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David Every

Dave, you said, "As bloggers, we have no editor looking over our information and checking it for accuracy". While I agree with the sentiment, I think there's a fallacy that Newspapers and Television reporters do. Oh, they have J-School teachings in how to do what they do, which they may or may not follow (as Rather and others prove), they have people that do copy editing, but real fact checking or checking the accuracy of a story? The media is business; and that would take too much time / cost too much money. They skim, and only the most controversial have some limited liability protection type "cover their backsides" kind of double checking, but as Howell Raines proves, it isn't like they're doing even that job particularly well. One bad story will run wild. Most papers run AP or Reuters or other canned stories, and at best put a local spin on it, because it is too time consuming to do any real reportage. And it is "someone else's job" to make sure it is true or not.

I ask people if they were ever the subject of a story in the Newspaper, Magazine or Television, and what they thought of the quality of the output. Or the same for just watching reports on your area of expertise. I get very few positive responses.

The truth is many bloggers often far exceed the quality of the mainstream media because bloggers are usually blogging on their areas of interest/expertise. Newspeople are usually writing on subjects they don't know. Bloggers target the truth, or their audience (others interested in the subject). Reporters are trying to spin it for both the common man and make it more newsworthy and interesting, but of which may be less accurate. Bloggers aren't for profit, but just based on personal agenda/interest. Reporters have more mercenary motives, which aren't bad, but bias the output; like aggressive deadlines (as well as agendas) which lead to shortcuts. Think if you're a reporter, what's the quickest way to get the "facts" on a civil lawsuit (public interest story)? Go to the prosecuting attorney, which will give you all the facts and practically write the article for you -- from a completely one-sided view. This is why reporters love the consumer advocate stance, and almost never take a business advocate stance -- and so on. And it is far harder to explain to people the details of a case or the science, than spin a good villain and victim story. Also the sensational story generates more readership, which generates more money/opportunities to the reporter; training them how to write.

Lastly, is the issue of "no dissenting opinion". On that I disagree. Write something really controversial, especially when you're a high volume blog, there will be hundreds if not thousands of people, more than happy to explain the errors in your article and elaborate on your parentage. There isn't one fact checker, but thousands; rather you're right or wrong. Literally, I've received over 500 emails or links/references on a single article. While most are just short pro/con views, many will dissect in detail, others will give citations and so on; more than any Newspaper or Television fact checker would do. Heck, this post is an example of that. I've never gotten this much feedback from an article I wrote.

So I get tired of hearing of all the quality issues of bloggers. To me, the problems aren't any worse than the quality issues with regular media outlets; they are just different. All, IMHO of course.... ;-)

steve baker

Interesting post and response. I would remove what I consider to be an arbitrary division between blogs and mainstream. Some publishers, whether ink and paper or blogs, will earn a reputation for fairness, accuracy and accountability. Others will not. Everyone, being human, will continue to make mistakes. The upside when you make a mistake, as I did recently, is that it hopefully will put you back on your toes.

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