I was reading the paper yesterday and found an article about blogging and free speech. It made some very good points. Journalists, it said, are instilled with a sense of how their writing will affect the world. They know not to publish something without sources (it might be wrong), without researching the facts behind their story. They have a responsibility not to do things like advocate violence or other illegal acts.
Bloggers have taken much of the role of journalists in today's society. Whether famous bloggers or lay bloggers, much of the news around the world comes in the form of people just writing about what they know. Being on a blogging website, I obviously support such a thing. I think it's great that people are getting out of their boxes and expressing their opinions on everything from celebrity gossip to the latest legislation in Congress. It really promotes discussion and thought in a way that just watching the news really doesn't.
However, the article discussed how bloggers see their right to free speech in a different way than journalists. They see it as a means of expression, and everything they publish is only their opinion. This mentality, though, can get bloggers into some trouble. Publishing false information can result in a lawsuit against you. If you sully the reputation of a public figure and don't have the facts to back it up, you can be in a world of hurt.
For instance, this blogger was sued for posting confidential information, even though in doing so, she helped remove sensitive patient data from the world wide web. This blogger is being sued for allegedly causing a city manager to lose his job. This blogger was sued for libel resulting from rumors that someone was shuttling bribes between a judge and drug dealers. There are dozens of similar lawsuits against bloggers.
However, keeping these in mind, I do strongly encourage you to back your opinion up with facts, even though it is merely your opinion. After all, we're a progressive website, and how can you really form an opinion when you don't have all the facts in the first place?
Happy blogging everyone.