Is Mainstream Media Still Scared of Bloggers?
Why they are—and should be.
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Mainstream media is still scared of bloggers. And they should be. We’re watching them very closely. Every day. Just like they watch us. Only we credit and link to them. Maybe someday they’ll return the courtesy.
SEE RELATED POST: Movie Bloggers Call for Boycott of Variety, Hollywood Reporter
Headline of a recent Page One story in the New York Times: "In Court Ruling on Executions, a Factual Flaw." Make that two factual flaws. The first one by the Supreme Court; the second by the Times, whose headline should read "CAAFlog Blogger Discovers Factual Flaw in Court Ruling on Executions." But the Times, like much of MSM, just can’t seem to stand giving a blogger credit for a scoop.
It took the Times until the fourth paragraph to mention that Dwight Sullivan broke the story on June 28th on the CAAFlog blog, and until the eighth paragraph to link to his post. A post on the blog wryly notes: "It may take a few clicks to reach CAAFlog’s post on the case."
Magazines and newspapers still report on blogs as curiosities, or that old standby—personal diaries. They need to get over themselves. Blogs are a new medium, and we’re here to stay. That said, of the supposed 70 million blogs there are perhaps 10,000 with a significant number of readers. My What’s Next Blog gets approximately 10,000 uniques a day. Small potatoes compared to blogs like Boing Boing, that get a million uniques a week, but still respectable, influential, and widely quoted.
I’m not going to get into the tired debate over whether bloggers are journalists. Some of us are. Some of us are not. But you can’t put someone who blogs about their cat into the same category as someone whose blog covers industry news or law any more than you can put "Meet the Press" in the same category as "Dancing With the Stars."
The White House Gets Involved
In his post, Sullivan noted that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, which was passed by Congress, did set out death as punishment for the rape of a child. In fact, none of the 10 briefs lawyers filed in the case mentioned a bill Bush signed last September adding child rape to the military death penalty.
Like the game of telephone, where the original message is lost, MSM quickly loses mention of the CAAFlog scoop, and credits the Times for the story. Dan Slater on the WSJ Law Blog credits "the NY Time’s Linda Greenhouse, who … thinks she’s caught the Court out on a flaw in its facts." The L.A. Times blog doesn’t even mention CAAFlog in its post.
The issue, with no mention of the CAAFlog, has reached the White House, and the Washington Post writes: "White House press secretary Dana Perino this morning said "The White House was disturbed by the New York Times report that the court’s decision might be based on a mistake…"
Likewise, UPI credits the Times for the scoop.
Only the American Bar Association blog gets the headline right: "Blogger Points Out Substantial Error in Supreme Court Decision."