Journalism is dead.
““Bloggers and other supposedly professional journalists then took those already distorted interpretations, treated them as sources, and added their own spices,” Huckabee said of comments, which were reported by numerous news outlets, including POLITICO. “Newsweek even had the audacity to use quote marks around a statement never even uttered as if it were my actual words.”” FROM HERE (emphasis mine)
In the above article, Politico talks about Huckabee’s remarks (you can explore more here) that journalism is dead. Talat Hussain said in, Bloggers are not Journalists,
“I have huge respect for bloggers but blogs are hugely opinionated pieces, which is fine, we are used to that, but they are not backed by any sense of accountability or responsibility.” FROM HERE (emphasis mine)
Journalism and blogging share too much in common to be different. Both are liable for what they put online. If you use an image from someone else without permission on your blog, you can be brought to court. If you misquote someone, you can be sued. Journalists have laws that protect them from lawsuits. Bloggers suffer from laws that vary from state to state because no one knows if a blogger who publishes online is a journalist, even though they share the same liability and responsibility.
Bloggers can share a video of their pet dog doing cute tricks. Fox and Friends have done the same–sharing cute youtube videos while the world moves closer to World War Three. So what is the difference between a blogger and a journalist?
You can’t claim education. Even Harvard students have blogs. Blogs have become big business, and for Cataclysm Missions International, blogs are a tool for missions.
As a Christian blogger, you must be discerning of what you post. You will make mistakes. If you do, post a retraction on your blog. Be graceful to others with less than a seminary degree of understanding of the Bible and teach them how to correctly use scripture by posting comments on their blog or talk to them in person. The sense of responsibility is a concern.
Talat Hussain was correct when he talked about the lack of a sense of responsibility. Christian bloggers sometimes fall into two extremes: We either have too much of a sense of responsibility or too little. You can’t blame them. Even solid news sources nowadays have an agenda, and you can’t trust a lot of online sources, news or otherwise!
So what does an uneducated, Christian blogger do?
- Read the same story from different sides. Every article has a bias no matter how well-written. Put together the facts, and re-create the story using just the facts.
- Google the company who put out the story. Do they have a good standing with the truth? Do some theologians that you like back them up? Being quoted in a story is not the same as an endorsement. Sometimes, even the quote can be taken out of context, accidentally or intentionally distorted.
- Who you write for says a lot about you. Remember how your mom urged you not to hang out with the bad crowd? Whoever you associate with is the kind of reputation you will build online as a blogger or writer. Make sure you know the company you keep. Ask someone more experienced about a company, if in doubt.
- Watch out for conspiracy theories. This is a tough one. A good conspiracy theory brings in controversy which attracts a lot of readers. If it is not true and you can’t prove it, don’t publish it. If a photo says it’s true, verify that photo for signs of photoshop, and ask yourself if it makes sense? Most of the time, conspiracy theories simply propagate fear. Fear and faith do not mix.
- If no degree, write from the platform of a learner. A pastor gave some good advice. Never mention a topic you aren’t fully ready to defend and define. Sharing your beliefs online make it easy to locate resources very quickly, but don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know the answer. Let me get back to you.”
- Audit Your Source of Information. Does it make sense? Is it too good to be true? Is it too easy? What are their sources? Is it opinion or do they mention actual facts and not generalities? (note: some blogs are purposely general to avoid actual accusation for fear of being liable or slanderous).
Don’t be afraid to share your testimony. Safest topics for a believer on a blog are letting your readers walk through a Bible Study with you, quoting from reliable theologians and pastors, and letting them see you walk the walk of your faith.