Tag: news media

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Responsible Reporting Takes Time

I rarely go to Facebook, but my niece was in San Diego County for a few days, and checking up on her travels was a must. During the brief FB foray, a Newsfeed post nipped my attention. Erica Toelle asks: “Bloggers, how long does it take you to write a 1,000 word, well researched and well-written article? I realize ‘it depends’ but it’s usually longer than 4hrs, right? I’m working with under-documented technology and usually have to try it to understand how it works”.

The question is hugely relevant at a time when speed too often trumps accuracy—or accountability—and many writers must meet (often ridiculous) daily quotas. Then there is the controversy about so-called fake news.

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Praise Be Citizen Journalists

On this Easter, like others, I think about resurrection—but this day, strangely, how it should apply to the news media. Three years ago, I wrote largely-overlooked ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. The concept germinated from my June 2009 essay “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, following protests in the country that citizens documented on social media/self-publishing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which at the time were little more than three years old (with respect to availability to the public). I predicted that these nascent services would disrupt editorial monopolies on news and other information, which has occurred in varying degrees during the nearly eight years since.

By March 2010, a troubling trend lead me to write what would become the other genesis for the book: “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“. Too many news gatherers single-source blog and socially-shared posts, without independently confirming their accuracy. As I have told my reporters over the years, when working as an editor: Write only what you know to be true. If you haven’t communicated directly with the source, then you don’t know what’s true. But I am more disturbed by social media activity that mainstream media presents as news, such as stories that turn trending topics, or simply single tweets, into clickable headlines. Often they’re unconfirmed filler for driving pageviews. 

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You’ve Been Misled About Fake News

I am ashamed and embarrassed to be a journalist. This past week’s coordinated attacks on so-called fake news sites—largely orchestrated by the mainstream media and supported by Internet gatekeepers like Google and social media consorts such as Facebook or Twitter—is nothing less than an assault on free speech by organizations that should protect it.

They blame so-called fake news sites for influencing the 2016 Presidential election in favor of real-estate mogul Donald Trump and seek to extinguish them. But the Fourth Estate really responds to a perceived threat that looks to upend the mainstream media status quo. More appalling is the rampant advocacy journalism wrapped in cloak of objectivity from news orgs like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Meaning: Anti-Trump editorial policy and reporting slants are as biased as the labeled fakers. Worst of all: Many, if not most, media outlets fail to acknowledge, if even see, how they failed the American public during the campaign. Their accusations should point inwardly, not outwardly to other information disseminators.

So there is no misunderstanding: I am not a rabid Trump supporter, but a journalist who separates personal sentiments from my ethical responsibilities. More of my peers should do likewise.

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credit: Roger H. Goun

Reporting Accuracy Starts with Responsible Sourcing

If you’re a blogger or journalist and read nothing else this week, make it New York Times story “Paris Attacks Give Rise to Fakes and Misinformation“. The Nov. 16, 2015 postmortem shows why, why, why I constantly harp about responsible sourcing. The Internet is not a reliable news source. You must corroborate and should, never, never, never second source anything you can’t confirm independently, or, in the case of breaking events, you can trust reliably.

I’ve been bitching on this blog since posting, in May 2010, “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“; September 2011 followup: “Single Sourcing is the Source of News Evil“. Or you can refer to the chapter on sourcing from my ebook Responsible Reporting: A Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers

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credit: Roger H. Goun

When News Sourcing is Conflict of Interest

Some days you see yourself as a blithering idiot. Add Nov. 19, 2014 to my confessional. While doing my morning routine, before brain fully engages and random synapses fire fleeting inspirations, I stopped cold with chilling realization about the evils of blog or news site B sourcing A—and only A—or visa versa. What if there is unseen, or even hidden, financial benefit, such as sharing advertising networks? In a way, everyone using Google AdSense already meets that criteria. Consider me the dumb-ass (and you wouldn’t be alone) for not making the connection sooner.

I am a longstanding critic of news, or so-called news, sites sourcing someone else’s reporting. My March 2010 diatribe “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism” is must-read for any news gatherer regarding responsible sourcing. The topic also gets big treatment in my book Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. The four year-old post is free and still relevant, so start there.

Mutual financial benefit moves the sourcing problem from reporting ethics to blatant conflict of interest, whether real or perceived.

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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. 

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Report! Don’t Repeat Rumors!

I don’t know if Google is strategically realigning its social network, nor if that is reason for Vic Gundotra’s sudden departure from the company. Google+ is, or was, his baby. But I do know what is irresponsible reporting, and there is plenty of it among tech bloggers and journalists. TechCrunch leads the pack, but the real offenders are those who follow along—news gatherers who repeat rather than report.

Following Gundotra’s April 24 departure announcement, Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino posted at TechCrunch: “Google+ is Walking Dead”. The headline is compelling and clickable and would be worthy of praise if not for the anonymous sourcing. The story claims major reorganization that reduces the service’s role: “Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform…Google+ is not ‘officially’ dead, more like walking dead”.

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The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism

For the most part, blogging is not journalism. That’s my response to the longstanding debate about whether bloggers are journalists. Bloggers who don’t apply good standards of journalism shouldn’t be offered the same privileges as journalists. Similarly, journalists who fail to apply the same good standards should be stripped of privileges and prestige.

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Fake Steve Jobs is Revealed!

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs is one acerbic—and hugely popular—Weblog. Also known as Fake Steve Jobs, the author has had quite a following over that last 14 months. There has been a concerted effort to reveal Fake Steve Jobs’ identity. No longer.

In New York Times story, “A Mystery Solved: ‘Fake Steve’ Blogger Comes Clean“, reporter Brad Stone reveals the identity as Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes. Today, Fake Steves acknowledged, “Damn, I am so busted, yo“. 

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Microsoft’s Lap Dogs

I recently nearly canceled my subscription to all my Ziff-Davis publications—and I still may. My disgust with the outrageous favoritism toward Microsoft had been brewing for months. I read news reports and reviews no one short of Microsoft’s flagship PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, could be spinning. Editors, rather than doing their jobs, were printing the gospel according to marketers holed up in a Redmond, Wash. closet.

The final straw was a July PC Computing article titled, “Office 97 vs. The World”. There contributors Leslie Ayers, Peter Deegan, Lee Hudspeth, T.J. Lee, Woody Leonhard, and Eileen Wharmby explained why Microsoft’s newest rendition of its productivity suite replaced virtually all other business programs.