Responsible Journalism

Don’t freak out…. but be aware that we are responsible for what goes on our blogs.  We are not journalists, we are not professional writers, but guess what?  We are top sources for the media and it’s crucial to keep our information clear, true and have our facts straight.

Remember the $25 million law suit against a Miami Real Estate Blogger Last year?  Lucas Lechuga has an amazing blog with unmatched traffic and people rely on his information to make decisions on their real estate investments.  Lucas has a responsibility, as do the rest of us, to check and double check our facts.  I am glad the law suit was resolved – there was an order to dismiss the case (according to Matt Carter’s Inman New’s article ) and a public apology posted on Luca’s blog:

Please accept this statement as a public apology to Mr. Tibor Hollo, Opera Tower and Florida East Coast Realty (FECR).  I acknowledge that a blog post that I wrote on November 25, 2007 contained inaccurate statements and misrepresented facts involving you, your firm and your projects.
The blog post dated November 25, 2007 telling my readers that Mr. Hollo went bankrupt in the 1980s was completely untrue.  As I have come to learn, neither Mr. Hollo, nor any of his companies has ever declared bankruptcy.  Additionally, the prediction I made regarding contract closings at Opera Tower was unfounded, and I’ve been proven wrong….

I assure you that Lucas did not have ill intentions, and this whole experience served as a lesson to so many of us.  Please know that you can quote sources and you could still be liable, there are even law suits against comments left on blogs!  So what can we do?

Take all the measures possible – make sure you have disclosures/disclaimers/declarations/releases on your blog about who’s opinion you represent and don’t represent – I know this may be a bit far fetched – or….just make sure you don’t piss anyone off enough to get sued.

Joe at Sellsius shared this plugin with me a while back and I think it’s a great tool.

Matt Carter from Inman News wrote this after the Lechuga lawsuit:

Defamation and libel suits are a constant threat to newspapers, publishers and bloggers. The law offers many defenses against libel suits, and large awards, especially to public figures, are uncommon. Many states limit damage awards unless alleged victims seek a retraction or correction and are refused.

Matt also makes mention of the Media Bloggers Association – founded by a blogger that was threatened by legal action by the new York Times.

I’m definitely not the type to live in fear of being sued, and I am not afraid to express my opinion – knowing and identifying it always as “MY OPINION” – but always wonder if there can be too much!  Too many disclaimers, too many “in my opinions”, too many careful expressions of opinion.  Where do we draw the line? or is it so thick and distorted that it really doesn’t matter?

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