Setting up and getting a news blog set up is relatively simple. However getting your articles, news, pictures and enough content to make your blog or news website recognized, known and trusted by advertisers will get you wading into journalism waters and that is no child’s play. When you see a journalist, respect them. Journalism is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. In 2011, the United Nations affirmed that Journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. It is easy to see how risky some jobs are but when you consider simply just reporting the news as it is or entering into some countries where journalists are treated as threats, the business of reporting information is not just typing, copying others and pasting it on your website. It requires some serious training and empowerment.
As blogging continues to gather steam and traditional newspapers, radio and TV stations are transforming into multimedia houses by also launching their websites, attention garnered by personal blogs will continue to gather steam. The rise of strictly online news portals is an invitation to others to dream and to jump on the train but there is a clear need to also understand the kind of work, best practices and methods required to build a respected, authority blog on the web. While many credit the web for lowering the barrier to online publishing, there is still a lot of education and learnings when it comes to following the best practices and ethics of the work so as not to step into legal loopholes thereby putting themselves and those that love them in dangerous waters.
All across the world, bloggers and their blogs are being exposed to legal and dangerous side of journalism. According to Public Radio International, Islamic fundamentalists collated a list of eighty-four secular and atheist bloggers to be killed because they dared to oppose their views on Islamic fundamentalism. They have so far killed nine with many others already forced – out of fear – to close their blogs and social media accounts. In other climes it may not be that serious, popular Kenyan Blogger whom I met during WordCamp Kenya was arrested and docked for calling President Uhuru Kenyatta an “adolescent president”. Back in 2014, former Governor of Katsina State was reported to have ordered the detention of a student for criticising him on Facebook. There was also the case of a Facebook post turned slander when another Wasiu Ogunnoiki was arraigned yesterday last September 2 for allegedly for “engaging in acts capable of denting the image” of Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun on his personal Facebook account. Also recently is the case of a blogger, Seun Oloketuyi, for allegedly defaming the Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo. While there is a lot to be said about the freedom of the press and the practice journalism especially as a civil case, the events is simply an impetus to debunk common myths about blogging and the way people who share and post information online.
Blogging and most especially online publishing of articles, Facebook posts and images has continued to earn people a lot of enemies, it is worth examining the common myths that most bloggers believe and the reality check that exists in the world of business and legal frameworks.
Online, you can be anyone
It is common to think that because it is a comment online, you cannot be held responsible for it. The rising cases of defamation as a result of things written and posted online has continued to become important. Once you are and can be identified, you can be held responsible for what you share, post and write online. It doesn’t matter if you copied it from some place, sometime and another blogger, you can be held responsible. Libel and slander are the two common types of defamatory statements. While Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement.
Copy and Paste Blogging is ok
Some of the popularity of my articles and pieces are all over the internet and this are largely due to cope and paste phenomenon. In 2008, I had published a research document on consumer behaviour on social media though SlideShare. However much more of the online download is on Academia where it is presently part of the top three downloaded materials but I didn’t upload that. When you copy and post articles, images and research from others without attribution, it is not cool and you may get sued.
When you are small, they may ignore you, as you become bigger and make more money, people will notice you and your headache will grow. Best practice is to cull some parts and attribute to the source. Unless you notify and attribute the source and obtain permission, you are not allowed to simply take a news item, other people’s gist, music, videos or articles and post it on your site. Yes, you may be helping them advertise their work, but you are still not right and may be in a legal jam if the person decides to take you on.
If shows up through Google, you can use it
The common notion is that when you find and article, image, music through Google it is ok to use, share, tweak and position it as your work. Again, No. Google clearly posits users are responsible for what and how they use the information obtained via its numerous platforms including Google Search.
For images, best practice is to go to websites with royalty free images and use images from there or subscribe to websites with stock images. The other thing is to ensure you actually attribute to the actual source you used. According to the international copyright convention any creative work immediately is copyrighted even when there is not notification on it.
Traffic is everything
In the quest for traffic and information online, it is summon practice to look for information everywhere and anywhere. However businesses are already getting very smart and are associating with bloggers and business looking to build authority rather than traffic. Instead of blogs looking to build traffic as the utmost aim, best practice is to chase authority and all other things including traffic will naturally follow.
In this rapidly evolving digital economy, sharing is assumed to be caring but when traditional business comes to come into it, we need to be careful the way we develop, share and use information online.