A few months ago I commented on the firing of Washington Post reporter Michael Tunison after he identified himself as a contributor to the Kissing Suzy Kolber blog. Another blog has done some research as to how other newspapers would feel if one of its reporters blogged, on their free time, outside of their official duties.
If I ran a newsroom, reporters would be placed on a different plane when it comes to their off-hours blogging. I think the response in the Bloggasmpiece by Vickie Holbrook at the Idaho-Press Tribune hits it on the head;
“A reporter can’t turn his credibility on or off as he enters and leaves the newspaper office,” she wrote. “So where do you draw the line on what’s OK and what’s not?…Politics would not be acceptable. Gardening would be.”
I agree with Holbrook. I would not have a problem if I were an editor and a reporter wanted to blog outside the office. I would allow them to do so, under the following conditions:
1. The reporter MUST identify himself/herself. It really bothers me that some bloggers hide their identity by posting as “Anonymous” or via a pseudonym. If you have the guts to post your opinion, show the guts to identify the source of that opinion. Keep your interests out in the open.
2. I would not allow reporters to blog on topics relating to their beat. This makes it difficult for general news reporters to blog on many issues because it may one day become part of a story. It may be easier for sports reporters to blog on topics in the news than news reporters blogging on sports. At least as long as the sports reporter doesn’t one day become part of the general news staff.
I do agree that allowing reporters to blog provides them with an outlet to hone their skills and display some creativity that their newspaper beats may not afford them.
When it comes down to it, it’s up to the reporter to decide whether blogging is worth the consequences his or her opinions may bring to his or her job. I guess Freedom of Specch can come with a price.