5 Ways to Establish Credibility

Bloggers get a bad rap from the press sometimes. When they’re not calling us biased, they say we don’t know how to check our facts. The main problem, it seems, is that bloggers aren’t journalists, and we don’t have to follow their rules and regulations. That’s part of what makes blogging so special. But do these critics have a point?

Journalists build their credibility by relying on a code of ethics. Bloggers aren’t bound by such rules, but they might be able to learn a little from them.

Regular visitors are a blogger’s lifeblood, and if you want visitors to come back to your site, you’ve got to be a trusted source of information. But how do we gain that trust?

Bloggers and journalists are like sisters to a different mister: they set out to communicate with an audience, they report on events and trends, and they ultimately aim to influence their readers in some way. Most bloggers have no plans to become a journalist – maybe you just want to share you creations, or talk about the things you like – but there are definitely lessons we can learn from them.

Tabloid journalists are the least respected and least ethical of all journalists. They make things up, they vilify people, and when they’ve got to choose between the truth or the scandal, it’s the scandal that wins every time.

You probably don’t want to be a tabloid blogger. So, what sort of ethical principles do the best journalists follow? And what can bloggers learn from them?

Report the facts: strive for accuracy, fairness and truth above all.

This is the number one rule, and it isn’t just about not making things up – it’s about telling the whole story, the good and the bad. If you’re sent a product to review, your readers are counting on you to tell them your honest opinion. And you are accountable to them – not the company that gave you free goodies.

Reporting the truth is not libel.

But reporting hurtful opinions or inaccuracies can be. Model Liskula Cohen sued Rosemary Port over a blog that had posts referring to Cohen as the “skankiest in NYC” and a “psychotic, lying, whoring . . .” The case was eventually dropped, but there’s a lesson for all of us: even if you’re an anonymous blogger, you can’t get away with defamation.

If you think a designer’s work is shoddy, or a knock-off of another person’s designs, be careful to report the facts that have led you to this conclusion. Avoid unnecessarily hurtful words. Accuracy will save you from forking over some big bucks.

Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.

For US-based bloggers, the FTC has already made it clear how important they believe this principle is. But no matter where you come from, it’s important to consider how accepting gifts or payments affects how you come across to your readers. I’m not saying that you can’t take what’s offered, but if you want readers to trust you, it’s how honestly you blog about it that matters.

6 comments
  1. This is a brilliant article! It’s hard to know the boundaries and etiquette when writing a blog and while it can be great having contact with PRs, sometimes they can try to cloud your judgement.
    Thanks for the advice! x

  2. Just last week, I noticed someone’s guest blogger shoot her mouth off about some designers (not me) without seeking comment from them. When confronted, she retracted everything and groveled so much I was embarrassed for her. Either attempt to interview people BEFORE you criticize their hard work from the safety of your Cheeto-covered couch OR stick to your guns and defend your opinion when confronted. This person (who is mostly famous for commenting on the NY Times fashion blog, not even for having one of her own) has no credibility with me at all now and she never will. If she starts her own blog, I will be on her like white on rice, pointing out every stupid thing she does.

    I always assume that what I write could be read by the person I’m writing about and I’m prepared to stick to whatever I say unless there’s a correctable error. And, no, Heather Mills, saying you’re a batshit-crazy gold digger is NOT an error.

  3. think I find this post rather difficult to relate to as my posts tend to depict my views on trends, rather thanon the designers themselves. Therefore, I rarely feel the need to back up my views with reliable sources and facts and other stuffs. However, I think this article serves as a decent reminder that it is very easy to get into trouble by not providing reliable information to the reader. And for this, I thank you 🙂

  4. Great post! I’m building my first blog and I feel like I have no idea what i’m doing. ;(

    Anyway, you can help me out?

  5. I’d say it’s best to stick to the facts and add a little flavour with your personal opinion. That’s fine as long as you don’t offend anyone.. works for me!

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