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The AP mess, day 4

Thursday, June 19, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named dt.gifI gotta say the AP guys are digging the hole deeper every time they communicate.  Permalink to this paragraph

But the bloggers aren't helping. Almost everyone seems to be making the story bigger than it is, with a few exceptions. Permalink to this paragraph

Scott Rosenberg is doing his usual excellent job of reporting. Sticking with what he knows to be true, and carefully saying what is speculation and what is not. Even Rogers Cadenhead, who I sometimes think as the blogger's equiv of Al Sharpton, is actively trying to douse the flames. But Mike Arrington, who I sometimes think of as the blogger equiv of Lou Dobbs, sees a conspiracy.  Permalink to this paragraph

Fact is, while I don't support or belong to the Media Bloggers Association, it has been around for a long time. A lot of the bloggers who are expressing their rage are careful to say that they never heard of them, which is hard to refute, but a simple check at archive.org shows that the website has been around since August 2004. It was launched at BloggerCon III in November 2004, at Stanford.  Permalink to this paragraph

Robert Cox is a real person. He's a Republican, a bit outrageous, but seems harmless, and I think he's doing good work. The blogger who's being harassed by the AP needs help, he's providing it. The press statement by the AP makes it sound like something more is happening. See my first paragraph. They need to learn how to communicate publicly. Amazing isn't it -- here's a media organization that is doing a super poor job of participating in media. The problem for them is that on this side, when they're the source of the controversy, they're just a big corporate entity without much experience. Of course their reporters (are they covering this -- they should, imho) could teach them a thing or two. Permalink to this paragraph

We've been around this block so many times. When Dan Rather was being picked to death by right wing bloggers, CBS should have split in two, one half responding to the outrage, and the other half covering it, all sides, all angles. Their reporters had unique access and perspective, and could have presented a more balanced story, one that included left wing bloggers and the core of the story that the right wing guys didn't want anyone to pay attention to -- the hypocrisy of attacking a guy who served in Vietnam on behalf of a guy who dodged the draft at the same time. That story got buried because reporters didn't do their jobs. Permalink to this paragraph

I've been where AP is now, when in 2004 I gave up on weblogs.com hosting. I got the shaft from bloggers, and initially from the pros too. But when the furor settled, the pros were willing to take another look and decide if the story had been fairly reported. The bloggers weren't willing. Permalink to this paragraph

It was then I realized that this panacea I had envisioned in 1995 had turned out a bit differently than I had imagined. I thought bloggers were going to keep the press honest. Here was a case where the opposite was true. This led me to a softer position re pros -- I believe we need both approaches, and the bloggers who just want to lynch AP are engaging in the worst kind of discourse, it's anti-intellectual, they jump to conclusions, ignore information that contradicts their assumptions that's easily available, and points of view that don't agree with theirs. This is worse than what AP is doing, their lawsuits will not happen, not unless they want to commit corporate suicide. But the bitterness of this shitstorm will linger, for a long time to come. Permalink to this paragraph

PS: I noticed yesterday that the NY Times is starting a social network. Told you so. Starting in 2002, and many times since, I asked them to give all reporters blogs, and offer nytimes.com hosted blogs to everyone who is quoted in a Times story. Imagine if they had done that, the kind of social network they'd have now, and the difference in discourse in the blogosphere. Sure it would be opinionated, lynch mobs may still have formed, but some of the authority of the Times would have rubbed off. One can hope. It's still possible and it's still a good idea.  Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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