A post of Span's about the prelevance of spin on certain blogs raised the question of what (if anything) bloggers owe their readers:
What do bloggers owe their readers? Do we owe you honesty? Do we owe you truth? No, not really.
A comment Make Tea Not War made (on a post she wrote about phalloblogcentrism at What We Said) challenged me to think about the annoyance I feel when other bloggers don't link or hat tip - we don't even owe each other that. There is no code of ethics for nz pol bloggers.
Span is entirely right about the absence of any obligations or professional standards in the blogosphere. On the plus side, this lack of expectations means the barriers to entry are low, and it frees us to do our own thing. We can choose our own topics, our own level of involvement, our own style and tone. The free market in legal jurisdiction and ability to blog anonymously or pseudonymously means we can operate a genuinely free press, limited only by the ability to find hosting and attract a readership (to the extent that we care - and not everyone does). We can say things the normal media would not dare say, for fear of official or unofficial retribution; we can puncture inflated egos, and say that the emperor has no clothes. However we can also lie, spin, smear, defame, swift-boat, spread outright bullshit, and (in one worrying recent case from the sewer) threaten violence. The problem with our genuinely free press is that most of the time, it resembles a cesspool, and it isn't cream that's floating to the top.
Not that any of this needs to be a problem. After all, none of us have to read the crap if we don't want to - and I generally don't. Likewise simply because blogging as an institution has no standards doesn't mean that we all have to wallow in the sewer. The freedom to adopt whatever standards we choose means we can also choose to have some rather than none.
Unlike Span, I am trying to use my blog to push a political barrow. As I've said before, democracy is "participate or perish", and if you want your views to be taken into account, you have to speak up for them. That's what I'm doing here. I am also, in a small way, trying to change minds and influence opinion. The difference between this and some other blogs is that I choose to maintain some basic intellectual standards in doing so.