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Monday, November 08, 2004

CBS: Blogger's 'Typing' NOT Journalism

Check out what CBS is reporting as "news" ...
Blogging As Typing, Not Journalism

As the election campaign unfolded, operators of some of the internet?s politics-oriented blogs, no doubt high on the perfume of many "hits" and their own developing sense of community, envisioned a future when they would diminish then replace the traditional media as the nation?s primary source of political news and commentary.
What?! We bloggers "envisioned a future" where we would "diminish then replace" the "traditional media" as the "primary source" of political news and commentary? Funny, I never really had that idea at all. Who is this guy to speak for the legions of bloggers? I certainly think bloggers can be part of the new media, challenging the old media; but certainly not replacing them... where do they think we get our info? We are commenting on what they have to say. If not for us, most Americans would have bought into the FAKE documents CBS tried to pass off as "proof" that the President lied to the American people. If not for us, the Swift Vets may never have had any mainstream attention at all. I truly believe that bloggers played a role in winning this campaign for Bush, and keeping America safe from the likes of John Kerry.

Blogging is democracy in action. It is a voice for every blogger, but more than that, it allows people to give instant feedback. Blogging is a dialogue. Instead of just getting the point of view of a bunch of editors and media elite, blogging gives a voice to everybody from doctors and lawyers to janitors and truck drivers. Soldiers, students, the most educated and least educated all have an opportunity to sound off on what is going on in the world. Instead of a vote every 4 years to give voice to the masses, the internet and blogging give any and everyone a voice every day on every issue.

Lets get back to the article...
One of the more self-important of these blog-ops, Andrew Sullivan, declared in a newspaper article in September that the internet upstarts had become, along with cable-TV, the new "powerbrokers in American politics and culture," primed to unseat "old media." In another piece he compared the new and old thusly: "Critics of blogs cite their lack of professionalism. Piffle. The dirty little secret of journalism is that it really isn?t a profession, it?s a craft. All you need is a telephone and a conscience and you?re all set." That hubris was rampant through much of blogland as election night rolled round.
Yeah, yeah, yeah... whoop-di-do. You quote ONE blogger and I suppose that one particular blogger must speak for everyone, eh? I don't read Andrew Sullivan's blog. He doesn't read mine. I know of him, but so what? Sullivan is a big-wig in the blogging world, but that doesn't make him the sole voice of the blogging world. All the quote from Sullivan shows is that he is an optimist who thinks blogging is more important than most folks do. Good for him. That doesn't make him right.
Big plans and big claims are to be expected from folks ? pajama-clad or not ? who are dabbling with new technology and new modalities of public expression. As a retired mainstream media ("MSM") journalist ? and thus a double-dinosaur -- I don?t begrudge these knights of the blog-table their grandiose dreams. But I worked on a school paper when I was a kid and I owned a CB radio when I lived in Texas. And what I saw in the blogosphere on Nov. 2 was more reminiscent of that school paper or a "Breaker, breaker 19" gabfest on CB than anything approaching journalism.
To be fair, take a look at much of what is being passed as "news" nowadays... I'm sure that even in a 'dinosaur' like Eric Engberg's career we will find articles here and there of a sub-par quality. To dismiss the entire blogosphere as being of the same quality as a high-school paper shows a certain arrogance and ignorance of what exists in the bloggosphere... I am not claiming that E*D is particularly well written, but I do know that there are several bloggers who ARE journalists and authors and that many bloggers write incredibly well written and researched posts. I don't count myself among the better bloggers, but that doesn't stop me from blogging either.
From early afternoon to very late in the evening, those who checked in with the leading political blogs like Drudge, Wonkette, Andrew Sullivan, evote,, Daily Kos, and others were given the distinct impression that John Kerry would win the election. The website, well-funded and generally a responsible voice, joined in the folly.

The bloggers, obtaining through leaks partial, in some cases suspect snippets of information from the early "cut" of data gathered by MSM through exit polls, were spreading a story that the network and wire service bosses knew to be incorrect because their own experts ? and their journalistic experience -- had warned them of the weaknesses in such data.
Oh give me a break! What sort of revisionist bull is this? The "MSM" was fed the same info as the bloggers and came to the same conclusions as the bloggers. "The network and wire service bosses knew [the info] to be incorrect because their own experts ? and their journalistic experience -- had warned them of the weaknesses in such data" Seriously, Engberg, do YOU even believe that? ALL of the MSM coverage of the election hinted that Kerry was going to win. If you read between the lines and listened carefully, the MSM was clearly hinting that Kerry had a big advantage and would likely win the election. The look of surprise and confusion on the faces of the news anchors when the actual poll results starting coming in said it all.

Sheesh, look at me defending the bloggers when I chose not to blog about the results until after the polls closed.
Kerry was "in striking distance" in Florida and Ohio, said the Drudge Report. The popular and smutty Wonkette site claimed it had "information" from "little birdies" showing Kerry up 52-47 in Ohio and 50-49 in Florida. "The national number that?s floating around right now: 51/49 K/B," wrote Wonkete, aka Ana Marie Cox. After repeating some of Wonkette?s numbers, Sullivan mused, "A Kerry landslide? Could be. Could be." He cautioned the numbers could be misleading, even as he was publicizing them.
Woah... Wonkette is smutty? Careful there, I have only happened upon Wonkette a handful of times, but I don't think that is a particularly nice or appropriate thing to say about the site. I wonder why reporting the same info the media elite was operating on and/or cautioning against buying into it fully should be criticized.
This is the kind of stuff we used to run in my aforementioned school paper, when the speculation surrounded who was going steady.
No it isn't! The polling info was bad and was probably leaked to try to hurt Bush's chances of re-election. Reporting what was referred to by a MSM giant as "all we had to go on" is not the same as reporting on high school gossip.
The difference is that the bloggers aspire to being a force in our public life and claim to be at the forefront of a new political-media era. It was clear to me, from following their efforts that night, that, unlike journalists, some blog operators who are quick to trash the MSM not only don?t care about the veracity of the stories they are spreading, they do not understand when there is a live hand grenade on their keyboard.
Don't care about the veracity of the stories they are spreading!?!?!?!? This from a former CBS journalist!!! I guess we bloggers don't have the integrity *cough* CBS Memogate *cough* to run only stories *cough* CBS/NYT Missing Weapons *cough* we know to be true *cough* ABC Halperin Memo *cough*
They appear not to care. Their concern is for controversy and "hits."
Ummm... look in the mirror, my friend. CBS wasn't all that concerned about the truth with some of their stories this election cycle. They had to retract a story because the Bloggers pointed out the memos were FAKE. What did CBS care about? The truth of the story or the ratings and impact on the election?

There is only one more thing in this piece worth commenting on... later in the article:
You did not see any of the networks or the AP put out misleading reports of a Kerry lead nationally ? or in the battleground states of Florida or Ohio. The editors, producers and executives who run these MSM organizations, in typical responsible, dinosaur fashion, know it would be wrong to do so.
How about calling a state before the polls are closed in that state? Sure that didn't happen in THIS election, but it wasn't all that long ago that the MSM screwed up pretty good. The ONLY reason you don't report the exit polls are because you fear more egg on your face... but you MSM guys didn't need to report the exit polls to us... we could see on the smarmy grins of the Kerry backing MSM that they thought Kerry was going to win.

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