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.”

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