Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


This is Why We Won’t Shut Up and Go Away

You know, there's been a long line of Old Media types who preach about the superiority of journalism to blogging.

"We fact check. We have editors. We report the news, not personal opinions. You know who we are and you can trust us. Bloggers could be anybody, some fruitcake living in their parent's basement, writing anything they want with no responsibility whatsoever. They're dangerous, a menace to true journalists."

Well, they got the last part right anyway; we are a threat to old journalism, but for exactly opposite reasons.

We DO fact check, not just pretend to. Jayson Blair wouldn't last 5 minutes as a blogger.
We edit each other. Mistakes are corrected within hours and with a prominence undreamed of by old media. When was the last time you saw a correction box on the front page of the New York Times?
We link to the facts, allowing our readers to go to the source and make up their own minds.
You really know us, not some managed media version of us. Anyone who reads this blog knows exactly what my views are, how I came by them, and how I justify them. And if they don't, they are free to leave a comment and ask and I will answer. Can you say the same for Brokaw or Jennings?

Newsweek ran a story a few days ago claiming that US interrogators at Gitmo desecrated copies of the Quran in an attempt to get information from the detainees there. Naturally, the Islamic world reacted strongly to this news, and there were riots, demands for retaliation, calls for Jihad, and at least 12 deaths.

Call me crazy, but last time I checked, there were no deaths directly attributable to a blog post.

Like other old school media debacles recently, this is another story that simple common sense calls into question. For example, just how does inflaming the passions of a captive by desecrating an object he holds as sacred lead him to co-operating with you? Wouldn't that actually make them less likely to co-operate?

Funny that the editors of Newsweek failed to catch this contradiction. Maybe they were too busy checking for spelling errors.

Now, Newsweek is issuing a retraction, sort of. Apparently their "credible source" now says he didn't read about it in an investigative report. In fact, he can't remember where he read that interrogators flushed copies of the Quran. Earlier, he was sure it came from a military report, now he can't quite remember. Maybe he read it one one of those damned blogs.

Anyway, Newsweek has apoligized for the error, which I'm sure comes as great confort for the families of the 12 dead people and everyone else who's lives are just a bit more dangerous that they were 5 days ago. Interestingly though, while Newsweek apologized for the error, they didn't quite retract it.

We're not saying it absolutely happened but we can't say that it absolutely didn't happen either.

Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker

Isn't that neat? They retract the story because their source no longer backs it up, but don't retract the essential facts.

"Hey, it still might have happened. We just don't know!"

This is journalism?

Does this remind anybody else of the CBS non-retraction retraction of the forged memos back during the campaign? Where's the high standards we keep getting lectured about? Where's the fact checking and the editors, the unbiased and accountable journalists? Speaking of accountability, Newsweek has already said that they will not discipline any staff members for the "error."

Now, exactly how is old school journalism better than bloggers again?
Posted by Rich
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