A funny confluence of news stories this morning:
- First, the organizers of a leading tech conference say they’ll have to review their nondisclosure policies after reporting “gag rules” failed to stop two attendees from blogging the proceedings.
- Second, the executive editor and managing editor of the New York Times resign in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair scandal (NY Times coverage here.)
On first glance, these two items don’t seem to have a lot to do with each other. But as Dave points out, there’s a thin line between the two stories: “an intelligent person with a weblog is a reporter.” Salam Pax proves that, at least.
But do we really want to be “treated” like reporters?
This is the critical thing. The fuss at the Times led to the resignation of its senior editors for one reason—reputation. The Times had earned a reputation for integrity and thoughtful, substantive reporting that it couldn’t afford to lose. There were consequences for their actions. In general, there is a higher standard of behavior expected from the media and a higher level of formality when dealing with the media, not just because they report things, but because people believe what they say and act on that belief, sometimes with serious consequences.
So if weblog authors want to be taken seriously as journalists, they have to be prepared to live up to a higher standard of behavior—and admit when they screw up. The only problem is, the tools we have for weblog “reputation”—PageRank and Technorati—don’t take those screwups into account. Or do they? If you stop getting pointed to by people, pretty soon that will be apparent through Technorati. Google seems to have a longer decay time, on the other hand. My old weblog site (same content as the new one, different home) has fallen one point of PageRank from its high water mark of 6, although the blog hasn’t been updated since November 21, 2002. But maybe not getting pointed to by other bloggers is bad enough—like a “shunning,” only online.