You Can’t Say that on the Internet: Censorship in the Digital Age

As our readers know, some members of the Morrissey & Company team can be very opinionated, especially concerning politics (cough cough Ernie Corrigan cough cough). Earlier this week, my colleagues and I had a discussion weighing the pros and cons of airing our personal opinions on The Fosbury Flop. We posed questions like:

  • Can we post individual views (under our own names) on a company-sponsored blog?
  • Where’s the line between information and influence on the internet?
  • What sort of regulations should we have in place for this venue (other than the usual PG-13 language rules to which we usually adhere)?
  • How sensitive should we be about offending potential future, or existing, clients? 

These questions aren’t unique to my colleagues; our clients often voice the same concerns when they engage in social media activities. And my answer echoes a phrase I’ve heard uttered time and again from our head honcho, Peter: “It’s tricky.” 

As “blog high priestess” (and yes, that’s another example of title creep), I could ask my colleagues to censor their personal opinions; indeed, some of our readers might suggest we do more than just request self-censorship. And I understand and respect where they’re coming from. It’s true that Morrissey & Company doesn’t have an “official position” on the solutions for national budget deficit, MBTA management, or even on celebrity misbehavior (Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan, I’m looking at you), but we have blogged about each of these topics. Were we over-stepping our boundaries?  Maybe.

We don’t all belong to the same political parties; we don’t always see eye-to-eye on social issues; and sometimes we don’t even agree on pizza toppings for team lunches! So why do we “allow” each other to discuss these hot-button issues? 

For a start, while we don’t always agree on the issues, we do mandate that the opinions we express are well-supported (subjective, it’s true, but most things are) with third-party evidence. 

We try to use our heads about posts and put ourselves in each other’s shoes (sometimes harder to do than we think). And we are dedicated to regulating each other.

… Not to mention that vanilla posts rarely inspire intelligent discourse! 

But we have come to realize that it’s time to give more to credit opposing views. As such, we will introduce point-counterpoint posts, be more mindful of acknowledging dissenting opinions, and be more proactive about commenting (always respectfully) on each other’s posts when we disagree. We will also remind our readers that the opinions expressed by an individual contributor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Morrissey & Company as a whole.

We will not censor each other. We will not engage in disrespectful behavior, and sometimes we will agree to disagree.

And you have a part to play here, too. If you don’t agree with one of our posts or opinions, I encourage you to speak up:  comment, email, call, tweet – we welcome all viewpoints and love nothing more than a hearty, informative discussion. In the future we will also be polling our readers about what content you want to see more of – and less of.

This is your chance to impact The Fosbury Flop; this is your moment to help us look at reputation communications – and our own blog – a little differently. 

We look forward to hearing from you!

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4 Responses to You Can’t Say that on the Internet: Censorship in the Digital Age

  1. I’d like to think that my post this week on the GOP budget cuts was more provocative than controversial, but the truth of the matter is that I was trying to be provocative. It is – as my colleague Sarah so perfectly summed up Peter’s take on these matters – “tricky.” It is tricky because we don’t agree on all matters, and that is what makes it enjoyable to drive a hard stake into an issue and then hold fast to your position. It is also tricky because if we write a piece that is Democratic leaning, we risk offending our Republican friends, colleagues and clients. But it is also tricky to dilute your opinion until you have finally provoked no one. Politics and religion are guaranteed hot buttons around these parts and they almost always inspire the most passioned arguments. At the end of the day, though, we can just agree to disagree on matters of opinion and not let our strongly held views distract us from what is truly important – the health and well being of our children, people in need, friends and strangers alike. That is not a political statement, but a value statement on which I hope we can all agree. Here’s what I have to say about politics ……………………

    • sarahgerrol says:

      Agreed, Ernie – the health and well-being of our family, friends and of our larger communities are priorities I hope we can all agree on – no matter what our political, social or financial affiliations! I’d never ask you to dilute your opinions, as I hope you know; rather, I want to ensure our readers that we respect all opinions, whether we personally agree or not.

      Thanks for always sharing your views. I hope our blog continues to inspire intelligent discourse.

  2. Lucy M. says:

    I love this post! This is definitely a “Trending topic” in social media (to be cute). I’m really interest in this aspect. What is safe to say? What is allowed to be said? And who is allowed to say it? I recently did a few articles on my blog in reference to this. Feel free to check it out and leave comments. I’d love to do more research. I subscribe to your blog because my brother works for y’all. I find it fascinating and often try to get my friends to follow you. We’ve had some good topics rooted from your blogs!

    • sarahgerrol says:

      Thanks very much, Lucy! It isn’t easy to determine what’s “right” or “safe” to say online – my general rule of thumb is not to say anything I wouldn’t say to my grandmother, and to try to remember that everything I write may be online for a long, long time. We all have differing opinions, we will disagree and we will make mistakes, but as long as everything we’ve published we wrote with respect, we can hold our heads (and typing fingers) high.

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