On Blogging

Over the past few months, I’ve paid more attention to blogging. I have a problem with the stream-of-consciousness and mostly thoughtless nonsense presented by many bloggers. And the disguised identities that many use allow them to hide in anonymity while they bash industry people and institutions.

When the Gemological Institute of America was in the midst of the grading scandal, there were numerous blogs spewing vitriol day after day going after Bill Boyajian, Tom Yonelunas, and others. Even today, a few diehards may continue to stoke the flames of alleged conspiracy and malfeasance.

In the July 27 edition of National Jeweler‘s online product, there were several nom de plume blogs commenting on the just-announced American Gem Society layoffs and the AGS Lab’s grading system. These blogs contained character attacks directed at two AGS and AGSL executives. Just so there is no misunderstanding, my opinion of blogs applies equally to JCK‘s online product as well. This is not a commentary on any specific publication.

A week ago, I had a conversation about blogging with Abe Sherman of Buyers International Group. Never bashful about expressing an opinion, and backed by facts sup-porting it, Abe has always signed his name to anything he writes, regardless of how controversial.

In today’s Internet-crazy world and the media’s almost universal failure to adapt to the instant communication this new venue offers, anyone with an opinion can get 10 seconds of recognition by having an industry publication publish what-ever they write without applying the normal journalism standards. Were a reporter to write about an executive using the phrase “nose up in the air,” it would never see the light of day. Nor would a description of another executive as a “know it all” or an allegation that both make too much money or the opinion that “they both should be let go.”

Then there is the other anonymous accuser claiming that the laboratory grades according to the status of the client, either a board member or a friend. This individual took personal responsibility by signing it “accurate truth.” Perhaps a better call sign might be “viper.”

Having spent nearly two years working with Ruth Batson and Peter Yantzer, I speak with personal firsthand knowledge of their competence, capability, and integrity. Defamation is the false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another. In my opinion both bloggers’ comments qualify.

If a newspaper or a magazine requires a name and an address with letters to the editor, why should bloggers be exempt from personally identifying their opinions? Signing your name to a piece requires careful thought about the opinion you wish to express. Making personal attacks on individuals who bear the responsibility of managing in these extraordinarily difficult times is unwarranted and unproductive.

The value of industry publications is reduced when they give voice to those who have nothing of value to offer. Professional, thoughtful, well-crafted insight and analysis is the product that is needed today.