Blogs and online publications are now part of the news industry, major media creators with large audiences and even larger influence. Whether you just started your blog yesterday, or you've been operating your online publication for several years, hopefully you operate by a few principles to ensure that you're providing quality news and quality work. If you don't have principles, or haven't taken the time to think about them, then here are three big principles for committed media creators:
1. Do your homework, and then do some more.
This one refers to both doing the necessary research before starting on an article or blog post, as well as fact checking information before putting it onto your site. It's incredibly easy to find what you need online and even to write a blog post based on what you found online, it's still not the same as making phone calls, digging through paper records, and in-person interviews. Do these when you can so as to avoid assuming something is happening or creating unnecessary commotion, as in the case of this blog post, where it would have been very simple to ask a few questions and to talk to the right people.
2. Get it right, every time.
Michael Arrington, founder and former editor of TechCrunch, once said, “Getting it right is expensive, getting it first is cheap.” Sure, getting out first has its benefits: increased clicks, the credibility of breaking a good story first, increased page views. And sure, if you get something wrong, you can amend the article or issue a correction at the bottom where no one might see it. Plus, if you do get it wrong, it's highly likely you won't lose your blog or online publication.
However, you don't want to make getting it first and making mistakes a habit. It's only a matter of time before you get more than a fact, or a name wrong, but an entire news story. A recent example of this is the Google purchase of ICOA, which was picked up by many media outlets before it was found to be a hoax. Let's not forget the ridiculous example of the LAPD purchasing jet packs, which is a perfect example of why principle number one needs to be followed. We can go on and on with fake news stories, but our point has been made here.
3. Practice and demand transparency.
This is one of the newer and more controversial principles for media creators. Before the Internet, transparency was not something that the audience demanded from newspapers and the radio. Transparency isn't necessarily something that's required of every blog and online publication today. However, if your blog or online publication does maintain a specific world view or bias, then that should be clear and revealed to readers. Transparency would also mean admitting to conflicts of interest as well as admitting to mistakes and corrections when they happen.
Do you have any media principles of your own to share? If so, please share them in the comments!