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April 04, 2006
Blogosphere and the Year of Scrutiny
Debbie Weil has a thoughtful post about whether the blogosphere will come under more scrutiny this year. Weil's argument: The more popular the blogosphere, the more attention is drawn to how the "ability for anyone to publish instantly - and globally - can so easily be abused."
She has a great example in how one universally acknowledged online truth--that Krytoptonite was braindead about blogs--isn't true. Her advice is to be a little more skeptical about passing around memes and rumors without checking them.
It makes me think in particular of how it's more common these days to float acquisition rumors on blogs without apparently checking them. Or at least without saying that they have spoken with the company, as PaidContent did here with a YouTube rumor. It might be part of the fast pace of blogging--the need to get out there first with a bit of news. Or it may be a tactic for getting sources to confirm news. But I am with Debbie in wishing that before they blogged, they called the company and put the company's comments in there.
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That would be nice, but you are literally asking a lot for the general blogging public: to be prudent in what is published.
That is what separates journalists from "citizen journalists," bloggers and others who have an online soap box: an expected and accepted set of ethical, professional standards.
That said, the more successful and well-read bloggers will offer some level of credibility and practiced responsibility. It's comparable to Adam Smith's invisible hand in free markets.
I think it will require companies to have a stronger online PR presence. Or, at least someone constantly monitoring and participating in the blogosphere and other online word-of-mouth vehicles to limit rumors and hearsay. (A former journalist, I now work in PR, so I may be a bit biased in that last thought.)
Posted by: Mike Driehorst at April 4, 2006 02:12 PM
I saw this and thought, what's the deal.
Can you give it a little scrutiny Heather?
What's the cost, other than free? What does it do?
Thanks in advance.
Virtual Server 2005 R2: Price, FREE.
Posted by: Jim Dermitt at April 4, 2006 02:18 PM
We never put the off the record sources out in front...if we had gone to YouTube PR, you know what their quote would have been. We try and cut out the lameness in journalism, not spread the wrong word. Who says the rule is to go to PR every time you have something? That's something constructed over the years by your predecessors.
We don't go to PR, if that's your notion of "without saying that they have spoken with the company".
We know what we know, speak who we need to, and write about it..
Posted by: Rafat at April 4, 2006 03:14 PM
I am not talking about pr. I am talking about company execs or investors. Just saying that there are rumors flying doesn't get you far. There have been tons of rumors about YouTube, for instance, but unless you can actually pin something down, that's just what they are.
Posted by: Heather Green at April 4, 2006 03:56 PM
I agree with Mike. I think each blog will set its own standards and practices in this area-- and develop its own level of credibility. There's no way to gain consensus. There may be some networks that establish ground rules, but that's about it. But I think many readers are sophisticated enough at this point to understand that blogs are as diverse as humanity, and that wild rumors on one blog don't undermine the serious approach on another.
That said, the great majority of Web surfers still don't read any blogs. But serious and reliable blogs have impact, even on non blog readers, because their ideas spread and seep into mainstream press, radio and TV.
Posted by: steve baker at April 4, 2006 04:53 PM
which is why the headline says rumors..that's the buss from DH, and if that's what i am reporting from there, that's what i will write.
i understand your point, from your perspective, but you're making the wrong analogy.
Posted by: Rafat at April 4, 2006 05:05 PM
Understand Rafat, I am not knocking your work. I think you do a great job. I am just trying to parse this. If you report something, it does seem to give it credibility. But maybe it's like Mike and Steve say, that there are different expectations for different mediums and different settings. Taking the YouTube example again, I heard the rumors too about the company being for sale when I was doing the profile for the magazine of the company's founders. But I couldn't confirm it so didn't put it in the piece. Different place, different expecations, as Mike and Steve say? I suppose it's a case of the learning what you're reading in what context.
Posted by: Heather Green at April 4, 2006 05:46 PM
BoobTube v2.0. Build your own TV set out of an old PC monitor and hook it up to the Internet and you have iTV v2.0. Hack a set top cable box with the McGyver technique and turn it into a virtual PC to save old movies and resend with a cot you convert into a VideoSlingShot. When you get done, build a bomb out of Bisquick and a new hang glider out of an old satellite dish and TV parts. Tune it in and go for the gold. Baby you're a star.
Posted by: Jim Dermitt at April 5, 2006 08:38 AM