Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ethics 101 for blog network owners - part 1

Michael Arrington has already been anointed the Tony Perkins (formerly of Red Herring magazine and owner of Always On network) of Web 2.0. His image as a ‘Grey area’ media reporter was enhanced by his recent skirmish with his ex-editor of the Britisj version of Techcruch, Sam Sethi. When Sethi refused to delete an ‘offending’ comment, he was relieved of duty and his subsequent two posts were also deleted.

You can read about it all here.

Silicon Valley does that to you - the incest.

During the earlier dotcom bubble, valley-based magazines like Red Herring, Upside and The Standard had all the scoops and the advertisements. Similar cases of unethical practises were common. Tony Perkins, like Arrington today, used to host special startup events and accusations of 'favorite coverage for equity' were raised. Michael Arrington and his Techcruch is accused of doing similar things. Of course one might say that similar cosy arrangements happen all the time in Old Media world.

That means, Techcruch is so old-world.
We need better reviewers and aggregators of the latest launches and trends in the web economy.

More coverage of the Arrington-ethics issue here.

At a time when blog network owners like Om Malik, Rafat Ali, Nick Denton and Arrington are planning to be the magazine networks of the future, I suggest some thoughts on ethics and blogging:

1. Reportage is reportage: whether you are writing on blog, newspaper, magazine or other media. So, follow, the same ethics that your fellow print journalists do. Just because you own a ‘cool’ blog, does not make you act the way George Bush administration ran the anti-terror campaign.
2. Just because server space is cheap, doesn’t mean you can post and delete stuff with impunity. Even Rupert Murdock does that sparingly.
3. Blog network owners should not change the byline of writers just because some new software was being setup or the writer left the job. This happened at a blog network I worked at for some time, before all that rewriting became too much heavy for me to edit.
4. Blog owners must disclose any conflict of interest before they write about something. Arrington, who hosts events for tech companies and has equity positions in many startups is often accused of doing this.
5. Remember, the same viral marketing and hype that helped made your brand online in double-time, can also make you eat crow in double-time.


At 4:38 AM , Anonymous Paul Walsh said...

Hi Pramit,

I like the idea of a code of conduct for blogs, do you?

Without going into too much detail, I'm heavily involved in helping to enable Trust on the Web using Content Labels - with an extension to demonstrate how it works.

I’m creating so industry folk can create codes of conduct based on Content Labels, perhaps this is something you are willing to contribute towards?

Sam Sethi has volunteered to create the Wiki, Tom Rafter has volunteered to create the blog and other contributors include people like Daniel Appelquist.

It's all based on w3c methods.


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