All of My Distortions Lack Purpose

Dick Rogers, ombudsman of the San Francisco Chronicle, compares bloggers to the ink-stained wretches in his profession:

Other [bloggers] poke at contemporary issues but toss responsibility out the window. Five minutes with an Internet directory such as will turn up blogs that don't even bother to guess at the truth. They traffic in falsehood, innuendo and purposeful distortion. Journalism? I sure hope not.

I challenged him in e-mail to name five actual weblogs that run knowingly false and distorted items. I can't think of five, much less find five new ones in a quick skim of a weblog directory.

If he had accused webloggers of being less cautious in their claims than pro journalists, I'd agree. One reason caution flies out the weblog is the ability to learn about and correct mistakes in record time.

I worry less about making errors on Workbench than I did working at a newspaper, because I know people are more likely to call me on them quickly. Every comment thread is an opportunity for a reader to tell the world I'm stupid.

The weblog format also lends itself much better to corrections than a newspaper. All my corrections get exactly as much play as the original gaffe.


Let us know if he responds.

One of the troubles with journalism, and I spent many years in newsrooms, is that journalists are generally so poorly educated, they can't recognize false or distorted items. Most journalism courses of study require little or no math, science and philosophy, so the graduates are never taught to think logically - and, this is even worse, they don't know they are unable to think logically.

The big difference between main stream journalism and blogging is that main stream journalists fail to recognize when they stray from straight reporting into opinion - bloggers almost always are expressing opinion, know it, and intend it.

I'd be interested in learning if he responds, too. Let's see if he spots actual error or simply a difference of opinion.

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