One of my old editors kept banging on about the 3Cs – credibility, credibility, credibility.
If there was one basic mistake in a front-page exclusive splash then that story was ruined in his eyes.
His attitude irritated the hell out of me when I was a reporter because I felt he couldn’t see the bigger picture – namely, it was a great story.
When I moved on to the newsdesk I understood why he was so angry – fielding calls all day from readers upset by a spelling mistake, bad grammar, or problems with the word puzzles (the biggest crime) is no fun, especially when you’re trying to get the next day’s paper out.
In their eyes, we had lost credibility. That was the biggest problem we faced.
Blogs are an extension to the newspaper, no matter what the philosophy behind them and no matter who is writing individual posts. They reflect directly on the newspaper, both the original posts themselves and the comments.
Whether comments are good, bad, abusive, puerile, informative, more eloquent than the original post, or simply someone having a bit of a laugh, we are still reading what is in written under the banner of that particular title.
Is it possible for guest bloggers or staff bloggers to claim: “I’m not speaking for the newspaper…”?
I realise it is written from a personal point of view, but surely everything written in under the name of a newspaper (in the paper and online) is done in the name of the that title - unless there is a whacking great disclaimer.
The traditional Letters to the Editor that feature in newspapers might be someone else’s point of view, but they are edited and subbed to make sure they meet the standards in the rest of the paper. The blogs should no different.
So the issue is not ad revenue, the number of comments a post receives or the amount of web traffic it generates.
Surely the crucial point is how are these blogs in general - particular posts, individual comments and the overall feel of them – are impacting on the credibility of that newspaper?
To me, that is the most important question. And it is one that can be asked of most media organisations with blogs.