There’s been several attempts to make bloggers more accountable. Previous attempts have been mostly about making it clear to the readers what is editorial content and what is advertisement. A blogger I’m following recently wrote about a new attempt to promote ethical guidelines among Norwegian bloggers. It was called “the common sense-poster”, which makes it natural to compare it “the be cautious poster”. This is the ethical code of practice for the Norwegian press. It may sound like a good idea, but I’m not sure it is.
This suggestion came from the editor of a women’s magazine and it is supposed to help young girls who struggle with their body image, and especially eating disorders. So bloggers are encouraged to never reveal details like the size of their portions if they write about cooking or fitness, how much they weigh, or what size they wear.
This makes me wonder because this sounds like a new battle in an old war. Girls are exposed to impossible standards already with Barbie and sit coms on Disney, Nickelodeon, reality shows on the other channels, and by the time they reach their teens many kids feel the pressure from the fashion industry. Now bloggers are expected to consider their young readers. There are some bloggers that have crossed some lines, and many of the “pink bloggers” that make their living blogging about fashion break the law by publishing advertisement as regular posts, but how much responsibility should we have for the reader?
The ethical code of practice for the Norwegian press was revised about a year ago after there had been many cases where the press had done the same, and the editor of the journalist’s union paper was just one of many in the media that admitted to stealing an article. It was in his case from The Atlantic. The coverage of the refugee crisis and politics in general has also revealed varying degree and success with evaluating their sources. They sometimes fail to ask the most obvious questions, such as the human interest story about a blind 110 year old man who had partly walked and partly been carried by his daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren from Afghanistan to Germany. They supposedly covered the more than 5 500 km in just one month. The Norwegian newspaper picked this up from another news outlet, but they never seemed to be concerned with asking themselves how realistic it was.
I was accused of being naive when I pointed to the fact that parents have a responsibility for what their children are exposed to. I used to work as a teacher and in my experience children pick up a lot of information from the news, but only fractions and they probably add speculations from friends and other unreliable sources. So I talked to them about some of the things that happened around them. That changed things and I wonder why it’s naive of me to expect parents to help build a positive body image and to restrict their children’s activities online. I don’t like the young bloggers that write about fashion. Some of them are being helped by mainstrem media when they give them positive exposure and call them good role models, even though some of these bloggers repeatedly do questionable things, but should they be responsible for the readers?
I assume that most of my readers are grown and able to make decisions on their own. After all, there isn’t much fashion, make up or product placement on this blog, and I am certainly not making any money. So I can’t see how those guidelines would apply to me, but if it makes a difference I won’t reveal my weight or size of clothing next time I comment politics, science, religion, or the autism spectrum. I have opinions and that is almost guaranteed to offend someone. Does that make me responsible for people’s mood or for raising other people’s children? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my ethics, but I am not responsible for other people’s shortcomings.
What do you think?