Thursday, April 15, 2010

Unrestrained Journalism

Yesterday (April 14) I was interviewed by an Australian broadcaster in connection with Blogging Heroes. It happened that the evening before I had seen an interview with Ted Koppel on BBC's American service. (Yes, he left Nightline for the Discovery Channel and the BBC.) The subject of the discussion was blogging--specifically, the legitimacy of news from blogs.

As expected, Koppel came out supporting mainstream media as superior to blogs. He didn't mount an attack on blogging, but he did make one good point, which I brought out during my interview. The big difference between conventional news media and blogs can be found in the fact that most blogs do not vet their news. It is true, of course, that non-vetted items make it through to newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV broadcasts. But blogs tend to go with far less verification than mainstream media. And "citizen journalists" often don't have the background necessary to see the story behind the story.

This being the state of things, it is a wise course to verify news with multiple sources. But that applies not just to blogs, but mainstream media, as well. Mainstream sources are known to to slant coverage and omit facts, which is sometimes more dangerous than getting the story wrong.


Kaz Augustin said...

What I like about blogs is that they are also a funnel for news from all over the place. So, if the WaPo or NYTimes won't run a particular story because they don't like the implications? No probs, there are blogs with links to other papers in the world that don't have such sensitivities.

Blogs serve not only as alternate mouth-pieces (and I take your point about veracity) but useful aggregators of intel (with live links to check!). I see them as a great, and critical, competitor to the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

When I was in high school (pre-Internet) I listened to Radio Moscow to get their take on things. I learned quite a bit about propaganda from that. (That, and the Government teacher whose contract the school didn't renew because we played a game called "Propaganda" in class.)

I'm probably overly sensitive to the nuances that come through any information-delivery service, and the info conveyed about the entity delivering the story. My motto: check everything.