Friday, June 15, 2007

The blog debate continues...

The debate around blogs and libel law continues in today's Globe and Mail (Canada's national newspaper, in spite of my props to the Nunatsiaq News on my links bar). The article, entitled 'Media stardom is pricey', discusses the relevance of these issues here in Canada, and points out that we Canadians may not enjoy all of the same legal protections as our American colleagues, particularly with regard to libel resulting from posted comments from readers.
It's worth a read...


Here is the comment I posted to the G&M website about the article....

Blogs are, at present, an important communication tool for young people. Whether they will go the way of the 8-track or the television remains to be seen.
As a physician maintaining a medical blog (northmed.blogspot.com) I am always thinking about not only any potential libel/slander issues, but also about issues of confidentiality. For me personally this has meant a non-anonymous blog, with editorial style pieces about issues in my particular realm of medicine, as well as more personal pieces and pictures. Confidentiality of course precludes any posts about patients, but to date I have also avoided any posts about fictionalized patients that might be misunderstood as a casual reader as non-fiction.
Over the past 6 months a number of medical blogs, offering very informative views into the culture and life of medical professionals, have gone off-line due to concerns about both legal and professional issues.
At their core blogs offer freedom of both freedom of speech and freedom of press to anyone who chooses to exercise that right. Of course there are limits (confidentiality and libel chief among them), but the standard to which blogs are held should be the same standard that any adequate small town newspaper may be. Erosion of free speech and free press is a serious issue, and blogs may exist on the razors edge of that debate...

2 comments:

Kara and Matt said...

Good thoughts! We are pretty careful what we put on our blog after hearing of people losing their jobs over what they posted online. It is impossible to be anonymous when blogging in the arctic!

Dr. J. said...

Thanks for the thoughts Kara and Matt! Agreed, anonymous blogging is impossible when you are in an environment that is so small you can be recognized by only the context of your posts! (And that is certainly true in the arctic. Enjoying your blog as always, and wishing you good luck in the next 2 weeks!