I like to think of myself as a thoughtful blogger, not some stream-o-consciousness blatherer who’s trying to fill some column inches.
And so, a couple of things I’ve seen recently — one in the “mainstream” media and one on a local blog — got me thinking about the issue of blogging and ethics.
The first thing was an Election-Day story (thanks for the nice photo, fellas) by Tony Botello on Hearne Christopher’s KC Confidential blog.
Tony — the baron of KC bloggers — raised the issue of blogging ethics as it related to my significant financial contributions ($3,000) to Mike Burke’s mayoral campaign while I was also writing about the race. (Shockingly, I wrote some very positive pieces about Mike.)
Tony wrote: And while Fitzpatrick repeatedly criticizes mainstream media like The Star for deviating from old-school journalistic standards, in the case of his support of Burke he’s gone native with his biases like an untrained blogger.
(Not sure I completely understand that sentence, but I guess I get the drift.)
The second thing that arrested my attention was a story in today’s Kansas City Star about a liberal blogger named Ian Murphy who was able to get Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the phone by pretending to be Kansas billionaire industrialist David Koch.
Now, that rankles me because this fellow Murphy is giving us bloggers a bad name…making us look like unethical lowlifes.
So, I started looking around to see if there was any code of ethics for bloggers. Shockingly, (am I overusing the word?), I couldn’t find one. No code of ethics…How can this be?
Most newspapers, including The Star, have extensive codes of ethics, but apparently the blogging version has slipped through the cracks. Upon reflection (like I said, that’s my deal), I thought I could leave a legacy to the medium by fashioning a “Blogger’s Code of Ethics.”
This morning, then (I move very fast), I appointed a 10-member, blue-ribbon Code of Ethics Blogging Panel (COEBP — pronounced co-eb), and gave them five hours to come up with a draft.
This afternoon, minutes before deadline, the draft landed on my desk with a resounding thud.
I took one look and was flabbergasted: The panel did such a good job that, without any editing, I accepted it Chapter and Verse. Extending profuse gratitude, I sent the panel off to Mike’s Tavern with a blank, JimmyCsays check.
And now, with no further ado, here is the Blogger’s Code of Ethics (BCE — pronounced bitchy), a Ten Commandments, of sorts, for bloggers.
2) Never misrepresent thyself.
3) If thy skin is thin, find another passtime.
4) When writing ill of others, remember the backboard effect.
5) When contributing more than $1,000 to a political candidate, don’t tell thy spouse.
6) Disclose thy political contributions to thy readers. (I do!)
7) When writing about a former employer, remember they was thy meal ticket.
8) If someone calls the police because they don’t like what you’re doing or how you’re doing it, be sure to get the investigating officer’s name so you can put it in thy story.
9) If you accept bribes, limit them to no more than you can eat or drink in a single, 24-hour cycle.
10) Have fun & express thyself.