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Bloggers: Would You Rather Be First Or Right?

To all my blogger friends, I would love to hear opinions on whether it is more responsible for us to be right vs. first when reporting information. Is speculation okay? Is it useful?

As content becomes more and more valuable and as we each try to increase awareness of our blogs, build our following, and increase traffic, how important is it to ensure that our facts are correct before we hit the “Publish” button? If I just spout out statements like “Facebook announces that it’s going to buy Twitter” or “Apple is discontinuing the iPad 1 due to iOS 5 crashes”, I might generate a bunch of SEO traffic and boost my readership, but what value did I actually provide to my readers by publishing unsupported facts?

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Normally, I would just post this question on Twitter (and I will), but I thought the dialog might be more engaging if we leveraged blog comments. I’d love to hear your feedback on whether you’d rather be first or right when breaking news on your blog.

Do bloggers have a responsibility to check their facts before publishing content? Is something true just becasue we heard it on a blog, Facebook, or Twitter?

To add to this, do journalistic tenets of ethics, source validation, etc… apply to blogging? Merriam-Webster defines journalism as:

Definition of JOURNALISM

a : the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media b : the public press c : an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium
a : writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b : writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c : writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

(source: Merriam-Webster definition of Journalism at, accessed 02/11/2012)

If you read that definition literally, blogging doesn’t fall within that definition. It could be argued that blogs are becoming the modern equivalent of newspapers and magazines, but are usually slanted more toward the editorial views. So, can we just apply the same tenets of journalism to blogging?




Saturday 23rd of August 2014

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Saturday 13th of October 2012

Last week a rumour went round that dogs were being poisoned where I live. It turns out that one dog scavenged and ate something dodgy and local vets said there was no evidence of poison. Yet local blogs and sites carried a number of stories about this without people checking first. Rumours caused people to boycott a specific area for no reason. Instant communication can be very useful, but should have make clear if information has not been confirmed or is speculative.


Saturday 13th of October 2012

Lean towards accuracy

Corporatethief Beats

Wednesday 10th of October 2012

Yeah it is one to ponder on! I remember I spent a good few hours on a post and a video on how to set up a simple adwords campaign and I never new that adwords had just changed their interface slightly the day before.Lucky for me my brother spotted it and told me so I could make the changes before some one of my readers did. In the words of Homer J Simpson DOHHHH!

Patrick Griffin

Tuesday 9th of October 2012

Hi Sean, You ask three questions: (i) Is more responsible for us to be right vs. first when reporting information? (ii) Is speculation okay? (iii) Is it useful?

As someone who has worked as a journalist for more than 20 years I think I can answer your main question and have a fairly good idea what I am talking about.

My view is this: when reporting information you have an absolute duty to get it right and if that means not being first to break the news then so be it.

If your information is wrong then it is also meaningless and if you provide readers with meaningless content often enough then your credibility as a provider of information in your niche will be lost.

As for speculation being ok and useful well the answer is "it depends."

It can be useful to report on speculation, and established journalists do it all the time...just look at all the speculation we saw in the weeks and months leading up to the launch of Apple's iPhone 5.

However when reporting speculation, as in reporting solid information, there is also a duty to get the facts right here too and not fall into the trap of reporting mere speculation as established fact.


Sean R. Nicholson

Thursday 11th of October 2012

Great distinctions, Partrick!

I agree that right+first is usually the best combination and I don't disagree that speculation can be valuable. What drives me nuts is when authors present their speculation as though it were facts.

We all have opinions and blogging is often about speculation, but there needs be some research behind the speculation, not just flat-out hopeful guessing so you can get a keyword-rich title into the search engines first with the hopes of driving traffic.

Maybe I should have asked whether factual analysis is more valuable than page traffic. I feel another blog post coming on :)

Thanks for the great insights!