Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Code of Blogging Ethics Debated at AEJMC Convention

In August I had the good fortune to attend the 2005 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention in San Antonio, Texas. I delivered a paper proposing the code of blogging ethics to the Media Ethics Division. As expected, many in the room questioned how any such code could be enforced or could apply to such a diverse blogosphere. I had to admit that both issues are complex and that I could offer no definitive response. The discussion was lively and I was honored when the division awarded my paper their 2005 Professional Relevance Award.

I would now like to invite comments beyond simple acceptance or rejection of specific provisions of the code. I hope the code will continue to develop as it is discussed and debated. Let's kick around some of the topics brought up in San Antonio. Is it possible for a code of blogging ethics, based on form rather than function, to be adopted by a significant number of bloggers? Should "enforcement" even be part of the discussion? I think of an ethical code as not only a philosophically-based, moral code but also as an ideal mode of behavior that we must strive to achieve. For me, the notion of compelled ethics, even if compelled by only the threat of social stigma, doesn't work.


Blogger Lynn said...

Hi Martin, I really enjoyed your lecture today. I'm not sure how I feel about a code of ethics for bloggers. When you first introduced the idea I thought, "Blah, that's just too difficult to institute and enforce." But then I started thinking about it more, and I don't believe it's an impossibility. You are very brave for charting into these waters. I'm just doing a wimpy/boring content analysis for my dissertation. :(

5:51 PM  
Blogger Chrlane said...

Blogging is chaos. It's like one hundred million people all doing graffiti– half of them copying other people's tags, and the other half rehashing the darned news. The third half are just yacking about themselves.

And then you get the real nutjobs who use blogs to disseminate propaganda.

You want to regulate it? Invent a software that merges like posts into a comprehensive single resource. Or sell the technology to some outside industry and let them monopolize it. They'll squeeze all the chaos out of it in no time.

1:30 AM  
Anonymous MTM said...

I think that any ethic for the blogosphere would have to first think about what sort of thing or tool blogging is: is it communication? press? community? correspondence? conversation?

Once those issues are teased out in a blogosphere-wide discussion, you can start to borrow from the various ethical structures and goals of (say) the press or conversation etc.

And there in lies the trick, who to have a blogosphere-wide discussion when the blogosphere, for all its connectivity, is not really self-aware as a group except among the poltically motivated bloggers.

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6:59 AM  
Anonymous Ian from Tethics said...


Love what you're doing, keep it up. As a fellow blogger on technology & ethics (hence our blog Tethics), I find what you're researching and exploring extremely refreshing and interesting to read.

As to your question of should "enforcement" even be part of the discussion, I do not believe so. It should be more of a focus on adoption and through practice it will be ingrained in others. Don't underestimate the power of the social stigma.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Choo Zheng Xi said...

Hi Martin,

I'm currently doing a paper on online community moderation re the Singaporean blogosphere.

The disjunct between how ethical codes work in the mainstream media (MSM) and how we expect them to work online boils down to this: a difference in historical context.

We need to consider as a starting point the question: are ethical codes codifications of existing norms, or are they sipposed to aid in the creation of such norms?

My answer is that the purpose of the ethical code varies according to the history of the group.

From the MSM perspective, ethical codes seem to be codifications of the standards that journalists have identfied as ideal in the history of their profession.

In the case of blogging, difference in form aside, we lack the collective history the MSM has. Hence, the purpose of an ethical code is, as you've rightly pointed out, for the purpose of norm encouraging, not norm setting.

My observation has been that those most concerned with "enforcement" are traditional media practitioners, who use this frame of reference when discussing their industry, and transpose this to an online context.

You're right to question whether "enforcement" is even an issue online.

The question we then have to answer is not the success of "enforcement", but how will we quantify "progress" in our positive norm creation exercise?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the question, will be very helpful for the paper I'm writing. Thanks!

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I'm totally lost! I searched Google for my blog URL And landed on this site. There was a quote "delivered a paper proposing the code of blogging ethics to the Media Ethics". Good thing this post wasn't about my Blog. Thanks God.

BTW Nice Article.

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I'm interested in seeing you talk more about a values based approach to a ethics code

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