There has been a lot of talk about the responsibilities of bloggers, this is sometimes in contrast to journalists. The transparency and openness of bloggers raises new issues of responsibility. Blogs are potentially a powerful means for communication and making new connections, but sometimes it seems that bloggers are novices playing with matches, a few get burned. A few sometimes harm others, either innocently or intentionally. These are generally rare exceptions but they are happening more often, as more people start to blog. The news media has long wrestled with the issue of self-regulation and ethics. The vast majority of bloggers are not journalists, but the power in many bloggers’ hands does merit some attention to ethical use and the need for self regulation before we get regulated by others.
In Business Blogs: A Practical Guide we encourage business bloggers to create a blog policy. Businesses might be a trend setter here and some businesses have already adopted policies. These policies should promote openness and innovation. These policies should be co-developed with employees and not be repressive. Wikis might be in order as the co-creation tool. Editorial review by public relations people should NOT be a part of these policies. Individual responsibility and empowerment should be the guiding principals. However, policies are necessary so employees do not make mistakes that might be harmful to themselves or their fellow employees.
Now it seems appropriate that I provide my own policy for this blog, Portals and KM. All blogging policies should be personal so let me first provide a bit of context on myself and then I will follow with the policy which I am also placing in my “about” page. Like most bloggers I am not a journalist but, like many, I am a writer who has published in print media. I started out as an academic. As a psychologist, I did research on the effects of media on cognition. This continues to influences how I look at things and focuses some of my interests. I am excited about blogs as a new medium and interested in how they change cognition and communication. After writing a lot of academic stuff, I transitioned to business and served as a consultant for over twenty years. Here, I continued to publish in industry magazines and journals. My approach to writing blogs and the rules I bring to it are shaped by my prior academic and business writing, but with some key differences. So here is my policy.
I blog in two ways, as a professional during the week and, on the weekends, as someone who just enjoys stuff, like music and food and does not pretend to be an expert in any of these topics. During the work week, Monday through Friday, I see my blog as an extension of my former academic and business writing but in a much more informal voice. When I first started my blog, I was primarily writing about knowledge management, as this was my prior field and base of expertise, hence the name Portals and KM. I soon got more excited about blogs and have primarily written about them as a new form of business and personal communication. Like many bloggers, my blog serves as a staging ground for writing books. The first is now nearing completion. While my blog is certainly more informal than my print writing, when I am writing from this professional perspective I try to impose a partial “neutral point of view” and attempt to stay on topic.
While I certainly apply my professional biases, such as openness of communication, respect for the individual, breaking down of hierarchies, and allowing for human values in business, I attempt to avoid my political biases, nor do I cover political issues for this reason. They would be off topic for me. I certainly have strongly held political beliefs but I feel that I need to remain “neutral” as a business writer, just as a journalist should be as a news writer. This is just my own approach and I do not suggest that everyone take this position.
On the weekend, I shed my professional role and simply write about what interests me, usually music and food, but not limited to these topics. Art and literature are others. I sometimes experiment with creative writing. So my blogging is very different on the weekend in both topics and style. I get real pleasure in meeting people through my blog who share my interests in both sets of topics. Some people have asked why I don’t just have two blogs. Often the advice for bloggers is to pick a focus.
I keep one blog for several reasons. My blog is about me and, like most people, I have several sides, work and play. Also, I do not want to write about professional stuff on the weekend and I try to stay on topic during the week, that is harder. I certainly do not want to have a blog that I only post on weekends and another that I only post on during the week. With one blog, people can see the more complete person. But I make it clear when I am doing what, so it is not simply a jumble of stuff. I also find that some people come to my blog because of food and music and stay to look at the business stuff, and the reverse. Why split yourself in half? I am not suggesting everyone do this. Blogs are personal. This is just my personal approach.
I am not paid to write my blog. I recently added my first ad, a means to buy sports tickets, but it certainly has no effect on what I write. I occasionally do reviews of books or other products that people have provided to me free for review purposes and I always note that in my review. I also recommend many blogs and other things and many come from my friends. I usually note that, but then I am also more likely to like things that are done by people I already like. What is your blogging policy?