Bloggers Code of Ethics Imminent?

Filed as News on October 25, 2006 10:12 pm

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With the Edelman PR fiasco come and gone (geez, is it really gone?), Dave Taylor began wonder out aloud if its time for a Bloggers best practices as it applies to disclosure, or perhaps a code of ethics. Are there no organizations which help reinforce this issue already? Well, the Word of Mouth Association exists. Its mandate is to “protect consumers and industry with strong ethical guidelines”.

The delicious irony? Richard Edelman was one of its founding members.

Today, Mike Arrington discusses the possibility of more.

But the friction destruction and market efficiency qualities of the Internet are leading blogs in particicular to face a serious credibility challenge, and I believe this must be dealt with in a direct and open manner. The WOMMA guidelines are a good start, but I think more practical and far reaching advice is also needed. I also think that we need more than a set of principles. There have to be consequences when journalists stray.

He goes on to talk about a meeting with Social Media club in San Francisco tonight so that interested bloggers and new media types can have a more involved discussion about bloggers ethics.

One wonders if we’re witnessing the early seeds of a code in evolution — a bloggers code of ethics … and perhaps with teeth, this time.

And in light of the Edelman scandal, maybe its about time.

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  1. By Robyn Tippins posted on October 25, 2006 at 11:59 pm
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    Tony, has Rubel ever said anything about this? I read his blog and I haven’t seen it, but with a few hundred feeds to troll I may have missed it.

    I have to admit, this whole scandal really rocked me. I wouldn’t have thunk it’d be Edelman getting caught with their pants down like this.

  2. By Tony posted on October 26, 2006 at 12:45 am
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    Robyn, wonderful of you to drop by.
    As far as I know, Steve Rubel hasn’t really said much other than (and I paraphrase a few posts here and there) “It was a big screw up, it wasn’t my account, my boss is going to deal with it … uh, what are some suggestions?”

    Fascinating point: when it was revealed in March that Edelman was taking on Wal-Mart, it was a kerfuffle in the blogosphere; Steve Rubel at the time posted a similar post basically pointing out that it wasn’t his fault as well.
    http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/03/silence_happens.html

    For what its worth, here’s what Edelman is doing to ‘rectify’ the situation:
    http://www.edelman.com/speak_up/blog/archives/2006/10/what_is_edelman.html

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t see like there have been many consequences at all — in spite of Edelman violating WOMMA’s principles.

    We don’t know who *really* knew what was going on and was really responsible for these flogging shennanigans — some cool digging has found that the ‘authors’ of the blogs are fairly junior execs. It boggles the mind to think that they were the masterminds of such an A+++ client
    http://www.blogbar.de/archiv/2006/10/20/an-advise-for-steve-rubel-after-the-next-blunder-for-wal-mart/

  3. By Chris Heuer posted on October 26, 2006 at 3:25 am
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    I think the ethics are in the community around shared ideas of best practices – the teeth are the real hard part, but there can be a way – we just need to really figure out what will work best.

    The interesting part that came from the conversation tonight at the Social Media Club round table was how much media literacy on the part of the reader/listener really matters. This was not in a way to put off the responsibility from the producer of the media, but more so in that the situation and the context is often a grey area, so it is up to the audience to determine if the source is credible and trustworthy.

    I like the idea of seizing upon the 3 T’s as opposed to the traditional 3 C’s – Transparency, Truth and Trust – these are the hallmarks of the code of ethics IMHO

  4. By Tony Hung posted on October 26, 2006 at 6:25 am
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    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for stopping by last night (this morning?)
    I would encourage everyone who is interested to read about the events at:
    http://www.socialmediaclub.org/2006/10/25/talking-about-disclosure-round-table-recap/

    And visit the new Wiki at:
    http://socialmediaclub.pbwiki.com/

    I’m sure there will be much more to come in the future.

    Cheers
    t @ dji

  5. By Robyn Tippins posted on October 26, 2006 at 11:38 am
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    I agree, there’s either a bad management thingy going on letting jr execs handle the walmart account (yeah right) or either some very sr execs knew what was going on and agreed/put them up to it.

    Also, seems odd that their blogosphere guru wasn’t consulted on it?

  6. By Tony Hung posted on November 1, 2006 at 12:05 am
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    Very odd, Robyn. Very odd.
    Particularly because this was the second time Steve Rubel was apparently in the dark.

  7. By Robyn Tippins posted on November 1, 2006 at 12:26 am
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    I know… I want to pull for Steve, I’ve kinda looked up to him for the last year. But, if they didn’t consult him, which he emphatically stated, that’s just dumb.

    But then, this whole bizarre mess is dumb. You mean they didn’t realize this would eventually happen and people might be a little upset to have been being lied to?