The Oconee County Observations blog is written by Lee Becker (2015). Lee Becker states that he writes the blog as a hobby. Although Becker has a Ph. D in Mass Communication, the most current degree is from 1974. He does not state his current occupation and does not appear to be a professional journalist. Becker does list many accomplishments and awards to contribute to his character. These awards and accomplishments help to portray him in a favorable light and as being trustworthy.
It is apparent that Becker is involved in the community of Oconee County. He is on the board of directors for the Farmers’ Market as a customer representative and has a vested interest in the Farmers Market, therefore he is biased towards its success. Becker does seem to stay within the SPJ’s Code of Ethics (2014). He seems to report information in a truthful manner and for the purpose of informing people of current events in the area. The topics discussed pose minimal harm, they merely inform of upcoming events or current business of the county. Being that Becker is a customer representative on the Farmers’ Market board, it does not appear that he benefits financially from the Farmers’ Market. One could argue that his blog hinges upon advertising for the Farmers’ Market. Is it breaking the code of ethics of acting independently? I would say no. If this were breaking the code of ethics under the umbrella of advertising, then half of our news stories would also fall under the same umbrella. Becker is transparent in his blogs. He has posted videos to back up some information in his blog and to give the reader a multimedia experience. There are also links and various reports and other evidence to support some of his postings where applicable.
In an article titled E.B. White on the Responsibility and Role of the Writer by Maria Popova, E.B. White said that a writer should write things they “fancy (2012).” I think Becker does just that. He seems to take pride in living in Oconee County and is making a difference in his community. He openly asks for comments and questions. Becker states that he intends to be transparent and seems to show good judgment in the blogs he posts. The topics are well-balanced and informative. If I lived in his community, I think I would follow Becker’s blogs to keep up-to-date with things.
Citizen journalist and bloggers have the advantage of writing for their community and not writing for someone that pays them. They can be more transparent and free from political bias, although we all carry some form of bias. These citizen journalist and bloggers do, however, still have the responsibility to follow the SPJ’s Code of Ethics to a degree. When they take on the role of reporting information for the community, they have an ethical responsibility to report things accurately. The disadvantage a citizen journalist or blogger may have is they may not have the education or training to report or research information thoroughly nor do they have the resources a professional journalist may have. They also have to build a reputation for themselves and are not able to rely upon the name of the media source that a professional would have. As the citizen journalist or blogger grows a following, they could be seen as more credible establishing a good reputation. As the ways in which we are able to gather news stories increase, we have to be more conscientious of the sources. I have been guilty of looking up an article and not checking out the source. It’s important to increase awareness so that news stories and their sources are looked at closely and information is accurately reported.
Becker, L. (2015, March 8). Retrieved from Oconee County Observations: http://oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/2015/03/hard-labor-creek-reservoir-board-turns.html#links
Popova, M. (2012, April 17). E.B. White on the Responsibility and Role of the Writer. Retrieved from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/eb-white-on-the-responsibility-and-role-of-the-writer/256005/
Society of Professional Journalist. (2014, September 6). Retrieved from Society of Professional Journalist: http://www.spj.org/pdf/spj-code-of-ethics.pdf