World Press Freedom Day celebrates the freedom of expression especially when it comes to journalism. On that note we had discussed sometime ago how blogging and journalism can complement each other and how blogging adds value to the lucrative field of journalism.
Freedom of expression is an important fundamental right and we exercise this right in our day-to-day lives, through the exchange of ideas, opinions and information. Blogging and making use of social media is one of our favourite ways to do so.
The ICCPR (International Covenent on Civil and Political Rights) holds that,
"everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of their choice".
Communication in the digital age has led to the evolution of the Internet as a medium that encompasses everything from personal one-to-one emails, social networks and reaching out to large audiences globally. Blogging has become global phenomenon to the point where there are now more than 20 million blogs being tracked around the world!
Bloggers leading movements
Our close-knit community of bloggers have enabled and led several online movements working together. The #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge has inspired several to put their thoughts on the blog for the world to read, our Ebook carnival has turned bloggers into authors with ready readers in the community, #CauseAChatter has given people a platform to voice their concerns on causes close to them and use creativity to represent social issues. Blogging communities certainly contribute to a better world.
All of this has been made possible via a digital medium! It is incredible to think that such an impact can be created simply through creativity and freedom of expression.
Simple ethical guidelines to blog by
While we have the freedom to express our thoughts, it is always good to have a few guidelines to follow to make the best of our blogging journey and flourish. In a digital space where trolls, hate speech, false information is on the rise, having these guidelines helps us stick to the true joy of blogging and expressing. We needn't agree with what everyone says, but keeping freedom of expression in mind, we certainly can engage in an ethical way or choose not to engage with what doesn't resonate with us. As Voltaire said,
"I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Truthfulness- We have our platform and our voice which is a powerful tool to create change. That being said, what we put out there for the world to read must always be truthful. Blogging, like journalism is public. It goes without saying that checking our resources, getting facts right, respecting others' opinion will take us a long way. We are responsible for earning our audience's trust.
Respecting privacy and not spamming- Promoting our blog tastefully is a skill. Unwanted spamming is never appreciated. People want value from us and solutions to what they are seeking. Targetting the right audience with genuine solutions through our content, while respecting their privacy is key.
Using our power to protect- Going back to the first point, we have a platform and a voice so why not use it to share our views on injustices that tug at our heartstrings? Our words have much more power than we think they do.
Don't confuse opinion with facts- When we are passionate about something, the line between fact and opinion tends to become faint. We have the right to express our opinion but we should never forget to present an opinion, interpretation and conjecture as just that and not a fact.
Admit and correct mistakes graciously- We all make mistakes sometimes. If there is an inaccuracy in something we posted and is pointed out by someone or we ourselves discovered it, there's no harm in correcting it and annoucing that it has been corrected. It only reinforces our authenticity and sincerity.
Be inclusive in your language- Whether it is adding pronouns to your bio or making your blog accessible, or something as simple as adding captions to our videos, inclusivity in our actions helps us build a socially integrated society.
Never lose sight of your vision- We may have begun content creation with a vision in mind. It is always a good idea to go back to that and remind ourselves of what it is we want to achieve via our work and if it is in alignment with the greater good.
Not being mindful of these guidelines can put blogging under attack and threaten the real value it has to offer to the world. On World Press Freedom Day, perhaps we could perhaps go back and look at our content and see what changes we can make so that what we create remains true to its purpose.