Digital Influence Weekly – My Title is Blogger, but I’m a Journalist at Heart



Wasn’t I just talking about new designs in social media last week? Well Twitter has now rolled out their new design for your browser and mobile devices. Along with moving around where all information and tweets were placed, they have a #Discover feature with MANY great options for discovering new people to follow and new topics to pay attention to. I really like how they feature top stories being discussed on Twitter. You also get back a chunk of your background design real estate, so yes, that means it’s time for a new background. Have you switched to the new design yet? 

And now, the Digital Influence Weekly…

I wish my blog posts were worth 2.5 million dollars. Oregon blogger Crystal Cox has been ordered to pay that amount to an investment firm she wrote about in a highly negative fashion. The firm maintains that her posts were defamatory to them. The post that got Cox in the most trouble had a more serious and “factual tone” because she had an inside source leaking her information about the firm. Because she refuses to reveal the source, she can’t prove anything was factual which would declassify her post as defamatory. 

That final decision aside, the real deal is that Oregon and their media shield laws do not recognize blogging or most other forms of internet news as real media or their authors as real journalists. That means, in Oregon, you could be subpoenaed to reveal your sources if your story is online. So online only news such as The Huffington Post or CultureMap would not be protected by some states’ media shield laws. That’s not the case everywhere however. This Seattle Weekly post explains some media shield laws do in fact include blogging and internet venues as real media. It’s an interesting read, so take a few minutes to review it.

What are the takeaways? 

First, be careful what you write and be prepared to back up anything you state. Whether or not the courts can hold your writings against you, the court of public opinion can do plenty of damage. 

Second, regardless of how the courts classify them, treat bloggers as you would journalists. Evaluate bloggers as you would anyone else to determine if they are reputable, if they have the right audience you need and if they are appropriate for your company’s media relations activities.