Tag Archives: blog

No Comment? What’s the Point?

By Jason Menard

To paraphrase the sage Uncle Ben, with great blogging comes great responsibility — and, for me, that responsibility is first and foremost to allow reader comments.

However, I believe there is a caveat: allowing reader comments does not equal allowing ALL reader comments.

I believe that if you’re going to publish a blog in a public forum — sharing your thoughts, opinions, and ideas with the world — then you have a moral obligation to allow readers to reply. To not do so, in my opinion, betrays a touch of arrogance combined with a heaping helping of missed opportunity. Continue reading

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Narcissism, Exhibitionism? For Whom Do We Create?

By Jason Menard

Would Narcissus tweet?

The answer is clearly no (we’ll get to that at the bottom), but the question is relevant when we look at our motivations for using social media.

Sure, there are those who choose to stay on the periphery of social media. They may check their Facebook accounts once in a blue moon, or watch the odd YouTube video. However, others of us are more involved in it – we actively update our Facebook profiles, Tweet regularly, post blogs, and share content across any number of platforms. Continue reading

Separating Personal, Professional Social Media Interactions

By Jason Menard

Social media in the workplace is in its infancy and, as with any developing industry, it’s undergoing some growing pains.

Earlier this week, someone that I follow on Twitter posted this message: “If you don’t trust your employees to communicate with good judgment, then you have a hiring problem not a social media problem.”

I’ve heard variations of this a number of times, in a number of forums. It sounds nice and all – it’s certainly all-encompassing, inclusionary, and empowering.

It’s also wrong. Continue reading

Writers Can Get Caught in Web

By Jason Menard

Dave, Dave, Dave. You broke two of the cardinal rules of the Information Age: Don’t do anything that you’re not willing to stand behind for years to come; and just because everyone CAN blog, doesn’t mean everyone SHOULD blog.

Too often people think that a strike of the delete key is enough to erase one’s activities from the electronic world. Some think that their thoughts and actions can simply get lost in the vastness of the Internet world — unfortunately, we’ve seen time and time again that nothing is every truly gone.

Dave Burghardt, son of former Liberal MP Jack and a now-former campaign worker for Glen Pearson’s Liberal bid for the London North-Centre riding, is suffering the political fallout from blogging. And while he’s apologized for his self-professed indiscretions and ill-chosen words, the fact is that if he wasn’t going to stand behind what he wrote in the first place, he never should have committed his thoughts to ink – or cyber ink as the case may be.

Simply put, everyone and their mother can blog, but that doesn’t mean everyone should. Most people can write a sentence, but that doesn’t mean they’re qualified to write for a newspaper, does it? So why should the standard be any less on-line? There are a very few responsible bloggers who take their craft seriously. There are a number of quality reporters and opinion columnist who ascribe to the basic tenets of journalism. They provide fair and balanced reports, or informed commentary, based on facts. They avoid libelous situations and stand by their actions.

Then there are the stream-of-conscious bloggers who feel their life story is fodder for the masses. For these people, their self-inflated view that their life is of interest to all generally runs out of gas. These blogs get abandoned once the novelty – or notoriety – wears off.

But these are innocent, mindless blogs. Fluff, as you would have it. Unfortunately, there is a segment of our society who believes in the anonymity of the Internet. They believe that their effects posting – either behind their own name, or through a pseudonym — only exists in Cyberspace and can’t be traced back to their every day lives. But, as Burghardt has discovered, these things can come back to bite you – hard.

It’s a safe assumption to say that nothing is every permanently deleted on the Internet. I’m sure there are ways known to people who are smarter than I am, but for the most part it’s safe to say that anything that ventures into the World Wide Web can be retrieved for years to come. And that’s not a bad thing.

Bloggers need to treat their forum with the same respect that people who write for publications do. They need to understand that their text will have the same permanency that someone who is dealing in newsprint and ink has. In fact, in some cases, those who write on the Web have a longer reach and more permanence than those who write for local publications. While an article that exists only in print may be kept in an archive, only to be discovered when someone blows off the dust from the storage box, those pieces that appear on the Internet can be searched for by people all around the world, in real time, whenever they choose.

Articles can be copied and posted on others’ Web sites. They can be linked to or mirrored. They can be quoted, referenced, or acknowledged on literally thousands of other sites without the original author’s knowledge or permission.

So it’s clear that a simple delete of the files just won’t cut it.

Blogging is still in its infancy. And, in fact, many of those with an on-line presence who deal in the creation of opinions pieces avoid labelling themselves with the term Blogger due to its negative connotations. However, as this forum of expression continues to grow, so too will the understanding that one must stand behind each and every comment one makes.

On-line or in print, a responsible opinion writer will adhere to strict journalistic principles of truth and fact-checking. The writer should be aware of libel issues and avoid writing anything that could be considered to contravene the laws of this country. And that takes research, understanding, and knowledge. Most importantly, you have to realize that your commentary today can resonate for years to come. I am proud to say that I stand behind each and every piece I’ve written over the past decade – and I can do so in confidence because I’ve taken extreme care to write what I believe, based on facts, knowledge, and opinion.

One’s opinion may change over time – which is the natural effect of growing older. But if you’re going to venture into the world of on-line commentary, make sure that you understand its permanency. If you want to write hate literature, or any other sort of commentary that you feel may affect you negatively in the future, then be smart about it and use pencil and paper – or maybe even an Etch-a-Sketch. That way, when you erase it, it’s permanent.

If you choose to write things that you feel will cause you embarrassment in the future, resist the lure of positing on-line. After all, if you play with fire, you’re likely to get burned. Ask Dave Burghardt about that.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Turner Fiasco Shows Tories Fuzzy on Accountability

By Jason Menard

Good for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Nothing says openness and accountability in government better than censure!

Garth Turner, the Member of Parliament representing Halton, Ontario has been suspended from the Conservative caucus. The reason? Being too uppity and not toeing the party line. Funny, I thought the Tories ran their last campaign on bringing accountability back to politics. I guess that accountability doesn’t extend to an MP’s responsibility to their constituents.

His transgressions? Turner voiced displeasure with his party’s apparent about-face on party hopping when it because convenient for them in the form of David Emerson, seemingly swallowing the outrage that overwhelmed them when Belinda Stronach’s defection compelled Conservative MPs Helena Guergis and Joe Preston to bring forth legislation to prevent this sort of then-nefarious activity.

Turner also voiced opposition to the party’s fiscal and environmental policies. And, perish the thought, Turner regularly kept his constituents abreast of the inner workings of the political scene via his blog.

What it all boils down to is that Turner has been suspended for one simple reason – representing the will and interest of his constituents, and not making party politics a priority even if it swims against the tide of his electorate.

I suppose Mr. Harper can be excused for thinking that the voters of the Halton region were choosing a party, not a representative. But what we do through the very act of casting our ballot – whether municipally, provincially, or federally – is voting for someone who can go and represent our interests. Not the interest of the party necessarily, although those will sometime march in time, but more importantly the interests of the region.

So by suspending Turner for using the voice that his constituency gave him, he’s essentially silenced an entire group of voters. More despicably, he’s shown that he doesn’t value their opinions.

A representative is supposed to represent. Not just the few who drink the party Kool-Aid, but the entire constituency – even those who didn’t vote for him or her. They are commissioned, through the electoral process, to work diligently to ensure that our voices are heard loud and clear, and that everything is done to ensure that the needs and desires of our communities are heard on the national stage.

Of course, by forcing Turner to exit Stage Left, the residents of Halton no longer even have a voice in the chorus – they’re forced to watch this production from afar.

How exactly is that accountability? How is that more responsible government? In essence, we need more Garth Turners in Ottawa – and at all levels of government! We need more people who are willing to speak out for the interests of those who voted them into power, even if it means at times not toeing the party line.

And by suspending him from the Conservative caucus, Harper effectively has told Conservative voters in the region that they were wrong during the last election. These are people who voted for Turner, partly because of his Conservative affiliation – and now their voices, which they lend to Turner, will be forced to sing a different tune, whether that’s Green or Liberal, it’s not the same song that they originally requested to hear. And there better not be a peep out of one single Conservative if Turner jumps to another party – they’ve lost that right with Mr. Emerson. Of course, Turner himself may demand a by-election so that the constituents in Halton have an opportunity to have their true voices heard – not one that’s been distorted by the political machine.

Turner was duly elected as a representative first and foremost. Ideally, constituents are voting for the person they feel best represents them, regardless of party affiliation. Usually, a particular party will attract a particular candidate who appeals to the morals, values, and intents of those predisposed to vote a certain way. However, there are no absolutes. No matter what political party you support, chances are you’re hard-pressed to find any one candidate or party that perfectly embodies all your beliefs. There’s give and take.

Unfortunately, by getting the gift of accountability and responsible representation from the candidate for whom they’ve voted, the people of Halton have had their voice in Parliament taken away from them. For a party that preaches accountability, how do you account for that?

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved