seems like all we have anymore is our reputation. Maybe that is all we ever had.
our reputation is getting more difficult to protect in today’s supercharged
virtual atmosphere, where Weblogs proliferate.
in point: last month’s presidential election, where early reporting on
exit-poll data floating around in the blogosphere incorrectly gave the
impression that John Kerry was benefiting from a powerful voter surge.
happened,” according to Jesse Drucker and Glenn R. Simpson of The Wall Street
Journal is, “the early exit polls were wrong in some cases.”
Blogosphere includes all Weblogs. Those blogs in turn, are heavily
interconnected with other blogs.
Palser, in her October American Journalism Review column, identified another
instance in which the blogs were wrong.
on the morning of Aug. 7, four versions of an Associated Press story reported
that video of a San Francisco man being decapitated had surfaced on the
Internet. The story had appeared on several Web sites.
even sent a breaking news e-mail alert: ‘Web site shows beheading of American
only problem, said Palser, was that the video was a hoax, “an experiment
produced in a Bay Area garage by three amateur filmmakers who wanted to see how
fast and how far it would spread.”
blogs, it seems, are designed to be cutting edge, reporting events early, before
all the facts may be known.
pursuing that route, there is a greater risk that those “reporting” can get
here in Colorado, at least in the community newspaper arena, one editor sees a
blog functioning differently.
intent is to encourage reader participation in the Tribune and to explain how
and why newspaper decisions are made,” says Chris Cobler, editor of the
Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, about his editor’s blog “Virtual Greality.”
want to hear every day about what you like - and don’t like - in your hometown
needs an editor,” says Cobbler. “I firmly believe this, of course, but
that’s not the spirit of most blogs. To keep the conversation moving quickly,
my posts will appear unedited. That means you may find some typos because the
writing doesn’t go through the newspaper’s normal editing procedures. Please
point out any mistakes you see, and I’ll stand corrected.”
the week this column was being written in early November, Cobler used the daily
blog to further explain his positions for a political candidate’s endorsement
by the paper, address concerns by school officials about a story on gang
activity and weigh in on “the myth of the liberal media.”
this age of self-directed journalism on Weblogs and the rush to be first -
perhaps at the expense of being right - we need to focus on journalism’s real
mission: to provide accurate, useful and timely information.
Barb Palser notes, “Traditional media may not be the gatekeepers anymore, but
they can provide a refuge of reliability.”
this light, it seems to me that Cobler’s approach is the correct one. He
offers the blog as a tool of communication and understanding of the
newsgathering process - not a source for unchecked facts, careless assumptions
and early speculation and conjecture.
Carrigan specializes in prepress systems for weekly newspapers. He is the
publisher of the Ute Pass Courier in Woodland Park, the Gold Rush in Cripple
Creek and the Extra in Teller County, all ASP Westward LP weeklies in Colorado.
He can be reached by e-mail at RCarrigan@aol.com