Some writers post stories that are controversial and are attacked for them. A newspaper publisher told me he was happy when he was criticized. That surprised me until I learned the benefits of blog comments that can help writers increase business.
Bloggers and journalists often have trouble handling negative comments that are left online. I have been referred to as a bad journalist, a plagiarist and an extra left-wing liberal. Still I notice when that happens more people read the paper or my blogs or posts online. I have also learned that comments written after a story by readers can often be as informative as the original piece of writing.
Some businesses are afraid of negative posts and become intimidated or angry when they occur. On the other hand, it gives an owner an opportunity to defend the business. It’s difficult for a business to discuss the positive aspects of what it is doing on someone else’s blog without appearing to be bragging. On the other hand, a blog set up by a business that receives negative comments is an opportunity to provide more explanation about what the business really does or is about.
Individuals have used blogging to criticize individuals and students to evaluate professors. Many blogs have agendas, which can irritate some readers. In case involving New York University, a student named Alana Taylor wrote a criticism of one of her professors in an article for an online publication called Media Shift. That created a firestorm of controversy about what is or is not appropriate for a student to do in terms of publicly discussing an instructor’s presentations while still enrolled in the class. There are pros and cons to a student doing this, but for the most part many journalists believe that it is important to secure an individual’s permission to critique publicly at the time he or she is taking a class from that same individual. It is also important to consult the journalist handbook that may be on campus, as exists at NYU, and standard practices outlined by the Society for Professional Journalists, an organization that gives individuals in the media industry an opportunity to interact and learn about ethics in the business.
What is or is not appropriate to say or do in a blog often needs to be sorted out by weighing the consequences of writing something, especially if it is negative. That’s because of defamation laws and the violations of privacy that occur that undermines journalistic integrity. Given the discussions presented on blogging, it seems discretion is important in blogging, yet there is much to gain from legitimate criticism that a business can use to improve, defend or explain its position, its standards, its practices, services and products. Negative blog comments can hurt, but they can also bring opportunities for both the business and the individual to learn ethical standards and to gain new information. When in doubt, consult the blogger defamation law guide.