Jumping Over the Lazy Dog

In another story about the no-holds-barred cage match between journalists and bloggers, Samantha Israel writes that she only has been corrected once by a reader.

Let's go for two.

Israel writes:

More than arrogant, some old-time reporters think bloggers are plain old lazy. Former CBS news correspondent Eric Engberg made himself clear in his "Blogging as typing, not journalism" article on CBSNews.com last November. "Given their lack of expertise, standards and, yes, humility," he wrote, "the chances of the bloggers replacing mainstream journalism are about as good as the parasite replacing the dog it fastens on." The dog certainly bit back when it revealed that Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who averages more than 350,000 visitors a day to his Daily Kos political blog, was paid US$12,000 to promote Howard Dean's campaign for the Democratic nomination.

The mainstream press didn't reveal that deal. Zuniga disclosed it to his readers in June 2003:

I spent this weekend in Burlington, VT, where we officially accepted work on behalf of presidential candidate Howard Dean. Dean joins a Senate candidate in our still small but hopefully growing roster of clients.

He also put a prominent disclaimer on the home page of his site, "I do some technical work for Howard Dean," linking the word disclaimer to a full description of the financial relationship. You can see this yourself in the Internet Archive's June 2003 copy of the Daily Kos home page.

I'm not aware of a single mainstream media web site that displays its conflicts of interest as prominently and permanently as Zuniga did.

The only thing journalists revealed about this deal was an inability to do even cursory fact checking, misleading people into thinking that a fully disclosed financial relationship was shady Armstrong Williams-style payola.

In an article where she offers a derisive "sor-ry" to the only reader to correct her, Israel continues this trend. The fact that this slanderous falsehood lives on in the mainstream media, even turning up in a high-minded academic review of journalism, demonstrates one reason that readers might turn to bloggers for information.


I spent 15-years in newsrooms. I don't recall any reporter ever researching anything other than on the AP wire. They accepted what sources told them without question and editors usually edited only for copy - not fact. Telephone calls and viewer/reader mail were regularly scoffed at as coming from ignorant fools, and they were dismissed without consideration. I find the claims of mainstream media folks to greater accuracy because of their own internal controls to be nothing more than self-aggrandizing foolishness. It's no wonder people are turning to alternative media.

Sounds like you worked for a darned fine newspaper. Gannett?

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.

Inside a dog, it's too dark to read.

-Groucho Marx

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