Despite the desires of some, it is impossible to shove the HR blogging genie back into the proverbial bottle. And with the proliferation of bloggers covering every aspect of the human resources ecosystem, those threatened are quick to scream “foul!” and attempt to discredit those brave enough to conquer new ground. This high-pitched squeal of disdain is never louder than from the gasping mouths of some of our industry’s traditional media.
My rant-like preamble was triggered by an irresponsible piece published today in Workforce Management’s online edition. Entitled, “A Tighter Rein on HR Blogging?“, this thinly veiled expose attempts to unseat the credibility of many of our industry’s most important voices. YourHRGuy’s Lance Haun and The Human Capitalist’s Jason Corsello are among the targeted, but no one takes a greater hit to the chest than Cheezhead’s Joel Cheesman.
[Please Note The Following (Sarcastic) Disclosure: I did post links in the paragraph above that may take you to other sites. If the owners of said sites have paid advertisers, your traffic may be used to generate pennies of revenue. In the case of Workforce, those pennies may be used to pay authors to write articles which discredit some of the others to whom we've also linked. This ecstasy of cross linking and confusion is meant to clearly drive you into a mental state of coercion, the results of which may or may not benefit one or all of the aforementioned parties.]
I want to tackle the main implication of the article at hand. Although this is a very tired issue to see raised in our mature environment, let’s get to it. Once again we are forced to discuss transparency.
The authors are questioning whether HR bloggers have done a good job of disclosing potential conflicts of interest. And guess what, transparency and disclosure are big issues in the world of new media. In an “oldie” (but goodie) from the experts at ProBlogger entitled, “The Rules Behind Creating a Great Blog“, transparency is right up there at #1. As rightly stated by the author:
“At the end of the day, trust is the only real currency in the blogosphere, and people who read blogs have the expectation that theyâ€™re getting at the truth â€” in whatever form the truth is to them.” ~ Tony Hung, Problogger (Jan. 9, 2007)
Could trust and transparency increase in this market? Absolutely. Should HR bloggers be held to a higher standard? Absolutely not.Â Whether “old” or “new”, transparency is an issue in all media and monetary relationships can have a significant influence on agenda, focus and purpose.
I’ll hit Workforce with a example from their own world. This past Wednesday, Workforce Management editor John Hollan wrote a blog post featuring research by Adecco Group North America. Now, John didn’t disclose that Adecco is a client of Workforce’s, yet I see that Adecco is the primarily advertiser on Workforce’s Recruiting and Staffing homepage. So, is this really a conflict? Should I stop reading John’s blog? Should I not believe that his intent was to convey good research? You be the judge.
My point is this. In a time when HR is struggling to find trusted voices, do not discredit those who are breaking new ground. In an era when saying “no” is much easier than “yes”, don’t offer an already skeptical audience a reason to ignore the opinions and perspectives that just might help get them through these difficult times. And finally, do not use the threat of increased regulation or the guise of journalistic integrity to hide your fear of possible extinction. Instead, find your place in the new world order and make the most of it. I welcome any and all comments and look forward to keeping this particular conversation going.