Posts about ethics

Twit no more

See Tim Toulmin, head of the U.K. Press Complaints Commission, responding to the dustup created when he was misquoted as wanting to regulate bloggers. I was among those stirring dust but I corrected that when Toulmin properly complained. Says Toulmin:

Last week I read on one of the political websites about some twit who had said that a voluntary code of practice for blogs was needed. How absurd, I thought. Bloggers are hardly a homogenous profession; they operate in a naturally self-regulatory environment where inaccuracies can quickly be corrected by other posters; they have (sometimes) transnational followings, yet different countries have different cultural standards; it would be a bureaucratic nightmare to enforce; there is no proven need for one and so on.

But then – horrors! – I saw that this viewpoint was ascribed to me, with some predictably unflattering remarks. The American blogger Jeff Jarvis took to MediaGuardian’s weekly podcast to fulminate against my stupidity. Thousands of bloggers globally rounded on the suggestion, deploying all manner of exotic language.

I’m thinking about writing my Guardian column this week about the means and rights of response and correction in the internet: what’s working and what’s not. Also: Whether libel laws are outmoded when there is a new means of response (credit: Susan Crawford). And what happens when courts — nevermind regulators — attempt to define and treat blogging as media and thus threaten to put a chill on simple conversation? But on the other hand, if we bristle at subjecting blogs to the restrictions of media then can we still claim press protections for bloggers’ acts of journalism? And are codes of conduct worth the pixels they’re written in? Your thoughts?

Washing your word of mouth out with soap

Last chance to give me advice about facing Richard Edelman over Walmartgate and more at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association confab. I need to tell them yea or nay Tuesday. Right now, I’m leaning against doing it. I don’t think it’s our job to tell flacks how to flack us. And I think my position would be a no-win: I’m either the asshole or the wuss, depending on my performance and where you come in on this. Weigh in. Earlier advice here.

: LATER: My current thought is that I would at least insist on the ability to start by saying why I think their organization should not exist. I’ll outline those reasons later.

: UPDATE: I’ve decided not to do it. More on why later.

Pay Per Soul

Michael Arrington and Scott Karp dissect the absurdity of PayPerPost’s latest effort to slap lipstick on its pig with a disclosure policy that equates advertising and “paid insertions.” That sounds like something you get on the Bunny Ranch.

Your advice, please

Give me your word of mouth, please. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association just emailed me to come to a confab they are having in December to question Richard Edelman about his firm’s Wal-Mart blogging fiasco and more. No holds barred, they say. I’m not sure I want to do it. I don’t much like the fact that there is a Word of Mouth Marketing Association; I don’t want them buying our mouths and thinking that they can rent buzz and our opinions with it, corrupting the space. I have avoided the organization in the past. I also don’t want to be seen as a soft-ball pitcher. Nor do I want to be the convenient snarker. Then again, it is a chance to get warn and scold. I told them that I would ask your advice. With one exception (he/she knows who she/he is), I want to hear from many, not only with advice on whether I should do this but if I do, what my goals should be.

: LATER: Here is the WOMMA questionnaire: Are you cricket?

And nothing but

Edelman PR is throwing water on its own PR fire following the fakey Wal-Mart blog. Richard Edelman outlines a series of steps they’re taking. I’d say it’s really quite simple and can be boiled down to this: Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Lie, hide, fake, fool, or buy people and you lose. And I’m not being smart-assed. It really is that simple. And the more complicated you make the rules, the more loopholes you end up building in. It’s just like Mom used to say: Tell the truth and everything will be fine.