Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Who and what is reliable?

By now, virtually everyone who is "in-the-know" is aware of the Newsweek report that alleged that prison officers at Guantanimo Bay, Cuba flushed copies of the Quran down the toilet. That story, of course, caused an upheaval all over the Islamic world. The usual screams of "Death to America" and "down with the Great Satan" were far louder than normal. Terrorist actions against U.S. soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan were seen to be a direct result of the Newsweek story. People died as a result of the backlash.

Now, Newsweek has admitted that the story is false, and has issued a retraction. In the mean time, their story was an outright lie, and all they can do is take it back. Newsweek should formally apologize to the families of every person who died as a result of their negligence.

The reason I chose to write about this issue today, after everyone else is writing about it across the blogging world, was not to bring the issue to light. I make the assumption that my informed readers are already aware of the situation at Newsweek. Rather, I wanted to use the issue of this blatantly false news report to point out that many of the so-called "journalists" at the big Washington and New York news operations have biases of their own, the red-leftist tint of many of their stories is so evident that the informed reader or viewer often has to dig for themselves to find the real facts. At the same time as these self-righteous reporters trumpet their own journalistic objectivity, they tell us that bloggers and blogs are unreliable sources of news, information, and opinion.

I'll be the first to admit that my blog has a bias. It is conservative, traditionalist, and Catholic. However, if I publish an error of fact, and that error is discovered, I immediately retract it. I rely on my readers to let me know when I am wrong, and if I am, I'll be the first to admit it.

There are many blogs out there that are unreliable and, frankly, not very well done. There are blogs, though, that are very fine quality sources of information and opinion, even with their evident biases. In the wake of what has happened at Newsweek, I can say with some confidence that no blogger I know of was capable of any worse, and probably could have done a much better job of reporting.

2 Comments:

At Tuesday, May 17, 2005 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...

David,

The Newsweek scandal, coupled with Rather-gate at CBS, is a great example of how and why traditional journalism is dying in the United States. It is no longer enough to produce a good segment or to write a good story, nor is it enough to just tell the truth. Journalism on the national scale is now a big-time business...and the almighty dollar has become most important.

I certainly do not begrudge newspapers, magazines and television broadcasters from wanting better profit margins. Today's world of decreasing circulations and viewerships makes it very difficult for these companies to make money.

However, stooping to the level of sensationalizing or (in the cases of Newsweek and CBS) literally making up completely false stories is simply unacceptable. And it would be just as unacceptable if the made-up stories were favoring conservative views.

Obviously, politics and lobbying is involved in these problems, and that MUST be addressed. We cannot have a free press that is hijacked by special interest groups and persons who can't leave their politics at the door.

Ultimately, it all boils down to ethics. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible now to tell who displays proper ethics. As you point out, we may be moving to a point where traditional journalism is replaced by the blogosphere, for while the bloggists may be biased in many ways...at least they aren't on a company payroll and can at least try to be truthful in their reporting.

Matt

 
At Tuesday, May 17, 2005 2:56:00 PM, Anonymous Renee Daley said...

David,

Liberal bias has reared its ugly head once again. This story has had a hand in killing American service personnel seving in the Middle East due to backlash and riots.

I have come up with what I think is a just and proper punishment for Newsweek. Retraction simply isn't good enough and an I'm sorry does not wash the blood off their hands. I would argue that the families of those killed because this article was printed should sue Newsweek, their parent company (if there is one) and the journalist who wrote and submitted the story for wrongful death.

There may be those who disagree with me, however Newsweek must be held accountable.

 

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