J.K. Rowling and Full Blog Disclosure
There has been a great deal written this week about J.K. Rowling's pen name, Robert Galbraith, and I read a piece last night that made me think about all authors and bloggers when it comes to full disclosure. Of course in Rowling's case it's a little different because she's so famous for the Harry Potter series, however, authors using pen names isn't something new and it's usually accepted when authors cross genres. But what about popular bloggers? Does the same standard of full disclosure hold true for popular bloggers as well? Especially if the blogger holds everyone else to the standard of full disclosure.
In this Huff Po piece about Rowling's situation, it seems her pen name was revealed completely by accident, through the friend of the wife of an attorney. It wasn't a publicity stunt and Rowling didn't want the name revealed.
The newspaper said it had received a tip-off on Twitter, and there was speculation that Rowling or her publisher were behind the revelation – which has sent sales of the thriller skyrocketing.
But law firm Russells said Thursday that one of its partners, Chris Gossage, had let the information slip to his wife's best friend, Judith Callegari – the woman behind the tweet. Her Twitter account has now been deleted.
So basically someone had a big mouth and couldn't keep it shut. The piece goes into a few more details, and then mentions this comment from Rowling:
"To say that I am disappointed is an understatement," she added. "I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced."
I don't know a single author out there who wouldn't feel the same way.
But let's face it, we're living in a world now where there are very few secrets left, and privacy becomes harder to maintain each passing day. And I'm not talking about author pen names now. When it comes to popular bloggers and full disclosure, I think they should be held to a higher standard, especially those who blog about the real things that happen, not just for fun. Although these popular bloggers are not considered journalists, I think they have the same responsibility to their readership as anyone else out there publishing content that deals with the same ethics by which most journalists abide. I hold myself to these same standards as a blogger, and I use this small blog to disclose information about my books many times. And I believe I have an ethical responsibility to the people who read this blog to disclose honest information here on the blog.
Last night after I read the piece on Rowling, I went to a popular blog that's gained a large readership in publishing. Some might even call it quasi journalism. I found a contest there, which looked interesting, and I read the details. And there was one line in the post that made me wonder. The blogger mentioned that the PR firm of an author had asked if the blogger would do a promotional contest in order to actually promote a new project for the author. Names don't matter right now. I'm not Edward Snowden and I don't want to be. The author has a very high profile and doesn't write in any of the genres in which I write. And no, it's not someone in m/m romance or anything even LGBT related. This is a mainstream commercial author who writes more chick lit type romance novels that I find dry, dull, lacking in emotion and sex, and highly mundane.
In any event, the popular blogger mentioned this information about the PR firm offhandedly, as if the PR firm had contacted the blogger at random; just for fun and games (haha-haha). And I know for a fact that that's not full disclosure. I know the blogger is closely associated with the PR firm that represents the famous chick lit author, and even closer to another highly profiled blogger who actually works with the PR firm and many other famous authors. There's a great deal of money involved here now, not just blogging for fun. It's not illegal to do this, but how ethical is it?
In other words, if readers actually knew that the blogger was this close to the PR firm, and that the blogger and the PR firm are working behind the scenes in private to put together a promotional event for the famous author, would readers be that interested in supporting something like that? Especially if this particular blogger who is holding the event is one of the biggest supporters of FULL DISCLOSURE on the Internet today. This happens to be a blogger who has accused many people of more than a few things. And when you do that I would like to think your own background is spotlessly clean. But more important, it makes me wonder what else the blogger in question is hiding...what's not being disclosed.
I had a contest here that was associated with a blog hop on the 4th of July, and I disclosed everything possible. I would stand in a courtroom, put my hand on a bible, and swear to this. I did not have any hidden relationship with the online publication that sponsored the blog event, and I would disclose all my former e-mails with that publication if I had to and I would have nothing to worry about. And I'm only a small blogger with an average of 5,000 hits a week.
I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about author blogs that focus on fiction, or humorous blogs that deal with parody and sarcasm. Those blogs are all fun and they aren't hurting anyone. I love reading them myself and I don't expect them to be perfect. But the case I'm talking about with the popular blogger who pretends journalism but failed to mention the part about being closely associated to the PR firm makes me wonder. This blogger is the first to report anyone else's wrong-doings, this blogger has called out other bloggers over the years for lack of ethics, and this blogger has even gone to the point of terrorizing small bloggers for doing far less. And I don't think there should be that kind of double standard in blogging when it comes to facts or anything that's not just opinion. And if a small blogger like me is expected to practice full disclosure, so should the large blogger.
It's that age old cliche about those who live in glass houses. And when popular bloggers don't disclose all the facts they are doing a disservice to their readers.
Fifty Gay Things
I often use Urban Dictionary as a source for personal information I don't know. I find it highly entertaining, and sometimes I just do searches for things I might find interesting. This next link made me smile because of the tone in which it was written. It looks as if someone posted fifty gay facts, someone got pissed at the fifty gay facts, and then wrote his/her own gay facts.
It's not even fifty gay facts. It's only ten, but I like them all, especially the last two:
9. Gay women were not put on earth for straight men's amusement, that "lesbian" porno situation will never happen to you.
10. Not all gays fit the stereotype. There could be one right next to you right now and you'd never notice. You might be best friends with one or related to one and you'd never notice. Ha ha.
I actually think that both of these facts go together. The gay community is highly diverse and you really don't know for certain whether or not the person next to you is gay. There are so many gay and bi people who are not out it's impossible to know for sure. There could be a reason for this. Unfortunately, there seems to be this unchallenged movement going on where the most obvious gay people are providing amusement for the mainstream in ways no other minority would stand for. And those who aren't as obvious don't want to deal with that brand of discrimination so they remain in the closet. I get e-mails from them all the time, and they all say the same thing.