This — the TechCrunch publishes stolen information flap last week — is why I worry about the gradual disappearance of Journalism as newspapers and traditional advertising disappear.
You may or may not have read about it. Somebody stole documents from Twitter’s computer and sent them to TechCrunch. They stole more than 300 memos, presentations, projections, and lots of private work about the business.
And TechCrunch, one of the premier blogs in the world, on just about everybody’s list of top blogs, decided to publish it. Not because the world needs it, not to defend anybody against anything, just for the fun of it. There’s no public good involved, not that I can see.
This is not Daniel Ellsberg and the New York Times with the Pentagon Papers, this is just business voyeurism. Publishing other people’s private stuff.
Why? Simply because they can. And I object. TechCrunch should know better.
I like the idea of professional journalism, with standards. Like what Wikipedia suggests, or, even better, the Code of Ethics of the Professional Society of Journalists. I know that a lot of journalists trashed ethics long before blogs came along. Still, at least there was a general understanding of right and wrong.
It seems to me inevitable that newspapers as we’ve known them, printed on paper, are going extinct. Blogs can replace a lot of what newspapers have been doing. So who says that ethics don’t matter in blogs? Not me. You don’t have to appear in print to be a journalist; but you do have to have a code of conduct. I hope.