We have already established that blogging is in part journalism because it fulfils some of the journalistic roles such as education, information and entertainment. As such, bloggers are duty bound by ethics that may also apply to journalists. It is true that sometimes bloggers get carried away when airing their opinions online just as journalists do on air but it is also true that we are bound to our readers to ensure that we inform, educate and entertain within the law.
Here are some ethical notations that can uphold as bloggers to avoid being on the wrong side of the law:
Accuracy – Ensure that you deliver error free content and any story published that is distorted should be corrected at once. It is understandable that human beings make mistakes and bloggers are no different. Ensure that once you have realized that there was misinformation in your article admit that you were wrong and correct it. Bloggers have the responsibility to be truthful even if it means admitting that you were wrong. Also ensure that you inform the public without bias or stereotype.
Copyright and attribution of sources -Attribute content and ensure copyrights. Always provide links to sites where your information was obtained. Ensure that you identify and link to sources your information because the public is as entitled to know where the information was obtained. As they say, give credit where credit is due.
Distortion of pictures and videos- Never distort videos and photos without disclosing what has been changed or digitally altered. Image enhancement should only be acceptable for technical clarity. You should also not stage videos to prove a point and never put together words spoken at different times to suggest they were uttered at the same time.
Facts and opinions – Clearly distinguish between factual, commentary and advocacy information when writing so that they are not confusing to the reader.
Integrity – Bloggers should ensure that they uphold integrity and avoid conflict of interest. Be independent and ensure that you avoiding bias. You should ensure that whatever you write has been verified. Also resist people who would influence what you write in your blog and if you are paid to give comment or opinions while writing for someone else’s blog ensure that it is public knowledge.
Sources – Always reveal your sources unless revealing will put them in danger. Being transparent in your blogs ensures that you have credibility.
Protect -Also use your power as a blogger to protect those who are defenceless. Shine your light on the injustices that happen around you. With great power comes great responsibility and as such, ensure that you use this power wisely.
Be truthful– Always tell the truth at all times. Use evidence such as photos and videos to support your facts and also ensure that these facts are not distorted in any way. With the rise and frequency of fake news, it is important to ensure that what you write in your blog is factual.
Opportunity to reply– As a blogger you should give a subject who was shown in a negative light the opportunity in your blog to give his or her side of the story and voice their opinion as well. That way you won’t be biased.
Bloggers should ensure that they are not caught on the wrong side of the law by adhering to these simple ethics. Remember that we are not only duty bound to your readers but to ourselves as well.
Adapted from the Media Council of Kenya Code of Conduct for the practice of Journalism in Kenya. Second schedule of the Media Act 2013.