Bloggers: Ethics and Agendas
UPDATE: Someone just advised that several pages that were linked from this post have been removed on the original site. Here is a cached link to one of the pages.
By definition, blogging is more opinionated than journalistic reporting. But should bloggers, who are becoming more and more relevant with each day, adhere to some sort of “code”? Or are they simply given carte blanche?
At Eye On Annapolis, we believe in expressing opinions and offering commentary on newsworthy events. Have we been disparaging against Mayor Moyer, County Executive Leopold and others? In the words of Sarah Palin..You Betcha! Did we shy away from posting about Alderman Sam Shropshire’s recrent arrest? Not at all. Maybe we are an equal opportunity blog. We invite unmoderated interaction (as long as you play nice); and we feel free to express opinions equally and to a large degree without a political agenda.
However, many blogs do indeed seem to have an agenda. Take the local blog Annapolis Capital Punishment as a prime example. The publisher, Paul Foer, claims to be fair and impartial; but when recent posts seem to indicate a strong agenda against specific individuals, one has to wonder.
In a post this morning, Capital Punishment presents an archived column from the Baltimore Sun; but it is presented as new. This appears to have been done to further some agenda against Alderman Shropshire and Annapolis City consultant Don Lamb-Minor. The entry lambastes not only Alderman Shropshire (the reporter bends over backwards to find one constituent to say something nice about Shropshire), but Lamb- Minor (resigned because he is now a paid consultant to the mayor), but the Sun reporter with the headline (More inconsistency from Tyeesha Dixon).
What is particularly galling is that the publisher of Annapolis Capital Punishment, a “trained journalist”, says “The article does a lopsided job of appearing to be fair to Shropshire and I find it rather misleading and biased.” Isn’t this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? The article was written in March 2009 (not this morning as he suggests), Don Lamb-Minor was (at the time) on the Board of Elections, and the reporter was laid off from the Sun on May 8, 2009 when the Sun had another round of layoffs. So much for being fair and balanced.
One does not need to look too hard to see who Annapolis Capital Punishment favors in the upcoming Mayoral elections. He offers weekly “grade sheets” of the candidates based on website design, if they have filed paperwork to be a candidate, how communicative they are to his blog, if they attend his Sip N Blog meetings and perhaps to a lesser degree, if they advertise with him.
Frank Flyntz, a republican candidate has been dissed because he did not provide the information requested and has decided to not attend a regular Sip N Blog hosted by Annapolis Capital Punishment. In the past 24 hours, Alderrman Shropshire has been targeted by the blog not one, not two , not three, not four, but five separate times. County Councilman, and Mayoral Candidate Josh Cohen has also been targeted not once, but twice in those same 24 hours.
I am not suggesting that blogs should not have agendas. I am suggesting that if they do, that they at least be honest about it and forgo the claims of being fair and balanced. And while everyone’s business plan is a little different, it is seemingly disingenuous to court advertising funds when it seems your intention is to turn around to toss those same advertisers under the proverbial bus.
What are your thoughts? We maintain a highly open and realtively unmoderated website and welcome all opinions. When we make a mistake, we correct it. We allow anyone to comment by simply clicking on the “comment” link at the bottom of each entry. Do both types of blogs serve a purpose? Am I barking up the wrong tree? What are your thoughts?