BlogEthics: Verification and Attribution

   The rise of the bloggers (of which I am chief of sinners, if not king of bloggers) does something we probably never intend. That is, we create Urban Myths by the millions.

   Hear me out here. Electronic technology benefits from its immediacy of contact. "News" flies thick and fast through cyberspace. The electronic universe of information expands relentlessly. Giant black holes exert inescapable gravitational pull, demanding more information still to feed its gaping maw.

   Simply put, the www feeds itself as it feeds on itself. Persons untrained in journalism (me, for instance) and perhaps unconcerned with the accepted forms of verification and attribution tell a story, someone else (equally untrained) picks it up, quoting without checking for motivation or weighting for balance. Soon, we wallow in a morass that would make the "Dirty Tricks" squad of the Nixon Administration flush with envy.

   The routine of mendacity does not much differ from artifice to object. A blogger may post an opinion in the morning. A second blogger may quote the first as fact in the afternoon. Their collaboration stands for corroboration by evening. The Urban Myth emerges from the vacuous cocoon, spreads filthy wings and spawns for years to come.

   Verification requires work. Most of us have some small resistance to hard mental work. Why let facts get in the way of a good story, anyway? At the very least, bloggers should understand verification does not mean repetition of something read in one "source" without attempt to determine the veracity of the quote and the moral validity of the lesson learned.

   Attribution helps here. If you write, "I got this from Davis," some will discount it immediately but that is still better than listing "a source," or "this is now commonly known." Let readers take Davis to task. Believe me, some try and sometimes they are right.



3 thoughts on “BlogEthics: Verification and Attribution”

  1. Does your comment(s) above not imply that blogging is equal to/greater than journalism? I thought the primary purpose of blogs was to express one’s personal opinion in hyper-space and that was that? Maybe b/c I am old I really do not understand? Somebody help me here please!!!

  2. A blog is about whatever the author wants it to be.
    Depending upon how one might define Journalism, blogging may or may not be more influential. For instance, I’ve never read newspapers. They are messy, and entirely to big to handle. I keep tabs on about 6 blogs of different of varying topics. So, one could say that bloggers have more influence upon my outlook than any printed-on-paper journalistic endeavor.
    However, I also watch the 10 O-clock news almost every night. Granted, I’m mainly watching to see what the weather for the next day is, but since it is near the end, I end up watching the whole thing. This is a normal thing for me, that I’ve been doing since childhood. So, one could argue that journalism, as related to TV reporters, still plays a prominent roll in my life.
    I would personally have to admit that what I read on the Internet (i.e. Blogs, and the articles they point me towards) plays a greater roll in my outlook than any type of journalistic endeavor. For good or ill, that is the way it is.
    The only journalistic website I hit on any regular basis would be the Baptist Standard. However, I don’t read everything on it. I just skim it to see if anything catches my eye. I will probably set up an RSS feed for Marvs Blog.
    Be Well,
    Tim Dahl

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