RealTime IT News

Bloggers And The First Amendment

Most Americans believe bloggers should enjoy the same Constitutional protection as traditional journalists, but a majority said they still prefer to get their information from the mainstream media, according to a recent survey.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed in a poll conducted by Web hosting company Hostway said bloggers should have the same protection under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights as the mainstream media, while 27 percent expressed no opinion on the subject.

The rights of bloggers to maintain the same professional courtesy provided journalists in more establish mediums have been under fire recently. As previously reported by internetnews.com, companies and courts are trying to flesh out the rights of bloggers.

Despite the Constitutional support for bloggers' rights, the survey indicates bloggers are not taken as seriously as the traditional media. Thirty-nine percent said they found blogs less credible than newspaper articles, and 38 percent said blogs were less credible than television news. Nearly one-fourth found magazine advertising to be more credible.

Of those surveyed, 72 percent favored censorship of personal information when it came to celebrities. Nearly 70 percent were in favor of censorship of information about elected or appointed government officials.

Young people, under the age of 30, are more likely to agree that bloggers should benefit from journalists' First Amendment privileges, according to the study.

The survey also showed that one-third of those polled have used blogs to obtain information about politics or current events in the past six months.

From a business perspective, blogs are playing an increasingly important role.

Approximately 60 percent of respondents to the Hostway survey agreed it is acceptable for a company to censor information on its blog, and that bloggers should not be allowed to release proprietary information about a company product.

One-fourth said companies should have the right to fire an employee based on information that person posts to a blog.

John Lee, vice president of marketing at Hostway, said his company's move to launch a blogging service, dubbed Siteblog, for small to medium size businesses led to the decision to commission the survey.

"Were beginning to see blogs starting to take their place among other media for businesses to get their word out," Lee said. "They are easy to create, maintain and serve as valued portals of diverse, honest information."

More than 700 of Hostway's customers take advantage of the free service.

Lee expects convergence of hosting services to continue taking place. In many cases, the blogs served are used as online journals that provide consumers uncensored and unfiltered forms of commentary and opinions on various topics.

Overall, the survey found consumers recognize the benefits of using blogs for product and service research. Nearly 25 percent of survey respondents said they refer to blogs for information on the products and services they are looking to purchase.

Of those, 94 percent said blogs were helpful in their purchasing decisions.

"With the right strategy, blogs can be a huge asset to organizations large and small," Lee said. "They are cost-effective, attract a well-targeted audience and, in some cases, are able to put a human voice to a company."