Newspapers and Journalists Scared by New Media?

By Daniel Scocco

I was browsing through my RSS reader this morning and I came across an article that was published by the New York Times last Saturday. The piece was titled Get the Tech Scuttlebutt! (It Might Even Be True.), and it was basically questioning the credibility of blogs (especially the tech ones), which according to the article often publish rumors without the care to check sources and verify facts.

My thoughts after reading it? What a bunch of hypocrisy.

There are two reasons for my reaction. First of all I won’t deny that blogs get it wrong sometimes, but so do newspapers! Jeff Jarvis, who was following the discussion around that article, posted on Twitter that it is pretty easy to find rumors spread by the New York Times, too (and he links to two examples).

Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, also run an extensive response to the NYT article, where he mentions another couple of stories where the mainstream newspaper screwed up.

The second reason for my reaction is what Jeff Jarvis called Product vs. Process Journalism. Here is a quote from it:

In The Times, Damon Darlin goes after blogs for publishing rumors and unfinished stories, calling it a “truth-be-damned approach” and likening it to yellow journalism, the highest insult of the gray class. He hauls out the worst example again – just as bloggers trying to go after MSM reporters do: the Steve Jobs heart attack rumor and Times WMD reporting (or Jayson Blair or Dan Rather), respectively.

Darlin leads with TechCrunch and Gawker sharing bogus rumors of Apple buying Twitter. He acknowledges that TechCrunch said in its post that it could not confirm the story. But still, he uses it to jump to the first of his broad-brush generalizations: “Such news judgment is not unusual among blogs covering tech. For some blogs, rumors are their stock in trade.” Couldn’t one say the same thing about political reporters who spread rumors and trial balloons, knowing they are just that, or business reporters feeding rumors and speculation about mergers or firings? Blogs are hardly alone in scoop mentality. Newspapers invented scoops.

I think Mr. Jarvis has hit the nail on the head with his post.

The NYT article is basically slamming blogs for publishing rumors that can’t be confirmed. What they are missing is that those blogs are not passing those rumors as truths, but rather being upfront with their readers and letting them see where the things are coming from. Some of the rumors turn out to be wrong and die, while others evolve (often with the interaction of readers, bloggers and anyone else involved in social media), and end up becoming real stories.

As long as the process is handled with 100% transparency, I don’t see anything wrong with it. In fact, it could even be a better approach.

New media is not destroying real journalist, it is becoming part of it and changing it at the same time.




Share

21 Responses to “Newspapers and Journalists Scared by New Media?”

  • Michael Aulia

    That is so true. I even find errors and incomplete reviews on Gamespot and other popular gaming sites. Tech blogs (like mine) aren’t necessarily better than those “credible” ones but sometimes it IS better because often it has no relationship with the media/client so the writer can write freely

    I think health related blogs are the most sensitive among others and non-techie people often don’t realize the credibility of a blog.

  • Joel

    I started a blog on a topic that I deal with everyday at work (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, aka LEED rating system for buildings). Since then, the site has grown high enough on page rankings where I frequently get calls from reporters (ranging from local business journals to major trade publications to the NYT itself) whenever they’re tasked by their editors to write something about the latest LEED building or something similar.

    In the overwhelming majority of the times I’m cited, some detail or quote is misstated. In the NYT article about LEED-Homes rating system for instance, a quote from me discussing the commercial version of the system was stated in a way that made it sound like I was talking about a residential project. I came off sounding pretty stupid to anyone who knows better, as the particular quote referenced a credit that doesn’t even exist in the residential version. Three times my location and the headquarters of the company I work for (the blog is my own, separate hobby) have been misstated.

    My point is that I feel like on the whole, trade oriented blogs are probably more on the money than traditional media. I don’t see how they couldn’t be, especially as the niche gets deeper and deeper (the max. total audience for my blog is probably 75-100K people worldwide – all professionals in design and construction). I would never have made the mistake between commercial and residential versions of the system that the reporter from NYT made, as I deal with these issues every day, not just when an editor needs a particular story.

    Though we may be more likely to report a rumor, I’m far less likely to simply regurgitate a corporate press release into a story (though exceptions exist). I’ve seen the trade journals in architecture and engineering to be particularly guilty of this, accepting whatever the US Green Building Council releases and thinly rearranging the components just enough to sound like a new article. My local paper is not immune either, as they largely reprinted a press release about a study on forthcoming traffic problems from an industry association composed of people who design and install roads for a living! There wasn’t the faintest attempt to find a dissenting opinion…

    I realize there are many types of blogs and motivations for blogging, but I would suspect my story is fairly representative of the practice as a whole. I have a really hard time seeing how traditional trade media will survive. I think there will always be a need for the NYT, my local paper, and other more general news sources (though perhaps not in print form), but I feel like the prognosis for traditional trade and niche reporting is not favorable.

    I have zero overhead (excuse me… I spent $36 to lock down my domain for three years), work in the industry I blog about, and in general am passionate about getting new information on the subject out to my readers. I do have google ads on the site, but that’s more of a “why not” issue than being driven by any desire to turn this site into a true income generation source for me. I frequently beat trade publications on related reviews and news bits, if for no other reason than the fact that they have to wait for their publishing date.

  • BizDharma.com

    The simple question that comes to my mind is aren’t newspapers publishing gossip and cheesy content to get the readers plugged.

    Its just the way we look at it. Example, Newspapers do follow celebrity affairs which many a times are not true but provides some sort of entertainment value. I guess blogs in this regards are much faster and slicker which leaves journalists gasped.

    Finally if you think a blog is going to post simple crap without reference do you think it will survive?

    When I posted just a couple of hours ago, which is controversial I believe its my duty to provide each and every link that is supposed to be associated with the post.

  • Dino

    Interesting post indeed, going through it again. Pleasure meeting you by the way! 🙂

    Dinono.com

  • Shirley @ Solo Business Marketing

    I’m so glad that The New York Times finds such validity in blogs that they give the topic space in their advertising-dwindling paper. I guess that’s where the space comes from.

    If the article is online, there’s probably a place beneath it for readers to blog about the subject.

  • Zoli

    I like your tips and information. I run several WP powered blogs and your articles helped me a lot.

  • Trent Brownrigg

    I think both sides can be biased but overall blogs and newspapers do a good job and giving the news or whatever topic they happen to be writing about.

    New media is definitely part of journalism now and it’s here to stay… it will continue to grow exponentially.

  • Chester

    Oh well the constant thing in this world is change. As you said new media is not destroying real journalist, it is becoming part of it and changing it at the same time. So just be it.

  • Used trucks

    ohh this newpapers are very boring personally… though its gves up the whole world news up to date.. bt wen it cmes realting to sme persons life, thy write all rubbish n tries 2 stretch that particular news as much as thy cn..

    So personally i thnk this journalist does a very bad job smetimes.. wch are nt tolearble at all…

    bt glad to hear dat The New York Times finds such validity in blogs:)

  • مقاطع لورنس

    The simple question that comes to my mind is aren’t newspapers publishing gossip and cheesy content to get the readers plugged.

    Its just the way we look at it. Example, Newspapers do follow celebrity affairs which many a times are not true but provides some sort of entertainment value. I guess blogs in this regards are much faster and slicker which leaves journalists gasped.

    Finally if you think a blog is going to post simple crap without reference do you think it will survive?

    When I posted just a couple of hours ago, which is controversial I believe its my duty to provide each and every link that is supposed to be associated with the post.

  • Tom Bradshaw

    I think both blogs and newspapers have an important role to play. Blogs have no million dollar bosses to answer to and dictate them and are free to break the news as soon as it happens – and stories which are sometimes overlooked by newspapers and television. Whereas a newspaper has the power and resources to be able to break major news stories – best seen with the Telegraph in the UK, who used old fashioned journalism to expose the MPs expenses scandle.

  • excITingIP.com

    I have stopped reading news papers in the morning for the reason that I find all the stories are biased. (False stories are different from biased ones). Blogs are much better.

    excITingIP.com

  • Ben Moreno

    First of all, regardless if blogs sometimes publish rumors, the major media companies are usually completely biased. There is so many factors that determine what they publish and for what reason.

    Usually, it is money related and or popularity contests. Then you got stations like Fox who go out of their way to try to convince you they are “fair and balanced”. Why would they have to go out of their way to tell you that? lol

    Journalism is supposed to be neutral. People are supposed to report it as they see it. Not true for our major media outlets. They censor things and usually only report entertaining stories. They often run very minimal stories about major events that are really affecting us all.

    Blogs on the other hand are great. When an incident happens and many people are around they can run their own stories of what happened on their blog. I would rather read those instead of some cut up politically correct version of the story.

    Anyway, back to the subject, this guy is simply trying to defend the paper because blogs are a threat to them, it’s as simple as that.

    Remember folks, any news you read is should be subject to skepticism no matter what the source. Always, take your information from multiple sources of different biases. This way you can weigh the different angles and come to a better conclusion.

  • Boerne Search

    “Remember folks, any news you read is should be subject to skepticism no matter what the source. Always, take your information from multiple sources of different biases. This way you can weigh the different angles and come to a better conclusion.”

    Very well said Ben, I see it time and time again. One person reads one paper tells the wolrd the sky is falling and then it is set in stone. Another person reads a different paper obviously written by a different person and then that is the word set in stone. Being from a small town I see this a lot. I roll my eyes and laugh. Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear/read about something major I look all over the net to see if there are anyother views/reports or if that is that. Maybe it’s because I have made that mistake before. LOL, live and learn I guess. I’m always looking for “the other side of the story”.

    Kane

    Kane

  • Tumblemoose

    I think that has newspapers continue towards the LaBrea Tar Pit model, it seems to me the journalists are becoming more and more shrill, lashing out in their death throes.

    Just one blogger’s observation, of course.

    George

  • BizDharma.com

    Hey Daniel,

    ** I believe your site is getting spammed !! **

    I see an exactly similar comment ( مقاطع لورنس posted on June 9th, 2009 9:13 am ) that I added (BizDharma on June 8th, 2009 4:52 pm ). Mine is 24 hrs before this one… I dont know how to read that

    Is it a spam or due to some plugin malfunction.
    Do check out !

  • Phil Owens

    Print had its day for 400 years…but like technologies before…it was replaced. Heck, I don’t think I even have a pen or pencil in my apartment. I know I don’t have one in my laptop bag…and that can be a problem one or two times per year.

    The “press” never was meant to be seen as unbiased. However, 40 years ago, a young elite brazenly decided that, since the majority of the western world agreed with them on the sexual revolution + stopping big tobacco, DDT and asbestos…they were “unbiased” and “on the right side of history” in all the extra opinions they had or were to develop.

    When conservative newspapers came out, they at least admitted their bias, but the radical left rags kept saying with a straight face that they were neutral, just following the course of history and had “no liberal bias”.

    This grew to insane proportions. I actually had a famous NYTimes reporter apologize on my blog in 2006 for a story he was bylined for that had been completely rewritten by his editors in order to make white heterosexual US males look bad. This bias was repeated by McClatchy editors on the same subject matter, another young male reporter saw his work completely rewritten and he could say nothing because he needed to feed his family.

    Its not so much the corporations that control newspapers that made them such dishonest propaganda machines. There was a certain type of person who found jobs as editors. These are the people who are being permanently defrocked. Corporations will find other things to invest in and real journalists will be freed from the shackles of ideologue editors.

    By the way, Twitter also frees people from the shackles of ideologue monitors at forums or ideologue editors at aggregate blogs that deal with certain topics.

  • R Edward Vernon

    This has everything to do with print media dying and blogs cutting in to their ad profits. I don’t see him mentioning any of the real stories that got published on blogs and microblogs first. Long before print media could do so. On the net we have the ability to communicate instantly. Newspapers and periodicals don’t. They better figure out a way to work with it or embrace it. But I have a feeling they’re going to take the same approach big music and movies did. Trying to swim upstream instead of going with the flow. And it’s going to be to their own demise. We’re already seeing it now.

    In the end it all boils down to the money. The average man can now take on the NY Times. And here’s the proof…

  • ayman

    good work

  • yosafat

    i hope not all major newspaper do that. that will discourage people to write.

  • Medyum

    Oh well the constant thing in this world is change. As you said new media is not destroying real journalist, it is becoming part of it and changing it at the same time. So just be it.

Comments are closed.