Lori Carey Photography

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rant of the Week - Check Your Facts!!

If you shoot for stock you're probably all too familiar with the need to do the proper research for captioning and keywording because captioning an image "Bird In Tree" severely limits the number of people who will stumble upon your amazing shot and offer top dollar to license it. I know many stock photographers (myself included) who will not submit an image to their agencies until they are able to properly identify the main elements. If they are outdoor/nature photographers they invest in an extensive library of field guides. But do you put forth the same effort when writing for your blog?

It's a pet peeve of mine - people who hold themselves out as 'experts' in a field who slap together blog posts off the top of their head with little effort in the name of proliferation. More concerned with quantity of posts over quality, they skip the basics tenets of responsible publishing and their responsibility to their readers. It really angers me when someone politely points out a misstatement (or ten) and the writer reacts in a cavalier manner.

In the 'old days' of print media there were fact-checkers, proof readers and copy editors who went over everything with a fine-tooth comb before it went to print. In this age of on-line digital media even the major publishers admit that their on-line copy editing standards are less stringent than those for print (source: Magazines and Their Web Sites, a Columbia Journalism Survey and Review). It's no wonder that the rest of the on-line publishing world picks up on those sloppy standards.

Not only does a blogger jeopardize their credibility when they publish incorrect information, if they make damaging statements about another person or company that are blatantly false they can potentially put themselves at risk for being sued. Anyone can sue for libel or defamation if they believe you have damaged their reputation, and if the plaintiff can prove that you made false statements and you don't have libel insurance or a large publishing house backing you up, you could be in a world of hurt just trying to defend yourself.

Legal issues aside, it's about ethics and responsibility to your readers, especially if you hold yourself out to be an expert. There is no excuse for an 'expert' to write an entire blog post built upon an incorrect premise because they didn't check their facts.

So to the woman who told me that she didn't care that she had made many completely incorrect statements about a company in her post that was meant to give advice to new professional photographers because she just didn't like the company after having a bad experience with them....you just might want to give that a little more thought.