Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bloggers and ethical decision-making

A recent post on Eye on Sports Media outlines the response of a local paper (the Athens Banner Herald) and that of a blogger who learned about the DUI arrest of a local personality who provides play-by-play and analysis for UGA sports teams.
The blogger reported the incident; the paper didn't. Eye on Sports Media comes down on the side of the blogger, arguing that the incident was newsworthy and that covering it gives media the chance to point out the recklessness of drunken driving. Non-coverage by the paper "also shows a little bit of media hypocrisy. The media is always more than willing to write sensational news when an athlete or other celebrity is arrested for DUI or some other transgression. They are also all over any news of steroid use by athletes. So what if alcohol abuse and drunk driving is more destructive than steroid use?"
I think EOSM has a point. The man is well-known to local sports fans, and the same standards should apply to him as do with other local sports personalities. I don't know the rationale used by the paper to reject the story.
Dissatisfaction with mainstream media is one reason many fans start their own blogs. As they do, they have to make tough calls about what should and should not be covered -- the kinds of calls mainstream journalists have been making for decades. They can get guidance from a number of sources, including APSE, SPJ and a blogger's code of ethics. As they continue to gain influence, it's critical that bloggers understand the responsibility that comes with the ability to reach a mass audience.

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