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On Journalism, Blogging, Responsible Reporting, And Fair Comment

June 1, 2009

When is journalism blogging and when is blogging journalism?

This is a rhetorical question yet it isn’t.

But the common thread runs through the two activities is the fact that unless they are done within such parameters as commitment to fairness, balance, and respect for individual privacy and the law on libel the practitioner will not only have an audience but will, sooner or later, run afoul of the law and land behind bars.

Worse, the haughty, reckless transgressor will lie six feet under.

It is against this backdrop that the debate is raging in Congress over how bloggers and, would you believe, users of iPods can be covered by the proposed Right of Reply law with the attendant punitive provisions.

Blogger-Congressman Mong Palatino is primarily crossing swords with much old lawmaker and lay minister Benny Abante in what may be viewed as  classic duel between new and old school types.

How indeed do we balance free speech and press freedom with a public official or private citizen’s right to privacy and be protected against false accusations of graft and other crimes?

IMHO, there is really no need for a new law that in reality will constitute proscription of the basic editorial prerogatives of the journalism profession such as protecting the identity of their sources and deciding the placement, the slant and overall treatment of their subject.

The matter of journalists and bloggers working at cross purposes should also be no issue so long as both subscribe to the above-mentioned left and right margins.

Veteran journalist Caloy Code succinctly expounded on this not too long ago.

Over at the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, a gem of a reference is its Code of Ethics for Bloggers:

Yet another rich resource is the web site of the American Media Bloggers Association.

Cross disciplines as they are journalism and blogging can only enrich the craft of writing and with it better serve the interests of truth and the advancement of knowledge.

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