I sat in on a session by Saleem Khan at Podcamp Toronto 2010. Saleem Khan is a Toronto-based journalist working independently for major international and Canadian media outlets. He blogs at saleemkhan.com.
His session covered the best ethics and professional behaviour practices used by established journalistic and how they relate to the blogging community. Saleem made the audience aware that this session was a carbon-copy of his session last year at Podcamp Toronto, and is therefore does not offer new insight (unless, of course, you weren’t at his session last year!).
Saleem began by asking the audience what their impressions are of established media outlets, such as the CBC, BBC, the New York Times, etc. A wide variety of responses were given. He then proceeded to show some statistics revealing that large, established online media outlets remain as the dominant source of news information for the general public. The reason, most likely, is credibility – people will go to their trusted sources.
Bloggers will often want their blog to be a reflection of their personality, whereas large media outlets are uniform – they are cultural institutions that people respond to. Saleem says that bloggers should aim somewhere in the middle by adopting some of the practices of large media outlets.
A blogger must establish trust. This is done by maintaining standards, including accurate information and correct spelling and grammar. When an error is made, offer your correction publicly – this does not damage trust but enhances it. Be clear about how you work, and about your activities. Be fair in words and in deeds – people can instinctively feel when you are not. Think – set rules and structures and plan ahead so that, when an inevitable conflict occurs, you are prepared to address it. Always be ethical, and always know how to handle ethical conflicts.
Finally, he says, be calm and professional and use the lessons in courtesy and politeness that your mom taught you. If you are looking for more information and training, the BBC has a free online college of journalism (note: available only from a UK IP address) to help guide bloggers in issues that established media organizations have been dealing with – and learning from – for years.