Change of Plans / Blogging Responsibly

I’ve been doing the one indulgence-a-day plan for about five days now, and in light of establishing that I am very much capable of eating one treat without entering a downward spiral, I think I’m going to go ahead and count calories for bit. The thing, I’m one of those people that the longer they don’t eat well for, the worse their eating habits get, if that makes sense. For example, on Tuesday I had Cookie Bars (no big deal), on Wednesday I had Jingles (also not a big deal), but Friday I had ice cream and yesterday I sat down an a quart of ice cream AND went out to dinner. Not because I was looking to binge (and I didn’t eat much else besides said ice cream and dinner), but I just thought nothing of sitting down and eating a quart of ice cream in light of my recent splurges. Just didn’t care. Today? Pie for a midmorning snack. And, I skipped my upper body workout, because I tend to get sluggish in every other part of my life when I don’t eat well. Peh. So, I guess I am capable of having one treat without going totally crazy, but I also know that I’m not a person who can eat a treat a day without seeing negative effects in other parts of my healthy living-lifestyle.  And, while people with normal eating habits may have periods of time where they can’t eat healthy 100% of the time (i.e., vacation), most “healthy” people don’t eat a treat a day, and follow a day with a treat with a day without one. Yep. Of course, in light of having pie, am I rushing out to the grocery store for treats? Nope! So, improvement noted. Weight gain also noted: 137 this morning. Yeesh.

So, I know this blog is usually me boo-hooing about my weight and such, but since my current apathy regards my eating habits and my weight, today, I decided I wanted to talk about something else today: citizen journalism, i.e., blogging.

As a Journalism student and someone looking to enter the field professionally AND someone who is studying journalistic ethics, citizen journalism is something I have hell of strong sentiments about. Granted, most of you are probably fellow food bloggers, and thus anything you or I write isn’t exactly going to completely destroy the reputation of a public figure or potentially violate any journalistic ethics, but it is my view that bloggers still have certain responsibilities to their audiences, be they newsgatherers, food reviewers, casual film critics or otherwise.

Thus, here are a few suggestions for those of you looking to blog ethically or, at the very least, in a helpful manner.

1) Minimize Harm: Hey, I love linking to other blogs, don’t you? Sharing awesome blog finds is a cool thing, and a nice way to help a fellow blogger get traffic. But, whenever you link to another blog, please make sure you know who you’re sending your audience along to; they are a lot of people on the internet who are a) gullible and/or b) very desperate for solutions and take any kind of hope they find on the internet as gospel. So, when you find that Acai Berry blog author who is just OMG SO EXCITED SHE LOST 50 POUNDS IN 3 MINUTES WITH ACAI BERRY!, take a moment to determine whether this blog is a) a safe place to send your readers and b) legitimate. If you haven’t already heard, there has been a recent rash of weight loss-oriented companies creating fake blogs as a way to promote their products, so take the time to double check whether your new, potential blogosphere buddy is actually real.

2) Act Independently: Is anyone here familiar with Avenue Q? I am not really, because I am not a person who is cultured. I sit around on my ass and watch re-runs of The Office and scoff at the prospect of “musicals” in a “theater” filled with people who wear “monocles.” Anyway, there is a song in said musical, I think, that goes “Everyone is a little bit racist!” This is true. Everyone is also a little bit biased, and it’s YOUR job to disclose said biases, particularly when they involve conflicts of interest due to commerical influences. Did you get that tasty, tasty chocolate you’re reviewing for free from the company that makes said delicious product? Then, you are obligated to inform your readers because, like it or not, the fact that you got it for free may have influenced your opinion, whether you realize it or want to admit it or not. Also, this is now the law, so just do it.

3) Be Accountable: Everyone is a little bit biased, and everyone also makes mistakes (except me, as I am perfect and amazing). Did you promote a product that actually contains cyanide? It sucks to be you, but it’s your job to inform the public of the truth so as to prevent further harm. Did a person call you out on a factual error you made on your blog via a comment on a post? Don’t delete said comment; encourage dialogue. THIS IS THE INTERNET, NOT CHINA, and if you censor legitimate criticism (key word: legitimate; don’t feel as though you need to feed the trolls) then you’re not doing anyone any favors.

If you’re interested in the source of some of these rules/interested in more ethical guidelines pertaining to journalism, check out the Code of Ethics produced by the Society of Ethical Journalists. Also, I hope this did not come off as super pretentious; I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO BE A BETTER BLOGGER BLOO HOO HOO.