to be sued or not to be sued

The more I thought about the freedom of the Internet, the more I found myself terrified of that holes in the system. What do I mean? The rules are so hazy when it comes to reporting through online media that it’s almost scarier. How are we truly supposed to know if we go too far? How is someone not formally trained as a journalist supposed to know? What do we do if we report on a free blog, but then are being sued for millions of dollars?

It’s scary. Very scary. So I got to reading. I read a specific case that interested me about a blogger named Chris Moody. Blogging is particularly interesting because anyone can simply sign up for an account and start writing. In my last post, I mentioned FFIA and how people can be considered a journalist without actually being one. Chris Moody gives great advice and insight to the problem with his own, personal experience. He goes in depth about how he actually researched his multi-million dollar case. He even says that he found there have been 19 million cases of people that have been sued over negative reviews.

When thinking about blogging, and even social media, there are a few steps to avoid getting into a rock and a hard place. The most important and the simplest way of facing the situation is to really think about the context of what is being published. The context is what’s most important. You can approach a story from multiple angles, but you must be careful the way you produce the information.

There are thin lines between what is acceptable and what can be taken the wrong way. What’s important to acknowledge is that it’s real. You must responsibly report and review your material as to not step on anyone’s toes. If you don’t, well, say goodbye to your career and your financial stability.

TGIF / tips on not getting sued

As the Internet gives literally anyone access to report on any topic they choose, it also opens a lot of questionable doors. Traditional journalism has tons of rules and limits. I mean, TONS. There quite possibly is an ethical dilemma you could face in almost every story. There are physical guidelines that you must take into consideration. Aside from ethics, there’s a rigid format a journalist must follow, a list of things to cover and a list of things to not cover. If a journalist reports something false, there can be serious consequences. Consequences can stem from being sued to losing your career. It’s a touchy business. 

But how has it changed since the Internet has begun to be an outlet for tons of reports every day? They can come from journalists to high school kids. Who is monitoring the content? Who gets to say what is right, wrong or too far? 

Cleland Thom provides e-books that cover these topics. I’m actually thinking about purchasing one or both of these. The books elaborate on proper techniques to avoid conflict and to ensure the responsibility as a journalist that is experimenting and moving to online media. The book actually has specific cases from recent years. 

Over the next few days, I will elaborate on this topic. I’ve found it to be very complicated, and it can’t all be summed up in one post. Such legal issues like copyright, harassment, libel and more all affect a journalist’s way of writing. What needs to be acknowledged is how far is too far on the Internet? Can information truly be free and up for grabs? Can there really be rules for the free world wide web? 

On another note, let’s call it Friday and brainstorm what is being done, what can be done and what is impossible to do. Please let me know about your experiences or additional readings on this topic.