Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bluggers Suck

Digby gives us the latest version of "bluggers suck" and "journalists r000l" from the LA Times's David Shaw, who writes a column about why bluggers aren't high-minded journalists like him so they therefore don't deserve reporters' privilege.

One of my biggest pet peeves is how journalists, when talking about bluggers and blugging, construct these definitions of "journalist" and "news media" which exclude 90% of what their profession has become. "Journalists" are not some small subspecies of gumshoe reporters writing impeccably sourced and edited copy for respectable dailies. "Journalism" clearly includes "respectable" print dailies, tabloids, columnists, TV news reporters and anchors, Bill O'Reilly, talk radio hosts, gossip columnists, and partisan liars and propagandists of all kinds who are regularly given a platform. All of these people frequently mess up, as this lovely website documents regularly.

I'm happy for people to make serious criticisms of the blugosphere, though when they do they should stop comparing bluggers to something which is only a very tiny part of what modern day "journalism" is. And, while they're at it, they could focus some more attention on something they've been ignoring for years -- talk radio.

Shaw also includes the inevitable paragraph about bluggers and libel which they always like to screech about:

If I'm careless --- if I am guilty of what the courts call a "reckless disregard for the truth" --- The Times could be sued for libel ... and could lose a lot of money. With that thought --- as well as out own personal and progessional copmmittments to accuracy and fairness --- very much much in mind, I and my editors all try hard to be sure that what appears in ther paper is just that, accurate and fair.

ummm... David, "if I am guilty of what the courts call a "reckless disregard for the truth" *I* could be sued and lose a lot of money, or at least the little I have.

If you don't want to get sued for libel, uh, don't libel anyone. I'm not sure why journalists are obsessed with the concept of libel in relation to blugs. Libel isn't that difficult a concept to understand, and it isn't that hard to avoid doing it. Simple rule of thumb: be careful what you say about people who aren't clearly public figures. More generally, don't make shit up, don't make claims you know to be false, and make sure opinions are expressed as opinions rather than as statements of fact.