I find the layout of Google News to be abysmal on Pixel Slate compared to Android or iOS devices. The mobile app presents poorly, and that’s kindly stated, running on Chrome OS. But occasionally, GN […]
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.
June 2009, the future of 21st Century journalism moves with protestors across Iran’s capital. In an area somewhat removed from the commotion, philosophy student Neda Salehi reportedly steps from a car and is soon shot by a sniper. A bystander videos her death and uploads it to YouTube. The moment becomes the rallying point for demonstrators in the country and for spectators from around the globe. It is a seminal moment of change for the news media.
The next night, June 21, I write:
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.
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”.
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.