Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Real journalism versus blog journalism

Tegan Goddard gives Kerry the Gore treatment with her piece wondering how on earth John Kerry could have made game 6 of the baseball world series playoffs on October 25, 1986, when a Boston Globe story puts him at an awards banquet at the time.

Turns out, according to a Kerry spokesperson, he attended both events, reaching the Red Sox game in progress. Now, there's no way to disprove it, but also no reason to doubt it.

(The other possibility was that the story is simply inaccurate, since these stories are often written up from press releases with no journalist there to actually mark off the roll.)

A journalist would, I suspect, be alert to both of these possiblities. And have actually checked with someone before running it.

A small thing, but of such small things large urban myths are spun -- such as the infamous Gore "Love Story" myth. Bloggers are good for many things, but as for nailing down stories -- best left to real journalists.

Alas, as we are seeing, real journalists are few and far between, as blog values take over. Take CNN's take on the Al Qaada explosives story. Like anxious twitchy fingered bloggers, a single report has had the network spinning for days -- in this case, the NBC news report from a reporter who was on the scene with the 2nd brigade of the 101st airborne, which indicated that the 380 tons of explosives had already gone by the time American troops reached the scene on the 10th of April.

Turns out that the troops indeed didn't find the explosives -- because they didn't look for the explosives. It's a huge facility, the soldiers were there on the way to somewhere else, and they hardly had the time to properly survey the place.

They did, however, find a whole lot of explosives lying around....