Fired for blogging

Chez Pazienza, a producer at CNN was fired for failing to ask permission from his bosses to write his personal blog. A story in the most recent American Journalism Review looks into guidelines for personal blogging at news outlets.

…Pazienza’s story is significant as an indication of just how far the news industry still needs to go when it comes to dealing with the burgeoning array of journalists’ personal blogs. The shocking part of Pazienza’s story isn’t that he got fired, but that CNN relied on a single, sweepingly broad line in its employee handbook to do it. As Pazienza himself wrote in a blog on the Huffington Post, a “network which prides itself on being so internet savvy – or promotes itself as such, ad nauseam – should probably specify blogging and online networking restrictions in its handbook.”

There’s no doubt journalists are starting up their own personal blogs more these days. The AJR article notes that Jonathan Dube, of Cyberjournalist.net keeps a comprehensive list of journalist’s blogs. Dube is also president of the Online News Association and director of digital media for CBC News. Of Dube’s list the AJR  says:

…in the beginning, he was able to keep track of almost all journalists with personal blogs. Now, though, there are just too many, and in order to keep the list up to date, he converted it into a wiki about two years ago, allowing journalists to add their names. Dube says his count now sits at about 150 and grows by one to five each week. This obviously is not an official total, since some bloggers aren’t aware of Dube’s tally.

But when it comes down to it, the total count of blogging journalists isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that more and more journalists are starting personal blogs without specific policies to help keep the bloggers and their employers out of trouble.

But journalists are blogging more for their employers as well. The AJR points to the following data:

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s 2008 State of the News Media report, “Fully 95% of the top 100 newspapers included blogs from reporters in March 2007, up from 80% in 2006.” What’s more, the study found that “the number [of] unique visitors to blog pages on the 10 most popular newspaper sites grew 210% from December 2005 to December 2006,” making up 13 percent of total traffic and drawing in a rapidly ballooning amount of advertising revenue. With editors across the country trying to take advantage of these realities, blogging for the boss has become almost ubiquitous in today’s newsrooms.

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