Caveat Lector

A friend sent me a link go a an opinion piece by Adam Cohen that ran on Sunday in The New York Times (The Latest Rumbling in the Blogosphere: Questions About Ethics).

Being a newbie in the blogosphere, perhaps I have yet to earn the right to chime in on whether bloggers should be held to the same jouralistic standards as the mainstream media, but the arguments that I have heard seem to be off-point. To me, blogging is a medium, not the message.

I could blog as a news journalist checking all my facts and providing objective balance and opposing views, or as a partisan extolling one particular viewpoint. I might be a critic using my expertise in whatever field to provide comment and context for my considered opinion of someone else’s work, or simply a jane doe columnist providing personal essays and opinions.

Whether online or on paper, it should all depend on what the content calls for. For me, the one thing that does transcend the medium is the importance of being honest about one’s intentions. I believe that every writer has an unspoken contract with his or her readers, a contract based on the writer’s self-representation and the reader’s perception, and it is the writer’s responsibility to live up to that contract. If I am writing nonfiction, I must check my facts. If I proport to be objective, then I must present all sides. If I clearly state my bias, don’t expect me to argue for the opposition. And if it is just my opinion, take it for what it’s worth, no more, no less.