19.11.03

"Down with blogging"

...is what BET.com vice president Retha Hill told the recent annual conference of the ONA Online News Association. As Editor & Publisher (editorandpublisher.com) reports this week, there was vibrant discussion on the place of blogging in the news agenda. While veteran blogger Andrew Sullivan posed the question of why pay for edited news when blogs deliver you the uncut version for free, others were not so ready to embrace the blogging culture.

The issue with blogging is that its essence is the speed of delivery and ease of contributed comment and debate.

From a news editorial perspective this is good from a live and direct and interactive point of view but poses potential legal problems if blogging goes unchecked. How do you police blogging on your news site and are you responsible if bloggers start defaming or posting obscene or irresponsible comment?

As the law stands it may not be easy to rely on a defence of innocent dissemination by showing you have sufficient controls in place to monitor output and correct untrue statements. Current judicial thinking on this matter also seems to be pushing the burden and therefore liability onto the content provider, site owner or ISP rather than the offending blogger.

Blogging does however have a legitimate place and is a great way to provide forum for free speech and debate beyond the constraints of an editorial agenda.

So Media Beak says Up with Blogging
as with all manner of publication you just need to ensure you use the wonderous legal disclaimers that are available and provide sufficient checks to ensure you don't cross the divide from encouraging free speech and debate to facilitating the publication of defamatory statements.

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