Bloggers’ Oath

A recent feature article in the New York Times featured a broad ranging interview with President Obama and got me thinking about the idea of a bloggers oath again.

The writers covered many of the issues that face the U.S. from the economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy and so forth. What struck me though, was the final two paragraphs that simultaneously praised Obama’s use of technology and took a dig at blogs:

Mr. Obama rode to the White House partly on his savvy use of new technology, and he has a staff-written blog on his presidential Web site. Even so, he said he did not find blogs to be reliable, citing the economy as one example.

“Part of the reason we don’t spend a lot of time looking at blogs,” he said, “is because if you haven’t looked at it very carefully, then you may be under the impression that somehow there’s a clean answer one way or another — well, you just nationalize all the banks, or you just leave them alone and they’ll be fine.”

A few points of interpretations of this statement:

  • The NY Times is trying to convey that it still has more journalistic integrity and accuracy. This is a fair point and not to be taken lightly. Journalists are held to a higher standard while bloggers generally are not. Yet, when it comes to influence, many bloggers enjoy broad audiences who may think the blogger has done a “good enough” job doing due diligence.
  • I wonder how bloggers go about establishing credibility. Once a blogger has established a sizable audience, accuracy and validity seem to be assumed and taken for granted. Obama’s comments suggests bloggers need to apply more analytical rigor to their analyses and before he will be take them more seriously. If the problems the U.S. faces were really that straightforward as some bloggers illustrate, there would be straightforward answers. Clearly, this is not the case.
  • Bloggers are not necessarily problem solvers. It’s kind of like how critics are not the creators or restaurant reviewers are not chefs. Unless a blogger has actually tried to fix some of these issues, he or she would understand the complex landmines on the road to any successful resolution. Talking the talk ain’t walking the walk.

Whether or not Obama’s right by ignoring the blogs isn’t the point. What he is asking for is legitimate analysis and thoughtful proposals. Those don’t come out of thin air or armchair CEO-ing. But I think it ought to begin with bloggers pledging to take a fair and honest approach and even some sort of oath or accreditation. Sure, people will balk and cry foul but this is a win-win for everyone. Readers get better content and bloggers get more credibility. In a future post, how a bloggers oath might play out.

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