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July 19, 2004
LA Times: Bloggers Not Up To Our Standards Of Fairness?

I'm coming to this a day late (via Memeorandum), but I couldn't let this pass from the Los Angeles Times. Alex Jones, in an op-ed piece yesterday, inveighed against bloggers, reminding us that bloggers aren't real journalists, after all:

The Democrats and the Republicans are inviting a limited number of bloggers those witty, candid, irreverent, passionate, shrewd and outrageous Internet chroniclers to their 2004 conventions. It's a gesture of respect for the growing influence of the blogosphere, and if ever there were events ideally suited to bloggers, the heavily scripted and tensionless conventions top the list.

But make no mistake, this moment of blogging legitimization and temporary press credentials doesn't turn bloggers into journalists.

What could Jones mean? He wants people to recognize that bloggers don't uphold the traditions and standards of journalism, as taught in J-schools like Harvard, where Jones teaches on press and politics. Jones' specific complaints:

However, bloggers, with few exceptions, don't add reporting to the personal views they post online, and they see journalism as bound by norms and standards that they reject. That encourages these common attributes of the blogosphere: vulgarity, scorching insults, bitter denunciations, one-sided arguments, erroneous assertions and the array of qualities that might be expected from a blustering know-it-all in a bar.

All right ... now we know what standards and practices preclude a reporter or an organization from consideration as journalism. I have a question for Dr. Jones -- can an organization that conducted itself in the following manner be recognized as a journalistic enterprise?

* Misrepresent federal gun law in order to scare people regarding the expiration of the assault weapons ban?

* Accuse the American administrator of Iraq of leaving without the courtesy of a final address after the transfer of sovereignty when that very address was not only broadcast all over Iraq but carried in part by CNN as well -- and fail to correct that assertion for almost a week?

* Report as breaing news that the Army engineered the toppling of the Saddam statue in Baghdad based on an internal Army report, but failing to check its facts by researching other journalists' accounts who were on the scene at the time?

* Completely misrepresent an important legal ruling?

All of these examples came from the Los Angeles Times over the past month (posted, as you'll see, at our group blog Oh That Liberal Media), and all of them refer to factual errors and outright lies told by the "journalists" at the West Coast's Paper of Record. John Carroll, by the Jones standard, is no journalist. The LAT is not a journalistic enterprise. And Dr. Jones inadvertently became a contributor to the state's largest and most expensive blog.

I agree with Dr. Jones in that blogs will likely never replace journalists entirely -- we feed too much off of them, and most of us have other jobs. However, we may eventually replace editorial boards at the newspapers and force reporters to quit inserting their own political agendas into their stories. In the meantime, as we receive more credentials and more access, we'll make the professionals sweat a bit while the amateurs fill their space.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 19, 2004 5:31 AM

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