The Dead Tree Press charge against the increasing influence of bloggers is often that we have no rules regarding what we write and no concern for the law. With the exception of those of us that hold, or run for, office, bloggers have very little to fear if they gets things wrong or upset people.
Yet I think the past few weeks have somewhat laid that one to rest - bloggers may not have laws dictating what we can or cannot do, but I now believe there is a level of e-accountability.
Poor Alex Hilton (aka Recess Monkey) got into hot water when he upset everybody on the right of politics by declaring that Thatcher had died, when dear old Maggie was alive all along. He got rightly abused and, as a result, a great many people (myself included) now don't visit his site. You'll notice I won't even link to him ... if your hits fall, credibility sinks and you decend into irrelevance.
Guido's mauling on Newsnight last night was a similar fate for Paul Staines. Guardian hack Sir Michael White gave him a sound thrashing - with a chortling Paxo on stand-by - and his idiotic insistance on anonymity looked foolish. As an avid reader of his site, I do now find my confidence battered. I wonder how many people will stop reading him as a result?
You see, it isn't true to say that bloggers can say what we like and be damned ... there probably won't be court cases and writs issued, but a loss in confidence and credibility hits equally hard.
Guido and the Monkey are down, but certainly not out. But they'll both have to work hard to build up again.