Should bloggers have a code of ethics like journalists do? My last post on Personal Branding Blog about Four Reasons You Aren’t Getting Book Publicity from Bloggers caused a stir concerning bloggers having or not having a code of ethics. Here are some interesting quotes from the comments section:

Susan de la Vergne commented:

“If a writer pays you to review a book, it’s conceivable that would pre-dispose you to review it favorably. That’s unethical (and you did list it under the header disavowing ethics in the “new media”). But there are enough dubious ethics in too many walks of life to countenance another one, even something as small as this one might seem.”

juepucta commented:

“Blogging might not have one, but it should. It should have had one implemented “yesterday”. Otherwise it wil never move out of the kids’ table.”

I responded:

“Why should they? Bloggers are not a regulated industry because they don’t get paid. Why should I follow rules when I’m not on a contract? That’s like someone telling you there are rules about how you clean your house that MUST be followed.”

Then, Tony V. responded:

Hey Monica, let me answer your question when you ask “why should they?’ (have a code of ethics.

It’s the same reason that journalists came up with one in the first place. Because back when the press began to realize how they influenced the public they realized THEY COULD DO REAL DAMAGE TO PEOPLE’S REPUTATIONS BY PRINTING THINGS THAT ARE FALSE UNDER THE GUISE OF IT BEING TRUE.

Bloggers can’t enjoy the benefit of instant credibility through publishing, and then ignore the responsibility that should come with the benefit. Like it or not, when readers see something “published” it tends to have at least the appearance of credibility.

So when a blogger writes a rumor about someone (especially if they’re famous) as if it’s fact,NOTHING HAPPENS TO THAT IDIOT BLOGGER, meanwhile it could take weeks before the rumor is dispelled, and the person who got slandered could lose money, reputation, relationships, even a career because some fool thought it would be fun to slander them or their blog.

SO YES, you should have a code of ethics if you enter the public sphere. When bloggers do mature past 14 years old, they will realize that printing things in public should be about more than some kind of big-headed power trip.

Am I missing something? Should bloggers have a code of ethics similar to the one journalists have? How would a code of ethics be enforced with independent bloggers?