How should journalists report on blogs?
Blogging gives writers the power to publish, but people should think carefully about what they write and journalists should think carefully about how they report on it.
Anything blogged is archived. It’s more than a passing comment and could be picked up and used by someone else, which is a good thing and a bad thing.
For journalists, the internet provides a wealth of material for stories.
On My Telegraph – a blog site hosted by The Daily Telegraph – a man whose daughters had been killed by a drink driver was blogging at the moment of the trial. As legal restrictions had been lifted, a story about his blog made a story in the newspaper.
Or a newspaper might run a story about the Bebo or Facebook page of somebody newsworthy.
Perhaps it’s the excitement of the now, which makes people forget it’s not always okay to publish pictures of last weekend’s partying or worse. They forget anyone can see and use it.
A blog is exciting because of its immediacy…
But blogging can also be used effectively to raise awareness of a cause. David Smith published an article in last Sunday’s Observer about singer-songwriter, Juliana Hatfield, who blogged during her treatment for anorexia nervosa in a mental hospital.
But it was distasteful for him to precede an excerpt of her blog with: “Here is the raw and unflinching account of Hatfield’s experience inside the clinic in Cambridge Massachusetts.”
His comment inappropriately tried to glamorise her harrowing blog.
…but perhaps too raw to be read by others.
Hatfield paused half way through her blog and wrote: “Before computers you never would have found me blabbing so openly like this about this. This is me being modern.
“Damn these computers and this interweb and the pressure on us musicians to update constantly and to communicate. It encourages, inspires over sharing.
“It’s so easy to say too much and to feel safe giving away one’s private secrets.”