A Swaby Online Media company

Nigel Swaby 801-634-4950

Originally presented«
September 2008 at The University of Utah

Nigel Swaby

Fact Checking & Accuracy
Your responsibilities as a blogger

Adventures in Blogging
Ethical considerations

Why Focus on Accuracy?
‡ The line between journalism and blogging has grown very thin.

Why Focus on Accuracy?
‡ The line between journalism and blogging has grown very thin. ‡ 2004 was the break out year for blogging.

Why Focus on Accuracy?
‡ The line between journalism and blogging has grown very thin. ‡ 2004 was the break out year for blogging. ‡ The 2004 presidential election cycle took blogging mainstream.

Why Focus on Accuracy?
‡ The line between journalism and blogging has grown very thin. ‡ 2004 was the break out year for blogging. ‡ The 2004 presidential election cycle took blogging mainstream. ‡ Bloggers were issued press passes to the conventions.

Bloggers Obtained Influence
«officials said whoever gets credentials will have the same opportunities to cover the four-day event that journalists enjoy. "We want to treat them just the same as other reporters," said Mike Liddell, the convention's director of online communications. "We're even planning to do a breakfast for them the first day of the convention." The Republican Party recently decided that it will also give bloggers credentials for its convention later this summer. Washington Post 07/25/2004

Bloggers Became Recognized
Mr. Graff, 23, may be the first blogger in the short history of the medium to be granted a daily White House pass for the specific purpose of writing a blog, or Web log. A White House spokesman said yesterday that he believed Mr. Graff was the first blogger to be given credentials. New York Times ± 03/07/2005

Blogging Produces Results!

Positive«
Five years of blogging has brought Jeff Ooi a measure of notoriety. His biting posts on Malaysian politics sparked police investigations. A pro-government newspaper sued him for libel. A prominent politician compared bloggers to monkeys in a lawless jungle. In January, as Malaysia braced for national elections, a new banner went up on his blog (www.jeffooi.com): Get a Blogger Into Parliament. Fueled by donations and manpower, Mr. Ooi easily defeated a ruling-party candidate to win a parliamentary seat on Penang Island.

Christian Science Monitor ± 8-28-08

Negative«
The federal agency insuring bank deposits learned that it can't afford to ignore the blogs following its seizure this month of IndyMac Bank, the largest bank failure since the 1980s. "The blogs were a bit out of control," Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., told the San Francisco Business Times after a speech in San Francisco this week. That's putting it mildly. Following the FDIC's takeover of IndyMac on July 11, widely followed blogs were speculating on bank runs on some of California's largest banks based on nothing more than people waiting for their branch to open or large deposits moving between financial institutions. The FDIC plans to pay closer attention to the blogosphere in the future. San Francisco Business Times ± 07-21-08

With Influence Comes Responsibility

Freedom of Speech Trumps Journalism Standards

Bloggers can write just about anything without suffering repercussions.

Housing Panic Blog
‡ Regularly attacks public figures in the real estate industry. ‡ Writes things like: angelo mozilo is going to jail, angelo mozilo is greed, angelo mozilo is satan, angelo mozilo mortgage fraud, henry cisneros should go to jail

Thousands of Free Speech Based Blogs Exist
‡ They¶re all over the world

Thousands of Free Speech Based Blogs Exist
‡ They¶re all over the world ‡ They cover every topic

Thousands of Free Speech Based Blogs Exist
‡ They¶re all over the world ‡ They cover every topic ‡ They¶re cheap and easy to set up

Thousands of Free Speech Based Blogs Exist
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ They¶re all over the world They cover every topic They¶re cheap and easy to set up They allow anonymity

Anonymity Will Determine Risks Taken on a Blog

Anonymity has its advantages«

But accuracy will retain credibility.

Calculated Risk Blog
‡ San Francisco Chronicle ‡ New York Times ‡ CNN Money ‡ Seattle Post Intelligencer ‡ Conde Nast ± Portfolio.com ‡ Business Spectator ± Australia ‡ MSN Money

Calculated Risk Blog Who are they?
‡ Calculated Risk: a senior executive, retired from a public company, with a background in investing, finance and economics. ‡ Tanta: Tanta is a former bank officer and mortgage lending specialist who is currently on extended medical leave.

2010 Update

2010 Update
‡ Tanta died«

2010 Update
‡ Tanta died« ‡ And outed her co-blogger.

Calculated Risk Blog Who are they?
‡ Calculated Risk:
Calculated Risk, was started in early 2005 by a retired technology executive named Bill McBride. The housing market was soaring, but Mr. McBride sensed that the industry was about to peak, and he posted articles and data that made his case.

‡ Tanta: Doris Dungey

Non-anonymous Bloggers Must«

Non-anonymous Bloggers Must«
Determine the purpose of their blog.

My purpose«
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Educate Develop Business Develop Contacts Advertising Revenue Test SEO Create Book Content

Accuracy is Important
Whether you¶re a blogger or a journalist.

Journalists Get it Wrong Too«
‡ ³All-day loans´ ± Washington Post

Journalists Get it Wrong Too«
‡ Freddie Mac, for instance, no longer finances no-money-down mortgages, nor does it continue to buy or guarantee mortgages given to people who have failed to document their finances. Fannie Mae has withdrawn from the market for all-day loans, which are considered risky because they require less documentation than traditional prime loans.

Journalists Get it Wrong Too«
‡ ³Steve Jobs Obituary´ ± Bloomberg News

Journalists Get it Wrong Too«

‡ My demise has been greatly exaggerated«

A Bloggers Approach Can Determine the Level of Accuracy
‡ Some cut and paste mainstream media

A Bloggers Approach Can Determine the Level of Accuracy
‡ Some cut and paste mainstream media ‡ Some cut and paste, but add commentary or insight

A Bloggers Approach Can Determine the Level of Accuracy
‡ Some cut and paste mainstream media ‡ Some cut and paste, but add commentary or insight ‡ Some write original material

Risks Bloggers Face by Publishing
‡ Credibility

Risks Bloggers Face by Publishing
‡ Credibility ‡ Libel Suits

Risks Bloggers Face by Publishing
‡ Credibility ‡ Libel Suits ‡ Inaccuracy

Risks Bloggers Face by Publishing
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Credibility Libel Suits Inaccuracy Hurting Innocent People

Bloggers Must Come Up With Their Own Set of Ethics

CASE STUDIES
A Practical application of ethics in real life.

CASE STUDY
Casey Serin

Casey Serin
‡ A young man who tried his hand at real estate flipping, using all the wrong methods.

Casey Serin
‡ A young man who tried his hand at real estate flipping, using all the wrong methods. ‡ I was made aware of him through Housing Panic blog and the San Francisco Examiner.

Casey Serin
‡ A young man who tried his hand at real estate flipping, using all the wrong methods. ‡ I was made aware of him through Housing Panic blog and the San Francisco Examiner. ‡ I contacted him directly to do an interview from his perspective.

Casey Serin
‡ He didn¶t tell me he had done an interview with USA Today.

Casey Serin
‡ He didn¶t tell me he had done an interview with USA Today. ‡ My interview series came out after he had picked up a number of critics, Serin calls haterz.

Casey Serin
‡ He didn¶t tell me he had done an interview with USA Today. ‡ My interview series came out after he had picked up a number of critics, Serin calls haterz. ‡ Writing about this story relied on MSM articles and my personal contact with him.

Casey Serin ± Ethical Choices
‡ Publishing ³tips´ sent to my email

Casey Serin ± Ethical Choices
‡ Publishing ³tips´ sent to my email ‡ Publishing private emails between Casey and myself.

Casey Serin ± Ethical Choices
‡ Publishing ³tips´ sent to my email ‡ Publishing private emails between Casey and myself. ‡ Ultimately I chose to remove his story from my real estate blog, but I created another one«www.donthatecasey.blogspot.com

Casey Serin ± Considerations
‡ Traffic for a new blog

Casey Serin ± Considerations
‡ Recognition/Prominence ‡ USA Today article ‡ C/net ± DHC

2010 Update
‡ Serin sold his popular blog for $50,000

2010 Update
‡ Serin sold his popular blog for $50,000 ‡ Funds went to pay debts

2010 Update
‡ Serin sold his popular blog for $50,000 ‡ Funds went to pay debts ‡ His supportive wife divorced him«after he took a surprise trip to Australia

2010 Update
‡ Serin sold his popular blog for $50,000 ‡ Funds went to pay debts ‡ His supportive wife divorced him«after he took a surprise trip to Australia ‡ His own family declared bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure on the family home

2010 Update
‡ Serin sold his popular blog for $50,000 ‡ Funds went to pay debts ‡ His supportive wife divorced him«after he took a surprise trip to Australia ‡ His own family declared bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure on the family home ‡ Serin reappears on a consistent basis with harebrained Internet schemes

CASE STUDY
Zareh Tahmassebian

Zareh Tahmassebian
‡ A young man who tried his hand at real estate flipping and was highly successful.

Zareh Tahmassebian
‡ A young man who tried his hand at real estate flipping and was highly successful. ‡ When the bottom dropped out in Las Vegas, he moved on to Phoenix.

Zareh Tahmassebian
‡ A young man who tried his hand at real estate flipping and was highly successful. ‡ When the bottom dropped out in Las Vegas, he moved on to Phoenix. ‡ Profiled in Fortune magazine, I was jealous reading about him.

Zareh Tahmassebian
‡ I had a hard time figuring out how he did it.

Zareh Tahmassebian
‡ I had a hard time figuring out how he did it. ‡ I wrote a piece about him using existing articles and public records concerning his real estate related licenses.

Zareh Tahmassebian
‡ I had a hard time figuring out how he did it. ‡ I wrote a piece about him using existing articles and public records concerning his real estate related licenses. ‡ A few months later, I got a private phone call from a burned investor.

Zareh Tahmassebian ± Ethical
Choices
‡ Publishing unsubstantiated information to get a ³scoop´ on the MSM.

Zareh Tahmassebian ±
Considerations
‡ Protecting the subject from a bitter exbusiness partner.

Zareh Tahmassebian ±
Considerations
‡ Protecting the subject from a bitter exbusiness partner. ‡ The source didn¶t want to go after him publicly.

Zareh Tahmassebian ±
Considerations
‡ Protecting the subject from a bitter exbusiness partner. ‡ The source didn¶t want to go after him publicly. ‡ I didn¶t have enough information to get a second source like public records for the notice of default.

Zareh Tahmassebian ±
Considerations
‡ Eventually, the Arizona Republic ³broke´ the story.

2010 Update
‡ Zareh lost all his remaining homes to foreclosure.

2010 Update
‡ Zareh lost all his remaining homes to foreclosure. ‡ The last I heard, he was working a low wage call center job.

CASE STUDY
Riverbottoms Scandal

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ A mortgage fraud scheme that used industry insiders to defraud lenders, individuals and Utah County of millions of dollars.

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ A mortgage fraud scheme that used industry insiders to defraud lenders, individuals and Utah County of millions of dollars. ‡ It probably wouldn¶t made the news, except for this guy«

Riverbottoms Scandal ± Dave Fox

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ A mortgage fraud scheme that used industry insiders to defraud lenders, individuals and Utah County of millions of dollars. ‡ It probably wouldn¶t made the news, except for Dave Fox ‡ I covered it using MSM reports.

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ When more information about the defendants became available, I did public records and license searches to provide more information.

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ When more information about the defendants became available, I did public records and license searches to provide more information. ‡ The accused ringleader made my job easy because he had a criminal past.

Riverbottoms Scandal ± Brad Kitchen

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ After all the names were revealed and I published a story about them, a source close to the case contacted me.

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ After all the names were revealed and I published a story about them, a source close to the case contacted me. ‡ Through this source, I was able to get inside information about some of the defendants.

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ After all the names were revealed and I published a story about them, a source close to the case contacted me. ‡ Through this source, I was able to get inside information about some of the defendants. ‡ An unindicted co-conspirator was implicated.

Riverbottoms Scandal
‡ Later, a potential victim of Brad Kitchen contacted me and I shared their story.

Riverbottoms Scandal ±
Ethical Choices
‡ Publishing unsubstantiated information to get a ³scoop´ on the MSM.

Riverbottoms Scandal ±
Considerations
‡ Publishing information that could hurt a real person.

Riverbottoms Scandal ±
Considerations
‡ Publishing information that could hurt a real person. ‡ Not reporting information in an active legal case.

Riverbottoms Scandal ±
Considerations
‡ Publishing information that could hurt a real person. ‡ Not reporting information in an active legal case. ‡ Violating the ethics of my State license.

Riverbottoms Scandal ±
Solutions
‡ After receiving a second email from a different source, I published information about Brad Kitchen I believed to be true.

Riverbottoms Scandal ±
Solutions
‡ After receiving a second email from a different source, I published information about Brad Kitchen I believed to be true. ‡ I published a story about the coconspirator, but left out their name.

Riverbottoms Scandal ±
Solutions
‡ After receiving a second email from a different source, I published information about Brad Kitchen I believed to be true. ‡ I published a story about the coconspirator, but left out their name. ‡ I looked up the unindicted coconspirator and forwarded their information to Federal prosecutors.

2010 Update
‡ The unindicted co-conspirator survived the legal system«

2010 Update
‡ The unindicted co-conspirator survived the legal system« ‡ But lost her appraiser¶s license for life and was fined $25,000.

2010 Update
‡ The unindicted co-conspirator survived the legal system« ‡ But lost her appraiser¶s license for life and was fined $25,000. ‡ Except for one defendant, all charged pleaded guilty and are now serving Federal time and are liable for huge fines.

Conclusions
Bloggers must come up with a code of ethics to protect their reputations, accuracy and the reputations of their subject matter.

Conclusions
‡ Always use at least two sources before printing something about a real live person that could be damaging.

Conclusions
‡ Always use at least two sources before printing something about a real live person that could be damaging. ‡ If you¶re not sure, don¶t print a name, but still tell the story.

Conclusions
‡ Always use at least two sources before printing something about a real live person that could be damaging. ‡ If you¶re not sure, don¶t print a name, but still tell the story. ‡ Always consider the consequences of what you write.

Conclusions
‡ Always use at least two sources before printing something about a real live person that could be damaging. ‡ If you¶re not sure, don¶t print a name, but still tell the story. ‡ Always consider the consequences of what you write. ‡ Protect your sources.

Conclusions
‡ Always use at least two sources before printing something about a real live person that could be damaging. ‡ If you¶re not sure, don¶t print a name, but still tell the story. ‡ Always consider the consequences of what you write. ‡ Protect your sources. ‡ Mobile and social media gives more access to self-published ³journalism.´

A Swaby Online Media company

Nigel Swaby 801-634-4950

Would you like to know more?

Would you like to know more?
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