February 15, 2005
Blogs vs. mainstream media
The New York Times examines how bloggers have now toppled two media giants in five months.
First was Dan Rather, who will leave the anchor chair at the "CBS Evening News" after bloggers questioned his network's reporting on President Bush's service in the National Guard.
Now Eason Jordan has resigned as chief news executive at CNN. The Times reports that various witnesses said Jordan, speaking in late January at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said he believed American troops had aimed at journalists and killed 12 of them. The exact wording Jordan used is unclear, the Times adds, as the forum has not released a videotape of the conference. For his part, Jordan released a statement saying, "I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists."
Rony Abovitz, of Hollywood, Fla., posted his account of Jordan's remarks on the forum's official blog, www.forumblog.org. Other bloggers quickly expressed outrage over the apparent verbal attack on American troops, according to the Times. The National Review web site, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post also weighed in.
One blogger, Edward Morrissey of captainsquartersblog.com, sees a victory for media accountability: "The moral of the story: the media can't just cover up the truth and expect to get away with it -- and journalists can't just toss around allegations without substantiation and expect people to believe them anymore."
Another blogger, Mark Coffey, was quoted in the Times as saying the mainstream media "is being held to account as never before by the strong force of individual citizens who won't settle for sloppy research and inflammatory comments without foundation, particularly from those with a wide national reach, such as Rather and Eason."
Other voices in the Times defended Jordan and expressed concern about blogs.
Steve Lovelady, a former newspaper editor and now managing editor of the Web site of The Columbia Journalism Review, pulled no punches, writing on line: "The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail." He said that Jordan cared deeply about the reporters on dangerous assignments and was "haunted by the fact that not all of them came back." His comments drew Lovelady into his own fray in the "blogosphere."
Abovitz, meanwhile, said about bloggers: "If you're going to do this open-source journalism, it should have a higher purpose. At times it did seem like an angry mob, and an angry mob using high technology, that's not good."
December 02, 2004
Blogs and business
The London, Ontario, Free Press describes how blogs have moved beyond the personal and political expressions of the technologically savvy and into the corporate world.
Free-lancer David Canton writes that corporations are using blogs to brand or position their products, develop relationships with target customer groups and complement their internal communications.
and Sun Microsystems go so far as to allow employees to blog publicly,
on either corporate or private topics. This individual blogging allows
the companies to broadcast a corporate personality, Canton writes.
However, Canton also warns that employee bloggers may reveal information which is confidential or which the company considers inappropriate. He cites the example of a Microsoft employee fired for posting on his blog a picture of pallets of new Apple Power Mac G5 computers sitting on a Microsoft loading dock. And see the Nov. 29 post about Delta Air Lines’ dismissal of a flight attendant who posted on her blog mildly revealing photos of herself in her Delta uniform inside an airliner cabin.
November 29, 2004
On the web, out of a job
The tale of a fired flight attendant illustrates how the content of a personal blog can lead to serious consequences.
The New York Times and The Times of London detail how Delta Air Lines fired Ellen Simonetti after she posted mildly provocative photos of herself on her blog, Diary of a Flight Attendant. (She has since added “Fired” to the title.) The photos showed Simonetti in her Delta uniform inside an airliner cabin.
Delta isn’t talking, but Simonetti told the New York Times that her supervisor said she was being terminated for "inappropriate photos in a Delta uniform." Simonetti filed a sex-discrimination complaint against Delta with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and is threatening to sue Delta for $10 million, claiming male employees aren’t fired for similar behavior, the Times reports.
Simonetti shouldn’t expect a remedy from employment or privacy law, said J. H. Verkerke, professor of law and director of the Program for Employment and Labor Law Studies at the University of Virginia. "Nonunion employees enjoy very little legal protection for their off-duty activities," Verkerke told the Times. He added that Simonetti gave up privacy claims by posting the photos on the Web.
Airlines are changing their corporate cultures in response to the earlier era of overt sexualization of flight attendants, Verkerke and an author of a career guide for flight attendants told the Times.
Simonetti, for her part, said she would have removed the photos or stopped blogging entirely if Delta had asked her to. ''I feel like if they had a problem with it they should have said something to me,'' she told the Times.
More, but less
With the election over, a Tennessee newspaper examines the future of blogs. The Knoxville News-Sentinel quotes Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds’ prediction that blogs will multiply but lose some of their individual impact.
"They'll grow more significant because more people will be reading them, and -- at least as important -- more people will be writing them. That will expand their impact considerably,” Reynolds predicts. "On the other hand, they'll grow less significant, in a way, because they'll grow more ordinary. Like other communications media, from newspapers to e-mail, they'll just become part of the background, and their particular thread of impact will be less noticeable."
November 28, 2004
Law.com's Blog Network
Law.com last week launched its Blog Network, commenting on and linking to blogs on legal topics. The blogs in the network include advertising sold by Law.com, but the bloggers retain editorial control of their sites.