Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fluffernutter's Wormwood to Mr. Pink's Screwtape

I've got nothing but sympathy for the wave of journalists who are currently being laid off by various news services, including those with Gannett's Tennessean.  But there is no reason for the Scene devotees to generalize and bring all bloggers down thusly because of the carnage and apprehension:
non-mainstream online sources such as blogs are often staffed by untrained writers without an education in sourcing, quotes, precise language, ethics, corroboration, note-taking and note-keeping, and such. I think it shows, often times. Give me a trained journalist any day over a firebrand with a cause.
Far be it from me to pretend that all bloggers are skilled and honest people, but I have read a few who are good writers and skilled at relaying information accurately without presuming to call themselves "journalists." Why plunge non-mainstream bloggers who may have some experience and training in interviewing, ethnography, or data collection and analysis into the hoard of thousands who are just expressing another opinion across a sea of subjectivity?

On the contrary, I've observed a few journalists double-load queries, ask leading and biased questions, omit lede-changing information, and directly appeal to audience emotions instead of their critical reason. And some of the journalists make too much money and have too much notoriety for such malpractice. Does that indict all journalists? No. Does that mean they should be laid off en masse? Hardly. But it does mean that "trained journalists" don't necessarily perform well. And I'll give the Scene denizens all such journalists.

Oh, and they can also have the ones who under criticism of any fellow journalists act like besieged cops behind a thin blue line defending their own regardless of performance. This predisposition to accept no one else's criticism beyond their own wears thin and does nothing to aid the health of the Fourth Estate.

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