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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A news tip

Reader-submitted: Hey Megan, I remember awhile ago you linked to the article about the ex-CNN producer who was fired because of his blog. After reading that item, I decided to survey over 250 newspaper editors and publishers to see if they would allow their journalists to maintain personal blogs without prior approval. I published my findings over here. Anyway, I thought this was something you might find interesting.

I definitely do. Thanks for putting this effort in.

As my readers know, journalists love to demand information from random people. Then they drum their fingernails on the tabletop in an annoyed manner to encourage a rapid response, yell at the person, question his numbers, and ultimately slam the phone down.

So the results of this survey are fascinating.

My reader asked 250 news organizations the same question:

Would you allow your staff writers, without prior approval, to blog during their free time after work as long as they don’t write about the beats they cover for your newspaper?

EXAMPLE: A staff writer for your newspaper covers the local courts and cops beat and then goes home and writes in his personal blog about the national presidential election. He does this without asking for your permission. Would you be fine with this?

Only 39 responded. You can bet that if these news organizations only got a 16% response rate to their questions, we would all be hearing about the RIGHT OF THE MEDIA TO ASK QUESTIONS and HOW LONG WILL THE FASCISM CONTINUE.

Of the 39 who responded, almost half have rules about blogging: it's either not allowed at all, disclosure is required, or certain topics are unbloggable.

What do you guys think?


A. said...

I want to say that people should be able to write about whatever they wish on their own time. In an ideal world, this would happen.

In the world in which we live, the idiocy of the few ruins it for the whole. These are the people that throw all common sense and decorum out the window because, hey, they ain't writing this for the paper. This is their own, personal blog - emphasis on personal.

In the days preceding the internet, these were the geniuses that would get drunk at office parties, dance on the tables and possibly slur out to their boss exactly what they thought of him.

Basically, the type I mention above is an embarrassment for the corporation as a whole. They aren't good for the company's image, so said company doesn't want an association.

So, winding up this short answer made long, I think the news organizations need to have agreements in place for their own protection, since too many people show poor judgment.

Anonymous said...

You have made me wonder if my institution has any guidelines? Not that I blog about anything to do with what I write about for work (that really would send my readers to sleep).

I do very much believe that in your free time you should be able to do as you wish. But I think that it is wise to blog anonymously really if you are in the public eye, or if you publish as part of your job under your real name. That is why I do it that way. Partly because I don't want people who pay for my writing to see all the crap grammar etc I use on my blog but mostly because I want the freedom to write what I wish.

But some people have behaved very foolishly on their blogs so employers are understandably wary.