Monday, December 15, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #6 - Ethics In Blogging

We took a hit this year.

Only one of us sinned but we all took the hit.

On July 1st, Georgia Politics Unfiltered's Andre Walker reported officials from the Democratic Party of Georgia pressured powerful political ally the Georgia Association of Educators to remove their endorsement of Senate candidate Rand Knight. The story contained only anonymous sources with no additional corroboration. Two nights later, the story vanished into the vapors.

The stink did not so easily disappear. Before the removal, the story was repeated on two of the state's most prominent political blogs. The furor and subsequent removal led these blogs to either remove the story completely or issue a correction. It also led a suddenly silent Andre to issue his own retraction and apology.

The passive "mistakes were made" nature of this retraction did not pass unnoticed.

Less than one month later, Andre once again made blogosphere news when local gadfly publication Atlanta Progressive News broke the news he published positive stories on Democratic congressman David Scott without disclosing he was receiving payment from Scott's campaign.

Walker's initial response was the public record of FEC reports were his disclosure. When pressed, Walker finally issued a statement listing not only Scott's payment but a virtual resume of gloat showing his "support" for Democrats over the previous two years.

The arrogance of the disclosure statement did not pass unnoticed.

As predicted by some, the two sins made very real the specter portrayed by the traditional media chicken littles - the blogosphere has no rules, no ethics and it cannot be trusted. The sudden tangible nature of these previously esoteric ideas led to a raucous, free-wheeling discussion which crissed and crossed from blog to blog.

The fires eventually cooled and if some understanding was not reached, all agreed the conversation must continue.

That the original sinner did not participate in these conversations and instead allowed others to defend a community stained by his actions did not pass unnoticed.

Time will tell if the actions of one blogger will be used as a cautionary tale in future judgments of the community, but as we will shortly see, the power of the medium cannot be contained and retrograde movements can be followed by massive leaps forward.

Proceed to #5


Anonymous said...

The sure and certain fallout is that Andre Walker's BLOG Georgia Politics Unfiltered is "drifting" into irrelevancy (pardon the pun).

As the frequency of him posting on his site diminishes and the site goes days without any comments, he now regularly posts inflammatory items on Peach Pundit because no one is reading his own BLOG.

Andre's demise started with his campaign in early 2007 for a City of South Fulton with equally dubious omissions in disclosure, culminating with a "sore loser" ethics complaint filed against Fulton Commissioner Bill Edwards with the Secretary of State's Inspector General who failed to carry Andre's water.

Though Edwards was far from innocent, if you threaten the king with a sword, you better take him out.

Andre's discovered at a young age that actions in this case words have consequences.

Now he suffers from chronic withdrawal as he no longer receives the fix of attention he so desperately sought...

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