Daniel Cavanagh writes a blog called GerritsenBeach.net, and he is the topic of a story in The New York Times this morning. Cavanagh is practicing citizen journalism, and it’s pissing off his neighbors.
Here’s what I find fascinating: A part of the ire directed at him comes from a desire that Cavanagh do what members of the community think a (non-modified) journalist should do, e.g. (simplistically) get “both sides of the story.” He doesn’t seem particularly interested in such a craft. Nor does he need to be. If there can be said to an ethic of blogging that applies to all bloggers (and their readers), it is surely “my blog, my rules.” I have argued that bloggers (and blogging journalists) ought to make those rules clear because transparency is an ethical standard that arises from the medium itself, i.e. you don’t really have a choice if you want to be taken seriously.
Cavanagh has a comments policy. I could find no blogging policy. It’s time to write one.
And let me gently suggest that applying the craft as articulated in The Elements of Journalism is just another good idea if one’s goal is to be taken seriously. It’s certainly not a requirement. There are plenty of examples of successful, serious, and influential web projects that adhere to different standards. But it might be OK to listen to the complainers to the extent that they seek a journalistic standard of some sort.
Otherwise, good job. I’ll be mentioning this site to my students.
My advice for the complainers in Gerritsen Beach: Start your own blogs.