Friday, September 23, 2005

Our guidelines

Online Journalism JRN525 Blogging Guidelines – Updated 9/22/05

A blog can be many things: a diary, a photo album, a news source, a running commentary on a particular subject, etc. A blog offers a way to have instantaneous interaction between writers and readers. It also links the reader out to articles, Web sites – broadening a reader’s knowledge of the blog’s topic(s). In this class, we are experimenting with writing in a more free form style on our blogs, but under an umbrella of journalism ethics and standards. Our blogs will have a mix of reporting and opinion writing.

Basic ground rules we will abide by

  • Must write with proper spelling, grammar, punctuation. has a spellcheck – use it
  • No profanity – if a general newspaper doesn’t print it, than we don’t use it in this class
  • No obscene photographs – no sexually explicit or violent images
  • No personal attacks

Using outside content: In addition to linking in posts, many bloggers also pull other writer’s material into their posts. You can do this with small snippets of material, but you must follow my guidelines. It must be clear to your readers that this is not your material. Always have a lead in sentence followed by a colon:

Here is what sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote in his column “On Second Thought” in the Boston Globe today (9/23/05):

“Here we are, looking up at the Yankees. Again. We all know this thing should
have been over. The Yankees were there to be beaten. But the Sox eased up on
the accelerator, broke down in key places, and now are in danger of
finishing second to New York for a record eighth consecutive season. And
only 10 games remain.”

The way you get this block quote look, is to highlight the quoted text, and then click on the icon that looks like two quotes in your blogger post area. Make sure you also link to the actual story so your reader can go read the whole piece. (Over time many of these links will “break” because some sites archive stories behind firewalls after a day or two. Also some sites require a user registration to read material – and not everyone will be registered or want to register. Don’t worry about both these issues for now.)

Photos: I’m researching this issue. Right now, the rule is that you can only post your own original photos. More to come on this.

In addition
get your facts right – if you want your writing to be taken seriously by your readers, you need to be accurate – double check your facts before publishing them. If I see a factual error, I will write it in your comment section.

Context: provide some context so readers know what you are talking about when it comes to long-running issues, etc. Give a bit a background when introducing a new topic.
Honesty: for example, if you give a plug to your favorite restaurant and your uncle happens to own that restaurant, than make sure to inform your readers.

Admit your mistakes: if you realize that a previous post had an error, than own up to your mistake and write a correcting post.

Changing your mind: same things goes if you change your opinion whether it’s because you learned more information, or thought long and hard about it, etc. Just explain to your readers why you feel differently.

Respect others: Welcome debate on your blog. People may disagree with you. This is fine and good. Respect other opinions – it’s fine to have a back-and-forth with someone about an issue but keep it civil. If a reader goes over the line with you, please inform me and we will deal with the situation.

These guidelines are a work-in-progress – if you want to discuss an issue, please raise it in class so we can all discuss together.

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