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Journalism instructor Steve Sloan and Professor Steve Greene had a wide-ranging conversation a few weeks ago about a number of topics, including blogging and where it fits into an historical perspective of journalism. Listen to the podcast at your leisure; these are some of my thoughts after listening.

Blogging is a free, quick way to publish a point of view on virtually any topic. The channel is in the hands of the author. Journalism training is not a prerequisite for registration. In the brief time it took to research links for this post, the counter of registered bloggers at WordPress increased by more than one thousand, a small sampling of what is occurring daily in the blogosphere.

But are bloggers the new journalists? Will they conform to the values taught by schools such as Journalism and Mass Communications at SJSU? Is it possible that academic journalism puts the new media of blogging into an old media box?

The insistence on transparency, that a blogger should not be anonymous, is a potential form of censorship in two ways.

First, if writing is one of your primary duties at your job, your employers may have expectations that most of what you write is owned by them. If you establish a website to blog and use your own name, following the rule of transparency, you might be unable to monetize this new communication tool. Using a pseudonym, you are free to capitalize on your talents.

Even if you do not write or produce creatively for your employers, they still may have the view that anything you publish, with your name exposed to the world, reflects back on your company. California is a state with at-will employment; many people sign contracts acknowledging this at-will status as part of the hiring process. Within the model of transparency, you could write a blog and lose your job. Your post doesn’t have to be offensive: if your boss adds up your real name with your post to determine that it doesn’t equal your company’s public image, you are a liability. Creating a memorable blog name allows you to speak your mind, writing without the PR filter of your place of employment.

Benjamin Franklin, printer, newspaper publisher and Founding Father, wrote under the pen name Silence Dogood. Historians have speculated that someone other than William Shakespeare wrote much of the material we currently attribute to Will. Not every newspaper article has a byline. A great deal of wisdom and poetry we treasure today was written by “anonymous.”

The value and veracity of a well-written story is not dependent on knowing the name of the author.

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One Response to “”

  1. yuhong Says:

    “you could write a blog and lose your job. Your post doesn’t have to be offensive: if your boss adds up your real name with your post to determine that it doesn’t equal your company’s public image, you are a liability.”
    The long term solution is PR should stop trying to control the message, of course.

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