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The Integrity of the Blogger

17/06/2011

The internet has given us nearly unmitigated global access to news, opinion, and the ability to share our own thoughts and opinions with an audience whose only limits exist in just how far out there you want to put yourself. There are as many types of blogs as there are bloggers who write them, and while many of them are personally oriented there are yet millions of bloggers — such as myself — who use the forum to present their commentary on current events. That is, we cast ourselves as reporters on the ground providing up to the moment coverage of different goings-on without the restrictions of a major network.

However, just because we are more free to express ourselves does not mean that we have the right to neglect the tenets of journalistic integrity, for if we undermine our own credibility by ignoring or deliberately misinterpreting the facts and substituting polemic for substance, we damage the credibility of every blogger around us who is careful enough to take all those steps we have skipped.

What then, of bloggers who adopt alternate identities to get out a message? Where do they fall in the question of integrity? This has become a hot-button issue in the last week or so, when the lesbian authors behind two popular blogs — “A Gay Girl In Damascus” and LezGetReal — were discovered to be married, white, American men. Whatever good came of their messages is now tarnished by the realization that they duped their audiences (not to mention the U.S. State Department), as is the reputation of every blogger who dares share her opinion.

Sadly, however good a reason people may have to be skeptical, it now adds a greater onus on the legitimate blogger who may always be accurate in his or her self-representation and in disseminating the factual evidence behind their claims but who now must combat disbelief from an audience that just will not stand for being fooled again.

Yes, Bill Graber and Tom MacMaster may have had wonderful things to say, and yes they may have legitimately felt that obscuring their true identities was the best way to spread their message (though I rather doubt that in MacMaster’s case, given some of the commentary he’s provided to explain himself), but at the end of the day they pushed bloggers’ position back from one of relative legitimacy to that of the hack who cannot do, and so writes.

It’s up to the rest of us to restore the reputation of the blogosphere, with unimpeachable integrity.

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