Musings of a Recovering Journalist
Or: The Perils of Blogs as a Source of Fact.
I very rarely post anything to this blog that isn’t a reflection of events in my life, those happenings that are a firsthand experience. As a recovering journalist, I try to avoid speculative posts and rumor-repeating on my blog. Call it a holdover from when I had…what’s the word…ethics. I never bought into that famous Glen Close quip from “The Paper” — we only have to be right for the day.
When you print something, you should do your best to make sure it is correct. Maybe it’s because newspapers have a certain permanence, the realization that, one day, historians will build the history books based in part on what you write in your paper. Or maybe it’s the responsibility of knowing too many falsehoods will lead to declining sales. Either way, the goal is accuracy.
Blogs don’t share that same responsibility. They’re transient. No sense of permanence .
Lies get spread and, usually, since the bloggers share the motives of their readers, they are given a pass for sharing half-truths, misdirections and the occasional flatout lie.
No single example of this stands out more readily than the Birthers movement. Built entirely upon circular reasoning and the most dubious sources, these guys have to completely disconnect their conclusions from Reality. Once a few bloggers posted their idle speculations, though, it got picked up and repeated by people like Glen Beck and Sarah Palin as a reasonable position to hold. Now, the bloggers have a mainstream source to quote and it’s off to the races.
If this is somewhat rambling, please forgive me. I’m a little miffed right now. As more people turn to the Internet for their source of news and information, the ideas of truth and accuracy are tossed out the window in favor of innuendo and agenda.
And all the while, the most ridiculous things are given credence. For example: President Obama was born of an unholy mating of a Martian and Satan’s sister.
It must be true because people are reading it on blogs. You just did.