Should bloggers avoid conflicts of interest as journalists do?
With so many journalists now blogging — thanks to so many mainstream media websites adding journalist blogs — the question is whether this new wave of bloggers will bring a different ethos to blogging. Say what you will about mainstream media’s various foibles and biases, but professional journalists often keep the interest of their readers — instead of their own self-interests — paramount. The journalist’s code of ethics requires that a reporter should “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.” But in the blogosphere, the rules are a bit fuzzier. Silicon Valley insider and TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington recently reacted to the lastest charge of his conflicts of interest like this:
TechCrunch is all about insider information and conflicts of interest. The only way I get access to the information I do is because these entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are my friends. I genuinely like these people and want them to succeed, and they know it and therefore trust me more than they trust traditional press.
So what do you think about this stance and others by bloggers who feel that they can give honest commentary even though they have conflicts of interest? Will bloggers lose credibility by having these conflicts, or will disclosures help keep everything transparent? Is there something bloggers like Arrington can do to minimize conflicts? Share your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll run the best ones in the next Your Take Roundup.