Like Reporters, Bloggers (especially Social Media bloggers) need to adhere to a high Code of Ethics. Here is a sample list of Professional Journalists for News Networks, Code of Ethics: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
Cyberjournalist.net wrote a great suggestion for ethics http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php
Let me touch on a few points I want to make that we should definitely do:
1. Accuracy and Verification. Journalist fact check and verify (or at least try) a story. They try to get both sides. If you are going to do a post about someone negatively, at least call them up and ask their opinion. Recognize if they are a public figure the press has rights, where private people have more power to sue for slander. I’ve seen many bloggers and tweeters unaware of whats protected in free speech between public and private people. Like a reporter you ethically should be able to STAND behind it and man up. IF YOU CANT CONTACT THE PERSON MAYBE YOU SHOULDNT DO THE STORY UNTIL YOU GET YOUR _FACTS_ STRAIGHT. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t discuss it face to face with the person, maybe you shouldnt go the route of the weak.
If someone wants to write a bad opinion about me be at least be right with your facts. At least call me like a reporter would and try to get my side. I’d just like it to be accurate. In the end if you’re not being accurate your being dishonest, lying to your reader base and like News organizations will be discredited. Do you want that reputation? Its time for ethics.
2. Conflict of interest disclosure. Some people who feel they compete in industries, crap on people to step up on them. My business experience has always taught me to build strategic bridges of alliance with competitors and that there is always enough business for everyone. Most smart CEO’s and leaders think that way. If someone wants to blog something they should disclose their conflicts of interest. If you are crapping on people on misinformed unverified posts because you compete with them – you should disclose that in a major way. In sales and business you learn that by bashing your competition it reflects badly on you. It’s extremely unprofessional and people see that someone is just a jealous person and get a good laugh.
3. Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context. I have many people embellish or project their opinions on to what I say, many times distorting the truth. This can happen but don’t SUGGESTS ITS FACT. Identify commentary, assumptions or fact. This is another reason it would be great to have bloggers fact check their stories with a phone call. I’ve had people take a single word I’ve said and completely off course delineate my meaning extraordinarily. Dont project. When you “assume” you make an “ass-u-me” (an ass out of you and me). Dont project or assume as PRESENT it as fact. Disclose: “The way I interpret that to mean” or “in my opinion.” Of course if you call and verify the story with the person you probably wont have to assume anything, now will you?
4. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly. I’ve contacted people who have grossly fictionalized some things about what I do. I usually ask them to correct the fictional stuff and I’m disturbed about how they wont correct the story. Some wont talk to me. In doing so they show a total lack of integrity to their story. The higher road is that they should at least correct wrong information. There needs to be a push towards accuracy.
5. Motives. Ask yourself what your motives are for your post. Are you selfishly misaligned trying to raise yourself up by stepping on someone? Or are you leading people as a true leader into the vision of the future as one people? Maybe you should write something about ideas and concepts that are uplifting, brilliant and visionary.
6. Mission Statement. Great business’ have mission statements describing their intent towards integrity. Make one for you and your readers that you’ll strive to be honest and integrable. Adhere to it.
While we’re not going to change internet trolls, we can call on those of us with high integrity to strive to higher ethics in regards to the community to sell that vision. If you believe that your job as a blogger is to report, its your job to do it well to a higher standard. Lift the world up to a vision, dont drag it blindly down.