Journalists Blogging Under The Masthead


Seems the post that Geoff Livingston and I co-wrote, Clarkkent about the role/responsibility of journalists who blog under the masthead of their publication, has taken on a life of its own. That is the good-bad-and ugly of taking the risk to put your thoughts out in a world (social media) where conversation and idea exchange is not only encouraged but is the norm.

By good I mean - the opportunity to stretch your thinking through the ideas that others add to the conversation. By bad I mean - if you are not prepared for others to disagree it can be uncomfortable to realize that not everyone thinks like you  .. which really is a good. By ugly I mean - sometimes people can misinterpret your concepts and yes, sometimes get snarky and well .. ugly.

Is it worth the risk? Only you can determine that one. For a boutique firm like Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing, or any small company, personalities are usually an integral aspect of the brand since you are "buying the person." (A challenge if you want to grow staff ..but that's another post)

What is going to far? How is transparency defined to ensure that conversations are honest but still maintain the integrity of the company/brand and of the blogger? This was part of a conversation that Elisa Camhort, Carol Krishner and I had yesterday in a session that we facilitated for the Healthcare Blogging Summit in Chicago yesterday. Guidelines are critical of course and hiring people who understand and buy-into similar values and vision help too.

But what happens when the lines of main stream media and blogging merge? This was the underling concept of The Buzz Bin / Diva Maketing cross post; however, that idea seemed to get lost since the example we used hit a nerve with many. Geoff's follow up post  also brings the discussion back to the larger issue - the role/responsibility of journalists who blog under the masthead of their publication. Geoff in respond to an excellent question from CK -

CK: Or if Jonah hadn’t blogged on it at all?

Geoff: Ahh, the real issue. Well, if journalists want to blog under a publication masthead then they are still governed under the ethics of journalism. Thus the unwavering point of view. Blogging yes, fine, but clean it up and play by the rules… Or conversely, post it on a personal blog.

Just because a journalist blogs doesn’t mean they lose their role in the conversation. But they have a different tone and ethics — which by the way makes them more credible than the average blog.

As main stream media and social media blur lines  "What's it all about Alfie" (sorry I'm writing from NYC) expectations need to be thought through. Is there a difference between an opt-ed piece and a blog post that is published under the guise of a publication's masthead website?

Should each blog post be accompanied with a disclaimer? "This is the point of view of person-who-holds-a-respected-position-in-the-world-of journalism; however, this publication assumes no editorial responsibility over the post which may or may not reflect the positioning of the publication. So even though we have given person-who-holds-a-respected-position-in-the-world-of journalism the platform, reach and by default credibility of our organization please do not assume that this particular work from this person-who-holds-a-respected-position-in-the-world-of journalism meets journalistic standards."

To echo CK's comments I too applaud traditional media companies who are stepping into the world of social media. As we learn together about this ever changing world I'm sure there will be more lessons, questions and exciting ways to conduct business and report the news. I don't expect journalists to be Clark Kent .. wll maybe I would like them to be (smile) but I do expect that they will follow journalist guidelines.



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As you know I am used to causing a bit of a stir occasionally but I believe more good than bad comes from it. I believe we owe it to ourselves and our clients to be authentic and said so today, even if it costs us business. You can read my thoughts here: My advice, be true to yourself and speak power to your truths. And the ugly has more to do with those being ugly than those posting a point of view.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Sep 18, 2007 2:33:18 PM

I'm back to share with you my comments at Toad's place:

I agree with Toad, Toby. Bloom didn't bash Joe. I have read Bloom's piece over and over and can't see where it was personal at any level. Bloom bashed Joe's writing and deservedly so. Joe's release was PR crapola at its worst.

As an entrepreneur, I have no problems nor am I surprised that any start-up agency struggles, especially virtual ones such as Joe's and mine. It takes a long time to build a client list and cash flow. But I do expect agencies to be able to communicate clearly and concisely.

For whatever reason, and maybe Joe was simply having a bad day, I've been there, his release suffered from puffery and Bloom said so. By the way, Bloom's writing on this post is nothing to praise either. That may be why so many of us are coming down on different sides of what he said.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Sep 18, 2007 2:46:08 PM

Great follow-up Toby; indeed it is a complex issue (mainstream media blogging). Well, I guess I should say the complexity lies between being MSM being authentic and still following guidelines.

Posted by: CK on Sep 18, 2007 3:21:40 PM

For another journalist’s take on this discussion check out, “The Road from media Ethics to Information Anarchy,” by PC Magazine’s John Dvorak. Thanks, Ike, for sending me the link:,1759,2184130,00.asp?kc=PCRSS03079TX1K0000584

“The public is the police. Things get even more complex as bloggers and new-media publishers arrive with a mix of news, hoaxes, and singular opinion. There are no standard ethics for any of these people, and despite stupid attempts to create a blogger’s code of ethics, there never will be one except on a publication-by-publication basis. The holier-than-thou old media thinking will fall by the wayside. In new media publications, ethics are demanded by the readers, not the editors.”

Posted by: Geoff Livingston on Sep 18, 2007 3:30:43 PM

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