Rolling Stone 1223 Cover
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Defending Rolling Stone

I subscribe to five magazines: Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair (print and digital) and Economist, New Yorker, and Rolling Stone (digital only). EW is cheap (as little as $10 a year), while the business weekly offers news analysis I mostly trust. New Yorker is for culture and the occasionally exceptional long-form feature. The other two deliver some of the best investigative journalism available anywhere. Today, I defend one of them, but also criticize its archaic news reporting methods.

Over the past few weeks, Washington Post leads blasting criticism against RS for story “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA“, which appears in issue 1223, Dec. 4, 2014. Online the dateline is November 19. The furor over the investigative report’s credibility is, ironically given the headline, a rape on Rolling Stone‘s credibility—and makes me just want to puke for the outrageous, holier-than-thou repudiation that should be pointed elsewhere. Mountains of irresponsibly-reported online news stories overshadow the amount of trustworthy content, yet the Post and other media outlets choose to gang-bang a magazine with standards for accuracy and accountability but also advocacy. The misdirected, and sometimes self-serving, attacks are shameful for their shamelessness.[Read more]

Donkey Driving Car
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Uber Should Drive Journalists to Accountability

Good for Uber for being transparent about investigating journalists. Bad for Uber for buckling to public relations pressure and renouncing an executive’s statements about the practice. Every company tracks journalists, or bloggers, covering it—to which I can attest from experience. PR pros and I have, in the past, discussed dossiers about me, because some put our relationship first. They feel dirty for keeping records and need to confess.

The ride-sharing startup would do nothing unusual by collecting the data, and there is good reason to want to use it. My profession is in a state of crisis. Sloppy sourcing practices spread rumors across the vast Internet landscape like environmental protestors throwing feces on corporate executives. Shit is shit, whether or not literal, and it all stinks. If the Fourth and Fifth Estates can’t be accountable for themselves—and they most certainly are not—victims of irresponsible reporting should protect their interests.

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Keyboard-and-Trackpad
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What is Clickbait?

My definition is the authoritative answer. Period. Journalists and their readers debate about what is clickbait, and also linkbait, and whether or not they are the same. They most certainly are not, and neither has a place in responsible journalism.

Both are constructs of the Google free economy—that is giving away valuable content subsidized by online advertising to get high search ranking. Problem: There is too much content, and too much of it alike, for ads to financially support. Excessive ad space means lower page rates and greater competition for advertisers. The shortage encourages even more clickbaiting and linkbaiting, which generate more pointless posts that suck limited advertising from high-value news content. [Read more]

Douchebag-Jar
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I’m Mad as Hell About Reprehensible News Sourcing

Maybe I should move forward with plans to launch site “Journalism? What the Fuck?” BGR’s irresponsible reporting (again) is so disgusting I could scream. Actually, I did. Today’s miscarriage of reporting could be a case study supporting the key takeaways from my March 2010 primer “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“. If you report news in any form, you should also read “Report! Don’t Repeat Rumors!“, posted 5 months ago.

BGR post “Report warns Apple might be facing a huge iPhone 6 Plus recall” is more than irresponsible, it’s reprehensible. Blogger Chris Smith sources a Business Korea story that makes the recall assertion, which should be corroborated. He offers no additional, or original, reporting, while using a source that makes claims based on absolutely nothing. [Read more]

The Buzz Monster
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Business Insider Buzz Cuts Sources on iPhone 6 HairGate

The weekend’s stupid Business Insider story using a 9to5Mac community post for a news story about iPhone 6 “HairGate” boiled my blood. So mad, on Sunday, I drafted, but didn’t post, KickStarter pitch for site “Journalism? What the Fuck?”; in August I registered domain journalism.wtf.

Seeing the story, I tweeted: “Get a buzz cut. Problem solved”. Followup: ‘If I got 5 people to post on some forum that #iPhone6 smelled like a urinal some blog would write about stinkgate. Stop the insanity!” The buzz cutting here is one of sources, or lack of any that are credible. [Read more]