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A Rose By Any Other Name

What is a Tom Grubisich? Well, it would appear he is a screenwriter who, once upon a time, was a reporter and editor for the Washington Post and a group of Virginia newspapers. What are his qualifications for writing about bloggers? People are willing to publish them.

He doesn’t seem to be a blogger, nor does he seem to comment on blogs, but nearly every Spring he shows up somewhere complaining about blogs. He is under the impression that blogs are about citizen journalism, when, in fact, few blogs claim to be about more than opinion, unless you count fact checking as essential to journalism, which doesn’t seem to be case in much of what passes as major media journalism these days.

This Spring he doesn’t like people who use Internet names, like Atrios of Eschaton, no, he thinks you should use proper, real names, like Mary Rosh.

And he has standing as a former employee of the Washington Post that provided the world with the writing of Janet Cooke about whose work Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward said: “It would be absurd for me or any other editor to review the authenticity or accuracy of stories that are nominated for prizes.” Yes, sir, no need to fact check stories nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

It was Washington Post online editor Jim Brady who provided the world with the on-line copy and pasting of Ben Domenech.

Of course, Judith Miller, Stephen Glass, and Jayson Blair didn’t work for the WaPo, and they had the same sterling credentials as Jeff Gannon.

I covered this issue in August of 2006, and in comments on other blogs much earlier.

It is irrelevant who you are or what you do for a living. The important things are how well you think, and how well you can express those thoughts in writing.

The Federalist Papers are a collection of 85 essays written in support of the adoption of the US Constitution. As the Wikipedia article says: “The Federalist Papers serve as a primary source for interpretation of the Constitution, as they outline the philosophy and motivation of the proposed system of government.”

It is also noted that: “They appeared under the pseudonym “Publius,” in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola.”

Blogs are about a lot of different things, but political blogs are not shy about declaring their advocacy. They are exactly like American newspapers until after World War II. They don’t pretend to be “fair and balanced” and neither did newspapers until recently. The Fairness Doctrine tended to force balance on to radio and television, but that has been discarded.

The Scholasticism of some in journalism is annoying. The truth doesn’t depend on where someone works or where they went to school, it depends on the facts. Opinions may be bolstered by who you are and what your training and experience is, but if you make a claim it will be fact checked, regardless, because the Internet makes resources available everyone.

5 comments

1 hipparchia { 05.17.07 at 8:50 pm }

you didn’t get the memo? ’twas the evil blogosphere that invented pseudonyms, sock puppetry, uncivil discourse, and anonymous death threats. everyone knows that!

this citizen journalism stuff is great: fact-checking made easy [by google, et al] and fact-spreading made easy [via the social networking of blogging].

of course good journalism can include blatant and partisan opining, alongside straight reporting. nothing wrong with that. nothing wrong with including entertainment either. i’m all for funny pages in the newspaper, saturday morning cartoons on tv, and a good juicy spy story or murder mystery for beach reading, or taking in yet another star wars movie.

increasingly, though, the corporate-owned media conglomerates have put their efforts into squeezing out more and more dollars for themselves, instead of putting out information [and even entertainment] for us. probably citizen journalism was going to rise up anyway, but “real” journalists didn’t do themselves any favors by slacking off on real and responsible journalism, nor are they doing themselves any favors by whining about getting caught out, caught up to, and in some cases, passed by bloggers.

2 hipparchia { 05.17.07 at 8:51 pm }

ack. i could have written that better. good thing i’m only a blogger.

3 Bryan { 05.17.07 at 10:30 pm }

Well, the medium is plastic and you can write a new version if you wish, but the point is made.

I don’t want to replace my local newspaper, I want my local newspaper to print enough local news to make it worth buying. I don’t want to read printed versions of wire service stories when we have had a local wildfire, I want to know about the wildfire.

I’m not interested in what people are doing in Miami, Atlanta, or wherever the conglomerate headquarters is located, I want to know what local people are doing. Local news is the saving grace of newspapers, and it gets ignored as budgets for local reporting are cut.

I don’t expect perfection, but if a mistake is made, correct it and move on, don’t waste time and paper complaining that people noticed the mistake.

Most people don’t know that it was years before newspapers admitted there was a Depression. Until the draft for World War II, a lot of people thought the problem was local. Reading old newspapers from that era is amazing – there was a conscious effort not to report malnutrition as a cause of death. Newspapers were openly partisan, but you knew that and could adjust for it.

4 hipparchia { 05.18.07 at 12:22 am }

i’d kind of like to replace my local newspaper, but i agree with you, i’d like to have a local paper. a better one than the one i have would be nice.

i do like having the news from elsewhere too though. hello, my name is hipparchia, and i’m a news junkie. back when the internet was just a gleam in al gore’s eye, i subscribed to four [not a typo] newspapers, three from around the state and one “big” one. the boston globe was my favorite [it carried calvin and hobbes], but one or two years there, i got the washington dc paper instead.

i sort of knew that about the depression, but had forgotten it. thanks for the reminder.

5 Bryan { 05.18.07 at 12:41 am }

I use the BBC World Service, Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune. etc. for the outside world, but they can’t tell me about the county commission. You can’t do local reporting at a distance, and local reporting is what sells local newspapers.