We've been talking a lot in class over the past few weeks about the topic of disclosure, and why it's especially important in blogs. Yes, independent blogs or sources are not held to the same standards of accountability that mainstream media publications (supposedly) are. But if you have biases for or against a certain subject or have a personal connection with someone you're interviewing, it's probably a good idea to make that clear and be transparent. 

I've been trying to do that in my last few posts, paying particular attention to preface "Buzzsaw magazine" with the phrase, "the magazine I co-edit," to ensure that there's no question about my own biases. This may just be a class blog about independent media, but practice makes perfect, so I figured I'd start right away at making this a habit.

Still, the idea has its detractors. No one's arguing that disclosure isn't important, but some people think it's a murky issue. One of those people is Josh Catone, who now writes for Mashable.com. When he wrote for Read Write Web back in 2007, however, he wrote a piece about disclosure and blogging ethics. 

He wrote, reflecting on a columnist who came under fire for not disclosing a personal connection to an interview subject, "What if the columnist in question had not been a family member, but a former co-worker? Or someone whom the radio DJ had interviewed in the past? Is disclosure still necessary? Or what if the columnist and DJ had been romantically involved in the past but aren't any longer? Does she need to discuss her sex life on air in the interest of journalistic integrity? You can see that it becomes quickly confusing, and at times overtly personal."

It's something to consider: where do we draw the line? If we're trying to disclose in the interest of eliminating perceived bias, where is the point where our connection with a person could influence the way we interview or cover them? If a kid from my elementary school days goes on to write a book, and I interview him for information, should I preface everything by saying that I knew the expert as a child? Or if I get information from a professor who my best friend received a bad grade from, am I expected to explain that? How much is so much that it becomes absolutely ridiculous? 

It's a difficult question, and one for which I'm sure an answer, at least one that makes sense to me, will become a bit more apparent as I continue to write and ensure that I'm disclosing potential sources of bias. 

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