Jumping the gun?


Like Simon I’ve been following the outpouring of blog posts about “Wal-marting across America“.

There’s no value in me recounting the whole saga, as that’s not what this post is about. I’ll just point you to the original story in BusinessWeek, and the results of a quick Technorati search.

I’ve been reading and listening about this with the comments of Shel Holtz in FIR #180 ringing in my ears. Shel made some very valid points about the “Apple wants to trademark the word podcast” scandal that never was

Shel was observing that while journalists check and double check their facts, while bloggers tend to post without checking their facts carefully enough. He was looking back at the blogosphere coverage about the Apple cease and desist letter – most of which was inaccurate as Apple wasn’t actually looking to trademark the word anyway, and the cease and desist letter was referring to a different term to podcast.

I was thinking about this when I spotted Constantin’s post, where he raises a doubt about whether Edelman is really behind the Wal-marting across America blog.

I don’t know about the facts of this, and won’t be posting an opinion as it would be ill-informed, only being based on my reading of the original BusinessWeek report and subsequent coverage.

I’m sure more will emerge on this over the next few days, and the true picture will emerge.
The point for me is that the connected nature of social media means messages travel faster than ever before – whether they’re valid or not.

As bloggers we have a collective responsibility to be clear about the information we’re posting and its provenance. That’s why trackbacks and links are so important to social media.

But just quoting or linking to another blog can’t be relied on as being a source on which to base a post, can it? Surely you’ve got to go right back to the source of the information to be really confident in your facts. Sometimes this will be an online resource that’s there for all to see (and link to), or on other occasions it’ll be offline research or information.

As a blogger your credibility to your audience depends on your posts being trustworthy (as well as informative, entertaining etc). Being really thorough and transparent about your sources is the only way to do this – otherwise as a blogger you risk becoming a cog in the social media rumour mill, which can only be a bad thing for your reputation as a blogger or communications professional.