Sunday, September 13, 2009


The current movie Julie and Julia recounts the true story of Julie Powell, a blogger who decided to spend a year cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Well into her effort Powell (Amy Adams) runs into a problem: The night before a dinner with an important editor, she sleeps through the timer and her main dish is ruined. The following day she calls in sick to work, in order to remake the meal. At her husband's suggestion, she writes in her blog that she has been laid low by a cold, so as to avoid having her bosses find out the truth from her blog.

Independent of the ethics of calling in sick when you're not sick, which have been thoroughly explored in this column, is it wrong to lie about this sort of thing in a personal blog? Or, because the blog is the writer's personal expression and is read only by those who choose to, can the blogger make up anything he or she likes?

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Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2009 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)


Anonymous said...

A lie is a lie,is a lie. No matter if it's to your boss or in a blog.
Once I find that someone has lied, for whatever reason,I can never entirely trust them again.
New Windsor, NY

Anonymous said...

This example is simply a part of the foolishness of part of today's method of communication, carrying a new technology to the extreme, thinking that putting something in a blog is entirely separate and qualifies as "personal", apart from any other type of communication. In today's world, there is no such thing as something personal on the internet and blogs. You write it, it's there for all to see. We see problems of thinking such communications are personal and finding out otherwise in examples from our "elite" athletes and entertainers and now this silly idea from a movie of cooking all the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook and ruining one recipe and making up a lie to stay home and re-do the recipe. As Anonymous said, a lie is a lie. I don't know which is sillier, the premise for the movie or the attempt to cover up the recipe failure and the machinations with the spouse and her boss using the supposed personal nature of a personal blog.

Charlie Seng
Lancaster, SC

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the link, but unfortunately it seems to be offline... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at could post it.


Anonymous said...


I have a question for the webmaster/admin here at

Can I use some of the information from your post right above if I provide a link back to your website?


Jeffrey L. Seglin said...


E-mail me directly at and let me know what you had in mind.

Jeffrey L. Seglin said...


What link are you looking for?