5. Practice and demand transparency.
The following is a work in progress.
This is essential not just for citizen journalists and other new- media creators but also for those in traditional media. The kind and extent of transparency may differ. For example, bloggers should reveal biases. Meanwhile, Big Media employees may have pledged individually not to have conflicts of interest, but that doesn’t mean they work without bias. They should help their audiences understand what they do, and why.
Transparency in the traditional ranks has scarcely existed for most of the past century. There may be more opaque industries, but it is ludicrous for a craft that seeks openness in others to be so opaque itself. When we demand answers from others, we should look in the mirror and ask some of the same questions.
Scandal, for the most part, has forced open the doors to a degree. The Jayson Blair debacle at the emNew York Times led the newspaper to describe in lurid detail what had happened. It also led to the creation of a “public editor” post –analogous to the position of “ombudsman.”
Bloggers, through their own relentless critiques, have made traditional-media transparency more common as well. However unfair bloggers’ criticism may often be, it has also been a valuable addition to the media-criticism sphere.
Bloggers, too, need to adopt more transparency. Some, to be sure, reveal their biases. That gives readers a way to consider the writers’ world views against the postings, and then make decisions about credibility. But a distinctly disturbing trend in some blog circles is the undisclosed or poorly disclosed conflict of interest. Pay-per-post schemes are high on the list of activities that deserve readers’ condemnation; they also deserve a smaller audience.