New York Times = Unaccountable, Bloggers = Accountable

I'm with Atrios.  This attack on bloggers by the New York Times is a clear 'blogger ethics panel' moment.  Atrios writes:

The public relations industry existed long before bloggers came along and they had reporters' phone numbers long before they had the email addresses of bloggers. Barely edited press releases have long been published, especially at smaller newspapers. I get press releases and information from all over the place all the time. Obviously disclosure is a nice idea if there are any financial relationships, a practice not always followed by our hallowed 4th estate, but if people want to devote their blogs to throwing up Wal Mart press releases they're free.

The main reason stories like this are even written is that contrary to popular opinnion the internet often provides a lot more transparency even when there are efforts to hide it. Astroturfing operations of various kinds through all media are nothing new, they're just usually harder to track. If Wal Mart pays 50 people to call talk radio all day and extol its virtues would anyone know?

Atrios is right.  The structure of the internet makes this stuff much harder to hide.  Blogs aren't transparent because bloggers are nice people, they are transparent because of Google, links, comments, and the low cost of entry.  Journalistic ethics are often treated as if Google, links, comments, and blogger don't exist.  They do.  And it's about time journalists update their mindsets rather than screeching 'internet scary'.

Let's put it another way.  If I found a major error in a Times story, I could email the public editor or Bill Keller, and it would be up to them whether to do anything.  If I found that Atrios wrote something incorrect, I could put it on my blog, his blog, email him, email right-wingers or start a new blog in five minutes called 'AtriosWatch'.  And he would notice, as would others.

The same is true in PR-land.  So what if bloggers reiterate what Walmart wants them to say?  It's not like you can only information on Walmart from right-wing bloggers.  It's not like you can't disprove them.  Why is the New York Times so afraid of the internet?  Is it because if the Times actually made itself accountable to the public it purports to serve then Adam Nagourney-style 'Dems are divided according to Tom Vilsack' opinion journalism would be revealed as the shallow bloviating it is?

UPDATE: Andrea Batista Schlesinger has more.

Tags: blogging, Blogosphere, New York Times (all tags)

Comments

10 Comments

Durable link to throwaway story

Ironical, huh?

I think the guy's pitching to the Comedy Channel for his own show. If Colbert does O'Reilly, why can't this guy do Kurtz?

And I'm not sure that Ms Schlesinger (any relation?) isn't doing the same. Has she read any AdNag before? Or  Judith Miller? Or Wilgoren or Pickler or Schmidt or Bumiller or...

I give up!

by skeptic06 2006-03-07 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Durable link to throwaway story

I'm totally confused by this comment. AdNag has been all over the NY media for ages as he used to report on local politics. Maybe its my cold talking but I can't tell what by skeptic06's comment is saying about the DMIblog post or who Andrea shares the same last name as (she's not related to whoever you think it is).

Please clarify.

by DMIer 2006-03-07 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Durable link to throwaway story

Apologies: laconic and flippant not a good combination!

I was merely saying that the Times piece, read straight, was such a monumental piece of chuztpah (given the Judith Miller/Chalabi combo, and, in particular, the extreme reluctance of editor Keller and publisher Sulzberger to admit that they have anything to apologize for in their running of her version of his lies) that I was led to assume it was a spoof.

A spoof of a media critic prepared to see the motes in the eyes of others, but strangly unable to spot the beams in his own, and those of elite journalists working for his current or possible future employers.

Hence (Howard) Kurtz.

The Schlesinger piece I thought showed a breathtaking naivety    or unfamiliarity with the way that political journos operate (as relentlessly catalogued by lefties during the 04 campaign, with watchblogs on the named hacks, and much high dudgeon at their peddling trivia (remember Kerry's cheesesteaks with Swiss cheese?) damaging to Dem candidates, rather than concentrating on the issues).

As if that was ever going to happen!

And the Schlesinger I was thinking about was famed Dem chronicler Arthur Schlesinger, Jr (not to be confused with his also historian father).

(I didn't notice the Batista otherwise I'd probably have made a Cuba gag.)

I should have stood in bed.

by skeptic06 2006-03-07 12:59PM | 0 recs
Bloggers ain't fools

 And when there's a stooge posting on a blog he's easily exposed.

by Landsurveyor 2006-03-07 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Bloggers ain't fools

Care to elaborate?

by skeptic06 2006-03-07 10:19AM | 0 recs
The Law

"We have to address the fact that the president has broken the law." -- Senator Russ Feingold

by Landsurveyor 2006-03-07 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: New York Times

It boils down to bloggers have a load more accountability than the mainstream does. Its like they think we are doing this for all the fame and fortune. Yeah right.

One thing I have a major problem with is the fact that us in the political blogosphere are always lumped together with the adolescent myspacers that post their life stories on the internet. That just makes me sick. It would be like lumping the WAPO or NYT with other print like Hustler of Jugs.

Keep up the great work Matt.

Jamie
http://www.intoxination.net

by hovercrafter 2006-03-07 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: New York Times

IN A POLICE STATE, ONLY THE CLANDESTINE PRESS IS TRULY FREE.

by Bush Bites 2006-03-07 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: New York Times = Unaccountable, Bloggers = Acc

Less Vilsack bashing, please.  :-)

by ItsDrewMiller 2006-03-07 03:02PM | 0 recs
Re: New York Times = Unaccountable

It is not the blogger's actions that bother me. A blog is like a barndoor as far as I care. It is someone's to do as they please with. Open, shut, paint it, burn it down. Your call.

It is the intent of Walmart. It reminds me too much of military propaganda posing as news releases. I do not care for sneakiness like that.

by akhenaten 2006-03-07 04:13PM | 0 recs

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