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December 2, 2008

Nothing is off the record

When everyone is a blogger, nothing you say is off the record. A New York-based Belgian blogger and bartender served a politician, got some information and blogged about it. And then she got fired.

News like this starts complicated internal debates about media ethics in my head, but there is no time for a lengthy discussion right now. When I'm doing journalism for school or any publication that isn't my own blog, these rules apply. Blogging however, is not the same thing as journalism. We do not yet have a common set of rules for what is off the record in blogging. We do have common sense (at least the writers worth reading do).

I think of my blog as a snapshot of the part of my mind I allow people to read. And I think the internet is just like real life. And in real life, when you're talking to strangers, you can't really expect things to be off the record.

Off the record is the exception to the general rule. That's why people promise to keep peoples' secrets - doctors don't talk about their patients, friends don't talk about their friends, employees don't give away their companies' secrets, and I've been asked not to blog about things. How many times have you started a conversation with "This is not a secret. Tell someone else if you want."

And like I wrote here, this isn't new. Information is spread faster and further now, but the same principles apply: don't do stupid stuff, and if you must, don't tell strangers about it. Especially if you're a politician. Because - even within "real" journalism - the public has a right to know.

P.S. If I ever open a bar for journalists, I'll call it "Off the Record". What happens there, stays there.

Posted by Julie at December 2, 2008 10:27 AM

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who got fired? the blogger? the politician? (to the extent you can fire one of the last type...)

Posted by: Per Ivar at December 2, 2008 4:50 PM

Per Ivar - The blogger got fired from her bartending job. You can read the story in the first link, where you will also find a link to the blog post in question.

Posted by: Julie at December 2, 2008 6:02 PM