Code 007: A License to Creating a Killer Blog

Within today’s day and age, the internet is a medium that provides a platform where anyone can create, post and share content online. Individuals no longer need a degree in Journalism in order to build an online community, or influence a large audience. In fact, the internet has provided a one way ticket to fame and success for some of the world’s most well-known individuals. Take a look at Perez Hilton. Dishing up the latest gossip by day and posting his discoveries by night, the American blogger and television personality has become the internet’s most notorious gossip columnist. According to the Los Angeles Times, Hilton was “once the most hated gossip blogger in Hollywood” and therefore, it is crucial that writers are made aware of the possible dangers that come with the job, if it is not handled with care.

Image by Breann Quilty, statistic source: Hubspot.com <http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics>

As technology has evolved, blogs have become one of the most popular platforms, where essentially anyone can publish content relating to their passions, opinions, ideas and more. Often referred to as a personal diary or journal, blogs enable users, also known as “bloggers”, to have the ability to write about whatever their heart desires and whenever inspirations strikes. But let’s face it; we all know that with such freedom, comes great responsibility. Responsible bloggers recognise that they are publishing their thoughts and opinions for the eyes of society to read, criticise and critique. All bloggers have certain ethical obligations to their readers, the individuals they choose to write about and society in general. Whether you enjoy posting what you’ve had for breakfast that day, or your favourite animal video that went viral last week, it is important for all bloggers to have a basic understanding of the ethical concerns of blogging.

Image by Breann Quilty, statistic source: <http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/buzz-in-the-blogosphere-millions-more-bloggers-and-blog-readers.html>

Here is a code of ethics for bloggers that explores the main concerns of blogging and the best way to go about expressing content, which follows a professional style of writing. This code illustrates a guide that will expose some of the most common mistakes individuals make when it comes to clicking that scary button labelled, “publish”.

  1. Freedom of speech

It is your right to voice your opinion. Blogging provides a safe space where individuals can express themselves freely, as your content should always display avenues of democracy. However, it is important to remember that your content should not indicate any levels of anti-vilification speech, also known as “hate speech”. According to The Australian Human Rights Commission, hate speech is defined as speech that aims to offend, threaten or insult a minority based on race, colour, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or other traits.

2. Plagiarism

Anyone can create a blog. But a successful blogger sprouts and grows from originality. As an online content creator, it is your responsibility to produce original content that does not copy or steal another individual’s work and claim it as your own. Plagiarism is one of the many acts that can cause a writer’s reputation to tarnish. As your blog will continue to grow, readers will build a level of trust with you as the author and therefore, it is crucial that the content you publish always reflects your thoughts, opinions and ideas through a lens of originality.

3. Attribution

Writers are often inspired by the work of others and hence, it is important to give credit where credit is due. Attribution illustrates a term used to describe a concept in copyright law that requires an author to be credited. For example, if you wish to publish a quote, statistic, an image or a piece of published work that has been written or published by someone else, copyright requires you to notify your audience about the source and where the element originated from. It is vital to provide your readers with this, as it will avoid chances of plagiarism and legal concerns.

4. Accuracy and verification

As a blogger, it is important to be critical of your sources and always remember to seek verification before publishing. In other words, ensure that your source is trustworthy and does not illustrate a poor track record for posting false information. Frequent blogger, Jay Rosen, explores some of the ethical concerns of blogging and reminds his readers that “good bloggers observe the ethic of the link”. Always check your source’s credibility prior to publishing and seek verification of the facts. Even if you practice ethical blogging, there is no guarantee that your sources following the same rule book as you do when it comes to posting online.

5. Accountability

Always take responsibility for the content that you create. The internet can be a scary place as it often deals with many topics of discussion that can cause potential offense or harm to others. As an ethical blogger, it is important to keep in mind that such topics of discussion should be dealt with immense care and delicacy. If particular content discusses a topic or theme that may present disharmony to readers, writers often include a short disclaimer at the beginning of their published work. This is done in order to declare that they do not agree with nor condone the offensive material discussed and that it is only being referenced to give context to their story. This is a nice way to ensure that peace is managed and harm to readers is minimised.

6. Mistakes

As humans, we all make mistakes. Whether that may be a spelling error, forgetting to include quotation marks or possibly printing false information, it is important to admit and correct these mistakes immediately. It is your responsibility to uphold the truth to your readers and promote content that reflects honesty. If an error or inaccuracy is discovered by a reader or yourself, ensure that you announce that a change has been made to provide readers, other content creators or simply individuals that have shared your content, with an opportunity to make that correction as well.

7. Differentiate between truth and opinion

There is no fine line when it comes to expressing fact or opinion. It’s either one or the other and never a magical twist between the two. When readers first approach your blog, they should be able to identify whether the content being presented is fact or opinion. Always state when you’re expressing your opinion, someone else’s opinion or an interpretation and demonstrate evidence when you are presenting the facts. As a blogger, you want to be a source other writers and readers can trust. Identifying the difference between the truth and your opinion is crucial when it comes to gaining trust within the blogging sphere.

Since the establishment of the World Wide Web in 1989, online platforms have grown and will continue to offer writers the opportunity to post the latest buzz, in hope of breaking the internet. Blogging is an exciting tool that enables writers to initiate discussion and keep in-touch with an online community. So what are you waiting for? Quit watching the latest season of Game Of Thrones and get blogging today!