’t talk about any eth­i­cal oblig­a­tions a writer — jour­nal­ist, blog­ger or what­ev­er — has to his or her au­di­ence.

    Most jour­nal­ists, for ex­am­ple, be­lieve they have an oblig­a­tion to be as hon­est and fair as pos­si­ble in gath­er­ing and in­ter­pret­ing in­for­ma­tion. We al­so be­lieve it is im­por­tant to ex­er­cise con­sid­er­able care to avoid er­rors. From what I heard at the meet­up, many blog­gers find me­dia sources that they be­lieve ad­here to those prin­ci­ples. I say that be­cause sev­er­al peo­ple said they don’t do re­port­ing, they re­ly on me­dia for that. I think that re­la­tion­ship needs to be ex­plored.

    That said, I’d like to re­ply to some of the com­ments I heard. A few peo­ple seemed an­noyed that I sug­gest­ed blog­gers should be aware of the laws of li­bel and slan­der — they didn’t think that would af­fect them. Well, a show of hands, please. How many of you, five or eight years ago, ex­pect­ed record com­pa­nies to be chas­ing af­ter Internet mu­sic down­load­ers? Also, I’m trou­bled by a com­ment above by Kurtiss Hare. He wrote: “In the fu­ture, it should be pos­si­ble to point, click, and cer­ti­fy your web­site , un­der con­trac­tu­al law, so that your vis­i­tors may be as­sured of your ad­her­ence to some de­gree of well de­fined in­tegri­ty. This sort of tech­nol­o­gy both en­ables free speech and pro­vides for a means of re­li­a­bil­i­ty in on­line sto­ry­telling.” I have to dis­agree, he’s turn­ing free speech on its head. We should nev­er en­cour­age the es­tab­lish­ment of some or­ga­ni­za­tion that cer­ti­fies what peo­ple want to write or say. 

    And I guess that’s some­thing that jour­nal­ists un­der­stand about the ex­er­cise of free speech and free press. Since we don’t want any­body ap­point­ed free speech gate­keep­er. So we try to hold our­selves to stan­dards that read­ers can un­der­stand and re­ly on.

  6. You’re right, ethics is some­thing we didn’t speak about specif­i­cal­ly; I scrounged up a few links on blog­ger ethics. It seems most of them al­ready use the SPJ’s own code as a primer.

    The cost of ethics: Influence ped­dling in the bl­o­gos­phere is an ar­ti­cle that con­tains many ex­cel­lent links on just about every facet of blogger/​journalist ethics. It is al­so frig­gin long.

    Quoth the ar­ti­cle:
    Most ob­servers agree on one point: Bloggers and tra­di­tion­al jour­nal­ists don’t play by the same rule­book. Consider the un­spar­ing stan­dards set out in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Code, which in­structs jour­nal­ists to:

    • Avoid con­flicts of in­ter­est, re­al or per­ceived.
    • Remain free of as­so­ci­a­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties that may com­pro­mise in­tegri­ty or dam­age cred­i­bil­i­ty.
    • Refuse gifts, fa­vors, fees, free trav­el and spe­cial treat­ment, and shun sec­ondary em­ploy­ment, po­lit­i­cal in­volve­ment, pub­lic of­fice and ser­vice in com­mu­ni­ty or­ga­ni­za­tions if they com­pro­mise jour­nal­is­tic in­tegri­ty.
    • Deny fa­vored treat­ment to ad­ver­tis­ers and spe­cial in­ter­ests and re­sist their pres­sure to in­flu­ence news cov­er­age.
    • Be wary of sources of­fer­ing in­for­ma­tion for fa­vors or mon­ey

    Bloggers some­times act as jour­nal­ists, but they uni­form­ly say they hew to dif­fer­ent stan­dards than pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ists. “The idea that there has to be a Chinese wall is an in­dus­tri­al-era no­tion that doesn’t take in­to ac­count the cot­tage me­dia era we live in,” said Mitch Ratcliffe, a vet­er­an tech jour­nal­ist and blog­ger. “When I am blog­ging and I am both pub­lish­er and ed­i­tor, I’m play­ing by dif­fer­ent rules, and there is, across the bl­o­gos­phere, an evolv­ing set of mores that will nev­er be­come hard and fast rules for all blog­gers.”

    While they may not have a rule­book, blog­gers have evolved a loose-knit set of gen­er­al tenets. These prin­ci­ples seem to be wide­ly held:

    • Disclose, dis­close, dis­close. Transparency — of ac­tions, mo­tives and fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions — is the gold­en rule of the bl­o­gos­phere.
    • Follow your pas­sions. Blog about top­ics you care deeply about.
    • Be hon­est. Write what you be­lieve.
    • Trust your read­ers to form their own judg­ments and con­clu­sions.
    • Reputation is the prin­ci­pal cur­ren­cy of cy­ber­space. Maintain your in­de­pen­dence and in­tegri­ty — lost trust is dif­fi­cult to re­gain.

    Others have come up with their own for­mu­la­tions. Rebecca Blood, au­thor of “The Weblog Handbook,” iden­ti­fied six prin­ci­ples of blog ethics. And Jonathan Dube of CyberJournalist​.net is­sued a Bloggers Code of Ethics. But as Ratcliffe sug­gests, the blogger’s pen­chant for in­de­pen­dence means that even these guide­lines may be trumped by an even high­er law: Don’t im­pose your rules on me.

    …which sums up nice­ly the prob­lem I came up with while in the show­er. Professional jour­nal­ists are to do all they can to avoid con­flicts of in­ter­est. At the same time, they are get­ting paid to do this, which is why they are pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ists. Pretty much no blog­ger makes their liv­ing from their blog. The pre­scrip­tivist blog­ger code states right out that blog­gers should write about what they care deeply about [which I think pret­ty much every blog­ger fol­lows… Who wants to write about stuff that bores them?], so it seems like blog­ger ethics are less strict. That is where trans­paren­cy comes in.

    For pos­si­ble com­par­i­son:
    CyberJournalist gives their own adapt­ed ver­sion of the SPJ’s code.

    Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

    Now, that is a shit­load of read­ing. I think you might find a much sim­pler ver­sion over on BFD:

    Show up
    Pay at­ten­tion
    Speak your truth
    Let go of the out­come…

    Jay, you want me to delete those last two lines of you last com­ment? Looks like you were rephras­ing stuff and for­got those were at the bot­tom…

  7. I was the guy who came in­to the con­ver­sa­tion half way through. I must say that the ma­jor­i­ty of blogs that I read are in no way sim­i­lar to the prod­uct of tra­di­tion­al jour­nal­ism. This is be­cause the con­tent I re­ceive is high­ly tai­lored to suit my par­tic­u­lar in­ter­ests. No news­pa­per or trade mag­a­zine has been able to come close to the kind of nar­row­cast­ed ar­ti­cles that I read on a dai­ly ba­sis.

    I think that in tra­di­tion­al jour­nal­ism, au­thors were faced with the prob­lem of sat­is­fy­ing their read­ers, be­cause the read­ers had a very lim­it­ed set of me­dia from which to choose, and an ever more crude sys­tem of dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween choic­es. This stems from the fact that jour­nal­ists were in short sup­ply be­cause of the high cost of be­com­ing a jour­nal­ist.

    The ad­vent of dis­trib­uted peer me­dia is pulling us out of the “econ­o­my of scarci­ty.” Thinking that an au­thor must sac­ri­fice any sort of in­tegri­ty, opin­ion, hon­esty, or even dis­hon­esty, to sat­is­fy read­ers is a moldy biprod­uct of old, cen­tral­ized me­dia. Today, there are tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions al­low­ing peo­ple to sub­scribe to what they like. I be­lieve that in­creas­ing­ly, peo­ple will be drawn to the sort of trans­paren­cy seem­ing­ly present in many blogs. To me, it is pre­cise­ly the dif­fer­ence in the na­ture of the medi­um that should be an ex­cit­ing prospect for new sto­ry­tellers (be they colum­nists, blog­gers, or pod­cast­ers). I am cer­tain­ly no le­gal ex­pert, but I can de­fin­i­tive­ly say that the per­ceived opor­tu­ni­ty cost of re­leas­ing com­plete dis­cre­tion over my words and hy­per­text is much high­er than the prospect of any li­belous al­le­ga­tion com­ing to fruition. …*and* with any luck, in­ter­net tech­nol­o­gy will con­tin­ue to evolve such that the op­por­tu­ni­ty cost of pub­lish­ing con­tin­ues to de­crease. The fu­ture of sto­ry­telling does not lie in the dark age of scarci­ty, where the un­nec­es­sary rigid­i­ty of jour­nal­is­tic prac­tice suc­ceeds on­ly in si­lenc­ing the peo­ple.

  8. Perhaps my last sen­tence was mis­lead­ing. As in all art, I think there is much to learn from your pre­de­ce­sors, even across me­dia. Citizen Kane would not have been so bril­liant if Orson Welles had not al­ready been a mas­ter­ful ra­dio sto­ry­teller. Undoubtedly, there are good things to be car­ried over from jour­nal­ism and I think there is a com­plex dis­cus­sion to be had in ex­am­in­ing what those items should be. On the oth­er hand, even the most fun­da­men­tal of prac­tices should be re­ex­am­ined in the light of a new medium’s prop­er­ties. What a trav­es­ty it would have been for our found­ing fa­thers to have shaped America with the same hands that wrought the fa­mil­iar tyran­ny and in­jus­tice they were try­ing to es­cape, sim­ply be­cause they couldn’t see past tra­di­tion.

    Philosophy aside, I be­lieve there are tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions to the prob­lems cit­ed by many jour­nal­ists that have not yet had time to de­vel­op. Larry Lessig’s work with the Creative Commons li­cense is a prime ex­am­ple of such a tech­ni­cal so­lu­tion. In the fu­ture, it should be pos­si­ble to point, click, and cer­ti­fy your web­site , un­der con­trac­tu­al law, so that your vis­i­tors may be as­sured of your ad­her­ence to some de­gree of well de­fined in­tegri­ty. This sort of tech­nol­o­gy both en­ables free speech and pro­vides for a means of re­li­a­bil­i­ty in on­line sto­ry­telling.

    I think there is a gen­er­a­tion, or per­haps a large sub­set there­of, who do not feel the need to hear about tra­di­tion­al news, or re­al­ly, any news what­so­ev­er, un­til some­thing like O.J. Simpson or 911 is shoved down their throats. Certainly there are is­sues that af­fect these in­di­vid­u­als more close­ly and reg­u­lar­ly than O.J. Simpson, and for some, 911 as well. Is there any­thing with­in cur­rent jour­nal­is­tic prac­tice that may have in­cit­ed the ex­is­tence of such a gen­er­a­tion?

  9. Jay is ab­solute­ly right that no es­tab­lish­ment should be giv­en the kind of pow­er that a ti­tle “free speech gate­keep­er” might in­cur. My sug­ges­tion was not that an or­ga­ni­za­tion in­ter­me­di­ate as to the truth­ful­ness or cor­rect­ness of a sto­ry, but that an or­ga­ni­za­tion might act as a le­gal con­duit by which nor­mal peo­ple might be able to make sim­ple cer­ti­fi­ca­tions about their sto­ries. Do you see the dif­fer­ence? Once again, I point to Creative Commons as an ex­am­ple of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that is al­ready pro­vid­ing a sim­i­lar ser­vice. They are en­abling artists to hold a form of copy­right on their works with specif­i­cal­ly de­fined at­tri­bu­tions un­der con­trac­tu­al law. The kind of sys­tem I was speak­ing of would sim­ply be in charge of defin­ing a con­tract, the terms of which would in­di­cate the sign­ing party’s in­tent to pro­vide ma­te­r­i­al com­pli­ant with a shared list of eth­i­cal prac­tices. The or­ga­ni­za­tion could pos­si­bly be re­spon­si­ble for act­ing as a le­gal wit­ness to the con­tract, in case of dis­pute. Perhaps I’ve made an over­sight, but any con­vinc­ing di­a­logue mark­ing the idea as an in­ver­sion of free speech prin­ci­ples would be read­i­ly re­ceived. Trust me 🙂

    As far as the RIAA ex­am­ple goes, I’m not sure it is an anal­o­gous ex­ten­sion of the sub­ject at hand. I find it hard to make any “bill of rights” ar­gu­ment de­fend­ing the ac­tions of in­ter­net pira­cy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got plen­ty of prac­ti­cal and eth­i­cal ar­gu­ments, but none that would stand up as a fun­da­men­tal or uni­ver­sal­ly ac­cept­ed hu­man right 😉 I do not con­done com­plete le­gal naïveté on the part of any blog­ger, or cit­i­zen for that mat­ter; rather, I ex­pect com­mon sense. It doesn’t make com­mon sense to me that I should legal­ly be able to down­load mu­sic that I might oth­er­wise have to pay for, but it does make com­mon sense that I should legal­ly be able to write ar­tis­ti­cal­ly, ex­pres­sive­ly, and ac­cord­ing to my own de­f­i­n­i­tion of jour­nal­is­tic ethics when pub­lish­ing on­line. Of course, this is all as­sum­ing that I have no com­mer­cial con­nec­tion…

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