I was reading La Contra Revolución blog (as I usually do because he actually tolerates comments in opposition, unlike Babalu blog where my comments are reviewed and never posted) and blogger Gusano writes about his thoughts on the recent rumors that spread about Fidel Castro being dead and all. A recent article by Miguel Cossio, news editor at channel 41, America TeVe, prompted Gusano to respond to some very important points about the ethics of reporting news.
Journalistic ethics, of course, do not apply to blogs, but nevertheless provide sound arguments about the responsibility bloggers have to their readers (and bloggers who report news should assume they have a readership).
The website of the Society of Professional Journalists provides their Code of Ethics which summarizes very well what the goals of critical bloggers should be. That is of course if bloggers wish to be the "critical eye" for their readers.
Those ethics do not rule out the use of rumors, or "unofficial sources of information [that] can be equally valid." But, ethical standards do compel reporters to "[i]dentify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability." And, that is a responsibility (if a blogger chooses to accept it) that readers are entitled to.
Miguel Cossio also makes excellent points about the responsibility reporters (or bloggers) have to their readers:
"When the media substitute news for rumor they violate the premise that makes them the critical eyes of society and could lose the confidence entrusted in them by its citizens."
But, that only refers to those who write blogs based on that opportune premise. In my opinion, I suspect some blogs do not care much for their readers, but instead prioritize their self-interests.
Cossio also criticizes blogs for the recent rumors of Fidel's "death", but points out two. He writes: "Babalublog.com and perezhilton.com were perhaps the ones who most fueled the collective hysteria." He describes PerezHilton.Com as a "factory of rumors", but doesn't extend that descriptor to the people of Babalu blog, who have repeatedly posted rumors of Fidel Castro being near death or dead already since August of last year (with many more rumors to come I'm sure).
According to a May 29th poll, 61% of Babalu blog readers (from 318 voters) believe Fidel Castro is already dead.