12 Basic Ethical Rules for Kenyan Bloggers
Larry Pryor, executive editor of the University of Southern California‘s Online Journalism Review, said that while many bloggers maintain they are not journalists, “bloggers have become too important to brush off this question” of journalism ethics.
While many Kenyan bloggers might be one-person shops, Pryor said he believes whether bloggers “like it or not, they have to follow ethics.” He noted that bloggers seem to want it both ways — to be taken seriously, to make an impact on discourse, all while being free of traditional rules. “If they are going to be taken seriously, they have to follow [ethical] rules.” Those rules include providing attribution and avoiding plagiarism, he said.
So below are the most common basic ethical rules for Kenyan bloggers to follow.
1. It is your right to voice your opinion. Freedom of Speech, Information, Publication and Expression are basic elements of a democracy. As a Kenyan Blogger it is your obligation to use and protect these rights at all times.
2. Be critical of everything, even your self. As a Kenyan Blogger you are part of the creation of free knowledge creation and discussion. It is your obligation to shed critical light on what goes on in society as well as how Content Creators, including your self, are presenting these events.
3. Use your power to protect. As a Kenyan Blogger you can shine a light on injustices and neglect perpetrated on individuals and groups. Use this power wisely.
4. Tell the truth at all times. With great power comes great responsibility. Words and images are powerful weapons that should be used with the utmost care. When publishing content, present the facts as they are, even if you disagree with them.
5. Present your opinion as your opinion. Your opinion and interpretation of events is important and should be shared but must never be confused with hard facts or data. When voicing your own or someone else’s opinion or interpretation, always state it as such. Never present opinion, interpretation or conjecture as fact.
6. State your allegiances to stay independent. To preserve your own trustworthiness and integrity as a Kenyan Blogger, always state any relation, financial, personal, political or otherwise, to the subject or topic you are presenting. Bias, even if it is only perceived as such, immediately discredits your account unless you warn of it first. In simple terms; if you have a political affiliation that colours your judgment, say so; if you are employed by or received money from the subject you are covering, say so; if you were given gifts or preferential treatment in return for a positive review or commentary, say so. By stating these facts of allegiance your opinions gain informational value that would otherwise be lost in suspicion of bias.
7. Reveal your sources unless doing so can harm your sources. Always reveal your sources to ensure transparency unless doing so may put the source in harms way. In ensuring transparency you lend credibility to your own content as well as provide others to further pursue the facts of the matter.
8. Be critical of your sources and seek independent verification. Even if you are ethical and unbiased there is no guarantee your sources are. Before presenting information as fact, always check your source’s credibility and seek independent verification of these facts. If none can be found, state so clearly.
9. Always give credit where credit is due. Give proper attribution when using, quoting or basing your content on the work of others. In other words present quotes as quotes, link to original articles, give photo and illustration credit to the original creator etc.
10. Always preserve the intended meaning of a given statement. When quoting or paraphrasing a statement always ensure that the intended meaning is communicated. Never edit or change a statement in such a way that the intended meaning is changed.
11. Give your opponent a chance to respond. The very foundation of an open discussion is to give either side an opportunity to voice their opinion. Always provide an opportunity for your opponent to present the case of the opposing side.
12. Admit and correct your mistakes immediately. When an inaccuracy or error in your content is discovered by you or someone else, correct it immediately and announce that you have done so to ensure that those who base their opinions and other content creation on the incorrect information have a chance to make corrections as well. It is your duty to uphold the truth and present fact even if that means admitting you were wrong.