Recently, at the end of a hang out session with this fellow I’ve been hoping to sleep with, he walked me to the door, gave me a quick hug and said: “I don’t really want to take anything further because I really don’t want you to write about it.”
I figured this would be an ideal transition into the rundown of my ethics, specifically when it comes to this blog. (What I write on this website DOES NOT represent or reflect any of the outlets or companies I do work for, but you know that already because you’re smart.)
When I sent this piece to a friend to read over, she bemoaned that it was really boring. I just see it as long overdue, much needed housekeeping. So unless you’re an ethics instructor or a writer interested in how other writer’s write, then you’ll probably tune out pretty soon. Alternatively, you can watch this.
1. I won’t write about anyone who doesn’t want to be written about.
All the main players in my life know about this blog and are aware when I write about them. Unless they ask me to do otherwise, I use their real names. If they want, I let them read a draft of my work before I publish it. I would never do this for the real journalism work I do with credible news outlets, because that’s poor journalism. However, this blog isn’t real journalism. It’s what I call fictionalized non-fiction. For varying degrees of this genre, also see Vice, Wiretap (which has been referred to as “Liartap”), and anything written by David Sedaris. Not quite James Frey, but almost.
I’ve also been a journalist long enough to understand issues like slander and poor ethics so I try to be as sensitive and smart as possible. Often, I change names, identifying details and sometimes context of events. I’ve never used a disclaimer (until now) to clarify any of this because I feel like it’s pretty obvious.
If I’m sharing a story about someone who doesn’t want to be written about, I will change the details of the person enough to make them insignificant, but not lose the strength or purpose of the story.
To me, the most important part of storytelling is connecting with others. The main reason I write is so that other people can relate, not to bring others down.
2. I don’t have bad intentions.
Deep down inside, I’m a good person. Ask anyone who knows me well, except several of my ex-boyfriends. (I have an 80 per cent batting average with my ex’s, in that I’m friends with the high majority of them.) My intention is never to embarrass or bring people down. I write about things that inspire me and, in my opinion, are worth writing about. I try to write about people I admire in a way that I think will make them look good, or funny, or important, or fuck-worthy. Basically I always try to create some hype around the people and things I believe in. I don’t believe in conflict of interest, sometimes to my detriment.
However, I realize I’m more in tune with writing about uncomfortable things and exposing myself than the average person. My intentions are never to make others uncomfortable. But, it usually works out that way, often to interesting results (see anything I’ve written for Vice). Luckily, people are usually game. I have certainly upset some people with things that I’ve written (right Bronx Cheer?), which is not a good feeling.
3. I’m always open to another side of the story.
I am a trained journalist so I know that all stories have at least two sides. Duh. I’m not interested in ever getting in a pissing match with anyone. I’m always open to hearing other people’s perspectives to things, particularly if they involve me. So if I get something wrong or recount an event that involves others, those people are always welcome to tell me their side of things. It wouldn’t be complete otherwise.
Tags: David Sedaris, Elianna Lev, Elianna Lev's ethics, ethics, ground rules, housekeeping, James Frey, Sorry I was really busy this week to write anything of substance, The curtain has been drawn, Vice, Wiretap, writing stuff