Ian Reid is back at his computer station this week and that is good news for blog readers. He wrote a piece at The Real Story last October that is worth reexamination because the subject of defective journalism continues to be an issue at the forefront.
Bloggers have covered stories ignored in the mainstream media in favour of claptrap and drivel. There may be no better example than a Vancouver Sun rewrite of a Fraser Institute press release claiming Gordon Campbell was one of Canada’s finest money-managers. The article was prepared by a Montreal based Postmedia hack who seemingly made no effort to verify any claim made by the widely discredited propagandists. Sun writer Don Cayo presented it in his blog too. Not surprisingly, reader comments (now removed) take opposite views.
Journalists guided by agendas other than honest and objective reporting may enjoy positions too prominent in BC political debates so it is in the public interest to hold media members accountable for their failures and inadequacies. Since mainstream properties won’t allow this conversation on their platforms, the online world becomes the appropriate forum.
Writing for his audience of marketing strategists, blogger Paul Gillen had this interesting comment on new channels:
In order for traditional media to avoid irrelevance, they must face tough questions about the value they bring to the market. You should be pressing the issue.
Traditional media’s value has long been based upon “The Audience,” that mysterious and protected collection of people who have agreed to enter into a trusted relationship with the media company. But today the audience dictates the terms of engagement. You won’t find them on circulation lists anymore. They gather in Google search results, on LinkedIn, special-interest Web sites and anywhere else they choose.
Back to Ian Reid’s contribution of October:
It’s not bloggers vs. newspaper reporters. It’s good journalism vs. bad.
Last Friday Bill Good attacked BC Rail bloggers on his regular round-up of political news “Cutting Edge of the Ledge.” Here’s what Good had to say about the difference between real reporters and bloggers:
There is a lot of curiosity, but what we can’t do and what people in the blogosphere do is they assume a lot that they don’t know. They profess a lot that they don’t know. We’re in the rather awkward position of having to know things before we report them, which is why throughout the prelude to all this I was sitting back, saying, “I want to see what comes out in court.”
One of his guests went on to call bloggers concerned with the BC Rail Trial “wing-nuts”. I guess that makes me a… wingnut.
But here’s the thing. If you’ve got something good then it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the internet or not. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a blog or dialing it in from the press gallery in Victoria. When you dig, when you find something, it’s the basis for a good story, no matter where it’s distributed.
And then you have news commentators like Good. “I was sitting back saying I want to see what comes out in Court,” is his excuse. Sometimes I think he makes a point of ‘not knowing’ so he’s free to express any view no matter how removed from the facts.
“We’re in the rather awkward position of having to know things before we report them,” he says, explaining away how he doesn’t report because he can’t be bothered to try and know things.
The corollary to what Good says, of course, is that you have to be looking for things all the time. You have to dig. Otherwise all you report are the daily gainsburgers the government hands out. And that kind of sums up where I think Bill Good’s career is at: a gainsburger distributor.