MANILA, Philippines – Bloggers should look to the journalism code of ethics as a guide to responsible writing.
“The ethics in journalism and blogging are the same because they’re both part of the public domain and they serve practically the same audiences,” said Prof. Danilao Arao, assistant vice president for public affairs and director of the system information office of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Prof. Arao was one of the keynote speakers in the 8th iBlog Philippine Blogging Summit, a two-day event that gathered bloggers from across the country. He is himself a blogger (risingsun.dannyarao.com)
Prof. Arao added that while the Philippine blogging community has yet to form an independent organization similar to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility or the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism to monitor bloggers’ observance of ethical standards, bloggers should make a conscious effort to be responsible.
“Bloggers should take on the role of self-regulation. They can watch themselves. The last thing we want is for government to step in and impose regulations or laws that will restrict the freedom of expression. We don’t want a regulatory body for blogging. What we want is an independent watchdog not in the control of government or politicians,” he said.
While Prof. Arao underscored the importance of the journalism code of ethics among bloggers, he also pointed out that bloggers can be “media watchdogs” themselves.
“They may not criticize media content, but they may observe the standard of accuracy, fairness, objectivity, and disclosure with regard to potential conflict of interest,” he said.
Blogging can also be a platform for the future of journalism wherein ordinary citizens can take part in the gathering of information.
“Then there’s citizen journalism wherein ordinary citizens are trained with regard to the standards of the journalism profession and will be the ones to process the information for submission to a media organization. They become de facto correspondents or contributors,” Prof. Arao said.
Prof. Arao pointed out that disclosure is of utmost importance not just for journalists, but more especially for bloggers who earn money through ads on their blogs.
“There is nothing wrong with earning money online per se,” he said. Bloggers just have to make a distinction between their posts and the ads in their blogs so as not to deceive readers.
“You have to lay it out in a manner that is clear to your readers,” Prof. Arao said.