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January 05, 2006
Reporting on the Job: Take Two
Steve Rubel posted about a theme that I am constantly wrestling with when it comes to blogging. Prompted by a thoughtful comment from Jon Garfunkel, Rubel writes about the question: To what length should bloggers go to verify the truth?
Blogging has been a learning experience for me. That's not really a surprise to me, since magazine reporting was a learning experience as well. These are crafts. But as I have progressed in blogging, I have learned to be more careful, not less.
Here's one small example. Feeling the pressure to blog often, I would point blithly to different posts and information online. Pointing was different than reporting, right? But I have learned that by pointing, you give credibility. You either have to frame how you point, just as you frame how you write a story or a commentary in a magazine, or you don't point at all.
Maybe there is something in the air, but just yesterday, after tripping over an old email from Garfunkel, I was reminded of this. The email was exactly about this issue, pointing without verifying. It wasn't a big deal, simply a research report. But I remember well how it reinforced my feeling that I needed to be more deliberate about blogging. So much for wacky freedom!
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And, with you and Stephen being professional journalists -- and other journalists who blog -- there is a higher level of expectation, when it comes to accuracy.
We all make mistakes (jumping to conclusions, not checking when it'd be easy to do, etc.), but as a journalist first and then a blogger, you have much more of an accuracy burden.
With that, however, also comes increased credibility.
Also, as I commented at Micropersuasion, for most bloggers, we all have to be careful about taking as gospel what we read on their blogs. Bloggers should fact-check when it can be done. This is especially true for those who try to be citizen journalists. We all realize, however, that you can't check every fact.
Posted by: Mike Driehorst at January 5, 2006 10:22 AM
Good point. The reporting debacle of the miners tragedy was an example of reporting without verifying. I was very relieved after linking to a story about Microsoft's reported buy-out of Opera Software that I had labeled it as "unconfirmed." The question is whether it's worth linking to such posts at all.
Posted by: steve baker at January 5, 2006 10:22 AM
This is interesting, that you as a journalist found freedom from the editorial process with blogging.
Yet in the process discovered the same path many other bloggers have trod before, that bloggers really need many of the journalists’ skills and approach in order to be credible with their audience.
I think this is something both you and Stephen can provide to the non-journalists bloggers out there who are corporate blogging, some advice on the journalistic approach in writing blogging posts.
Posted by: John Cass at January 5, 2006 05:36 PM
Related to the above backstory I'll return to reading Blogspotting again.
And if you're pushing yourself to higher standards,
Steve's lazy post today doesn't offer me much comfort.
A registration system for the comments would be a ncce step forward-- protects your users' reputations, and it can liberate you from having to manually approve every post.
Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at January 6, 2006 08:35 AM